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Oral history interview with Sarah Herbin by Eugene Pfaff
December 14, 1983
Sarah Herbin (1916-2003) promoted equal employment of African Americans as an employee of the American Friends Service Committee in Greensboro from 1953 to 1963 and a member of Governor Terry Sanford’s administration from 1963 to 1965.
Eugene E Pfaff
In this transcript of a December 14, 1983, oral history interview conducted by Eugene Pfaff with Sarah Herbin, Ms. Herbin primarily discusses her experiences as a staff member of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in Greensboro and in North Carolina Governor Sanford's administration during the 1950s and 1960s promoting nontraditional employment of African-Americans. She also mentions her work with local groups such as the Interracial Commission and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the role of ministers and other African Americans to the sit-in movement, local race relations, involvement of women in the movement, and Ralph Johns.
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Oral history interview with Sarah Herbin by Eugene Pfaff
—library oral history program. It is being conducted on
December 14, 1983 in the library. And I'm speaking with Mrs. Sarah
Herbin, a former employee of the American Friends Service
member—Committee and longtime member of the black community in
Greensboro. Mrs. Herbin, are you a native of Greensboro?
native of North Carolina. I have called Greensboro home since
And you were born where?
I was born in Concord. Moved from Concord to Troy.
I mean from Concord to Charlotte, from Charlotte to Troy, from Troy
to High Point. And then after marrying, from High Point to
Greensboro. My father was a minister. So that takes care
He was a Congregational minister.
When did you join the staff of the American Friends
Service Committee [AFSC]?
And what was your duties or responsibilities?
Originally, I started with the American Friends
Service Committee as a secretary. I had learned from a friend of mine
that they were going to be needing a permanent secretary. At that
time, I was a secretary over on the campus, on Bennett College
campus. And the agency sounded like something that I was very much
I resigned from my job at Bennett and took a secretarial job at the
American Friends Service Committee in September of 1953. Was it
September? May? Something, anyway. It's so long ago, I don't
But my first job—I guess this is what really got me
concerned with the whole area of merit employment. I was secretary to
the director of the merit employment program. At that time, he would
visit businessmen, industrialists, management, top management in
firms across the state to encourage them to hire on the basis of
merit, regardless of race, color, creed, et cetera. And, of course,
my responsibility as secretary was to type up those reports and see
that they were sent to the national office in, in Philadelphia. And
it really created a lot of interest and also a lot of concern as I
was typing up those reports.
And I, I remember vividly one particular report I was typing up,
you know, by Dictaphone. I had these things in my ears and I was
typing. And my boss was saying, “And Mr. So-and-So says, 'That
as far as I'm concerned, there's no such thing as a qualified Negro.
The mere fact that he's a Negro means that he's not
And I snatched those things out of my ears. I was just furious. And I
got up from the typewriter and I walked to the, to the door. And
tears was just streaming down my cheeks. And one of the other staff
persons saw me, and he said, “Sarah, what's wrong? What's the
And the first thing that I blurbed out—this is a peace-
loving agency, mind you. I said, “Sometimes I get so mad, so
furious. I feel like going up to the square and get me a gun and
shoot every white person I see.” I thought, oh my goodness,
that, of all things to say in a Quaker organization.
So he said, “Oh, you know, Sarah, it's gonna be all
right.” But of course, I began to mature and to learn more of
nonviolent ways. But after several years—well, then after being
secretary for several years—and then I was the bookkeeper. Our
original bookkeeper left because the office moved from Greensboro to
Why did they make that move, by the way?
Well, the house in High Point was owned by the
Blair family. And they donated that house to the American Friends
So it was an economic move more than anything
Yes. And then, too, there was a large base of
Quakers, you know, in the High Point area. And it, it really saved a
lot. It was a nice big house and gave us a little more space than we
had, you know, in Greensboro.
But then, after I was the bookkeeper for a couple of
years—and then the program director left. And the executive
secretary asked me if I would want to take his place. I said,
“Oh, I can't—I couldn't do that.”
He said, “Well, of course you can.” He said,
“I mean, you've been following the program through, and you've
been taking some initiatives in doing specific things. So I don't see
any reason why you couldn't direct the program.” And, of
course, they gave me a lot of support.
Now was this the merit employment program?
Yes. Yes. And of course, as director of that
program, I had to visit employers, businessmen to encourage them
[not] to hire on the basis of race, color, creed.
What was the reaction of the majority of the
employers that you, you went to see?
They were very polite. I was received by the
majority of them. I would call for appointments, or I would write a
letter for an appointment.
So you did not experience any overt hostility?
Not overt hostility. Of course, they would always
say, “Well, we can't find any qualified persons.” You
see, then the other part of my job was to visit schools, high schools
and colleges, to recruit and to find those persons who had the skills
that were needed by business and industry. And then refer them to the
agency and follow through on it to see if they were employed, and if
not, why, et cetera, et cetera.
I suppose one of the—one interesting experience I had with a
company in Guilford County who was looking for a chemist. And the
qualifications they had—they wanted a person with a Ph.D. in
chemistry and someone who had at least five years experience
with—what was it—photo—infrared photometer.
I said, “Look, you're probably having difficulty finding
white people with those qualifications.”
[He said,] “Yes, as a matter of fact, we are.”
How on earth do you expect me to find a Negro—we were
Negroes at that time—with those qualifications, when there has
been no indication in the past that these kinds of positions were
even available to them.
But that was some way that they had, you know, raising the
qualifications so high that they probably knew that we couldn't find
any Negroes with specific qualifications like that. And even if there
were one in existence, he would already be employed some
Well, William Chafe in his book, Civilities and Civil Rights, mentions that the
AFSC in a survey conducted in the 1950s—I assume you were, you
were part of that survey?
—whereby they went around to employers
encouraging employment without regard to race. [Chafe] said that
there was a difference between the large employers, both the
receptivity and the answers that they received, and the large
employers like Cone Mills, Burlington Industries, that sort of thing,
and the small employers. Did you notice any difference in their
responses or receptivity to the idea between those two groups of
Generally, I don't think it was that—I don't
think it was that much difference. Generally, large
employers—and I think this was a time there was an Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission, which had an impact on those large
firms that had government contracts. Large firms perhaps were more
inclined to, to talk about this, to make some kind of effort, limited
perhaps. There were some small firms that—I'm trying to think
of—well, I guess, a lot depended on the whole attitude of the
management of, of a small firm.
Small—managers of small firms that really needed a
skilled person like—I can't think of his name. He had a small
business out on Elwell Street. He was extremely helpful. Bob Ford's
Acme Engineering. He was just extremely helpful.
Helpful in what way?
Employing, employing blacks.
In other than menial positions?
Yes, yes. His business was—he made
instruments, if you call them instruments, that were—say if a
person had an operation and had to have some steel something placed
in his body. What do you call that?
I guess just artificial joints or
It was a very precise business. And we were
successful in getting someone at A&T [North Carolina A&T
State University] to work with him. And he was very pleased and he
hired some other persons in, you know, to work with him in that
business. And he was very vocal himself in talking with other
employers, telling them about the success that he had had in his
You mean at things like meetings of the Rotarians
or, or something like that?
Not big—on a person-to-person, personal
Was he the exception rather than the rule?
I would say so. I would say so.
Did you ever have any inkling as to the success of
these one-on-one informal conversations between employer who would
hire without regard to race on his fellow businessmen?
We didn't—that wasn't done in any formal
You had no feedback as to—
Just maybe one or two cases but not to any large
What was the usual level of, or normal level of
employment for blacks in Greensboro?
Oh, there was very—there was very little
nontraditional employment. See, this started—
You mean normally custodians
Or unskilled labor.
Right. Maybe you'd find an exception at a few
places, but it wasn't the rule. And as, as I began to talk with
people, I started out first talking with employers about the kinds of
jobs that I knew that I could find candidates for.
Such as secretarial positions, file clerks,
receptionists, then into the upper level, draftsmen, engineers,
laboratory technicians. Then there were a lot of trainee positions
that were open where—I mean—
No, not management trainees. Trainees for specific
skills that were needed on, on jobs, maybe apprenticeship positions.
And, and began to talk with people in unions and management to
encourage them to employ, I think—
Well, what was the reaction on the union side? Were
They were positive.
One—again, Dr. Chafe suggests that informal,
behind-the-scenes attitude of large industry, like Burlington or
Cone, was working relationships such that their representatives went
to the workers and said, “All right, we'll keep the blacks out
of the mills if you'll keep the union out of the mills.” Did
you ever have any—
I don't remember that.
—knowledge of that.
But I gather that there wasn't much union activity.
That such unions as existed were either small—
But they were receptive to black membership in
their org—or unions.
Some, but not, not all. I tried to get a young man
who had moved from Ohio into the electrical workers union—that
was very, very difficult.
Did that mean that blacks had to set up their own
union chapters or simply be unrepresented?
Just unrepresented. It was the way that I could
But what—were they receptive to the union?
Like perhaps on training. Initially taking, you
know, taking the, the person from grade level, from, from the
entrance level, training them. I'm trying to think of a specific
Well, was this the general concept of training,
apprenticeship training, or specifically apprenticeship training for
No. This—they had a general apprenticeship
I mean, I mean, is that what you were advocating?
I was advocating across the board that blacks be
employed in the apprentice—I mean, into the apprenticeship
program on the same basis that everybody else was, was accepted. And
I can't remember offhand who they were. That's been a good little
while ago, of course, what—like almost thirty years
Well, was the attitude of labor locally that, that,
“All right, we will support training blacks on equal level with
whites?” No discrimination there.
Really, that is very vague at this point. And I
can't—I don't really recall all of the, the details about it,
I assume that—my final question along this
line is that—were white workers afraid that if blacks were
given equal opportunity for employment and apprenticeship training,
they would take their jobs?
Yes. That's always been—that's always been a
So you think this entered into
Yeah. Or that other—the other thing that used
to come up is that, well, I can't—well, a couple of things that
employers would tell me. “I can't employ any Negroes in these
jobs. If I do, all my white workers will walk out.” That was,
that was one of the fears.
Another excuse that they said, “Look, I can't, I can't hire any
Negroes here. We don't have but two restrooms, one for male and one
for female. And the state law says that you have to provide four
restrooms.” You know, one for black males, one for black
females, one for white males and one for white females. That, that
law actually was on the books.
Well I, I wonder about that, because, you know,
McNeill Smith, who was chairman of the State Advisory Committee on
Civil Rights, indicated that a study of the laws indicated this was
not a law. This was really more common practice rather than a
It was on the books?
It, it was on the books, because I remember at one
of the meetings of the Greensboro Citizens—well, not
the—that was before the Greensboro Citizens Association. It
was—NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People] had an open meeting for candidates. And I had raised this
question of one of the candidates. I don't even remember who it was.
It was somebody who was running for the Senate—North Carolina
Senate. And I had raised this question in a public meeting that, you
know, would he, if he were elected, try to get this law off the
books, because a lot of employers were saying that this was an excuse
for not hiring Negroes in positions.
And I remember that he said, “Well, I think I could be more
helpful, you know, by getting Negroes appointed to different
commissions and boards,” et cetera, et cetera. And he left that
meeting and went out to Western Electric and talked to a group of
employees and said, “Do you know what they asked me to do? They
had—some of those people had asked me to integrate the
restrooms. Can you believe that?” And that word, you know, just
got out all over the community.
And that man was defeated in that election. The person who
succeeded him—I mean, who really got elected—was another
person who was at that same meeting where I raised that question. And
he was the one who got up and said, “Well, of course. I think
it's an unfair rule.”
So he had just
made the mistake of talking officially about it.
Oh, I see. Well, I was going to say—you were
saying that they said they couldn't hire because they didn't have
four separate restrooms. What were some of the other arguments or
Well, it's just mostly that they couldn't find,
they couldn't find the people.
Would it be fair to say then that merit employment
by the AFSC in the 1950s was only a very mixed success?
I would say it was more than a mixed success,
because it was something different. It was something new. Nobody had
ever approached employers before about this. It was unique. Employers
did not really fight it, because it was coming from an organization
that did not believe in coercion. They said, “We ask you to do
this because it's morally right.”
And you were an alternative to the
Which they saw as more militant.
Yes. Yes. And because at the same time I was doing
this, other groups like the NAACP and CORE [Congress of Racial
Equality], you know, were saying, “Hey, look, if you don't do
this, we're gonna have a picket line around your place next
Were businesses picketed by the NAACP, I mean in
And CORE. Yeah. Especially retail stores. Yeah. I
used to—when I was working with the AFSC, I used to spend one
day a week down in Durham talking with employers down there. I'd hang
my hat in the office of [Floyd] McKissick—McKissick and Berry.
And we would coordinate our activities a lot of times.
They knew my approach. They had their approach. And sometimes I
would go first to an organization, you know, and tell them all the
spiel, why the American Friends Service Committee was concerned about
this. And they said, “We'll see about it.” Then the next
two or three days, somebody from CORE or NAACP would go with a more
militant approach. And then they would come back and call me.
So it was kind of carrot and stick approach. I
[laughs] Right. And then sometimes they would go to
an agency first and say [unclear]. And then I would follow up. And a
lot of—particularly the retail stores—we were trying to
get clerks into the retail stores. He said, “Well, now, I like
And so I said, “Well, you know, what are we going to
do about it?” And it was quite an interesting—as—go
I was just—no, please, you go
I was just going to say as a result of that, my
experience working with the American Friends Service Committee,
talking with employers—in '63, people began to focus on state
government, when Terry Sanford was governor. And I remember Floyd
McKissick had said to the governor, “Look, we need somebody to
open these doors in state government. Nontraditional
employment—it's just ridiculous we don't have Negroes in some
of these nontraditional jobs.”
So the governor said, “Well, you know, okay.
We—who you got who can do this?” And the only person that
Governor Sanford was thinking about more or less was somebody like
John Wheeler, who was head of Mechanics and Farmers Bank, you know, a
leader in Durham.
So Floyd said, “Well, take Sarah Herbin. She's been
doing this for the American Friends Service Committee for the last
ten years,” you know. So they decided that Governor—sent
for me—would talk to me about it.
And I don't know whether you need all this stuff on—so I
went down and talked with him about it. And he sent me over to talk
with the, the director of personnel for the state, because this is
where he was thinking about putting the, the job in state government.
And after I talked with this person who said, “Well, I, I, I
don't see why you would want to leave the American Friends Service
Committee,” you know, “to work on a state job like
this—I understand you're doing a good job where you
So he was trying to discourage you with a soft
Yes. So I went back to the governor's office. And I
think it was Joel Fleishman was working there. I said, “Thank
you very much. Thank the governor for that offer, but I, I, you know,
I don't think I would want that.”
And he said, “Wait a minute, I want you to tell
him.” And I told him I appreciated the offer, but I didn't
think I would be able to work under those conditions.
He said, “Well, all I have to do is just tell him, look, this
is where the job is going to be and, and that's it.”
And I said, “No, because the atmosphere would not be
conducive to my doing a good job. And I appreciate it very
And he said, “Well, you know, just don't, don't, don't give
it up yet. We'll work out something.”
And about two or three weeks later, I got this call from Joel
Fleishman. And he said, “Sarah, I think we've got things worked
I said, “Number one, where is the job? What department is it
He said, “It's in the department of
I said, “Number two, how is this job to be carried out? This
is a brand new job you're creating in state government. You have no
job description. How is it going to be carried out?”
He said, “Any way you wanna do it.”
So they gave you carte blanche.
Carte blanche. And the first day on the job, the
governor asked me to draft a letter that would go out over his
signature to the heads of all state agencies, explaining to them that
I was employed to work on, not only recruit—I don't even
remember the wording of the letter. But I was employed to encourage
the employment of Negroes in nontraditional employment in state
What was your official job title?
Employment Service Representative. So that in
itself—and I did that until the Sanford administration was
over. That was a very, very interesting experience.
Was this not carried through under the Moore
It was. And Governor [Daniel K.] Moore had asked me
to stay on. But I didn't, because at that time I left, and Governor
Sanford had talked with people at the North Carolina Fund in Durham,
and I was employed there as a grant officer.
Let's return for a moment, if I might, back to the
That's right. [laughs]
—in the 1950s. No, I found that very
interesting. That, that would have been a later part of my
questionings. You mentioned that you worked with the NAACP in Durham
in a coordinating fashion with attorney McKissick. Did you work
similarly here in Greensboro?
Not as regularly. I did do some, well, working
cooperatively with CORE and the NAACP. But we didn't do any, any
joint projects, I don't think.
One just very loose understanding of the structure
of the NAACP here in town was that I believe a man named Dr. [Edwin]
Edmonds was president until he left. And then did Dr. Simkins become
Was it a very active organization? One person, for
instance, has characterized it thus by saying, “Well, George
Simkins WAS the NAACP.” Was it pretty much a one-man
organization, or was it broadly based, large membership, very
Are you talking about when George took
—the position? I think that came
about—this was at the same time that George and some other
black people in the community went to the [Gillespie Park] golf
course to, to play golf. And then, of course, they were refused and
all of this, you know, came about.
And I don't have all the details. I remember what had happened.
But it was after that that George became involved with the NAACP and
I suppose in filing a suit, or in, you know, getting more actively
involved in, in, in civil rights in North Carolina.
Well, I know that the most frequently mentioned
organizations in the black community at the time were the NAACP, the
Greensboro Men's Club, Greensboro Citizens
Oh, that's what it was.
Well, I was wondering, as Dr. [Hobart] Jarrett
described it to me, he said this came into being in the 1940, late
1940s, early 1950s primarily to, to sponsor black candidates for city
offices, city council elections and so forth. And then he said, as I
understand it, following the election of Dr. [William] Hampton, went
into a decline and was not reactivated until around the sit-ins, and
it was designed to help support the student—A&T students in
the sit-ins. Is this as you remember it?
Yeah, 'cause I was away from the city from '48 to
'51, and when I came back in, you know, 1951, to see what was, kinds
of things were going in the Citizens Association. I think after,
particularly after the '54 Supreme Court decision on the school
boards, [it] became, became more active in the late fifties.
I get the impression the Greensboro Citizens
Association was primarily a politically active group. Was the
Greensboro Men's Club more social?
To my knowledge it was.
Were there other organizations in the black
community present then that were not, have not been mentioned, not
necessarily politically motivated, but just very strong organizations
within the black community?
Well, you—CORE, of course.
I was thinking of fraternal and sororial
No. I don't know. As the movement began to gather
momentum, more community organizations became involved. And they were
initially from the February first sit-in. There were a lot of
individuals and organizations that wouldn't touch it.
For what reasons?
They know better. You know, people just don't do
those things. “Why don't they just,” you know,
“stay out of this?”
“You're rocking the boat and jeopardizing our
“You're rocking the boat.” You know,
“You, you know you can't make any changes like that. That's
just the way things are. And you can't change.”
And gradually, you know, with public meetings every night and the
marches, the quiet marches, the silent marches and then sometimes,
you know—with the—every week the congregations would get
larger and larger until, you know, with—and then with the
swelling of the student body and more organizations.
And I know we were trying to get more ministers involved to get
their congregations involved in the whole social issues. Well, some
of the ministers wouldn't touch it, wouldn't touch it. I mean, their
job was to save souls. And—
So they were making the distinction between the
spiritual and temporal world.
Right. But gradually, as more people became
involved, and especially older people, you would see a lot of the
old—the senior citizens, you know, involved in marching. And it
just sort of emerged, you know. More people began to come in. Maybe
I, I, I shouldn't attempt to, to have the—to do any value
judgment on why they, they came in.
Please, feel free to.
It could be. People like to be a part of something
that is, well, that's going to produce status. And maybe a few of
them—but then the momentum began to increase. And organizations
would be proud to say, yes, we were a part of this. And it got to be
a status thing if you were arrested in a
At the time or subsequently?
But not at the time.
Not, not at the initial stages.
Well, you know, I've mentioned these
organizations—they seem to be primarily, or exclusively, male
oriented, like the Greensboro Men's Club, Greensboro Citizens
Association, NAACP. Were there any organizations in which women were
a significant part of the membership, or exclusively women's
organizations that were a counterpart to these others?
Well, women were actively involved in the NAACP. I
was on the executive committee of NAACP at that time. And there were
quite a few women who were secretaries and very active. Several women
were active in that and, and in CORE.
But you, there are no exclusively women's
organizations that you would, would come to mind?
I just didn't want to
Well, I tell you, it may be, it may be you ought to
talk with someone who was a sorority person. I'm not a sorority
person. And so, you know—
But there were a lot of sororial and fraternal
I gather that there were fairly strong alumni
chapters of A&T and Bennett. Is that correct?
Oh, I don't know how active they
You, you mentioned—
It seems like, it seems like the—Bennett was
Yeah. Well, the student, the student body, you
know, as the—
What—you've mentioned the NAACP. What other
organizations of—were you a member?
Oh, locally, other than the church and NAACP
Which church were you a member?
Bethel [AME Church]. I joined.
Who was the minister?
When I first joined the church it was Reverend
Cleland. Then, oh, they changed ministers. Oh, gosh.
Would you say that the congregation and the
minister were one of these more active ones that we mentioned or
When did you join the NAACP?
Oh, I guess when I first—I—we got
married in '41. I moved to Greensboro in '41. And I guess—the
time—I was a member even when Edmonds was president.
And—that was back—
Early fifties. Well, we've mentioned Dr. Edmonds
and Dr. Simkins. So you remember any of the other officers or members
of the executive committee?
I think Charles Davis was there, because he didn't,
he wasn't there initially. He came to Greensboro in '56, I think it
was. Enola Nixon was—and Minnie Feaster—let's
see—some more people—deceased now.
Well, I, I'd be still be interested in their names
whether they're living or not living. Give it a sort of historical
perspective on the chapter. I understand that Ralph Johns was a vice
As a matter of fact, did he not nominate Dr.
Simkins for the presidency?
I don't really—I don't
Incidentally, what was the attitude towards Ralph
Johns in the black community?
I think a lot of people respected him. And, you
I know there was some—
There was some, you know, people who had questions
about his involvement. But I think the—he got the support of a
lot of the students because of his business, you know, that he had on
East Market Street. And I think a lot of people felt that he was
really sincere in his feelings about the kinds of things that were
happening to black people in the community.
I get a sense that, although there was a strong
NAACP youth chapter here, that most of the college students were not
members of the NAACP. Or am I mistaken?
I, I couldn't, I couldn't even respond to
It was primarily an adult—
Yeah, 'cause I don't know—I don't know what
was happening with the, with the youth group at that
Now, I gather there were—you've mentioned the
merit employment program. And Mr. Davis was involved with the school
desegregation program. Were you involved in other programs of the
AFSC at this time?
My, my job was with the merit employment program,
even though the school desegregation program and the merit employment
program did work together. We were both under one big umbrella as a
community relations program of AFSC.
We were, yes, related also to the college program. The secretary
of the college program had the responsibility of meeting with college
students and encouraging them to participate in various projects for
college students. There were summer projects. Some of the students
would get involved in work, work projects for nonprofit
organizations. It may be painting or doing some rebuilding or
And all these were sponsored by the
Sponsored by the AFSC. Also, there were seminars
sponsored like at the United Nations, various kinds of seminars in
international relations for college students. They also had projects
for high school students, too, similar seminars and similar workshops
for high school students. They were separate and apart from the
Now, did you just go and talk to the black
students, or was it black and white students?
Black and white students. I didn't talk to them.
The college secretary did that. But sometimes, you know, we would
work together in referring particular students or, or professors or,
you know, this kind of thing.
Was the student response favorable?
More or less, yes. On some of the
projects—required students to pay to participate in a work
project. That got to be a problem in some areas, because most black
kids—students—were looking for jobs, paying jobs during
the summer and couldn't afford to, to take summer off plus finding
money to pay to participate in a community project. Often there were
scholarships available, made available for students who could
Sometimes it's difficult for me to keep these
different organizations that were—work here in the black
community in Greensboro. And frequently they're overlapping
memberships, as you mentioned your involvement in NAACP and the AFSC.
Were you involved in the Interracial Commission?
What sort of activities did you do there?
Well, this was a kind of organization—this
was a—we were trying to get people together to talk to each
other. And this, we felt, was very helpful if we could get blacks and
whites together to express their ideas, their concerns. That this
might help people to get to know each other. And if you know each
other, then you wouldn't feel any, the kind of hostility that, you
know, had been permeating the whole place. It was, it was helpful in
some, some ways.
What sort of things would you discuss?
We would discuss employment, housing, recreation
activities. Most of the times, the blacks would be concerned about
their denial of—not being a part of—in terms of the
school situations, you know, getting the leftover schoolbooks, the
hand-me-down schoolbooks, not having adequate facilities, facilities
that equaled the facilities at other schools.
We would just talk about attitudes. Why do people have the attitudes
that, you know, that they have? What kinds of things can we do to, to
break down? What kinds of things, activities, could we sponsor
jointly that would eliminate or alleviate something—activities?
I know they used to have every—when was it, the first Sunday,
second Sunday in February, this massive meeting at one of the big
churches downtown, Methodist Church or the First Presbyterian
Was that part of “Religious Emphasis
Week” or is this something separate?
It was black—“Negro History Week”
or something—or “Race Relations Week” they used to
And the thing that used to bother us was the fact that, oh,
everybody would come out. It's the first time you could see an
audience that was integrated, a church full of integrated people. And
we'd do all this in February, and then the rest of the
Now was it the case of whites coming into the black
churches? It was never the other way, was it?
Not initially. It was black people going
Would this tend to be—the people who seemed
to be receptive to interracial activities in the fifties and early
sixties, same names keep coming up over and over again, Kay Troxler,
McNeill Smith, Mrs. Smith. Who were some of the more active whites in
the community who were receptive to this and did participate in
various activities like this? Do you recall?
I, I know faces. I can't, I can't call their names.
Ethel Troy was a very ardent member. She was the president or
secretary. And she was the one who used to keep in touch with
everybody to remind them when the next meeting was going to be and,
you know, where we would meet.
Oh, dear. You know, I wish I had thought to try to go back and,
and look through files that I have of the American Friends Service
Committee. If I can get up in my attic and look at some of the stuff,
I'd just be glad to share that with you.
Well, who were some of the members of the
Oh, you're asking me something that
Perhaps that is unfair. But I, I would like to get
away, or to be more inclusive than the names that keep popping up. Of
course, these are names that seem to stay in people's minds. But you
get a sense there's much broader participation than these few
Certainly is, and—oh, my
Well, maybe let me shift to—we discussed
black organizations. Who were some of the
It's been an hour already.
Oh, my goodness. That's amazing.
And I just, I parked on a one-hour place, cause I
knew I wasn't going to be here any longer than that.
[End of Interview]