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Oral History Interview with Carolyn Mark by William Chafe


Date: October 10, 1974

Interviewee: Carolyn Mark

Biographical abstract: Carolyn Mark attended North Carolina A&T State University in the late 1960s and then worked as a secretary for the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce.

Interviewer: William Henry Chafe

Description:

This transcript of an October 10, 1974, interview conducted by William Chafe with Carolyn Mark primarily documents Ms. Mark’s recollections as a student at North Carolina A&T State University and as an employee of the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce. Of her time at A&T, Mark discusses the separation between the university and the city; the presence of Winston-Salem Black Panthers on campus; students sitting-in at the administration building to protest school policies; fighting for women’s rights on campus; the march after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death; the 1969 Dudley High/A&T protest, including the speed at which it moved, the National Guard using smoke bombs to evacuate dorms, and factors the fueled the protest; students’ opinion of Dr. Lewis Dowdy, Cleo McCoy, John Marshall Kilimanjaro, and Nelson Johnson; and the conservative nature of the A&T faculty.

Mark also describes how she became involved with the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce; the power structure in Greensboro; effort to camouflage the fact that business elite run the city; business leaders’ reaction to school desegregation; human relations and cell meetings at the Hayes-Taylor YMCA; the Community Unity Committee; Hal Sieber’s support in the chamber and in the community; and the improvement of race relations in the city.

Subjects:

Format of original: Oral History

Collection: William Henry Chafe Oral History Collection

Repository: Duke University

Item#: 4.23.663

Rights: It is responsibility of the user to follow the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Materials are not to be reproduced in published works without written consent, and any use should credit Civil Rights Greensboro and the appropriate repository.



Oral History Interview with Carolyn Mark by William Chafe

Note: This transcript is an edited version of an original transcript for which no audio recording was available. Therefore, CRG cannot guarantee that this transcript is an exact representation of the interview.

William Chafe:

Did you grow up in Greensboro?

Carolyn Mark:

No, Charlotte.

WC:

That's right. I asked you that the other day and you said you grew up in Charlotte. And you came to Greensboro for the first time when you went to [North Carolina] A&T [State University]?

CM:

Yes.

WC:

Which was '67?

CM:

[Nineteen] sixty-seven.

WC:

Tell me, if you will, how things seemed in '67 as a freshman coming to A&T in terms of the Greensboro community. I mean, what kind of rep[utation] did Greensboro have as a total community? What kind of feeling was there about the way in which blacks and whites related to each other, or was Greensboro a good place a bad place?

CM:

Well, truthfully speaking, campus life was separate from the city. I didn't know anything about Greensboro until my senior year and I had to do my internship and go out into a business. That's when I started learning about it. Even street names. I knew the ones right around the school and how to get to McDonald's and something similar to that, but other than that I didn't know anything about Greensboro. When I first got here, that was my first time really in Greensboro. I had passed through maybe from the highway. And I was kind of disappointed, because Charlotte is bigger than Greensboro. And, of course, Greensboro has changed a lot. My first impression was that I was disappointed. I was disappointed in A&T when I first got there. You know, I had heard so much and I was expecting a great big—I was just disappointed. As far as race relations, I still can't tell you anything about that, because on campus it was just a world in itself, a separate world.

WC:

Were a lot of people at A&T from Greensboro?

CM:

Most of them were not.

WC:

Were not. Do you think that has changed over time? I don't know—

CM:

I mean most of the people in my class—

WC:

Yes, were not from Greensboro.

CM:

I would say about a third of them were from Greensboro. Most of them are from North Carolina.

WC:

What was the kind of student atmosphere? Was it one of activism at that time when you first came?

CM:

No, not until the spring when Martin Luther King got killed, and then everything just exploded.

WC:

Can you tell me what happened here then? I have a vague sense of what went on, but can you just tell me as you recall it? What—

[Page 2 of original transcript missing]

WC:

What was the problem at Dudley [High School]?

CM:

I never did quite get it clear. It was the students. The students over there were protesting about something. Of course, by this time they were beginning to desegregate, and I think the problem stemmed from that the black kids didn't want the whites on their campus and they were protesting. And Nelson Johnson went over there to speak or something and first one thing led to another. And then there was a disruption and he was over there on the campus at the time. Newspapers blasted A&T students. It came out A&T students started a riot on Dudley's campus. And the first couple of days you just heard about Dudley, and the next thing you knew it had moved over to A&T and everything happened so fast. Even when I think back on it now, I can't really tell you what started it. Next thing I knew, snipers were on campus and the guy that got killed. Willie Grimes was a classmate of mine. He was not only in the class I graduated in, but he was in a humanities class of mine at that time. He had been shot. You know, everything just happened so fast and troops came on campus.

WC:

How did he get shot? Did he get shot by a sniper?

CM:

No, he was shot supposedly by one of the National Guards who were on campus. They were troopers. That's all I remember. There were a whole bunch of them. There were some guys on campus who had guns, too. They smoke-bombed or smoked the guys out of Scott Hall—that's where it was centered around—and of course the [Black] Panthers in Winston[-Salem] were in on it then. Willie Grimes got killed. One story said he was just walking across campus, another story said he was in on trying to be a sniper. I can't picture him being a sniper. He was real quiet, and studious. At any rate, the next thing you knew he was dead. And by the '69-'70 school year, things were beginning to quiet down.

WC:

You said the Panthers came in from Winston-Salem. Was there a local Panther group at A&T?

CM:

Not that I know of. The reason I say Panther group from Winston, every time they came you knew it was them walking around with their tams, their outfits on.

WC:

What did they have besides the tams? Did they have—

CM:

Black shirts and pants. Everything was black. They talked with students and wanted us to either join the Panthers or the movement. They identified themselves as Panthers from Winston.

WC:

How did the students respond to them and Nelson Johnson?

CM:

Nelson was alone among the students. The Panthers—I can't speak for other students, but at least most of my friends were afraid. We were all for black awareness and this kind of thing, but we were afraid of the Panthers themselves. If we were stopped, we would listen to what they had to say. That was it.

WC:

Any women among them, or all men?

CM:

All guys that I can remember coming on campus.

WC:

So they would come around [unclear] people like Nelson Johnson and this other guy, Vincent McCullough?

CM:

Yes, [unclear]

WC:

To what extent were those people in alliance?

CM:

If they were in alliance with them it wasn't visible. Because at the same time, students, especially female students, were protesting for our rights on campus: extended hours. They wouldn't let us wear pants on campus when we went to class. There were a whole lot of things. We were trying to get rules changed. And at the same time, night students would end up spending the night in Dudley Building, which was the administration building, protesting. “We are not going to move until our requests are met.” Two or three things were happening at the same time.

WC:

Did you get forcibly evicted from that? How about the people who [unclear]?

CM:

[unclear]

WC:

Did they get forcibly evicted from that? They were living there, that was the center. Was there an occupation of some sort?

CM:

No.

WC:

No, okay.

CM:

Just a dormitory, period. The reason I said smoke bombs were thrown into [it] by the National Guards, there were snipers in that building and a few of them were students. In order to get all the guys out, search every room—some guys automatically left, others stayed in. To get everybody out so that they could search every room, [they used] tear gas and smoke bombs.

WC:

So there were really a number of different issues mixed up together?

CM:

Yes.

WC:

There was black awareness and black pride, and there was the whole question of students' rights, and about what was going on in the country, too.

CM:

Plus there were rumors beginning to circulate about UNCG [The University of North Carolina at Greensboro] and A&T merger. There was a big uproar of that, too. All of that was mixed in right together. Everything happened so fast. Even though I was there and I think back on it, I can't really tell you what started the whole shooting. The minute it started you would look up and hear shooting, guards, Willie Grimes dead. And the next thing you know, it's time to go home.

WC:

It seemed to happen just like that?

CM:

Within a day or two.

WC:

No forewarning of tension building? It starts at Dudley and then all of a sudden. Were you actually in any of the protests at all?

CM:

Not other than the women's rights on campus.

WC:

What happened there?

CM:

We got our rights, we got our hours extended. They ended up giving us a vote; they had the whole school vote, and the women's hours were extended. At first, the freshmen had to be in at ten o'clock, upperclassmen eleven [o'clock] except on weekends, and upperclassmen until twelve and freshmen until 10:30 [on weekends], and we got everybody on the same hour: one o'clock through the week and three o'clock on the weekend. A whole lot more schools were changed, too. [unclear]

WC:

Were there pretty much unanimous support among the women students for this thing?

CM:

Right.

WC:

How about the support from men and women students of—were they pretty much behind Johnson and McCullough?

CM:

You mean as student leaders?

WC:

Yes, and as leaders of a kind of identifiable protest—I mean, they were leaders of something—

CM:

Right. I just remember I did participate in '68. That year after Martin Luther King was killed, the students had a protest march. We went from campus downtown to the courthouse and there—I don't think anyone spoke. It was just a rally, like, and then we marched back to campus. Of course, that was peaceful. It was during the day about twelve o'clock.

WC:

Did you have a feeling at all about the attitude of the administration toward you, the women students, as well as toward students generally?

CM:

Dr. [Lewis Dowdy] was president then and is now, and he's pretty much stood behind students just about the whole time. It's just the other administrative officers and trustees and things of this sort he had to work with and who were his superiors.

WC:

So he wasn't the enemy; you didn't see him as the enemy?

CM:

No, I don't think most students did. They felt he was the man to go to to get anything done. Students went to his house and knocked on his door.

WC:

And you felt that he was responsive?

CM:

As much as he could be.

WC:

He could have become a scapegoat, but he didn't.

CM:

No.

WC:

How about other deans and administrative authorities? Were there people who you clearly thought were very conservative people, either racially or in terms of—?

CM:

All the way around, most of the administration was conservative—reluctant on the women's rights and the students' rights, period, as far as changing the rules to suit changing times. And on the black movement, most of the students looked at the administrative staff like they would their parents. Most of them were about their parents' ages, and our parents—when we started wearing afros, that was the big deal at home. They didn't want you to do that. It just had to grow on them. The black movement among the administration was the same way. It just had to grow on them. I think they wanted these things, but they didn't think that the way our generation was going about it was the right way. That's just my opinion.

WC:

Meanwhile, you were obviously taking them through some changes.

CM:

[laughter] Right.

WC:

Were there people on campus that weren't faculty you saw as being very supportive of you?

CM:

Few and far between.

WC:

Any of those names come to your mind right away?

CM:

Not of hand, and I wouldn't want to call names anyway.

WC:

Okay. It would not necessarily be on the record anyway. If you gave me some names, I would use them, or maybe try to go and see some people or see them personally. I wouldn't quote you as saying that. I wonder whether there was someone like [John Marshall] Stevenson [now Kilimanjaro] [who] was particularly identified as a pro-student kind of person?

CM:

I think most of the time he had been. And a lot of the student distrust and complaints were directed at the dean of student affairs, which is always the case on any campus. And I don't know if Dean Marshall is still dean of that area of not. At least he was a couple of years ago. You might want to talk with him.

WC:

Do you remember what his first name was?

CM:

No.

WC:

That's okay. I can get it easily enough.

CM:

Not off the top of my head. [His] last name is Marshall.

WC:

How would someone like Reverend [Cleo] McCoy—was he an active [unclear]? Was he kind of someone—?

CM:

The chaplain?

WC:

Yes.

CM:

No, he's so white, most people think he is white. Most of the students—I was there two or three years before I realized he was black, and most of the students just did not relate to him unless they had to work with him directly. He was always in the background.

WC:

Always in the background. Did you have occasions to talk?

CM:

I just never knew him. I would see him and speak to him, but that was it. I didn't really know him, wasn't anything else to it.

WC:

Jimmie Barber, someone who I think was on the [Greensboro] City Council at that time, did you have any kind—did he have any kind of reputation at all?

CM:

No. In housing and development?

WC:

Yes.

CM:

I think he's still in that area. No, he didn't. I think Dean Marshall and President Dowdy are the only two who really stood out at that time, because everything was directed to them.

WC:

Were there some younger faculty people who would have sort of been like your allies, people you could depend, you know, go—

CM:

No, that's discouraged, period. Because a friend of mine right now has been trying to—he just graduated from Cornell [University] and he has a master's [degree] in black studies, black history—I forget the formal title—and he wants so bad to go back and teach at A&T. You see, I never did get to take black history over there, because by the time they offered it, it was my junior year and I just didn't have electives left. Everything I was taking I had to take without taking an overload. And he's gung-ho in that area, and I know he's good, just listening to him talk. And he's been only trying to get a job, and he's really let down now because he said that the man with whom he talked said that he was not going to have anybody in that area who was there as a student between '67 and '71—and he was there during those years—because he felt that they would be more for the students than with the faculty.

WC:

The faculty obviously see themselves as being the enemy of the students.

CM:

Right.

WC:

Do you think that that's pretty widespread?

CM:

I don't really know, because most of the faculty is just there during the day. They aren't around after hours.

WC:

Are there many younger people on the faculty?

CM:

Quite a few, quite a few of the kids that graduated; not a whole lot. A few of the people who graduated with me are back there teaching now, maybe in math or they are working on their master's and teaching. Two or three I know have completed their master's and are teaching in math or sociology.

WC:

Would you describe the general politics of the faculty as conservative or—?

CM:

Yes.

WC:

So it would be hard to be really militant and survive on the faculty if you were overtly so?

CM:

I think so. Take Stevenson. I think he was an exception. He's gotten away with it by hook or crook. I don't know how in the world he got away with it. He stuck around in spite of his views. Now, I think he was pretty close to the students, in that he was in close contact with them as far as [unclear]. He would be over there after hours, and he would talk with students about their concerns. That was mostly in the area of kids who were involved with the plays or his classes.

WC:

Of course, he had his own encounter with administration when he left in the late fifties [unclear].

CM:

He's unique. He's about the only one that I know of who's a little different from the rest of them faculty, as far as being involved with the students [unclear].

WC:

Now, Nelson Johnson is still here, right?

CM:

Yes.

WC:

Is he still active?

CM:

Well, he was last year and the year before. He's quieted down quite a bit. He's been working with GAPP, Greensboro Association for Poor People. I haven't heard too much of him or about him in the last year or so.

WC:

And he was with this organization, in—what, Students Organized for Black Unity [SOBU]?

CM:

Yes, and that organization is still here. But I think it was last year, at the end of last year or the beginning of this year, he took on another position with the Greensboro Association for Poor People, and I don't know if he is still has affiliation with the other one or not. But he's one person I think you will probably have a hard time getting to talk to.

WC:

Right, I'm sure.

CM:

Because when I was at [unclear] house, I would try just to sit down and talk to him about some of the things that he had gripes about, and you couldn't get him to come to any meetings, especially that was [alternate?] members of the chamber of commerce. Anything of that sort was just off limits. Now, you might could get him to come to [unclear]. A student couldn't get him to just sit down with and talk. Once in a while you might could.

WC:

Was Cleveland Sellers active at all?

CM:

[unclear]

WC:

He's living in Greensboro now. At least he was last spring.

CM:

I think most of their activities quieted down, especially since the schools and parents have settled down here.

WC:

So would you say then that it was a real difference in the last couple of years?

CM:

Big difference.

WC:

Big difference. How would you describe that big difference?

CM:

I don't know. There used to be a lot of tension, especially since school desegregation follows right behind '69-'68 and '69. And once the students got quieted down, their parents got in an uproar about school desegregation, and that's when [unclear] came in. And by this time I was at the chamber and I could really see what was going on and feel it because I was right there [unclear] and came in contact with people in that rumor control system. I answered the phone for a while. Those parents would call. They thought they heard a rumor, and that was really the purpose of the telephone. If they even heard something that could spread—and when we would call the school to see what actually happened—

WC:

Were most of these parents white who were calling?

CM:

The majority of them were. Once in a while you had a black parent. You can always—I can always tell by the voice, and often times that's not valid. Most of the time, I would say that they were white parents. If they would hear—like when school started, they may would call and say that, “I heard that a little black boy raped a little white girl in the shower room at such-and-such junior high school.” We would take the ladies name and number and tell her we would call her back. Then we would call the school and ask them what happened. And we usually would end up talking to the principal, and what may have happened is in a junior high school, boys and girls have separate locker rooms, and maybe a little boy brushed up against a little girl in a shuffle. And when it got back, he tried to rape her and it was out on the gym floor. We would call her back, and that eases her mind and stops the rumor like that.

WC:

How did you get involved with the chamber?

CM:

I mentioned a little while ago I did internship, and my major is business education and one of the requirements was to do internship, [in] which you would go to class a certain number of weeks [unclear] and then for about six or eight weeks, instead of going to class you had to go to a company at your designated hours to work, to get the feel of being in the community and what business was about and this sort of thing. And I worked—this was in the fall of my senior year—and I worked at the chamber under Hal Sieber, and my internship lasted about six or seven weeks. Then after that was over, they were impressed with my work and they needed somebody part time and they asked me to work part time. I worked part time until I did student teaching in the spring. By the time we did student teaching, I didn't think I was interested in teaching. [Sieber said] if they had an opening and I was interested, he would let me know. But I ended up working at Burlington Industries. I was there for about five months and then an opening came up, and it happened to be his secretary, and I got the job. I really liked that department, because it was human relations as well as public relations, but it was mostly public relations. It was so active then because of the school situations and human relations. Everything has really made a big change in the last couple of years.

WC:

Do you think that blacks feel good about this and whites feel good about it?

CM:

There's still going to be dissension anywhere you go, but I think feelings are more settled down. I don't know if they have changed. But peoples' actions I would say have changed.

WC:

Do you think that blacks feel that Greensboro is a place where there is more fairness now than there was?

CM:

I think so, because a lot of people have moved back to Greensboro and a whole lot of students who graduated from the schools don't want to leave, so I think that it has a big bearing.

WC:

The blacks feel that, in a sense, that there is a chance to have some power?

CM:

I don't know about power, but they feel that there is at least a chance to make it in life.

WC:

Who do you think has power in Greensboro?

CM:

Big business.

WC:

You were dealing with power all the time down there. What sort of observations [unclear]?

CM:

I'd say that the chamber is composed of—most of the businesses are small, medium to small, but I still say the big businesses run the place. I mean the town almost—because, well, everybody tried to camouflage it, but it was there. And when we would have meetings, everybody would always try to make sure that big business was pleased. At the head of these were Burlington [Industries] and Cone [Mills]. [They] always tried to make sure that somebody was on the committee and that somebody is involved—except city government. I think the mayor has a big influence.

WC:

Is he pretty popular?

CM:

I think so. He wasn't that popular when I first started noticing the community, because at that time the mayor was appointed by the city council. Now he is elected. And he was elected last year, year before last. A year or two ago he was elected unanimously. I think that speaks for itself.

WC:

So he got substantial support in both the white and the black community. Can you think—I'm fascinated by your statement that they tried to camouflage, but they really couldn't.

CM:

Honestly, I hate to say it, but I was right there and I could see this kind of thing. Like the big businesses gave the most money as far as is called investment, invested the most money. Of course, that was based on the size of their business. [unclear] But most of the big business, people involved up the ladder in those businesses have influence. And most of the time if some project was trying to kick off, everybody made sure somebody is involved from big business.

WC:

Can you think of an example of some time when someone from one of these big businesses was able to turn something around or got very upset by what was being done?

CM:

Most of them were upset about that school situation, but there's one committee down at the chamber, the Council of Community Unity, and that is the only committee in that chamber that's not composed by matter of chamber members. They are just community people, some from [unclear], most from middle to lower income people. And they don't care. They just say what is on their mind. Quite often you couldn't get after the word got around that this group—none of the other officers or anybody in the chamber could really control this one group as far as how they thought in their reports. They just reported everything that they thought, without worry about what somebody else thought. You couldn't get some of the big men to come to those meetings. I think they were afraid that they would be blasted.

WC:

Who were some of these big men?

CM:

[Caesar] Cone for one. Like year before last—I don't remember which one it was. Caesar was one. Is he still here?

WC:

Caesar and Clarence, I think.

CM:

Caesar, I think, because that's the name I heard the most. He had threatened to withdraw from the chamber because of the activity of the Concerned Citizens for Schools [CCS]. The Concerned Citizens for Schools was the baby of Council on Community Unity. They came up with the plan for it, initiated the grant, everything came out of that one little committee. He had threatened to withdraw, and then the members had invited him so that he could see how they were, and this sort of thing. You could not get him to come to the meetings and this sort of thing. Even like Stan Frank was the president last year, and he's chairman of the board at [unclear], and that's not a great big company, but he has a lot of [unclear] in Greensboro, and you could not get him to come to those meetings. If he would come, he would stay ten minutes and all of a sudden he would hop up and leave. And that's just an example of—

WC:

He didn't want to hear what they were saying?

CM:

I think he was afraid of what they would say, because most of—especially a few of the people didn't care what he thought, as long as they—if they had a gripe, they would tell you, without regard to how you were going to feel about it.

WC:

Who were some of the people who would do that?

CM:

I think one of the main people—I think highly of her—and she's Eula Hudgins over at A&T library. She's in audiovisual aids. She'll tell you what's on her mind in a minute. And nine times out of ten, when she's talking on an issue, she knows what she is talking about and she has facts to back herself up. She'll talk to you frankly, and she wants you in return to talk to her frankly. She and a few others—William Stein[?], he's a realtor downtown [and] he's white, and Anne Flowers[?] has moved. She used to be with GAPP—not GAPP, NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People]. But she had some connections with GAPP.

[Redacted off the record comment.]

CM:

At that time—I'm trying to think of his changed names. He was in Greensboro for about three years, the guy that was in Durham?

WC:

Howard Fuller?

CM:

Howard Fuller.

WC:

Who is now—

CM:

I can't think of his name. [Owusu Sadaki]

WC:

No, I can't either.

CM:

But anyway, he was here for awhile, and he was worse than Nelson Johnson as far as sitting down at a table with especially white people. But Hayes-Taylor Y[MCA] was mutual ground.

WC:

Did any of these meetings take place at Hayes-Taylor of the Community Unity Council?

CM:

I think they used to, but they had them all over the city at one time. And they tried to have them at different hours, because a lot of people couldn't get off work to come. All of that's changed now. Usually about fifty or sixty people on that one committee, and that was to ensure a good [unclear]. People would readily meet at Hayes-Taylor from both sides of the city.

WC:

Who were some of the other big leaders that didn't want to come and listen to that or who seemed opposed? How about someone like Charlie Myers from Burlington Industries? Did he ever come into the picture?

CM:

No, I have never seen him down at the chamber. I think most of those men, they try to stick to the economic councils or the committees involved in economics, planning and development.

WC:

But you think that they were upset by the CCS?

CM:

I'm sure they were. I just feel that they just steered away from human relations issues. They air their views and they want somebody else to tell it, to point the finger. You never see [unclear].

WC:

You worked pretty closely with Hal Sieber?

CM:

Yes.

WC:

How do you think—what kind of support did he have within and without?

CM:

From within the chamber, I don't think he had that much. But from the community he had a lot, I'd say, especially [in the] black community, because of the kinds of things human relations was trying to put forth. But I think he had little support from members of the chamber.

WC:

Including the officers, the staff of the chamber?

CM:

Now, clerical—I think most of the time when you speak of staff—he was talking about the officers and managers [unclear].

WC:

[unclear]

CM:

You know, people would say and try to make him think so, but just sitting back watching I could see all of this. I know that he didn't have the support.

WC:

Did he feel this, too, do you think? Obviously he must have.

CM:

I'm sure he did. But he had the kind of personality where he could maneuver around a person and they would end up—he could get them to see his side of the story without them really realizing it. I don't know if I should say sympathize with them, but that was one way that he got them to change their attitudes. He took a lot of flack now from both sides.

WC:

From both sides?

CM:

Blacks and whites. Yes, a whole lot of flack. I don't see how he stood it.

WC:

I can imagine a ton of the flack from the black side.

CM:

Quite often Nelson Johnson and Howard Fuller—GAPP would say that he was not to be trusted and that was the main thing that they were saying. He could not be trusted. And they wanted to know why he was so interested in human relations as such, because blacks didn't really want to be bothered with whites, especially if they didn't want to be bothered with blacks. And whites, on the other hand, with that exact opposite—I used to feel sorry for him for the position he was in.

WC:

You thought that he was doing a good job?

CM:

Yes.

WC:

And you supported him.

CM:

Yes. And he had a few loyal friends, and if it wasn't for those loyal friends—people with whom he confided and counseled him on certain issues if he heard a rumor about something. He could call somebody and they would give him the low-down on it.

WC:

Who were his loyal friends?

CM:

I don't really want to call any names.

WC:

Okay.

CM:

He had a few loyal friends, and most of these people were people who were respected as a whole in the community.

WC:

Black and white community, is that what you are talking about?

CM:

Now some of them—I'll say there were a few who were respected by the two segments; blacks respected in the black community and whites respected in the white community.

WC:

And these people were the ones who sort of reinforced him?

CM:

Yes, I think so.

WC:

I have heard that it's said that he tried too hard.

CM:

Yes, some people say that. He worked day and night trying to get an issue solved, and people say he worked too hard. I think he didn't feel that he was working too hard because he believed in what he was doing, and especially if he had good results.

WC:

Do you think that most people in the black community did support him? I mean how widespread would you think this feeling would be that he was just another white liberal trying to—for his own reasons?

CM:

That would be hard to say. A lot of people didn't know him; they had merely heard his name. I think most people heard his name. They wouldn't know him if they saw him on the street. And then others, I think—most of the support came from the blacks who were members of the chamber or with whom he came in contact in human relations work—at least 95 percent of the support.

WC:

These cell groups, did they involve people from all different economic groups?

CM:

Yes, as much as possible. Quite often you couldn't get everybody to come those. Now that was an experience, because you are taking a close look at yourself and other people critiquing, and that's the part most people can't accept, is self criticism and criticism of others. If they didn't really know what they were going to, didn't know what was involved [unclear], and if it was in a neutral place—most of the time they would have it in churches. People wouldn't mind going to the church. I think after it got a couple of years old we couldn't get too many people to come. The students would come: UNCG, A&T, all the colleges. You could get students to come, but you couldn't get citizens, regular citizens, to come.

WC:

Were the students pretty good, even—I mean, they would, too.

CM:

I mean you would get all age groups. I mean usually there wasn't anybody under sixteen. But I say during the period that it lasted, I think we touched every part of the community.

WC:

Was there always a staff person there as a leader?

CM:

No.

WC:

I mean it's obviously difficult to—

CM:

I could—you really serve as the leader.

WC:

But I mean at each session, would there be someone there who would be responsible for sort of beginning the meeting, this kind of thing?

CM:

You mean like break up into groups? Yes, most of these people were trained or either had been involved with it long enough to know how to handle the group and not let things get out of hand. Especially when the subject of race [unclear] would come up, these group leaders would just keep things in order. They would stay out of the picture as much as possible. They would get the group started talking and stayed out until some hot argument gets going, then they would intervene.

WC:

Did you go to many of those?

CM:

I went to quite a few.

WC:

You were impressed from what happened there?

CM:

Yes. And you know, as far as the fact that I went to quite a few, I would always have this reluctant feeling about going to the next one. I hate to say that. And quite a few of them I went to because I had to go, because I was staff. I never was group leader. I would always participate still. And, you see, none of them are just alike, because you got different people in them. But I would still get this reluctant feeling. You feel like you are being exposed. And then after it's over, you get tense, upset. Some people cry because they can't stand to hear the things people are saying about them. And most of the things people are saying are just first impressions or just from listening to the person talk. They go back and cut up everything he said. By the end of the sessions, when you look back on it, I'll always feel that I gained something, some insights one way or the other, as far as blacks and whites.

WC:

Was there any efforts to have follow-ups?

CM:

No.

WC:

One of the problems with that whole experience is that you—it can become a mountain-top experience which you look back on and think about.

CM:

And plus we didn't keep any records, because we didn't want—people would be even more paranoid if you start taking names, addresses, telephone numbers [unclear].

[End of Interview]