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Oral History Interview with Carol Stoneburner by William Chafe


Date: December 12, 1974

Interviewee: Carol Stoneburner

Biographical abstract: Carol Stoneburner served on the faculty of Guilford College from 1960 to 2006, and was very active in the Greensboro YWCA.

Interviewer: William Henry Chafe

Description:

This transcript of a December 12, 1974, oral history interview conducted by William Chafe with Carol Stoneburner primarily documents Ms. Stoneburner’s involvement in the YWCA in Greensboro, North Carolina. Topics include Stoneburner's initial involvement in the Lee Street YWCA; desegregation at the Y; the effectiveness of Y programs; the differences between the Lee Street and Davie Street Ys; disconnect between black and white Y members; changes in Y administration and structure; Y board members and staff; the Young Women Committed to Action group; community dialogue groups; the possible consolidation of the YWCA and YMCA in Greensboro; the Y as a safety valve in social issues; reasons the Y should address women's issues; and the state of the YWCA in the seventies. Stoneburner also discusses her early opinions of the South and initial impressions of Greensboro.

Subjects:

Format of original: Oral History

Collection: William Henry Chafe Oral History Collection

Repository: Duke University

Item#: 4.23.682

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 Carol Stoneburner by William Chafe

William Chafe:

—YWCA [Young Women’s Christian Association] in Greensboro, and who has been here for, what, eight years?

Carol Stoneburner:

Seven years.

WC:

Seven years. Where'd you come from Carol?

CS:

Most recently from New Jersey and Ohio.

WC:

Had you been at Drew [University]?

CS:

Yeah. My husband went to Drew and I went to Drew undergraduate school.

WC:

So you had never lived in the South before coming to Greensboro?

CS:

No, never. Didn't anticipate it. [chuckles]

WC:

What was your—

CS: I really had very negative feelings about coming to the South.

WC:

You had very negative feelings about it? Based on what?

CS:

Provincialism and rumor—provincialism. I really didn't want to come. I came down with John for his interview [at Guilford College] and was pleased because I thought—I had reconciled coming before we came, but I really just been taught that the South just wasn't the place I wanted to live, mostly in reference to race relations.

WC:

Yeah. So you’d grown up—had you grown up in a family in which liberalism on the racial issue was fairly strong?

CS:

Yeah, fairly strong. Lived in New York State, and had experiences as child of—my father is a minister. And we lived in some fairly normal communities, but we also lived on Long Island, which is very well—in a summer community. But had the opportunity, in a very formative point in my life, of doing a lot of things with my Dad in a small church where he had contact with the terrific range within that community. He had services in the—what was the black church, and then the black and white mixture in the chapel. So I was—always had contact with black persons in the context of the church at an early age. He had—the church didn't pay enough, so he had to have these little side jobs. And he had church services at the Indian reservation, and I went with him when he did that. And we also had what we called the natives on Long Island, the people who lived there all year long, and then the summer people. And our house was halfway, and the church, were one way right next to the estates and the other way right next to the servants’ quarters. I really learned to live in every segment of that society. It was intentional—

WC:

What town was that?

CS:

Westhampton Beach. So that we were brought up to believe that you were supposed to be able to function in every strata of the society.

WC:

But when you arrived in Greensboro, what kind of reaction did you have? How did you feel about Greensboro in light of your initial kind of hostility to coming here?

CS:

As I said, I resolved some of the hostility before I got here. And I knew that the Y was here, and I don't think I could have—when I first came down with John—and I had expressed reservations to Lois Ann Hobbs—she is the president's wife at Guilford—because I knew her. I mean we had known the Hobbs for a long time, and so I felt could express those reservations. She, while we were here, made—saw that I got to meet Louise Smith and Helen Ashby. I went to both buildings of the Y at that point, so I felt that there was a nucleus of people that I could relate to in the community, and felt good about that before we came here. And when I arrived I found it was not just what I had expected. I mean it didn't take me very long to perceive that I was all wrong in my preset—in my assumptions about the South.

WC:

When did that—how did that manifest itself to you?

CS:

How did that happen?

WC:

Yeah. Do you recall the first time when you said to yourself, “Gee, I was wrong about these people?”

CS:

No, I don't, but I think it was—well, part of it I was convinced when I came. The initial contact, that was really pretty important. Then I met a number of people in the community while I was here, in a two days period of time. I didn't stay just at Guilford. I wanted to know what this community was like.

WC:

Did you meet black people then?

CS:

A few, but mostly I went to the Lee Street [YYCA] building. I’m trying to think really when— [pause] The first year I spent a fair amount of time at the Lee Street building, and found the core of black and white women that I sort of worked with there for a period of time. I went onto the board here. It really was the committee on administration at the Davie Street building at that point. I mean even though it wasn’t—it was the board, but it was almost all white—not completely, but almost all. But I did more work, actually, in the Lee Street building.

WC:

Who were some of the people you would work with over there?

CS:

Over there?

WC:

Yeah.

CS:

Obviously, Margaret Headen[ White?], Shirley Frye. And I worked with some younger women then that I haven’t—they haven't been active in the Y since then: Jackie Meadows. I can’t think of—

WC:

She's active in the women's movement isn't she, Jackie Meadows?

CS:

I don't know. She teaches—she's a black woman who teaches at Mendenhall [Middle School] or Grimsley [High School]. I can't remember, but she teaches in that complex. And there are a couple younger of women that I worked with in dialogue groups there, black women. I can't even remember their names because I haven't worked with them; they haven't been involved in the Y since then. And Fannie Cone was involved in that group and Carolyn Allen. I began to make contacts through the Y with Carolyn Allen and Elaine Burgess, some other names that are going to leave me right now, but white women who were involved through and were on the faculty at UNCG [The University of North Carolina at Greensboro].

WC:

But you were involved with them primarily at Lee Street? So that there was a—so the Lee Street operation was, at least to some extent in its staffing, desegregated?

CS:

Not in the staffing, it was in the volunteering.

WC:

In the volunteers, yeah. That’s what I meant, yeah.

CS:

Volunteer staffing, it was.

WC:

Staffing that professional—

CS:

Well, it was no question, when I first came into the community—that was just before Yvonne Johnson was hired. I actually submitted papers to the Y, and then decided I didn’t want to work. And there was some discussion about my doing the adult programming in Lee Street building, which I didn’t—and as I say, decided I didn't want to work, not that I didn't want that particular job. And I intentionally spent a year not working so I could get to know the community and figure out what I wanted to do.

The people that I had most contact with in this—in the Davie Street Y at that point, were sort of very officially at board meetings. And people that I have mentioned before were all one way or another on the board, either directly or through the committee on administration. And there were a lot of other women that have really have since left the Y who were main core of the board members and have gone during that period of time, except for those I have mentioned, [chuckles] the ones that we hang onto.

WC:

We had talked the last time I was here about the Lee Street branch a little bit. Maybe we can get back into that a little bit. When you first came here in ’68, I guess it was, and you started going to the Lee Street branch, was it functioning at high effectiveness at that point?

CS:

I wouldn't say it was high effectiveness, but I would say it was it was—no, because it was [unclear] already, I think. It was strong in certain areas. There were certain classes, adult classes, that were functioning, but not with tremendous strength—I think sewing classes, typing classes, things like that. There was a period of having a strong, fairly strong, adult committee at that building, which was primarily white, actually, people on that committee who were planning things in crafts and working with the human relations committee. The strength was in the human relations committee, as far as programming is concerned. They were doing the dialogue group, interracial dialogue groups, and they were doing African history programs. And then the teenage program was stronger there. But there were—it was in no sense maximum utilization of the facility.

WC:

Would you say that it had already begun to decline a little bit in terms of—

CS:

Yes.

WC:

Was there though, when you came, a general sense of the Lee Street branch having been in the past more successful in its outreach to the community than the Davie Street branch?

CS:

Yeah, I sure of that. Yes. There wasn't the sense—I don't think there was a sense of, at the Lee Street building, that any decline was taking place, I think it was more subtle than that. But I think there was—there still wasn't in the framework of people's thinking to compare the two buildings really. I mean I compared them a lot more because I wasn’t—didn't have the experience of before, and worked in both and tried on the board to see the place as one place, and so I did a lot more comparison, I suspect, than most people were doing. But as far as I could see, there was a tremendous weakness in the Davie Street program.

WC:

Would this be in terms of programs or membership or what?

CS:

Both.

WC:

Both.

CS:

I think the positions taken in the Y had driven out a more traditional Southern woman from the Y of a long time ago.

WC:

By a long time ago you mean back in the forties?

CS:

Back in the forties, probably because they weren't around. Oh, there were some board members who were around, but they were all people who were comfortable in the community but were slightly tinted with liberalism. [chuckles] I mean they were suspecting people—they were able to maintain a position. But I think the really—in the policy, in the committees and things, most of the women were mildly liberal who were involved here anyway, even if we’ve lost a lot of those people.

WC:

Who would be some of those—this can be off the record if you want—but who would be some of those women who were established in the community and maybe mildly tainted with liberalism, but still those who, when you came, were more traditional?

CS:

Yeah. I'm not going to be able to remember all their names. There was a Mrs. Swain[?], for instance, who was a minister's wife. Well, when I came, Betsy Taylor and Louise Smith were very—still very active. They were sort of at the end of their most active periods, but they were still there.

WC:

Wouldn't they be identified as being pretty far out?

CS:

They were. They still maintained a sense of position in the community. Well, Lois Ann Hobbs from Guilford was on the board then and probably in the community—was accepted in the community, but again, sort of, you’d expect her to be that way. Marietta [Forelow?], she was the president. Eva Weltner[?] was after Marietta. I’m trying to think of some other—there were several faculty members from UNCG but—were people on the staff at UNCG, and Emily Cone.

WC:

Would she be on the more conservative end?

CS:

Yeah. Julia Howard, Boots Hargatt[?] is still on the board, but she was more conservative then than she is now. What’s her name—[unclear].

WC: Vanstory?

CS:

Well, Vanstory, but there is—yeah, right. Mary Kelly[?] was—she really—she was involved in the building. I can't think of her name, a businesswoman in the community— Sis Van Dyke.

WC:

Yeah. Did anyone—did people start getting upset when it became obvious that someone like Shirley Frye was going to become president?

CS:

I didn't hear of anybody being upset. I think that's for two reasons; one is that I think that the real structural unification of the Y could have happened beforehand.

WC:

Could have happened before.

CS:

I think. There was a factor here—this I really would just as soon not have on the record.

[Redacted conversation about YWCA board members and the unification of the YWCA. 16:08.]

[End Tape 1, Side A—Begin Tape 1, Side B]

CS:

—depending on the administration, which was, you know, I mean. During the period that—we did a lot in a very short time, in a very unofficial way in consolidating the two Ys, actually, is what happened. But one of the fallacies that I felt from a purely policy perspective—and this was not related to race—it sometimes turned out that the people who were feeling this way happened to be of a mindset that was shared or something I guess, and sometimes more black than white, but not always. The board, when I first went on it at this Y, was structured so that—and the committee on administration—that the only feed-in to the board of directors or the committee on administration—well, I guess it was really on the board of directors—about the whole facet of programming, the whole business, every facet of programming, was through the chairman of the program development committee. And so one of the reasons I kept feeling they were making horrible decisions—and I was involved in programming when I became chairman of the program development committee—was that you had only one voice to argue against this sea of people who were in charge of inspiration and membership and finances and everything—but what I felt—the Y food service, buildings, and—the whole facet of programming was just eliminated from the board discussion except—and at that point our staff was terribly weak. They just would sit in board meetings and say absolutely nothing. It used to drive me right up the wall, so I ended up doing a tremendous amount of the interpretation through the program development committee.

And originally I was on the board as the secretary, and I happened to be chairman of the program committee, so I talked about program then. And Carolyn Allen did, in reference to human relations program. But that's the only input significantly that was going on in programming in board decisions. So what we did during that period of transition when we were—Lillian Sharply[?] was here as a consultant. I talked to her about that problem—Shirley did and a number of us did—of how we were ever going to get intelligent decisions by a board that was structured in order to eliminate that input.

And at that point we succeeded in getting it arranged that even though there were board members with elected terms of office, that we would have ex-officio voting board members, which we had the right to have. We already had the building committee and so forth fitting into the ad hoc numbers. But what happened then was that we put the chairpersons of two teenage program committees, two adult committees, and two HBR[?] committees, plus a program development committee, ex-officio on the board. And they still are ex-officio on the board. But you began to get in the board decisions, first that whole influx of people. Now, these were working people who were working in programs so that they had a different perspective, and—as opposed to coming in and sitting on a board once a month, which we had a number of people doing. And that’s how the board changed. You put that many people ex-officio, but voting, on the board.

WC:

It would be more of an activists kind of—

CS:

They were activist-oriented, related to programming. And then when it came time for the nominating committee, you know, the next time around, well, the last two nominating committees had looked at all these ex-officio active people and said, “Well, goodness, we ought to have those people on as regular board members.” So this has been the way the transition occurred within the board. That really was a structural maneuvering—

WC:

And this brought in younger people, too. I mean sort of like Linda Bragg, for example, probably?

CS:

Well, Linda Bragg was involved through the human relations. But, yes, it did. I mean she brought—I think she may have first gone on as an ex-officio.

WC:

And this Young—

CS:

Women Committed to Action.

WC:

Yes, that sounds like a real innovation.

CS:

Well, right. That one we put—that was another ex-officio. We have had a great deal of freedom on the part of presidents in past years in adding ex-officios, which is probably questionable. [chuckles] But it also meant that we survived, so it may not have been questionable. But there was—the Young Women Committed to Action really has one ex-officio on the board anyway. And when it came time for looking for nominations, it was a ready group to draw people from. The committees—the nominating committees for the board the last few years have really functioned on a quota system, age and sex-wise, and so we took the percentage of blacks in the community, and you had at least that much representation on the board. And it was a very visible group to draw people from a certain age bracket. Then when we got out of that age bracket, we worked with other, more women who had been on the committee on administration. But they were the only really younger black women visible in the Y at that point, so it was a really easy source for finding board members.

WC:

There seemed to have been an older generation of black women who gradually disappeared: Margaret Faulkner, Anna Simpkins, Mrs. [Susie] David Jones. Did you know any of those people well?

CS:

Not well. I know I worked sort of peripherally with a number, but I don't know them well. I think that was one of those things that was not intentional, but happened for two reasons: one is that Lois McMannis[?] didn't have a lot—came into the Y inexperienced with the Davie Street Y, and really didn't have extensive contacts in the black community. And Eleanor Davis was the executive director at that time, so they really were at a loss of who to turn to and for some reason were cut off from—well, Shirley was terribly busy at that point with United Way, and Marietta Forlowe was working with other things, and Betsy was not available, and Louise was not—Smith—so that the people you would normally turn to to say, “Who do I go to to find this out?” —and Margaret Headen was available, but was not really consulted that much at that point. They just really didn't have—there weren't any really strong black women on the board from the committee on administration that they at least felt comfortable and knew well enough to ask. For instance, Josephine Gray and Anne Graves[-Kornegay] were older black women, and Clara Evans, but they weren't consciously consulted by either of those people because I don’t think they felt they knew them that well.

And then Priscilla was president after that, and really [pause] she didn't know enough people when she started. I mean it was really—she was a very good president in some ways, but she got thrown into too many problems without really having the time to develop enough relationships, period. I mean she was new enough in the community.

WC:

You mentioned earlier that one of the things that was going on at Lee Street were the dialogue groups. Were they—how were they related, if at all, to the [Greensboro] Chamber of Commerce dialogue groups?

CS:

The same group.

WC:

The same group?

CS:

Yeah.

WC:

Do you—

CS:

Well, no, they weren’t—they were—initially think they were the same. The Chamber then had some other ones, I think. But Hal Sieber was involved, and Henrietta Franklin was involved, and she was doing it for the chamber, I believe. There was a very tight connection between those two initially.

WC:

So that—do you know who initiated that? Did the chamber—did Hal initiate or did that come from a human relations committee?

CS:

I don't remember. I know that the—it was developing in the—when I came to the community, Carolyn Allen was beginning to be interested in it and some people from the human relations committee. And I had worked on dialogue groups in New Jersey, and so I helped do some kinds of initial suggestions of how to go about doing them. And I don't know exactly when the contact occurred between—obviously the chamber was going to do their own anyway. We didn't stir them on. I think theirs came out of more of the situation, the need for it. But at the same time that the Y had an interest, the Y—national Y—began to produce material on how to run dialogue groups. So it was a confluence of—and I don't know exactly when the contact occurred between us and the chamber. Carolyn Allen [unclear] Margaret Headen can tell you. I just don't know.

WC:

Did you have much contact with Hal Sieber?

CS:

No, I didn't personally.

WC:

What kind of an impression did you get of him from your associates?

CS:

Fairly positive. I never had any negative—positive was the only thing.

WC:

Was there any sense at all negative about the chamber of commerce and its involvement at this point? What were people’s ideas about why the chamber was doing all this kind of thing?

CS:

[pause] It would be hard to—really I don't remember any—well, from the part of the community that I functioned in, normally was positive, “Well, it’s about time,” kind of thing. My reaction was that it was impossible to believe. I had come from places where the chamber of commerce was the last people in the world that would’ve sponsored—I remember very early on asking Louise Smith, “What happened to this chamber of commerce? What's the matter with these people? I mean they are doing what they ought to be, but whatever got them doing it?”

WC:

What did she say in response?

CS:

Well, partly she attributed it to Hal Sieber, but partly she just felt that the business community had realized that the city was either going to have to integrate or it was going to destroy itself as a result of the sit-ins. It had come to that conclusion, and so they were going to do it. And that it was a purely survival necessity and they would do it the best way possible. But that they had gotten the message they were either going to find a way to integrate, or disintegrate, period. I took her at her word because she knew better about it than I did. I still find that it’s—it was completely out of my expectations of a chamber of commerce. I don't know about yours, but—[laughs]

WC:

Mine, too. Mine, too. Did you have a sense that—do you have a sense that race relations have changed dramatically in Greensboro since you’ve come, or would you see it more as a kind of continuity since you've come?

CS:

I think since I've come it’s a continuity. I really think that the real change occurred before I got here, and everything that has happened since is a working out of. But something happened, and whether it’s what happened as a result of sit-ins or what triggered it, I really can't tell you. I have to look to historians [laughter] and people who have lived through it—I mean black leaders and—to guess. But I think the major—I think, for instance, the schools, it was inevitable from my perspective, after I got here, that that was going to happen. It was just a case of whether there was any messiness involved with it, or whether it could be done with some degree of intelligence, rationality, not too much emotion, which fortunately it seemed to have been able to. As far as, I don't really—I couldn’t—I would be hard-pressed to tell you what race relations were like in this city at this point, because I really have such a small sample of encounters with blacks people—almost always through the Y.

John and I attended Union Memorial Methodist Church for a two or three year period of time and finally decided not to do that for various reasons [unclear], but partly because it was the wrong choice of black Methodist Churches to go to, because it was considered—I mean it was conservative, but also they had—conservative in the sense that it was middleclass, and the role of the clergy was so clearly defined and so old-fashionably defined. It was still a prevalent position there—but it was one that John finally escaped, and white Methodist Churches—of holding ministers on a pedestal, that we never really were allowed to encounter those people. They always—not only were we white, that was bad enough, but that he was a minister, and we just never could just be people. But I have had a fairly sustained relationship for a period with another group of participants. But other than that and in the Y, I didn't think that they would be such a non-representative group.

WC:

Do you have any occasion at the Y or otherwise to come in contact with the Greensboro Association for Poor People [GAPP]?

CS:

I haven't recently. When I was involved in the dialogue groups, I was in a group with Herman Gist, which was fun—I mean it produced good dialogue. But since that period of time, I've had no—

WC:

Do you think someone like Nelson Johnson would feel that communication of a meaningful path could take place between himself and the YWCA?

CS:

Well, no, I don't suspect he thought—but I also suspect that he might see that we are one organization, among others, that might provide some opportunities for things, so he might maintain communication even if it is not meaningful. The distinction is meaningful. [chuckles] I mean, for instance, I think Gwyn Snead on that board, who doesn’t—is not a very radical person, but more radical than most of the board members that we have—is very willing to admit that she is involved in the Y for what it can do for her and for the people that she wants to have heard. And so in a sense that we have any power that they can have access to and use, then there's the communication. Whether it’s meaningful is probably very questionable.

WC:

What kind of image do you have of the YWCA in the 1950s?

CS:

Here in Greensboro?

WC:

Yeah, in terms of—was there any desegregation at the YWCA at all?

CS:

Well, for me it would have to be, you know, purely from [notions?].

WC:

Yeah, right.

CS:

There was some desegregation—I can’t even say it—some integration, because I think it probably was integration, on the part of some board members and in some token situations. But there was the black Y and the white Y, and white women went to the black Y—some white women went to the white Y.

WC:

And black women did not come into the white Y.

CS:

But there were some black and white women on the board.

WC:

Yeah.

CS:

[unclear] For instance, my first encounter at the Davie Street Y just nearly choked me up. I came by here on a Saturday morning, and this would’ve been’68 in January. Saturday morning wasn’t a thriving time anyway, but the building was locked. It was supposed to be open, but it was locked. It was very clear that the people didn't want to be bothered. And Christine McAdoo[?] was sent to open the door in her white maid’s uniform, and inevery way functioned as a maid ina white association. I didn't have any question that I was going into a white YWCA that had a black servant. And that's pretty much where it was, except inthe board.

WC:

Did anyone raise the question of self-consciousness about a Y which purported to be a single Y with just separate branches, but which in fact was a segregated Y? Was that the kind of thing that—

CS:

No. Yeah, we didn't ever talk about it. I think that’s quite honest. It wasn’t ever talked about much. It just—there was the sense that we were ready for it to happen, and when we came to the time of institutional crisis and everything went well, it happened, to the extent that it could structurally happen through that period.

WC:

And so inthe last what, four years inparticular, the Davie Street Y has become The Y?

CS:

I think so, yeah.

WC:

Would you say that it has accelerated inthe last four years, or has it just been a sort of steady progression since you arrived inGreensboro?

CS:

Which—

WC:

The demise of Lee Street.

CS:

It’s been steady. There have been spurts of acceleration for a long time. For instance, I think that Young Women Committed to Action, this group being formed and started—and this was a conscious kind of decision, partly on the basis of the Y, but partly that it was proved as a theoretically a good thing to do, meant—and there was never any question that that group wanted to meet here.

WC:

Never?

CS:

They never met, as far as I know, at the Lee Street building, except the period when Yvonne maybe had an office there, but I don't even think then they met there. They met inhomes. Basically that's been a group that's functioned out of this building. And that certainly wasn't decided. They decided that.

I don't know—I was not directly involved inthe decision to move Yvonne or Georgia’s offices out of that building. Anne [Byler?] worked in Davie Street for a period and had her office there and Yvonne had an office here. They were switching back and forth. I was never—those were things that the executive director worked out. Probably a lot happened as a result of those decisions that were never discussed properly as a policy.

[Comments about YWCA staff supervision redacted]

WC:

I've gotten the impression that there's always been this terrible problem of retaining an executive director, and that in some ways those who you do retain are least effective. I'm not sure that that's true enough.

[Discussion of former and current YWCA directors and staff problems redacted.]

WC:

Have you ever heard anyone—I'm sure you have—recall—and maybe the pressure is still going on—the days when the Community Chest or the United Way—whatever it is called at different times—was putting all this pressure on to unite with the YM[CA—Young Men’s Christian Association]? Is that still going on?

CS:

Well, in this community less so right at the moment, because we argued that battle so many times and I don't think they want to take us head on. But I think this whole—I don't have any question, for instance, that we’ll go ahead and eventually sell the Lee Street building and at the same time that the YMCA will expand.

WC:

Hayes-Taylor.

CS:

Hayes-Taylor and the Guilford County—I mean Guilford College branch. That’s just a matter of time before they will have other branches, and that the significant money from the community is going to go into the YMCA, and that we’re going to be gradually be cut back and held in a position because we haven't cooperated on that, I’m sure. I think that’s going to happen. I’m not sure, [unclear].

WC:

Is the YMCA still far behind the YWCA in its attitudes toward social issues?

CS:

Probably, but I don't think it matters that much in the sense that—on some issues, in the area of race, for instance, because they have gone through a kind of token integration, and they have worked on some of those problems sufficiently. And they have never been socially-issued in the sense of being a lobby group and never will be. And I think the Y always will as long as they’re—I just resolved myself that that’s a difference and those are just two facets of different ways of programming. I think the sense of unwilling—I don't believe that the YMCA is yet ready to take on the issue of women, and even the YWCA is hard-pressed—the membership, I think, is more willing to take that issue on than Virginia is.

WC:

Which issue?

CS:

The question of really developing a program that's women-orientated. I mean women issue-orientated. And really, for instance—

WC:

You mean the membership is more ready than the staff is?

CS:

Right. I think, for instance, the festering that is going on in the community now in NOW [National Organization for Women] and in rape issues and things like that, the counseling that was done at the university, all of those things, from my perspective, should have happened here. A lot of the same people who did them there come here, but we’ve yet to find a way to loosen ourselves up here and really take on issues of women. I think we’re going to have to if we’re going to survive.

WC:

The Durham Y, of course, is so far out in advance on that question with its own—having the women's center there and having a staff member that really does nothing but work with that.

CS:

Right. And we should have done that four years ago here. I think we could have if we hadn’t had institutional problems, but I don't know. We need to. We've got to do that. And that won't please the community, but that's in some sense where we've got to go.

WC:

It always seems to me that the YWCA never is going to be in a position of pleasing the community.

CS:

It isn't. It’s not designed to please the community.

WC:

And therefore, to some extent, raising that question of worrying about the community is counterproductive.

CS:

I mean, when you get 55% of your budget from the United Way, you would raise it whether you wanted to raise it or not.

WC:

Yeah. I suppose that’s true. I suppose that does [unclear].

CS:

[laughter] That’s a fine line we live on.

WC:

That’s pretty serious.

CS:

And we have not succeeded in producing a larger—significantly larger percentage of our own budget. We have functioned on grace in the United Way for years, in my perspective, because they let us do things that are not—they let us be a minor kind of [people?] source in the community and paid for it.

WC:

Okay, as a just a kind of sop?

CS:

Yeah, a safety valve.

WC:

A safety valve. That’s a very prevalent theory in North Carolina politics. [laughter]

CS:

And part of it is, you see, I don't think we are taking significantly enough different issues now that society has caught up with the Y functioning as a safety valve. Other people do it in other issues. And so we don't have to get so much money. I think that's part of where was then. We have not learned how to produce it ourselves. And we haven't taken on strongly, from my perspective, the issues that we've got to take on to do that, which are issues related to women. In some areas that are really poor women, and some of those who are really wealthy women. We've been afraid to just take that on.

WC:

Do you still have—does the Y still a fairly extensive decentralized program in the housing projects?

CS:

Only for teenagers, and it’s done here. We bring the teenagers in on a bus—either a housing authority bus or our bus—four nights a week. And that's an important facet of our program, but it’s not done there.

One of the questions, for instance, I am really curious to see what will happen to on the board, is if we ever do sell—if we ever find anybody to buy the Lee Street building now that we’ve decide to sell it—one of the last suggestions that came out in that discussion—one I feel very strongly is a good suggestion—is that the resolution reads that we will take the money from any sale and hold it in—

[End of Interview]