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Oral history interview with Gloria Jean Howard by Eugene Pfaff


Date: September 15, 1982

Interviewee: Gloria Jean Blair Howard

Biographical abstract: Gloria Jean Blair Howard (1943- ), sister of Greensboro Four member Ezell Blair (aka Jibreel Khazan), participated in the civil rights movement as a student at Bennett College.

Interviewer: Eugene E Pfaff

Description:

In this transcript of a September 15, 1982, oral history interview conducted by Eugene Pfaff with Gloria Jean Howard, Howard describes her childhood influences, her activities with the NAACP Youth Chapter, and events that took place prior to the formation of a CORE chapter. She discusses her increased participation in recruitment and demonstrating while at Bennett, the attitudes of out-of-state students and their role in the movement, and prominent members of the black community, such as Otis Hairston, Sarah Herbin, and Marion Jones. Howard also mentions national leaders who came to Greensboro and stayed with her family, including Jesse Jackson, Ivanhoe Donaldson, Hank Thomas, and James Baldwin.

Subjects:

Format of original: Oral History

Collection: GreensboroVOICES Collection

Repository: The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Item#: 1.10.528

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 Gloria Jean Howard by Eugene Pfaff

EUGENE PFAFF:

—is being taped and that we, that is, the Greensboro Public Library, has your permission to so tape it?

GLORIA JEAN HOWARD:

You have my permission to tape this conversation—this telephone conversation.

EP:

Thank you. May we get some brief biographical information from you?

GJH:

Yes.

EP:

When and where were you born?

GJH:

I was born on June 14, 1943, Greensboro, North Carolina.

EP:

And your father was Ezell Blair, Sr., is that correct?

GJH:

That's correct.

EP:

Was there anything in your childhood memories of your parents or your family life that would indicate that your family, in particular your brother, would become so activist in civil rights in the 1960s?

GJH:

The only thing I can remember, very, you know, vividly, and I remember this—and my family, basically most of my family members are still very much like this—they were all very sure-footed people, knew exactly what they wanted to do, made decisions, thought carefully prior to making decisions. And in growing up, we, we reasoned a lot and, you know, before making decisions. And my parents, I guess, are still very much like that, and the siblings in the family as I see them now are still like that, haven't changed very much. I guess we're a lot like our family members, Mom and Dad.

EP:

So there was yourself, and your brother Ezell [Jr.], and—

GJH:

I have a, I have a younger sister, Shelia, who lives in California now.

EP:

I see. Was there much discussion about the inequality, the racial situation in Greensboro or the country at large in your fam[ily]—home? Was that a topic of conversation?

GJH:

It wasn't a topic of conversation at all times. There were a lot of things that happened that we were aware of in the media that just did not seemingly apply to us, and for some reason we just could not duplicate the type of lifestyle that we saw on television at that time and in the, the news media. And I think it was probably when TV came into existence. I don't remember the exact year, but when we first got our television we really started becoming aware that there was really quite a different lifestyle around us.

In growing up, my parents always told us about how things were when they were growing up and why we had to study so hard, why they were working so hard so that we could have a lifestyle better than the lifestyle that they had growing up as children. But I guess we were normal children. We just said, “Oh, we really don't want to, you know, hear about that, you know. Our lives are different.” And as the years passed and as we got older—my great-great grandmother lived with us when we were growing up, and she was able to relay to us a lot of—about the history, you know, of our family and of her background.

I guess at the time we were growing up at home, Ezell, Sheila—Ezell Junior, Sheila, and myself—my grandmother must've been, oh, in her eighties, because she died when she was ninety-eight and must've been in the home for about nine—eighteen years with us. So she relayed a lot about what happened, you know, in the family's history, how the family had, you know, struggled, how we maintained a home and property, and talked with us a lot about basic things that we had to do in order to survive, you know, in the society that we were living in at that time.

We learned a lot about survival skills growing up and observing—knowing how to make moves, how to control ourselves, to not always speak as soon as we observed something, to think about it first, never let people know everything that you are thinking at one time. There was a lot of emphasis on that in growing up. We couldn't put it together at that time, being kids, as part of a game plan. We were highly disciplined at home. I remember that. We had a lot of rules and regs [regulations] to follow in the home setting. And I think my grandmother being there and being present had a lot to do with how the household was run.

EP:

Was there anything in your church or school background which, again, was geared toward civil rights or the quest for equal rights?

GJH:

Well, the event—one thing that we had to our advantage when we were growing up, we grew up in a black school system in the South. And having at that time all black teachers—this was, like, until I reached college—but on the elementary level, junior high, and high school, our teachers would often talk about the struggles of black people, you know, what happened prior to the time we were born. [The teachers] did a lot, probably, that they were not supposed to have been doing, as far as the curriculum that they were supposed to have been following in the school district at that time, to make us aware of things that had actually happened.

A lot of things that they made us aware of were not in the textbooks at that time, because back during the time when I entered school in the fifties, probably late forties, early fifties, there were a lot of things about the struggles of blacks that were not printed in textbooks. So the teachers would very often relate to us their own experiences, and we would talk about how we felt about being in a, you know, in a society with double standards.

And very often I remember in our social studies classes, I had a teacher—I don't even know if she's living at this time, but I had her in eighth grade. And we had at that time North Carolina history. I don't know when they teach history in the schools now, when they begin North Carolina history. But she would do a lot of, she would improvise a lot in that classroom. Her name was Gertrude McCoy[?], and she was also a band teacher. I don't know how that combination occurred, but she was responsible for band, music education, and also social studies. [She] spent a lot of time talking about some of the struggles of blacks in North Carolina. I don't know if she got it in her curriculum at the college that she went to. But they would do those things, and I often—now that I look back, I'm sure it probably wasn't part of the general curriculum in the Greensboro public school system—

EP:

Do you—I'm sorry. Go ahead.

GJH:

—but I think what I saw is that they felt that these were things that we needed to understand to have some feeling about being in control of our lives, to understand something about the history of black people. And there was an emphasis on it in the schools in Greensboro at that time, and even when I was in high school. I probably would say that I got more about black history, what had happened to blacks in the state of North Carolina and in the region and the country, than probably most students are getting today because of how the schools were structured at that time. When I look—when I was there at that time, I thought to be greatly—being in a segregated school system to [be] a disadvantage. But now that I'm older and see the world maybe a little differently, I don't perceive it that way now.

EP:

Do you recall any of the names of any of your other teachers?

GJH:

Surely. I had a very good social studies teacher. Her name was—when I—she was my ninth grade teacher. She was a, a Miss [J. Wilsonia] Butler. She taught me social studies in the ninth grade, was a very good historian. I don't remember her first name but she taught—I went to Joseph Charles Price School to junior high school. And I also had a teacher, Gertrude McCoy, who was also my English teacher in eighth grade. They were people who were very outstanding.

EP:

Did you have any courses under Nelle [A.] Coley?

GJH:

I certainly did. She taught me English in high school. She was—in fact, we both went to the same undergraduate school, but of course, she's a few years older than I am, a number of years older than I am. But she taught me English, I think for two years in high school—that was at Dudley High School. And I also had an instructor who was an Eng[lish]—a history teacher at Dudley, an Ida Jenkins. I don't know if she's still living. She was very good in that area. Those were teachers who were outstanding as far as, you know, my development in the education world. My brother also had many of the teachers that I had because, you know, I kind of tracked after my brother.

EP:

Your family was a member of the congregation of Rev. Otis Hairston, is that correct?

GJH:

That's right. Well, at the time, when we were growing up, his father had the church [Shiloh Baptist] when we were younger. His name was J.T. Hairston, his father.

EP:

And did you get much of this sense of awareness of social inequities in church?

GJH:

We did, and if I got it I didn't get it as—what we really got in church, as in most black churches, a lot of emphasis at that time was on, like, the struggles of black people. And of course, that is—was the underlying theme of most sermons on Sunday morning, and how much we really had to do as a group of people to advance. In the Sunday School classes there wasn't a great emphasis on that. In Sunday School we got basically what most kids get in Sunday School. We got the history of the Bible according to the Baptist Church. Of course the Baptist Church taught the Bible in one way. And there were a lot of, there was a lot of emphasis on the moral development of children, you know, at that time, just the little, the basic values that are instilled in children at early, you know, at an early age—being kind to other people, respecting other people. The Sunday School class was geared in that direction.

EP:

Did you know any of the children that attended the integrated school system?

GJH:

Yes, I did.

EP:

Did they ever talk with you about some of their experiences?

GJH:

Well, I can start by telling you that I applied for Senior High, for—at that time, it was Greensboro Senior High School—when I was in ninth grade going into high school. And I was denied admission to Senior High School in Greensboro.

EP:

Did your—was your father very activist in trying to get you enrolled in a predominantly white school?

GJH:

He was, with the support of a gentleman by the name of, at that time, I think his name was Charles Boyd [probably Charles Davis of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)], and he was the director of one of the groups in Greensboro, either the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] or—there wasn't an Urb[an], there wasn't an Urban League there. But it was one of the civil rights groups that was existing around Greensboro at that time. I believe his last name was Boyd. I remember vaguely.

EP:

Is that Josephine Boyd's father?

GJH:

No, it wasn't Josephine Boyd's father. In fact, his last name may not even be Boyd. I went to school with his son and we finished high school together at Dudley.

EP:

Well, I guess there would have been mixed feelings about—given the social cohesion there at Dudley—about going to a predominantly white school, particularly at that time. Did you have mixed feelings about that?

GJH:

I had mixed feelings about it. I didn't really—that group, I wish—it was an organized group at that time, but I wish I could think. A lady, last name was Herbin, was involved in that group.

EP:

Sarah Herbin?

GJH:

That's right. About—along 1957, she was active with that particular group—can't think of the name of the group at that time [Herbin worked for the AFSC].

EP:

Do you remember any of the experiences of these friends of yours that did attend Gillespie [High School]?

GJH:

I remember Josephine Boyd very well because her sister, Cecilia, went to high school with me. Josephine did—I talked with her. She learned a lot there, got—did what she wanted to do in life, got in a very good college. Her primary concern was getting out of Senior High School and being able to get into—I think she went to Clark College in Worcester [Massachusetts]. But Jo liked—she had some experiences with, you know, kids calling her names. But she was a very calm girl, had a lot of self-confidence, didn't knock her very much at all, did not disturb her very much at all.

I knew a fellow also who went to Gillespie, the father of the fellow who—he's the father of the—he's the son of the gentleman that I'm trying to think of, who tried to get us into the Senior High school at that time. There was like a quota on it at that time, and at that time they told me that I lived too far from Senior High School to go. But he went to Gillespie, and his experiences there were not very bad. Chuck's[?] experiences were not very—I wish I could've talked with my brother. I could've gotten his name—couldn't get—didn't think of this prior to our conversation this evening.

EP:

Well, had you had any involvement with civil rights activity prior to the sit-ins?

GJH:

Just working with the NAACP Youth Group, youth membership campaigns, and that was about the extent of it, going to NAACP meetings, listening to what was going on around the country with schools. So my father saw to it that we got to those meetings and that we were involved. At that time nothing big was going on in Greensboro. But we used to often hear about things that were going on back in Arkansas during the time the kids were admitted to the schools in Little Rock. Nothing really big was going on around Greensboro at the time, so we were not linked to any specific civil rights group, other than my family was always a member of the NAACP.

EP:

Did you have guest speakers or anything that, that talked about—I guess the two biggest civil rights activities at the time would've been the integration at Little Rock High and the Montgomery [Alabama] bus boycott? Was there anything of that nature in the programs of the Youth Chapter?

GJH:

Those things were discussed in the youth chapter of the NAACP—what was going on in Montgomery, what was going on with those students, and what we could do like in Greensboro to support those students. And the thing that we did in Greensboro to support those students at that time was to increase our membership and to really work on membership campaign. And in doing the membership campaigning, we, the youth in the youth chapter of the NAACP, were very much responsible for going out, soliciting memberships of other younger people in high school.

EP:

Was it a strong chapter?

GJH:

It wasn't a very strong—I wouldn't say it was a very strong—it was a very good chapter because we had at that time a very strong adult membership group. We received a lot of support. It was an organized group, it met monthly. I cannot remember where we met monthly, if it was at the—what was the name of that Y[oung Men's Christian Association]? The Hanes?

EP:

Hayes-Taylor?

GJH:

Right. We met at the Y at that time. That's about all that I can remember.

EP:

Did you have any indication that your brother was going to sit-in at Woolworth's?

GJH:

I did have—I did know that they were going to sit-in. The evening before—he wasn't living at home at the time, Gene. He was living on the campus at A&T [North Carolina A&T State University]. And before getting involved with that, he came by the house the evening before, or two evenings before, he and—it wasn't Joe Mc[Neil]—I think it was he, Joe McNeil, a fellow by the name at that time of Jack Ezell. It wasn't the original four who came by the house to talk with my father. There were some other students who lived in the dorm at A&T who came by and talked with my father.

Then the night before the—maybe three nights before the sit-ins, the—about two nights before the sit-ins, Ezell came by the house and talked with my Dad alone and told him that he was really going to do it, how they were going to do it. And my father told him that, you know, he had the full support of the family. At that time, I wasn't in college. I was in high school, so I was kind of removed from the college scene at that time, but I was living at home at that time. And my father supported him a lot, did not really have any—did not show any fear of what was going to happen to his job, because my father was very supportive of anything that we did that we felt was right, and if he felt that it was right, he was very supportive.

EP:

Do you remember having any fear for his safety or anything like that?

GJH:

We had—I think it's just almost a very natural feeling that a parent would have. My brother was very small, and he still is small. The girls are larger than he is, we've always been as tall, if not taller, than my brother. And he was small, and we often thought about his size, and if he ran into the opposition physically, what would he do. And we did have feelings at times that something would happen to him. That didn't last very long.

Ezell was very good in organizing people. He was very good with being on, like, the front line and being out there. But a strength that he had was being able to organize and support people, and get other people to do things and get things going. He never placed a lot of emphasis on himself being in the limelight.

He's excellent at supporting other people when other people have doubts and fears about doing things. He's very supportive. And I often felt that on many occasions when he wasn't seen and people did not see him, when he really wasn't out there like in the limelight, he was back in a dorm somewhere talking to students who were fearful that their parents were going to lose their jobs, kids who wanted to help in some other way. And if they could not work on—could not march on the front, you know, on the picket lines and be active in the demonstrations, he did not—he was very supportive of them, he could understand why they maybe could not be involved. And he was always willing to make recommendations as to other ways that you could support the movement other than being out on the front lines, [such as] sitting down at counters and that kind of thing.

So he spent a lot of time doing, doing that. And of course, during the time of the sit-ins, there were a lot of phone calls that had to be made, there was a lot of paperwork that had to be done, there were people coming in who wanted to interview students who were involved in the sit-ins.

EP:

From the national media or local media?

GJH:

People from the national media, people from the local media. There were guest speakers who were coming to town, people wanting to speak with the students. They had to be housed. There were students who were working on that, entertaining them, helping them with their schedules. So there were people who were doing a variety of things regarding the sit-ins. Initially, I was in high school. I wasn't as active when I was in high school as I was when I went to Bennett [College].

EP:

So did—you did not participate in any of the sit-ins at Woolworth's or Kress's?

GJH:

I was not involved in the sit-ins at Woolworth's, because at the time that was more of—when the first sit-in occurred like at Woolworth's, that was more, I guess, college-oriented, like the A&T students were very involved at that time, and I was just a senior in high school. Probably after five or six sit-ins, I went down with my father. But I was never there with my brother and his friends during the time that they were deciding how to organize the sit-ins.

They—initially, the focus was on, Gene, getting the college students there, because the college students had more flexibility as far as schedules than the high school students because of how colleges are operated and run. There were some who were free mornings, some who didn't have classes on Tuesdays at all, some—and whereas, you know, students who were in high school—I guess this is in 1960 when I was in high school—we had classes and we had to be in school from 8:30 in the morning, or 8:00 in the morning until what, 2:30 or 3:00 in the afternoon.

So the students who were in high school did not participate on a very active basis very early in the sit-ins, like along February of '60, March of '60. There was not a lot of active high school participation.

EP:

Do you know when the high school did get involved?

GJH:

During the summer months.

EP:

Did you know Bill Thomas [Dudley student, NAACP Youth chapter president, and Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) member] and members of his family?

GJH:

Very well.

EP:

Were you aware that when, when—as I understand it, Lewis Brandon [A&T student and CORE member] and—

GJH:

Lewis Brandon, I remember him.

EP:

—and several others apparently came over to Dudley and talked with Bill in your father's shop, if I'm not mistaken, there at the school.

GJH:

That's right, in his drafting shop.

EP:

And tried to get—enlist the support of the Dudley students to carry on in the summer.

GJH:

I do remember that vaguely. I remember Lewis Brandon. Bill Thomas—during the summer of '60, I was in Greensboro. I do remember Bill. Bill is maybe a year or so behind me, was about a year behind me in school. He probably—I don't know if Bill was at A&T at that time or if he was a student who had just graduated from Dudley who was working with Lew Brandon. That may have happened. But I do remember that my father was involved and that students from A&T talked with my father about being involved, and my father was very involved in the sit-ins.

EP:

In what way was he involved?

GJH:

Well, my father supported the students. He went down, kind of watched to make sure, to see if students were being hassled in any way by the, you know, the law enforcement officers. The parents in the town were very much concerned about the safety of the students because many of—most of those students were not from Greensboro, many of them. I mean, A&T had students from all over. So were the students from Bennett, they were from all over the country. So the families in the town had a lot of concern about the safety. My father had actually participated in a sit-in, my father was arrested at one time when he was on the faculty at Dudley. He was also down there from time to time, just kind of watching—

EP:

Was he arrested at sit-ins or earlier?

GJH:

At “sins,” did you say?

EP:

At the sit-ins.

GJH:

During the time—I don't remember which sit-in led to people being arrested and going to the polio—to the old polio hospital.

EP:

No, I believe that would've been in '63.

GJH:

Okay, that was in '63. I remember he was very involved by that time.

EP:

I was wondering, you said you went down with your father in the Woolworth sit-ins. Were—was that just to observe?

GJH:

That was just to observe.

EP:

And what did you observe?

GJH:

I observed the students sitting there, and they were not being served. They were being, you know, basically ignored.

EP:

Were they being harassed?

GJH:

They were being harassed, getting, like, comments, stares. But in Greensboro, Greensboro was always the kind of town—when I look at Greensboro, when I'm asked about the sit-ins, you know, “Weren't you frightened?” Greensboro was never the violent kind of city that a lot of the—there wasn't the violence in Greensboro and the overt hatred that was seen in a lot of Southern cities.

That was never felt by the major[ity]—I never felt that way when I was there. And from talking with other students, Greensboro was just, at that time, a very unique city. Because blacks and whites in Greensboro had always interfaced in, like, a kind, pleasant way. Of course, there was always like the name-calling and always probably will be by people who are, I guess, basically very insecure as far as their status and what they're all about.

But there wasn't—there was a lot of staring, not any—didn't see—can't remember anything physical as far as a person pushing another person, knocking a person off of a counter. It was just—I think people were just shocked, because it was something totally different that was happening in the town.

EP:

So what was the response of the Dudley students? Were they interested in getting involved in this thing?

GJH:

When I was at Dudley I was not that interested in getting involved in it because I saw it as a college stud[ent]—I saw it as an A&T/Bennett event at that time. And I watched and I observed. And as a member of, like, the Youth Group of the NAACP, we did other things to support the group. We did a lot of telephone calling. We did paperwork during the summer months, because there was a need for a lot of support during the summer months when the students weren't there. So in '60, the high school students were not very involved.

EP:

What—well, after the Woolworth's and Kress desegregated in July—the paper indicates it was July twenty-fifth—did things die down or was there continued activity in the form of meeting and discussion groups?

GJH:

There were always meetings and discussions, because what happened after that, when we saw what impact that had on the town, I think the, you know, the morale was there, the spirit was there to, like, keep on and let's see if we can continue to open things up, you know. To really live in a society that's more equal so that, you know, all people will have the same rights.

EP:

Was there much involvement of the adult community in these discussion groups or was it primarily students?

GJH:

No, there were a number of—initially, the students, Gene, were very involved. They were the ones who actually put their bodies there. But the real organization and structure after the students started, a lot of the organization, the structure, the calling in of support groups—because the students need some national support. The more focus that we got nationally, there was more focus on Greensboro. A lot of cities were going to make decisions about what they were going to do with their towns based on what was happening in Greensboro.

Greensboro had a very—and I still see it as that way, I'm not living in Greensboro now—a professional community. Fortunately, you had the people from the colleges, the faculty members who were there. Very active members of church groups were supporting the students, assisting the students with, you know, in the area of organizational skills.

EP:

What sort of organizational skills were these? What did they do in the way of organization?

GJH:

They talked with the students about things that were necessary. The students could only go—the students could be activist, go sit down, march on the picket lines. But there was a lot of machinery that was necessary to keep the movement going: calling people in, getting funding for the movement, because, you know, you cannot have any kind of organized movement without financial support.

This is one of the primary reasons that other people started coming into Greensboro, and it wasn't done by students alone. It was some of the people I remember like Sarah Herbin, Otis Hairston, my dad was involved, Dave Morehead [director of the Hayes-Taylor YMCA], some of the other civil rights leaders at that time.

EP:

This, this getting money together—I understand that there was just one group of people who were arrested en masse April 1, 1960. Would this involve getting people who'd be willing to sign bonds for bail? Putting up their property for bonds?

GJH:

I can't remember that. That's something I don't remember.

EP:

Who would have been these people? I understand that in the summer of '60 and in the fall of '60, various people have told me there were informal discussion groups. Your brother and a number of others particularly mentioned people who would meet at Rev. Marion Jones' house?

GJH:

Right, he lived right—that's right. He lived right around the corner.

EP:

And individual testing, going up—not exactly picketing or demonstrating, but just going up and testing and see if places would serve blacks. Was this the kind of thing that was going on?

GJH:

That definitely was going on. And I remember vividly that my brother used to go around to Reverend—I don't know if he's still—is he still living?

EP:

Yes, he is.

GJH:

He is? But I remember my brother used to go to his house. He lived on a street around Curry Street in Greensboro, or just around the corner. It was within walking distance. They used to talk about—I guess they would, they talked about what to do if they were testing places. Reverend Jackson [sic-Jones?]—I can't remember his church at that time, but he was very much of an activist. He was a very quiet man, not a very vocal activist, but kids in college really liked going to his home during that time. My father—my brother almost saw him as a surrogate father.

EP:

They, they didn't come that much to your home?

GJH:

No, they didn't meet a lot in my home, they did not.

EP:

Do you know why?

GJH:

Well, my home was a very—well, I guess it was probably because my brother was like, a late, in his teens at that time—in his teenage years at that time. And I think he enjoyed, like, just getting away from home, talking with his friends. And Rev. Jones always had the kind of home where people sat around, talked about things, and it was just a very—it was that kind of environment. And he was very much into organizing support groups, because he was a minister, he had his own church.

In my family, in my house, evenings—that really wasn't the focus of my family at that time. My father was, you know, an educator at that time, plus he had his own business at that time. My mother was a school teacher, she read at night. We had our homework to do at that time. My grandmother was living in the home at the time. So we always had people in.

EP:

Did you attend these, these groups?

GJH:

I did not attend the meetings.

EP:

In the—the newspaper is, does not mention any kind of activity in the way of picketing from the end of the sit-ins, except for a brief story about Meyer's Tea Room desegregating, until the picketing of the Cinema [Theatre] that was showing Porgy and Bess [in February 1961], and Lewis Brandon and Donald Potts [A&T student] and several others organized that. Are you aware of that, that campaign, that activity?

GJH:

I don't remember that one.

EP:

I see. I get the impression from talking to people and from the CORE papers that this group that met at Rev. Marion Jones' met most frequently there, but they'd meet other places too, frequently the Y, and that they began informally calling themselves CORE as early as the spring of 1962. And—was this kind of activity going on for a long time just as an informal ad hoc group before they formed themselves into the CORE chapter?

GJH:

There was a group—when CORE was organized in Greensboro, when it was officially organized, it did have a group of people who were already meeting under, maybe under another name. I don't know if they called themselves something else prior to that.

EP:

There is mention of—the group that was identified at the Cinema and then shifted to, to picketing the theatres downtown was known as the Intercollegiate Council for Equality, or something along that line.

GJH:

All right.

EP:

Does that ring a bell?

GJH:

It rings a bell vaguely. But when we first started, and the sit-ins first started, I don't even remember even knowing the name CORE.

EP:

When did they decide to form themselves as a CORE chapter? And were you involved in that?

GJH:

I, I did attend some meetings at—in the basement of St. Jo[seph's]—St. Stephen's Church in Greensboro during the summer months—during the summer months, and people were coming and speaking.

EP:

And what year would this have been?

GJH:

That must have been—I was at Bennett. Probably my second year at Bennett. I would say maybe in '62. Oh, it's really—I'm really vague.

EP:

Had you not been involved in any civil rights activity up to that time?

GJH:

I had been involved. I had been going to meetings, and during the summer months when picketing was going on, when college students were not available—I was in college myself at that time. And I was in Greensboro the first two summers, the summer of—I started in—the summer of '61, the summer of '62. Those were my last two summers in Greensboro. So I was involved in picketing at that time. I remember picketing the cafeteria downtown in Greensboro, other locations in Greensboro.

EP:

You know, that's interesting, because the newspaper mentions briefly some picketing of the Biff-Burger and—on Lee Street, I believe, and—but they don't mention much about the cafeterias until the fall of '62.

GJH:

Okay, well, that was probably—it may have been fall of '62 when we—it was along 1962 that we were picketing S&W [Cafeteria]. I did not picket at Biff-Burger's at all. I did a lot of telephoning, a lot of guests who were coming to town, and a lot of—

EP:

You mean in connection with the, the picketing?

GJH:

In connection with—when Ivanhoe Donaldson—I don't know if that rings a bell with you?

EP:

Yes.

GJH:

Does that ring a bell with you?

EP:

The name does, yes.

GJH:

Okay, I know Ivan—I know Ivanhoe—I know him per[sonally]—I do know him.

EP:

Could you refresh my memory on exactly what he was involved in?

GJH:

Ivanhoe was involved in, at that time—and a fellow by the name of Hank Thomas—they were involved in some of the bus boy[cotts]—some of the boycotts in the South when buses were being burned.

EP:

Oh, they were in SNCC [Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee] weren't they?

GJH:

They were in SNCC. And I don't know if at that time—Gene, I can't remember back—I don't know if there was any kind of competition for other groups trying to get into Greensboro and organize, and assist with organizing the sit-ins. But I remember Ivanhoe vividly coming in, and I remember a fellow by the name of Hank Thomas coming in, and they spent the summer in Greens[boro]—they spent a summer in Greensboro.

EP:

You know, several people have mentioned that two organizers came through the South, and I had always assumed that they were with CORE. But this fits in with what people have told me in St. Stephen's Church, so it must have been the two gentlemen that you've just mentioned, Hank Thomas and Ivanhoe—I'm sorry, what was his last name?

GJH:

Ivanhoe Donaldson.

EP:

Donaldson.

GJH:

Right.

EP:

So they were coming through—were they organizing for SNCC?

GJH:

They were talking with students and they were interested in getting support. And they were very much interested in supporting the movement and telling us about SNCC, because Ivanhoe and Hank lived at our house when they were coming—when they were in Greensboro. But I didn't really—that's a long time ago, and I really can vaguely remember they were with SNCC and they were not with CORE.

EP:

They made no attempt to try to organize a SNCC chapter here in town?

GJH:

Made no efforts. They had just a personal interest in what was going on in Greensboro.

EP:

Well, I find it interesting that since there was this intense activity for—I mean, on the part of two SNCC representatives, that the emphasis went towards CORE instead of SNCC. Do you know why that would be so?

GJH:

I don't know why that—I don't know why. I don't know if—and I, you know, don't really want to make any assumptions. I would think maybe that their—that CORE was there first and there was more representation, maybe more support from CORE. I don't know which is the older group in this country. I don't know if CORE—

EP:

CORE is, is an older group.

GJH:

CORE is older?

EP:

Yeah. SNCC got formed when the initial meeting was over at Shaw University [Raleigh, NC] in April, over Easter weekend in 1960.

GJH:

Okay.

EP:

And then apparently, it moved over to the Nashville group.

GJH:

But I do know that when CORE came to Greensboro, that was the group that gave the movement some feeling of organization—that we are getting some support, whether it was organizational or financial support, from a group that is experienced with sit-ins, who know what you should do. “You should get lawyers to support you in case you have to go to jail. There are certain things that you really have to be prepared for if this thing is going to pick up momentum.” I do remember that vividly.

EP:

So, would it be fair to say that Ivanhoe—

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

EP:

—to organize the Greensboro Movement?

GJH:

No, they did not make any particular effort. In fact, Hank was in town for, Hank must have been in town for at least a month, he and Ivanhoe, a minimum of a month. They talked with groups, they supported the sit-ins, they went out and talked with different church groups. If they were doing anything, they were complimenting and supporting maybe what was already—the CORE group that was already established.

EP:

So they didn't try to join in or organize any picketing at any establishments in Greensboro during that time?

GJH:

No, they talked about their experiences with the Freedom Rides. They were very involved in leading songs, trying to build up morale and keep morale up during the time of the sit-ins. They talked—

EP:

Was—go ahead.

GJH:

Okay. They talked about their experiences, what had happened to them, you know, “keeping the faith” kind of thing, you know, standing together and being unified. Never really talked about initiating a SNCC chapter in Greensboro.

EP:

Was there a regular group of people that would attend these meetings, or did the attendance or membership of these meetings fluctuate?

GJH:

Oh, you could barely get a seat in the house in the basement of St. Stephen's.

EP:

Was it mostly students?

GJH:

There were a number of students, but there were a lot of adults from the community. A lot of the college professors at that time were very involved.

EP:

Principally from Bennett or A&T?

GJH:

Both Bennett and A&T.

EP:

Do you remember any of the professors in particular?

GJH:

From Bennett, there was a lady from—I don't know if she's still alive, but her name was Doctor—

EP:

Elizabeth Laizner?

GJH:

Dr. Laizner. She taught, she was my French teacher when I was in college. Do you know if she's still alive?

EP:

Yes, and I have interviewed her for this program.

GJH:

Okay. She was very much involved.

EP:

I understand Mr. [James] McMillan was also very much involved.

GJH:

That's right. He was a drum instructor at Bennett. He was very much involved, also.

EP:

How about [Bennett faculty members] Rev. John Hatchett and Rev. James Bush? Do you remember them?

GJH:

Rev. Hackett or Hatchett, he was the minister at the college. He was very involved and very outspoken. I remember him for some reason more so than Rev. Bush. It was probably because he was around—John was there—Hackett [sic]—and then he left Greensboro and left Bennett. And after he left, I think Rev. Bush came along after him. Hatchett was a different type of person from Bush, as far as being able to get students to follow. Hatchett was very scholarly, very impressionable at the time. Students kind of followed behind him. He was kind of a loner at that time, spoke his mind. And those students who were very much interested in the momentum of the movement picking up, you know, kind of idolized Reverend—he was Rev. Hatchett at the time. He is a minister.

EP:

You say he was different from Bush. What was Bush like?

GJH:

They just—they had different personalities at the time. Hatchett was, was very much an intellectual, knew philosophies. Students just kind of flocked behind him. He was more a philosopher than he was a minister. Bush was more of a minister than he was a philosopher. Am I making sense to you?

EP:

Yes.

GJH:

Bush was very supportive of the movement, but he just really had a different style. Bush was more folksy, Hatchett was not very folksy. But as far as being a historian and knowing movements, knowing what Gandhi did, those types of things, he really was very impressionable with a lot of the students who really had the ability to organize, who were very much into following the philosophy of some of the movements that had occurred in history prior to 1960.

EP:

So, do you recall—I'm trying to get the sequence of events here. So, Donaldson and Thomas came through here, and they stayed the summer of '61, I believe you said.

GJH:

It was '61. I don't believe it was '62.

EP:

And then what happened after they left? Did CORE come in right away or did things return to pretty much—

GJH:

CORE was there and forming. I don't know how it was forming, who were the key people in getting it going. But there were enough people there organized and waiting, at that time, for someone to come in and organize them, and call them—and call the group and the movement something. Because we knew that, at that time, we had to function in an organized fashion. And we just could not be a loosely structured student group from A&T and Bennett who were doing things to keep the movement going.

It almost became Mission Impossible. There, you know, there was Ezell, there was Jesse [Jackson]. But they also had their student responsibilities, as students trying to complete college. There were a lot of things that were required to keep things going that students did not have the power to do, because—alone—because they did not have the money, they did not have the know-how and the techniques for raising funds—all of those things that were important to support a movement the scope and size of the one, of the movement that went on in Greensboro, North Carolina.

EP:

Do you recall who came down to organize for CORE?

GJH:

I do remember when—I do remember James Farmer [national director of CORE] coming to town. I don't know if he was the first one to come, but I do know that he made several trips to Greensboro. I do remember that he definitely appeared in Greensboro when the students were jailed at the old polio hospital, and may have come to Greensboro prior to that time. I remember at one time James Baldwin [author of Go Tell It On The Mountain] came to Greensboro on behalf of CORE. He's a writer. He lived with us when he was in Greensboro.

EP:

Oh, he stayed at your house?

GJH:

He stayed at our house.

EP:

Do you remember what he talked about?

GJH:

He talked about a lot of his, a lot of his writings, how he felt that some of his writings—how students had read many of his books. He's a very quiet, soft-spoken person. Talked about his books. He knew there was going—I remember vividly, you know, having meals with him in our house, how students had read his book. How some students probably thought about a whole lot of things while they were reading his books because he had quite of a—you know, his style was pretty basic, but the underlying theme of, you know, of his struggle with survival in that environment that he grew up in, that was underlying throughout all of his novels.

EP:

Do you remember when this would have been?

GJH:

It was probably, it was during the regular school year. I would say it was probably in sixty—along my—the beginning of my junior year in college.

EP:

About '62.

GJH:

Yes, '62. And he was—I don't know if he was paid to come to Greensboro or not, but I do know that he came—CORE was the organization that was responsible for getting him to come to Greensboro. Under CORE, once that group formed, it became more possible for people to come to Greensboro. I don't know what the networking was like, how it happened, but more things were possible. We started getting speakers to come, and these were the things I think that kept the cohesiveness of the movement going and kept it there by having speakers come to Greensboro.

When James Baldwin came to Greensboro, he did not speak to a very large group. He appeared on both campuses. He spoke to a group at A&T. He spoke to a small group at Bennett. He did not speak at St. Stephen's Church.

EP:

Do you recall the organizational meeting or series of meetings that resulted in the formal organization of the CORE chapter here? Were you a participant in that?

GJH:

I vaguely remember, but I can't remember all of the details. But I do remember when people were coming in from—there was an office in New York at the time, wasn't there?

EP:

A CORE office?

GJH:

Right.

EP:

Yes.

GJH:

And that's where they were coming from.

EP:

Do you remember who these individuals were?

GJH:

I don't. The only one that I can remember at this time is James Farmer. I do remember at that time also, there was a young man who lived with us who was active with CORE. He was a Harvard graduate. He's white. He lived in our house. My brother would remember his name, I cannot remember him.

EP:

I see.

GJH:

He was there and he would—he had finished Harvard and he was working for CORE.

EP:

I get the impression that CORE established its Freedom Highways workshop in Greensboro. I think they took their meals at Bennett and they actually held their workshops at St. Stephen's. Do you recall that?

GJH:

I remember some workshops that went on during the summer months, not very—I can't remember a lot of workshops that were going on during the regular school year. And if they were going on during the regular school year, I probably was not very active because of some other commitments that I had when I was in college. I was very active in a lot of things when I was at college and I don't remember participating a lot during the school year.

EP:

Rev. Hatchett, when he spoke to me, was very concerned that—the fact that the active[ism]—he believes that the activism amongst the Bennett stud[ents]—girls was even stronger than over at A&T. As a matter of fact, he said that they were really planning to conduct sit-ins as early as November or December of '59 and they decided to wait until after the beginning of the school year, and that actually, your brother and perhaps the other three gentlemen attended meetings over there. And that there was a very activist group of students over at Bennett. Would you agree with that?

GJH:

I would agree with it. I can remember some at that time. In 1960, they—I remember Rosalyn Cheagle.

EP:

How do you spell her name?

GJH:

C-h-e-a-g-l-e.

EP:

Do you remember any of the others?

GJH:

I remember Rosalyn vividly. And Rosalyn is now living in—I know she's in the Lynchburg area right now. Jean, oh, her brother is the one in Atlanta who's the—was the campaign manager for Maynard Jackson [mayor of Atlanta].

EP:

Oh, yes.

GJH:

Jean Franklin.

EP:

That was her name?

GJH:

Yes. Her name was Jean Franklin. Jean was very much of an activist along that time. They were years ahead of me. Oh, also, their last names—there were four of them who went to Bennett. Macklin, she was the president of the student government. Yvonne—I think her last name was Macklin [sic, Mackle]—she was there with Rosalyn Cheagle.

EP:

Well, what was the nature of this activism on the Bennett campus?

GJH:

Well, Bennett, Bennett had a variety of students from all over the country. A&T did also, but being a college for women, there was quite a focus on things that we could do—there was a focus on things that women could do as a group of people that anyone else could do. I can remember, like, when I first entered, you know, Bennett, there were women who were entering unique professions. Bennett had a lot of, at that time, women who were going to become doctors, attorneys, in a world where women were not supposed to become doctors and attorneys.

There was a lot of focus on doing very unique things. Bennett had a very strong student government. And along my freshman year at Bennett when I was entering, Ros Cheagle, the girl by the last name of Mack—oh, Mackey or Macklin, and Jean Franklin, they were very active, wanted to become more active in the community. They were very active in the sit-ins.

EP:

Were these local—

GJH:

Her name was Mackle, Yvonne Mackle, not Macklin.

EP:

I see. Were these local women?

GJH:

No, they were not.

EP:

Was there resistance in the community to them becoming so active and trying to be involved in the community due to the fact they were from outside?

GJH:

Well, there, there was always that underlying feeling that a lot of people who were doing a lot of things with the sit-ins were from outside. Like, Yvonne Mackle was from Chicago, Ros was from Lynchburg, Virginia, Jean Franklin was from Atlanta.

There was some resistance and concern about some of the Northern students who were coming into Greensboro trying to get things going and get things stirred up. But I think something that they saw—when I even talk with my husband from time to time—my husband was very involved in the sit-ins. He's from Brooklyn, and there were things that he did when he was in, when he was in Brooklyn that he could not do when he came to Greensboro. Like when he got off the bus at the bus station and he had to go to one side of the bus station, he could not go into the place where he was used to going. And they thought it was a very strange kind of thing.

EP:

Where was he a stu[dent]—was he a student?

GJH:

My husband went to A&T.

EP:

I see.

GJH:

To undergraduate school. He thought it was very strange. And a lot of the students who came to Greensboro—Greensboro was kind of like a melting pot. With all of the colleges, there were students, like, from all over. And if you can do certain things, you know, in, in your hometown and it is only eight hours away by car or train or bus, then it was very strange to be able to come to Greensboro and not be able to do those things. And those things were talked about in the dorms a lot—things that we could not do and things that we did not question growing up, because that was the way things were in the South.

EP:

Do you think these women from other parts of the country sort of opened the eyes of the more local students and got them more active?

GJH:

I think many of them talked about some of the things that they wanted to do. But a lot of them were fearful of what their parents would have thought, because many of the students—we have to remember that when students were going to school along that time, just like now, many of the parents had domestic jobs. They were not—like, the average kid at Bennett or A&T did not come from a professional family. So involvement of any kind that would get you on TV or your picture in the newspaper, that was very much of a concern, because you did not really want your family to suffer any kind of repercussions as a result of your participating in the student movement.

So that—there was always that fear. And for some reason, some of the students who were from the South were probably more active, got more parental support. Because that was something that all students were concerned about, and that was parental support. And no one wanted to do anything that would jeopardize the incomes of their families, because they knew that, you know, parents would have been out of work, and they possibly would have been out of school.

EP:

So you're saying that actually students of the South were more activist than students of the North, from the North?

GJH:

I think when—when the idea—a lot of the ideas, when I think of, like, okay, Joe McNeil. Joe grew up in the South, but had spent the summers in New York. There were a lot of students in the South who went to, like, Bennett and A&T who could not get jobs around home during the summer months. And many of them went away to New York to work, Philadelphia, some of the Northern states, and saw that lifestyle. [They] came back home, talked about it. Knew what the students who were from those areas when they came to college at Bennett were talking about, but when it came to, like, really being out on their—being out there on the picket line, getting the support, the students from the South, basically, got a lot of support from their families.

I'm not saying that the students from the North didn't get support from their families. I'm sure that they did. But I don't think that the primary—that the initiation of the movement came from students from the North. They may have talked about it more, and maybe got a lot of the students from the South thinking, “Hey, you know, maybe this thing shouldn't be this way,” because they used to complain all of the time. “Look, you go around town and you can't drink out of this water fountain, you have to drink out of the water fountain that reads 'colored.' You can't drink out of a water fountain that reads 'white.' I'm going to drink out of the water fountain that reads 'white.'”

And they would do that, just for the fun of it. And then an employee would come over and say, “You're not supposed to be drinking out of that fountain. Can't you read?” But kids—students always did that when we went downtown to shop when we lived on campus at Bennett. We would, you know, like always, just for the heck of it, drink out of the white water fountain. I can't ever think of any student who was arrested because they drank out of a water fountain.

EP:

Did you participate in the picketing of the Hot Shoppe as a part of the Freedom Highways?

GJH:

That was out on Bessemer Street or—

EP:

Summit Avenue.

GJH:

Summit Avenue. I did participate. I can't remember exactly when. I remember it was during the summer months.

EP:

As I understand, it would have been the same summer of '62 and was indeed a part of the workshop. Do you recall any of the field workers that came down from CORE, both black and white, to help direct that?

GJH:

I remember them coming down, but I was not very involved in that—in getting them there. I don't—I do know the field workers were there and I—that name, concept—field worker—rings a bell but I don't remember them vividly.

EP:

Some of the names would have been Isaac Reynolds, George Raymond, Hunter Morey. Do you recall any of those names?

GJH:

No, I don't recall their names.

EP:

Okay. Do you recall what happened on the days that you went to the Hot Shoppe?

GJH:

The only thing I can remember is picketing. I don't remember having been arrested. I wasn't arrested. I was arrested at one spot during the entire time I participated in the sit-ins, and I was never arrested at the Hot Shoppe. I do remember that place that had a drive-in, and a roof and people could drive in—

EP:

That would have been the Hot Shoppe.

GJH:

Right, okay, I remember that.

EP:

But you say you were not arrested there?

GJH:

I was not arrested there.

EP:

Did you ever picket outside or try to get in?

GJH:

I remem[ber]—I was a part of the group that picketed outside. I did not try to get in and sit at the Hot Shoppe. I was not a part of that group.

EP:

Were you ever harassed by either the police, privately hired guards, or hecklers?

GJH:

The hecklers were always there and present.

EP:

Were there very many of them?

GJH:

They were in cars. The hecklers were passing on Summit Avenue. The hecklers were in their cars under that roof where they served the outdoor food. But as far as actually any kind of physical harassment, I, I, I don't remember, I don't remember any.

EP:

Do you recall the police out there?

GJH:

I can remember at most scenes for picketing, policemen were there.

EP:

Do you think they did an effective job in keeping the hecklers away from you? Did you feel that they were protecting you or do you feel that they were there to maybe coerce you?

GJH:

I got the feeling the whole time I participated in the movement in Greensboro that the policemen wanted to keep as much peace as possible. That was my basic feeling. There may have been some incidences that occurred, but I don't even remember who was the police chief at the time.

EP:

Do you recall the name William Jackson?

GJH:

I don't—was he the police chief at that time?

EP:

He wasn't the chief but he was head of the Detective Division that in the '63 mass marches—

GJH:

No, I don't, I don't remember his name. But all of the encounters that we had during the sit-ins, when we were attempting to get in the restaurants, the policemen tried as hard as possible to try to keep the peace and not side. They did not, for some reason, want very many incidences in Greensboro, in Greensboro, North Carolina. I, I—that was the general feeling of the students at that time, that's the way I feel right now. At that time, I, I—at that time—students reached a point—students were not afraid of the policemen in Greensboro on a whole.

EP:

Do you recall—

GJH:

I don't know if that shocks you or if that's inconsistent with some of the other things that you've heard.

EP:

No, no. That's, that's more or less the feeling I got, that there was not this same kind of fear of the Southern policemen as would have been true of black students in Alabama or Mississippi or even Tennessee.

GJH:

No, there was never that fear, because I really never saw them, like, behave in such a fashion that students were, you know, afraid. They didn't have the dogs, they didn't pull their guns out. I don't remember any students who were personally billy clubbed, you know, along the time—when I participated. I don't remember any of those things.

EP:

After the Freedom Highway Project actually got underway over in Durham, did you go over there to attend any meetings or participate in any demonstrations?

GJH:

I remember there was a demonstration in Durham at a Howard Johnson's restaurant. I don't remember if that was related to CORE at all or not. I—I—

EP:

It was. It was a joint CORE and NAACP activity.

GJH:

Okay. I remember going over there to picket at a Howard Johnson's on some highway in Durham, North Carolina.

EP:

And did Roy Wilkins [NAACP leader] and James Farmer speak?

GJH:

I can't remember.

EP:

I see. Did activity continue here? The impression that I get is along about October [of 1962]—and I guess they were planning for this in September—they organized a boycott, and there were the picketing of the S&W, and there were some at the theatres, but it appears that the main focus at that time was the S&W.

GJH:

That's right. S&W was—I remember the picketing at S&W seemingly went on for a long time, seemingly longer than the, you know, the first establishment where the sit-ins occurred.

EP:

Did you have meetings on the campus of Bennett or were the CORE meetings—

GJH:

No, the meetings weren't at Bennett.

EP:

I see. Were there any other kind of meetings at Bennett in connection with the civil rights activities in Greensboro that weren't CORE related or CORE sponsored?

GJH:

There were a lot of student leaders at Bennett who were involved in the sit-ins and those students always met, too, because they were the ones who were responsible, like Ros Cheagle, oh, Yvonne Mackle. They were the ones—they were upperclassmen. They were the ones working with Lew[is] Brandon that—I don't—

EP:

Were they, were they members of CORE?

GJH:

I don't remember if they were members of CORE or not. I can't remember. But they were the ones who were responsible for getting Bennett students to picket, and to work on the picket lines and to participate in the sit-ins. So, Bennett had some organization. Kids just did not get up and go out. And at that time, the president of our college supported what we were doing. We were never told not to do anything.

EP:

Did—do you recall picketing at the S&W and any specific events that occurred during your picketing?

GJH:

The only thing I remember is that I was arrested at—that was the arrest—

EP:

Was that on Thanksgiving Day or around then?

GJH:

No, there was an arrest that got students sent to the polio hospital. I don't remember where that event occurred. But that—I was arrested in one of those events that, you know, where I ended up at the polio hospital. I think it was S&W.

EP:

Were you sent to the polio hospital?

GJH:

I was at the polio hospital.

EP:

How long did you stay?

GJH:

I must have been at the polio hospital, I would say, about four, four days, five days.

EP:

I—of course, it's very confusing to get the sequence of events, but I get the impression that that was in May of '63.

GJH:

Yes, I won't ever—it was in May of '63, because I didn't get to take a psychology final until that next fall.

EP:

So you were not arrested in the fall of '62 picketing at—

GJH:

No, I was arrested in the spring while I was at Bennett. I was a student. I was living on campus, it was in my junior year. And we—

EP:

Did you enjoy any special status as the sister of one of the four men that began the sit-ins?

GJH:

I don't think I enjoyed any special status. I was very, I was, at that time I was the president of my junior class when I was at Bennett. I was the president of my senior class, so—and I don't know if it was because of my brother or not. I kind of thought I did those things on my own.

EP:

Well, I don't mean to suggest that. I mean—

GJH:

No, I think that, you know, I was very proud of my brother. My brother did things that I would never do. I kind of, like, followed him. I probably never would have, on my own, initially gone out and participated in a sit-in. I would have been very active with organizing what was going on, if things had to be done, if he needed a master plan for scheduling how often we should have people coming in, how should groups should be leaving. I would have probably been very effective in that role. I would have never done what my brother did. I never would have been a first.

EP:

Do you recall what was discussed at the various—you were a member of CORE, I assume?

GJH:

I was a member of CORE.

EP:

But you didn't hold any office?

GJH:

I didn't hold an office.

EP:

Do you recall what was said during the—were the mass meetings of the entire membership at that time, or was it primarily meetings of the executive committee?

GJH:

You know, there were mass members of the, you know, of the membership. They would hold meetings, like, on Sundays. And then the students seemingly were meeting more at that time than the general community membership. Because the students were the ones, during the summer months, who were really keeping things going, but during—no, during the school year. In the fall—I mean, in the summer, the CORE movement relied heavily on the community, because the students went home. Many of them, they had to go work, go back to their families, get jobs during the summer months. Very student-oriented during the school year, but during the summer months, it was primarily the community, with some of the A&T and Bennett—see, Bennett—

EP:

Were the adults very much involved? I got the impression that it was mostly students and the adults didn't really get involved until the mass demonstrations of the spring. Is that a misconception?

GJH:

No, that is true. The adults were not very involved until all of the students ended up going to jail when that was—when there was that mass arrest in Greensboro where all these students were arrested. Then that's when the parents and the adults in the community really got involved because the kids had to get out of jail.

EP:

Well, do you remember much support or attendance at your meetings of the more traditional black leaders, like some of the more activist clergy, or George Simkins of the NAACP, or members of the Greensboro Citizens Association?

GJH:

Do I remember them participating?

EP:

Yes.

GJH:

I don't remember them participating in a very—they weren't out there on the front lines. Now at that time, you know, I was a student. I don't know what they were doing. They may have been a part of that support group that was giving the movement funding and that was helping to maybe get families organized. But I never saw George Simkins—he was active with the NAACP at that time. I never saw him around a lot at meetings, but that is not to say that he wasn't a supporter.

EP:

What sort of things were discussed in these meetings?

GJH:

What, at the CORE meetings?

EP:

In the CORE meetings.

GJH:

The things that were discussed was, you know, the things that we had to do, that we could not stop, we always had to have people there, like, on the picket lines. We had to keep the movement going. We could not let, like during the summer months we could not let—we could not just dissolve the movement during the summer months. We had to be as active in the summer as during the winter months. There were some students who even stayed over during the summer months and did not return home to their hometowns, just to participate in the movement during the summer of—I don't know what—'62 or '63.

EP:

I have been told that there was a mayor's committee formed.

GJH:

There was, now that you mention it.

EP:

And that they asked that CORE suspend these demonstrations in the late fall of '62 until they could issue a report to ascertain if the businessmen would desegregate. And it came out in December 22, and it gave lip service to supporting equal service. But that CORE then began intensifying its efforts and planning and they picketed city hall three times in May of—I mean, March of '63. Do you recall that?

GJH:

No, I don't recall that.

EP:

Do you recall attending a mass meeting where the decision was discussed whether to do something in the spring of '63 or to wait and plan over the summer and do something for the fall of, of '63? Dr. Laizner says she seems to remember this meeting occurring in Pfeiffer Hall at Bennett College. Do you know anything about that meeting?

GJH:

No. I can't re[member]—my recollection is they—I do know that something seemed to be occurring in the fall of—in Pfeiffer Hall in—during what, which—

EP:

During the spring. It would have been in early May.

GJH:

Something must have happened. There was some—there had to have been a large meeting or a meeting on each campus for the number of students who left that morning to participate in the sit-ins. And a number of students did not return to college because they were in jail. Something organized had to occur.

EP:

I get the impression that—

GJH:

But I just can't remember when and exactly where we met.

EP:

I get the impression that the executive committee was more or less charged with coming up with something, and what they came up with was picketing again at McDonald's on Summit Avenue. And that's when Bill Thomas, and [Rev. A. Knighton] “Tony” Stanley, and Reverend Bush, and Pat Patterson [local CORE officer] were arrested on May eleventh. Do you remember that Saturday?

GJH:

I remember it vaguely.

EP:

Were you a member of that group that went down that first day?

GJH:

I was not a member of that group that went down that first day. I was not with Pat and Bill.

EP:

Do you know how things started up in earnest in May of '63.

GJH:

How things started? I didn't understand.

EP:

In earnest, that resulted in the continuing nightly activity of the mass marches.

GJH:

I don't remember. I do know that we were scheduled to participate in nightly marches. And we had schedules. It was organized, you just did not go down arbitrarily. But I don't remember any of the organizational—I can't remember back that far.

EP:

Well, how did you get—what was the first activity in which you were involved that spring?

GJH:

I remember a picketing that led to an arrest. And I remember trying to get students from my dormitory active. I lived in Reynolds Hall, and I was very involved in getting students from my dorm. Could not get either of my roommates to participate. They did not participate in the sit-ins at all.

EP:

Do you know why?

GJH:

Because of the type of families that they came from. They just came from, from different families. They were very—one was a very good student, very scholarly. In fact, she's on the faculty of—at Bennett now, both she and her husband [are] on the faculty.

EP:

What was her name?

GJH:

Linda Powell Addo.

EP:

Oh, yes. Yes, indeed. I have worked on a committee with her husband—

GJH:

Okay, Peter.

EP:

—Rev. Peter Addo.

GJH:

Peter, right. Linda came from a struggling family in North Carolina, and Linda's goal in college was to study. She was a very good student. And she had a lot of concerns about doing anything that would jeopardize her father's employment status if ever anyone in that town found out that she was participating in that movement. And I didn't really have a problem with that, because I could understand that her family was cautious and preferred, probably, at that time, that she did not participate.

There were a lot of students at Bennett and probably a lot of students at A&T who did not participate. I think it depended on the kind of family you came from and how much of an advocate you were for the movement. My other roommate was from a wealthy farm family North Carolina, the eastern part of North Carolina—Kinston.

EP:

I'd like—I'm sorry, go ahead.

GJH:

She just was not very motivated to do very much of anything. I mean, that was just the way she was.

EP:

I'd like—okay. I'd like to move on to when you were arrested and incarcerated in the polio hospital. I understand that—when were you arrested? What night?

GJH:

I think it was on, oh Lord. It was a week night.

EP:

Well, there were, there were mass arrests on Wednesday night and then there were mass arrests on Friday night.

GJH:

It wasn't on a Friday night. It must have, it was not on a Friday night, because I remember it was a long week and I was looking forward to that weekend, because we were hoping that we would be out of jail by that Sunday or Monday.

EP:

Were you kept in jail when you were arrested? I mean, you weren't released on your own recognizance? Had you accepted the concept of “jail no bail”?

GJH:

That's right.

EP:

How were you moved to the polio hospital? Was it on Saturday afternoon?

GJH:

I went to the polio hospital. I was never anywhere else. That's where I stayed the first night. I did not stay at—there were some people who went to A&T College or to an armory. I did not go to that place. My first night was spent at the polio hospital.

EP:

What were conditions like there?

GJH:

They were not prepared to—no, first I went to jail. We had to go someplace to be—we had to go someplace for a holding pattern. It was—I guess went to the county jail.

EP:

Yes, yes.

GJH:

We had to be processed in. And they didn't know what to do with us at that time.

EP:

Elizabeth Laizner tells me the story that when they told the girls, the female students at the polio hospital that they were going to release them, it was late at night, and they didn't believe them. And she said that someone came up with the idea of locking themselves in the room. And that she [Dr. Laizner] was taken out of her room by some sheriff's deputies and put in the Greensboro jail, and that—then the, the Bennett girls didn't leave that night or until much later. Do you recall the circumstances of your release?

GJH:

I can't remember when we were released, and I don't even remember if it was at night or during the day. I do remember having been in for several days, at least three or four days at the county jail, because I was there long enough to miss an exam.

EP:

Was there much organization in terms of trying to keep up morale and see that the girls got various supplies and so forth?

GJH:

Oh, we got supplies. In fact, they let us bring all kinds of things into the jail. Parents brought all kinds of things—food, knives to cut our cakes.

EP:

So you were allowed to have those sorts of things?

GJH:

We were allowed to have those things. Parents brought cakes in. They brought our hair rollers in, shampoo. It was almost like being in a hotel.

EP:

Were you taken back to the A&T or the Bennett campus?

GJH:

I went right back to Bennett.

EP:

Did you continue to participate after you were released?

GJH:

When I was released, I was studying for—most of the students at Bennett who were there—I think the thing that kind of kept us going was that most of the students from Bennett were getting ready for final exams along that time. So when I was in jail, I was studying for my final exams. And when I returned to the campus, it was really exam time, and I was able to take all of my exams with the exception of one. That exam—that course was very difficult, and I chose to pass on taking that final exam.

EP:

Did you participate any further in any other activities?

GJH:

Not after—that summer, I left Greensboro. I was in Greensboro until maybe June of that summer. Was that the summer that Jesse [Jackson] stayed in Greensboro?

EP:

Yes.

GJH:

Okay, Jesse stayed at our house that summer. He lived there with his wife. She was expecting a baby. That summer I was not in Greensboro. I was working at a camp in—up near Middletown, New York, the summer of my junior year and the summer of my senior year. So I had a job to go away to, so I did not participate that summer. I left Greensboro on the second week in June after my final exams were over.

EP:

Did—so, did you have any opportunity to talk with Jesse that summer?

GJH:

Surely. He was there, you know, he was there in the house. In fact, he stayed in, you know, he stayed there until his wife had her baby that summer.

EP:

Was that because he was a friend of your brother's?

GJH:

Well, that was because—what happened is that the town wanted—the movement needed someone there as a leader. My brother finished college in '63, right? That's right. He finished college in '63. So when he finished that summer he went to work. He got a job working for an organization—he went to law school, so he must have gone on to Washington that summer. So we had a lot of space available in my house, and I was not there at the house either. And the town decided that—

[End of Interview]