SRC-2 Hendricks, page 1
G: This is Susan Glisson and it is May 7, 2002. I am interviewing Joseph Hendricks of Mercer
University. Tell me when you first became involved with the SRC.
H: Probably about 1960, it could have been just a tad later than that. That was mainly through the
Macon and Georgia Council on Human Relations.
G: Would you describe that relationship between the city council and the state council?
H: They=re a noose. The Macon Council goes back a long, long ways. It first met down there at
the Christ Episcopal Church and was primarily liberal intellectuals. A lot of them, the people like
the gossips who taught at Wesleyan, the McCloud Bryan, the Ray Bruster, people like that. Gus
Caldman, Jewish businessman who is still living, still my friend, well into his eighties. There was
mainly conversation. Occasionally, something would come up that we=d respond to, but it was
composed primarily of African Americans who had done well. A couple of them were funeral
home operators, one was a businessman, but largely it was sort of the Black and White social elite,
especially on the Black side, it was mostly Mercer professors on the other.
?: One man from the Macon Telegraph.
H: Oh yes. Muss mentioned that George Dawes was probably the best player because he=d get it
in the paper. It was an incredible expression of journalistic freedom by that point.
G: So you did work with the Georgia Council?
H: Oh yes.
G: Who did you work with there?
H: My first direct contact was Frances Pauley, and she had had a lot of experience I think with YMCA,
and [is] still living by the way. They had a visit to the Open Door. They went and collected her
and brought her over the night I met with them.
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G: I think she=s actually moved up to Pennsylvania now.
H: l=m not sure. She was in Atlanta about three or four years ago was the last time I saw her. She
was a force.
G: Tell me some of the kinds of activities that she would do on the city level and then on the state
H: On a city level, mainly a great deal of interaction with Bill Randall who was by far the consulate
leader of the movement, an incredible fellow. Contractor by trade and I imagine that was
piecemeal contracting, come build somebody a porch, put a roof on, maybe build a house
sometimes. I think he did build a few houses. He looked for revenue wherever he found it. He
even tried to run a paper for a while for the Black audience, but mainly, his main line of work had
been in contracting. 1=11 tell you quickly how he emerged. The first movement stuff, he had
gotten a position, tolled a call to me to come down and help get the ministers on the bus. Then
after that the bus boycott takes and for Macon, it was just like in Birmingham and other places.
No Blacks would ride those things and they didn't ride them and the bus company was in trouble.
So that, of course, [was] not pleasing to the Marion Macon establishment, so very quickly Bill was
arrested for a u-turn. He made a u-turn down there and so the police arrested him. I went to the
mass meeting that night or the next night, and so when he walked up to the podium, the church
was completely filled and nothing but applause. He stood there basking and received his
applause for about ten minutes. Then, he started off his speech he said they arrested me, they
took me to the jail, I could hear it to here today, they reamed me, mamed me, and he just began
to build all this up. All because I made a u-turn! So by now, you knew things were on the way
because they were actually turning that into a celebration rather than seeing it as oppression. Of
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course, what that is, their segregated mind, the resistors just played right into their hands with that
one. He turned it to Cloyly Maddocks.
G: You said you worked with Miss Pauley and you alluded earlier to the fact that she might get you in
H: Oh yeah. Did it all the time or something, I don=t remember what... I think looking back, most
times get me in trouble when I became president of the thing two or three years later. The
releases would come out under my name the Georgia Council on Human Relations and such and
such today, then the phone just starts ringing and all such as that, but that wasn=t too often.
Occasionally, it would get a little hot. The great thing about that is that I had Rufus Harris. He
probably didn't think all too well of all of that, but he wasn=t about to be reflected down here as
some segregationist president when he knew where the world was going. He had already talked
with Ralph McGill and so that was his way of moving on into integration. We were the first
voluntary integration in Georgia, head of Wake Forest, so he played a huge role of response. Far
from trying to stop us, he let us go.
G: Would you tell me about the incident in which you have the press release that you thought was
fairly mild, but then elicited a violent response?
H: Yes. This was when I and others, we just joined up with Reverend Pascal and others and put in a
little ole Macon Council on Human Relations. George Dawes or somebody, he knew to write up
our little stuff, and this one being a reporter, he carried it to the paper and it just had Reverend
Randall and I calling for a conservative transition, that was the language of the thing. It wasn=t
even on the front page, it was stuck over there somewhere. It appeared in the morning paper and
that night they burned crosses at his house and mine, Pascal=s house and mine. All we had was
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a little ole part in it over there. I would write there to Riley Clymale and them who had the
high... and they were so avidly segregationists. She had taught me, so that was not a very good
G: What do you think the response of the Southern Regional Council was to increasing Black
activism? They=re the funding channel.
H: They were a huge force and it=s hard to get that into historical perspective because back then in
the South, no organization really was doing anything except things you could do in the little
crevices and so on. The SRC was the one operation in the South as I perceive it that the northern
foundations were willing to channel money to. So l=m confident, I don=t know the exact stuff, but
I know that they were sort of the parent agency of the councils on relations in Alabama, Georgia,
South Carolina, and the other southern states. As I saw it, that was their primary activistic role
was through that. They were very much into analysis and study and l=m pretty confident that they
were looked upon by foundations or developmental organizations and others that if you wanted
something logbay, why not a political, but nevertheless a scholarly, research point of view?
Those are people who did it.
G: As predominantly Black civil rights groups began to be created like SCLC and SNCC, do you think
that having SRC as the main funding channel created tension with those groups that might have
wanted to be more?
H: That=s not how it worked. l=m sure the SRC funded some things like that, but by that time, King
was operating with Montgomery in [1955, 1956]. King=s operation was moving at full force. So
these people were getting funding on their own. Vernon Jordan I think once worked for them, I
know he did, worked for the NAACP along with Rile Dupp, and so they were funding. I never read
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this, but I think the SRC did more of the hard research trying to see ways that things might move.
They were an auxiliary, they stayed in the background. The intellectual component of we might
say liberalism in the South and so on, that was its home, and they were good. They were bright
folks and calm.
G: Do you think that they were uneasy about the rise of the mass Black activism?
H: Absolutely not. I think they were rejoicing over it. Their role expanded, but I think they tried to
keep their identity and their role as researchers bringing in academic expertise and other things like
that. I think they tried to keep that pretty good. Will can tell you almost the day and the time that
I think Leslie Dunbar eventually said just to resolve SRC and give all the money they had and
whatever to the King organization and the others, SNCC, SCLC, and so on.
G: What was the response to that within the larger SRC?
H: I think it happened. That=s something you need to get Will straight on, clear on, because I was
removed. I know they finally disbanded, but this is a good ways on down the road.
G: What do you know about the Voter Education Project?
H: That one=s easy and you can get Vernon and Will can pick up on that. That came into being I
think almost simultaneously with Vernon Jordan. There may have been one other person in there,
but he and that movement became identified in my mind together. Also, you see, this fits with
Jordan sort of way of going about things. This had a whole lot of political utility, it wasn=tjust a
matter of you=re not there, you couldn't stretch your money to maybe turn a district. I don=t
know that they did this, I know that's what I would have been doing and l=m sure that's what
they did. They would funnel it with half the political cause. Now that's a lot of money because
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voting was a conservative way to do it, rather than him out here setting symbolic fires and all of
G: Or different from some of the direct action, the sit-ins and those kinds of things.
H: Yes. He=s smart enough to let these fuse. You have a demonstration in Montgomery, well then
come in behind it with voter registration. Eventually, that's what would turn the tide.
G: Why do you think the SRC was well placed to do the voter education project?
H: History for one thing. When you=re back there and there=s nothing, the Southern Regional
Council was connected in every conceivable way. In my mind, first are the liberal foundations in
New York. Governments not going to give you any money, not then, they would later, but they
certainly don=t bother about stopping off the state house of Jackson or Atlanta. Some of those
old guys like Jordan and them, they could articulate that for you in a clear way. I was on the
margin, but I could see what was going on. Don=t even think about the House of
Representatives, state or national, doing anything in terms of programs and funding. Later they
would, but these were primarily liberal foundations and grass roots money all coming together, and
they were beginning to get better at it as time went on.
G: How would you characterize some of the obstacles to Black voter registration and then how SRC
tried to respond to that?
H: I can think of several things. There were plenty of obstacles to it. Literacy tests come to mind,
but there were other things just for playing out intimidation was happening. I remember, that
there=s something that if Blacks came up to register in a little town here they could get a stick
across their heads. It was bad. Might as well don=t even talk about White primaries because
that's the only primary you had, and that's where Vernon and them would come into the picture,
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picture very clearly later on. That=s why most of the work had to take place in urban centers
because what generally would happen, political situation would happen, there would be protests
and might be even near violence, and then out of that, that had to take a political resolution or
movement toward anything of progress. That=s where your voter registration was a very strategic
thing to come in after the things, now let=s put this into a civil thing.
G: You=ve talked about the obstacles to voter registration, what were some of the specific things that
the VEP would do?
H: Like I mentioned back earlier, early on just literacy tests, things like that that they would get into.
Intimidation back in those days. Then you just have to also factor in that the Black population had
to be motivated to get out of a pattern of not doing it. I say that very sympathetically. A beautiful
Black woman, you have no husband, you=re forty years old, fifty years old, and you=re trying to
make it, really trying to make it... the heroes of all of this is Black women. l=m telling you, when
all is said and done, nothing can be said about them in terms of how that went. It was a big step.
It would be like me going to a dance or something like that, into an alien world. All these things
like councils on human relations and all of that, nobody ever said much about this, but they smooth
away in part until- what I think happened eventually- until the African American church took over.
Then they moved into almost a revivalistic effort to intensify conscience about voting and
responsibility to vote and so on.
G: Do you think that they saw themselves working in concert with some of the direct action? You
talked about how there would be protests and then the VEP would come in behind them.
H: Oh yes. It was evident in every way. By the time you get up to 1963, 1964, 1965, all in there,
mid 1960s, you can=t tell the difference between the AME Church, a revival, and this. All the
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components were there so that just moved the church, huge. Every meeting I ever attended in
those things was at some church. The ministers were playing a considerable role.
G: Do you think that there were changes in the mood or personnel or the philosophy of the SRC as
the civil rights movement gained momentum?
H: Yes. That question could be best addressed and you ought to talk him even if by phone is Leslie
G: 1=11 be with him Friday in D.C.
H: Meet him Friday and tell him hello and tell him what high regard I still have, he speaks very softly.
But state that question again?
G: Do you think the mood or the personnel or the philosophy of the SRC changed as the civil rights
movement gained momentum?
H: Leslie will tell you the whole truth there. My impression is yes. I think that the radicalization, and
you ask Leslie about this, but I think that at some point a little bit further down the road, Leslie just
said turn over all the assets of SRC to them. I think whether it=s in retrospect or whether this was
a going thing, he saw this as a transitional move that ultimately would have to be taken by the
African Americans themselves, and l=m sure he will tell you that they got in a lot of other people
besides Vernon who were African Americans as time moves on there. My role moved more to the
Georgia Council and to Will Campbell=s operation and so I wasn=t much in touch with SRC in
later years as I had [been].
G: Do you think that the SRC was reactive or do you think it was proactive?
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H: I think it was proactive because you have to consider the times. Back then, for someone to write a
letter to the editor suggesting a courage in service and tradition was a proactive thing. Reactive,
anything reactive would be proactive in that era. Do you read me?
G: Yeah, I do.
H: Anything reactive would be proactive trying to move out of just a total thing. [It was] 1963 before
Mercer came there bring in a Black student. 1964 before Wake Forest, and don=t even talk about
Alabama, Mississippi, and the other states to the west that had a whole of lot of, a bigger hurt of
the problem. We had Atlanta and that was a huge one. That=s still today. I was reading a book
the other day, that's where your Black bourgeois is now. I just read one or two late novels about
that place up there and I didn't catch on to this, but many years later, they had a type of
gentlemen, ladies understanding that there wouldn't be any demonstrations in Atlanta. They
didn't want their backyard messed up. They wanted to come up there and lay back and party and
all of that. Then on to Birmingham and Jackson and you know wherever.
G: Do you think that the SRC should get more credit for helping spark the civil rights movement?
H: Absolutely. They were the intellectual base of this thing. Not only that, but they sponsored
quietly. They were heavy supporters and sponsors of the Georgia Council and the Alabama
Council and all of this, that, and the other. Plus the fact that they had credibility in the liberal
establishment. So when the SRC spoke, ears listened in the foundations in New York. They
raised money from Mercer and came away with over three or four hundred thousand dollars.
Quietly walked in on the shoulders of Dunbar and Will Campbell and Vernon Jordan and all of
these folks, and this is the way you do it. There just weren=t that many down here that you could
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count on. The SRC had it=s tight roll, it was a research and response organization, it was not
created to be indiscrete and I think it did well.
G: So it was not created to be in the trenches?
H: That=s right. There was a staff of three or four folks, they are not out here organizing Tree Mont
Temple Church. They didn't mind channeling some money that way if they could get it and all of
G: But some of the city councils and the state councils are doing that kind of thing right?
H: Oh yes. Absolutely, absolutely. We had to find in any kind, and it was left up to us. If you found
some way to move into Macon that they didn't know in Augusta then you did your Macon thing,
Augusta did its thing. A lot of them were the same thing, supporting the NAACP, putting a few
white faces, and we had Black members of course of all of these. We eventually began to see we
had a role in more auxiliary...
G: Auxiliary to what?
H: To SCLC and the NAACP and all of these. I don=t know if you want this on tape, but one of the
things that White leadership had to begin to understand was just how much they could play and
what role and how it was played.
G: I think that's an important point and l=d love for you to talk some more about that.
H: It is a very important point. You just had to have a nose for it. I remember Bill Randall telling
me, I got in a conversation with him one day and something or the other came up about Black
gangs and all this, that, and the other, and I naively said well, l=m glad we don=t have this. He
said I don=t know Joe. It was a quick communication to me there=s something going on here
you=re not seeing. He was a contractor, he wasn=t out here being a professional activist trying to
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move... I don=t know if l=ve said this on tape today, Bill Randall=s the kind of fellow that could be
on one phone with the activist and on the other phone with City Hall and they're a lot different
from where you had this collision.
G: As the SCLC was created I guess in 1956, 1957 and then SNCC came along in 1960 and became
viable with the freedom rides in 1961 as an organization, what was the relationship of SRC to those
H: All I can tell you, what I saw more in the street, more in the meetings with the SNCC kids going
around calling Martin Luther King D-log and stuff like that. You would see it with Stokely and Rap
Brown who=s now in jail, they moved it into a very high thing of rhetoric. The whole Black power
thing became the... that led to a separatism, it led to Whites get out of the movement. It was a
bad time for White liberals and truth of the matter, they didn't even get the credit they deserved.
They were the ones that opened a lot of doors, opened things, and all that talk didn't come until
they had gotten a foothold in the future. I think it was the right thing. It wasn=t handled very well
in some places. No big problem here because we were then moving on the front of integrated
Mercer and these people, like I said, we had 1966 or something, I think we had three times as
many Blacks as Mercer had in Georgia with them what [15,000] to 20,000 people, we had about
1,200. They had to get rid of Fascel to know how to define the operation. So we could do more
by integrating an institution. Other folks didn't have that advantage because Upward Bound
comes in 1966, you=ve got 120 Black students over there in MVP. If somebody didn't have an
institution that you could get brought into it, you would find yourself sitting on the outside.
G: But you saw it as a good move ultimately for African Americans to take the leadership role?
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H: Oh yeah. Symbolic with Mercer, we made Sam Hayard head of the Upward Bound. That
became a necessity, that wasn=t a choice the way it had been. In that period, the state councils I
think began to sort of fade away as SRC and SCLC and others took over.
G: Do you have any sense of what the relationship of the SRC was to the Kennedy administration?
H: Close. No question about that. I=d run in on the kinds of things, but they were well connected.
G: Do you think that other southerners would resent SRC for that relationship with this northern relief
H: First of all, they didn't half way know who it was. I doubt if there are ten people in Macon who
knew what the SRC was unless there were some people like Randall and others who=d come in
to it because they didn't blow horns and they conducted activism through the state councils
primarily. They tried to influence policy and a lot of other things, researching the population and
related to voting. They had some money and they could get... If some time came along when
you=re eventually going to get before the legislature and all of that, then they generally had the
info. That=s the kind of the thing that activist organization like the SCLC, less so about the
NAACP, they were more academically oriented. Academic=s not the right word, but you know
what I mean. But SCLC and the others were primarily activistic and so it was not a clear
connection, but that's where the Southern Regional Council came in strongly is if they could
provide that kind of background that just wasn=t available in some of those organizations.
G: l=ve heard some criticisms that they should have been more activist oriented, the SRC itself, and
not just through the councils. That they were too moderate and were gradualistic.
H: Yes. That=s up to anybody=s call. I really don=t think that's quite a fair charge because they
were very much supportive of all of these [organizations] and I guess including SNCC, although
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SNCC you know, sometimes you=d just soon not have, kick them out, do all that sort of stuff. To
put that kind of hit on the SRC seems to me knowing Leslie Dunbar and others, those folks would
have done most anything in the world to bring about that vision. They weren=t going to be the
ones putting Black people in the street, they couldn't do that. But the people who were putting
folks in the street weren=t too good at influencing congressional committees and think tank stuff
that you had to do and finding the kinds of ways of communicating that would be helped by
research. As far as I know, it was about the only one operating down here. I don=t think they
had anything much. I recall, that quiet pushing of voter rights ultimately would mean a whole lot
more than running a demonstration in Albany, Georgia which by the way didn't work out very well.
I went down there to that one, spent a day down there, talked to the sheriff. If that one failed in
Albany- that would have been 196-, I forget the exact.. look it up...but they had an old, I believe it
was a sheriff or a chief, I forget what he was, but the guy was from the East, out yonder
somewhere. He was wise enough to say now you cops, treat everybody kindly, but put them in
jail. Chief Pritchett. Jim Halloway and I met with him, talked to him, and he=s a Yankee by birth
but that treat them kindly, don=t hurt anybody, but put them in jail. And we went to
the jail and Martin Luther King was in the jail the day we were down there. King left saying he had
G: SNCC might have another opinion of what went on there. lt=s an interesting story in Albany that I
don't think has been accurately told. Charles Sherrod is still there.
H: Oh yes, I remember Brother Sherrod.
G: SNCC=s charge was the King would come in and bring all this attention, but then he would left and
there would be nobody there to stay in the community and keep working.
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H: I remember Frances Pauley knew Charles Sherrod, we talked about it. I don=t remember talking
directly to him, but she was down there working with him and he was one of the first militant
activists. That was his pitch on it. It wasn=t that King was not devoted to it, King=s strategy just
didn't work because Pritchett kindly put them in jail. You=re supposed hurt somebody, you=re
supposed to spark Black anger, you=re supposed to-
G: Get the media to take pictures of dogs.
H: That=s right. They=re the kinds of things they did in Montgomery, they just played right into their
hands, this guy was a Yankee. He was a skilled law enforcement agent, they carefully picked up
grandmama and took her to jail, and it just didn't work. You have to get folks pissed off.
G: Or organized.
H: That=s right.
G: And SCLC=s strategy was mobilization, not organization.
H: Mobilization and taking the hit and all of that kind of thing. What was the old boy in Birmingham?
G: Bull Connor.
H: Bull Connor was wonderful. That=s just who they wanted with the fire hoses out there on those
kids, blowing them up against the wall, knock them over. Chief Pritchett kindly gave them a drive
to the pokey. I went to the pokey.
G: Do you know if the foundations that were funding the SRC, if they put any kind of restrictions on the
H: That got done when you applied for the money. That I don=t know much about. Some of the
foundations were really very liberal, radical organizations. I can=t recall the names now, I could
take a look and get all that up. New World, for instance, was a radical foundation, small one, but
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radical. Eventually, they would be getting money from Ford. Rockefeller, that's one who funded
us down here and then for the Rockefeller Foundation, we never could have done what we did
here. That=s just one of the more wonderful things. When Will did his book on Mercer about
that, I called up Leland Diviny, that was the man at Rockefeller who got us the money, second
round called me from the board room and told us he was going to give us another $250,000 that
was quite a bit of money back then. I called up to the Rockefeller library archives and the young
man there said I would so much like to speak to Mr. Diviny or at least get his address. He said,
we have a rule you can=t do that. I said well let me tell you what l=m doing. I said Will
Campbell=s written this book. l=m going to send it up to you. You take a look at it, all in the
world I want to do is to celebrate. I have no interest at all to offend him. He called back a day
or two later and says you can call. And this old man comes to the phone who can barely speak,
the wife a little better, and I got off quickly, but that's forty years later down the road. But he was
remarkable. For some reason or another, he decided he=d just help us.
?: He came down here to visit.
H: Yes, he certainly did.
G: But you didn't have any sense that they were dictating what you were trying to do.
H: Not in the least. Once they gave you that money, it was yours, but it was understood it was for
Black scholarships. It was to help Black kids come to Mercer.
G: Did you have any sense of the publications that SRC did? The Southern Frontier or New South?
H: I used to get them all, I used to read them all.
G: Do you think that they had a wide audience?
SRC-2 Hendricks, page 16
H: They had a very wide audience among the liberal intellectual...yeah. They were all we had that
was a think tank. The Potomac Institute, Will or someone could tell you more about that, they
played some kind of role up there. I don=t know what it was, but the research arm. It wasn=t
hard research, we aren=t here talking about writing theses, this is all kinds of things from
population, some kind of insight into the governmental structures, they were looking at ways to get
national law interacting with local resistance, there was just a mammoth number of things there,
integration of colleges. It was just a complete wide open field of you=ve got to think of ten things
to do before breakfast if I had to. We had to concentrate on a little of this. Then, when you got
into it, the big problem wasn=t the initial breakthrough like getting them in. lt=s then when I had to
go to every football game between the Black Panthers and the K.A.s and everything and be the
cop. I broke up fights in the field. The Black kids were beginning to get a little more confidence
and so they were acting all of that stuff which had been subdued. It was not only intimidating, it
?: Mercer had a chapter of the Black Panthers and they had an intramural football team.
H: No. We didn't have a chapter. They called themselves the Black Panthers and that's what
everybody else called them. So the cluster, the Mercer cluster that was under the Panthers would
be playing ATO. No need of me thinking of being at some national conference or dean of students
or something. My job was to do that and I actually broke up fights. The thing says, it=s a little
self-serving, the only credential I had that I could whoop any of them=s ass. And they knew it.
Because I would play football with them, I was in the thirties, and I knocked the daylights out of
them. That wasn=t intended, but seriously that was a help. Don=t ever mention none of that.
?: lt=s on the tape.
SRC-2 Hendricks, page 17
H: They actually talked about that. And then I had Jerry Stone and the Rex Ranger and Terry
Todd, he was a champion weight lifter. That was an advantage we had that we didn=tjust try to
do it by sitting in some low level. We had to do it.
?: Quick question, sorry. Who was the first Black scholarship athlete at Mercer?
H: We had one that was a walk-on named Lewis Johnson and that would have been 1964 or 1965.
That=s a very good question. I think it was three or four years later, l=d say 1968, that's when
we got the Leonard Hardens and the Billy Smiths and all of them who are still remembered as
Mercer moving on.
?: And we had a Jack Scott who left Mercer and went with the Harlem Globe Trotters. But he
messed up on drugs and the minute they realized he was on drugs they cut him off.
H: Then he ended up, came back to Atlanta, ended up in jail. Then somehow or the other, had him
an old piece of truck, he was doing something, but anyway he wrecked on the way to Atlanta, no
alcohol, and killed him.
?: He=s buried in a cemetery between here and Roberta.
H: Here and Roberta, and the athletic director and I went to the funeral. Only two Whites there.
G: Let me just ask a couple more SRC questions. How vigorously did the SRC seek to increase it=s
African American membership during the 1960s?
H: They didn't have any membership. They had board and I=11 be honest with you, all I can give
you here is my impression. They were all either academically affluent or lawyer types. They
were definitely the kinds of people who would sit on boards rather than be in the streets, they
wouldn't like for me to say that, but back then that was important. Some of them were writers,
some of them were judiciary people, not many judges, but lawyers I recall. People who were in
SRC-2 Hendricks, page 18
business, stuff like that. One way to put it, the kind of people Vernon Jordan frankly would be very
much at home with back then.
G: Do you think that the role of women and Blacks within SRC changed in the 1960s?
H: They had women in SRC at the very earliest time. A lot of them with money or at least with force.
As I recall, I don=t recall a female being chair, but there may have been. The records would show
that. The Durrs, you run into those-
H: They seem to me to operate as equals on that. Virginia Durr and her husband were very much
into the SRC. There were others around. Frankly, I think most of the women were White as I
recall back then, but that's a recollection, it=s not a deal with... I think if you were liberal, had
money and influence, then you were likely to get tapped or could be tapped.
G: Did the SRC respond to the Black power movement?
H: Yes. Eventually, [End of Tape A, side 1]... they were so sensitive to the social cause and the way
things were going. And I assume this happened, I know that Dunbar said publicly, and this may
have been after King=s death in 1968, I don=t remember, but let=s just turn over the coffers to
the movement. They had not even been wise, but symbolically it was a very good move. No
telling where money turned loose into that three or four organizations running there in competition,
G: This is a somewhat complicated question. In the late 1960s, the SRC appears to have broadened
the scope of activities building on earlier efforts in prison reform, housing, and workers= rights.
Do you think this reflected a retreat from racial issues or a reconfiguring of where racial justice was
supposed to be going?
SRC-2 Hendricks, page 19
H: I could never see Leslie Dunbar, Paul Anthony who died B I attended the memorial service of
sorts over in Atlanta led by Will, and he was gay, I think he died of AIDS, but that's not relevant
here, but the death plays a role in here. These folks are moving on and our view of what SRC did
was to let those two groups define the moment. If you read the Times, instead of insisting on
SRC, SCLC and others playing on this research, quasi-intellectual deal, now you=re launched,
here=s the money, you go do it. Hopefully, l=m sure people like Les Dunbar would have hoped
that they would establish research and they would have been better if they had. He was the kind
of liberal, I think, that just thought it was time for a White man to get out of the centerpiece.
G: Was it widely known that Paul Anthony was gay?
H: I doubt it because back then folks just didn't talk about that much. l=m sure he was discreet and
there again, let=s don=t use that publicly because l=ve just depended on what Will told me.
G: Connie Curry mentioned it as well.
H: Connie would know, and l=m pretty confident that he was. I attended the service and I think it
was clear that he died of AIDS. He had a hard time. He was caught, he was the person more or
less in conversation with the groups and with the deals. It was a lot to ask of him. You go from
being almost sir thank you for some money to why in the hell have you divulged. I mean all the
way across that gammet. I suspect the last days of his life were pretty hard.
G: In the 1960s and 1970s, there=s the Wallace strategy and the national tenor is the Nixon
conservatism. How do you think that affected SRC and its goals in the 1970s?
H: The initial part there, you=re talking about research groups and all relating to race and all?
SRC-2 Hendricks, page 20
H: Most of those were liberal. At least part of that was SRCs gain. That=s where they were easily
comfortable and extremely helpful. They did the studies and they were about the only outfit that
you had, Potomac Institute and some others l=m sure operating that would get onto it. If you
wanted to write a research paper at Mercer, of course most of them had never heard of it, on race
in 1965 then head to the SRC. They had a pretty good collection.
G: Did they change the way they did things?
H: They tried to move into a more activistic mold and like I said, when they finally just invested all that
stuff to the groups. As I understand, that's what happened. Then that was what it was simply
saying that African Americans can and should do their own research. If I had been an African
American and knew some of those folks at SRC, l=d say look here, let=s think about this a minute.
Why close down? But then the foundations were under pressure to go directly to the Black
community and so lots of things happened in those transitions. You have to know when it=s over.
G: Are there other things that you think I should be asking you about the SRC that I haven=t?
H: Go on to Will, and ask him about SRCs connection to any pockets. There was a providence farm
that you know about...
G: Right, in Mississippi.
H: There were some operations up in North Carolina. In fact, the old Fellowship of Reconciliation
who was operating up there. All of that's hugely important, especially in the intellectual
development on it. That=s the part he knows.
G: Was SRC connected to Corn and Mea at all?
H: No, nothing connected to Corn and Mea at all. In fact, l=m not sure exactly how it was, but he
knows. That=s a part I would get him in on it. He knew all about it long before I did. I never
SRC-2 Hendricks, page 21
attended a meeting. In fact, Will=s organization I think inherited, we finally sold it, but I think we
at one point owned that thing up there. Not far from Ridgeborough.
G: Asheville, near Asheville.
H: Right in that area, not far from there.
G: The Macon Council, was that your entry point into the movement or had you done some...
H: Yeah. It was operating when we were students here, Betty and I were students, and I went to a
meeting or two way back then with the Mac Brown influence and the gossips I didn't know at
Wesleyan, they would come into the picture. On a real big night there might be fifteen of us,
twenty of us something like that. When I got a hold to it=s when we moved into the more
activistic people. For instance, before then, they would have been very reluctant to invest news
release, which of course got the cross burning that we were just talking about. We, by that time,
were beginning to move into a much more accelerated era.
?: There were only two places you all could meet and that was Christ Episcopal Church. You=ve
mentioned that the YWCA let them meet there.
H: You could meet integratedly at the [YWCA], but I don=t think they would have been too happy to
have the Macon Council meeting. But they did have Blacks and Whites meeting, but we never
met there. The only place we met, and we=ve always somehow the old Episcopals are sort of like
Catholics. They have a governing body up the road and the Atlanta Episcopalians would come
down there and they looked like the last people in the world to run a revolution. I can tell you that.
They=d come down there with a little goatee, sitting there smiling at us.
G: So in some ways, the SRC, the Atlanta branch could be more sort of neutral and research oriented
while the councils could do more in the kind of aggressive stuff?
SRC-2 Hendricks, page 22
H: That=s why Les I think finally just terminated it and wanted to go over there. They had a huge role
in that early period, transition period over there. I don=t know this, I wish you could ask him, he
might not tell you, but I think the main thing that brought an end to roles like SRC were just the
Black anger, Black activism, Black identity. We don=t need no White folks doing our research sort
of stuff. That passed, but it was intense at the time. I told you, I mentioned to Bill Randall one
time, he said you just don=t know the anger that's operating here. So somehow or another with
the help of the Lord or something we got through, but it was a tangled mess.
G: Have you had any dealings with the SRC now?
H: I don=t think it exists.
G: There=s an office in Atlanta still.
H: See that tells you, I don=t even know. I can=t imagine what they're doing.
G: They have a little newsletter, Southern Changes, and they have done some radio publications,
AWill the Circle Be Unbroken@, it=s kind of oral history of civil rights folks.
H: I don=t particularly know that. I don=t believe l=m on that list anymore. They haven=t asked for
any money, if they did l=d be glad to give them some. You know more about that. Do you know
who=s heading it up?
G: lt=s a woman named Wendy Johnson, a Black woman.
H: Sounds familiar. Not old Winefred Green?
H: That=s Halle Berry, Connie Curry=s running partner.
G: lt=s Wendy Johnson.
SRC-2 Hendricks, page 23
H: I should=ve known that, it=d have to be now. What do they do?
G: They do publications, I think they continue to do research. They have this great radio series on
civil rights voices. l=m not clear what beyond that. They give out some awards for books, they
have the Lillian Smith awards.
H: Oh yes, l=ve seen the Lillian Smith award kind of thing. She was in jail by the way.
G: This is Susan Glisson interviewing Joseph Hendricks from Mercer University on May 7, 2002.
[End of interview]