Title: SRC 33 Conference, Day 1 Tape 3
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Title: SRC 33 Conference, Day 1 Tape 3
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SRC 33 Conference, Day 1 Tape 3

Brian Ward: This afternoon we have the first of two panel sessions featuring people

who have an intimate knowledge and experience within the Southern

Regional Council. I'm going to allow them to introduce themselves, but

first of all let me introduce the chair for this panel, Paul Gaston, who has

served in various capacities within the SRC; he's been president of the

SRC. I just want to take a moment here to thank Paul very personally

really for someone who has actually encouraged me in my work in various

areas, but particularly of late in wanting to learn more about the Southern

Regional Council. He was very gracious to me when I was in

Charlottesville as a post-doctoral fellow in the Woodsen Institute. In very

many bizarre ways the comforts that we have here now and the project

that we have on the Southern Regional Council at Florida is in no small

regard down to Paul's encouragement, so we should thank him. I'm just

going to turn it over and let Paul say his piece and introduce his co-


SRC 33 Conference, Page 2

Paul Gaston: Hey good morning, and I'm glad that resulted in a room with a window and

a view of the pool. Thank you so much, with all my pleasure. The

previous speakers have said thank you for having this conference; I

guess we are the first from the Council itself, so we want to say

thank you to all these people, the history department, the College of

Liberal Arts and Sciences, the office of research and graduate

programs, the Paramount Resort. I guess I should wait a little bit

before I thank Steve's Cafe Americana; we don't eat there until

tomorrow night. But I'm sure it's as good as Rick's, and we'll enjoy

it then. Then of course the Ford Foundation, which helped to make

this possible. Now you've just come from the last session, a

session on counterfactual history. That's always a little iffy; less iffy

is a session on artifactual history, and that's what you're going to

have today with [the] four artifacts here in front of you. Real artifacts

continue to be active so that at some session that you might have

ten, twenty-should I go on-twenty-five years from now, we can still

be here as artifacts. Of course what you're going to hear today is

what you would hear if you started doing research on your books-

you would come; Connie, can I have an interview with you? Les,

could you speak just a little louder for this interview and let's get

this written? John, tell us what it was like when you were in SNICK?

What we're going to do, each of us is going to speak about fifteen

SRC 33 Conference, Page 3

minutes, then that will leave approximately an hour for discussion

amongst ourselves and for questions from you on any subject. We

are all going to focus our comments on our relationship with the

SRC, and we have no particular pattern, no thesis; each of us is

going to share with you some our own experiences. I'd like to start

though with a confession, and I want to thank Jane for coming up to

me after the session before last and saying to me, you may want to

rethink your description of the SRC as the cockpit of the Civil Rights

Movement. You know the person who's in the cockpit is up front

flying the plane, and everybody else is behind following. That was

the last thing that I meant, and Jane thank you very much, because

if I had to describe the SRC of all the years that I know of it, but

particularly for our session, which I should of said earlier, it was

about the 1950s and 1960s. We're going to talk to you about the

SRC in the 1950s and 1960s. I would describe it more as the

crossroads, the facilitator; the SRC was way out front of every other

existing interracial organization in the South. It then was befriended

by and became the partner of the frontline black organizations,

SNICK, SCLC, and CORE, and the NAACP. It became the

organization that sort of told the rest of the world what was

happening. I'm going to describe just a few ways in which it

facilitated my modest entrance into the Civil Rights Movement, but I

want to correct that idea of the SRC as a cockpit, that was a bad

SRC 33 Conference, Page 4

image. [It was] the facilitator, the crossroads; it's where people met,

they came together, and it was a trusted organization and played

an enormously important role. I came to the University of Virginia

as a historian, a youngster-I was still in my twenties, barely, but

still-in 1957, and I had come knowing that I wanted to play a role in

the Civil Rights Movement. Now we were talking this morning about

terms, liberal and conservative and moderate; I never used any of

those to describe myself. Growing up in a single tax colony which

my grandfather had founded, I sometimes described myself as a

Georgest, but since that only drew blank stares, I decided there

was not much point in doing that. But when Mary and I came to

Charlottesville in 1957, we described ourselves very clearly, very

appropriately, what had seemed to me exactly the right term to

use-we were integrationists. That term sometimes is translated to

mean communists, some people say that's a Southern liberal; I

never used any of those terms. I just said, we're integrationists, and

if we have the opportunity we'll become Civil Rights activists, and

those are the terms that I associated with the Southern Regional

Council. I had not been in Charlottesville six weeks before I came in

contact with the Southern Regional Council-not directly-but there

were two organizations in town that one might join to be a

participant in what was going to be happening; one was the

NAACP, the local branch-we joined that and I fortunately became a

SRC 33 Conference, Page 5

member of the executive committee pretty soon. I want to tell you

David, the one thing, the main thing that was on the agenda of the

NAACP in 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, all the years that I was a

member of the executive committee, was enforcement of the Brown

decision in Charlottesville schools, which eventually was successful

and it's still working successfully in Charlottesville. That was the

core of the Civil Rights Movement that I joined, and that's where my

education began. I also joined the Virginia Council on Human

Relations. I think all of you know, I believe Jeff mentions it in his

paper, but for those of you who don't know, the Fund for the

Republic, a spin off or division of the Ford Foundation, gave money

to the Southern Regional Council just after 1954 to set up councils

on human relations in every Southern state. [It was to create]

places where white and black would come together to help to

facilitate the integration of schools, or if you want to put it neutrally,

the implementation of the Brown decision. When you joined a

council on human relations, you also joined Southern Regional

Council. I never met George Mitchell; I did meet Harold Fleming

and then of course later I met Les, and I did have a long

association with the Council afterwards-I was on the staff in 1970-

1971, I was elected to membership in 1972 I think, and I was on the

executive committee for twenty to twenty-five years, a long time,

and did have a stint as president. But most of my rich experience

SRC 33 Conference, Page 6

with the Council was in the later period, the 1970s and 1980s. I'm

not going to talk about that; we will discuss that in a panel session

tomorrow afternoon. I will say one thing though, and maybe it's the

most important thing that I ever did-at least members of this

audience will appreciate it-when I was on council staff in 1970-

1971, I walked through the corridors and here were these huge file

cabinets bulging with incredible papers; reports, letters to and from

Dunbar and Fleming and Mitchell and Guy Johnson, reports, news

clips. It was the most amazing collection of material any historian

had ever seen, but it was sort of jumbled. Well I had a research

assistant that year, a young woman some of you may have heard

of-you may have heard of her connections being the current

president of the organization of Mr. Historians, just president of the

Southern Historical Association, the director of the Southern

Oral History Project at Chapel Hill; she was a youngster named

Jackie Hall. She prefers to be Jaquelyn now, but Jackie was my

research assistant. I said, Jackie, let's organize all these materials.

So Jackie spent most of her year in 1970-1971 before she had

written her dissertation, the topic of which I did suggest to her,

Jessie Daniel Ames and the Association of Southern Women for

the Prevention of Lynching, the very famous ASWPL.

Subsequently-it's a long story-the papers were moved to Atlanta

SRC 33 Conference, Page 7

University with an adequate funding. They were catalogued,

arranged, put in acid free folders, and now, as most of you

historians know, microfilmed on 225 reels. That maybe is my

greatest achievement as a member of SRC. I just want to say a few

words about how a young person came into the movement, and

how SRC really facilitated it. First I joined the Council on Human

Relations, and we were pretty left wing, sometimes commies; we

were not the most respectable members of the community, but

were listened to and we did make a difference. Then in 1962, I

received a letter from somebody that said, how would you like to

come down to Nashville and give a talk on how school integration is

proceeding in Charlottesville? I said, well that's a good idea but I

couldn't write that, so I assembled a group of people, each of whom

would write a part of that story, and I wrote it up-it all went through

my typewriter-and so in December 1962 I went to a conference in

Nashville sponsored by the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen and

the Southern Regional Council. One of the many things that the

Council did to promote information, understanding, and helped to

bring about progressive changes. I learned some interesting things

at that meeting; one of the things I learned that was really

interesting was that Martin [Luther] King, [Jr.], had a sense of

humor. I had always known him as a very serious person, you

know? Like that letter Ms. Dew read last night, remember, that was

SRC 33 Conference, Page 8

very serious to those kids who were in jail in Tallahassee? I was

sitting next to King and Charlene Hunter was on the other side.

Now this was December 1962, just a few months after Meredith

had shot his way into Ole Miss, and Charlene had just graduated

or was just getting ready to graduate from the University of

Georgia; I can't remember whether she graduated in 1962 or 1963,

maybe a younger historian might remember that. Anyway, Dr. King

got up at one point and he said, I would like to announce

Charlene's future plans; she has just applied to be admitted to the

graduate school of the University of Mississippi. Well, everybody

just broke out laughing. That was my next sort of involvement. I

meet King that way. The next year I had a sister-in-law come over

from England. The English Civil Rights connection goes way back

before you youngsters who are giving papers now, and she wanted

to be involved in the movement. She wanted to learn about it and

she wanted to go to one of these freedom houses. I didn't know

how to do that so I wrote to the director of the Southern Regional

Council. I have a sister-in-law and she wants to get involved. He

wrote back and said, you write such-and-such a place, and so she

went to one of the freedom houses in Warrington, North Carolina,

just on the north side of North Carolina. She was there that

summer. Then a year after that the Southern Regional Council was

SRC 33 Conference, Page 9

asked by the Carnigie Corporation whether it was really

worthwhile for an organization called the Southern Teaching

Program to continue in existence. The Southern Teaching Program

had just been started by some youngsters at Yale. What they did

was to send bright graduate students from all over the country to

southern black colleges in the summer to educate them, to vitalize

their experiences. I don't know what all the rational for it was. The

Carnigie Corporation had given the money to the Southern

Teaching Program at Yale, and they wanted to know whether it was

worthwhile. If you wanted to know whether any civil rights activity

in the south was worthwhile, what would you do? You'd ask the

Southern Regional Council. Now, if the Southern Regional Council

didn't have time to answer that question, they'd seek somebody

else. So Les called me up and said, Paul, do you think you'd have

time to do this report? He told me what it was, and I said, I'd love

to. I traveled the south and visited seven or eight black colleges,

interviewed all the people, and wrote a report at the end of the

summer. These are just a few of the ways in which one young

person found his entry into the Civil Rights Movement. I was going

to teach southern history and civil rights history, but you can't teach

southern history and civil rights history if all you do is associate with

these white people, and if all you do is associate with scholars.

SRC 33 Conference, Page 10

You just can't learn that way. The Council facilitated my entry into

that in these few ways that I have described. Each of us now is

going to talk about our experiences, our lives, what we've been

involved in, how we're not just artifacts in the past but activists in

the present, and we're going to speak in the order in which we're

listed on your program. Brownie Ledbetter, I'm very sorry to say,

is not well and cannot be with us. We turn now to Connie Curry,

who's going to tell you who she is and what she was involved in.

Connie Curry:

Thank you. I'm going to tell you a little bit about my own work and

then connect it to the Southern Regional Council. I came to Atlanta

in January, 1960 as director of something called the Southern

Student Human Relations Project of the United States National

Student Association, which was a national confederation of student

governments that was founded actually right after World War II by

returning veterans. I was amazed when I was writing the book

about Aaron Henry from Mississippi to find out when he was in

Zaviar in the late 1950s, was one of the founders of NSA. As you

SRC 33 Conference, Page 11

know, he went on to become the state director of the then NAACP.

When I got there in January, 1960, this was, by the way, under a

grant from the Field Foundation. The money coming from the Field

Foundation goes back to 1957 when Ray Fairaby from the

University of Texas was the first southern president of the National

Student Association. Ray and some of the other southern

delegates at NSA, I understand, convinced there were white and

black southerners in the late 1950s who wanted desperately to

bring about change in the legal segregation that went all the way

through, as you know, from education to bathrooms to buses to

everything, and that there were a group of conscious college

students who wanted to change that. Field gave money for two

years, 1958 and 1959, to have what they called the Southern

Student Human Relations seminars in the mid-west to bring about

eighteen or twenty college students from the south up to these mid-

west campuses where they would study race relations and human

relations in the south and then hopefully go back to their campuses

as lonely and isolated but touchstones to at least be educated

about what might need to be done. Somehow or other, by 1959,

the NSA had convinced the Field Foundation to give a grant for a

full-time person to move to Atlanta to be involved as the Southern

Student Human Relations project director. I, who had been

involved in NSA, came back in January, 1960, as the director of

SRC 33 Conference, Page 12

that project. Then, of course, February 1, 1960, all of a sudden for

the first time in U.S. history, students in this country had a chance

to become involved in direct action rather than just on the periphery

and scholarship, because when the four students sat in at ANT

College at Greensburg, North Carolina, that was four, by June,

1960, it had snowballed to where 70,000 college students, mostly

black, but a few white people, were involved in this snowballing

movement across the south. That was no organization that was

doing that snowballing, believe me. Those were individuals. It

wasn't a group who sat down and planned the sit-in movement. My

role changed radically. Thank God, Field had a great imagination,

because Julian Bond and the others people involved in the

movement used to come over to my little NSA office and ask to use

the mimeograph machine. We lost all sight of what the definition of

the Southern Student Human Relations Project was and by the

spring of 1960, I was on my way to Shaw University for the

organizational meeting of SNIC, and soon after that, when SNIC

began to get organized, they invited Ella Baker and me, although I

wasn't much more older than the SNIC students. I was out of

college. Ella and I became the adult advisors to SNIC and I was

the first white woman on the executive committee of the Student

Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. I didn't know that until Julian

SRC 33 Conference, Page 13

Von told me that. Then I was working with NSA and the southern

students from 1960 to 1964. In 1964 I went to work for the

American Friend Service Committee. I worked for them for thirteen

years as their southern field representative. In 1975 I returned to

Atlanta and worked in the administrations of Maynor Jackson and

Andy Young as Director of Human Services for the city. Then in

1990 I took early retirement and had a fellowship to the Carter

Woodson Institute in Virginia where I renewed my friendship with

Paul and Mary and started writing. I have since written four books,

which has been a great pleasure of my life because I'm getting to

write about the black activists but who were the grassroots people

like Maybertha Carter and the people who desegregated the

schools and Winston Hudson and Aaron Henry. Then the other

book is called Nine White Women and the Freedom Movement

because Bob Moses, when we had our thirtieth anniversary of the

1964 Freedom Summer, Bob Moses said, you've got to write your

own stuff about what happened in the Movement because, pardon

the expression, the historians are getting it wrong. Some of them

are getting it wrong. That's what precipitated deep in our hearts. In

any case, writing has become one of the greatest pleasures, writing

about the grassroots people and the Movement. It's just really

been a great joy. Now I want to go back and briefly fit in my

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contacts with the Southern Regional Council. What I see is their

main contributions in the 1960s. First of all, I want to say that part

of it was just very helpful in that Paul Anthony was one of the first

people who was working for SRC at the time and Paul said, let me

help you get an office. He told me a grant for $50,000 from the

Field Foundation into the Citizens Trust Bank, he told me where to

get the mimeograph machine and all this stuff. That's when I met

Les, who was research director at SRC. Then, of course, the

Southern Regional Council had been active in helping Ray Faraby

get the money and get established with the Southern Student

Human Relations Project. I want to tell you the cast of characters

that were on the advisory committee that I stepped into in 1960. It

was Ralph McGill, Ruby Hurly, Harold Flemming, C.H. Parish,

Will Campbell, and Benjamin Maize. Those were the people who

were on the advisory committee and SRC was very crucial in the

movement to get this human relations project, which then became

totally involved in SNIC to get that established. Ella Baker later

joined that committee. The other thing I think about a lot in terms of

the Southern Regional Council, and I don't even know, Les

probably knows this, but I don't even know who was responsible for

this thing that SRC used to sponsor called the Southern

Interagency Conference. I remember going in there as certainly the

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youngest person in the Southern Interagency Conference with all

these people from the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-

defamation League, the American Friend Service Committee. They

met, I think, twice a year. I never will forget my first one because

Jean Fairfax was there from American Friend Service Committee

and she would talk every time we had a meeting, she kept on

talking about Prince Edward County, Virginia. It was Paul Rilling

and some other people from SRC who said to Jean Fairfax, the

American Friend Service Committee needs to go to Prince Edward

County as a continuing presence and Jean established an office

there of AFAC and they were the ones who sent the children. You

know when they closed the schools in Prince Edward it was the

AFAC and other supportive groups who got sixty-five children from

out of Prince Edward County to attend schools in eight states.

This was just a drop in the bucket of the 1,500 black children who

couldn't get into the schools. It was an effort there to at least start

opening the doors. The contacts, I can remember going into the

Southern Interagency Conference because by that time, of course,

I was very much involved in SNIC, and I remember saying, don't

forget the students. The group in SRC and the Southern

Interagency Conference. I think as Pa pointed out was always very

supportive and very open to what we was going on in the student

SRC 33 Conference, Page 16

and the quick-moving events of what was happening with the young

people. The other thing that I would consider in terms of the

Movement, one of SRC's greatest contributions was the

establishment of the Voter Education Project. The schools and

voting were two things I felt, and as I moved around the south the

years I worked for the Quakers, those were the things that were

really on everybody's mind. By 1964, the Public Accommodations

Act had come, but in 1965, when Maybertha Carter put her

children into the white schools in Drew, Mississippi, when I first

went up there to visit them, they were the first. Another county I

was working in, Isaquina and Sharkey County in Mississippi, they

had sixty-four black parents enroll their children in the white public

schools. This is over near Greenville. By the opening day of

school there was one, and that young student didn't last very long

because people had lost their jobs, they'd been cut off welfare,

they'd been threatened, and everybody was gone and the school

system remained white. Certainly voting and school desegregation

and getting a better education were the two things. Now, when I

working on the book about Winston Hudson in Leak County and

her work in Harmony, Mississippi, she talks about the $750 grant

that Vernon Jordan, from the Voter Education Project, sent. Can

you imagine, $750 and she talks about the 500 voters that were

SRC 33 Conference, Page 17

registered by driving money to get people to the polls in Leak

County, Mississippi. Aside from the personal support that I always

get, we could always go and sit with Les and the other directors. I

always felt their personal support, which has lasted on down

through the years. I just wanted to say that one thing, and I think it

may have been Paul that suggested, back in 1961 when I was with

the NSA, that what we should do is publish a little newsletter giving

the events of what was happening with students across the [states].

Paul Gaston: Paul Anthony.

Connie Curry:

Yes, Paul Anthony. That's when I first knew about Patricia

Stevens, and then later about John because the Tallahassee

movement was one of the things on that old newsletter that went

out to students all over the country saying, Tallahassee, Florida, so

many students, ect, ect, etc. I've known John and Pat for years

and years, since the 1960s. As I say, I met Paul and Mary along

the way there and have received their support over the years. I

also, with a big help from the American Friend Service Committee

and from Hays Maselle and a few other groups, have recently

done a documentary on the Civil Rights, which was my first book,

which was the story of Maybertha Carter and her desegregation of

the schools with her children. It has just come out and I have some

SRC 33 Conference, Page 18

postcards if any colleges here would like to buy the film from the

distributor. It's on sale for $298. I have these if any colleges would

like them. Steve Suits, we've been friends forever at SRC, and

Steve, I'm sure because of our early association, also gave us a

contribution to finish this film. Steve has also remained one of my

most loyal supporters in my telling of jokes after graduating from

comedy school. He's one of my main supporters in that. You all

don't know that about either one of us, but it's true. [Laughter]. I

think that's all I'm going to say at the moment except that one of my

latest parts of work has become my involvement in the Criminal

Justice System and in the reform of that because, to me, this is the

new cutting edge of the Civil Rights Movement. We have

2,000,000 people in prison. As you all know, there's a fast track

from schools to prison. Failing public education is part of the

reason. Speaking about Charlottesville, Paul, I have a friend

there that teaches in the high school who teaches an honors class.

There are forty people in the class, thirty-seven white, three blacks,

as far as I'm concerned, we're creating another generation of elite,

white, better educated people, just by another name called

resegregation. I wanted to say that one of the greatest pleasures in

working with the Criminal Justice has become reaquainted and

working with John Boone, who is in the back, who I hope will

SRC 33 Conference, Page 19

speak a little bit before he leaves about the short but meaningful

work of the Southern Regional Council in criminal justice. Thank


Paul Gaston: I didn't have $298 with me at the time, so I was privileged to see

the film free as Connie showed it, and I urge you to get your

libraries to buy it. John is going to speak to us next. John Dorsey


John Dorsey Due:

Thank you. It's a great pleasure for me to be here with my old

friends and my young old friends, and Leslie Dunbar, who when I

worked at the Voile Education Project as an intern and at my

going away party in 1965, which they gave me, we were drinking

scotch in those days, I don't drink now, but back in those days I

was into my African American bag a little bit and Leslie Dunbar

says, John, you're not an African. You are an American. I've been

dealing with that question ever since, as to what he really meant by

that. Afterwards, I'm going to get with him and fuss with him. We

have Mr. Boone in the back, who's from Taraho, Indiana, like I am.

SRC 33 Conference, Page 20

If you heard Mr. Boone this morning, he made a point about

discrimination and racism not just being a southern thing, but it is

an American thing and it's bad in the north maybe in a different

way. In that way I would describe who I am because I was expelled

from Indiana. In 1955 I was at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina when that

lady, Rosa Parks decided not to give up her seat and move back as

directed by the bus driver. When she refused, when she defied and

order of protocol and custom of the south, that seemed to be a

signal to the black community in the south. It's unconscious, it

didn't make any sense, but it somehow started me ever since. By

1960 the students couldn't stand it anymore and chose to sit in at

North Carolina A&T as Connie talked about. This was not a plan of

the Southern Regional Council, it wasn't in the NAACP, SNIC was

nonexistent, Dr. King was working on his doctorate. These

students couldn't stand it anymore and they sat in and again,

something like a grapevine, you remember that blues song, "On the

Grapevine," see, you young people don't even know what that's

about. It was this spontaneous thing that went through the south.

We had black students raising hell all over the south. Now, in

Indiana, the work that we were trying to do in desegregation was

being resisted in different ways. The kind of the discrimination in

Indiana was more like neo colonialism, where we had blacks on the

SRC 33 Conference, Page 21

payroll, the unions were very racist, and when we, on the local

level, through the local branch of the NAACP, began to carry on

demonstrations and protests, the national office didn't appreciate

that. The NAACP was a simply organized organization and did not

believe in direct action. As a consequence, I was part of that group

of integrated group that was not returned to the executive

committee of the NAACP. When the students in the south carried

on their demonstrations, Roy Wilkins, the executive director, sent

a telegram to all branches to support by demonstrations in the

north, our branch refused to do that. Not only that, a group of

ministers paid for an ad in the Indianapolis Star to protest the

southern sit-in movement. If you know anything about black

ministers, you don't really see black ministers hand money out for a

full-page ad. That's just telling you how things were in Indiana. I

couldn't stand it anymore. I had to go south. I had to go where

there was an opportunity to be part of a movement. If you read the

story about Moses, he was struck the same way. Here was a math

teacher in the Boston, Massachusetts [area], and he got that same

bug. Many northern blacks had that same bug and came to the

south. I came to Tallahassee because my mentor, a black attorney

in Indianapolis had friends at Florida A&M University, who at that

time, had to go to a northern university to get their graduate

degrees because the University of Florida and other schools were

SRC 33 Conference, Page 22

segregated. The state of Florida sent them to Indiana, Ohio State,

whatever. We knew some people at Florida A&M, and it was

arranged that I come to Florida A&M as an in-state student. They

wanted me to come. I had that kind of support system. One thing

about oppression, unless you have support and unless you are

aware of your oppression, you'll never free yourself or liberate

yourself from that oppression. I had the awareness and I had the

support system here in Florida, and I began my career as an

activist here in Tallahassee. The first thing I did is call FSU, the

dean of Religion for the name of the Unitarian fellowship. At the

time, I was a Unitarian universalist. That Sunday, that's when I met

the members of the Unitarian University Fellowship, who had

connections with the Tallahassee council on human relations. In

those days, the Tallahassee council on human relations was very

discreet, they could not do too much because it was war in the

south against anybody who was opposing segregation. However,

these friends that I developed supported Core and my wife and

others by raising money for the bonds. In 1963, after I graduated

from law school, I had my opportunity to come to Atlanta, Georgia,

and become part of the Boulder Education Project. The way that

happened, being active with Core at the time, Carl Ractin knew

Riley Branton, who was the director of the Boulder Education

SRC 33 Conference, Page 23

Project under Leslie Dunbar. At that time there was a grant that

was given to the National Association of Intergroup Relations of

Officials, called NAIRO, who provided internships for those who

wanted to do things in human relations. I was able to get one of

those internships and come to Atlanta to work in the Boulder

Education Project. In that experience I learned about the

Southern Regional Council. I was just talking to Paul just today at

noon. Knowing that we were being monitored by the FBI, knowing

full well that things were not all that they seemed to be, I always

wondered why Bobby Kennedy, then the United States Attorney

General, would try to call upon SNIC, which was now in existence,

and Core to stop their protest in the streets and their sit-ins and

their freedom rides and do voter registration, then immediately the

Southern Regional Council, through grants, from the Field

Foundation and other foundations had moneys to support civil

rights groups to do voter registration. Our job through they Voter

Education Project was to do research to see what was the cause

of the problems of voter registration. Of course, SNIC and Core,

and of course, this was all intentionally, was to do voter registration.

You have to understand, that in Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama,

and even Florida, there were all kinds of waves to restrain voter

registration. It varies in different ways. In Mississippi, you had to

SRC 33 Conference, Page 24

interpret the Constitution. In Florida, they didn't have specific laws.

However, they had customs like, for example, having the books

open only two hours on the weekends in order to control voter

registration. My experience with the voter education and the

Southern Regional Council did raise certain questions. When I

arrived in the spring of 1964, Riley Branton had already decided

not to give funds to Colfoe, that was the organization that Core

needed all the activities in Mississippi comprised of the NAACP,

Core, SNIC, and the SLC. This is the only place in the south where

you have all organizations working together. Most other states they

were competing with each other. In Mississippi, because of the

personalities of the persons that were representing these

organizations, you had the kind of coordination and cooperation.

For example, Metgare Edwards, that's why I corrected Connie. He

was the field director of the NAACP in the state of Mississippi,

working with Aaron Henry, who was president of the NAACP.

They had that personal relationship and loyalty with Bob Moses,

who then represented SNIC and Babe Dennis representing Core.

Through this type of interaction they worked together. Even SCOC

was involved through Onell Ponder. Do you remember Onell? I

had an opportunity to come into Mississippi through Riley Branton

on behalf of Bob Moses, although they had made the decision not

SRC 33 Conference, Page 25

to fund Cofoe, nevertheless Riley Branton was doing all he could

to support what had to be done. The reason of what appeared to

be duplicity is that the guidelines said that we're supposed to be

doing voter registration. This was the intent. Mississippi was a

very bad state in trying to support voter registration. You could do

more and be more successful in places like Tennessee, which had

the network of council of human relations instead of Mississippi.

However, it was the intent of SNIC and Core that Mississippi had to

be made an example. This is where people want to challenge Jim

Crow. This is the place to challenge Jim Crow. This was a

revelation to me as to what people will do in order to challenge

discrimination and Jim Crow when there is no real opportunity of

legal success or expectations of success. I was able to observe

what were called 'Freedom Days' where people would leave the

church in masses of 200 or 300 [people] to march to the courthouse

to register to vote.

[End of Tape A, Side 1.]

John Dorsey Due: ...the just department to give protection must not be implemented

because all at once Bobby Kennedy didn't want a National Police

Force, do you remember that? There was no protection. As the

consequence, people gave their lives for us to be where we are

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today. I was there. I documented this kind of information on behalf

of the Voter Education Project to give to the United States Civil

Rights Commission and when I end I'm going to read the last

paragraph of my report that's in this book and I hope you have it in

your library called Climbing Jacob's Ladder, a book by Pat Watters

who used to work for the Southern Regional Council, which

discussed the arrival of blacks in southern politics with the

introduction by Leslie Dunbar. I hope it's in your library. Reese

Claycart is still with us, right? This is a serious book that you need

to read as to the reports written by others besides myself as to what

occurred in Mississippi. Then, after my internship was at end, I

returned to Tallahassee as the Florida council for Core. My wife

and I then were married by then and we have a daughter who you

saw last night, Tanareve Due, who was born in 1966 and she had

to resign as a director of the Voter Education Project. I was

temporarily acting director for one year. During this time, I like to

call it the Freedom Movement as opposed to the Civil Rights

Movement, divided in relation to black power and the traditionalists

like this young man and myself that really believe that integration

needs to be the future of America. As a result, a lot of the

dynamics that occurred in relation to black power and the reaction

to it here, such as in Gainesville, that project was terminated. I

SRC 33 Conference, Page 27

would like, however, to mention one factor that we have not

discussed today. On the cover of this book, Southern Changes,

this is the regular publication of the Southern Regional Council,

there's a picture of Ann Braydon. There's a review of this book

called Subversive Southerner. What I'm getting ready to indicate, I

hope we discuss this sometime today, that another factor in race

relations that we have not discussed, and that is the war on

communism. The reason why the Southern Regional Council was

perceived to be so timid by Benjamin Maize, is that there was fear

of retaliation. You must remember the Southern Regional Council

was the tax exempt organization, contributions which are tax

deductible, and therefore could not carry on political activity.

Therefore, you had southerners who were always monitoring what

the Southern Regional Council was doing, which could jeopardize

the funding of the Southern Regional Council. The Southern

Regional Council was very necessary for my wife and the youth

that was involved in the Civil Rights Movement, because it provided

the environment for them to do what they had to do. They were the

support system. They found the funds. They found the

sympathetic support. They arranged for Mrs. Peabody, the mother

of the governor of Massachusetts to come to St. Augustine to those

interlocking networks to develop that kind of sympathetic support.

SRC 33 Conference, Page 28

If it wasn't for Connie Curry, see, blacks were already being killed

for being involved in civil rights. It was not until we started getting

whites involved and they were being killed, then we began to see

the cause that changes as far as movements were concerned.

Mickey Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and others. This caused

the dynamics for the changes related to the civil rights act and the

voting rights act. I would like to end my fifteen minutes with the last

part of the report.

Sheriff Davis was a sheriff who we believed had killed Mr.

Allen, who was a witness for the shooting of Herbert Lee, who was

a SNIC worker. Developing this kind of information, I was on my

way to McCone, when I was stopped by the state police and

brought to the sheriff's office with my legal pad. I still carry a legal

pad around. Fortunately, Courtney Siselaud, who at that time,

was working with the Mississippi Advisor Committee for the Surise

Commission, was able to come and save my butt, really. I was

able to get my papers back. Before I left there, I had paid the cash

bond to Sheriff Daniel Jones and I asked the sheriff whether I

could speak to him. I had seen an Impeach Earl Warren pamphlet

on his desk. He said he always intended to speak freely. I didn't

say that I was interested in Mississippi and the rest of the south

being a better place for all people, both black and white. The

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sheriff rejoined, not in an angry tone of voice. That was his duty, he

said. To make his county a safe place for all people. He said he

has been surely taxed by outside agitators who are bent to break

the law and stir up people. He intends to enforce the law. He

mentioned Bob Moses, he then produced a well-known picture of

Martin Luther King, Jr. sitting with a couple of so-called communists

at a Highlander Polk School meeting. He said, this is the type of

people we are dealing with. He then looked at me and said, I don't

know how you're tied up with this, but I think you are just

brainwashed. I'd advise you, I'm not ordering you or warning you,

I'm just advising you to leave Aimen County and not come back.

In other words, what I'm trying to say, is that communism is a

pretext for the massive resistance in the interposition implication of

the civil rights. Thank you.

Paul Gaston: Thank you, John. Keep on, keeping on. Leslie Dunbar please.

SRC 33 Conference, Page 30

Leslie Dunbar: I might note that one of the people in that famous or infamous

billboard picture of people at Highlander was Fred Ralph of the

Southern Regional Council. I'm the chaser after the strong drink of

Paul and Connie and John. I'll let you down easy, mainly with

some data that you, as historians, might want to deal with. I

worked the summer of 1958 at the Southern Regional Council on a

special project. I came back in January, 1959 full time as director

of research, a new position created for me and thus, for me, began

a grand experience. When Earl Flemming, my mentor and friend,

left the council to establish in Washington the Potomac Institute, I

succeeded him as executive director at Pastoh Hill during the

crucial early 1960s until I left in the fall of 1965. Parenthetically I

might comment that I had a hard time filling that position of director

of research once I gave it up. Over the next four or five years I had

four different fellows there as research directors. It didn't say well

for me. At least two of them departed for positions that kept them

close to the Southern Regional Council, Stage Blackford, whose

tragic death this past summer hurts us all so badly, left to become a

political writer for the Norfolk Virginia Pilot. Then later he, with

great distinction, edited the Virginia Quarterly Review. Sam

Adams, who we had hired from the St. Petersburg Times, went

back there. All together I worked at Southern Regional Council, on

SRC 33 Conference, Page 31

the staff, for about six years. I have maintained contact with it ever

since. A few days ago I read in the current issue of the Virginia

Quarterly Review, an article discussing Ralph McGill and Eugene

Patterson and their editorial leadership of the Atlanta Constitution.

Both men pursued other interests but I think would be fair to say

that their work on race relations in the south during those years was

a great defining work of their lives. The late 1950s and early 1960s

and early 1970s were, for all of us who were close to them, years of

searing experience and ones that really surmount if we wanted to. I

thought in my allotted minutes, what I'd talk about was SRC's

working relationships with the press. During Flemming's and my

own time, hardly any program activity held for us a greater weight,

accuracy, SRC's established reputation for accuracy, for

trustworthiness of what is reported in statements was the rock on

which we built our relationship with the press. To return, for just a

moment, to McGill, he had been one of the four or five original

incorporators of the Southern Regional Council back in 1944. A

new member of the council after that, he was always a supporter.

What McGill said, this was my observation, for southern liberals,

especially for any of them who lived in Georgia, what McGill said

was what they understood to be right. You didn't have to go

beyond that. McGill was a gate keeper. Defining the privileges

SRC 33 Conference, Page 32

and limits of southern liberalism for his devoted readers, as the

article in the Virginia Quarterly Review makes clear, both he and

Patterson had to work their way intellectually and even possibly

emotionally to clear understanding of the Civil Rights Movement, as

did, of course, the rest of us. I remember, and this is a revealing

example, I remember once in 1963, it might have been 1962, but I

think it was 1963, arriving from somewhere at the Atlanta airport,

running there into McGill, who had deplaned, too, we agreed to

take a taxi cab into Atlanta together. The Atlanta airport was not

then the gargantuan thing it is now. You could really meet people.

We decided to take a taxi and along the way, into the city, the

subject of Martin Luther King came up. McGill said to me,

remarking that he knew Daddy King very well, he had never met

the son. This was 1963, maybe 1962, I was astonished. At that

time of Samuel DeBois Cook, he was a professor of political

science at Atlanta University, used to run a lecture series. His

custom was to have a few people in to supper to his and Sylvia's

home before the lecture. King was to be a lecturer on one

occasion. I call up Sam and I recounted this, to me, amazing

experience, that the primary newsman of Atlanta, Georgia, in many

people's minds the south, had never met King. I suggested to

Sam, invite King to supper. He did, and King came. [I said], invite

SRC 33 Conference, Page 33

McGill to supper and he did, and McGill came. There on the

couch in the Cook's living room, these two, probably the two most

famous person at that time in Atlanta, had their first acquaintance.

If McGill had been a bit slow in doing what newspaper men and

women dutifully do, his reporters were not. What we had a SRC,

and I want to stress this, was knowledgeable staff, and contacts

throughout the region with whom we could connect reporters. We

had another thing of interest to newspaper folks. Those were files.

We kept, in my time, two research assistants, reading, clipping,

filing, everything that came in the newspapers and magazines and

other materials. We had the best files of anywhere around. The

files were open to anybody, and I mean anybody. You open the

door and said, I want that, and you go. I established that as a rule,

that we were open. Reporters took advantage of this. Later on we

were able to acquire much of the files the southern

use and the southern education reporting service. SRC's

involvement with the press of course, preceded the 1960s.

Probably most of you are familiar with the 1954 pathfinding

publication commonly called the Ashwall Report, more properly

the Negro in the Schools. This book was done by SRC folks, not

only Harry Ashmore, but the Atlanta trio of Phil Hammer, John

Griffon, and Earl Flemming, old SRC people, and Harold himself

SRC 33 Conference, Page 34

a staffer, had done much of the planning and direction of the report.

One of the very first projects that I undertook in 1999, when I got to

the council, was to commission Walter Spearman, then a

professor of journalism at the University of North Carolina, and

Syrlin Myer, then editor of the Gainesville News, Gainesville,

Georgia, that is, and of course, later editor of the Miami News,

commissioned them to do a pamphlet, which we brought out under

the title "Racial Crisis and the Press." Parenthetically, pamphlets

seem to have gone out of style. We did a lot of them. Although

reporters from the Constitution, I think for example, Jack Nelson,

who became one of this country's outstanding journalists, and

Howell Guliver, who became later on editor of the Atlanta

Constitution, although these reporters from the Constitution were

regular "customers" of ours. Not even in Atlanta were they the only

ones. A little remembered fact, perhaps, is that Atlanta's own

African American newspaper, The World, was not really a supporter

of the Civil Rights Movement. At very best, and this is an

overstatement almost, a lukewarm supporter. Because of that,

another arrival press emerged in Atlanta, The Inquirer, led by Carl

Holeman, just about the most underappreciated leader of the Civil

Rights Movement. On the Inquirer began the public attention upon

a person named Julian Baugh. Moreover there was The Atlanta

SRC 33 Conference, Page 35

Journal. This reporter, and I think particularly, for example, Fred

Palage, the SRC owed a debt to the different kind who worked at

The Atlanta Journal. It was a rich supplier of talent to us. Margret

Loan, an excellent columnist, too feisty, strode on too many toes of

the managers for the managers of The Atlanta Journal, so she was

eased out and we hired her. The same thing happened a few

months later to another one of their quite good, really best

columnist, Park Watters. We hired him. Later on in late 1965,

Reese Clergyhorn was on the slippery slope out of there and we

hired him. The Southern Regional Council has a great debt to The

Atlanta Journal. The persons who came from the press knew how

to work with the press. There was also Benjamin Mewes, a

unique, absolutely irreplaceable man, who was our southern

leadership project, which sent Ben traveling around the south,

drifting here and there and the other place, including meeting with

top editors of newspapers all over the south. He made himself a

foreman among many, many other things. He once ran for

governors. Many other things, he had been a columnist for the

Washington Post on Virginia affairs for law. We worked at this

business of relating to the press, of being part. Not only were we

connected to the local press, [but we were also connected to]

Newsweek, Time, The Wallstreet Journal, Business Week, and

SRC 33 Conference, Page 36

above all, The New York Times had landed. The New York Times

bureau chief being the extraordinary Claude Sitton. Sitton, if one

were to list say ten or twelve persons who were most important in

the terms of impact or effect on the Civil Rights Movement of the

early 1960s, I guess at the top of your list would be Martin Luther

King and Thurgood Marshall, and which order you put them is up

to you. Someplace on that list of ten or twelve would be the name

of Claude Sitton. Of course, they worked the reports that he filed,

determined what the New York Times said. Of course, there were

lots and lots of people in New York and Washington that didn't

believe anything had happened if they didn't read it in The Times.

He was also setting the tone for other reporters. Nobody led the

public opinion in those years, and it was vital, more clearly than

Claude. Claude is the one former newspaper guy who's never

written his memoirs, he's never written his book, and I don't think

Claude ever will. Some of you have got to do it for him. The SRC

reached out to all of them, and they reached out to us. We were

the center of a network, also state councils and human relations.

Some of them were close to their local press. So were several

council members, Max Secral to Sherall, South Carolina, his little

paper there sort of redeemed South Carolina newspapers, most of

which were miserable. P.B. Young, of Norfolk, a journal guide,

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was probably the best of the Negro press in the south at that time.

The irrepressible Harry Golden of Charlotte, Herbert Davidson of

Daytona Beach, Florida, Hotting Carver, Jr. of Greenville,

Mississippi. All of these people were SRC council members at one

time or another. This could go on. SRC was for decades blessed

with the friendship of John Poppin up at Chattanooga Times,

before that he was of The New York Times. John Seignhauer of

the National Tennessean and Hazel Brannon Smith of Lexington,

Mississipp, Bob Baker, whose son is reports of something critical

in the south, Robert E. Lee, Bob Baker of The Washington Post.

Hugh Patterson of Littlerock. These were our friends. I have said

enough to affirm the SRC regarded the press as a principle leader

in what Sylvanmyer has called the mind-changing time in the

south. For the press delighted itself not with change but with

racism as in Richmond or Columbia, Charleston, South Carolina,

Birmingham, New Orleans, truly even in Dallas and Houston.

Change was very slow. I don't even mention Mississippi because

that was a case in itself. The Jefferson newspapers were vile. It's

one of the great ironies of today that some heirs of the Jackson City

Ledger owns The New York Review. Some good came out of the

I'll just close in saying the Southern

Regional Council was proud to assist in the civil ways it could, the

SRC 33 Conference, Page 38

progressive southern press. Thank you very much.

Paul Gaston: Thank you, Leslie. I think what we'll do now, we have plenty of time, is

sort of stretch a little bit. I would like you all to ask questions. If we

would like to ask questions amongst ourselves, let us do it, but let's

start with questions from you about any subject that you have.


David Chalmers: I'd like to make an ad-on. In the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, if you

want to be part of changing things, was a pretty lonely business in

the south. You belong to a small group in your community. It was

lonely. You didn't want to join the Communist Party, you were

working class. Most people don't know what a vital movement that

black labor movement was in the 1950s before the big bureaus

were able to chomp down them in the name of anti-Communism in

the 1950s. As Paul showed, and as Connie's career shows, and

John, the SRC was a place to which you could go to gather people,

to meet people, to become part of something. The south was full, a

criss-cross of all kinds of groups of people trying to do things. The

SRC was a place through which everyone passed at one time or

another. It was tremendously important. I wanted to say

something to you about the publication. I'm glad that John did do

this. When I was writing at the beginning of the 1960s, researching

the Ku-Klux-Klan, the place where I get information about where I

get information about what was going on in the south was from

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New South, which is the SRC's pamphlet publication which

preceded publications. If you look at my new book you'll find in the

section on bombing, you'll find a chart on what bombing was going

on in the south in the 1950s. This all came out of the New South,

as published by the SRC. This is where you went to get

information. If you look at the newest edition of Southern Changes

we have here, and you're going to find that there are pieces in it by

Robert Neurell, and by Paul Gaston and by Ellen Spears and for

years edited it and did such a really neat job, and Steve Soots is in

this as well. In the beginning of this, Louis is going to tell us what

we're going to have to do to try and enforce, Let No Child Be Left

Behind. Through all the years, both as an organization, a place to

gather people together in which people could operate and attempt

to do things. Jean Wenches has her panel tomorrow, will probably

tell you how on one rainy day in downtown Gainesville brought her

into the Council of Human Relations. I just want you to underline

what's been said of what a vital resource and refuge and way of

doing things the SRC is and to particularly call your attention to

Southern Changes.

Paul Gaston: Thank you very much David. Perhaps the editor would stand and let's

give a hand to Alan Tuttis back there. Any more comments or

testimonials are fine, too, especially if they're fundraisers.

SRC 33 Conference, Page 40

Ann Jones: I'm curious to know if you have any memories any of you have of the

North Carolina Volunteer Project, which I believe was sponsored by SRC.

It's part of the SRC files. In 1965 a group of college students, both white

and black in North Carolina spread out across the state to work against

poverty. Oh, sorry, my name is Ann Jones.

Paul Gaston: The North Carolina Volunteers, that was maybe just after you left, Leslie.

Anyone else? Question, John?

John Dorsey: Was it related to the student movement at Chapel Hill and organizing

efforts there?

Paul Gaston: Was it related to the student movement of Chapel Hill? I think not, is the

answer you're going to say, Ann? I think it was something that

George was connected with and it was Ford foundation-related, but

I don't remember any other details. I know George came in as

executive director and maybe had headed the North Carolina fund,

but I'm not certain. Les said he had. .

Keisha Duncon: My name is Keisha Duncon and my question is you eluded to

human You eluded to

feeling a sense of collective consciousness after Rosa Parks'

refusal to move to the back of the bus. It's my understanding that

this act of civil disobedience had been carried out several times

before Ms. Parks' galvanizing incident. I'm just wondering how is it

this collective consciousness didn't occur prior to her and why was

it that people waited until that particular moment as opposed to

SRC 33 Conference, Page 41


John Dorsey Due: I've been thinking about that question, too, because I still haven't

figured out why did I leave, and get involved like I did. I think

there's a publication by New South, the SRC magazine that talked

about there were other acts of disobedience like in New Orleans,

but I think the difference is this: Rosa Parks was part, if you read

Cast and Clash in Southerntown you would know that in the

south during Jim Crow there were two classes of black people. As

you know, she was light skinned, she was part of the black older

class, she has certain privileges as being part of the older class.

When she defied all that as being part of that other class, I think

that was the signal. The other situations, there was always a

suspicion that the people who did not give up their seat was part of

the low class, that kind of thing. I think that was a primary reason

that united the total black community in Montgomery behind that

act. That's the most significant reason I can think of.

Leslie Dunbar: Could I just add a word to that, Paul? It'll be a short one. We

speak of the Civil Rights Movement. What I think that entails is

what happened in the south in the 1960s was not just an act here

or an act there. It was a movement that included so much and for

so many ranks. That's why I felt justified in talking about the press.

We never had the press played the kind of role that it played during

the civil rights days in most other cases. Something ignited. They

SRC 33 Conference, Page 42

keep using those words in Southern Changes. Something ignited

an old movement throughout the American populous so that those

individual acts of bravery, they had a permanence to them in an


John Dorsey Due?:

Paul Gaston?:

David Chappell:

You had to remember, December, 1955 was right after the Emmet

Teal situation. The black community was very angry with America

at that time. I think that's the other problem.

I imagine, Ray, that you want to say something about that question,

don't you? I thought so. But lets hear David first. He was up first. I

know you researched it.

I have a question for Les about this very deliberate relationship with

the press. You mentioned the Southern Education Reporting

Service and southern school news. I wonder if you could say more

about the relationship of SRC to that group. My impression, I don't

know if I'm right here or not, but my impression from reading it is

even those awful newspapers in Richmond and Charleston and

Birmingham and so on had a sort of acting trusting relationship with

the Southern Education Reporting Service although not with the

Southern Regional Council. It was even my impression that some

of the segregationist editors tried to control SERS. I'm just

ignorant. I'd like to know more about how that organization

operated and how your relations worked with it.

SRC 33 Conference, Page 43

Leslie Dunbar: I can't tell you a whole lot, but the Southern Education Reporting

Service was established. David, I don't have the detail, but it was

established sometime after the Brown vs. Board of Education.

Precisely for that reason, to have an accepted sort of news for the

southern press. C.A. McKnight of Charlotte chaired the board, as

far as I know he chaired the board all the time. They had some

good people working out of Nashville. SRC acquired some of that,

too. Our good friend, John Edwardson was one of them. They

put out southern school news, which would come out about once a

month. About the time you got the southern school news you'd

already read it all. It was a valuable thing to have. I think you're

right, that partly because SERS was theirs, the editors themselves

had created, it had an acceptance that we didn't necessarily have.

We had good relationships with it. Reed Surap became director

one time and [we had] a close relationship with Reed. Toward the

end, I think I mentioned this, we were down there in Atlanta clipping

all the newspapers, they were up in Nashville clipping all the

newspapers. None of us could really afford to do vacations, so we

entered into an agreement with southern school news whereby we

bought their microfilm and it led to our laying of one of the two

research assistants, it's the only time in my life I ever presided over

technological unemployment, which I didn't really like to do. It was

SRC 33 Conference, Page 44

a good working relationship.

Ray Arsenault: I'm Ray Arsenault and I'd like to make a comment and ask a

question. The question to John about Rosa Parks, I think it's one of

those extraordinarily difficult questions about why things ignited

then. Something related to that, I've been working for a number of

years on a book on freedom rides and am in the final revisions right

now. For a couple of years I've been looking for Irene Morgan. In

the previous session there was a mention of Morgan vs. Virginia,

Thurgood Marshall's first victory in the court in 1946. I couldn't

find her for years. I just found her, actually. She's now eighty-

seven years old. She's been living in Long Island. She remarried.

I was talking to her granddaughter just this week. This week she's

moving back to Glauster, Virginia, where she was arrested in

1944 for refusing to move to the back of the bus. I thought it was

an amazing symbolic, eighty-seven years old, she's decided to

move back to this rural county in Virginia where she was arrested in

1944 and in some ways triggered this whole revolution. I have not

met her personally yet, but I'm hoping to be able to. The question I

have is to Mr. Dunbar. I was very pleased to see you had

mentioned the Virginia Quarterly Review article which essentially is

a review of a book that I edited last year on Gene Patterson. Roy

Peter Clark, who's a journalist at the Poynter Institute in St.

Petersburg, and I gathered together Gene Patterson's pieces from

the 1960s. He wrote 3,200 pieces, seven days a week, for nine

years. There's nothing else quite like that in twentieth century

journalism. Not five days a week but seven days a week. We've

been appearing with Gene, who just celebrated his eightieth

birthday last week, in various national press clubs and the New

York Times and other areas, talking about what it was like to write

these pieces in the 1960s. I must say, he's been very humble and

almost ashamed, I would say, about going back over those pieces.

He was involved in some of the editing process with us in trying to

pick out the 120 or so pieces from the 1960s. He refers to them as

weak tea, or pale tea I guess he sometimes says. Every time that

he speaks he takes great care to distance himself from what he

sees as the real heros of the Movement in the 1960s. He always

mentions John Lewis and Joyan Bond and many others and talks

about his evolution about how he got from this little town, Adel,

Georgia in south Georgia in the 1940s, a pretty white supremacist

place to where he was in the 1960s and to where he is now. I just

wonder, Mr. Dunbar, if you could try to reflect a little bit on your

sense of that, of the McGill vs. Patterson. I know you had a lot of

dealings with them, and whether their writings publically, were they

really in their hearts then or were they slowly evolving? I think

specifically I've written a bit about your reaction at the Freedom

Rides, which in my view, were very positive and not reluctant, and

yet there were many other white liberals in the south who couldn't

go that far. I was wondering how you remember those Atlanta

Constitution days.

Leslie Dunbar: I think you're undoubtably right that people like McGill and

Patterson, and for that matter, other editors around the south,

didn't have quite the scope of liberty that maybe you and I had now.

They had to keep their readers. They just could not get too far

ahead of them.

[End of Tape A, Side 2]

SRC 33

Day 1, Tape B


Leslie Dunbar:

....get away with saying such and such and that freed editors, too. It

freed business structures and I think is one of the crucial

developments in the post-1954 South. Patterson and I can claim to

have known Gene intimately. I knew him and worked with him. But I

know Patterson. If you read all of his things they just clearly

changed. They moved up a notch or two every year, that was

SRC 33, Day 1, Page 47

remarkable. He was a man of great decency. I know he called me

up, this was in 1964, I know this date, he called me up to say the

FBI showed me these tapes. They made me listen to this tape

about Martin King over in hotels. Well, I said, I don't want to listen

to them. But then I didn't. The good thing about Gene Patterson is

he never mentioned that. I don't think he ever mentioned that he

was one of the editors who heard this scandalous FBI tape. He was

a decent person. That was of great importance.

Paul Gaston: You used the wrong tense there, past tense. Present tense is a decent


Brian Ward: Is a decent person. (Some laughter)


John Dorsey Due: I was at the 1965 Conference of SNCC and I was not conscious of

some revolutionary things that was happening at that meeting.

Number one, I was in another room when Bob Moses said some of

us have been involved too long and we need to leave and he

walked out. We haven't seen him until just a few of years ago when

he came back to Mississippi in 1994. Also decisions and

discussions were made, and I was in another room, that whites no

longer be a part of SNCC. White folks need to go out and organize

white folks and this was the beginning of black power. Since

Ms.Curry was part of American Friends Service Committee, I

SRC 33, Day 1, Page 48

remember when I was interviewing for a job that you can burn out

by being involved in this kind of stress on a continued basis and

you need to recognize that and you can change. Connie, since you

were so intimately involved with SNCC at the beginning, can you

explain from your perspective as to what happened and what this

meant? And then Paul I'd like to know what did this mean to the

Southern Regional council when blackness became the thing in the


Connie Curry:

Well, John, as you know, I had left SNCC and had gone to work for

the American Friends Service Committee by 1965 so I was not at

that meeting. There was sort of two generations of SNCC, the first

generation and then the second, and I was in the first one. Those of

us who were there in 1960 through Freedom Summer of 1964. In

that first group there was Cacey Hayden, (we're talking about white

people) Penny Patch, Joan Browning, Sue Thrasher, Bob

Zelner, and a lot of other white people who were involved. For

them the decision that white people should go to work in white

communities was very painful. It's very interesting now because if

you ask Julian Bond, and other people they'll say that it was a

political more than a racial thing because it was the beginning of

the top down, the more hierarchical, business, then the grassroots

SRC 33, Day 1, Page 49

up, which is what Bob Moses and a lot of other people sort of

believed in. It was a political rather than a color decision in many

way. Julian, and a lot of other people who were in and out of that

meeting, say that they didn't believe in it. It was not a black power

thing. It was a philosophy of how things should be run. That's when

Bob changed his name and went to Africa because he was very

upset about it. It was complicated because in 1964, which is before

all this happened, there was the advent of the thousand people

coming from the North. A lot of the women and people that I know

from that era, the white women, they came down and worked only

in the summer of 1964. It was the beginning of a lot of grassroots

people saying we don't like these white Northerners coming down

and taking over our agenda and telling us what to do when we've

been used to being led by the people in the community. So you had

sort of the first and second generation, the beloved community,

before the shift to what was called and, I don't think Stokely and

the people who were talking about it at that moment really saw it as

much of a black power thing as I say as they did the political thing.

The other crucial thing is the fact that you have to remember in

1964 there were 90-some church burnings in Mississippi. People

had been killed by Moses probably never got over the fact of

feeling responsible for Herbert Lee's murder. Schwener, Chaney,

SRC 33, Day 1, Page 50

and Goodman, I mean the murders, the violence. And then there

was Atlantic City which was the greatest set-back. Bus-loads going

up to Atlantic City with Fanny Lou Haymer and everybody singing

freedom songs. And what happens? They get to Atlantic City and

they're allowed two seats. It was great rejection. It was

disillusionment. It was heartbreak. A lot more than it was black

power. That's the way I see it. I want to say one thing about the

press real quick, about Claude Sitton. The other thing a lot of

people don't know is a lot of movement people used to say when

they were afraid they'd say God if we can only get the Cluade

Sitton's room.

Paul Gaston: One very quick answer. John asked me a question (and then you're

question Brian). Blackness did make a difference at the council

after Paul Anthony resigns about 1971, 1972. The executive

committee was determined that it was gonna hire a black executive

director. There had always been that kind of, well that was the

beginning I think of that kind of that tension. It wasn't black power

but the executive committee was divided and they were determined

to find a black executive director. Andy Lewis said he wouldn't

take the job, and Harvey Gant said he wouldn't take the job. Then

George Esser appeared who, quite white, but with very good

contacts with the Ford Foundation and they said he'd be good.

SRC 33, Day 1, Page 51

(Laughter) So he would be good. One other personal thing. I was in

a university in Richmond, Virginian, a black university at about this

time and I had gone over to do some consulting. One of the

students said would you like to come to a rally? We're having a rally

tonight. I went to the rally and they were talking about what things

they were going to do: poison the water supply and so on. I said

well look I'm getting a little anxious. Yeah don't worry we got bottled

water for you. Question Brian?

Brian Ward: Yeah I've got a couple of questions. We've been working Les pretty hard

on this press theme and you've given us a long list of very distinguished

journalists who worked with or for the SRC quite intimately. Yourself and

David Chalmers given good testimony about the power of new South and

then of Southern changes as SRC publications, but it occurs to me this is

all print media. I'm just wondering how much effort the SRC actually made

to court radio and television, which, in many ways, were as important for a

different constituency during the 1950's and 1960's. You could argue more

important than the print media.

Leslie Dunbar: Your question is what did we do with radio and television, and we

did darn little, partly because we didn't know how, mainly.

Television was just itself coming in and came in in a rush during the

later 1960's. I don't think we had on the staff or anybody who really

knew how to do radio and certainly nobody who knew how to do

television. So we didn't. There used to be a man named Ed

SRC 33, Day 1, Page 52

Friendly who had something called Friendly World Broadcasting

or something like that and Ed would make these tapes and ship

them around to the network radio stations that he had contacts

with. They were all race relations, brotherhood, peace kind of

things. Details are a little foggy in my head now, but at SRC we did

sort of subsidize him once, for a good purpose I hope, but

essentially we did not know how to do radio and we did not know

how to do television and we didn't do it. I appeared on radio several

times. There was one radio station over in Birmingham, Alabama,

which us. And our lawyers actually got me equal time.

It had never happened before, so I got equal time over at this

station over in Birmingham, Alabama. We're not Communists or

what not.

Brian Ward:

Actually it's just anecdotally, Pacifica actually once read out the whole of

one of Les's articles in the journal of politics which I'm sure was riveting

listening. They certainly gave you good air time there, but it was someone

else reading out one of your articles. So Pacifica may have been a radio

network that you had some success with. The second question is really for

all the folks up there and it's sort of something that's been gnawing away

at me as I've been listening to many of the papers today and the panel

session. By the 1950's and into the 1960's you've got an organization in

the Southern Regional Council that is in various ways pushing for

SRC 33, Day 1, Page 53

integration. And yet one of the stories that hasn't emerged from what's

been said today is what was going on within the Southern Regional

Council and the councils for human relations themselves. What was race

relations like within the body of the council and within the human relations

councils. And then, picking up actually on something Les has said again,

what were gender relations like within those organizations during the

1950's and 1960's and was there a discernable change over those


Paul Gaston: Brian has his schedule to end at three thirty and so there's thirty eight

seconds to answer that question. I'll take a part of those to

welcome the president of the Southern Regional Council who just

walked in. Greetings, Charles. Do you want us to take time to

answer that?

Charles: I want your best five minutes, Paul.

Paul Gaston: Well, I'll give it to someone else. John's ready to go.

John Dorsey: I just want to say that, when I got active with the Unitarian Fellowship

which was kind of a sponsor of the Tallahassee council in human

relations, I was the first black who was not part of the academic

world at FAMU that wanted to be part and interact with whites.

Black folks really didn't want to interact with white folks in

Tallahassee. It was only through the movement

we saw white students who reached out form the University of

SRC 33, Day 1, Page 54

Florida and FSU to reach out to Patricia. Patricia was also a

different kind of person. You have to realize that you can't just

blame the white folks in the council of human relations not reaching

out to blacks. A lot of times the blacks didn't want to reach out to

whites. It was just that way. It was the mis-education of Negroes by

Woodson was the reality in the South. And fear. What do they

want? They must be Communists, you know, that kind of thing.

Leslie Dunbar: I don't know what I'm supposed to say. We had a wonderful staff at

SRC made up of a lot of accomplished and talented people.

Accomplished and talented people sometimes find ways to rub

each other. So we used to have, now and then, little flair ups of the

staff and we'd have to deal with them. We also had them with the

councils in human relations. I spent a lot of my time on that. I just

remembered one woman who worked running the memiograph

machines and, let's call her Jane Doe, for a moment. I can

remember in frustration sometimes saying my god I wish we had

more Jane Doe's around here. I never have any problems with her.

She leaves precisely at five o'clock every night, she's gone. She

never works over time. She causes me no trouble. Right after I left

she led a black power movement at SRC, so you can't always tell. I

don't remember what else to say...

Connie Curry: Like I say, I really never worked at SRC, but my perception of it was

SRC 33, Day 1, Page 55

that it was mostly white male led, but there was some women like

Maggie Long and certainly Mrs. Tilly who had been there. There

were a lot of women who were deeply involved.

Paul Gaston: My staff experience was only one year from 1970 to 1971 and that may be

illustrative of some of the tensions it had. Vernon Jordan had just

left the staff. John Lewis had recently left the staff. One other

distinguished black leader had just left the staff. Almost over night

the staff had changed from being integrated at the top level with

project directors and so on. The year I came down as a visitor that

as not so. We were all a bunch of white boys. I was the research

director; Pat Watters was information director; Reese Cleghorn

edited South Today. So it was really illustrative of the problems the

council had. Those things came and went and one could find that

kind of example at other times and dwell on it a long time. It's a

very interesting topic. But there is another side of it and that is for

the council membership itself. I thought of this this morning when

we were talking about how people change over time and what

opportunities were presented to them to change over time. Now

one of the cliche's about the Southern Regional Council is that it's a

family. We often talk about the Southern Regional Council family

and from almost the beginning it was a membership organization,

and then it became a hundred men and women of good will. So the

SRC 33, Day 1, Page 56

members would come together once a year, the executive

committee more often. It was a large family of people who felt a

certain kind of kinship because they belonged to this organization.

Like many families they had a lot of quarrels, and the quarrels they

had from 1944 to 1951 we've already discussed. Those were

significant quarrels, and some of the people left the family. We

talked about how Virginia Stabney couldn't stay in the family.

Others were strengthened by family ties and developed good family

values 'cause they learned. The point is that over time, and you

would meet these people all over the South or you'd meet them, oh

you're an SRC person, whether black or white. It was a bond, and I

think, for someone who might want to write a book about the

Southern Regional Council, I would suggest that he, well she if

there is somebody, but if a he was writing this book, I would

suggest that he explore that dimension of the council and how it

thought of itself as a family and how all over the region you could

drop in a town and meet somebody who was a member, black or

white, and learn from them and be educated because of that


Connie Curry: I want to say something real quick. John Boone, I know you have to

leave and I was just wondering if you'd like to say a word about the

work that you did with SRC on the prison program 'cause I don't

think a lot of people know about that.

SRC 33, Day 1, Page 57

John Boone: Yes Connie, I'll say a word or two. I think that after I was appointed at

,_ Indiana, and encountering J. Edgar Hoover fighting what

me and Merlin Alexander director was doing. He said nothing like that

would ever happen. I had the authority to implement a furlow law. Of

course he said you can do that only over my dead body. We did get a

chance to do it though, but after he had died (Laughter) in the District of

Columbia. In the District of Columbia they had a four hundred long school

with only ten men enrolled. I got there and walked and walked and walked.

They had had a riot after Martin was assassinated. Every time they had a

riot in the District it would spill over into the prison. So we caught hell

trying to keep that stable. Anyway, to make a long, long story short, I sat

day and night telling the guys look, I'm going to invent a new law come

hell or high water. If you can assume the responsibility I'm gonna send

you in school after you get your GED to get an education. So we did. The

other day they inaugurated the Cleveland in Art College in Atlanta.

Cleveland had his first when he was at D.C. University basketball team,

predominately prisoners that went in. What happened, I was courting my

wife, and I went to visit her and there was a thunderstorm. My daughter

called me and said the superintendent wants you to come out there.

There's a riot here; all the lights are out. When I got out there the only

lights there were fire trucks and police trucks from all over the jurisdiction,

but I didn't see a riot; I didn't feel a riot. I said I'm going in to see what's

SRC 33, Day 1, Page 58

back here. Ken Hardy was the director back then and he said you better

stop that rioting. I walked in and told them to go get Ken Hardy to see if

the superintendent will give me that bull horn. So he did and I said I'm

going to walk in and see what's wrong alone. That's what I eventually

did, but I heard a prison guard in a powerful union said let

the son of a bitch go in there and he'll find out what's wrong when he gets

in there. So I slowly walked to that prison guard afraid under the bed

doing everything. Before I left Delbert Jackson, who later on became

the director, said John can I go in with you. I said yes Delbert you can go

in with me, but on the way in I remembered Delbert carried a .38 all the

time and I didn't want any firearms in there, so I slowly went in the back

door because I knew behind the front door was nothing but state police

and everything. So I went slow, went in the back door, the guy was

afraid. I said look, when I give the signal I want you to come up front,

that's where the light is. I went in by myself, but just as I was about to get

out of the prison compound seven white guards were coming toward me.

There were three guys who called themselves thugs vowed to support me

and they saw these white guys coming. They started throwing bricks. A

brick hit me in the back. I took it to Massachusets with me after that, but it

didn't hurt. Anyway, after that the prison was revolutionized, but I was too

much for them. They had to get rid of me, so they terminated me and I

was sent to in Indiana. In Massachusets the same thing

SRC 33, Day 1, Page 59

happened. They say they had a prison guard riot going on. I went there

and I didn't hear a riot, didn't see a riot. So I walked through that prison by

myself and nothing wrong. Those so and so and so don't

know what they talking' about. And so sure enough I told them I said look, I

don't feel no riot. I selected twenty five guards, I said go over there, get a

ball out of the dormitory, go on recreation field and stay there until it

stops raining and the lights go on. The prison guard union had destroyed

the auxiliary system so the prison was completely black, on reservation

otherwise. But to make a long story short, that morning the sun was rising

bright. One man had escaped. He got a guards union and walked out of

prison. He came back the next day though. He went to visit his wife and all

of that. He came back and that prison was revolutionized, but they had to

get rid of me 'cause they had to keep these jails and prisons. So I went

down the drainpipe in the prison guard union, but what we started thanks

to Leslie Dunbar, when I went to Massachusets he gave me a $250,000

grant I think to help us educate the public. And that's what it is, Bill

Farmer, who is now dead, was a deputy of the public corrections in

Massachusets. He was a prisoner, I got him out, but I made him my

associate in Massachusets. You know how they made that terrible hard-

hitting union system was. Bill Farmer died not very long ago. Ninety-five

percent of the men went out on furlows and came back so I think the

system is gone with the wind now. We do not need to pay all of that

SRC 33, Day 1, Page 60

money on jails and prison cells. And I think the Georgia governor, my

governor, realized that the other day. I was to him we gotta

shut down some prisons. So the time is right for some organizations to

focus on doing that. It's a waste of time. I mean you can do some other

things. Prisons eighty percent black. You know what that's second

Sunday plantation system and all of that. Well that's enough said. I'll have

to do it another time. Thank you very much.

Paul Gaston: Thank you, John. (Applause) Now we focused all day today

...[unitelligible]....this afternoon on the past of the SRC and we're

only up to 1960, or 1970. Tomorrow we're gonna do the 1970's and

1980's. After you get a little refreshment we're gonna hear about

the SRC of the future and Louis Berrarow is going to tell us about

her plans and how you can help her with it. But we're going to serve

refreshment now.

Brian Ward: We'll talk half an hour and we'll take Lou's after four fifteen. Thank you all

so much. Thank the panel. (Applause)

[End of Day 1, Tape 3.]

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