Interviewee: Dr. Nancy Baldwin
Interviewer: Stuart Landers
Date: August 28, 1992
L: This is an oral history interview with Dr. Nancy Baldwin. [It is] being conducted in
the University of Florida College of Law in Gainesville, Florida. Today is August
28, 1992, and my name is Stuart Landers. Dr. Baldwin, what is your full name?
B: Nancy T. Baldwin.
L: What does the T stand for?
L: Is that your maiden name?
L: Can you tell me a little bit about Mr. and Mrs. Toman your parents?
B: My dad was Dr. Toman, and he is still living. He is just retired, and he is ninety-
one. He stopped going to the office about three months ago. He was still going
regularly. [He was] a chiropractor, [and a] a person who went to school every
single summer as long as I can remember. [He was] very, very bright, and very
much a defender of what he believed in. I never knew if he was going to jail, or
what was going to happen. My mom died when I was young, so I have had a
stepmother for all of these years forty-some years. [I have] two brothers. My
father was very active in the community very much an athlete and very much a
disciplined person. He would play nine holes of golf before we went to school in
the morning or two sets of tennis before breakfast, before school, when we were
L: Well, where did you grow up?
B: Just outside of Hamilton, Ohio, in the southwest corner of Ohio, very close to
Indiana and Kentucky.
L: Where you born there? When were you born?
B: Yes. A long time ago.
L: For accuracy, we like to get names and dates and things like that. But I guess
you are not interested in telling us when you were born.
B: No [laughter]. That makes it sound like a police report. I have always been
annoyed with identifications that are done by age in the newspaper, where it will
say, "Nancy Baldwin, such and such an age," and I have a class seminar on
pluralism, and one of the student members yesterday got quite angry with a
faculty member because she thought one of the stereotypes that nobody ever
talks about is age, and how one discriminates because of what you look like age-
wise. Whether you really are that age is not even the question. She was
complaining because she thought the professor was identifying all of these old
people, and being fifty and older was old. She said, "I am fifty, and I am not old,
and I am more liberal than you are." So it is because of long-time not because
I am old because I tell my students always that I am 100 or 110. It is not that I
think ages [should be confidential]. I just think that is a stereotype. I would not
like to be identified as Scottish, Irish, or English, or any of those. I do not like
labels. So that is why.
L: You have given me the impression that your father was politically active.
B: Yes, with the legislature primarily, because chiropractors, when he started, had
very poor licensing. The state decided to do the licensing rather than allowing
the profession to license. My father refused to go through the state procedures,
and this meant he was always defying, and it meant that he could go to jail for
defying. The summer school that he went to was to keep him abreast, so he was
doing continuing education credits long before they were required in the
profession. He was always very up to date, and read so much. But, he would
not do what they said, so he kept saying: "Well, tomorrow I may go to jail."
So we always lived to stand up for that in which you believed, and it is OK to go
to jail for that. He did not ever go to jail. Actually they would come to arrest him,
but they did not actually take him to jail, because he was the president of the
Kiwanis, and the president of this, and the president of that. But it was always
an interesting question, and we lived always knowing whether he would be
working tomorrow. He always was.
I can remember and I still have this security he told me and my brothers that
behind a certain brick (each one of us had a certain brick in the basement) there
was a thousand dollars. So, if you needed the money, if he were in jail, you had
your thousand dollars to go to and have immediate cash. This was from the time
I was about three or four. I think I still have my brick and my cash hidden at my
house. I should not say that on tape, but it is a real security. I do not ever use it,
and I never even looked behind the brick to check. I just knew that if he told me
it was there, it was there. But I would not have taken it. I would have stood by
myself anyway, and not done it. He was a person who was very protective of us.
L: It sounds like it. Did you go to school in southern Ohio?
B: Yes, for my elementary school, junior high, and high school. I went to college at
Indiana University, and did some work at Miami University in Oxford in special
L: Were any of these schools integrated?
B: Yes. Even when my Dad was teaching. He taught school before he went back
to college, in the early 1920s or late 1910s, and taught in the high school in the
city. His school was integrated. The blacks were at the end of the pictures in the
annual, but they were still very much integrated they were playing on the
football team and doing all that kind of thing. So the schools were integrated
when I was growing up.
L: As was Indiana University?
B: Yes. The president of Mortarboard was black. The president of [the] student
body was a blind law student who was black. So they were very much a part of
the campus. However, I was married on campus, and the black students in my
dorm a lot of them were Southerners came to the wedding, but they did not
come to the reception because they heard that my husband was from Georgia,
and they were afraid that there would be a scene, even though -
L: This was Fletcher Baldwin.
L: When were you married?
B: [We were married in] 1956, I guess, because we were in school.
L: What were you studying?
B: I have a major in journalism and English, and I was a Danforth scholar. [I]
decided at that point to go to the seminary. Then I went to the University of
Georgia. And then I came back and did a master's at the university in
L: When we talked about three weeks ago, you mentioned some interesting
incidents [that occurred] while you were in Athens at the University of Georgia,
[such as] experiences as chaplain -
B: Right. I was the chaplain and the coordinator of religious affairs. I had worked
on a master's and gone to seminary, but I did not do my doctorate until I got back
here. So that was in the in-between time. This was the time that Constance
Motley was the attorney for the NAACP to integrate the University of Georgia,
with Charlene Hunter and Hamilton HOLMES. And because I was the chaplain,
[I was] also the chair of all of the religious advisors and student ministers
(whatever the particular group chose to call them). We had a very active group
who patrolled the campus at night to make sure the two students [Hunter and
Holmes] were safe. They teased, and said they rode shotgun, but there were
always two. And my husband even though he was not one of the ministers -
rode with one of them always. They rode all night long to make sure there would
not be a riot on campus or anything. We sent out from my office and I had
people who helped me anonymous "think things" every week to faculty and
students to make them think about what was happening, and how to be humane,
and what dignity was all about.
L: Were these written paragraphs?
B: Sometimes they were paragraphs, sometimes they were cartoons, sometimes
they were bits of things lifted from some newspaper. They were things we
worked very hard at not being simple always trying to raise questions. [We
were] not sending the same people the same information every week. [We
were] always wanting people to think about what we were doing and what the
mission of the university was and why we should be an integrated university. It
certainly had a base in religion because that is where it was coming from. But it
was not done because of religion. It was done because of a sense of humanity
and humaneness, and also a sense of what the university was all about.
L: Was your husband in law school at this point in time?
B: Yes. He was in law school. He worked for the Institute for Law and Government
after he finished law school, so we were there for longer than the three years.
L: You had also mentioned earlier that he had been offered a job.
B: We were laughing about that this past weekend. Yes, he was offered a job for
$3,000 more than he was [paid] here. In between time, we also went to the
University of Illinois, and he did a master's then in law. The dean at the
University of Georgia law school had contacted him to ask him to come back.
The dean was a friend of ours. [He said that] the faculty had met and they [had
decided that they] wanted Fletcher to come back and teach at the University of
Georgia. There was only one problem, and that problem was that he had to
keep his wife quiet. This was kind of interesting because I guess he did not think
we had a contract for that. So we did not go back. But the salary here was only
$8,000, so $3,000 would have made a big difference. It was really tempting, but
it was not a possible kind of situation.
L: Because there was no way you would be silent.
B: I could not have been very quiet. [laughter] I probably would have gone back to
work in a similar position. They may not have asked me back in that same
position, but I think it would have been impossible to be quiet.
One other story just flashed into my mind about Charlene when I saw her on TV
the other night. I was thinking about her courage and my lack of courage, I
L: I am sorry: Charlene?
B: The student who was integrating the University of Georgia, who is on PBS. She
is on the MacNeil-Lehrer report. She is the reporter Charlene Hunter. She has
another last name.
L: And so -
B: One night we knew there was going to be a student uprising, and the students
had stolen some guns, so there were going to be thousands and thousands of
students marching on the dormitory where she was living. I went to see if I could
get her to move or go with me some place else. She said that she wanted to
stay. This was the dorm [that] I had lived in, so I knew the dorm fairly well. But
she was on the ground floor, so her window was eye-level with somebody
standing right outside. There was no protection at all in the dormitory. You
could hear them coming; it was kind of like an African situation where they are
going to kill somebody. They yell "Thief!" in East Africa, and then come after the
thief and beat him to death. It sounded kind of like that. They were coming and
you could hear the noise. My response was, "I think we had better get under the
bed." That was the only protection that I could see to be under the bed. She
said, "No. I will sit at the window." I did get under the bed, lacking any real
courage [laughter]. I got under the bed, and she did not. She was much braver
The dean of students, who is very wise and very southern but very fox-like -
was able to talk with them. They were all outside the window. You could feel the
number of people right outside that wall.
L: Was that the worst incident at the University of Georgia?
B: I think they would do things like let the air out of their tires and yell at them. But
for the most part, the majority of students were really very kind, and I thought
they spoke and acted very adult-like. And a fair number of faculty acted very
adult-like. There were just a few who clearly thought [integration was wrong]. I
think even more than the students and faculty, [there were] some townspeople
and some people who would come in from Atlanta and outlying districts who
would be the ones to make trouble.
L: Would you say, then, that the majority of the faculty supported integration? Is
that a fair statement?
B: I am not so sure they supported integration, but they did not support fighting
about it. So many of the people in the area would say, "We have always had
black friends." I remember so clearly one person saying to me, "But the children
of the laundress always came over to the house, and they always pulled our
wagon, and pushed our swing." I thought, "Yes. You are right." Even when they
were small children, they were always doing things for the white children. They
did have black friends. It was not a question of not knowing blacks. Like,
perhaps in Ohio, you really did not know any until you got into upper grades
because there were not people in your neighborhood. There were black people
in everybody's neighborhood, but they really had not thought of these people as
going to college.
For me it had been very interesting because part of my Danforth grant had been
to visit black colleges all over the South. They all had required chapel so many
days a week, and I would be the chapel speaker on almost every black campus
all over the South. I had never been in an environment where I was the only
white person. A lot of the faculty however, were white, but I would be only white
person in the dormitory at night. So I had a sense of being a real minority.
On one of the campuses in Alabama, I noticed that the professor always said,
"Mr. Jones, Mr. Baldwin, Mr. So-and-So, Ms. So-and-So," when he called
everybody by name. He never called them Mary or John. I said, "This is kind of
funny. I was always called Nancy by my professors." And a gentleman said to
me, "No, you give dignity. It does not cost you anything if you give dignity by
name." I became very aware of how you also take away dignity by name, by
what you call [others]. And in the South so often, their dignity was taken away
from them, and that was so true when I came to Gainesville.
L: When did you come to Gainesville?
L: The reason you came is because of was your husband's job.
B: It was going to be my husband's first job then.
L: Teaching right here at the law school?
L: What was your initial reaction to Gainesville?
B: It was the first time I had never worked. I was very pregnant and very hot.
L: Was this your first?
B: No, it was my second child. I had one before law school and one after law
school. So it was very hot.
I can remember [something] vividly even though I knew what segregation was
all about, I really had never noticed subtleties as much. When my daughter was
born at Shands, I was there a long time, so I had a lot of time to ponder. There
were two bathrooms for women. One said, "Black Women," and the other said
"White Ladies." I thought that was such a strange use of terms. People with
straight faces said, "No, black women cannot be ladies." It just had never
dawned on me, probably because the black women and the black men I had
known were the heads of Mortarboard and Phi Beta Kappa and lawyers. I did
not know anybody who was not really a person I would like to emulate.
L: How was Gainesville different from Athens, Georgia? They are both in the South
and they are both small college towns.
B: Well, I guess I was very much a part of what was going on in Athens. In that
sense, [I had the] feeling [that] I had some power to make people think. And I
suddenly came [to Gainesville] as a wife and had the trauma of being totally on
the outside. You had to go search and make yourself a part.
That is where I think that is where the Gainesville Women for Equal Rights was a
very helpful bridge for me. So that probably said, even if I had not been
interested [in its cause], why, I would have found it a good group because it gave
me a sense of feeling [like] a part of the community, of being able to do
something and have some impact.
L: Before you got involved in the Gainesville Women for Equal Rights, did you join
any [other] associations, clubs, organizations?
B: The first week I was here, I did.
L: And that was?
B: In addition to working very much with black minority students, I had been very
active with international students.
L: This is in Athens?
B: In Athens and at Indiana University. And then when I had gone to Berkeley I
also went to Berkeley in between, too the house where I lived was an
integrated co-op dorm, Sherman Hall, right next to the football field. But the I-
house (the international house) was almost next door to us. I had been very
involved there. So international students had been a long-time involvement.
Black students were just friends.
One of the first groups I belonged to when I first started college I did not even
know when it was was the NAACP. That was not because of being charged,
because Indiana University had been integrated a long time. It was simply that
my upperclass friends had told me this was a really great group to belong to, and
so I had joined. And the international students, I had become a good part of.
But I joined the international group because it gave me a place to be and have
some sense of belonging to the community.
L: What exactly was the international group?
B: There is a group called the Gainesville Council for International Friendship. It is
still here, and still going on. They at that point had less than 1,000
international students. You met them at the plane, and you found an apartment
for them. You had them to your home for dinner. We always had lots and lots of
people at the house to eat. Then I decided to do my doctorate in that area the
international student area so that meant that I did a lot of counseling with them.
But it was the first group I belonged to. Then I belonged to the University
Women's Club, and I was the co-director of the international section. So, most
everything I did seemed to be somehow involved with the world.
L: Was the University Women's Club a faculty wives' club?
B: [It was] basically [composed of] faculty wives. There were not many faculty
women, so it enlarged itself later on to include both faculty women and faculty
L: Was that a social organization? Did it have an agenda of things it wanted to
accomplish? [Was it a] charitable organization?
B: It was an umbrella that had lots of small groups under it, so you could be a part
of the gourmet group or part of the international group (like I was). And [in] the
international group we had programs. We invited anybody in the University
community to come, and we would talk about some critical international issue
and have speakers. So a lot of men and women came.
L: Do you recall any attempt by whites in Gainesville to make non-black, non-
Caucasian students conform to Jim Crow laws? [Was there] racism against
students from India or Asian students?
B: I can remember an Indian student at the University of Georgia. He had his
turban, and I can remember the problems he had in the dining hall because they
did not want to serve him when he came through the line. Most people both
black and white said, "No, we do not want to serve you. You are black, and
you do not come through the line." This was during the time they were being
integrated. On the other hand, when I went to Morehouse in Atlanta, I went out
with a group of Morehouse men. We went to very exciting places in Atlanta
because one of the black students wrapped his head in a turban and got the
other guys to do something similar, and I went with a foreign delegation all over
Atlanta. They were really not foreign at all; they were only my black friends from
So it seemed to me that international students were treated differently and much
more positively than black students. Here we were on campus, and nobody
wanted to be an American black. The people who came [from other countries]
wanted to make sure that everybody knew they were not [American blacks].
They were dark, but they were not American blacks.
L: Were there a lot of students from Africa at this time?
B: No. One of the very early students was a young lady whose name was Myra
Faniel. [She was] a very wonderful Indian woman who was very, very black. Her
husband George was even darker than she. They were from the southern part
of India. Not knowing that they were Indian (because they wore no item of
clothing that distinguished them), people could say, "Are you black? What are
you?" I think he had some difficulties. She may have had a few, but she was
such a warm person that she quickly won people over. But I think they were
advantaged by not being American blacks at that time.
L: It sounds like the Jim Crow system in Gainesville was set up to exclude one
B: There was one other young man from Guyana, Maxie Bacchus, and I remember
Maxie spent a lot of time with us, and my children liked him very much. He was
quite hurt by the KAs [Kappa Alphas] when walking down University Avenue.
The KAs used to have a fraternity house on University Avenue. He walked by.
He was one of the very few maybe the only black student that year from out
of the United States. I think there were not very many black students on
campus. But they came out and spit at him.
L: Is KA the southern culture-type fraternity?
B: "The Southern Gentlemen." They were still wearing the Confederate uniforms
for their formal ball.
L: Big pictures of Robert E. Lee everywhere .
B: And [they display] the Confederate flag. I think of the professors on the faculty
here who were KA. It was almost an international crisis because this man was
so crushed. It is one thing to say something to me it is another to spit on me.
It is so degrading. But he stayed. We worked with him. That would have been
a question of people not liking him because he was black. But he did not look
much different, although probably darker than most American blacks. He did not
have many of the accouterments. He did not carry a fez or anything that would
say, "Hey, I am not from here."
L: Were you taking courses at this time?
L: So you are pursuing your Ph.D.?
B: Right. I started about four months after I came here. It took me a long time, but
I started then [laughter].
L: [You had] two small children, I take it?
B: By that time, yes.
L: Are you involved in the Human Relations Council?
B: No, I was not.
L: Did you or your husband get involved in the Civic Action Association?
L: Were you a member of the League of Women Voters?
B: I went to some of the meetings, [but] I was not active in the League. I was not
active because at that point my impression from going to the meetings was and
this is simply my impression; it is not objective, it is subjective that we do not
take a stand. We look at everything, but we do not ever take a stand. And I
believed that you had to take a stand. So that was why. It was simply a
disagreement of philosophy. I wanted to be someplace where I could model the
behavior that I thought -
L: Did you get involved with the local NAACP?
B: Fletcher did more than I.
L: One thing that I have asked all of the faculty wives that were active in GWER is:
to what extent were you involved socially with non-UF whites in Gainesville?
Were you having any contact with the Alachua County community?
B: Yes. There were a lot of people who were not University people in the
Gainesville Council for International Friendship. [I saw] Jim and Dorothy
Worshow. Jim is an attorney in town and president of the Florida Farm Bureau.
They were from the very beginning good friends, and they were never
University [people]. Sarah Matheson is very active, and she is the one whose
house is being made into a museum downtown. [We met] many people through
in the Gainesville Council. We also met people through the church; we were
very active in the Lutheran church on University Avenue. We had a lot of old
Scandinavian background friends from Norway and Sweden, either by first
generation or by family, who came down from Minnesota or Michigan or
Wisconsin. The Lutheran church really had nobody in the church who was a
local Southerner. This tends to be a church that is made up of people from
Scandinavian and German ancestry. So for the most part, the Lutheran church
was fairly liberal.
L: What was its position on racial issues? It was not integrated, was it?
B: I think people came. You did not have black members from those countries, so
you did not have a lot of people coming from ancestry in the Lutheran church.
There were certainly foreign students who came. [They were] of all colors -
browns and yellows so that there was not any sense of segregation. And when
a black family would come, it was certainly a very positive kind of feeling about
their being there. People would all stop, and we would have the families stop at
home for lunch after church. It just was not integrated membership-wise.
L: Tell me your earliest memories of the Gainesville Women for Equal Rights. How
did you get involved? Do you remember?
B: I really do not, other than the fact that I liked the people, and they had asked me,
or maybe I had read about it. I cannot even remember why I went to the first
meeting. But I remember whether it was a committee that I worked on, or
whether it was going to the full meeting it was really an exciting group. So I
really enjoyed being a part of it for the camaraderie [and] for the fact that I
believed in taking a stand, and here was a group of women taking a stand.
The fact [was] that in the rest of my Gainesville acquaintances I did not know any
blacks. This gave me a chance to know black men and black women, and to be
friends, and to talk, and to find out where they were coming from. I had that kind
of friendship in so many other places. When we had been at the University of
Illinois, we lived next to one of the black sorority houses. The woman who was
the housemother had been a good friend of mine because she was on my Y
board. (I had been the director of the YWCA.) Well, maybe the reason I got
active, or found them [was because] I had a very small grant from the YWCA to
try and do some work in the area.
L: What sort of work?
B: [I was] trying to see what I could do to develop communication between
peoples--women--and they knew that I was working on this area in my graduate
work. I think I had $1,000 from them to see if I could get some people together
to talk. Some of the spinoff of that was my work with both the Gainesville
Council for International Friendship and the Gainesville Women for Equal Rights.
L: Did you know the Joneses or the Henrys or the Conroys before you got involved
B: I think we knew Marshall always. I think he was somebody we met in the very
beginning. I think we knew [David and Jean] Chalmers very early. We did not
know the Conroys for a while; we did not meet the Conroys. I knew Seldon
Henry, and [I] knew Pat and Austin Creel from the very beginning.
L: Do you recall how you met these folks?
B: I think all of us came about the same time. I think the Chalmers may have come
a little bit earlier, but I think basically we all came at the beginning of the 1960s.
And so it was kind of like this was the some of these people came to the
international relations part of the University Women's Club. The group was small
enough that you knew everybody. So you knew these women, and you kind of
said, "Who is interesting, and who is not so interesting?"
We probably knew the Creels more socially. The Henrys went to the Episcopal
church. We moved back and forth between the Episcopal Church and the
Lutheran Church, knowing a lot of people in both. I think we knew David and
Jean from the church also, because they were active in the Quaker group. We
went frequently to [that as well]. Having been this old person who went to all
these churches as the chaplain, we continued to do that as Fletcher spoke to a
lot of the groups and I spoke to some of the groups. So we knew some of them--
again from the Quaker group.
L: How large was the Quaker group?
B: It just met in a little house, and so it was not very large.
L: All UF folks?
B: No. Some were from the University of Florida, and a fair number [were] not
[from] the University of Florida.
L: You mentioned a couple of minutes ago your memories of a very early
Gainesville Women for Equal Rights meeting. Were you at the original formative
B: I do not think so. I do not know.
L: According to my research, the Student Group for Equal Rights, Marshall Jones's
organization, formed and began picketing the College Inn -
B: That is when I told you that we had sat in at the College Inn. We did not picket.
We sat in. We were part of the original protest.
L: Who is "we"?
B: My children and I. I was a student, so I had come through the student
movement. And then, I guess, that is probably how I got into the adult group, as
opposed to being just a student.
L: Were you involved with the Student Group for Equal Rights?
B: Not a lot, because I chose then to be with the Gainesville Women for Equal
Rights rather than [with] the student group. But I think I got involved because I
had known Marshall, and Marshall knew I was a student, and I had done some
work there. [I was] not active, because with two babies I was doing more school
than I was doing other things.
L: [Regarding] this sit-in, did you and a number of other women with your children
go sit down in the College Inn, order food, and then -?
B: You just waited. You just did not get up. You occupied [a chair] so that nobody
else [could sit there and order]. It is like an economic boycott.
L: I see. Did you try to bring in black friends to join you?
B: We did, but in the very beginning we were just blocking other people from
coming in. We were just very passive, just sitting there talking, as if we had not
finished. You did not look angry. You just looked like you took a long time. It
was very frustrating because the Cl used to be a very, very popular place. It was
almost the only place on University Avenue for college students or for anybody
to come. It was also the scene, not too long after that, of a murder in the
bathroom. There were a lot of questions about the reputation of the College Inn,
but it was just a question of not letting people sit.
L: The University had already integrated before this protest started. The University
administration seems to be interested in keeping the lid on [the situation and] at
all costs avoiding what happened at 01' Miss and at the University of Alabama.
B: But I think you had a different faculty at the University of Florida than you had at
O1' Miss or Alabama.
L: Why do you think the College Inn held out so long and refused to integrate?
B: I wonder if he was modeling his behavior after the man with the axe handles in
Atlanta. I think he was. Whether he admitted it or not, it appeared that he was.
L: The man with the axe handles?
B: I cannot tell you his name, but he received such great publicity. He would not
have blacks at his restaurant, and he was in the paper all the time. There was
some status in not allowing them to come. I think the Cl was kind of [following
suit]. You get publicity out of it.
L: Did he have a lot of support from whites in Gainesville?
B: Some, but not many. I really do not think there were a lot of people. I do not
know, because again, even though I was trying to have some communication
going on, I probably did not communicate with the people who were so angry
about things being integrated. So I do not know.
L: I am having some difficulty finding out about segregationists in Gainesville.
B: I think it was just so much an accepted pattern. Even at this point in the early
1960s, my black friends tell me that they could not try on clothes in the stores.
Once you took a dress, it was yours. You had to try it on at home, and then it
was yours. You could not take it back. Even as late as the late 1960s things
had been integrated we had a black Santa Claus for some black children. I
had gotten the Santa Claus suit. But the white people (who were helping provide
all the cookies and everything) wanted to make sure I had that suit dry cleaned
before I took it back [laughter]. So it was a subtle kind of feeling.
L: What organizational group was doing this for children?
B: I do not even remember what group I was doing it with. I think it was with the
University Women's Club.
B: So these were very educated women, and they were very upset that I would take
this suit back. I have never rented a suit and had to clean it before I took it back.
Usually the people [who] you rent it from are going to clean the suit. But they
did not want anyone possibly wearing this suit after a black had worn this suit. I
think it was just so subtle. I do not think people in town were well, I have to
step back three times.
About that same time the middle 1960s we thought we were going to be
gone for a year. We were going to rent our house. We lived across the street
from a woman whose father had been the first or the second dean of the law
school. She had grown up in New York and Michigan and then came here.
They were very upset when I had a black family come look at my house to rent.
Now if the black family had said, "We will take it," we certainly would have rented
it to them. But they did not take it. It was $100 a month, and that was more than
they wanted to pay.
L: Was this in the northwest [section of Gainesville]?
B: No, in the southwest.
B: No. [It was] off Williston Road, down near Idylwild School.
L: How did these neighbors express their anger? Directly?
B: She told other neighbors, who came and told me.
L: But she made it known.
B: Yes. But at the same time, I always had black children at the house because
they were my children's friends. And they were always at our house, until the
children would get to high school, and then they were not there anymore. [It
was] not because we did not invite them, but [because] they elected not to come
when they would get to high school. It was very strange.
L: Do you recall an early Gainesville Women for Equal Rights meeting where a
panel of women from the black community were invited to come and have an
open discussion of problems, and where they talked about not being able to try
on clothes? Do you have memories of that?
B: Yes, although that was not the first time I had heard about the trying on [of]
L: Because that was the second or third Gainesville Women for Equal Rights
B: I remember that. I think that they could not go to the bathroom either; they were
not allowed to use the facilities at I cannot even remember the names of the
stores downtown but they were not allowed to use any of the facilities.
L: Once you became a member of the Gainesville Women for Equal Rights, what
did you start doing with them? What did this mean?
B: Certainly it meant listening to the problems, and trying to work out with other
people committees how we were going to deal with these problems. I guess
one of the problems that I remember so vividly was the laundromat. There was a
laundromat right near where Mother Earth [Market] is now. A black woman could
take my clothes in and wash them, but she could not wash her own, and that
seemed the most absurd of absurdities. If you were going to say, "Well, nobody
with green skin can come in here," that is one thing. I would not believe that is
OK either, but it made totally no sense to say, "You can come in, but you cannot
wash your own clothes." We worked on that because people were calling the
police to come get the people who washed the clothes and to take them away.
L: You worked on that. What did you do exactly?
B: We went to the laundromat and worked and protested. I think we can remember
stuffing lots and lots of envelopes with information. I presume we sent them out
to people about the situation. I guess I saw my role, and probably the
Gainesville Women for Equal Rights' role, as being one of education, of
sensitizing people to what is going on.
Earlier I had said I thought the accepted pattern the standard was so subtle,
and most people did not know that [black] women could not try on clothes.
When they stopped to think, they knew that they never saw any black women
going into the dressing room, but you did not know those things. So our
responsibility was to say: "Hey, this is what is going on. This is intolerable; it
should never go on. Let us do something about it." And then [our responsibility
was] to organize and to work out some ways to deal with it. [You might] put
economic pressure on merchants or say, "Hey, you have got to change your
L: Were you involved in the battle over the Boys' Club? Do you recall that?
B: Very minimally so.
L: What about a voter registration drive in the spring of 1964?
B: Yes, I remember working on the voter registration drive.
L: What did you do?
B: I was not a committee chair, I was a committee member. And [I] just worked on
L: Did you go door to door?
B: Yes, I went door to door. [I] talked to people. You went all kinds of places. You
went to black churches, and you went to places where the black women who
were active in the Gainesville Women for Equal Rights really opened up a lot of
doors for white women to communicate, by inviting them places.
L: In the black community.
L: Tell me about the black membership in the Gainesville Women for Equal Rights.
B: The women I knew through the group were really quite admirable. They were
bright. They had their acts together very much, and they were [of] a wide variety
of educational backgrounds. You had some people who were just rough and
ready, and they would have been good labor union organizers. And then you had
the very sophisticated people like Donna Coward and Ann McGhee and people
whose children became lawyers, who were teachers in the community.
L: Was it mainly schoolteachers?
B: The ones who were my friends were mostly schoolteachers. [I remember]
Savannah Williams and Barbara Bryant. Barbara was not a schoolteacher.
Barbara was probably the one I worked with the most because she was the
president and I was a committee chair, and I was working with education.
L: You were the education committee chair?
B: Well, I am not sure whether I was the whole education chair, or whether I was
the part of the chair of my education part. We were trying to get better jobs for
blacks and make more job opportunities. So I was teaching a class at. .
L: You were teaching where?
B: Right behind the Junior League building almost, [on] 1st Street or 2nd Street,
there was a recreation center. There was nothing very nice about it, but at least
it was a spot. We had a lot of people who had come.
I had lots of materials on test-taking. I did a lot of practice tests. One of the
places that we thought we could get people into jobs was through the post
office--through government employment, [but] they were too scared to take the
test. One of my major roles was to remove the anxiety about test-taking. One
way I thought you could do it was by practice test-taking, the same thing you do
with the LSAT or the SAT.
L: Were you at the same time gathering civil service job announcements?
B: Yes. We made sure that everybody knew when to register and were not afraid to
go down and register.
L: I was going through the documents that Mrs. Chalmers gave me, and there is a
big fat file with nothing but civil service job announcements.
B: That is because [those jobs] really paid well, in comparison. When we came [to
Gainesville], a University assistant professor made $8,000. So nobody made
very much money. But the post office people or the government employees -
made almost as much as a professor, it seemed to me. So it was a good, good
job for most people.
L: Were you achieving visible successes? Were you having people after taking
your classes getting jobs?
B: So many of my people in my class or people who were connected (they used the
materials whether they came to the class or not) became post office employees.
Now they are retiring, so it must have worked really well.
L: At what point in time here do you take the Ph.D.?
B: [I] finally finished in 1969.
L: This was an education counselor?
B: It is really an Ed.D. I was so early in the program they did not even offer the
Ph.D. They finally did. I think maybe the first person may have gotten a degree
in 1970, but they were only offering an Ed.D. a doctor in education. That is
what mine was.
L: During the mid to late 1960s, there is a dissertation that is written in here.
Where was the majority of your energy going? [To your] children? [To] school?
[To the] Gainesville Women [for Equal Rights]? [Or was it] equally divided?
B: I guess it was kind of all linked together because I was very interested in stress,
and I was working with women in my dissertation. In 1964 I started gathering the
data for my dissertation, and I was doing small group counseling and individual
counseling to get the data. Some of the women in the Gainesville Women for
Equal Rights were working with me in gathering the data, and we were using
some of the black women. It was not that we were meeting with just one focus.
We were working on many projects because we were all friends. So it is hard to
say, "Yes, I was just focusing on this," or "Yes, I was just focusing on that."
Somehow you touched again and again this same group of people.
L: Did you ever go to work for Shirley Conroy on her project?
B: Yes. I did not work as much with Shirley, but I admired her and spent a fair
amount of time there. But I do not think I was probably in fact I know I was not
a key worker, because that was during the time I was doing a lot of gathering
of data on my dissertation.
L: She told me that she had gotten two grants in the early 1970s and had to hire
people, and she hired Joan Henry, Jean Chalmers, and Judith Brown.
B: No, I was never one of her employees; I just worked. But by 1970, I was working
L: This is at -
B: At P. K. Yonge [Laboratory School]. I was doing curriculum at P. K. Yonge.
Julia Harper, who was the person who integrated the teaching faculty at P. K.
Yonge, had been one of my friend-contacts through all of this, too. I was working
in innovative curriculum, trying to do the same kinds of things that I had been
doing with the Gainesville Women for Equal Rights.
L: In the late 1960s, did you at all become interested in the women's movement?
Did you join a consciousness-raising group?
B: Yes. I worked with people who were doing assertiveness training and all of that.
In fact, for my dissertation I was doing a lot of the assertiveness training. So we
used a lot of the women who were teaching sensitivity-raising to work with them.
L: Did you join the National Organization for Women?
B: No. I was gone for two years. [In] 1969 and 1970, we were in Uganda. Fletcher
was a Fulbright professor. That would have been a year that I might have
[joined] because I would not have been working full time. I was working in 1967,
1968, 1969, and 1970 at Princeton and Brown part time. I worked three months
a year at Princeton and Brown.
Again, [I worked] with international [students]. I was beginning to go in that
direction well, that is not true, because all that time I was working with black
students, and being very much a part of the Nigeria [and] Ghana group for four
years prior to going to Uganda. So some of the things we had done here in the
Gainesville Women for Equal Rights, I was trying to do and make an integrated
situation for the students.
At that point also, Fletcher was instrumental in bringing Stephan Mickle back.
We kept having all these functions with the Gainesville Women for Equal Rights
people (and their husbands) to get Stephan and Evelyn Mickle to come here
because he [had] graduated from the University of Florida law school. George
Allen was the first graduate; Stephan must have been the second. He went to
South Florida, [to] Fort Lauderdale, I think, to practice. He did not practice very
long before Fletcher had tried to get a black faculty member.
Stephan was the one that he worked on. Stephan came back to be a faculty
member before he was a judge. He is still teaching; I have him as a professor.
He now teaches trial advocacy. That made a big difference because then you
began to have a model on the law faculty who was black. And Evelyn Mickle
was the first black nursing student. So she came back and later worked at P. K.
Yonge. So my work kept going in circles. Everybody's children from the
Gainesville Women for Equal Rights also were at P. K. Yonge.
L: Was that the best public high school in town?
B: It was not a question of being a high school; it was a question of kindergarten
through twelfth grade. Kids started they got on the list when they were born.
They went there from the time they were three until they were eighteen. So you
had the Cowards; Tom Coward's daughter went there (Martha), and Ann
McGhee's two sons went there.
L: When did the children did P.K. Yonge integrate with the kids?
B: Edna Cosby Dr. Cosby's daughter went there from kindergarten. Sunday's
newspaper had an article from the Ivory Coast. It was written by the bureau
chief of the New York Times. It was written by Ken Noble, who was one of my
students at P. K. Yonge, who is the bureau chief for the New York Times for all
of West Africa. He grew up in the northeast section. His grandmother raised
him, and she lives right across from Lincoln [Middle School] now. She was also
somewhat involved; she was a good friend of Ann McGhee's and [lived] right
near the Cowards, so all of these things kept going in little circles.
This whole group of outstanding black kids Ken and the Harpers went to P.
K. Yonge. I think their families had sent them there not just for high school -
but because this could be kind of an OK community for your whole school time.
And the school was integrated before the county [mandated integration].
L: What do you remember about the eventual integration in the county schools, the
closing of Lincoln High, and the move towards busing? Do you have any distinct
memories about that? Were you involved with that with the Gainesville Women
[for Equal Rights]?
B: The year that the schools integrated, 1970, was the year we were in Uganda. I
remember because my own children came back to it, and my daughter ended up
at Lincoln School. But, no, we would not have been here during the time when
they were having some problems. I was at P. K. Yonge from 1970 on, and I do
not remember any problems. I remember working with children, but I do not
remember any problems. When you start black and white children together
when they are at five and they are equal, not "I am pulling your wagon and I am
pushing your swing, but we are two friends," they are friends. They do not have
the same kind of problems that [you encounter] when you suddenly throw people
in together in high school.
L: One thing that we got away from that I would like to close is the question of
feminism. Did you become any sort of an active feminist into the 1970s?
B: I think I probably always have been. The YWCA was very active in the feminist
movement in the 1950s and 1960s. So I think that was not something so
different for me; gender equality was something that I would have said was
important long before some of the women's groups [emerged]. I think the
women's groups were good in the sense that, again, they were educational.
A lot of people never stopped to think [about] what was happening to them; you
just accepted it. But I grew up in a family where my father always said: "You are
going to get a doctorate, and you are going to do this, and you do not stay home
just because you are a woman. You get out and work, and you make a
contribution." So my idea for myself would never have been staying home. It
may have been that I stayed home sometime, but that was not my responsibility.
My responsibility was to make a contribution to the community.
After I had been out of college for maybe ten years, I went back for a
Mortarboard reunion. I had always thought on my campus anyway that the
Mortarboards were the very smartest, best women on campus. Fifteen out of
14,000 [students] would be in Mortarboard. One woman said that her daughter
was going to have a choice. I felt even then that my daughter did not have that
choice. My daughter had to make a contribution. I did not care how she made
the contribution; she could write poetry, or she could do dance, or she could be a
community activist, or she could be an attorney or a physician. But she did not
have the option just to stay home.
L: What did she end up doing?
B: She is an attorney. She is a prosecutor [laughter]. She works with abused
children and abused women.
L: What happened to the Gainesville Women for Equal Rights in the 1970s? It
ceased to exist. It fell apart.
B: I think it had fulfilled its mission, or at least the people thought that it had.
People were educated about what had happened; now [black] women could be
fairly free as far as changing clothes and buying. They could go to restaurants,
they could go the movies, and they could go to church wherever they pleased.
People could socialize.
No longer did you have eighty-cent maids. I can remember a woman I liked
worked for a friend of mine at the law school, but [my friend] was going to be in
Australia. She said, "Will you have this friend work for you?" I do not like those
kind of relationships; I really do not like having a maid. But I said that I would
pay [this woman] so she continue to work for my friend. [The maid] came and let
me know that she got paid for coming and going, and she got paid for meals
while she was at my house. [laughter] I thought, "Well, if we are going to be
equal, then we are going to be equal. I do not get paid for my transportation to
and from work, and I do not get paid for lunch. Let us sit down, and let us pay
you a reasonable salary, and we will not deal with those other things."
But I think [GWER] should not have finished as soon as we did, because I think
we still had black and white men and women still thinking in unequal ways.
L: Did the group disband? Was it drained out in other directions?
B: I think it just kind of [faded away]. What is it T. S. Eliot said? "Not with a bang,
but with a whimper." I think we just died. And yet, when we went back for the
reunion but the reunion was interesting because we had a good time, and we
talked about a lot of interesting things. But as much as I thought we were friends
with the black women, no black women stayed after dinner to really have
camaraderie, and I do not know why.
L: Did your involvement with your black friends decrease in the 1970s and 1980s?
Did you see less and less of them?
B: Yes. Less and less. I saw them often as moms at school activities like football
games and basketball games and that kind of thing. But I think there is a very
strange phenomenon in Gainesville as far as blacks and whites are concerned. I
may invite and invite and invite, and usually people come, but there is no return
invitation. So there is not that much socializing between black and whites.
L: Do you have any clue as to why?
B: No, because there are black faculty here in the law school that I have entertained
again and again, and I have never been in any of their homes. So I do not think
it is just local. I think maybe that is a message that I did not pick up on. I do not
know what. But we have talked about it a lot. I do not know what.
L: This is very different from during the 1960s, because there were GWER
meetings in black members' houses.
B: Oh yes. And then there would be parties, so you had a social time too; it was not
just meetings. We would go to people's houses for parties and to talk. You were
Ken Noble, the New York Times person his grandmother is a friend of mine,
and she has Christmas with us, and [was] at my child's wedding, and that kind of
thing. There were a fair number of black people at the wedding, but most of
them were former law students who had lived at our house for periods of time.
These were people who would come to our house and stay for a week or two
weeks, and they would be very much a part of our lives. And yet, [the
entertaining was] always at our house. They would come all the time. I do not
know why [there is seldom a return invitation]. Even Mrs. Smith comes for
Christmas [and on other occasions], but I have never been invited to her house.
L: This is something that I have heard three or four times before, so that is why I
wanted to ask you.
B: I think there is more separation now than there was, and I am not quite sure why.
If you look downstairs any day when you come into the law school, there are
maybe four tables on the concourse, and there will be two or three out of the four
[tables] full of black students. [There will be] no white students at the group.
Maybe there is a good feeling about security that way I do not know. It is not
that the white students do not [socialize] they would go but it is almost like it
is a closed circle. It is fun; they are all having fun. So if you come up I could
go up and the students are all very friendly. You call people by name. But
even in class often, the black students will sit fairly close together.
When we were trying to integrate, that was not true because you made a special
point of sitting next to Mary, and she made a special point of saying to
everybody, "Nancy and I are sitting together because we are friends." We were
modeling the behavior that we wanted other people to model.
L: Would you say that the barriers of discrimination are growing; the barriers to
B: I do not know. The reason I say I do not know I had said to you that all during
the 1960s and the 1970s my children had little friends [and] they were always at
the house. They were always hugging and kissing. And even when they would
go to football fields, and my daughter would be a cheerleader, the same guys
that she kissed at [age] five, she will still kiss them on the football field.
Now, at twenty-something, she will meet somebody and the person will say, "Oh,
yeah, he told us these stories about you," none of which were true. But there
was a big status about getting to kiss a blonde. And she was very gullible
because we thought these things were very open that you hugged people you
liked and you did not get points for hugging certain people.
But those people stopped coming to our house, even if I would invite them to a
birthday party or something. The black students did not come. Even the
women, the good girl friends she had who were black, became black in high
school, and could not come anymore. [It was] not that we did not invite them,
but they did not come. Now I think they would come back again, but they are not
friends anymore. They have kind of gone [down] different paths. So she will still
come to town and call, but the students she calls who call her all time are ones
who are really, really poor, who now have three, four, or five babies. They are
good friends because they would like to be like she is. She loves the babies, so
she is back and forth, but in a totally different social milieu.
L: One thing that you touched on briefly was the Gainesville Women for Equal
Rights having parties. How much of the Gainesville Women for Equal Rights
was a social group?
B: I do not think very much of it was social, but I think this modeled the behavior for
the community that [we wanted others to emulate]. In this section of town, there
would be black and white women coming in the door and having a good time. In
another section of town, there would be black and white women having a good
time. It was more what people from the outside saw, that not only were we
working, but we were friends. I think it was meant to deliver a very loud
I had a friend teaching at P. K. Yonge. She was a very delightful black woman
whose husband was on the faculty here. They lived off of 34th Street. One
night, my husband had a phone call. By the time he had gotten to the jail, her
husband was already in his little jail suit. (This was when they stayed in the jail
downtown, when you did not go to 39th Avenue I think that did not exist [yet].)
The police had followed them from the airport all the way to 34th, and decided
that something was wrong that they were in that neighborhood. [The police]
picked them up for going too fast, or too slow, or something, and had taken him
L: What eventually happened?
B: Well, my husband got him out, but he was already sitting there playing checkers
in his prison garb [laughter]. But the wife was totally destroyed. They did not
stay; they left that year. They saw Gainesville as being a place where somebody
might rent you a house in a section of town other than the northeast [or]
southeast, but nobody will really allow you to be there.
L: How bad were the police? What sort of mentality did they have? How were they
B: I think police have changed a lot over the years. I think police, when I came [to
Gainesville], were like police in a lot of countries, where you the people who want
power trips are police [officers]. They want to tell you what to do.
[The police] really were very suspicious about blacks. One of my black students
(in my very early years at P. K.) got picked up because he rode his motorcycle
over. He was a black kid who had all white friends. He rode his motorcycle over
here by 34th Street, and the police picked him up because he could not be in
My neighborhood was very integrated, and it was integrated very, very early. A
[colleague] of my husband's, a man who was teaching he was not on the
tenure track as a lecturer at the University, Councille Blye, integrated the
neighborhood. At first people thought, "Terrible!" But he had a house that was
bigger than anybody else's. [He also] had all the Episcopalians out to dedicate
his house from room to room with champagne. All [of] the Gainesville Women
for Equal Rights were there, saying, "It is OK to go to this man's house."
L: He had family money?
B: They had a lot of land.
L: What happened to Councille Blye? Was he killed?
B: Why not turn the tape off?
B: I am trying to think of who would take ACLU cases today, or any kind of civil
L: Is that who Fletcher Baldwin was taking?
B: No, he just took them; I think I told you about the Johns Committee.
L: Would you like to talk about that for a little while? This was way before .
B: The Johns Committee was in 1961-1962. They were getting rid of faculty they
accused you could get rid of anybody of being communist or of being
homosexual. There was this really big fear of homosexuality. I think people
were more afraid of homosexuality than blacks, but particularly afraid of black
homosexuals [laughter]. So you got it double-barreled if you were both.
They called people in the middle of the night, told them to meet with the
committee, and you had to leave immediately. You left the next morning or very
soon so that they did not lambaste you in the newspapers as being a
homosexual or a communist. What happened when we came, I think, was that
Fletcher just said, "You cannot do this. You have got to stand up--whether you
are a homosexual or not, it is not the point. Whether you are a communist or
not, it is not the point. But you do not let yourself be treated that way." So he
started defending anyone who wanted an attorney for free. Although he was
working with ACLU, he did not need to work through anybody; it was just that
people were coming.
I think the administration was often scared. Whether it was Pam Brewer [a
University of Florida student who posed nude for the Charlatan] they were
afraid of nudity, they were afraid of sex; they were afraid of a lot of things in that
L: Morally conservative?
B: Very, very conservative, like now. I think the 1960s were very conservative as
far as administrators are concerned. I think many students in the law school
would be [conservative]. I remember the 1960s as a period of being much more
liberal. And now it is almost like it is a circle, and we are back where we started
in a lot of ways.
I think the Johns Committee even put out a report, and it was the most obscene
report I have ever seen. It was called the "purple pamphlet," by slang terms.
L: Purple pamphlet?
B: Purple pamphlet. They had pictures of nude little boys in bathrooms. I do not
know how parents would ever let their children [do this]. They would show
pictures of holes peeking through at these little boys. The whole thing was about
homosexuality on campus. [It was] very much like the article that came out
about a year ago on campus that said, "These are the bathrooms you can go to
if you want to be serviced." That was all going on, so there was just this real fear
phobia of homosexuals and a real fear of communists.
On the other hand, there was a real fear of professors and sex with students. I
think Ed Richer probably could have gotten by with some of his behavior if he
had not been so blatant [while] also active in civil rights. I think [that] the sexual
behavior is not what got him in trouble.
L: Did they have a legitimate case against him?
B: I think they had some women who were willing to testify against him. Now,
whether that is legitimate or not, [I do not know]. It may be like the football
players with Councille Blye.
L: From reading the Alligator, [I discovered that] the reason the administration gave
for not giving him tenure was that he was making no effort to get a Ph.D. and he
was not satisfying the tenure track requirements.
B: I think this is how they got rid of people, certainly. [But] I do not think that is
really why they got rid of him. That is what made it difficult to be a lawyer to
keep the person employed because there are certain requirements that they
hold up for faculty. However, all faculty do not have Ph.D.s, and there are faculty
in journalism, there are faculty in art, [and] there are faculty in nursing [who do
not have Ph.D.s]. There are a lot of faculty who do not have Ph.D.s and were
never going to work on their Ph.D.s. It just depended on whether [or not they
chose] to use it against you. And certainly the area that he was in, a lot of
people did have [their Ph.D.s]. If he had published a lot of creative writing things,
he probably would not have had a Ph.D. He openly ran a soup kitchen and did
all [other] kinds of "communist" sort of things, communal sort of things that [were
referenced when] other people wanted to call you communist.
L: What about the firing of Marshall Jones? Were you good friends with the
Joneses? Do you care to comment on that at all? Do you have any specific
B: I remember the speech that got him in trouble.
L: This was to the .
B: To Phi Delta Kappa, one of the education honoraries that I was in. He spoke at
the banquet, and it was such a good speech that Laura Newman had it
L: "The Role of the Faculty in Student Rebellion."
B: [It was] very exciting. He was a good speaker, and I think students liked him
very much. But he was, again, white. I think this is true probably for any of the
people who were active: some people saw you as too involved, and some
people saw it [as] not being academic if you were involved. Again, Marshall did
not have a Ph.D. either at that time, did he? I am not sure.
L: In 1963, the sheriff in Ocala or the sheriff in St. Augustine addressed him as Dr.
Jones. But they got rid of him because he was a trouble maker and a rabble-
B: It was very easy to find people who would testify against you.
L: I know that you worked at least twenty years at P. K. Yonge, and now you are in
law school. When did you retire from P.K. Yonge?
B: I have not. I am on leave.
L: I see. Specifically to get a law degree?
L: How far are you in the degree program here?
B: After this semester I will need ten hours.
L: And then what are you going to do?
B: [I am going to] practice law. I do not know what kind of law. My husband says I
will do poverty law, which is probably true. I think there are a lot of people who
do not need to go to court, but who need to know how to manipulate the system,
or at least not let the system manipulate them. And I think being able to be
empowered is very valuable. So I really want to say to people: "You do not have
to go to court, but you can go to court. This is the way to work the system." And
so I want to work with people who have had the system work them instead. [I do
not want to work with] criminals as much as women, children, poor [people], or
just people who have not known [how to get around in the system], who think
you have to accept it because this is what somebody tells me to do.
When you were asking about my father, I remembered another thing about my
father. He always told us to be different. If everybody else wears red shoes, you
wear a green shoe. If everybody else says, "Here," you say, "Present." To this
day, when professors call the roll, I never answer, "Here." I am usually the first
name on the list. So it is not that I am being different than other people, but I am
intentionally not answering them. It happened yesterday when he called the roll,
and Baldwin was the first name, and I said, "Yes, sir." I never say, "Here."
I guess I would like to say to people: Be your own person. Do not differ just to be
different, but be able to do [it] however you want to do it, and do not feel that
somebody else tells you what to do. I think lawyers have more believability in
that arena, [although] it does not mean that they know any more. But I think I
told you the story of my first client, and that has etched itself so strongly in my
L: What is the story of your first client?
B: [He was] my first practicum client. (If you are getting your doctorate in
counseling, you have to do two years of counseling.) I was doing international
student counseling. I had to see my very first client in the old law school on 13th
Street. The [present] business school was the law school. I was using my
husband's office in the evenings to counsel.
My first client came in, sat down, looked at me, and asked who I was. I told him
[that] I was the first person he had the appointment with. And he said, "But it
says lawyer [on the office door]." I said, "That is the man who has this office in
the day. I am not a lawyer, I am a counselor." He said he would rather see the
lawyer. So he left. [laughter] I thought: "This is true. It does not matter what
you want. You think the lawyer has more ability to tell you how to get what you
want. The counselor really is OK. He or she listens, but does not have any
power. The lawyer has the power."
I think of Sidney Knight being a wonderful gadfly. And maybe I have always
thought that when I turn eighty I will be the town gadfly or something of that kind.
I think a lot of things still do not change.
I referred to names in the beginning [and spoke of] how you diminish people's
self-concept by what you call them. We still do that. We could give dignity to a
lot of people in service positions by calling them Mr. Jones instead of Billy. Often
they do not even fight it because they are just so used to being at the bottom of
So when an elderly gentlemen came to do some plastering for me, I never called
him anything but Mr. Cobb the whole time. He was thirty years older than I, and I
thought, "You are a gentleman." I could have certainly very easily have called
him Jimmy-Bob, or whatever his first name was, or boy or man. But I said, "Yes,
sir," and "Mr. Somebody." I think we have a long way to go to give people
dignity, especially in [the] projects in areas of Gainesville where people have
The difference in Mr. McKnight's apartments in the projects is like night and day.
Sidney McKnight is a very wealthy black man in town, and he has the land, and
he has an apartment complex. In his apartment complex, there is no trash, there
is no bad language, [and] the kids are well-behaved.
L: His wife Sarah was a member of GWER.
B: Yes. It is an extended family. Their son was the manager of Winn-Dixie for a
while. And now he has the old Primrose.
L: There is a McKnight on my Gainesville Women for Equal Rights master
B: I am not sure whether she is the mother or the sister, but this whole family is just
an admirable family. Sowin Crawford, who writes for the Miami Herald, I think,
was another one of the early black students at P. K. [Yonge]. McKnight and
Sowin were very good friends. They have both been so successful. But they are
You want to say to people that there are such gentlemen in Gainesville who are
black or brown or yellow or whatever, because the television certainly gives you
the impression that all blacks are on drugs and wearing heavy gold chains. A lot
of people see this, as opposed to seeing good role models.
My thought is, there are all kinds of good things that you do with children.
Certainly the black community is working very hard to do it with children, but it is
becoming an isolated thing. You only do black children; you do not do black and
white children. I would like to see us do black and white children.
L: Is there anything else you would like to add?
B: It has been interesting watching my own children. All the time we were at
Princeton and Brown and in East Africa, their best friends were always black. In
the summers when I would say, "Do not eat with me, eat with some of the law
students," they would always pick the Africans.
L: What does [your son] do?
B: He is a lawyer also. But living in the West Palm [Beach] area, I think he is
almost a right-wing Republican. His whole sense of people has changed so
much. The blacks he comes into contact with are drug dealers, and they are
beating their wives, or doing this and that. He very seldom ever comes in
contact with the students that he knew when he was growing up. So instead of
being a liberal out to do all kinds of good things, I see him becoming an NRA
Republican, which scares the heck out of me. I think, "Now, I have provided you
with all of these growing-up experiences. How did you grow up like this?" But it
is because of what has happened more recently to him, not what happened a
long time ago.
L: I take it you are a Democrat?
B: I do not like labels. I probably could not vote Republican.
L: Who have you been voting for president-wise lately?
B: I grew up in Ohio where there were no Democrats everybody was a
Republican in my area of Ohio. So when I came to Florida, I was a Republican.
I was a Taft Republican. There are different kinds of Republicans. So I would
have been a Taft Republican. But Republicans could not vote. I registered to
vote as a Republican. You never got to vote in the primaries. That did not make
L: Were you friends with June Littler?
L: She told me she had the exact same problem.
B: That was very frustrating because the Democrats in Florida were much more
conservative than the Republicans I knew. So the labels were all wrong. I did
not like voting for these Democrats because they did not stand up for what I
believed in at all. But there were not any other people to vote for [laughter]. So
it was very frustrating.
I can remember asking one of my old friends [about an election]. He was the
past president of Indiana University, and I admired him so much. I said, "I am
going to vote for the first time. Help me look at the people, and talk to me about
them." I voted for Eisenhower because he told me that Eisenhower was really
the man we needed. You said, "Who did I vote for?" I voted so long ago that
they did not even ask you if you were a Democrat or a Republican.
I certainly do not believe in anything that the Republican platform came out with
the other night not at all. But more than that, I do not believe in the lying that
went on. I could not believe how a man who is the President of the United
States could stand up and say, "Look at me; I did this, this, and this," and distort
things so badly that I would not even want him for a dog catcher. You can tell
me "I do not like you," or "I do not believe what you believe," or anything, if you
are honest with me. But when you look at me and smile, and tell me things that
are not true, [I am aghast]. So I guess I have had trouble with the Democrats
that way and sometimes with the Republicans.
I would have worked very hard. My husband and I wrote back and forth to
Jimmy Carter. Finally, my husband wrote and said, "I cannot support you
anymore; you really are disappointing me." We got invitations to the White
House. Jean Chalmers the time that we were going, she went and had a good
time. My husband did not go until Ronald Reagan was in the White House.
Then he went to lunch with Ronald Reagan, but he was not a Republican.
I guess I would like to vote independently, and yet I know independent people do
not ever have any power, so I vote Democrat, so that there is some power.
L: Well, I would like to thank you for talking to me. This is definitely a contribution
to my project and to local history.
B: You are quite welcome.