Sheila B. Michaels
87 Columbia Street, #3C
New York, New York 10002-1928
(212-254-2865), Email: SheMichaels@earthlink.net
This is an almost complete list of interviews in the oral history collection most of which I have at Columbia University Oral History Archives, in New York.
My aim is to record the stories and histories of Movement stalwarts who might not be known outside the circle of Activists, and whose experiences and opinions have not been collected ad nauseam.
When I was trying to find an archive to interview Mary Hamilton Wesley, Columbia University Oral History's archivist suggested that I collect the oral histories of members of CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality (1941-1968). Their original commitment was to archive the tapes & transcribe them when money was available. The collection, which seems to now be my personal project, has outgrown the possibility of being transcribed from petty cash.
I was a SNCC Field Secretary, as well as a member of CORE & so this grew to be the Nonviolent Direct Action project, which includes activists in SNCC & the War Resister's League.
One tape, an interview with Joseph Schwartz, is transcribed & on-line at the University of Southern Mississippi Digital Archives (Mississippi State Archive) in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. There were to be more, but the gambling revenues which the State of Mississippi pledged to the University were not realized.
The tapes are freely available to those who wish to hear the tapes at Columbia University, but they must obtain my permission, due to legal restrictions on Columbia. Interviewees retain the rights to their stories & fair use conventions must be observed.
I hope to further build, on this CRMVets site, a list of all oral histories of Nonviolent activists. As of now the oral histories which have been collected are difficult to trace. It has been hard for me to find what is already out there, so that I not duplicate work which has been done & not get to other worthy people in my limited time. This list, as of now, is to let scholars know what I have collected.
A brief entry does not indicate less worth. Usually it means I became engrossed & took no notes, or took too long to recall the content.
Allen, Chude Pamela Parker
6 February 2002 San Francisco, CA
Originator of the second-wave of Feminism, in estimation of women's movement historians, organizing Women's Liberation groups in both New York City and San Francisco. Tapes cover being a Carleton exchange student at Spelman College in the Spring of 1964. She was active in the student Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta, GA. and a freedom school teacher in Holly Springs, MS. Identified with SNCC but was never on staff. Ralph Featherstone, platonic love. Deeply analytical. Three tapes, San Francisco, home with sweeping view of Bay area (and utility wires).
Arnold, Maris (Edith Snyder)
28 January 2002 Berkeley, CA
Working class Jewish girl from Brooklyn, reader of Sinclair Lewis, in search of something "more". Olson Temp Agency sent her to work for A.J.Muste at Fellowship of Reconciliation in 1959. She became a committed Pacifist. Detailed account of the Montreal to Guantanamo Peace March. Discusses Muste, pacifists & woman question, C.B. King, poor 'white' jail-mates, cattle prods, jailings in Albany, Georgia, fasting affects, interracial marriage. Two tapes, in her pretty Berkeley cottage, with gardens & wildlife.
Baker, Elaine DeLott
14 November 2001, Denver, CO
Elaine DeLott left Radcliff to organize cooperatives in Batesville, MS, in 1964-65. She was on the CORE payroll. She wrote the first "Position of Women in the Movement" paper, anonymously, for the Waveland Meeting, drawing on discussions & experiences of other nascent feminists. Casey Hayden & Mary King, are widely credited for this ground-breaking analysis, but Elaine's may have precedence. Baker examines some of the sexual undercurrents & betrayals of the time. One tape in her suburban tract home just outside Denver.
23 May, 2000 Brooklyn, NY
Mrs. Bibuld joined CORE at her husband's suggestion, "because she was bored." This phrase comes up whenever she mentions taking on an Herculean task. She was a member of Brooklyn CORE. Then, in 1962, her family moved because of a fire in their old apartment. Her children were enrolled in a school that proved to be very inferior. The school did not have enriched classes, as they'd had previously, they did not permit skipping grades & would not transfer them. The school lacked books, as well. She took the problem to the School Board, to no avail. She took it to CORE. Inspection of the school maps showed the schools were rigidly segregated. Brooklyn CORE had a sit-in at 110 Livingston Street. She took her children out of school & put them into a friend's neighborhood school. (In effect, sitting-in.) The Bureau of Child Welfare tried to charge the Bibulds with being unfit parents, & remove them from home, because the children were truant from their proper school. The three children had been absent more than ten days without a truancy officer contacting them. The (National) Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan as well as local nuts & bigots threatened the Bibuld family. Much as she spoke & petitioned other groups to join her to make it a class action, no one did. She won for herself alone. However, it did lead to a revision of policy. She also served ten days for contempt of court when she went to her husband's aid during the demonstration at Downstate Medical Center. This was also a cause celebre. She publicized conditions at the Women's House of Detention, when she left. She divorced Mr. Bibuld. She is widowed from her second husband. She lives in a lovely brownstone with a garden in Prospect Heights, which is now a gentrifying neighborhood. The house is still not completely renovated, having been a boarding house at one time. A grandson-in-law is working on the renovation & the couple lives in the house. Her youngest daughter, Beth, an absolutely charming, sunny woman, with Down's Syndrome lives with her & in a sheltered community in New Jersey, shuttling between them as she pleases. Tape also discusses the Indian & Black communities of North Carolina. Mrs. Bibuld McField was an orphan, reared by an aunt & uncle. One tape, at Mrs. Bibuld's brownstone house in a now gentrifying neighbor near downtown Brooklyn.
Prof. Robert Belton
21 November 2000, Nashville, TN
Professor of Law Vanderbilt Law Schoold. One of 18 children of a day laborer & housewife (who took in laundry). Discusses Rocky Mount, North Carolina, of his childhood, his education, years in New York CORE & National CORE, the firebombing of his law office in North Carolina & his career in employment law & academia. Two tapes in his office at Vanderbilt University.
9, 11, 26 April 1999, New York
Karin Berg was born in St. Louis & has been an ardent baseball fan her whole life. Many incidents in her life & in the Movement are in the perspective of the history of baseball. She started out with the Riverside Democratic club, before joining NY CORE. She belonged to many of the CORE groups around the city, including the River Rats & Downtown CORE (Lower East Side). She began supporting herself & contributing to her family in her early teens. After years of dispiriting secretarial work, she began reviewing jazz for alternative newspapers. Hers has been an enormous struggle, against high odds. She became one of the foremost A&R people in the recording business. She is now a consultant to Nonesuch, as she is confined to her apartment, due to her oxygen tank. An autobiographical chapter & quotes from Ms. Berg are also included in the autobiography of Robert Guillaume. Three tapes, in her pretty, one-bedroom Greenwich Village apartment.
25 April 2000, New York
Karl Bissinger was born in 1915, in Cincinnati, into a family of Sacred Monsters. He moved to New York & had an absolutely wonderful time. He was a Conscientious Objector, in fact, but he was not drafted into the Army because he is Gay. He did marry & have a child, but the marriage did not survive. His relationship with his son & grandsons is one of the joys of his life. Karl became one of the most important photo-essay magazine & celebrity/society photographers of the mid-century. Fleur Cowles' Flair magazine, for Conde Nast, was & is still considered the most beautiful magazine ever published in America. Karl Bissinger was its' staff photographer. At the start of the Vietnam War he became an activist in the Village Peace Center & WRL. He became a full-time draft counselor. He transported --& arranged transport abroad for-- many people evading the Draft or deserting the Armed Forces. He has been with War Resisters' League ever since. Two tapes, made in his penthouse apartment in Westbeth, a city- sponsored artists' housing complex in the West Village.
27 April 2000, New York
The Saturday after the Student Sit-Ins in Orangeburg, SC, a spontaneous sympathetic picket line mostly older Lefties sprang up at the Woolworth's on 42nd Street. Susan picketed with them, a few Saturdays. She then started her own picket line at the Woolworth's opposite Bloomingdale's & she joined CORE. She was a member of New York CORE. While she was a researcher at Newsweek, she decided to take her vacation time to volunteer for Freedom Summer, 1964. This caused many complications at the magazine. She went down with Jan Goodman. She filed a story with The Village Voice, from Mississippi & contributed to Newsweek stories. Women were not reporters at Newsweek. When she returned to work, she found she could no longer live that life. Jim Forman offered her, & Goodman, jobs on SNCC staff. She returned to Mississippi but the climate had changed. The job never materialized, although she was working full time as a volunteer. Goodman went to work for SNCC in Washington. Susan became a writer for The Village Voice. Susan's old boss offered her an opportunity, in Philadelphia, to be one of the first female reporters on television. One tape, recorded in her pretty penthouse apartment in western Greenwich Village. She has stunning, uninterrupted views of lower Manhattan from both her terraced, bi-level living room & her office. Her kitchen & tiled dining room & terrace have northern views of mid-town & the Village.
31 January 2002, Oakland, California
Topics: Leadership development in Unitarian Church. Memphis high school boy's rejection of strong girls. Comparison Carleton & Spellman Colleges as exchange student, changed relationship with men & attitudes about sex. Albany, GA & father's nervous collapse following arrest. Work in Atlanta office. Tulane graduate studies & New Orleans organizing. Jackson, MS. & Canton MS. projects. Growing number of relationships with Black men & unawareness of resentment of Black women. Discussions about that with Jeanne King. Canton project after Freedom Summer: Flukie Suarez, Curtis Hayes. Interracial relationship with fellow graduate student. Starting `Women's Liberation' group in New Orleans & member's discussions about importance vis-a-vis oppression of African-Americans. Move to San Francisco for greater activism. Self- discovery & coming out as a Lesbian. Motherhood & much, much more. Two tapes in well-organized but very personal office which is in garden behind her bungalow in Oakland, CA
20 February 2002, New York City
Catholic education, service in armed forces, Catholic Worker, travel agent, New York CORE. Career in Welfare, which began as a temporary job. Met wife in theological discussion group, she is on the board of their cooperative. One tape in their Mitchell-Lama Co-op (built under a NY State initive) at 94th & Columbus.
26 July 1999, North Carolina
Gordon Carey supervised Projects, Programs, & Personnel for National CORE. He participated in CORE from the late-`40s, when he was still in his teens & met Jim Farmer through his father, a minister. He was active in the Freedom Highways Project. He left CORE to found a utopian community in North Carolina, with Floyd McKissick, a former Chairman of CORE. He now heads a firm that creates & markets software for nonprofit agencies. Two tapes, in his office in a suburban office strip.
6 January 1999 New York
Val Coleman had been a movie publicist. He was looking for something more suited to his idealism. His sister had been an early member of CORE. He went to work for CORE in 1960, was part of the planning of the Freedom Rides. He was the last of the National CORE staff to leave. He stayed on until around 1968, when the national office had moved to Harlem & a suspicious fire destroyed many of the records of the organization. He protests too much that he did not write parts of Jim Farmer's autobiography, but often quotes it instead of speaking of his own life. As Farmer was an accomplished writer, & one of the Movement's great speakers, this if it did happen might have been a collaboration of friends. He worked for many years with the NYC Dept of Housing & Preservation. He now teaches at Columbia. His is the nation's only course on Public Housing. He also has done performances of monologues. He has written a number of books, mostly fiction, & has overcome a drinking problem, about which he has written at length. One tape in the apartment at Independence Plaza in which he camps out once a week, while teaching. He has a farmhouse, where he lives the rest of the week.
Edwin, Marjorie (nee Schaffer) Swann
26 January 2000,
In the late 1930s-1941 Ms. Schaffer was involved in Civil Rights work with the YWCA in Evanston, Ill, while she was a scholarship student at Northwestern. (E.g., allowing Black students into campus housing.) When the first CORE group formed in Chicago, she became a commuting member there, as well. She has spent her entire life in the Civil Rights & Peace Movements. Once, after getting out of Federal Penitentiary in Lexington, in the 1950s, she & her family took a cross-country trip to become reacquainted. Her youngest child was then about three years old. They camped along the highways in segregated states, where Black people could not eat or stay. They visited the children of women who had become her friends in jail. This included trips to all the children of her roommate, who had been scattered to schools on different Indian reservations. Her first husband became a carpenter & worked with Frank Lloyd Wright & with a developer building an integrated community in Maryland, in the late '40s.. They lived in Oberlin, Ohio. Her baby- sitter there was Coretta Scott (later, King) & she organized demonstrations to allow Scott to give a recital in a hall which barred Negroes. Wally & Juanita Nelson frequently lived with them. She is married for the third time. Her husband, 75, is a Bishop, in Ghana. She has remained in the United States, as guardian for his orphaned 16-year- old daughter, but longs to be with him. She moved to the West Coast to be near her grown children. Her finances are extremely tenuous, she has been unable to find work, because of her age (79). She is a Social Worker for the elderly with St. Mary's Hospital, at minimum wage. She still drives, but like a true pacifist, she grants every other vehicle the right of way. She is also working a little on an autobiography. Four tapes, recorded in her living room-office which is completely taken over by paperwork for various organizations. She has a one-bedroom apartment in a publically subsidized senior apartment complex in Berkeley, California,
31 August 2000, Chicago, IL
Tor Faegre was a Union carpenter for many years & now makes rustic furniture which he sells through crafts fairs. His family were Left academics. He joined the first protest against nuclear submarines the summer after high school. He was in Chicago CORE from 1961-65. He participated in the school protests against using trailers for classrooms instead of integrating nearby white schools. One tape, at his brown wood & shingle house. House is a double, with two addresses on the same lot. It is full of his & Susan Sommer's art & books. There is wood & driftwood for use on the porch.
15 July, 23, September 1999, St. Louis
Jim Feely was the son of a minister. He taught English at Lindenwood College & is now retired. He was in the St. Louis CORE group which split & became ACTION, a group which concentrated on opening working class opportunities to Blacks. He was the victim of an FBI "Dirty Tricks" campaign which threatened his marriage (he is now widowed). Two tapes in his pretty, new townhouse in an interracial community in an isolated area of downtown St. Louis.
25 January 2002, Mill Valley, CA
Parents fired by Brooklyn red-hunting Board of Education. Father became pioneer educator of retarded. Mimi organized for Youth March on Washington when 16. Attended Swarthmore. Started political discussion group, then became involved in anti-war & civil rights work. Volunteered for Freedom Rides in sophmore year. First bus routed through Alabama: describes the family which sheltered them in Montgomery. Bus ride in with hostile driver, arrest while carrying cake given them by passenger. Comraderie among women in Hinds County jail & Parchman Farm. Summer volunteer American Friends project in Tennessee. Voter registration in Plaquemines town, 1963. Police riots, tear gassed & hunted down. Put off graduate school to stay through the year. Library sit-ins. Agricultural cooperative organizing. Graduate school, summers in Louisiana. Rejection of Whites. Starting civil rights archives for Wisconsin: collecting oral histories. (She's a pioneer in the field, I believe.) SDS white working class project in Hoboken. Draft resistance & Women's Movement in California. Postal delivery job which led to Oral History work in Berkeley. Developing interest in Judaism, became a first-time mother after 50, now assoc. director Hebrew Day School. Two & a half tapes in her semi-attached house set into the hill, in Marin County, with beautifully catalogued library.
2 March 2000, New York
Selma participated in the Civil Rights Movement in Israel. She worked for a woman's Zionist organization, & for Israeli Arab civil rights on her own time. Two tapes, made in her living room, in Manhattan.
14 September 1999, St. Louis, MO
St. Louis CORE, the public transport boycott over the revocation of car service licensing, other actions. One tape, in his pretty, suburban house, in a formerly white suburb of North St. Louis.
Gammon, Evelyn Haney
16 September 1999, St. Louis, MO
As a recent high school graduate, Evelyn Gammon heard from her beautician that the NAACP was looking for telephone operators to break segregation in hiring at AT&T. She was their first hire & is still employed there, as a technician. She joined CORE during the Jefferson Bank demonstrations & met her husband on the picket line. She covers the various splits in St. Louis CORE & conflicts in the community, as well as the workings of CORE. I loved making this interview: everything clicked. One tape, her pretty suburban house in a formerly white suburb. A niece was on her lap, night fell, none of us moved to put on a light.
23 April, 5 May 1999, 9 March 2001, New York, NY
Ed Lewinson said that he thought Brooklyn CORE was actually named "Goldwag CORE". Arnie Goldwag lived in a converted coal bin, which was also the office of Brooklyn CORE. He had been thrown out by his conservative father. He was not only dedicated, he was a maniac trickster. He would call Southern Sheriffs pretending to be government agencies, in order to buy time for prisoners. He would hitchhike to spots where his talents were needed. He would trick the police into showing up at the wrong spot while his group pulled an action in another place. Tapes discuss founding & functions of Brooklyn CORE. Last tape also discusses the Route 40 campaign & his friendship with Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture), including Stokely's last days & death upon returning to New York. Arnie now inspects the working conditions of the members of the Social Service Employees Union. Five tapes, recorded in his office, one only on original tape: not copied because of odd format.
Goodman, Bernard "Buddy"
10 September 1999, St. Louis, MO
Buddy Goodman is a WWII veteran of the Italian Campaign. He was in St. Louis CORE, was involved in the Jefferson Bank action & in the sit-in at the St. Louis Arch, when it was being built. This was the first demonstration for jobs, by ACTION. He is an incredibly sweet man, in a group which had no lack of them. He is in touch with everyone. So many of these tapes have been great fun; but, although he was hard to pin down, sometimes, this was one of the best times I've had. He now lives with his second wife in a mostly Black neighborhood in University City, Missouri. One tape, in my apartment in St. Louis.
18 May 2000, New York City
Jan Goodman was active in New York City politics, after graduating from U. Pennsylvania Women's College in 1957. She had also been something of an activist at Erasmus HS, in Brooklyn. She participated in some CORE events in NYC, but did not join. After a number of jobs with businesses & unions, she worked with the Girl Scouts on integration in Newark. She went to Mississippi with Susan Brownmiller in 1964. They had orientation in Memphis & worked in Meridian, MS, just when Rita Schwerner was leaving. They organized some mass rallies for Dr. King, (which Susan Brownmiller's tape describes, fully.) She left the Girl Scouts to work full time for SNCC, only to arrive during Waveland, (also described more fully in Brownmiller.) She worked on the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party Challenge & after the passage of the Civil (or Voting?) Rights Bill, went to Washington DC, to work on challenging the seating of the Democratic Congressmen from Mississippi. The office remained to do lobbying for two years. She worked mainly with Mike Thelwell & Larry Guyot. She received $10 weekly, cannot remember the supplementary housing fee (I think it was $15). She felt it was time to leave, but was pushed to it when Bob Moses would not speak to her because she was white & would not speak to Mike Thelwell while he was standing with her. She worked for District Council 37 for a while, until she earned enough to attend NYU Law School. She practices employment law. One tape, in her attractive & comfortable, but immaculate, apartment with a gorgeous view of the Village & lower Manhattan. The pictures are pretty, mostly chalks of people in summer landscapes. I know of at least three other early Feminists in this building & a huge number of Civil Rights & Peace & Women's Movement people could be assembled by sounding a tocsin from the roof.
18 May 2000, New York City
In the early 1960's, Naomi Goodman was asked to join the Jewish Peace Fellowship "because they needed women". This was, of course, before the Women's Movement. She was the only non-Rabbi. She headed the JPF for ten years & the International Peace Fellowship, too. She took on the work full-time. She had been an interior designer & worked with her late husband, the architect & social critic/utopian Percival Goodman. (Who wrote a number of books with his brother, the founder of Gestalt Therapy, Paul Goodman.) She had met the Rabbi who brought her into JPF when designing a Temple for his congregation. One tape, in her large apartment furnished in mid-century International style, with many family pictures & drawings. The 1928 building is half a block off Central Park & overlooks The Museum of Natural History. When I announced my destination, the doorman extolled both Mrs. Goodman & her late husband. She is always chic: a great beauty with real style.
Gordon, Albert F.
16 April 2001 New York City
Al Gordon was an American History teacher in high school when the Freedom Ride bus was burned. He ducked the end of the semester & went on one of the first busses that continued the Ride. When he arrived, there was as yet no procedure & no protection by the police. He served in Parchman Farm, returning often to stand trial, when called, so as not to sacrifice the bail money which CORE needed. He was a CORE activist for many years, in New York & nationally. He fell, almost by accident, into becoming an African art dealer: discovering that he had a business sense & an eye & instinct for art, at the moment when he came into some art which he unloaded, buying art of quality with the proceeds. He became one of the principal dealers of tribal art in America & still travels enormously. Two tapes, recorded in my apartment.
4 October 2000 Louisville, KY
Ira spent a year in Mississippi, taught English in university, became an organizer, a union & community organizer. He worked with the Bradens in Louisville, eventually deciding to work on the factory floor. He is legally blind, won a landmark suit, & worked 20 years for Brown & Williamson, being active in his union. He is now retired and a disability rights activist & legal advocate. Two tapes in his haimish brick bungalow house in Louisville.
Green, Percy, III
28 July, 18 August, 15 September 1999
Percy Green was one of the few working class members of CORE in the early 1960s. He was then an electrician which he learned by correspondence on aircraft at McDonald Corporation. The case in which he was fired for activism, years later, is a landmark labor case. He led a split & founded ACTION, after St. Louis CORE became exhausted from the Jefferson Bank case. In their first demonstration, Mr. Green & a white man sat-in on the legs of the Gateway to the West Arch, as it was being built. He also picketed inside the St. Louis Cathedral during Mass & drove into hiding the Establishment's premier social event, The Veiled Prophet Parade. One of his ACTION members unveiled the Veiled Prophet, during the great debutante ball, swinging down from the balcony & landing onstage. He has an inimitable flair for publicity & for gauging public opinion. ACTION remained the central organization for desegregating working class jobs well into the `80s. He is a force of nature. Three tapes, made in his office.
Hall, Rev. Dr. Prathia
23 February, 10 March 1999 Princeton, NJ
The Rev, Dr. Prathia Hall was one of the most respected organizers & speakers in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. She grew up in Philadelphia, where her parents had a ministry to a poor neighborhood. Her father was very race-conscious & she was his primary disciple. She was trained in leadership by Friends Service & a number of other groups. She worked in Southwest Georgia & in Selma Alabama. Her doctorate, from Princeton Theological Seminary, was for studies of Baptist Women's Groups. She taught Ethics at Princeton Theological, & was teaching at Harvard at the time of her death. She was a great force in the Children's Defense Fund. Two tapes, in her home in a modern suburban apartment complex outside Princeton.
Hamilton, Mrs. Allyce
Mrs. Hamilton was a very early member of St. Louis CORE. She is now in her 90s. She brought her close friend Marion O'Fallon (Oldham) into the organization (& introduced her to Charles Oldham.) She was the daughter of socially active parents, a clergyman & teacher. She, herself, taught in the primary schools. Mrs. Hamilton is nearly blind & almost deaf. She had been condemned to a nursing home, albeit a good one. One of her former students, whom she had mentored, Mrs. Charlene Dummet, a social worker, got her out of nursing home & was given Power of Attorney. (314- 652-6266). Mrs. Hamilton is now back in her own home with a caregiver. One tape in her tidy, peaceful bungalow house in a pretty, historically Black bourgeois neighborhood.
17 November 2000 Nashville, TN
Ed worked with Ann Braden & organized white Southern students with SNCC & later with SSOC. I will not attempt to summarize his long & dedicated career. Tapes have fine details about Southern life & religion in the 1940s, as well as the struggle on white campuses in the Deep South. Extraordinary. Four tapes in his 1920s craftsman house & one at the Opreyland Hotel, where I was attending a conference.
5 February 2002 San Francisco, CA
His was one of two white families who stayed in neighborhood when it was "flipped". He attended a racially divisive high school. Joined Los Angeles CORE, 1963, when it was outnumbered by American Nazis at demonstrations. Story of police attempts to foster riots in Watts in 1964. Selma, Alabama, SCLC. Selma March. Organizing Alabama. Director of a SCOPE, SCLC Voter Registration Summer project 1965. James Meredith March. SDS, San Francisco State. Work with navy & marines against war, on & off bases in East Asia & Southeast Asia. Two tapes in his beautiful condo loft in Mission District, San Francisco.
Hochberg, Judith Mohr(aka Sarah Joyce)
2 September 2000 Chicago, IL
Mrs. Hochberg raised a family underground in the Southwest, because she was married to a Communist (who was also avoiding alimony, while raising his children, himself). They came to Chicago around 1965, taught in the schools & became active in Chicago CORE, school protests & much of the local ferment. Like Pat Jordan, in Missouri whom she never met Mrs. Hochberg was beaten up by CORE thugs, in the office (in front of her students), because she would not abandon the teenagers with whom she worked. This seems to suggest that Innes & whatever federal agency was behind him had a clearly defined agenda for driving "whites" from the Movement. One tape, in her sprawling Bohemian apartment, from which she operates her business, & where some of her children live & some rooms are let.
5, 29 April 1999 Pomona, NY
Rev. Houser was jailed, in 1939, as a conscientious objector to the draft, although he could have had a clerical dispensation. He was the son of missionaries to the Philippines. He was discouraged from returning to Union Theological Seminary. He was a founder of CORE when he was a seminarian in Chicago. He headed CORE while employed by the Fellowship of Reconciliation. When this was no longer possible, Jim Robinson took over the work. Rev. Houser founded the American Committee on Africa. He has been widely honored in South Africa for his achievements in ending Apartheid. Two tapes in his pretty stone house on a land trust in Pomona, NY.
29 April 1999 Pomona, NY
Mrs. Houser was the daughter of missionaries in China. We have some discussion of missionary life in China in the 1920s & 30s. She was an early member of CORE & worked with her husband. She was an early innovator in the teaching of the severely retarded. One tape, recorded in her pretty stone house on a land trust in Pomona, NY.
Jerome, Joycelyn Boyd
21 March 2000 New York, NY
Joycelyn was National CORE's secretary, then became Marvin Rich's secretary. She was also a member of NYCORE. She was brought up on the Lower East Side. Her mother, though from an educated family, often worked as a maid to support them & sometimes needed welfare. Her father did janitorial work. The family was intellectual & involved in politics. She learned of the CORE job through Ralph di Gia of War Resister's League. When she married Fred Jerome, many CORE people were concerned because he was a leftist from a Communist family. His father had served time in jail during the McCarthy era. She felt that, in the National CORE office, attitudes changed toward her, because CORE was anti- Communist. Two tapes, recorded in her upper West Side apartment. Huge rooms, covered with family pictures. They are renters in a mostly coop building & powers in the Tenant's Association.
Jones, Ina Sugihara
27 March 2000 White Plains, NY
Mrs. Jones moved to a modern middle-class condo complex in White Plains, in 1977, when Texaco's corporate headquarters moved her job there. Despite her husband's warnings, she brought him to a dinner for employees. He was right & she was demoted, from contract appraiser to file clerk, though with no diminution in pay. It took four employees to replace her in her previous job & they never got it right. Finally, they had to hire an outside consulting firm. She grew up in a small town in Colorado. Her parents, immigrants from Yamanishi-ku, had to give up farming during the Depression. She was scouted for a scholarship to UCLA, but was rejected because she wanted to be a lawyer, rather than a nurse, which the interviewer said was a career more suitable for an Oriental woman. She went to a junior college, then to Berkeley. At Berkeley the employment office was forcing her to become a maid & she had constant battles with them to accept the jobs she found for herself as a secretary & writer. She escaped deportation to the Japanese internment camps, through the offer of a job in New York. She had studied in Labor Schools & had volunteered there while she was working her way through Berkeley. One of her teachers made the offer, which brought her to New York. She has always supported herself with secretarial & legal work & some writing. She was active in the Ashram in Harlem in the early 1940s & in New York CORE & in the National CORE office. She & the Farmers were close friends. She married a Black man in the late 1950s & drifted away from the movement. Two tapes recorded in her modern cooperative apartment in White Plains. It is immaculate & crowded with furniture & papers.
27 February 2002 New York City
The Jones' father (& family) were run out of South Carolina. He was then an high-school principle. A white child had thrown a stone at him & called him "nigger" He went to the boy's mother & told her he knew she hadn't raised her child that way. Also, the senior Jones had written a letter to a newspaper about German prisoners-of-war receiving better treatment than African-American soldiers. He spent rest of war years defense worker in shipyard. He was later able to attend seminary & became Episcopal priest. They moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he was assigned to a `missionary' (Black) Anglican Church. Father Jones later ran for Mayor of Knoxville. Matthew's own life story started in Movement in student sit-ins & demonstrations in Nashville, joined SNCC, worked on organizing in Knoxville, then Danville, where suffered injuries. Started composing music in jail. Songs became popular in Movement, joined Freedom Singers. He tells a story of the Freedom Singers & one white girl demonstrated during the big Klan rally at Stone Mountain in Georgia. Story of Ruby Doris Smith keeping track of him on the WATS-line on behalf of his fiancee, Bobby Yancey. The tours of Freedom Singers. Conflicts between Northern & Southern Blacks: Southerners had built Movement & Northerners thought they were slow-witted. In favor of keeping Mississippi Movement Black & local. Doubts about move to organize in North. Doubts about ousting of whites from Movement. Peg Leg Bates meeting which was the final blow to SNCC as an interracial movement. Discussion of his friendship with Carolyn Goodman, mother of the slain Andrew Goodman. Two tapes at his Upper West Side tenement apartment/office.
24 September 1999 St. Louis
Pat Jordan is from rural Missouri. She talks about the lack of preparation & attention poor rural whites receive, as well & the difficulty of obtaining employment either at home or in the city. She had a child she was unable to support, struggled a long time to keep, but finally surrendered. She lived in the center of St. Louis' jazz scene in the late `50s-early `60s: a time some St. Louisans remember as very heaven. But she also fought a losing struggle against red-lining & urban renewal & lost her house. She was Corresponding Secretary of St Louis CORE. She was eventually evicted, as white member. She was beaten up by a nationalist thug within the organization, when it was taken over. (See also Judith Hochberg, in Chicago) She is involved in conservation work in Eminence. She is very poor & has many cats. Her dream is to resume her former work with homeless, unwed mothers, but she can get no backing. Two tapes recorded in my apartment in St. Louis.
Knable, Bobbie Brown
23 November 1999 Brookline, MA
Bobbie Brown Knable was Executive Secretary to Marvin Rich, in the National CORE Office, after Joycelyn Boyd Jerome left to raise her children. Orphaned of her Mother, at birth, her Grandmother before her birth & her Great-grandmother at five, she was reared by her Great-aunt & uncle, in Ohio. While working at the Karamou Theatre, she met Karin Berg: it was about the time she was ready to leave home. They shared an apartment in New York, although it was difficult finding housing. They were both active in the Riverside Democrats & then in New York CORE. After her marriage, Bobbie was able to take a cut in pay to become Marvin Rich's secretary. She went on to become Dean of Students at Tufts. She is partially retired & has moved her 97-year-old Great-aunt to Boston, in order to oversee her care. Two tapes, recorded in her home. It is high on a hill above Brookline, with a lovely night view. They have wonderful African art. He is an architect, but their house is traditional & quite warm.
15 May 2001 New York City
When she was at Queens College, Lucy Komisar organized a picket line around the 42nd Street Woolworth in Manhattan after the first sit-ins in the South. It was the picket line of choice for most people. She attended the conference which established SNCC & subsequent annual conferences & worked with Queens CORE as well as National. She was a prominent Feminist activist & has written extensively about human rights violations, & has for years been exposing the laundering of money & its flight offshore. She has upset a great many people, from the Congo to Russia. One tape in her one bedroom home & office in Greenwich Village.
28 April 2000 Maplewood, NJ
I am amazed at the number of statisticians I have come across in the Movement. Joseph Kruskal is a mathematician, the creator of the field of psychometrics & an authority in a rare mathematical field, WQO: which is his license plate. Most of his career was at Bell Labs, following a successful academic career. He was active in CORE in Washington in 1949, in New York in the 1950s & in Newark CORE in the early `60s. This led him to found a group for fair housing in Maplewood, New Jersey, where he lived. One tape recorded in the living room of his grand 1910 house in Maplewood.
1 January 1999 New York
Landerman is a Professor of Medical Statistics at Duke, where he has been since he was an undergraduate. He was a student activist at Duke, after his sophomore year, he was in Hattiesburg, MS, 1964-65. After returning to Duke, graduating in Sociology, he was active in local movements & was a professional organizer for a few years. He is largely self-taught in medical statistics. One tape, in my apartment in New York.
25 November 2001 St. Louis
Kathy Lass spent the summer of 1965 in Southeastern Virginia, working with the SCLC sponsored voter-registration group, SCOPE. She was a student at the University of Missouri. One tape, in my apartment in St. Louis.
24 January, 2000 San Francisco
Active in CORE in Syracuse, NY & in Louisiana. CORE Field Secretary in Louisiana & later Southern Regional Director . He was in graduate school in sociology at Syracuse, with Rudy Lombard, & studied with Saul Alinsky. He was a carpenter for many years. Now director in university extension courses at Berkeley & teaches wine courses. One tape, made at home of Frank Nelson on Portrero Hill. Very large, disabled dog we had to carry two flights, curled at his feet, betimes sounding alarms. Some jeering commentary by Frank Nelson & Patricia Yorck, is occasionally added in background.
Lewinson, Edwin Ross
11 March 1999 New York
Ed Lewinson, who was never sighted, first attended CORE workshops in 1949, when he was still a student. He was with CORE until 1965. He was a member of the National Action Council, which was the decision making committee elected to guide CORE. He is a retired Professor of American History at Seaton Hall University in New Jersey. He is still active in political protest & visited Iraq & Cuba in the year before his interview. He has a photo with his dog & Fidel Castro. One tape, in my apartment, marred by interruptions from his very undisciplined guide dog, Hooper, & my dog.
13 September 1999 St. Louis, MO
Ms. Lippman was active in Kansas City CORE. She came to Kansas City as an ILGWU business agent. She came up from the ranks of sewing machine operators & was a fierce champion of rights for workers & was a foe of racism. A fighting unionist of the old school. Her clothes are beautifully made & look like they would be strong enough to survive an earthquake. Unfortunately, she was in the early stages of Alzheimer's & the interview is a little uneven, as she cannot always find the words she wants. One tape, in her immaculate, sunny apartment, with a beautiful view into St. Louis County. Papers are stacked everywhere, but neatly.
Lockett, Dr. Gretchen
2 October 1999 St. Louis
Dr. Lockett is Student Affairs Administrator at Harris-Stowe (formerly Harris-Stowe Teachers College, an historically Black school, which was the only school of higher education for Blacks in the St. Louis area.) Dr. Lockett was formerly married to Winston Lockett, who was a CORE Field Secretary, who started with New Haven CORE. There was time that day to do only 1/2-tape. She talks about St. Louis CORE & the National activity in Chicago in the later `60s. She has the low-down on everyone & who doesn't she know? One side of a tape, in my apartment in St. Louis.
Lombard, Rudy (PhD.)
August 2000 Chicago, IL
Lombard established himself as an anti-racist activist in Catholic elementary school, leading children to play in a deserted white-only playground. He had to battle the nuns in high school to obtain his scholarship to Ann Arbor. After finding that his parents had taken extra janitorial jobs to support his scholarship to Ann Arbor, Rudy transferred back to Louisiana, intending to become a labor leader in the waterfront unions. He was about to join the NAACP, when he found they were against the sit-ins. He became an early leader (& the chief heart- throb) in New Orleans CORE. He took his master's degree at Syracuse (thinking it would put him near the New York jazz scene). He organized a very effective CORE group, many of whom became major leaders, themsel ves. He became active nationally. He is now a business consultant, & an investment consultant for professional football players. He has one of the best private collections of African art that I've seen. Three tapes at his grand late-19th century house in a Black-gentrifying pocket of the South Side of Chicago.
Lovell, Rev. William (Bill)
30 August 2000 Evanston, IL.
Rev. Lovell was one of the eight students at Union Theological who refused to take their clerical exemption from the Civilian Draft, & chose to go to jail in protest. When he was released, he was unable to re-enter Union & finished seminary in Chicago. He was active in the early CORE group & practiced Gandhian nonviolence. His church ministry was inclusive of Japanese during & after the war. He is retired. One tape in his condo in Evanston, where he heads the board.
Lovell, Ellen Hilton
30 August 2000 Evanston, IL
Mrs. Lovell was a Gandhian nonviolent activist in Chicago. When she was living in the Ashram in Detroit -which included Bayard Rustin- she was courted by the Rev. Lovell. She describes the Detroit Race Riots, part of which she viewed from the office where she was working. She quit Northwestern University short of retirement through moral objections to the behavior of her bosses. One tape at her condo in Evanston, where she was kind enough to host me so I could record oral histories in Chicago.
Lyttle, Bradford J.
1 September 2000 Chicago, IL
Brad Lyttle was one of the most notable Peace activists of the late `60s. He was in Chicago CORE in the 1940s-1950s, as a very young boy & young man. He participated in the Moscow walk, & the Montreal to Guantanamo walk. He was jailed in Albany, GA, fasting for months on end. He has lately run for President as a vegetarian. Three tapes in the large townhouse near the University of Chicago, which he inherited from his parents: part of it he rents to students. In the yard are beautiful wooden & brass sailboats from the 1930s, which are his hobby & which he sails on Lake Michigan.
McCallister, Jane Douglas
28 August 2000 Chicago, IL
Mrs. McCallister came to Chicago after ?Mt. Holyoke? She joined Chicago CORE in 1941 or 42. She knew Shridharani, whose book, War Without Violence set the blueprint for the nonviolent direct action course which CORE followed. She was a friend of Bernice Fisher, founder of CORE, & worked with her on organizing department store workers. Working as secretary to the project, she was part of the movement which founded Roosevelt University. She looks like a girl & is quite beautiful. Two tapes in her apartment overlooking the drive & Lake Michigan
McClean, Daphne Wallace
12 June 1999 Reserve, LA
Daphne Wallace is from a small Creole town on the Mississippi, to which she has returned. Most of her neighbors, near & far, are relatives. Her house is a few hundred yards from the levee. People are bilingual in Patois & English. She is a former high school teacher, as are most of her siblings. She is now a caseworker for severely handicapped children. She was a dedicated activist in New Orleans CORE & left university because of the pressures to leave the Movement. She discusses the everyday workings of New Orleans CORE as a democracy when picketing went on every day after work. One tape, in her rambling house, built ad- infinitum onto a pre-fab she purchased from an aunt, & extensively remodeled by her late husband.
24 June 2002 Yellow Springs, Ohio
Willie McCray was the indispensable man who pulled SNCC people's irons out of the fire in the mid-to-late '60s. When someone needed to be bailed, he went with the money from the SNCC office, when their cars broke down, he went to fix them or get them fixed. He was the representative from the National Office. He saw a lot of bad situations & it affected him. There are affectionate portraits of Ruby Doris Smith, among others. When he was with New York SNCC he met & married Helen O'Neal, a Mississippian who joined SNCC at the time of the Freedom Rides. When he was working on a SNCC project in Southern Ohio, a local businessman, impressed, had offered him a job in Yellow Springs, whenever he wanted to leave the Movement. He came there when the Movement expired. He was railroaded into jail for a year, somewhat later. About 45 minutes on disk: he cut short the interview due to the heavy trauma of telling the movement story. At their home, deep in gardens, outside Yellow Springs.
5 June 1999 Hattiesburg
Two tapes, made by the University of Southern Mississippi's Oral History Archive.
Moore, Jane Bond
30 January 2002 Berkeley, CA.
When her father headed Lincoln University in Pennsylvania he had to bring suit on his children's behalf, to integrate the public schools . (Dr. Bond's friendship with Dr. Barnes brought one of America's premier art collections under the University's protection.) His involvement with African movements & negritude led to Lincoln's Board's disaffection in those McCarthyite times. The family moved to Atlanta University where he headed School of Education & her mother became Librarian at Clark University. She was at Spellman College when the sit-ins started, she became an activist. She discusses the founding of SNCC. Support Albany Georgia movement led to her meeting Howard Moore who was on legal defense team. She did support work in SNCC & shared an apartment Dottie Miller. She discusses the Georgia legislature's refusal to seat her brother, Julian Bond, for his opposition to Vietnam War: there were years of legal struggle. Her husband headed the Angela Davis defense & they moved to California. She discusses her decision to become a lawyer. She was counsel to the Oakland School Board. Now with retirement, she is thinking of teaching law in South Africa. One tape in Berkeley house they bought from Ron Dellums.
25 February, 2000 New York
Paul was a Conscientious Objector during the Second World War. He joined the American Friends' Service program, which employed COs as orderlies in the hospitals & worked for many years at Columbia Presbyterian. He married a Quaker, became a Friend & was the longtime Recording Secretary (leader) for Friends' Meetings in the New York area. After the War he was with the NY Public Library &, for a decade, was chief of the Theatre Collection at Lincoln Center. He was for many years on the nominating committee for the Tony Awards. He is now a widower & nearly blind. One- + tapes, in his quarters at Penington House, NYC
18 November 1998 New York
His father's family name was changed from Di Ciccio, he believes. His mother's mother was Jewish & her father was a Plattdeutsch miner. Frank was on the Freedom Ride, & served time at Parchman Farm. He was almost lynched after his arrest, trying to help his future wife, during facilities testing in Poplarville, MS. This story is also recounted on the interviews of Patricia Smith Nelson, Jean Thompson, Alice Thompson & Betty Rosemond. Frank was jailed a number of times in New Orleans, & was badly beaten by the police. He stayed on & worked with New Orleans CORE, as he had fallen in love with Patricia Smith. After they were married, they participated in New York CORE & on the Freedom Highways Project. He was in jail in North Carolina, then & fasted for 26 days. They threw him out of jail, finally. One tape, recorded at my apartment. A second tape with Mary Hamilton Wesley talking about the Freedom Rides, the Movement & Local 1199.
Nelson, Mrs. Juanita
27 November 1999 Deerfield, MA
The Nelsons are War-Tax Resisters & earn less than a taxable income. They live on a land trust. They have an herb farm & are without electricity or a telephone. Mrs. Nelson & friends conducted what is arguably the first sit-in, at "The Candy Corner", in 1942 when she was a student at Howard. Pauli Murray, then a law student, represented them. It still rankles that women were not allowed on the Fellowship of Reconciliation's Freedom Ride in 1947. She became a journalist & met her husband when he was in jail as a Conscientious Objector. One tape, made in their farm house, at night, by gaslight.
Nelson, Wally 27 November
1999 Deerfield, MA
Mr. Nelson was born in Arkansas in 1909. His father was a self-taught minister, & he was a younger son in a large family. He went north to join his brothers & worked at odd jobs, while trying to get a higher education. When he was unemployed in the 1930s, he took to the rails, as an hobo, looking for work. He was jailed twice as a Conscientious Objector during WW II. He was a purist & left the labor camp for Conscientious Objectors, because he realized he did not want to cooperate with the war effort by working for the government on the home front. This resulted in a long jail sentence. At one point he shared a cell with Joe Guinn, one of the founders of CORE, in Chicago. It was there he met his future wife, Juanita Nelson, when she came as a reporter, to do a story on jail conditions. He & George Houser were partners on the Fellowship of Reconciliation's Freedom Ride in 1947. He was CORE's first Field Secretary but caused controversy by not following their policy to bar suspected Communists from participation, in those McCarthyite times. One tape, at 10 p.m., in their farmhouse.
Nemenyi, Peter April
2000 Durham, NC
Peter was a man of such exquisite modesty that he apologized for name- dropping when he mentioned that he worked with Eleanor Holmes (Norton). He is the half-brother of the chess genius, Bobby Fisher, but feels that too, is presumptuous to mention. We discussed this, off-tape with Professor Landerman, who was curious about the matter. He was born in Germany of parents who were refugees from Hungarian Fascism in the 1920s. His father was one of the 20th century's leading hydrologists (fluid mechanics engineer). Peter was sent to live in a German Socialist experimental school when he was three years old. When he was six, the Nazis came to power & seized the school & its assets. His parents had parted: his mother moved to Paris & died there, his father took work in European Universities & finally was able to move to the United States. It would appear that he was important in the development of the atomic bomb, in Chicago & Hanford, Washington. Peter was raised in the school, which was forced to move all over Europe ahead of the Nazis. When he was a teenager, he was to join his father in America, but the children's boat which departed ahead of them was torpedoed. The school's teachers were interned as possible enemy aliens (although they were anti- Fascists) & Peter lived in host families & hostels. Immediately after the war he joined his father, but their political backgrounds led the Army to draft him immediately. He did serve in the army, although he was a lifelong pacifist & vegetarian. He went to Black Mountain College on the G.I. Bill & took his doctorate at Princeton. His father died at a dance in Washington, DC, with a collection of Peter's letters in his jacket breast pocket, but they were seized by the FBI & not released until after Peter's death. Peter was an active member of New York CORE. He worked as a statistician & taught at Downstate Medical in Brooklyn, in Mississippi, Oberlin, Princeton, North Carolina & later, in Nicaragua, after the Sandinista victory. He was in Mississippi in 1962- 65. He became disabled by the loss of much of his ileum & duodenum due to illnesses he contracted in Nicaragua & lived on SSI. Two tapes, in his apartment in an attached house in a depressed, mostly Black, neighborhood in downtown Durham. He had four rooms but could afford only to heat one at a time.
8 July 1999, 1 December 2001 St. Louis
Mr. Oldham was Chairman of National CORE for more than a decade. He was a founder of St. Louis CORE, which was for many years the most active CORE chapter in America & the engine which drove the national association of chapters. He was from Marselline, MO, also the hometown of Walt Disney. (He didn't mention this, Marv Rich did.) He was reared by his grandfather after his father --a WWI airman-- died performing in an air show. Mr. Oldham returned from the Asian Theatre in the Second World War --the Burma Campaign-- & flew raids over Japan. He was a member of the American Veterans, a radical Veterans group, while he was at Washington University Law School. In 1950[?] he went to Chicago to marry a St. Louis schoolteacher, Marion O'Fallon, who was a leading member of CORE. Because their marriage was interracial, he was barred from the ALA. The ALA claimed he allowed the directors of the homeowners association to think his secretary was his wife, when he bought his home: which was in a private street with a restrictive covenant. He served nine months in jail in the Jefferson Bank demonstration, although he was not present during the trespass & the actions were against his wishes. Minutes of a Jefferson Bank officers meeting, obtained years later, showed that the officers had instructed the police & judge to arrest all former CORE officers & had dictated the length of their sentences. Jefferson Bank was the only bank in the Black community. A group in Southern Missouri bought it & moved it to a white neighborhood. All non-custodial Black staff members were fired. This tape was made an evening of the week he returned to work after a heart attack & extensive surgery. Many clients were calling to consult with him. His son & daughter-in-law were also moving into the house, friends were helping them & several caretaker/residents of the house were wandering through. It is slightly disconnected. In addition, forthcoming publication of a book about St. Louis CORE caused Mrs. Margaret Dagan, its editor, to request that he not discuss St. Louis CORE, or matters which related to it. The second tape, two years later, after the Dagan book appeared, discusses the founding of St. Louis CORE & its operations & influence. Two tapes, recorded in the living room of his elegant house in Westminister Place.
24 June 2002 Yellow Springs, OH
elen O'Neal was a Mississippian who was sent away to school as a child, but returned when nuns opened a quality elementary school for children of color in her home town. Her mother so approved of their work that she became a Catholic. Helen O'Neal was a student at Jackson State when the Freedom Rides came to Jackson & she began to work with organizers of the Freedom Ride, because there was no local movement on her campus. She worked in Mississippi throughout the peak Movement years. Later, in New York she met her future husband, Willie McCray, when he lived in the same building & came to put out a fire which started in her apartment. She is now retired from teaching elementary school & teaches at Wilberforce University, one of the first of America's historically Black colleges. She is also helping one of her sons who is a single father. One interview on two mini-discs (as I was learning to use the machine & using up discs), in their ranch-house outside Yellow Springs, surrounded by lovingly tended gardens.
O'Neal, Mary Lovelace
29 January 2002 Oakland, CA
Sheltered childhood on Black campuses: Arkansas & Tougaloo in Mississippi. Howard University, founding Washington NAG (Nonviolent Action Group), the personalities of members, influence of Ed Brown, years of fighting & loving Stokely Carmichael. His mother's West Indian hostility to African-Americans. Death of Medgar Evers & organizing of protests. SNCC work, Jackson & Canton, MS. Fund-raising in North after death of Schwerner, Goodman & Cheney. Transition to Black Power by SNCC leadership. Marriage to John O'Neal & work with Free Southern Theater. New Orleans activism. Due to O'Neal's conscientious objector status, their move to New York (Harlem & the Bronx). Columbia Art School. Divorce & move to San Francisco. Stokely's marriage to Miriam Makeba. Death of Ralph Featherstone. First arrest of Rap Brown. Marriage to Lolis Elie, New Orleans Movement lawyer. Teaching art at Berkeley. Marriage to exiled Chilean artist ("Toro"). Years as Chair of Berkeley's Art Department. Last American visit of Stokely Carmichael. Upcoming one- woman show in Jackson Museum of Art. Tapes available for listening only with written permission of Dr. Lovelace-O'Neal. They will not be available at Columbia: only through her or through me with her written permission. Three tapes in beautiful house they designed & built, hung with their paintings.
Owens, Dr. David
25 September 2000 St. Louis
David Owen grew up at Cal Tech & his parents were very active in the Friends of SNCC group after he went to Hattiesburg for Freedom Summer. He worked in Mississippi for a year. He is no longer a practicing physician, but works occasionally in a bookstore. Two tapes, recorded in my apartment.
Ms. Alice Parham
21 September 1999 St. Louis
Ms. Parham is a retired elementary school teacher in St. Louis. She is originally from southern Tennessee & taught in Mississippi. She has a wonderful eye for furniture & her apartment is filled with gorgeous Federal pieces she has rescued & restored. She & Mrs. Vera Rhiney staged a sit-in, unwittingly, in a St. Louis department store. When they were cross-examined by a Vice-President, they learned of the existence of St. Louis CORE & joined it. They discuss the workings of the group in the `50s, particularly. One tape, in Ms. Parham's apartment in a senior apartment complex.
Plummer, Joanne Shane
18 March 2000 New York, NY
Joanne Shane was Executive Director of New York CORE, during Gladys Harrington's tenure as President. She & two colleagues inspected all the restaurants along Federal highways between Washington & Florida in 1963. She proposed the Project which became known as Freedom Highways & participated in it. She now directs transportation & education for mentally retarded adults for the Public Welfare Offices of the State of Pennsylvania. Her office is also the source for interpretation of the state's welfare laws. Her family were Reds & artists. Three tapes, recorded in my apartment in NYC.
27 May 2000 New York
Robert Reiss may have been the last American to be jailed for refusal to register, during the Vietnam War. He served six months in Allenwood & tells the story of his incarceration affectingly. He is a professional magician. One & one-half tapes in my apartment.
Rhiney, Mrs. Vera Williams
21 September 1999 St. Louis, MO Mrs. Rhiney's parents were an AME(Z?) Bishop & a school teacher. She became active in CORE after she & Ms. Parham, who taught in the same school, staged an impromptu sit-in. One tape, in the apartment of Ms. Parham.
16, 29 March 1999, 4 January 2000 New York
Marv was Community Relations Director for National CORE. This was the second highest executive position in CORE. Marv was one of the original members of St. Louis CORE, when he was in his teens. He had worked for integration on the Washington University campus. After graduating in Sociology, he worked for Earnest Calloway, in the Teamster's Union. After the Army & another stint with the Teamsters, he was sent to Washington, DC. He married Evie Jones, & they chose not to return to St. Louis, where their marriage was not recognized. He went to work for Histadrut in New York, but worked almost full-time at National CORE. As fund-raising improved, CORE was able to hire him. He is now retired & works for the Committee Against Censorship. Four tapes, in his home & at his office.
12, 15, 20 Jan, 3, 5, 12, 17, 19, 26, Feb, 5, 8, 25 March 99 New York
Jimmy Robinson was one of the founders of CORE in Chicago, 1941-42. He had lived earlier in Harlem & had been active in the Peace Movement & with the Catholic Worker, as well as Fellowship of Reconciliation, War Resisters League, &c. He went to Talledega, to teach, in the mid-40s & was called for the draft from there. He was in camps for conscientious objectors, participated in medical experiments & was acquitted in an attempted court martial. He pretty much invented the field of charitable direct-mail fundraising & it has been his living, since. After he was widowed, he started fund-raising for CORE, in order to revive it. He became CORE's first paid employee. He was Executive Director of CORE, following George Hauser. He was active in New York CORE. When James Farmer was chosen Executive Director, he remained with CORE for a while, before joining Hauser's American Committee on Africa. He has also worked for the NAACP Inc Fund & for the American Indian College Fund. He and his wife Barbara were introduced by some Jewish doctors who knew they were both looking to marry & start a Catholic family. Jim is active in Pax Christi, & other peace groups. 12 tapes, recorded in the Robinson's lovely, warm penthouse coop, overlooking Riverside Drive & 76th Street.
Rosemond, Betty Daniels
5 October 2000 Cincinnati, OH
Betty Daniels was a student & worked for a restaurant owner who employed many people in her family. She describes the local New Orleans CORE actions & people. When Pat Smith & Frank Nelson were arrested & almost lynched in Poplarville, MS, she got off the bus to telephone to New Orleans to alert the chapter. The bus pulled away without her, men were running in the streets looking for her & she was hiding in the telephone booth. She was discovered by a Black gas station worker, who she begged to rescue her. He borrowed the gas station truck, hid her on the floor, & took her around looking for someone to shelter her, but no one would risk it. He was going to leave her on the dark highway, to hitch-hike to New Orleans, but did not have the heart. He brought her all the way to New Orleans in the borrowed gas station truck, in the dead of night, driving with the lights off, to avoid detection. People did know she was missing, she found, when she returned. While attending a nonviolent workshop in Washington, she met her future husband, a minister. They are now divorced. Two tapes in the home of a daughter.
14 March 2000 New Haven, CT
Nick was active in Brooklyn CORE, Harlem Parents' Movement, & is forever committed. Father died when he was 14 months & Mother pregnant. Reared in working class Brooklyn by young widowed mother, who got him guidance & scholarships from Jesuits. Left Jesuit Seminary, & was a messenger & Fordham student when he joined CORE. Later became Teamster. Branched out into other civil rights & anti-war movements when CORE was disintegrating. He is American History & Labor Relations Professor at Cornell. The techniques used in his books are followed as a "bible" by many distinguished academics. I interviewed him at Yale, while he is on Fellowship his Sabbatical year, writing biography of Rev. C. L. Franklin. He's in really posh digs: furnished, two fireplaces (office & living room), views of two quadrangles, full kitchen although meals at Commissary come with fellowship. Departmental office also provided. Two tapes, made at quarters, in dormitory apartment, at Yale.
24 July 1999 Raleigh, NC
Joe came to Mississippi in the late Fall of 1964 & worked, largely in Hattiesburg, for about a year. He was then a physicist & is now a psychoanalyst. He also discusses the discipline of physics & the affect of physics on his thinking. He talks about the lack of therapeutic help in the Movement. One tape, recorded at Richard Landerman's house in Raleigh, NC, when we were attending Landerman's wedding.
September 2002 St. Louis, MO
Norman Seay was St. Louis CORE's youngest member, joining when he was in high school. He met Margaret Dagan, a founder of CORE, through the National Conference of Christians & Jews youth seminars which she sponsored: recognizing his maturity, she told him about CORE. He follows most of St. Louis CORE's actions through the Jefferson Bank Sit-Ins. He has maintained an anniversary picket line there, every year, for the last 40 years, as a reminder of the perfidy of the Establishment & the Courts. One mini-disk at University of Missouri, St. Louis, from which he is semi-retired.
10 May 2000 New York
Mrs. Slobodkin must have been a joy to work with in Ann Arbor CORE. She is from an old Socialist family. She was a faculty wife in Ann Arbor, by the age of 18, having had a couple of years at Oberlin behind her, already. Her husband headed the first department of Ecology & later founded that department at Stony Brook, which became pre-eminent in the field. At Ann Arbor they picketed a barber who refused to cut black hair & demonstrated against George Lincoln Rockwell, the Nazi. She has brought music to venues where they have not been able to hear live chamber music before. She now teaches a method which prevents injuries. She & her step-sister in Israel are involved in the recycling of waste water for communities on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian border.
Smith, Patricia (a.k.a. Nelson)
11 June 1999 New Orleans
Patricia Smith is from New Orleans. Her parents were Alabamians but migrated when her father became a player in the Negro League. She & her older sister Carleen, recently deceased, became active in their early teens. Her mother constantly supported the picketers with food, carfare, & a place to sleep. Mrs. "Su" Smith's support of the Movement girls is remembered on a number of tapes. Pat turned 18 the day of the last ride to test facilities compliance with Federal Law, in the Mississippi bus stations. CORE rules had not allowed her to go, previously. She & her former husband, Frank Nelson, were almost hanged in Poplarville, MS. It turns out Poplarville was not in compliance. Louisiana law, at that time, did not allow them an easy courtship. They were eventually married in my apartment in New York, in 1962, by a defrocked Presbyterian minister Jerome Smith met in a grocery. (The previously scheduled minister Betty Daniels future husband was still in Cincinnati on family matters.) This wedding is remarked upon in the tapes of Flukie Suarez, Rudy Lombard & Michael Lesser & will probably be in Dave Dennis' & Jerome Smith's tapes, when we talk. All of them tell it very well. The Nelsons were also active in New York CORE & National CORE & in the Highway 40, Freedom Highways & other projects. Pat & I sat in at Robert Kennedy's office in the Justice Department, in Washington, where she triumphed over Burke Marshall. Two tapes, in her basement apartment, between Downtown & the Garden District.
Stewart, Jaffre Lamar
31 August 2000 Chicago, IL
Jaffre was in Chicago CORE from 1945 forward. He is an anarchist, pacifist & anti-Zionist. Tape needs follow-up, only got to the early '50s because of time limits: I found him home so late one afternoon. He has no telephone & I had such a hard time tracking him down. Covers his difficulties qualifying as a conscientious objector, because he is African-American & an atheist. His time in jail, mental institutions, &c, his return to CORE & its projects. One tape in his top-floor apartment in a half-abandoned Project block, which has no glass in the lobby. Someone a bit frightening, who knew how to work the elevator, went up to get it & accompanied me up. Jaffre's apartment had been broken into twice that year by drug addicts & his papers were still everywhere. No locks. I'd had to ask around the neighborhood to find where he lived. The blocks are to be torn down & he's to be moved to senior housing. Says he'll really miss the children. The ones in the lobby, when he accompanied me down, seemed fond of him.
Suarez, Matteo "Flukie"
11 June 1999 New Orleans, LA
Flukie was a member of New Orleans CORE. He speaks movingly of the late Aretha Castle, President of New Orleans CORE. He worked in Louisiana & in Canton, Mississippi. He also speaks about the local leaders & families in Canton & about Schwerner, Goodman & Chaney. His descriptions of poor Creole society in New Orleans in the 1940s are wonderful, too. Two tapes, late at night, in the office of one of his Rainbow Academy schools. The one that adjoins his house, at the corner of N. Tonti & LaHarpe, in New Orleans.
13 June 1999 New Orleans, LA
Alice was one of the heroes of the Freedom Rides. In McComb, Mississippi, she threw herself across Jerome Smith while he was being kicked (& permanently maimed). She was so small she was picked off him & tossed across the room. She was jailed twice in Mississippi while testing compliance with Federal Laws, once escaping with her life. She is overly modest & tends to remember other people as heroes of situations in which her bravery is legendary. Because their father lost his job as a forklift operator, due to their Civil Rights activities, she & her sisters left University & went to work to support the family & save their house. She has been a social worker in New Orleans for almost three decades. She & her adopted daughter live with a widowed sister who has been disabled by stroke. One tape, in her living room, in a suburban ranch house (within the city limits?) Tape made on batteries, due to electricity failure.
26, 27, 28 November 1999 Amherst, MA.
Jean was one of the Thompson Sisters (Alice, Jean & Shirley.) She also had to leave school to help support the family when her father lost his job, which was due to their Civil Rights work. She talks about the daily rounds of work & picketing in New Orleans. The ongoing CORE picketing group at that time was Alice, Jean & Shirley, Doratha Smith, Ruthie Wells, Sandra Nixon, Beverly Green, Pat & Carleen Smith, Daphne Wallace & Betty Daniels. Jean was on the first Freedom Ride Bus into Mississippi. She talks about her time in Parchman Farm. She was one of the students who forced the continuation of the Freedom Ride when CORE & Robert Kennedy wanted it to cease. She was involved in the compliance testing in Mississippi, as well. She met her first husband, Moon Eng, on the Freedom Highways Project, in North Carolina. She talks about some of the fissures which developed in that project, which were indicative of Movement problems. She talks about the National CORE office, where she volunteered. She also discusses the Panthers & other Nationalist groups in San Francisco & the early Women's Movement. She & Moon had one son, Cheong Tseng. She discusses the problems of raising her second son, Daniel Denton, who is autistic, but functions beautifully. She works in adult retarded care. Jim Denton is a Professor of Statistics at Amherst. She briefly discusses her conversion to the B'hai faith. Five tapes, recorded in her kitchen, in the lovely President's house (18th Century), which they had just purchased from the University, in Amherst.
29 February, 2000 New York
Sue Wells was Executive Secretary of New York CORE during the Presidency of Gladys Harrington. She has always been a lot of fun. She has some descriptions of the working of the Executive Committee at NY CORE under the redoubtable Mrs. Harrington. She had been attending Baruch College, working a job & working at CORE. One of her temp jobs (c. 1962) eventually allowed her to persuade co-workers to teach her computer programming, although she is a woman. She has made her career in computers. She married another computer expert, John Slater. He has been ill for a few years & they are semi-retired. She is an officer on the board that oversees American Friends' schools in the New York area. She has gone from Flatbush to having a summer cottage among the Old Rich & Rockefellers on a tiny island off Maine. Sort of "The Way We Were", with a better ending. One tape recorded at her large West End Avenue cooperative, NYC.
Wesley, Mari Hamilton
19 Nov 1998, 23 December 1998, 9 January, 4, 13 February 1999, 4 March 1999
Ms. Mary Hamilton was CORE's only female Field Secretary, from 1961- 1964, & the first in the South. She was a second grade teacher in Catholic parochial school when the Freedom Rides started. She organized a group to go on the Freedom Rides, but only she & the co-organizer Louise Ingram, & Claire Toomes, artist & exotic dancer, showed up. She became a leader in jail, then was a speaker, before being put on staff. She worked in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama & Louisiana. She discusses Chattanooga, the walk after the shooting of Bill Moore, the demonstrations in Birmingham. She opened up the dangerous Plaquemines Parish, LA. She was later Southern Regional Director, before quitting & marrying Walter Young (Andrew Young's brother.) She became an high school English teacher, after marrying her second husband. Her "Miss Mary" landmark case before the Supreme Court won African-Americans the right to be called by honorifics (Miss, Mr., Mrs., Doctor) in court. Eight tapes, in her cozy apartments in Ossining, in view of the prison (Sing-Sing).
Wesley, Mari Hamilton & Frank Nelson
19 November, 1998
Jail in Gadsden, the Supreme Court Case, Union organizing for 1199, Drug & Hospital Workers.
6 February, 2002, Oakland, CA
Family decided she would continue in Black schools, after desegregation, to assure a quality education with attentive teachers. Morgan, on scholarship. Jailed at sit-in, 1963. Graduate school, then recruited to teach at Tuskeegee. Became involved in Selma movement, encouraged student activism. The "Howard crowd". Murder of Sammy Younge. Ralph Featherstone. Move to New York & work at SNCC office. Meeting at Peg Leg Bates Country Club & exclusion of `whites'. Feeling that `whites' deserted Civil Rights Movement after they were expelled. Three tapes in her 1940s deco bungalow in Oakland.
24 February 1999 New York
Arlene Wilkes was a high school activist who became a CORE Field Worker, with Mari Hamilton. She was 16. She was at Gadsden, Birmingham and Plaquemines Parish with Mari. She later moved to New York, sponsored by a family. She finished Nursing School at Bellevue Hospital & has spent her whole career there. She is now an ER nurse, but works occasionally in the TB unit. She will be eligible to retire in 2000 or 2001. For now she is living in a rented room & commutes from Westchester. She plans to return South. One tape, recorded at my house, an evening after work.
Yorck, Patricia von
23 January, 2000 San Francisco
SNCC Volunteer, summer '64, Hattiesburg. From aristocratic family, which resisted Nazism. Uncle, Paul von Yorck hanged in the Colonel's plot. Father spied for the British. Pat & her pregnant mother were interned in a Nazi camp for better-off political prisoners. Her brother was born in that camp, but they were rescued by her grandmother, a Countess. Pat has been involved in social action since late teens. She is a social worker in activist mode, helping people to organize. She is divorced & widowed. Both daughters, (+ one daughter's partner), live with her while she is in treatment for breast cancer. One tape, made in her home, on Portrero Hill, which she built herself, when she was in the lumber curing trade.
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Last Modified: November 18, 2003.