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Kim Lacy Rogers collection


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

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Kim Lacy Rogers collection, 1959-1996 | Amistad Research Center

By Andrew Salinas

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Collection Overview

Title: Kim Lacy Rogers collection, 1959-1996Add to your cart.

Predominant Dates:1979-1988

Primary Creator: Rogers, Kim Lacy (1951-2014)

Other Creators: Stevens, Glenda

Extent: 3.33 Linear Feet

Date Acquired: 10/02/1979

Subjects: Civil rights movements - Southern States, Civil rights workers, Race relations - Louisiana - New Orleans, White Citizens councils

Forms of Material: Sound recordings

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection consists mostly of sound recordings of oral history interviews conducted by Kim Lacy Rogers with persons involved in the desegregation process in New Orleans. These include opponents and proponents of segregation. Notable interviewees include: Daniel Byrd, Albert Dent, Tom Dent, Lolis Elie, Oretha Castle Haley, Rosa Freeman Keller, Mayor Maurice "Moon" Landrieu, Rudy Lombard, Mayor Ernest N. "Dutch" Morial, John O'Neal, Revius Ortique, Jackson Ricau, Jerome Smith, and Betty Wisdom. The Rogers collection also includes some interview transcripts, essays and publications by Rogers, and collected publications and ephemera from various pro-segregationist groups.

This collection was processed under a grant from the Keller Family Foundation. Digital transfer of oral history audio cassettes and creation of interview summaries provided by funding from the RosaMary Foundation.

Biographical Note

Kim Lacy Rogers was a Professor of History and American Studies at Dickinson College.  She earned a PhD from the University of Minnesota.  Her research emphasis was on gender and family history. She was one of the country's most noted oral historians.  Among her many publications were the books Righteous Lives: Narratives of New Orleans' Civil Rights Movement and Life and Death in the Delta:  Narratives of Violence, Resilience, and Social Change.

Subject/Index Terms

Civil rights movements - Southern States
Civil rights workers
Race relations - Louisiana - New Orleans
White Citizens councils

Administrative Information

Repository: Amistad Research Center

Access Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions: Copyright to these papers has not been assigned to the Amistad Research Center. It is the responsibility of an author to secure permission for publication from the holder of the copyright to any material contained in this collection.

Acquisition Source: Kim Lacy Rogers

Acquisition Method: Gift

Appraisal Information: This collection consists of oral history interviews and other materials compiled larger for the research of Kim Lacy Rogers. This collection offers a wealth of information on the Civil Rights Movement in New Orleans.

Related Materials: Rosa Freeman Keller papers; Ernest N. "Dutch" Morial papers, Dent Family papers, Tom Dent papers, Daniel Ellis Byrd papers

Related Publications: Rogers, Kim Lacy. Righteous Lives: Narratives of the New Orleans Civil Rights Movement (New York: New York University Press, 1993)

Preferred Citation: Kim Lacy Rogers collection, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana

Processing Information: Collection processed by Andrew Salinas, August-September 2010.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Box:

[Box 1],
[Box 2],
[Box 3],
[Box 4],
[Box 5],
[Box 6],
[Box 7],
[Box 8],

Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Oral history interview transcript: Leonard Burns, 1979Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Oral history interview transcript: Jane Buchsbaum, 1978Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Oral history interview transcript: Jane Buchsbaum, 1979Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Oral history interview transcript: Daniel E. Byrd, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 5: Oral history interview transcript: Raphael Cassimere, 1978Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Oral history interview transcript: Robert F. Collins, 1988Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Oral history interview transcript: Virginia Collins, 1979Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Oral history interview transcript: Virginia Collins, 1979Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Oral history interview transcript: Virginia Collins, 1979Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Oral history interview transcript: Virginia Collins, 1979Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Oral history interview transcript: Harry Kelleher, 1979Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Oral history interview transcript: Maurice "Moon" Landrieu, 1979Add to your cart.
Folder 13: Oral history interview transcript:  John P. Nelson Jr., 1979Add to your cart.
Folder 14: Oral history interview transcript:  John P. Nelson Jr., 1979Add to your cart.
Folder 15: Oral history interview transcript: Jack Peebles, 1979Add to your cart.
Folder 16: Oral history interview transcript: Bruce Waltzer, 1979Add to your cart.
Folder 17: Publication: "Decoding a City of Words:  Fantasy Theme Analysis and the Interpretation of Oral Interviews" / by Kim Lacy Rogers, 1986Add to your cart.
Folder 18: Project proposal: "Unto the Third Generation: The Political Lives of Black and White Civil Rights Leaders in New Orleans, 1954-1980" / by Kim Lacy Rogers, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 19: Essay: "Black Elites, White Elites and White Liberals:  The New Orleans School Crisis and the Emergence of Coalition Politics" / by Kim Lacy Rogers, 1988Add to your cart.
Folder 20: Essay: "Lawyers' Stories" / by Kim Lacy Rogers, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 21: Essay: "The Lives of New Orleans' Black Protest Leaders" / by Kim Lacy Rogers, 1988Add to your cart.
Folder 22: Essay: "The Movement and Mobility:  Federal Intervention and Political Power in the Mississippi Delta" / by Kim Lacy Rogers, 1996Add to your cart.
Folder 23: Essay: "Organizational Leadership and Personal Narrative:  Stories of New Orleans Civil Rights Leadership" / by Kim Lacy Rogers, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 24: Essay: "Unto the Third Generation:  The Political Lives of Black and White Civil Rights Leaders in New Orleans, 1954-1980" / by Kim Lacy Rogers, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 25: Essay:  "'What We Say Together is Important':  Subculture, Socialization, and the Life-Course of Civil Rights Leaders" / by Kim Lacy Rogers, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 26: Essay:  "'Words Testify in Spite of Us':  The Experience of CORE as a Subculture" / by Kim Lacy Rogers, 1985Add to your cart.
Box 2Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Citizens' Council of Greater New Orleans:  Collected ephemera, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 2: Community Relations Council of Greater New Orleans: Collected ephemera, 1968Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Community Relations Council of Greater New Orleans:  Statement on equal opportunity employment and discrimination, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 4: Save Our Schools:  Articles of Incorporation, 1960Add to your cart.
Folder 5: South Louisiana Citizens' Council:  Miscellaneous publications, 1959-1962Add to your cart.
Folder 6: South Louisiana Citizens' Council:  Miscellaneous publications, 1964-1979Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Collected publications: The Citizen, 1962Add to your cart.
Contains article on the excommunication of New Orleans segregationists Leander Perez, Jackson Ricau, and Mrs. B. J. Gaillot
Folder 8: Collected publications:  Citizens' Report, January-December 1959Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Collected publications:  Citizens' Report, January 1960-December 1961Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Collected publications:  Citizens' Report, February-December 1962Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Collected publications:  Citizens' Report, January-December 1963Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Collected publications: Citizens' Report, January-December 1964Add to your cart.
Folder 13: Collected publications:  Citizens' Report, January-December 1965Add to your cart.
Folder 14: Collected publications:  Citizens' Report, January-December 1966Add to your cart.
Folder 15: Collected publications:  Citizens' Report, January 1967-December 1968Add to your cart.
Folder 16: Collected publications:  Citizens' Report, January 1969-December 1970Add to your cart.
Folder 17: Collected publications:  Citizens' Report, January 1971-November 1972Add to your cart.
Folder 18: Collected publications:  Citizens' Report, February 1973-November 1974Add to your cart.
Folder 19: Collected publications:  Citizens' Report, January 1975-December 1976Add to your cart.
Folder 20: Collected publications:  Citizens' Report, January-December 1977Add to your cart.
Folder 21: Collected publications:  Citizens' Report, August 1978-June 1979Add to your cart.
Folder 22: Collected publications:  The Councilor Newsletter, 1957Add to your cart.
Folder 23: Collected publications:  The Thunderbolt, 1978Add to your cart.
Folder 24: Collected publication:  Don't Be Brainwashed - We Don't Have to Integrate Our Schools, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 25: Collected publication:  A Five Prong Plan to Increase Cultural and Ethnic Diversity within the SMU Greek System, 1989Add to your cart.
Folder 26: Collected publication:  Integration - Threat to Freedom and How to Defeat It / by Jack Ricau, 1957Add to your cart.
Folder 27: Collected publication: The Supreme Court's "Modern Scientific Authorities" in the Segregation Cases / by James O. Eastland, 1955Add to your cart.
Folder 28: Collected publication: The Pending Tragedy in the South / by George W. Cheek, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 29: Collected publication: Race and Reality / by Carleton Putnam, 1967Add to your cart.
Part 1 of 2
Folder 30: Collected publication: Race and Reality / by Carleton Putnam, 1967Add to your cart.
Folder 31: Collected publication: The Tragic Truth about the Catholic Race-Mixing Program in New Orleans / by Jackson Ricau, 1962Add to your cart.
Folder 32: Collected publication: What is the Citizens' Council?, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 33: Collected publications:  Miscellaneous, 1960-1972Add to your cart.
Folder 34: Reports on New Orleans Police Department hiring practices and community relations / from the Round Table of Human Relations Groups of Greater New Orleans, 1969Add to your cart.
Folder 35: Revius O. Ortique:  Curriculum vitae, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 36: Correspondence and interview notes, 1978-1987Add to your cart.
Box 3Add to your cart.
Item 1: Jane Buchsbaum Interviewee, 1978 November 28Add to your cart.
Item 2: Jane Buchsbaum Interviewee [continued], 1978 November 28Add to your cart.
Item 3: Jane Buchsbaum Interviewee, 1979 May 4Add to your cart.

Side A: Jane Buchsbaum describes White New Orleans Civil Rights Movement workers who were not involved in any prior activism, but felt compelled to help amid the New Orleans Public Schools desegregation crisis. She says that her involvement in the Community Relations Council (of Greater New Orleans) was initially spurred from attendance at interracial community meeting at Xavier University Student Center, which motivated her to become more involved civil rights activism. As a Jewish New Orleanian, Buchsbaum felt connected to the slain Mississippi civil rights workers and Freedom Riders in general. She describes French Quarter as "last bastion" of hypersegregation in New Orleans. She then posits women's social activism as inherently better organized than that of men's groups.

Buchsbaum details a more recent experience as President of the Council of Jewish Women in the early 1970s where she attended a Links social luncheon, seated next to Oretha Castle Haley, confronted with African American women "who didn't work shoulder to shoulder with anyone else in all those years." Until that moment, Buchsbaum had assumed that the "narrow group of Blacks" she was working with on civil rights causes had been a more representative sample of middle class, but she was surprised to instead learn that New Orleans' African American middle class was so sizeable. She describes this group as "nice little dues paying members of Links… who had never been part of the struggle." Buchsbaum continues: "We always thought we had all the Blacks, it was just a narrow group of Whites working together on all of this, but it was a narrow group of Blacks, too. Those who had made it were absolutely class typical examples - climbed up the ladder and never looked back."  This file ends with Buchsbaum more directly describing the impact of the Community Relations Council, in particular the group's efforts to form an integrated statewide science fair, where she notes that students from St. Augustine High School performed particularly well.

Side B: Jane Buchsbaum's description of segregated conditions in New Orleans includes Audubon Park and the park's later desegregation, which transitions into a discussion of race relations in New Orleans more generally. Buchsbaum discusses the involvement of New Orleans' White economic elite in civil rights causes, including a "rivalry" between two past presidents of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans, Rosa Keller and Helen Mervis.

In response to Rogers' question about women Jewish activism in New Orleans, Buchsbaum suggests that such activism is largely conditioned by New Orleans "very strong Reform community, not Orthodox." Buchsbaum posits practitioners of Reform Judaism as able to avoid "all the heavy trappings of religion," with regard to ritualistic religious practices, and thus more able to focus on community activism: "The deed is more important than the creed."  Rogers asks Buchsbaum explicitly about her objectives which motivated her involvement in civil rights activism. She answers that she wanted to see basic civil rights and voting rights for all as well as the ability to mingle freely with her African American friends and acquaintances.  She details a prophecy of a friend, Albert Rosenberg, "night of the long knives," which predicted unrest in the Desire Housing Projects.  Due to the isolation of Desire's residents - walled off from other neighborhoods and basic city services due to the Industrial Canal and railroad tracks - Rosenberg saw a violent reaction as inevitable. Buchsbaum blames her parents' generation for several poor decisions with regard to urban planning and social policy.  In contrast to the perceived complacency of her parents' generation in regard to social program for poor urban African Americans, Buchsbaum briefly talks about the Black Panthers in New Orleans, and how their first major program in the area was a school breakfast program.  She then talks about lo  She also praises Moon Landrieu's leadership and his efforts to "halt the flight to the suburbs," which included his efforts to enact a law to mandate that city employees had to work in Orleans Parish. She then criticizes the decision of a colleague to move in some of the more remote suburbs of New Orleans: "I just think that people who go to the suburbs are horrible."  Other topics include police brutality and reform as well as politics in the Lower Ninth Ward. Buchsbaum claims she does not have the expertise to talk about several African American political organizations such as SOUL and BOLD, but suggests that Rogers speak with Oretha Castle Haley for her perspective on such activism.

Item 4: Jane Buchsbaum Interviewee [continued], 1979 May 4Add to your cart.

Side A: Buchsbaum continues her interview by describing her relationship with her African American domestic worker, who she hired shortly before the birth of her first child, who was caught off-guard when her domestic servant asked which dishes she was supposed to use for her own personal use while working in Buchsbaum's home. Whether her education at Smith College or other factors, she posits that she has some kind of "predisposition" to flout several perceived norms of White elite Uptown New Orleans society, such as maintaining separate dishes for domestic help.

She claims that her maid appreciated her civil rights work and they had a "coalition" of sorts; her maid's domestic work afforded Buchsbaum to pursue her activism outside of the home.

Item 5: Jane Buchsbaum Interviewee, 1988 July 23Add to your cart.
Item 6: Leonard Burns Interviewee, 1979 May 14Add to your cart.
Item 7: Leonard Burns Interviewee [continued], 1979 May 14Add to your cart.
Item 8: Leonard Burns Interviewee [continued], 1979 May 14Add to your cart.
Item 9: Leonard Burns Interviewee, 1988 July 13Add to your cart.

Side 3 only. Sides 1 and 2 of interview missing

Side A: Leonard Burns begins the recording by discussing his efforts to agitate for increased employment of African Americans in New Orleans in his capacity with United Clubs Inc. and the Citizens Committee.  He names the influence of other activists including Israel Augustine, Oretha Castle Haley, Richard Haley, and Robert Collins.  Burns overviews his work on public transportation desegregation, as well as his work with Dutch Morial and the local NAACP to desegregate hotels.  Burns expresses that he received much gratification knowing that he helped people throughout his career.

Burns discusses his more recent work to ensure that African Americans have more influence upon New Orleans'tourist and convention sector.  He continues to mention the several ways African American New Orleanians could be more involved in business in the city. Burns outlines his family history. Burns summarizes his personal and professional milestones in his life, including his service in World War II,  and how he came to be more socially aware and involved in his community. Note: The first part of this interview is missing from the collection.

Item 10: Daniel E. Byrd Interviewee, 1979 May 21Add to your cart.
Currently unavailable for listening.
Item 11: Raphael Cassimere Interviewee, 1978 November 9Add to your cart.
Item 12: Raphael Cassimere Interviewee [continued], 1978 November 9Add to your cart.
Item 13: Raphael Cassimere Interviewee, 1979 May 2Add to your cart.
Item 14: Raphael Cassimere Interviewee, 1979 November 28Add to your cart.

Side A: Raphael Cassimere begins the interview by describing his participation with the New Orleans NAACP Youth Council in the 1960s.  He overviews efforts with the Youth Council to agitate for increased employment opportunities for African Americans from area businesses such as Woolworth’s.  He describes picketing and other protests, particularly with national businesses operating in New Orleans and mentions that most initial successes came with smaller, local businesses.  He describes collaboration with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after 1965.  He also details an organized boycott of Coca-Cola locally in response to discriminatory hiring practices.  He continues to describe his work with the Citizens’ Committee.  Cassimere explains that local merchants had promised to hire 75 African American workers over a 90-day period in 1963, and that Dutch Morial sent Cassimere to investigate the successful fulfillment of that promise.

Note: This recording is difficult to discern in the initial few minutes and intermittently throughout the recording.

Side B: Raphael Cassimere begins the recording by discussing his upbringing, as well as his family history dating from the 1790s.  He describes his earliest protest against segregation, where he turned around a sign in a movie theater indicating segregated seating.  Cassimere overviews his work with the NAACP Youth Council and the organization of protests against segregated cafeterias.  He mentions Avery Alexander,  A. P. Tureaud, and Arthur Chapital as among his mentors at the time.  He then mentions discussions organized with New Orleans African American leaders and Canal Street merchants to advocate for more employment opportunities for African Americans and protests organized in July 1963 by the Youth Council because this approach was perceived as too slow.  He includes mention of involvement of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission very early in that organization's existence.  He overviews the intimate details of organizing these boycotts, which ended in 1965, in part due to shifting attention to voter registration after the Voting Rights Act.

Rogers asks Cassimere about the influence of Richard Freeman.  He then overviews Coca-Cola's discriminatory hiring practices and details several meetings with higher Coca-Cola employees including Freeman and the plant manager.  He briefly mentions Hurricane Betsy as disrupting much of the momentum gained from these boycott campaign.    Rogers asks Cassimere about his time at the University of New Orleans, where he graduated in 1966 and again in 1968 and his more recent work as a history professor at the same institution.  Rogers asks him to explain the impact his specific activism has made.  He describes having met so many people in that capacity, as well as it influencing how he teaches; he admits that these experiences have made him both more tolerant and intolerant.  Cassimere cites W. E. B. DuBois multiple times while discussing history and its present context.  He also mentions the lasting influence of Llewlyn Soniat and the ongoing activism of Joe Rome.  Cassimere describes a recent conversation with Richard Haley, where Haley compared Cassimere’s earlier demeanor as more “angry” as a younger man, a characterization Cassimere attributes to having been more hopeful and optimistic as a young man.

Item 15: Raphael Cassimere Interviewee, 1988 July 26Add to your cart.
Item 16: Doris Jean Castle-Scott, 1989 January 19Add to your cart.
Item 17: Doris Jean Castle-Scott Interviewee [continued], 1989 January 19Add to your cart.
Item 18: Doris Jean Castle-Scott Interviewee [continued], 1989 January 19Add to your cart.
Item 19: Doris Jean Castle-Scott Interviewee [continued], 1989 January 19Add to your cart.
Item 20: Robert Collins Interviewee, 1988 June 8Add to your cart.

Side A: Rogers begins the interview by asking Robert Collins about his upbringing and family background.  He mentions having attended both public and private schools, including Gilbert Academy where Tom Dent and Andrew Young were among his classmates.  Collins particularly attributes his interest in legal work to his mother, whose social sensibilities influenced his thinking.  Additionally, as a domestic worker his mother was often around lawyers, and she encouraged him specifically to pursue a career as a lawyer.  He also describes confronting segregated signage, particularly in public transportation, as driving him to work toward change: "I wanted to use the law as a weapon to defeat the forces of segregation and discrimination."  He also describes his experiences as one of the first African Americans to attend the Louisiana State University Law School, where he was roommates with Dutch Morial.  He mentions his experience in the military after law school and his subsequent partnership with Israel Augustine and then in the partnership of Lolis Elie and Nils Douglas.

Collins continues to describe his disenchantment with NAACP litigation of segregated conditions and overviews his work with the firm with the firm of Collins, Douglas, and Elie.  He describes that the firm felt duty-bound to pursue civil rights litigation and often did so without a fee and they had to balance that priority with the reality of earning income.  He refers to the firm as a "ghetto practice," lacking many clients of means.  He notes the irony that African Americans of means rarely supported his firm and instead typically opted to seek the services of White lawyers: "[We] eked out a very bare living during those days."  He mentions frustrations with legislative and other barriers to voter registration.  He describes an incident in Plaquemine, Louisiana, regarding James Farmer's protests in that town; he and his partners went to the town on a Sunday night in response to a violent and chaotic confrontation between protesters and police shooting teargas into the crowd.  He describes how Farmer was “smuggled out of town in a hearse,” with another hearse acting as a decoy.

He describes another incident with Freedom Riders in Poplarville, Mississippi, where Collins went to investigate after the demonstrators were arrested.  He continues to describe the trial and small town politics, including their firm faking credentials despite not being able to legally practice law in Mississippi; with the backdrop of a lynching the year before of an arrestee in Poplarville, the mayor eventually feared for the safety of those arrested, and ordered that they all leave the state as quickly as possible and charges would be dropped.  Collins notes that this was the most fearful he had ever been for his safety, and that this was just a few months before the slaying of civil rights workers Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner.

Side B: Robert Collins continues to overview the work of his firm, distinguishing their work as more boot-on-the-ground type of activism through litigation since they traveled throughout Louisiana to represent individuals.  He names Vidalia, Clinton, Monroe, and St. Francisville as the types of places his firm would travel.  He mentions Lolis Elie’s urge to leave the firm as the impetus for the firm’s dissolution as such, though noted they continued to practice as Collins and Douglas.  He states that the firm worked for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and CORE, and describes that it was often difficult to find White Southern lawyers who would cooperate with the firm, other than Jack Nelson.  He overviews how his work as an activist lawyer prepared him for a career in politics and as a judge.

He details his formation of the New Orleans organization Community Organization for Urban Politics (COUP), which he describes as a means to help African American obtain political power – an effective strategy beyond just staging protest demonstrations.  Collins describes his former partner Nils Douglas as “reclusive,” and he and Rogers discuss the unwillingness of Douglas to participate in any interview for her research on New Orleans civil rights activism.  Collins notes the irony that while he was denied admission into the law school of Loyola University he later served a six-year term on their Board of Trustees.  Collins discusses African American crime and poverty and situates that within a historical context and a legal system which has systematically failed African Americans.

Item 21: Virginia Collins Interviewee, 1979 August 31Add to your cart.
Item 22: Virginia Collins Interviewee [continued], 1979 August 31Add to your cart.
Item 23: Virginia Collins Interviewee, 1979 October 5Add to your cart.

Side A: Virginia Collins begins the interview by discussing her affiliation with the Ethiopian Women and the Republic of New Africa and her attendance at the Black Power Conference in March 1968.  Collins explains that she has served as Vice President and is now President of the Republic of New Africa.  She describes at length the dissolution of Ethiopian Women and that group’s successor organization, the Republic of New Africa.  Collins continues to describe the importance of African American land ownership and how African Americans often subsisted in virtual enslavement long after Emancipation.

Collins discusses her background and familiarity with agriculture, canning, and other related activities around Iberville Parish, including alliances formed with illiterate White farmers.  She describes an event with police when they came upon this interracial alliance at an African American schoolhouse.  After the police confrontation, Collins explains how she organized separate coalitions of White and Black farmers after the police confrontation.  She also notes how surprised she was to discover the prevalence of illiteracy among White farmers.  Collins describes how this led her to found adult education classes for White farmers in Iberville Parish.  Collins also briefly describes a shootout between police and members of the Republic of New Africa as well as her involvement with the Southern Conference Educational Fund.

Side B: Virginia Collins continues to discuss her association with White and Black sharecroppers in Iberville Parish, Louisiana, and briefly overviews her husband’s move to California during World War II.  She mentions how a position her husband landed with Higgins Industries persuaded them to move back to New Orleans.  Collins also describes how she became more committed to social change, where her foremost interests were in improving educational opportunities for African Americans.  She describes how abysmal educational opportunities were for African Americans in New Orleans, particularly around she time she graduated high school in 1932, alongside a discussion of her own earlier life.

She describes her involvement in politics, and how for her family that political involvement was prioritized.  She mentions her brief involvement with the League of Women Voters and how she was the first African American involved with that group locally, though admitting she quit because she “didn’t like the bourgie type.”  She talks about how her service was without having any “ulterior motive” such as running for office and how she had been considered by some to be a possible mayoral candidate at one point.  Collins discusses her work in political organizing, initially in the offices of the NAACP and the Urban League of Greater New Orleans, though noting that she began this work as early as 1944, when she became registered to vote.  She describes “sitting in” at City Hall in the 1940s, though she adds that this work “cooled off” as American involvement in World War II intensified on the Pacific front.  Collins mentions that community activism and voter registration worked best when organized by smaller neighborhood groups, and she names several such groups including the Hollygrove Civic League and the Pension Town Civic League.  She adds that groups like these worked for issues as seemingly simple as agitating for sewage capacities in African American neighborhoods.    Collins returns to the topic of family background, and discusses African Americans coming “up from slavery” by discussing her own family history, acknowledging that her maternal grandmother was born into slavery.  She characterizes both her husband and her father as helpful and support both in support of political activism and domestic work and describes her husband as more quietly involved as an activist and supportive of her own activism.

Item 24: Virginia Collins Interviewee, 1988 July 11Add to your cart.
Item 25: Virginia Collins Interviewee [continued], 1988 July 11Add to your cart.
Item 26: Virginia Collins Interviewee [continued], 1988 July 11Add to your cart.
Box 4Add to your cart.
Item 1: Walter Collins Interviewee, 1979 May 16Add to your cart.
Item 2: Walter Collins Interviewee [continued], 1979 May 16Add to your cart.
Item 3: Walter Collins Interviewee, 1979 May 20Add to your cart.
Item 4: Walter Collins Interviewee [continued], 1979 May 20Add to your cart.
Item 5: Walter Collins Interviewee, 1988 June 4Add to your cart.
Item 6: Walter Collins Interviewee [continued], 1988 June 4Add to your cart.
Item 7: Walter Collins Interviewee, 1988 June 12Add to your cart.

Side A: The interview begins with Walter Collins discussing his involvement with SNCC, which he was active initially in voter registration drives in 1963 during his freshman year of college.  He describes growing up in an activist household and how that provided him with knowledge and a foundation for his future activism.  He describes his work throughout the South, particularly in the Mississippi Gulf coast, including voter registration, citizenship education, legal rights, and history education.

Collins continues to discuss his work in SNCC, though he claims that from 1961 to about 1965 he felt that due to his young age, he never really had a voice in the group.  He felt closer to White SNCC members due to a shared radicalism, as well as his attendance at a majority-White school:  “I never felt part of the inner circle at SNCC.”  He does, however, acknowledge that this changed as he grew older and as he was around the group for longer.  He credits the Civil Rights Movement for raising the consciousness of younger people, in an environment where he says churches often infantilizes believers:  “What the movement gave those people is an independence in early adulthood that was unheard of in the South.”  He explains that at an age as young as eight or nine he know that he found the conditions in the South intolerable and he would choose to live elsewhere as an adult.  He also describes the excitement of being in New Orleans in the early 1960s, and describes it as a “visible kind of uprising” where advancements seemed to be made every week and you could “feel things changing.”

Collins describes celebrating John McDonogh’s birthday as a child, with both Black and White students of his namesake schools.  This involved placing flowers on his grave, and he notes his perception from as young as first grade of the indignity of waiting with his classmates after all the White students had finished placing their flowers.  He reiterates his continued astonishment in how educated Black people tolerate segregated conditions in the South:  "They didn’t seem to have any fight.”  He also discusses interracial and regional misunderstandings of both the South and the North.

Side B: Walter Collins and Kim Lacy Rogers continue to discuss his SNCC activism, as well as a discussion about archival records of that organization before focusing on his activism with the Southern Conference Educational Fund (SCEF).  He describes being on the campus of Columbia University during their student protests of 1968, as well as his reluctance to participate due to his ongoing legal issues.  He discusses student activism nationally and describes himself as never perceiving himself as a student activist, largely as a result of his prior exposure to radical activism.  He describes his resistance to the Vietnam War draft and his consequent incarceration.  He explains how his incarceration shaped his perspective of the Civil Rights Movement itself.  He describes how some of his best work, particularly education and political organizing, was done while he was in prison.

Item 8: Oralean and Joyce Davis Interviewee, 1979 May 19Add to your cart.
Item 9: Oralean and Joyce Davis IntervieweeAdd to your cart.
Tape missing
Item 10: Albert W. Dent Interviewee, 1978 November 11Add to your cart.

Side A: Albert Walker Dent begins the recording by engaging in a personal conversation with Rogers, asking her about her own educational background and they converse about mutual acquaintances.  Their conversation centers largely around academic politics at Florida State University and that school’s association with Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.  He continues to discuss the relationship between Louisiana State University and area HBCUs and higher education in general in Louisiana.  Dent continues to make comparisons between various universities across the state, as well as funding priorities.

Rogers asks Dent more direct questions about his role in civil rights activism from his role as President of Dillard University.  Dent first responds that his involvement with civil rights activism began with his affiliation with the Commission on Interracial Cooperation, which later reorganized as the Southern Regional Council.  Dent discusses the influence of Will Alexander, also the namesake of Dillard’s library.  He describes his efforts to promote cooperation among Black and White educators in New Orleans.  He also details the creation of programs to equalize salaries among teachers of different races as well as several private conversations to promote African American interests in New Orleans.  He makes a point to discuss involvement dating from the 1930s and 1940s specifically to illustrate that this type of activism began before what people often think of as the Civil Rights Movement.    He continues to discuss desegregation of higher education on both a regional and local level, including that of Tulane University.

Side B: Albert Dent begins this recording by discussing the history of Dillard University, including the earliest history involving the merger of two preexisting colleges.  He also discusses how Flint-Goodridge Hospital became part of Dillard University.  He describes the involvement of trustees and other stakeholders in Dillard’s first few years post-merger, including Will Alexander’s involvement.  Dent describes that Alexander asked him to come to New Orleans to head Flint-Goodridge Hospital, although he knew nothing about hospital administration.  He then describes the search for a new president where Dent himself was ultimately selected.  He describes the building of Dillard, particularly its development within the context of the Great Depression and World War II.  He names the Rosenwald Fund as an entity that provided support for the building of Dillard, specifically the nursing program.

Rogers asks Dent more specifically about his involvement in civil rights as Dillard’s President.  Dent answers that he was invited to meet with an alliance of White ministers to discuss civil rights issues in New Orleans.  Dent said that he told this group that “’no man do I pity more than a protestant minister’… because he couldn’t stand in the pulpit and preach the truth, preach what he thought.”  He continues to discuss segregation in New Orleans, particularly the Boy Scouts of America.  Dent details a scenario where he agreed to become more involved with the Boy Scouts locally to improve equality and desegregate aspects of operations.  He continues to discuss his receipt of an award from the Boy Scouts for his work in this capacity.

He briefly overviews the musical background of his wife, Jessie Covington Dent, and an incident in New Orleans when Thurgood Marshall was a guest in the Dent home and Jessie was preparing to leave to attend a performance of the local symphony.  Marshall asked Mrs. Dent about where she’d be sitting to attend the performance:  “She saw for the first time that her personal interest should not outweigh her philosophy and her commitment… so she didn’t go anymore.”  He offers that when the symphony was desegregated they resumed buying season tickets, and Jessie had recently concluded a six-year term on the symphony’s board of directors.    Dent explains that he attended college with the father of Martin Luther King Jr. and that his classmates at Morehouse refused to accept segregated conditions and boycotted segregated public transportation.

Item 11: Albert W. Dent Interviewee [continued], 1978 November 11Add to your cart.

Side A: Albert Dent continues to discuss civil rights-era New Orleans, including efforts to create economic opportunities for African Americans.  Rogers asks Dent about the involvement of major civil rights organizations as well as the shift toward Black Power.  Dent answers by describing a speech he gave advocating support of students involved in civil rights demonstrations but not in a capacity representing the university.  He also stated that students were not excused from classes or assignments for such participation.

Dent claims that while he never marched in the streets, he had personal and professional phone numbers for members of the FBI, the chief of police, and the mayor, and that he received a phone call most mornings at 7:30 in the morning from city officials to maintain constant awareness of activism and anticipated official responses to the same.

Dent’s discussion of segregated New Orleans social life centers on Mardi Gras, which he describes as exceptionally segregated without any African American members.  When Rogers asks Dent about the most influential Black leaders, he answers that much of his activism – such as with the Boy Scouts of America and work to desegregate police forces in New Orleans – occurred quietly and he did not discuss those efforts.  He asserts that there are doubtless several others, and that the most influential leaders tend to do their work quietly.  Dent quotes James Weldon Johnson to articulate his view of the ideal leader:  “A leader is a man of whom people one day say, ‘This man thinks well; let’s follow him.’”  Dent continues that “the most ineffective leaders are people who set themselves up as leaders.”  He concludes the interview by discussing the origins of the Urban League in New Orleans.

Item 12: Albert W. Dent Interviewee, 1979 September 15Add to your cart.
Item 13: Albert W. Dent Interviewee [continued], 1979 September 15Add to your cart.
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Item 14: Thomas C. Dent Interviewee, 1979 May 10Add to your cart.

Side A: Tom Dent begins the interview by discussing his education in New Orleans, including at Gilbert Academy in New Orleans, where he attended high school.  He describes quitting his graduate studies at Syracuse six credit hours short of a doctorate and never regretting that decision.  He continues to discuss his early work as a writer, including some work in copy editing and journalism, as well as his own personal writing.  He details how through interviewing Thurgood Marshall he went to work as a public information professional for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.  He mentions that the first issue of Umbra was typed at the Legal Defense Fund office.  He describes this period as intense, but one that provided him with experiences such as traveling throughout the South; he observes that most of his best ideas were formulated during this period with Umbra and the Legal Defense Fund, and notes that he was financially strapped during this time.  He explains that how a robbery of his New York apartment was one of the primary motivators for his ultimate return to New Orleans.  He also notes his excitement in working with the Free Southern Theater (FST) in New Orleans.

He also observes that he was in part hesitant to move back to New Orleans because he would be living under his father’s shadow, though acknowledged that he would have to deal with that dynamic regardless of where he was living.  He summarizes racial politics in New Orleans among Creoles and darker-skinned African Americans and describes the “Creole elite.”  He describes Creole identity as separate from both White and Black:  “It was like an island that was floating more and more out to sea and becoming less connected to any other land… it became more illusionary and self-destructive.”  He compares African American Atlanta with African American New Orleans, making reference to his article on the topic in Southern Exposure.  He talks about how churches and segregated schools provided rich opportunities for African American musicians coming out of New Orleans.  He talks about jazz families in New Orleans, including the Marsalis, Lastie, and Neville families.  He then discusses the civil rights-era in New Orleans, including the role of organizations like SOUL in the Lower Ninth Ward.  Rogers asks about the Free Southern Theater’s role in the Civil Rights Movement, and offers that the FST was not a local organization but tied more into a national artistic movement.  He describes how African Americans had to overcome White power structures in employment, and how federal and city government jobs provided most opportunities for middle class African Americans in New Orleans.  He details major changes to FST in the late 1960s, including becoming an all-Black troupe and their creation of performances for majority-Black audiences.

Side B: Tom Dent continues to overview the work of the Free Southern Theater (FST), including their changing emphases to public performances of poetry.  He details the FST’s work in the Desire neighborhood of New Orleans and offers his observations of the Desire Projects shootout with New Orleans police.  He describes the difficulties in funding FST throughout its existence.  He names Don Hubbard, Matthew Suarez, Oretha Castle Haley, and others as the most important supporters of the FST, noting that as Civil Rights Movement activists those individuals had a better understanding of their mission.  He also mentions how he traveled once or twice a week to Mary Holmes College for a teaching position there for two years while working with FST.  He expresses that he was grateful for that opportunity, because it allowed him to think more about Mississippi in his own work.  He then outlines the origins of FST in Mississippi and discusses the group’s potential.

Dent explains how the work of FST related to other contemporary organizations throughout the South.  He also discusses how FST focused more on poetry when it was difficult to find usable scripts, since poetic forms were more analogous to music rooted in African American cultural traditions.  This allowed toward more theater-based departure from the traditional three-act play format, and for “experimenting with the traditional strengths of the culture” more generally.

Item 15: Thomas C. Dent Interviewee [continued], 1979 May 10Add to your cart.
Side A: Tom Dent discusses how his work with the Free Southern Theater (FST) and how it relates, and does not relate, to Black Arts nationally.  He describes his return to the South as the “most important thing that ever happened to me” because he was able to synthesize his past experience – both as the son of a prominent academic leader and as a writer with experience in New York – to understand how the Black South, and New Orleans in particular, fits within a universal framework: “it didn’t really come together for me in New York.”  He describes that he was not creating important work in New York, but that his return to New Orleans caused his writing to mature and be more useful.  Dent then talks more about his own poetry as well as a forthcoming reprisal of his Ritual Murder.  He describes his own current work, including teaching part time at the University of New Orleans.  He describes New Orleans as “provincial” and adds that he is not seriously considering leaving the city.
Item 16: Thomas C. Dent Interviewee, 1988 June 25Add to your cart.
Item 17: Thomas C. Dent Interviewee [continued], 1988 June 25Add to your cart.
Item 18: Thomas C. Dent Interviewee, 1988 July 20Add to your cart.
Item 19: Thomas C. Dent Interviewee [continued], 1988 July 20Add to your cart.
Item 20: Anne Dlugos Interviewee, 1978 November 11Add to your cart.
Tape broken
Item 21: Anne Dlugos Interviewee [continued], 1978 November 11Add to your cart.
Item 22: Anne Dlugos Interviewee, 1988 June 30Add to your cart.

Side A: Anne Dlugos begins the interview by quoting passages from antebellum-era texts that valorize the institution of slavery.  She describes her family background, including family connections to the Confederacy and family roots in Alabama and Georgia as well as the family connections to slavery.  She describes her mother’s presidency of the YWCA; Dlugos’ mother was president at the time of the desegregation of the local YWCA, though insists that the organization’s desegregation was an edict of the national organization and not her mother’s doing:  “My mother was the steel hand in the velvet glove with great charm and a wonderful sense of humor.”  She overviews Rosa Keller’s work with her mother.  Dlugos describes how race relations work has only recently been acceptable in the last few years and how several of those in her social circle would not approve of such activism:  “I still would not feel comfortable having a mixed social gathering in this house with the friends that I have still kept.”  Dlugos continues that the only African Americans she knows is through her work with the League of Women Voters.

Dlugos discusses her parents’ affinity for the Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt as well as Marian Anderson’s exclusion from Constitution Hall.  She describes a sociology class at Newcomb College in 1941 or 1942 that first brought segregation to her attention as “morally wrong.”  She also discusses the absence of discussion about racial inequality in church.    Dlugos discusses the role of the church in civil rights activism.  Dlugos continues to discuss the activism of her mother and her mother’s influence on her own thinking.  She describes the League of Women Voters “freedom agenda,” which was designed to promote the right to dissent.  She mentions that the American Legion saw the League of Women Voters as “Communist dupes.”

Side B: Anne Dlugos begins this recording by continuing to discuss the McCarthy era and the ensuant climate of fear.  Dlugos continues to describe the key influences that shaped her thinking as a young woman, including Mary Allen at Newcomb College and her own family, as well as the book You Have Seen Their Faces.  Dlugos describes her work as an education activist, including the origins of Save Our Schools (SOS) and her attendance at a hearing at the Louisiana State Legislature.  She mentions that her pastor’s support of this caused induced several of her congregation’s members to resign their membership from the church.  She attests that she was relieved that they misspelled her name in newspaper accounts of the legislature session in Baton Rouge.

Dlugos details her involvement in Save Our Schools (SOS), and that for a two year period she often worked herself to a point of exhaustion.  She describes that their chief goals were to support the Orleans Parish School Board and to influence public opinion.  She explains that her involvement with SOS gave her a platform for her own views and, while her involvement often caused discord among friends, she also gained the respect of friends and community members whose opinions she valued.  She mentions that the organization failed to achieve a “peaceful settlement.”  Dlugos describes continued involvement in public education, particular during a statewide educational conference organized by Buddy Roemer.  She describes other individuals involved with SOS, including Mary Sand and Betty Wisdom.  Dlugos explains that while she only served as a driver to schoolchildren in the early months of the school desegregation crisis a couple times, she was scared whenever she did it.

Dlugos overviews the League of Women Voters “pioneer work” on voter registration. She also praises Moon Landrieu’s successes in bringing African Americans into City Hall.  She explains that while she voted for a socialist candidate in the 1948 presidential election, she’s become much more conservative as years have gone by.

Item 23: Anne Dlugos Interviewee [continued], 1988 June 30Add to your cart.
Side A: Anne Dlugos and Kim Lacy Rogers discuss how American politics and politicians have changed over the past several decades.  Dlugos continues to describe her work after her involvement with Save Our Schools (SOS), including her involvement in Orleans Parish School Board politics.  She describes the career of John Nelson.  She describes the impact of her work with SOS, including her pride in standing up for just causes.  She describes SOS as the “only decent thing in the community for several years there… the churches had their tails stuck between their legs."
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Item 1: James A. Dombrowski Interviewee, 1979 April 24Add to your cart.
Item 2: James A. Dombrowski Interviewee [continued], 1979 April 24Add to your cart.
Item 3: Rev. Albert D'Orlando Interviewee, 1979 May 16Add to your cart.
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Item 4: Rev. Albert D'Orlando Interviewee [continued], 1979 May 16Add to your cart.
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Item 5: Rev. Albert D'Orlando Interviewee, 1988 July 27Add to your cart.
Item 6: Rev. Albert D'Orlando Interviewee [continued], 1988 July 27Add to your cart.
Item 7: Lolis Elie Interviewee, 1978 November 10Add to your cart.

Side A: Rogers begins by asking Lolis Elie about his law partners Robert F. Collins and Nils Douglas and their firm’s affiliation with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in New Orleans. He describes how his firm initially became involved with CORE; essentially, his firm became involved by representing activists who often acted without regarding to the legal consequences of their demonstrations.  After their initial involvement in civil rights litigation, the firm became more emboldened to become more involved.  Elie cites exposure to Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.’s critique of the Vietnam were as key influences to his thinking in the 1960s.

Elie discusses White involvement in CORE, who were often involved in civil rights causes due to a lack of clear direction in life and who also craved “tacit acknowledgement… that they were somehow superior” to other Whites.  He also describes a conversation with Oretha Castle Haley at a Louisiana state CORE meeting, where he and other African Americans in CORE realized that White activists held most of the leadership positions in CORE.  He praises the leadership of the all-Black Consumer’s League of Greater New Orleans and the leadership of A. L. Davis and Avery C. Alexander.

Elie briefly describes working alongside the Deacons for Defense and Justice in Bogalusa, Louisiana, where the key leaders were primarily factory workers.  He contrasts the activism in Plaquemine, Louisiana, where the principal African American leaders were from that community’s economic and social elite.  Note: Audio quality for this interview is poor for the first few minutes of the recording and in portions thereafter.

Side B: Rogers asks Elie about the most influential decision makers in New Orleans CORE, and Elie details the contributions of Rudy Lombard, Jerome Smith, and Oretha Haley to the organization.  Elie continues to describe contributions of New Orleans activists in other cities, including Monroe, Clinton, and Shreveport, Louisiana.

Elie posits that much of New Orleans’ unique culture comes from African American New Orleans: “Almost everything that makes New Orleans distinctive is Black – the music, the food, Mardi Gras, voodoo, and the fantastic architecture… ironwork in the French Quarter.  Now if you took all of those things from New Orleans, the only thing that would distinguish it from New Orleans is the Mississippi River.  Culturally, New Orleans is Black.”  He also discusses anti-Semitism in New Orleans and the White activism that emerged from the Unitarian Church and Reverend Albert D’Orlando.  He also mentions the activism of White lawyers such as Ben Smith and Jack Nelson and others such as Luis Zervigon and Helen Mervis.  He describes local New Orleans organizations such as the Community Organization for Urban Politics (COUP) and mentions the transition from the Civil Rights Movement to more African American participation in electoral politics, particularly in New Orleans.

Item 8: Lolis Elie Interviewee, 1979 April 25Add to your cart.
Item 9: Lolis Elie Interviewee, 1979 May 22Add to your cart.
Item 10: Lolis Elie Interviewee [continued], 1979 May 22Add to your cart.
Item 11: Lolis Elie Interviewee, 1988 June 23Add to your cart.
Item 12: Lolis Elie Interviewee [continued], 1988 June 23Add to your cart.
Item 13: Lolis Elie Interviewee, 1988 July 12Add to your cart.
Item 14: Rabbi Julian B. Feibelman Interviewee, 1978 November 7Add to your cart.

Side A: Rabbi Julian Feibelman describes the Jewish community of New Orleans, including from a historical perspective.  Rogers refers to Feibelman’s dissertation – A Social and Economic Study of the New Orleans Jewish Community – here and elsewhere in the interview.  Rogers asks Feibelman about the large percentage of Jewish involvement in civil rights causes in New Orleans.  Feibelman answers that social consciousness permeates in this community, and that the first philanthropic will written in the United States was of Judah Touro in New Orleans.  Feibelman again refers to unique aspects of the Jewish community in New Orleans, stating that this is one of the few American cities where Reform Jews outnumber Orthodox Jews.  He describes the difference between these two primary divisions of Judaism, including Reform Judaism’s emphasis on social activism and universalism.    He details the origins of his involvement in local social rights causes, including his collaboration with Rosa Keller to advocate for the desegregation of public schools and the opposition of Leander Perez and the White Citizens Council.  He states that segregationists would often call his house to intimidate him and his own family did not let him walk around outside alone at night.  He describes an incident accompanying United States Marshals and one of the girls involved in desegregating a school.    He briefly discusses the origins of the Southern Conference Educational Fund and that group’s involvement in the desegregation of New Orleans public schools.  He mentions his involvement in a group of ministers involved in the Civil Rights Movement.

Side B: Rogers asks Feibelman about his involvement in Save Our Schools, which she noted on SOS letterhead, but he claims that he was not very involved with the organization other than sometimes lending his name to the group.  He states that he always thought that his congregation should know how its leader stood on social issues that he drew strength from those who stood by him.  He describes the conditions of public schools for African American students, and Rogers asks Feibelman how things have changed in recent years.

He discusses his upbringing in Mississippi at length, as well as his early involvement in early civil rights causes in New Orleans.  Discussion includes Feibelman’s early encounters with racial discrimination. 

Note:  Audio is interrupted toward the end of the recording but resumes after a short pause.

Item 15: Rabbi Julian B. Feibelman Interviewee [continued], 1978 November 7Add to your cart.
Item 16: Father Joseph Fichter Interviewee, 1978 November 17Add to your cart.
Item 17: Father Joseph Fichter Interviewee [continued], 1978 November 17Add to your cart.
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Item 18: Father Joseph Fichter Interviewee, 1988 June 13Add to your cart.
Item 19: Harry Gamble Jr. Interviewee, 1988 July 28Add to your cart.

Side A: Harry Gamble Jr. overviews his family’s connection to Tulane University, his own alma mater.  Gamble describes himself and his father as “segregationists up to the hilt” whose segregationist perspectives align with those of Paul Tulane’s heirs.  Rogers asks why he holds such strong segregationist beliefs, and Gamble simply answers that any integration would “low the power of the White race” and affirms that his beliefs are stronger now than they had ever been.  He then closes the door so that a “negro paralegal” does not overhear his statements:  “Probably I know more about the history of the Negro race and their connection with the Caucasians than anybody in town.  I’ve read extensively on that subject at a time when there was no political adversity to such an idea.  There was a time when people were not afraid to speak out when it was acknowledged… there’s no question about the fact that the Negro race is inferior to Caucasians… Negroes today are so volatile that this country today is being run by Negroes.”

Rogers asked if there were people on the Tulane board of directors that shared his beliefs.  Gamble speculates that there likely were, but they needed to maintain a more progressive stance to obtain federal funds.  He describes the lawsuit that prompted the desegregation of Tulane University, which he views as antithetical to the stated desires of Paul Tulane when he founded the university.  Gamble claims that he was not disturbed by the presence of Asian students on Tulane’s campus before the university’s full desegregation.  He then defines what he sees as a “pretty well established” hierarchy among “Caucasoid,” “Mongoloid,” and “Negroid” races:  “Anything that was not Negro was acceptable.”    He maintains that “nobody wanted Tulane integrated, accept the judge,” but then suggests that the only reason other university administrators went along with the university’s desegregation was so that they could receive federal funds.  Rogers asks Gamble about Skelly Wright’s role in Tulane’s desegregation.  He ultimately criticizes Judge Wright’s decision.  Rogers further interrogates Gamble’s opinion and asks him about John P. Nelson’s opinion that Tulane was considered a public university under the fourteenth amendment, although Gamble downplays that factor.    Rogers asks about the general opinion of John Nelson, also called Jack Nelson, and Skelly Wright, and Gamble answers that “[Nelson] was a first-class S.O.B. in my estimation.”  He briefly discusses Nelson’s influence on the desegregation of the New Orleans Athletic Club.  He again defends his position to stay that his chief influence was to present his alma mater in lowering its standards to admit African American students.    Rogers asks Gamble about his opinion on Tulane presently, and he answers that he likes his university but has a difficult time accepting, in particular, the high concentration of African American athletes on Tulane’s basketball and football teams.  He expresses concern over the inevitable “browning” of America and the resulting “lowering of intelligence” and ambition.

Rogers asks Gamble about political changes in New Orleans since the 1960s, to which he answers, “If I were a young man I’d get the hell out of New Orleans.”  Rogers asks Gamble more specifically about the desegregation of the New Orleans Athletic Club, which he describes as a campaign begun by a New Orleans-born African American college student from New Orleans.  He describes the desegregation of the New Orleans Athletic Club as voluntary rather than mandated by the courts, and he perceives the influence of additional corporate membership as one primary factor in the desegregation of that institution.

Note: The initial two minutes of this recording contain two simultaneous recordings and initial portions of the recording are difficult to discern.

Item 20: Robert Glass Interviewee, 1979 May 16Add to your cart.
Item 21: Richard Goins Interviewee, 1979 May 17Add to your cart.
Item 22: Richard Goins Interviewee, 1979 May 17Add to your cart.
Partial duplicate, with improved sound quality
Item 23: Oretha Haley Interviewee, 1978 November 27Add to your cart.

Side A: Oretha Castle Haley begins the interview by discussing her involvement in the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), an organization she joined in 1959.  Haley  Initially meeting at the Dryades Street YMCA, she describes that the direct action demonstrations CORE participated in appealed particularly to younger activists.  White students from Tulane University and Loyola University joined students from Xavier University and other younger African American activists in New Orleans CORE’s earliest years. She continues discussing CORE’s demonstrations in New Orleans, including those at McCrory’s, as well as legal issues resulting from her activism.

Haley notes that despite the three historically black colleges and universities in New Orleans, civil rights activism in New Orleans was somewhat muted compared to that in other Southern cities.  Haley attributes New Orleans’ settlement patterns, absent a clearly “line of demarcation” to separate residents across racial lines, as a major factor in this. Given the close proximity in which Whites and Blacks often lived throughout New Orleans’ history, the city hasn’t had the type of physical violence between races which often served as a catalyst for direct action in other Southern cities.

She details the early years of CORE in New Orleans, under the presidency of Rudy Lombard and Jerome Smith before Haley herself took over. She says membership numbers fluctuated from year to year.

Side B: Haley continues to name the nucleus of CORE in New Orleans, however her listing of individuals most involved in the group is lost between side A and the continuation of the interview on side B of the audiocassette.

Haley discusses a large influx of White students from the University of New Orleans and Tulane University, particularly White males.  She discusses that there was a perception that CORE was an organization where White men could meet Black women willing to date them.  She continues that this proved to be a distraction for the group, and local CORE leadership decided to remove members whose priorities did not align with the group’s overall mission.  Sandra Nixon chaired the membership committee at the time, so ultimately this was her decision.  Haley suggests that the legislative gains of the Civil Rights Movement – the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act – are of lesser importance than the transformation which occurred among African Americans and their ability to see themselves as part of the essential fabric of America.

Rogers asks Haley how much things have changed in New Orleans; Haley answers that there are many opportunities available for African Americans which did not exist earlier in the twentieth century, including the desegregation of municipal spaces.  However, employment opportunities are still quite limited for African Americans in New Orleans.  She ultimately concludes that most tangible changes are more superficial, “surface level” changes. 

She briefly mentions the year she spent working for CORE as a field worker, primarily in northern Louisiana, starting in 1964.  She considered the direct action projects she participated in in northern Louisiana as “grossly inadequate” absent a more politicized base of African Americans in those communities.  Haley describes her more recent activism, including her work on education reform in New Orleans.  She describes New Orleans’ class consciousness and its origins in local education systems.  She talks about the low expectations for African American students in public schools in New Orleans and curricula that are “compensatory” or “remedial” as a result.

Item 24: Oretha Haley Interviewee [continued], 1978 November 27Add to your cart.

Side A: Rogers asks Haley about the most influential African American leaders in New Orleans during the civil rights era.  Haley hesitates to answer the question at the risk of excluding the contributions of others, and that such a question is impossible to answer in a limited amount of time.  Haley describes Reverend A. L. Davis as the first person to come to her mind, and she details Davis’ leadership style.  Haley also mentions Arthur Chapital, who lent support to younger activists even when he did not necessary agree with a given method or idea.  Haley also notes the contributions of more ordinary citizens, the countless “unsung heroes” whose contributions to the Civil Rights Movement are not often recognized. Haley then briefly outlines the contributions of both White and African American activists alike.

Haley discusses employment and salary issues for African Americans, particularly in government positions.  She discusses race relations more nationally, and she describes the United States as a “deeply racist country.”  She offers a pessimistic view of the immediate future for African Americans, forecasting that things will get far worse before they begin to get better.

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Item 1: Richard Haley Interviewee, 1979 May 9Add to your cart.

Side A: Richard Haley begins this recording by discussing the activism and death of civil rights worker William Lewis Moore:  “Nobody really seemed to be particularly upset.  If anybody thought about it at all, they probably said, ‘well, he was a fool in the first place.’”  Haley continues to describe CORE activities throughout the South, particularly in more rural locations.  Richard Haley discusses his work with CORE in a New York office and his desire to work more in the field.  He describes scenarios where there were differences of opinion among CORE workers, though he says this rarely caused any friction in the group or interrupted their work.  He overviews his involvement in CORE activities throughout the South.  He describes one incident in particular, a trip from the New York office to Alabama, where his group of CORE activists was confronted with an angry mob at the Alabama state line.  He compares the reaction of the crowd to that of Romans in the Coliseum “when the lions came out.”  He describes his arrest and subsequent detention in Fort Payne, Alabama, and his later transfer to a state penitentiary.

Haley describes his “apolitical” nature and maintains that he was “not a firebrand.”  He perceives himself as more of a conservative than a progressive.  He suggests that such pragmatism was beneficial for fundraising, as well.  He describes a luncheon he attended with two CORE fundraisers with members of prominent foundations.

Haley suggests that he was initially naïve when it came to the “nuts and bolts of fundraising” and the disconnect between activists and those who funder their work:  “When the lunch was over, I was embarrassed for them and they were furious with me.”  This experience helped Haley realize that he was not as useful to CORE in an office capacity as he had initially thought.

Rogers asks Haley about the “Black power issue” in CORE.  Haley answers that he was initially sad and irritated by this move, but understood that racial issues often upset group dynamics. There was a perception that leadership came exclusively from White men, and the move more toward Black leadership countered such a tendency.  He overviews the work of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) in Mississippi and the ultimate denunciation of Black power.

Side B: Rogers asks Haley what kinds of legal change he had hoped for.  Haley replies that at the time he and fellow CORE workers decried the emphasis on voter registration but instead privileged social change instead of litigation:  “The walls of Jericho were going to fall down… not by lawsuits.”  He then discusses Title VII laws and employment discrimination, concluding that he and fellow activists never expected change

He describes a “small cadre of CORE that had always felt that voter registration was one of the greatest weapons that we had and that we should never relax in our efforts to push voter registration.”  He describes James T. McCain as perhaps CORE’s most effective leader, citing in particular his emphasis on voter registration initiatives.    Rogers asks Haley if CORE had successfully implemented voter registration programs in New Orleans.  Haley answers no, unless that work predated his arrival to New Orleans in 1964.  When Rogers asks why CORE was not involved in voter registration in New Orleans, he responds that racial discord in New Orleans CORE, particularly at the time of his arrival in New Orleans, hampered a lot of that organization’s effectiveness.  He also notes that many African New Orleanians cited previous poor support from the larger African American community in the city during earlier sit-in demonstrations.  CORE’s strongest local leaders feared that any voter registration initiatives would fail to “generate the enthusiasm” of the larger community.

Haley overviews the work of CORE throughout Louisiana, particularly in smaller towns in the northern part of the state.  He suggests that CORE in Louisiana worked closely with the national office, often bypassing Haley’s own office in New Orleans.  He downplays his own role as “southern director” of CORE.  He discusses younger New Orleanians involved in CORE, including Jerome Smith, Rudy Lombard, and Dave Dennis and briefly mentions Tambourine and Fan.  Haley details the dissolution of New Orleans CORE and the organizations that were working on related causes.

Item 2: Richard Haley Interviewee [continued], 1979 May 9Add to your cart.
Item 3: Victor Hess Interviewee, 1978 November 16Add to your cart.

Side A: Victor Hess overviews his attitude toward school desegregation in the wake of the Brown v. Board decision.  Hess answers that he understood this as a moral issue and that “separate but equal” doctrine was particularly flawed and describes public education for African Americans as “miserable.”  He then describes his initial involvement in Save Our Schools.  He describes his involvement in a local PTA that predated his affiliation with Save Our Schools.  With the PTA, Hess worked to put parents on record regarding their views on desegregation.

Side B: Victor Hess discusses his involvement in civil rights causes primarily in relation to public education and his eventual term on the Orleans Parish School Board.  Victor Hess notes that while his friends' views did not align with his own, that it was amicable disagreement and that he had the full support of his wife and family.  He says that Mary Sands faced far more adversity from her own community.  He discusses the "old concept" of school busing, "whereby you would take Black children and bus them to a predominately school… pass White schools that could have received them in terms of space.  We had several harsh discussions on that and I was kind of a minority on the board at that time."  His view was that children should attend the nearest school regardless of race.  He describes Orleans Public Schools superintendent Carl Dulce position on busing as more "prophetic" than he would have imagined at the time.  Hess also describes efforts to promote more African Americans to positions of authority within the school system.

  Hess posits A. L. Davis and Avery C. Alexander as among the most influential African American leaders in New Orleans.  He mentions Jim Singleton, Willie Montgomery, and Dutch Morial as part of a newer generation of African American leaders in New Orleans.  He characterizes African American leaders in New Orleans as relatively "moderate" voices.  He then lists Moon Landrieu, Edith Stern, and others as the principle White leaders involved in civil rights causes.

Rogers asks Hess about his perspective as a lawyer and whether any legal associations spurred other lawyers into involvement in local civil rights issues.  Hess disputes any relation.  He does describe a "new breed of lawyer," civil rights lawyers, who are an exception in that they demonstrate unusual devotion to such activism.  ​

Item 4: Harry Kelleher Interviewee, 1979 May 8Add to your cart.
Item 5: Harry Kelleher Interviewee, 1988 June 9Add to your cart.

Side A: Rogers asks Harry Kelleher about his awareness of segregation growing up but also his first involvement directly with African Americans.  Kelleher discusses growing up around African American domestic servants in his own household and how this may have fostered an interest in race relations.  He contextualizes school desegregation in New Orleans by discussing the stronghold of segregations represented in the Louisiana state legislature particularly during the administration of Governor Jimmie Davis which resulted in the ratification of a considerable amount of segregationist legislation.  He attributes this dynamic to a “lobby” for the White Citizens Council.  He includes the far-ranging progressive social programs implemented by Populists under Huey Long’s administration for all Louisianans, including the creation of employment opportunities for African Americans for jobs like road construction, attracted workers from neighboring states:  “Segregation became a symbol that was adopted by people of the segregationist persuasion in many cases in an effort to protect what they perceived to be their own job opportunities…  the Black man, who earned his living by the sweat of his brow and the strength of his muscles became a competitor  for the marginal White, and it was the marginal White who’d flocked in droves to the banners of the White Citizens Council and who became the most militant and aggressive segregationists.”

He applauds the bravery of Judge Skelly Wright and the role of judicial activism to prod local officials into the desegregation of schools.  He overviews harassment campaigns of members of the White Citizens Council.  Kelleher explains that Tulane University professors approached Kelleher to take more public stance vocalizing support for the peaceful desegregation of local schools.  He describes an event where Kelleher addressed an overflow crowd of 1800 people to advocate for the School Board’s position that strong local opposition to the desegregation of public schools will cause irreparable harm to the city’s reputation.  He cites this public address as the beginning of his involvement.  He describes the preliminary discussions and planning as being spearheaded by a group of approximately fifteen White and Black community leaders engaged in “a long series of regular consultations and conferences.”  He details the prestige of the group, which he describes as a “very formidable group in terms of community leverage.”  He continues that “the collective power of such a group that nobody but a rabid segregationist … had the temerity to challenge that group.”  He describes these two alliances as having similar objectives, “the orderly desegregation of the community as a whole.”  He continues that this alliance culminated in approaching Canal Street merchants to provide non-menial employment opportunities for African Americans.

He describes the desegregation of public facilities, particularly the cafeteria at City Hall.  He mentions the protest of Avery Alexander which resulted in him being dragged down the steps of City Hall by policemen:  “As I remember it, it was the only breach that ever occurred of any commitment between the White leadership and the Black leadership… due to a breakdown in communications between these two sets of leaders and City Hall.”  He describes his mortification of this “unpardonable breach of the understanding we had.”  He describes the most ardent segregationists in New Orleans as the “lunatic” fringe and details the historical and cultural framework of New Orleans which yields a wholly different environment than other Southern cities such as Birmingham.  Kelleher then continues to discuss the protest march on City Hall in response to the incident involving Reverend Alexander.  He describes extraordinary security measures that were made to protect protesters in response to threats from the White Citizens Council. Rogers asks Kelleher about his upbringing and family dynamics growing up.  He continues to detail the beginnings of his legal career.

Item 6: Rosa Freeman Keller Interviewee, 1978 November 9Add to your cart.
Item 7: Rosa Freeman Keller Interviewee [continued], 1978 November 9Add to your cart.
Item 8: Rosa Freeman Keller Interviewee, 1978 November 28Add to your cart.

Side A: Rosa Keller begins this interview by providing an overview of her work helping to finance home purchases for middle class and working class African Americans in Pontchartrain Park.  She talks about how she worked to have families with dual incomes considered when applying for mortgages rather than just the income of the male head of household.  She explains that as soon as she and her husband earned back their original capital leant to establish the neighborhood, the Kellers backed out as financiers of Pontchartrain Park.  Rosa Keller describes the success of the neighborhood, and the pride homeowners there took in Pontchartrain Park.  She notes the opposition of the local NAACP to the establishment of Pontchartrain Park.  Keller explains how the endorsement and confidence of A. P. Tureaud assisted Keller in her efforts.  She discusses the exodus of middle class families to the suburbs of New Orleans, particularly in Jefferson Parish, as well as changing demographics of neighborhoods throughout New Orleans.  She also offers her views of nearby Southern University – New Orleans (SUNO), which she offers “hasn’t worked very well.”

Keller then transitions to a discussion of the origins of Save Our Schools (SOS).  She overviews her efforts to have high-ranking area businessmen endorse her cause to promote the opinion that schools should remain open.  She notes her astonishment to this day that she could not work to garner the support of the Orleans Parish School Board.

Side B: Rosa Keller begins by overviewing her work toward the desegregation of Tulane University, “about the last thing that had to be done.”  She describes how Tulane’s persistence as a segregated campus hampered the growth of the university, and how she decided that litigation was the most expedient solution.  She describes a meeting she attended with A. P. Tureaud and others, though Tureaud backed out due to his overinvolvement in desegregation of public schools.  She then explains how Jack Nelson became involved in the case.  Keller explains how she went to the head of the Tulane trustees, Joe Jones, who privately agreed that desegregation was the right path for Tulane, but that Jones himself could not compel his own board to act.

Keller explains how this issue caused several faculty members to leave the school and caused “restlessness” among faculty and students.  Also at issue was the possibility of Tulane losing all federal funds for departmental and programmatic support.  She describes the intense public animosity directed at Judge Skelly Wright, which she attributes to his eventual move away from New Orleans; she notes that both Wright’s wife and son, particularly at Country Day School, faced intense public scrutiny.  Keller relates this to the own social stigma she faced for her own activism, describing herself as “upper crust” and “blue bloody” and fully established among the Carnival elite.

Item 9: Rosa Freeman Keller Interviewee [continued], 1978 November 28Add to your cart.
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Item 10: Rosa Freeman Keller Interviewee, 1979 May 7Add to your cart.

Side A: Rosa Keller describes the immediate aftermath of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, which occurred in May 1954 while the Louisiana State Legislature was in session.  She praises the leadership and courage of a young Moon Landrieu, who openly opposed the near-universal support of segregation in the state legislature.  She depicts national civil rights legislation as having far-reaching effects locally:  “As soon as those things were done this community behaved exactly as I thought it would… the monkey was off its back.”

Keller describes approaching friends of hers who were local business leaders and persuading them to hire more African Americans in roles other than just the most menial positions.  She surmises that such rules help people behave more appropriately.  Keller discusses teaching business etiquette and social etiquette courses to ordinary African American citizens.  She describes a fundraising dinner for Lyndon Johnson, which she portrays as New Orleans’ first $100 a plate dinner.  She was surprised at the frankness with which President Johnson discussed changing race relations in the United States.    Rogers asks about voter registration and voter education and the involvement of the League of Women Voters.  She discusses the involvement of African American leaders such as Dutch Morial. A. L. Davis, and Avery C. Alexander in voter registration efforts.  She continues to describe her work with Sybil Morial in voter registration particularly around the reelection of President Johnson during the 1964 election.  Keller expresses amazement at the social gains made in such a short period of time and remarks on the quality of African American leadership in New Orleans.    Rogers asks specifically about Avery C. Alexander, and Keller answers that ministers in particular where drawn to Alexander and speculates that they had more freedom to express personal opinions than many other professionals, particularly teachers.  She describes A. L. Davis’ influence, in part due to the size of his congregation as well as his appealing personality.  She details Davis’ leadership and his influence in bringing Martin Luther King Jr. to New Orleans.  She describes her astonishment at the peaceful desegregation of New Orleans public services.    Rogers asks Keller about the most effective leaders who brought about a peaceful resolution to New Orleans public schools desegregation.  Keller overviews the origins of Save Our Schools and mentions that SOS leaders discussed that organization’s racial makeup with African Americans such as Albert Dent and A. L. Davis who also agreed that the organization would be most effective as a White organization.  She overviews public school desegregation in New Orleans.

Side B: Rosa Keller begins by discussing the importance of New Orleans business leaders in desegregation, specifically Richard Freeman and Harry Kelleher.  She describes that business leaders were not active until the “public school mess” in New Orleans which was “a black eye” for the perception of the city nationally; Keller continues to state that business interests, such as the port and tourism, suffered as a result of a negative publicity.  She describes a decree published in the local newspaper signed by local business leaders advocating for a peaceful desegregation of public schools, but Keller also notes that none of these people had children enrolled in public schools.

Keller overviews her involvement in the desegregation of Tulane University.  She notes that African American community leaders perceived the desegregation of the city’s colleges as a means to prevent brain drain of the most talented younger African Americans.  She discusses her involvement in soliciting assistance from the Rockefeller Foundation to attract African American students to Tulane University, specifically talented students from St. Augustine High School.  Rogers and Keller discuss Ben Smith (Benjamin E. Smith), a New Orleans activist, and Keller provides Rogers with a list of names who knew Ben Smith well.    Keller discusses her involvement with New Orleans’ interracial Urban League, which she posits as most important for providing her with an opportunity to meet African Americans she would later work with on civil rights causes.  Keller mentions Sybil Morial as among her closest allies in the Urban League of Great New Orleans.  Keller notes that her activism was always limited by her unwillingness to gravitate toward more “militant” actions:  “It’s not my cup of tea to go marching through the streets and all that kind of stuff.”  She offers that the Urban League provided “a different method” of activism that best suited her temperament.  She also mentions Revius Ortique and Norman Frances, who served as Urban League of Greater New Orleans presidents after her own term.  She describes how the dynamic of interracial activism ultimately changed:  “I know that the day Stokely Carmichael stood up and said ‘black is beautiful’ that changed a whole lot of people, White and Black.  That was pretty shocking stuff… for some of the White people.  For Black people, it was marvelous!”    Rogers asks Keller about CORE and SNCC in New Orleans, and Keller answers that she was affiliated with each, “but I get ‘em mixed up as to who was doing what.”  She briefly mentions the activism of Oretha Haley and Doris Jean Castle-Scott.  Keller describes her admiration of local Freedom Riders, and details their aggressive training tactics to condition civil rights workers for conditions they were likely to face in Mississippi.  She notes that this type of activism has not been “properly documented.”    Keller details the activism of her husband, Charles Keller, who valued interracial participation as well as the involvement of labor leaders.  She mentions the underrepresentation of women in the causes her husband was most involved with.  Keller mentions that her and Norman Francis would joke that she was often the token woman for several activist organizations and Frances was the token African American.  She mentions that Francis’ likeability as giving him great influence as an activist in New Orleans across racial and economic lines.

Keller describes her husband’s involvement in civil rights as that of a “recent convert.”  She describes that Charles Keller was initially skeptical of the election of Dutch Morial as mayor of New Orleans, but that he went out of his way to introduce himself to Morial at a Louisiana State Legislature event.

Item 11: Rosa Freeman Keller Interviewee [continued], 1979 May 7Add to your cart.
Side A:  In this short fifteen second continuation of the interview, Rogers simply thanks Rosa Keller for her time and cooperation.
Item 12: Rosa Freeman Keller Interviewee, 1988 April 8Add to your cart.
Item 13: Rosa Freeman Keller Interviewee [continued], 1988 April 8Add to your cart.
Item 14: Robert Lancaster Interviewee, 1979 May 3Add to your cart.
Item 15: Robert Lancaster Interviewee [continued], 1979 May 3Add to your cart.
Item 16: Maurice "Moon" Landrieu Interviewee, 1979 May 11Add to your cart.

Side A: Rogers begins the interview by noting Moon Landrieu’s involvement in New Orleans’ school desegregation crisis.  Landrieu responds that he found segregationist legislation degrading and counter to the interests of the state.  He attributes some of this to his Jesuit education at Loyola University which instilled a strong sense of social justice as well as his relationship with Norman Francis.  He briefly describes living in Uptown New Orleans.

He describes an alliance with organizations such as Save our Schools and the National Council of Jewish Women as well as his relative anonymity as a politician in New Orleans at that time.  He speculates that his political futures benefitted from his involvement in the school desegregation crisis.  He describes his position on civil rights at the time as mere conformity with federal laws.

Rogers asks Landrieu about his awareness and involvement in civil rights causes in the 1960s, but Landrieu responds that he was only minimally aware and involved and he learned much later about the details of New Orleans activism.    Rogers posits that Landrieu’s election as mayor brought New Orleans into an era of coalition politics.  Landrieu downplays his innovation here, but instead offers that there was more public awareness of coalition politics in his administration.  Landrieu briefly lists his closest associates in New Orleans politics.    Rogers asks Landrieu about his perception of student protests on the campus of Southern University New Orleans during his administration.

Note: The audio on this recording is low and difficult to hear for the first few minutes.

Side B: Rogers asks Landrieu about the Desire Housing Project shootout, which also occurred during his mayoral administration, and he briefly discusses the conditions of urban poverty in New Orleans as well as his response to the crisis.

He details at length issues pertaining to the legal representation of civil rights activists.  He describes the pursuit of civil rights as so fundamental that they were willing to die for them.  He contrasts more contemporary Black Power demonstrations as lacking wide appeal to have enough traction for a national movement.  He posits that without the Civil Rights Movement gains would have come instead by more violent means.

Item 17: Maurice "Moon" Landrieu Interviewee [continued], 1979 May 11Add to your cart.

Side A: Landrieu continues to discuss civil rights in New Orleans, particularly through his work in the Louisiana House of Representatives.

Note: The audio is difficult to discern at portions throughout this recording.

Item 18: Maurice "Moon" Landrieu Interviewee, 1988 June 13Add to your cart.
Item 19: Maurice "Moon" Landrieu Interviewee [continued], 1988 June 13Add to your cart.
Item 20: Rudy Lombard Interviewee, 1979 May 9Add to your cart.
Item 21: Rudy Lombard Interviewee [continued], 1979 May 9Add to your cart.
Item 22: Rudy Lombard Interviewee, 1988 June 7Add to your cart.

Side A: Rudy Lombard begins the interview by discussing his upbringing in New Orleans, and in response to Rogers’ question describes his memories of growing up in segregation.  Lombard describes growing up in a racially mixed neighborhood living with the ubiquitousness of segregation.  He describes his father as unwilling to tolerate disrespect and “forever mocking the system of segregation.”  Lombard describes his first act of “protest” in elementary school, when he threw a ball into a Whites-only park and encouraged his friends to play in the park; when he came home after the incident, in which police were called by neighbors, his father had bought him a case of Barq’s root beer as an unspoken reward for his defiance.

Rogers then asks Lombard more specifically about his CORE activism and how he perceived the risks that he took through such activism.  Lombard answers that the threat of physical violence was how the system of segregation was perpetuated.  Lombard describes converting to Catholicism so he could attend parochial schools, something encouraged by his parents, and how he “learned to turn the other cheek” through that process.  He describes the earliest civil rights demonstrations in New Orleans, including some held on the campus of Dillard University.  He claims that few Xavier University students were initially interested in participating in direct action, something he attributes as a fear of endangering their educations.  He describes attending the University of Michigan for a year before transferring to Xavier and how he left Michigan when he realized it was imposing too much of a financial strain on his family.    Lombard describes his experiences being incarcerated, and mentions being wrongfully arrested for intoxication while he was a Xavier student, an experience that “strengthened his resolve to do something” and prepared him for future confrontations.  He describes a violent confrontation with police in Plaquemine, Louisiana, where he “spent the night in a fig tree.”  He also details his experiences and the intense fear among civil rights workers around Philadelphia, Mississippi, particularly after the deaths of Chaney, Schwerner, and Goodman.  He discusses how such activism allowed himself and other young people to refine their values evaluate society:  “I don’t think you can fool people who came through the civil rights era."

Rogers asks Lombard about his campaign for mayor of New Orleans in 1986.  Lombard responds by explaining that despite having a Black mayor, conditions in New Orleans, and for African Americans in particular, were “appalling”:  “The people who had come to public office through elections or appointments – I felt – were betraying the Movement, were betraying all the things that we had fought for.”  He explains that he’d first approached friends and his brother and asked if they were willing to run for mayor, including Oretha Castle Haley.  He describes his opposition to Dutch Morial’s attempts to change campaign laws to allow him to run for a third mayoral term:  “Everybody was afraid to criticize the incumbent…  Everything I had done had prepared me to not be afraid of anybody, let alone another Black who had inherited office as a result of what we had done… that was absolutely absurd!”

Side B: Rudy Lombard continues to discuss his campaign for mayor in 1986.  Rogers asks him if in some ways his candidacy itself was a protest, to which he answers emphatically, “oh, hell yeah.”  He further explains that he now understands that the “power implicit in the vote… is secondary to the influence of political organizations.”  He describes power and wealth as corruptive influences in electoral politics.

Rogers asks about influences of civil rights activists, and he answers that people involved read Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Martin Luther King Jr., and Franz Fanon.  He particularly notes the influence of James Baldwin:  “I think The Fire Next Time was like reading Genesis.”  Lombard describes an opportunity to debate Malcolm X and how he intuitively knew that would not be a good idea for him and instead suggested that James Farmer debate Malcolm X for a Cornell event.    Lombard then returns to a discussion of the political landscape in New Orleans and social and economic realities for most African Americans living in the city.  He talks about a need for similar activism today as in the 1960s to bring about economic equality for African Americans:  “It saddens me that people accept so much mediocrity.”  He talks about the important his awareness now of the importance of financial self-sufficiency and how neither he nor other activists in the 1960s “didn’t have that disposition then.”  He talks about an emotional and philosophical barrier between outspoken Marxists and civil rights workers in previous decades.  He decries a lack of “group intensity” which renders individual passions fairly impotent.  He acknowledges Jesse Jackson’s campaign as the closest thing at the time of the interview to a catalyzing force matching the intensity of the Movement, though admits it is not on the same scale.  He offers the prediction that any next wave of intense activism “will not be nonviolent… perhaps it shouldn’t be.”

Item 23: Leontine Goins Luke Interviewee, 1979 May 22Add to your cart.
Item 24: Leontine Goins Luke Interviewee [continued], 1979 May 22Add to your cart.
Box 7Add to your cart.
Item 1: Helen Mervis Interviewee, 1978 November 18Add to your cart.
Item 2: Helen Mervis Interviewee [continued], 1978 November 18Add to your cart.
Item 3: Helen Mervis Interviewee, 1979 May 7Add to your cart.
Item 4: Helen Mervis Interviewee, 1988 July 1Add to your cart.
Item 5: Ernest "Dutch" Morial Interviewee, 1987 October 30Add to your cart.

Side A: Ernest Morial begins by asking Kim Lacy Rogers what her research objective is, and Rogers explains the scope of her book project.  Rogers asks Morial about his childhood and upbringing in New Orleans.  Morial answers that his father was a cigar maker and he was the youngest of six children.  He explains how his association with A. P. Tureaud influenced his later activism.  He describes his family background as well as typical experiences in his neighborhood growing up.  He overviews his tenure as a law student at the Louisiana State University Law School and offers his opinion of A. P. Tureaud.

He details his work with the Citizens Committee as well as his role as president of the local chapter of the NAACP.  He explains how he promoted the idea of peaceful protests for African Americans among New Orleans city officials.  Rogers asks Morial about personality traits that lead to his hyperachievement, and he answers that making changes in his city and community is his primary motivator and knowing that his efforts are appreciated provides him with his greatest satisfaction.

Morial explains that the majority of his closest associates were also from a generation older than him, so in that sense they also served as mentors to him, particularly A. L. David, Arthur Chapital, and A. P. Tureaud.  He continues to describe his work in the United States Attorney’s office.  Rogers and Morial discuss the importance of conducting oral history interviews with older African Americans before it is too late, and notes that relatively little has been documented on figures such as O. C. W. Taylor and C. C. Dejoie.

Note:  This interview is held in the mayor’s office and there are intermittent interruptions to the interview.

Side B: Dutch Morial and Rogers discuss Morial’s own political aspirations, and he states his interest in having Rogers conduct a lengthier project on Morial and his own administration, perhaps in conjunction with Arnold Hirsch’s own work on the Morial administration.  He notes that he is considering another run in the 1990 mayoral election as well as his interest in having Rogers ghostwrite a book on Morial and his administration.

Rogers asks Morial about future goals and aspirations.  He answers that his plans are up in the air, but he might end up “just practicing law,” a path he would find fulfilling if the work was interesting.  He discusses the impact of his administration and the changes – mostly structural – brought about in his administration.  He includes his work to keep the Amistad Research Center in New Orleans as an example of his work, within a larger discussion of making New Orleans a research hub in the Gulf South, as with Research Triangle in North Carolina through the development of institutional capacity for research.  He offers his view that the Times-Picayune newspaper aggressively attacked him as mayor for his boisterous personality but also that his status as mayor challenged conventional power structures within New Orleans.  Note:  This interview is held in the mayor’s office and there are intermittent interruptions to the interview, including the first few minutes of this recording.

Item 6: Peggy Murison Interviewee, 1979 May 14Add to your cart.
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Item 7: Peggy Murison Interviewee [continued], 1979 May 14Add to your cart.
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Item 8: Peggy Murison Interviewee, 1988 July 13Add to your cart.

Side A: Peggy Murison begins the interview by describing her upbringing in New Jersey, including her father’s liberal perspectives on politics.  She describes how she left nursing school because she found the environment to authoritarian and prescribed.  Murison continues to overview her career and describe her family background.  She describes her first experiences encountering racial and ethnic prejudice.  Rogers asks how Murison became a political liberal, which she explains as the result of a “strong feeling of fairness.”

Murison then begins to detail her activist work in public education in New Orleans.  She talks about corruption and crony politics at the Orleans Parish School Board and her work to influence voters against this “corrupt machine.”  She mentions enlisting the help of A. P. Tureaud and A. M. Trudeau in these efforts.  She describes how the attorney who handled the act of sale on a real estate transaction asked Murison if she would consider a leadership role in Save Our Schools (SOS).  She describes being brought to tears when she saw a desegregated marching band in a Mardi Gras parade.  She mentions having rocks and eggs thrown at her, as well as a near-miss with a truck attempting to hit her and other acts of intimidation.  She also praises the leadership of Mary Sand.

Rogers asks Murison about her opinions on segregationists, and she notes that she appreciated the directness of Mrs. Gaillot and mentions the “Uptown Housewives Association.”  She also describes an incident where she witnessed Leander Perez remove his teeth to clean them publically at a cafeteria and offers “that’s no gentleman!”  She summarizes her activism as such:  “I used to think that if people knew all the facts they would come up with the correct conclusions; I no longer feel that way.”  She summarizes her work with Save Our Schools, particularly in driving schoolchildren and the fear that she felt; she mostly discusses her work driving the Gabriel family and with Lusher school.  She describes her other work with SOS, including speaking in front of the Louisiana State Legislature.

Side B: Peggy Murison continues the interview by talking more about her work as a painter.  Rogers asks Murison about her decision to keep her own children in public schools.  She then overviews her school reform work in Jefferson Parish as well as her other activism in Jefferson Parish, including her leadership of the League of Women Voters there.  Murison talks more about aging and her personal life.  Rogers and Murison continue to discuss their personal lives and questions of happiness in life.

Murison details a meeting she held with other Southern activists and Lillian Smith.  She continues to offer the ways in which her political opinions have changed through the years.  Rogers and Murison then have a conversation about contemporary politics with the backdrop of the 1988 presidential election.

Item 9: John O'Neal Interviewee, 1988 June 22Add to your cart.

Side A: John O’Neal describes his upbringing in Mound City, Illinois, as the eldest of three born to two schoolchildren.  He explains that Mound City was also a segregated town, and that it wasn’t until he was in high school that he “had social relations with White people.”  O’Neal continues to detail the social aspects of segregation, including the “danger associated with getting out of place.”  He talks about terms of address for interracial associations and how to handle condescending language, and notes that the same terms of address would be used more reverently to older African Americans.  He explains that African Americans are always dealing with issues of race, even when issues of race are not explicitly foregrounded.  He describes one incident with his father giving a Negro History Week address on the local radio station as among his influential moments of his childhood.  He also discusses cross burnings that occurred in his childhood around nearby Cairo, Illinois.  O’Neal explains how he wrote a letter to the state superintendent describing how his own local schools were still segregated several years after Brown v. Board.

O’Neal begins to explain how he started as a writer.  He describes the influence of his grandfather, a minister who was more interested in the moral and philosophical aspects of being a priest rather than the “entertainment” side and as a result “never had a church.”  O’Neal mentions that he faced some moderate family pressure to become a minister himself, though he adds that he was mostly interested in the “issues” and was put off by hypocrisy of many of his fellow churchgoers:  “I concluded that maybe this was a shortcoming of the people in the church.”  He describes reading widely about different beliefs at a young age and how this led him to think more critically about the Christian concept of original sin as the “failure to live up to your values,” “the junction between asserted value and lived value” which, starting in high school, caused him to think about civil disobedience.  He notes the work of Socrates as being particularly influential.  He again mentions the influence of his grandfather, but adds that the Montgomery Bus Boycott also started to change his thinking in dramatic ways.  He briefly details his life as a student at Southern Illinois University and he helped found a SNCC analogue, the Nonviolent Freedom Committee on campus.  He also adds that housing for African American students in Carbondale, Illinois, was particularly difficult to obtain off-campus.

O’Neal explains how his early activism in Illinois led him to realize that his more useful work in theater would be in the South and not in New York, where he offers that folks there are more concerned with the “business of theater.”  He describes moving to Albany, Georgia, around the time of the Bay of Pigs invasion after graduating college.  He explains a pervasive fear of communism, even noting that his history of philosophy courses in college stopped well short of discussing Marx and other similar thinkers.  He adds that without wide public discourse on communistic thought people develop a "bunch of covert notions that you try to develop without talking to anybody about."

Side B: John O’Neal explains that there was substantially less anti-communist sentiment in SNCC compared to other contemporary civil rights organizations, something he attributes to Jim Forman’s own philosophies and pragmatism, as well as efforts “not to engage people at the level of ideological debate but to engage people at the level of work.”  He describes a violent attack of demonstrators at one event, where men wielding a pipe and a chain attacked protestors.  John Lewis happened to be at that demonstration, though O’Neal explains how none of the civil rights leaders knew how to respond.  He adds that he eventually left Albany to work in Mississippi, largely due to the lack of college-educated workers in Mississippi.  He overviews work in Greenwood and Jackson, Mississippi.  He describes the “dreadful commonness of the work” and adds that while there were certainly dramatic moments, he suggests that the daily work of a political organizer was fairly routine and perhaps even mundane.

O’Neal then talks more about his current writing projects, including plays, essays, and poetry, including a collaboration with the San Francisco Mime Troupe.  He then discusses the Free Southern Theater (FST) in more detail.  He describes how his work with FST allowed him to synthesize social and political values with his professional ambitions of being a playwright.  He summarizes the early years of FST with fellow co-founders Doris Derby and Gilbert Moses.  He explains how FST was just “one of those instruments” to function as a “mirror of the entire resources of society” “to dramatize the problem that had to be solved,” and was an artistic corollary to the Freedom Summer and other activist work in Mississippi.  By creating relevant and applicable works for FST audiences, the audiences “come alive to the concerns” of the Movement.

He then briefly describes his trial as a conscientious objector, though the court dropped the charges against him before the case progressed.  He mentions the personalities he came across through his work, including playing basketball with Andrew Young, Martin Luther King Jr., and James Forman, among the “remarkable confluence of circumstances that have influenced his work.”  He connects how these experiences help him create relevant work for underserved theater audiences, adding that “content is the center of the artistic enterprise and form is the instrument.”

Item 10: John O'Neal Interviewee [continued], 1988 June 22Add to your cart.

Side A: John O’Neal discusses the historical legacy of the Civil Rights Movement, offering his view that the “people make history” and that the legacy of the Movement is in everyday people instead of its leaders.  He adds that by doing a lot of historical theater lately he has been afforded the necessary “time and distance” to interpret that history.  Rogers asks about his closest relationships during the 1960s, and O’Neal answers by saying that his strongest civil rights-era friendships are more familial in nature, and that these connections continue to afford him access.  He names Ed Brown and Julian Bond as two of his closer friends, though adding that the latter has “low-roaded it” in his more recent years.  He also names Lolie Elie, adding “there’s something like loyalty and friendship in this provincial town.”

He adds that when he travels he tries to stay with “Movement folk.” O’Neal continues that “work has a dominating impact on your life and not friendship have a dominating impact on your work… work has a leading role, and some people try to function as if that’s not so.”  The interview closes by him mentioning how his professional work interferes with his personal lives.

Note:  O’Neal’s interviews are interrupted throughout as he instructs his young children on how to file and collate his office papers.

Item 11: John P. Nelson Interviewee, 1978 June 27Add to your cart.
Item 12: John P. Nelson Interviewee [continued], 1978 June 27Add to your cart.
Item 13: John P. Nelson Interviewee, 1979 April 23Add to your cart.

Side A: Kim Lacy Rogers begins the interview by asking John Nelson to overview his legal work with Civil Rights Movement activists.  Nelson answers that his answer was more “simple and obvious” than her question, and that he had long been interested in civil rights causes before his involvement.  He explains how approached activists protesting at McCrory’s department store in New Orleans and identified himself as a lawyer:  “And once I did that it was very difficult for me to unidentify myself… I was hooked.”  Nelson describes the origins of his close partnership with Lolis Elie, who was a classmate and friend of Nelson’s brother in law school, both of whom held a study group which often met at the house of Jack Nelson while in law school.  He adds that while he did not consider himself a social reformer, “they somehow found me, all in my role as a lawyer.”  He continues that  early in his work “it was the responsibility of the Whites to open the doors, but I did not feel that the Blacks needed any more White leaders.”

Rogers asks Nelson about his work in the case Lombard vs. Louisiana and how an earlier incarnation of that case was Goldfinch vs. Louisiana changed names.  Nelson mentions how he initially informed White clients quietly of his civil rights work so they could decide whether to stick with Nelson as his lawyer to spare any embarrassment.    Nelson begins to discuss his work on the desegregation of Tulane University:  “Tulane was the last major university in the world that was segregated,” adding that a university in South Africa desegregated before Tulane.  He depicts the impetus for the school’s desegregation as efforts to retain federal funding.  He notes that Paul Tulane’s will indicated that the university be designated solely to educate Whites and suggests that university officials encouraged the lawsuit.  Nelson notes that “I still can’t explain why I took  [the case],” adding that he did not make any money from his work on the case.  He describes how he utilized a cypres doctrine to have a judge reinterpret Paul Tulane’s intentions and that Skelly Wright’s judicial opinion favored Nelson though his successor as judge reversed Wright’s initial opinion.

Nelson describes his upbringing on Valentine Plantation in Lafourche Parish and his opinion of growing up in segregation, as well as growing up unaware of his own prejudices.  He describes how the economist and sociologist Louis Twomey changing his thinking on race and social issues.    He describes the Citizens’ Council as the “Uptown Klan” and how a friend once tried to convince him to join the group, which he depicts as very influential in the mid-1950s.  He details the prominence of Leander Perez in the 1950s:  “Leander Perez was the Citizens’ Council.”  Nelson mentions that he filed a libel suit against George Singelman and the Citizens’ Committee due to baseless accusations of “communism.”  Nelson continues to offer examples of how the accusation of being a communist sympathizer was a pervasive threat in New Orleans into the 1950s.  Nelson details how in his 1958 campaign for the Orleans Parish School Board he had the accusations of being communist and his civil rights work used as tools against him.  Nelson explained how he countered these accusations in public forums during his campaign – that he went to mass everyday, displayed his war medals, and countered that his opponent’s daughter was attending a desegregated university in the north.

Side B: Jack Nelson explains that he was “skeptical of organizations” and primarily represented individuals in his legal work.  He also describes how organizations like CORE recruited non-Southern lawyers for more effective fundraising.  However, he adds that his efforts to recruit Southern lawyers into more civil rights work were unsuccessful.  Nelson notes that the Kennedy administration encouraged establishing legal offices as part of local economic development campaigns, which helped him build his career in the 1960s.  He offers that A. P. Tureaud and Moon Landrieu opposed these developments because they were a poor allocation of limited city resources and required that many lawyers be consumed with comparatively trivial legal issues such as traffic violations and the like. 

  Nelson and Rogers discuss the work of the Black Panthers in New Orleans, though Nelson shifts the conversation to emphasize the work of the Deacons for Defense and Justice:  “Panthers are pussycats compared to the Deacons.”  Nelson briefly outlines his work with the Black Panthers through the New Orleans Legal Assistance Corporation (NOLAC).  He continues to overview his work with NOLAC and describes his chief function as president of that group as defending the NOLAC lawyers.  Rogers asks Nelson about a critique of his organization as one that redistributes wealth and resources, and he answers that this is exactly at the heart of the work of NOLAC in addition to protecting the fourteen amendment and personal rights in general.  He describes Lombard vs. Louisiana in specific detail as well as the opposition of city leaders and police to sit-ins.

Item 14: John P. Nelson Interviewee [continued], 1979 April 23Add to your cart.

Side A: Jack Nelson begins this recording by asking Rogers more about her ongoing academic project on New Orleans Civil Rights Movement activism.

Note:  The second half of this recording is inaudible due to physical problems with the original audiocassette.

Item 15: John P. Nelson Interviewee, 1979 May 3Add to your cart.
Currently unavailable for listening.
Item 16: John P. Nelson Interviewee, 1988 June 22Add to your cart.
Item 17: John P. Nelson Interviewee [continued], 1988 June 22Add to your cart.
Item 18: John P. Nelson Interviewee, 1988 July 28Add to your cart.
Quiet volume.
Item 19: Revius Ortique Interviewee, 1978 November 8 and 29Add to your cart.
Item 20: Revius Ortique Interviewee [continued], 1978 November 29Add to your cart.
Item 21: Revius Ortique Interviewee, 1979 November 21Add to your cart.
Item 22: Revius Ortique Interviewee, 1988 July 1Add to your cart.

Side A: Revius Ortique begins the interview by discussing his early life and background in New Orleans.  He describes his family background, including the priority his parents placed on education.  He attended both public schools earlier and his last year of high school at Godet Normal and Industrial School, where his siblings also attended. He describes how he attended Xavier University on scholarship until he lost his scholarship and transferred to Dillard University.  He explains family history rooted in slavery as well as his grandfather, who was born in China.  He briefly describes his grandfather’s life in New Orleans.

Rogers asks Ortique how his parents taught him about segregation.  He answers by providing anecdotes of encounters his father had with his White boss and other frustrating and demeaning experiences around New Orleans.  He explains how Arthur Chapital asked him to go on the radio and ask for a boycott of McDonogh Days and offers that through this experience he discovered a gift for oratory.  He overviews his years in graduate school at Indiana University and later law school at Southern University.    He mentions working with Lionel Collins on an equal employment case in the late 1950s, which he describes as the first such case in the New Orleans area.  Ortique also details the influence of A. P. Tureaud, and how he was part of a group of young lawyers mentored by Tureaud through Saturday conversations over a period of several years in the 1950s: “I got a sense of excitement about the Civil Rights Movement then.”  Ortique describes how he once approached Tureaud about how he does not charge enough for his legal services, but Tureaud answered that he primarily serves poor clientele and did not seek to charge a more typical rate.    Ortique also names George Snowden, whose influence led to Ortique’s attendance at Indiana University.

He describes Albert Dent’s impact on his life, who “sort of adopted [Ortique].”  He explains how he served as Dent’s successor on the presidentially-appointed Federal Hospital Council at Dent’s recommendation.  He also overviews his involvement with the Urban League.  He describes how he served as “chief negotiator for the Black community” during early civil rights protest demonstrations in New Orleans.  He also adds that “the Black community did not trust Albert Dent; they felt that he was too close to the White community,” such as the Sterns and people “they considered to be oppressors.”  Ortique offers that Dent could have probably served as better in the role as negotiator than Ortique himself, but was not afforded the opportunity.  He describes others in the “White silk stocking community,” such as Harry Kelleher and Richard Freeman.  He also mentions that C. C. Dejoie Sr. added Ortique on retainer to serve as council to The Louisiana Weekly:  “He was paying me a monthly stipend to be able to feel free in the Black community.”  He adds that African American protestors may have tried too hard to compromise with White leaders of New Orleans.

Side B: Revius Ortique mentions threats from the Ku Klux Klan while working in Bogalusa: “There’s no question the Ku Klux Klan tried to do me in in Bogalusa.”  He also describes being given a handgun during a meeting in Bogalusa for self-protection.  He also details his close working relationship and friendship with Lionel Collins, though adds “frequently I weighed his advice and did something else.”  He describes how on several occasions he was the “representative of the Black community” and often the only African American in a room of several dozen during political discussions with New Orleans leaders and as the head of the Health Authority Administration of New Orleans.

Item 23: Revius Ortique Interviewee, 1988 July 26Add to your cart.
Item 24: Jack Peebles Interviewee, 1979 May 2Add to your cart.
Item 25: Jack Peebles Interviewee [continued], 1979 May 2Add to your cart.
Item 26: Jack Peebles Interviewee, 1988 June 21Add to your cart.
Box 8Add to your cart.
Item 1: Jackson Ricau Interviewee, 1978 November 17Add to your cart.
Item 2: Jackson Ricau Interviewee [continued], 1978 November 17Add to your cart.
Item 3: George Singelmann and Cullen Vetter Interviewees, 1978 November 15Add to your cart.

Side A: George Singelmann begins the interview by talking his trips to Washington, DC, with Leander Perez and talks about how the Communist Party was responsible for funding Civil Rights Movement in particular because several aspects of their protests seemed so well-funded:  “no news media has ever taken the trouble to inform the people about it.”  Vetter asks Singelman if the “Citizens’ Council movement” was originated more by Leander Perez or Roy Harris, and Singelmann answers that Perez was likely the originator.  Singelmann offers his thoughts on the origins of the NAACP.  Rogers asks who the most active participants in the White Citizens’ Council in New Orleans were, and he answers that “you don’t have enough paper with you to list their names … every category of the business world that you could mention were involved.”  Vetter adds that they should not name names without the consent of the former member.  Singelmann adds that with a “vindictive” African American mayor currently in office, there may be consequences to naming anyone’s prior involvement with the Council.  Vetter adds that membership in the city was so large that they had to divide members into districts based on neighborhoods.  Singelmann defends Perez by stating that Perez was principally concerned with fighting communism and that any defense of segregation was an “offshoot” of this primary concern.

Singelmann adds that his primary vocation was as a “newspaper man” and Vetter says he was in the hardware business.  Vetter and Singelmann claim they had several death threats made against them, particularly during their involvement with orchestrating the “reverse freedom rides.”  They then detail this scheme, claiming that they eventually received some thank you letters from African Americans tricked into traveling to northern cities.  He describes how he organized Citizens’ Council members to support merchants who were the targets of boycott campaigns, particularly by Mississippi African American leaders in Natchez and Fayette.  Vetter and Singelmann continue to discuss the operations of the White Citizens’ Council, and Singelmann notes having known David Duke since Duke was a child.  Singelmann praises Duke’s intellect at length.  Throughout, Singelmann claims that he was harassed routinely by federal officials and law enforcement and reiterates that he was never involved in any violent activity.

Side B: George Singelmann and Cullen Vetter continue their interview with Kim Lacy Rogers.  Rogers asks about the factor of religion in the Citizens’ Council.  Singelmann notes that while many members were Catholic, the church took a hard stance against the group, ultimately resulting in the excommunication of several leading and more outspoken segregationists.  Vetter and Singelmann discuss a Dr. Irvin who was a spokesperson for the group and a noted New Orleans surgeon.  They continue to discuss Citizens’ Council activities throughout Louisiana and note law enforcement harassment and even brutality against several members.  Rogers asks Vetter more about his personal background and his presidency of the Citizens’ Council.  Rogers asks about the organization’s role in the New Orleans school desegregation crisis.  Singelmann offers his opinions on integrated schools.  Vetter and Singelmann each attribute desegregated schools and workforces to substandard conditions in New Orleans.

Rogers asks about the more recent activities of the Council, but Singelmann expresses reluctance to answer.  Singelmann does ultimately concede that the organization is active politically, but that he does not want any of that work to be public information because any association with the Council would reflect poorly on a political candidate.  Rogers asks if there are any plans to donate organizational records to an archive, but Singelmann and Vetter answer that members’ privacy is a condition of membership itself.

Item 4: George Singelmann and Cullen Vetter Interviewees [continued], 1978 November 15Add to your cart.

Side A: George Singelmann continues the interview by applying fringe social theories to account for his perceived differences in intellect between African Americans and other racial groups, a gap he says begins in early adolescence.  Singelmann and Cullen Vetter discuss “white flight” and plans for the Citizens’ Council to be more active in voter registration to counter voter apathy.  Both men discuss the aging population of his group's members.

Singelmann overviews his career working at newspapers, and notes that he almost moved to Washington when he lost his job at the New Orleans Item.  Instead, he got another newspaper job in New Orleans and he describes how he became more active in politics.  He mentions a local television program he had with Leander Perez.  He describes how “Judge Perez” rigged an election and notes that his group “made” George Wallace.  Vetter describes how he was in the hardware business and how his other “variety store” suffered when nearby McDonogh 19 became a majority-Black school.    Both men overview the current activities of the Citizens’ Council, including their ongoing communication with members and willingness to continue to accept invitations to speak.  They continue to discuss past activities, including their applications of fringe social theories.  They discuss that their children all attended parochial schools and summarize the career paths and present work of their children.

Item 5: Dorotha Smith Simmons Interviewee, 1988 July 27Add to your cart.
Item 6: Jerome Smith Interviewee, 1988 July 8Add to your cart.

Side A: Jerome Smith begins the interview by talking about his upbringing in New Orleans, including his involvement in small civil rights protests from the 1940s insisting that his mother be treated with respect in stores.  He describes his mom’s talents and strengths, naming her as one of the chief influences on his life.  He mentions a time his father pushed the sign on the St. Charles streetcar indicating segregated seating to the ground and another time he did the same thing on the St. Claude streetcar.  He describes how Paul Robeson was a major influence on his parents and in turn himself.  He describes the physical strength of his father and how that emboldened him to stand up for his beliefs.

Kim Lacy Rogers shifts the conversation to Smith’s involvement in CORE.  He notes that he was a Southern University student when sit-ins began in North Carolina, and how this student activism influenced him.  He overviews the importance of organized labor in his family and on his life and career at points.  He mentions that Oretha Casle his classmate at Clark High School.  Smith remarks on the “absence of loneliness” as his greatest memory in his years with New Orleans CORE, and how the group united around causes larger than themselves.  He describes the Civil Rights Movement as a “prayer” and that any failures were their inability to “maintain that prayer of service.”  He overviews some of local CORE’s work around the area, as well as in McComb, Mississippi.  He discusses others involved in the group, particularly the Thompson sisters.

Side B: Jerome Smith continues to discuss young people today in addition to the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement.  He describes his perception of the Civil Rights Movement as one who was involved as an activist.  He again discusses the influence of his mother when asked about his goals in his participation in the Civil Rights Movement.  He continues to analogize Civil Rights Movement activism as a prayer: “work, fight, struggle.”

Item 7: Jerome Smith Interviewee [continued], 1988 July 8Add to your cart.

This tape also contains the continuation of the July 8, 1988, interview with Bruce Waltzer

Side A: Jerome Smith talks about Tambourine and Fan, and he mentions how an anonymous gift allowed them to purchase a building for that organization.  He discusses Tambourine and Fan in more detail.  He describes his work as a “community organizer,” which he sees as an extension of his CORE fieldwork.  He explains that what defines his work the most are his efforts to work to “give every child a chance.”

Item 8: Jerome Smith Interviewee, 1988 July 26Add to your cart.
Item 9: Llewellyn Soniat Interviewee, 1988 June 2Add to your cart.

Side A: Llewellyn Soniat begins the interview by describing his family background and upbringing in the Carrollton neighborhood of New Orleans.  When prompted by Rogers, he describes his first memories of awareness of segregation, when he explains that he attended some all-White Catholic parishes as a young child.  He notes early awareness of segregated public facilities.  He mentions his time at Xavier University, where he played football and basketball and he details segregated conditions for the congregation at Immaculate Conception Church (Jesuit Church).  He describes meetings with Archbishop Rummel to discuss desegregation of Catholic schools.  He describes the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the results of a mass protest as a key influence for his life in activism and his involvement with the NAACP, noting that he was familiar with Montgomery due to visits to Alabama State for athletics.

He discusses his work with the NAACP recruiting the young African American girls who were the first to desegregate previously-all-White public schools in New Orleans.  He describes relationships with the parents of these girls.  He views New Orleans as atypical from other American cities, noting fairly integrated neighborhoods:  “There was no other side of the track for us.”  He mentions Raphael Cassimere’s co-leadership during picketing on Canal Street.  He describes that during this time he was a University of New Orleans student and also starting a young family.

He details the protests on Canal Street with members of the NAACP Youth Council.  He laments that young picketers were not well-compensated for their work:  “The most we could do was offer a cheap hamburger and a soft drink.”  He explains that the NAACP Youth Council voted on whether to maintain pickets on Canal Street, adding that it was members who did not themselves picket whose votes influenced the decision to maintain the protest.  He describes an incident where he and a friend attempted to get a drink in the Gert Town neighborhood and got in a fight with off-duty police who frequently patronized that bar, ultimately settling out of court for $2,000.

Side B: Llewellyn Soniat continues his interview by discussing protests in downtown New Orleans, specifically an encounter at the Kress building where White supporters were attacked by a more “militant” protestor, ultimately resulting in a lawsuit against the NAACP and Soniat’s own incarceration.  Additionally, he notes another violent attack against an undercover police officer surveilling the protestors:  “[The Movement] was getting a little too militant for me, then.  When you hit police officers you’re lucky to come out of it with your life.”  He discusses contributions of NAACP Youth Council outsiders, such as Dutch Morial, who often provided legal advice to the group.  He mentions working on campaigning for Morial’s first mayoral campaign and his career in the post office.

Rogers asks Soniat what his activism has done for his life, and he offers that the major lessons include how to live with dignity.  He adds that when he left working for the United States Postal, he campaigned for local office.  Discussing contemporary politics, he mentions that his alliances are with Michael Dukakis over Jesse Jackson, following Dutch Morial’s allegiances.  He mentions close relationships with individuals like Avery Alexander and Raphael Cassimere, adding that Alexander was still a “close ally in the Civil Rights Movement… that’s more than we can say for some of the other Black politicians.”  He discusses his career with the NAACP, describing an incident when his White foreman at the post office called out Soniat for wearing his small NAACP button at fork.

He describes his education at Xavier Prep, noting he was the first of his siblings to attend this school and that there was only one public high school for African Americans at that time.  He describes his family background, including his mother’s matriculation from Leland College, work as a teacher, and then later as a domestic worker.  The interview ends with Rogers discussing her ongoing project on civil rights activism in New Orleans.

Item 10: Matt Suarez Interviewee, 1988 June 20Add to your cart.
Transferred from duplicate. Original tape needs repair.
Item 11: Matt Suarez Interviewee [continued], 1988 June 20Add to your cart.
Tape damaged
Item 12: Alice Thompson Interviewee, 1988 July 25Add to your cart.

Side A: Alice Thompson begins the interview by discussing her upbringing in New Orleans, where she grew up in the Ninth Ward.  She overviews the background of her parents as well as family dynamics.  Thompson explains how her sister Jean got her involved with the local NAACP youth program.  She describes how her parents trained her and her siblings to answer “yes” and “no” rather than “yes, ma’am” because her parents did not want their children to conform to segregation-era manners of addressing Whites.

Thompson explains how her father lost his job due to the civil rights activism of his children, noting that he himself became involved as an activist in the 1970s, when she describes him as “one of the most militant people in the Lower Ninth Ward.”  She notes that her first experiences with activist involved protesting on Canal Street, including in front of the Woolworth’s.  She mentions her involvement with voter registration in smaller Louisiana towns, including Clinton, Plaquemine, and Hammond.  She observes that the Voting Rights Act emboldened more African American citizens to be engaged in voter registration.  Thompson adds that she attended Southern University – New Orleans (SUNO) during this time, off-and-on.  Thompson overviews her present work and career since her activism in the 1960s, noting active involvement in SOUL.

She acknowledges the mentorship of Oretha Castle Haley, Rudy Lombard, and Jerome Smith.  She notes her disappointment that “not too much has changed” in the twenty-five years since the Civil Rights Movement, observing that “you can legislate laws but you can’t legislate feelings.”  Rogers and Thompson discuss more contemporary events, including the presidential campaign of Jesse Jackson and drugs in African American communities.

Item 13: Daniel C. Thompson Interviewee, 1974 May 23Add to your cart.
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Item 14: Daniel C. Thompson Interviewee [continued], 1974 May 23Add to your cart.
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Item 15: Bruce Waltzer Interviewee, 1979 May 17Add to your cart.
Item 16: Bruce Waltzer Interviewee [continued], 1979 May 17Add to your cart.
Item 17: Bruce Waltzer Interviewee, 1988 July 8Add to your cart.
Item 18: Betty Wisdom Interviewee, 1978 November 17Add to your cart.
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Item 19: Betty Wisdom Interviewee [continued], 1978 November 17Add to your cart.
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Item 20: Betty Wisdom Interviewee, 1979 May 1Add to your cart.
Item 21: Betty Wisdom Interviewee [continued], 1979 May 1Add to your cart.
Item 22: Betty Wisdom Interviewee, 1988 June 14Add to your cart.

Side A: Rogers begins the interview by asking Betty Wisdom about how she came to learn of segregation, and she answers that as a child she remembered her family’s domestic cook stating that she could not vote and she asked her father explained that African Americans had a difficult time registering to vote.  She describes how her tenure on the board of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans in the 1950s further awakened her to civil rights causes, as well as the mentorship of her aunt Rosa Keller.

Wisdom continues to discuss her family background as well as being brought up with the strong belief that one person could make a difference.  She explains that after her divorce her uncle suggested that she would then need to be more involved in the community.  Wisdom continues that her family anticipated her involvement would be more with “genteel Republican things” such as the symphony and women’s organizations instead of her more progressive political work with Adlai Stevenson’s campaign and local school board elections, in addition to many other causes.  She adds that this was on top of her full time employment until 1960.

Wisdom overviews her work with Save Our Schools (SOS), including the several threats of violence she was confronted with.  Though she never truly feared for her safety, for Wisdom a bigger fear was “turning people off” through her activism, her own family in particular.  When asked how she came to be interested in such activism, she answers that it was primarily through her friend Jack Sledge as well as through attending college at Mount Holyoke.  Sledge “made [Wisdom] see outside of the world I was born in.”  Wisdom describes SOS as a cause that united people of different backgrounds around an important cause.  She details how she testified in front of the state legislature against pro-segregationist bills and discusses McCarthyism in New Orleans, particularly the raiding of a local office of the Southern Conference Educational Fund.  She also explains why SOS was an all-White organization, in part by design, though the organization worked interracially with other organizations.

Wisdom continues to overview other work, including campaign work, principally as an office volunteer and a donor.  She names Lolis Elie and his wife as her closest African American friends.  She also overviews her work on the board of the ACLU, discussing targeted police violence against gays in New Orleans as well as race-based violence from police.  Wisdom then talks about serving on the board of the League of Women Voters, which she joined after the organization desegregated.

Wisdom discusses the desegregation of New Orleans public schools in more detail, describing a student protest at Junior University of New Orleans (JUNO) on St. Charles Avenue where students threw furniture out of the window to protest deplorable conditions at the school, including the absence of their teachers for several days and incompetent and corrupt school leadership.  She also goes into great detail about neighborhood opposition to the Audubon Zoo.  She talks about a close relationship with Sybil Morial while working with her on New Orleans parks.  She explains how disagreement with Dutch Morial over how the Audubon Zoo would be administered led to their falling out.  Wisdom also describes the political views of her parents.

Side B: Betty Wisdom describes her work running two city-wide elections for the Human Relations Committee.  She describes her close relationship in politics with her cousin Mary Zervigon.  She continues to discuss politics in New Orleans, through her work with various projects and city organizations, including the Friends of the Zoo and the Park Commission.  Rogers asks Wisdom to explain family influences in more detail, particularly how her family influenced her activism.  She continues to detail family dynamics and the personalities of her parents, including their social views and opinions on race relations.

When Rogers asks about her most rewarding experiences in life, Wisdom answers that through her activism she “really started to live in 1960.”  She admits that she also enjoyed some of the power and prestige which has resulted from this work.  She adds that her most rewarding work had been with Save Our Schools and the Park Commission and that in the former capacity she learned “what utter fools most of the local business community are.”  She adds her perception that women have been more involved in the important behind-the-scenes work:  “I found out during that time how little men actually do of the things people commonly think they do.  Women do those things.”

Item 23: J. Skelly Wright Interviewee, 1978 December 9Add to your cart.

Side A: The interview begins with Glenda Stevens asking Skelly Wright about his opinion to opposition to public school desegregation and he overviews the government responses to school desegregation in New Orleans.  He describes preparations made, including an influx of U. S. Marshals into a twenty-mile radius of New Orleans, and he explains how he met with Marshals the morning the children were first set to enter previously all-White schools.  He explains how local police attempted to prevent U. S. Marshals from entering the targeted schools and adds that the White Citizens Council’s agitation included leaders of White New Orleans and served as a significant force of opposition against the federal decree.

Wright explains how achieving equality for African Americans has been a multi-decades process, including the Civil War and subsequent constitutional amendments.  He discusses the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board, which allowed them to “pay full respect to the outcome of the Civil War.”    Stevens asks Wright about his most important judicial decision while he was in New Orleans, and he answers that Bush v. Orleans served as a precursor to desegregation in Little Rock in that it provided a test for how federal courts could enforce the Brown decision.  Stevens asks Wright to characterize the Louisiana State Legislature during his time as a judge.  He describes the legislature as a unified voice supporting segregation, aside from the occasional vocalized dissent of Moon Landrieu.    Note:  Glenda Stevens begins the interview by explaining that she is filling in for Kim Lacy Rogers, who had to leave town and was unable to conduct the interview.

Side B: Stevens asks Skelly Wright if he felt threatened or intimidated from members of Louisiana’s power structure while he was judge, and he answers that he never was in any severe way.  He adds that his family suffered the most, and that his son, who attended a private school, was often “affected by the children of all the nice families.”  He discusses that he once considered enrolling his son in a public school, but that ultimately it would have been at his son’s expense and based on some misguided sense of heroism from Judge Wright.  He discusses applications of the “separate but equal” doctrine, concluding “compelled segregation could never be equal.”  He offers that the role of a federal judge became “more significant” after the Brown decision.

Item 24: Kalamu ya Salaam Interviewee, 1979 May 18Add to your cart.

Side A: Rogers begins the interview with Kalamu ya Salaam by asking him about his involvement with student protests at Southern University – New Orleans – (SUNO).  Salaam answers that he came out of the army in 1968 and overviews his reorientation to New Orleans, his native city, including involvement with the Free Southern Theater and BLKARTSOUTH.  He explains that these connections and his recent enrollment in SUNO spurred activism.  He offers that the Free Southern Theater’s contributors were involved in Black Power activism.  He adds that he was a member of the NAACP’s Youth Council beginning in the early 1960s and involved in protests in New Orleans.  He describes his one year at Carleton College, where he was among a very small number of African American students.  He details his family origins as well as his friends and classmates at St. Augustine High School.

Asked to name the influenced that shaped his consciousness, Salaam details his military service in Korea, where his experience was primarily with chemical and biological weapons.  He discusses the presence of military veterans in the Civil Rights Movement and challenges any assertion that the Movement was primarily a “student movement.”  He adds that the Civil Rights Movement “trained” leaders of subsequent American social movements, a fact which “has not been fully appreciated.”

He continues to discuss the protests at SUNO, and his involvement in a SUNO group, the Afro-American Society.  He describes strategies and plans devised before the protest.  He suggests that there may have been an informant in his group, because they seemed prepared for the occupancy of the SUNO administrative building.  He details the protest, which involved taking down the campus’ American flag and replacing it with a black liberation flag; Salaam adds that he placed the US flag in a campus mailbox.  He describes the response and actions of Emmett Bashful as SUNO representative to the press.  He overviews law enforcement response to the conflict.  He offers that any charges were vague aside from “desecration of an American flag.”  Salaam observes that he and the other student protestors distrusted most SUNO administrators who he says have a reputation for dishonesty.

Side B: Kalamu ya Salaam continues his discussion on the student protests at Southern University – New Orleans (SUNO).  He mentions students’ conflicts with SUNO administrator Emmett Bashful as well as “police overreaction.”  Salaam describes the SUNO demonstrations as among the “least well-known and best organized student strikes.”  He names several of the other student protestors with more information about their present work.  He describes the process of a student newsletter, Black Liberation Express, issued weekly throughout the protests.

Salaam observes that this was simultaneous with a city-wide public school teachers strike and that for his involvement resulted in his expulsion and a two-year injunction from setting foot on SUNO campus and adds that one faction of the dissenting students called themselves Dem Bad Niggers for Regression.  Salaam explains the national and regional political backdrop for the SUNO student protests.  He adds that a large group of SUNO students then attempted to transfer to LSUNO upon their expulsion, which itself became a mass demonstration.

After his SUNO years, Salaam focused more on community involvement, youth education, and his writings and creative works, particularly through BLKARTSOUTH.  He continues to overview how he cofounded a preschool, was one of the first writers for Black Collegian, and helped establish Ahidiana, a book store, community resource, and press.

Rogers and Salaam discuss the NAACP Youth Council, his associations with Raphael Cassimere and Dutch Morial, and Salaam’s ultimate disenchantment with their work and political strategies in New Orleans.  He describes that “when the Civil Rights Movement hit full force the NAACP was unable to deal with youth.”  As an “adult-oriented” organization, with “all of their aspirations [developed] in a different era.”  Salaam discusses the parallels between African independence movements and the Civil Rights Movement, including some mention of the number of Africans attending American colleges in the 1960s, and their participation in the Movement.  He then describes Pan-Africanism and Black Nationalism.  He closes this recording by overviewing his present work, primarily as an editor and writer.

Item 25: Kalamu ya Salaam Interviewee [continued], 1979 May 18Add to your cart.

Side A: Kalamu ya Salaam continues his interview by discussing his present work, including the founding of Ahidiana, an organization he helped to establish to challenge racism, sexism, and capitalism, what he describes as the “three pillars of American power.”  He describes how Ahidiana was established to be independent of external funding and was organized around common goals and values rather than the personalities of individual members.  He continues to discuss coalition building and Ahidiana:  “We have to organize ourselves first before we can organize others.”

Kalamu ya Salaam explains how the Black Nationalist and pre-Black Arts component of the Civil Rights Movement influenced his later work, and notes friendships with personalities such as Amiri Baraka and Sonia Sanchez.  He overviews his present involvement with New Orleans politics and negotiations for improved media for African Americans through Media Watch.

Item 26: Kalamu ya Salaam Interviewee, 1988 June 17Add to your cart.
Item 27: Dottie and Bob Zellner Interviewees, 1979 May 8Add to your cart.
Poor sound quality.
Item 28: Dottie and Bob Zellner Interviewees, 1979 May 21Add to your cart.

Side A: Bob Zellner begins the interview by describing his work in labor organizing and soliciting more involvement of White southerners, particularly working class Mississippians, in civil rights activism.  He describes working with Mississippi woodcutters in these efforts.  He briefly mentions his work with the Southern Conference Educational Fund (SCEF) and that organizations’ Gulf Project and explains how his background as a carpenter informed his later work in labor organizing.  Dottie Zellner overviews her career as a nurse and both describe their work with SCEF’s Gulf Project.  They name individuals they collaborated with on this project and explain its basic ethos in working to counter stereotypes of Whites as a “monolith” and to foster participation in interracial progressive causes beyond that of just economic elites, out of common goals and interests.  She notes that there had not been much organization among working class Whites since the Great Depression.  She adds that Fannie Lou Hamer connected the Zellners with working class Whites in the Mississippi Delta and notes the abject poverty among Blacks and Whites alike in this region.  They describe assisting with a mayoral campaign in Mississippi under the Working People’s Independent Party.  Dottie offers that for their first couple years they found it difficult to recruit African Americans to their cause, but that Walter Collins and Lionel McIntyre were among the first to join in.

Bob details organizing at a Masonite Corporation factory in Laurel, Mississippi, and how he gradually gained the support of striking workers at the plant, including rumored Klan influence in the labor union there.  He describes an alliance with Claude Ramsay of the AFL-CIO based in Jackson, Mississippi.  He mentions holding pro-union rallies in Jones County, Mississippi, in a cow pasture, and despite the interracial attendees, which numbered in the hundreds, many of the White members had bumper stickers on their cars promoting George Wallace’s presidential campaign.  Bob describes meeting with a pro-union Klansman, who was able to put aside his segregationist beliefs when it came to union organizing – perhaps without fully acknowledging these contradictions; ultimately, this man jokes that he describes himself as a “joiner” and adds “I’ve joined the Klan and now I’ve joined the civil rights.”  Dottie and Bob overview how their views on race relations have changed – or not – in the intervening years since the 1960s.

Note: This is the second joint interview with Bob and Dottie Zellner.  The first interview with the Zellners, conducted earlier in the same month, has indiscernible audio throughout.

Side B: Dottie Zellner continues the interview by discussing the Women’s Movement and the legacy of the Zellners’ GROW Project (Grass-Roots Organizing Work) in Laurel, Mississippi.  She describes the particulars of organizing in Laurel, Mississippi, and incremental gains made there.  She notes several frustrations with political organizing, citing petty disputes that often disrupt work and sidetrack activists from larger-picture goals as well as the “nerve-wracking” nature of working with people with conflicting goals.

Bob Zellner adds that younger activists working at the time of the interview have a limited sense of the scale of earlier mass movements and a poor understanding of how wide community involvement was mobilized previously.  Zellner discusses similarities with Mobile, Alabama, and New Orleans regarding race relations and civil rights.  Dottie details the differences Protestant and Catholic churches have dealt with issues of race throughout their history in America.  The Zellners discuss race relations in New Orleans and educational options.  They note the lack of leftist political opposition on the campus of Tulane University, noting the lack of any visibility of anti-war sentiment on campus.

Rogers asks about the Zellners’ affiliation with the Free Southern Theater and other “Black militant” groups, though the Zellners dispute that classification of the Theater.  Rogers asks them about the Black Panthers in New Orleans.  Dottie adds that the most significant work in African Americans occurred in “Black community centers,” “rather than the Morials.”  She advocates for Rogers to interview leaders of African American community centers.  As an aside, Bob credits Dottie with creating the logo for the Black Panthers, and Dottie corrects him:  “somebody drew him and I made him Black… I fixed him up a little bit, he was a little scraggly.  One of my unsung contributions.”

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