Gayraud Wilmore interviewed by J. Oscar McCloud, 1981-1982.

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    This Lasca McCleod today
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    is December 20th
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    3rd 1981.
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    I'm about to interview gay
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    right. Well more
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    on his perspectives
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    on my UPC racial
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    justice involvement during the nineteen
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    sixties.
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    This interview is taking place at
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    the Newark airport
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    in Newark New Jersey.
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    Gay I'd like to at the beginning
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    express appreciation to you for
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    your willingness to
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    have this interview on
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    tape for the historical
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    society.
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    I wonder if we might begin
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    with your sharing
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    a little bit about your early
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    background when you were born where
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    your family etc.
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    Also
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    I might say I'm a little
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    pressed almost overwhelmed
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    with these words.
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    Maybe listen to
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    services.
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    Twenty five years.
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    So it's a very valuable
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    exercise and we are beginning
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    welcome the opportunity to
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    cooperate with you in
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    getting this into the archives.
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    Well my name is
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    Garrett will more hear of Stephen
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    Wilmore Jr.
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    I was born
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    Philadelphi
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    on December 20th 1921.
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    I
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    attended
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    grammar school high school
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    and after graduating from
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    Benjamin Franklin High School.
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    After having spent nearly
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    three and a half years at Central High School
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    which was the very fine
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    secondary school
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    in the northeast probably
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    comparable to Boston Latin.
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    That was one of the few
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    high schools that
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    awarded a Bachelor of Arts
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    degree.
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    In those days
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    so I got a good education in such a high
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    school as matter of fact it was essential
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    and some of the professors who
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    remained at Ben Franklin
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    rather than go to central.
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    After that
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    I received
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    tremendous inspiration
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    and motivation
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    to write to speak
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    and I received that from white
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    professors.
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    I often think back
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    it
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    was a white English professor
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    made me realize as
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    I was although I was a little black boy
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    from the north of the ghetto
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    that I had great
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    potential as a writer
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    and would someday perhaps write for
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    a living
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    and this man
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    encouraged me to
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    participate in an essay contest
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    on what Benjamin Franklin means
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    to America has meant
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    to America. What he means to us today.
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    And I won first prize a
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    citywide as a contest.
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    The award was
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    to be the head of a big
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    parade that went down
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    in front of the art museum in
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    downtown Philadelphia
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    and from there to a poor Richet club
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    which is Benjamin Franklin zone club organized
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    and early
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    in the prerevolutionary period
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    and have lunch there
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    and then receive
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    a full membership
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    to the Franklin Institute which
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    was something
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    coveted by scientists
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    authors
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    intellectuals and so last year
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    and also a four year membership to the
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    planetarium
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    or free ticket to enter
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    the planetarium at any time.
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    And I won all that
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    and I remember my father taking me to
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    the four Origi club.
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    I was about a junior
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    in high school
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    and they were surprised because they didn't realize
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    that one of their workers was there
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    with me. When I was a black
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    boy
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    and there was little shuffle there
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    a little uneasiness at
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    the Port Richey club all these
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    mainline Philadelphians
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    city fathers
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    were somewhat taken aback.
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    Well I only mentioned this I don't want
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    to dwell on it to only mention this
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    to say that
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    here was
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    an opening to another world
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    that would not have occurred had it not
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    been
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    encouraged
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    suggested
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    by this.
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    Well let me go on.
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    I went to Lincoln University
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    on a scholarship
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    that was granted by the
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    Synod of the state of Pennsylvania.
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    One of the committeemen of
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    the Democratic Party who lived on my
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    block was able to get me this political
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    scholarship to
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    Lincoln. Otherwise I would have gone
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    into the Merchant Marine
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    and I was just about to leave to go to New
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    York to go into the merchant area.
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    When the scholarship came for
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    I made a hard decision
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    to go to Lincoln rather than
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    with my friend Everett Tomlinson
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    who did go to the merchant marine
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    and whom I had seen since
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    many many years after
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    having venture all of
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    his life and travel to
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    exotic ports all over the world.
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    I went to Lake
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    I graduated.
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    Well while I was in Lincoln I
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    was called to the army.
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    I joined the enlisted reserve corps
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    to stay out of the Second World War
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    hopefully until I graduated.
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    But they called up the enlisted reserve corps
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    in March of nineteen
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    forty three
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    and I and
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    young black college men
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    from Lincoln from Howard
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    Moore and Cheney all
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    of them Dorthy's schools were thrown
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    together in Kent Walters
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    Texas
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    and then
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    after basic training
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    place in the 90 Second Infantry
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    Division which was one of the two black
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    combat divisions
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    and the second
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    we went to Italy.
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    And saw combat
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    with the Fifth Army
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    in 1944 45
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    so as a sophomore
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    I was jerked out of college
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    and went to war
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    it was in service
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    in the foxholes actually in
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    the north and ninths
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    in central Italy
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    that I had what I could to be
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    an authentic religious experience
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    which caused me
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    to give my life to Christ as
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    it is
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    such a real experience to me.
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    No doubt
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    but that would
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    keep the commitment I made to Christ
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    on that day.
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    If I should come through this
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    war and return home
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    I would finish college go into seminary
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    and become a minister.
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    And of course at that time a minister
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    of the Presbyterian Church because just
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    prior to my going to
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    college I had become a Presbyterian
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    and my father Dr.
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    John Key writes some of the other
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    men of our community
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    organized the McDowell Presbyterian
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    church and took over vacant building
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    owned by the Presbytery
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    of the second.
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    So you returned to Lincoln
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    after your military experience.
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    After the experience I came back
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    to Lincoln finished
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    college and went into seminary
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    I was
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    to be when I first went to Lincoln
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    in the class of nineteen forty
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    four
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    actually graduated in 1947
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    and then finished seminary in 1950
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    the same commencement that my brother
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    Jack was
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    the first person in his class
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    and the undergraduate class I was number
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    one in the seminar.
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    Both making
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    speeches to
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    at the commencement of Lincoln in
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    1950.
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    Both of your parents.
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    Yes of
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    course. I also had
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    a wife and child by that time
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    because my son was born
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    in 1945 while I was overseas.
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    I had married Lee Wilson
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    childhood friend
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    in the same year
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    that I went into so
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    matter of fact when I was getting ready to go overseas
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    I hoped that
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    she would have a child by
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    me because I did not know
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    that I was going to come back.
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    I said to her this way
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    now always be
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    with you with will be
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    with you through our child.
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    And so I we she
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    deliberately became pregnant
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    with some misgiving nights in
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    Tucson Arizona
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    as I left to go overseas.
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    I was able by secret
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    message to get her to
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    come to Norfolk just before
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    getting on the boat
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    and she came.
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    We met secretly because nobody
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    was supposed to
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    know that this troop ship was leaving.
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    None of us
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    were supposed to get in touch
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    with family but I did.
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    And she met me
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    and we had
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    a few hours together I think three hours
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    together and off again I remember
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    getting on the bus a segregated bus
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    and not going back to the base to get
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    on the boat. The next day Lisa
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    I remember standing at the back of that
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    bus looking up at the window tears
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    falling from her eyes
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    and saying say this is what you're going
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    overseas to fight for.
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    She was carrying
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    a very
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    vivid moment for me
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    a picture that I kept in my
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    mind throughout my experiences.
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    That was more vivid for you than the
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    experience it was Richard's
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    up at the poor Richard's
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    or left school
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    I don't think I really understood
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    what was going on with the richest club.
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    I knew it was good when I got on
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    a Greyhound bus.
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    The forages club I was more overawed
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    than anything else its
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    importance came as an afterthought
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    as I thought back that experience.
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    Wow. You know it was me.
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    I was there at the time
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    I think I was more overawed
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    and frightened by
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    all of this attention.
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    Yes guess the thought
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    of having won the
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    day what did you do after finishing something
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    or
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    my last two years
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    and Simon
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    was going from
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    Lincoln to York
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    Pennsylvania every week
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    in a rickety old car
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    going over there Thursday
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    night or Friday morning
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    and spending the weekend there.
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    So I serve sort of as a student
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    supplied pastor
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    at the First Presbyterian
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    Church in New York
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    and York for two years hoping
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    really that I might be called a pastor
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    there.
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    But by the time I was ready
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    to graduate in
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    June of 1950
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    the Second Presbyterian Church of
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    West Chester Pennsylvania
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    issued a call that was more
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    attractive to me than
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    the one we are.
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    And I accepted that going toward it
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    almost immediately the West
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    Chester their new
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    pastor I was ordained by
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    the pastor of Philadelphia
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    and installed as a pastor
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    Second Presbyterian Church in
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    Westchester.
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    Let me just say one thing about the Westchester
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    experience.
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    It was the beginning of my radicalization
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    in some ways because
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    the thing that impressed me most about
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    was just like I
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    was at my son would have
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    to go to a segregated school.
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    When a perfectly
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    good grammar school was
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    practically around the corner from the man's
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    but all black children in Westchester
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    went to kindergarten
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    and first grade at the Gay Street School.
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    This was West Chester Pennsylvania
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    in 1950
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    these segregated
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    schools
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    and I broke that school system
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    Steve Steve
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    and I approve this school system
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    pattern of segregation because he was the
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    first black student to be
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    entry into
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    the High Street School
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    and
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    with a movement of parents
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    church people and others standing
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    behind him
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    he caught hell from those
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    white teachers like
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    students as small
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    as they were
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    and that first year
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    which is to say that I mean he got
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    involved in China
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    in shaping my pastorate around
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    doing something about the segregated
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    school system in
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    Westchester.
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    And I think pay less attention to
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    the church than I might have although
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    the church was growing
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    and I was enjoying my
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    ministry
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    and doing some counseling.
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    I was working on a Masters of Sacred Theology
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    at the time I Tuppal University
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    School of Theology.
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    But the major foster mother history
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    was a social action for us
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    and the pastor
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    of the Westminster Presbyterian Church were
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    very unhappy about it
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    and said that I was a communist
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    and spread the word through Westchester
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    to the press McCary of Donegal
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    which I was a member of that time
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    that I was a troublemaker
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    and a communist what
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    made major communist West
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    Chester are you here at a service in
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    the military.
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    He felt that I
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    was a communist because I had
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    dared to
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    take up cudgels against
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    this deeply rooted segregated
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    school system
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    and was radical enough to
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    condemn the city
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    and city fathers
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    and the churches for permitting it to exist.
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    So it was during that time when
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    it was easy to tag people
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    with the label communist
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    if they did anything Orthodox
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    or just that having a negative
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    impact on their business their
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    later they have a positive
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    impact more than anything else I think
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    that you mention the communist thing.
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    I don't know whether he did any digging
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    around in my past because I had
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    been a member of the Young Communist League
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    at Lincoln before going to the service.
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    I think after running for
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    those last year
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    I was involved
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    with Milton had some of
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    the young colonies.
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    As a matter of fact I represented Lincoln
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    and some of the regional meetings in New York City
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    when the Communist Party
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    was enticing
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    young black intellectuals by
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    by applying them
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    with very good
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    looking Jewish girls
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    at parties.
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    The Daily World madhhab
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    these college boys
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    from Lincoln and Howard they
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    were introduced for the first time to interracial
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    dating in the
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    context of a communist party
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    thereby opening their minds
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    to the possibilities in
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    a great society
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    under Marxist domination.
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    But he may have checked some of that out
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    to tell you the truth.
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    But he did
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    and I cannot get it out of my mind.
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    He didn't pass the word in Westchester
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    and in Donegal Presbytery that this new
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    pastor at second
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    church was a communist
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    dangerous person
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    and we ought to try to get him out.
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    Oh he was just
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    not long asked the because
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    I recall that I was baking
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    a salary of twelve hundred dollars
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    a year. By that time I had two children
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    living in the manse
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    but making such a small salary
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    that I was not able to adequately
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    take care of my.
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    So I think I was only
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    there three years.
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    Third year I sold my car
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    at an auction in Lancaster
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    in order to buy groceries for that week.
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    Hitchhiked back from Lancaster Pennsylvania
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    to Westchester
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    with my auction money
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    and bought groceries.
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    And that day
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    I decided the Lord wanted me
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    to work somewhere else
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    and he did because Frank Wilson called
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    me out on that very
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    day. When I returned from Lichenstein
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    say gay I don't think
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    that you have a chance
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    but I know about position that's
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    open in the middle Atlantic student
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    Christian movement regional secretary.
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    And I am a member of the personnel
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    committee.
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    If you would like me to put your name in
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    I can
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    but I doubt very much whether you have a chance
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    because I think they've already settled on somebody.
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    But if you want to you can come
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    down to Howard
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    and be interviewed by the
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    student personnel committee
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    personnel that he made up mainly
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    and students would like.
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    So yeah I went down
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    there
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    and
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    I got the job
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    so I asked
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    Pastor Terry to separate me from
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    the church.
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    And they did
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    and took up office at
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    30 for
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    30 to
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    or four I forget
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    that address 36
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    36. A hundred Locust
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    Street at the
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    University of Pennsylvania Christian Association
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    building which at that time
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    how how's the offices of the mid-Atlantic
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    student Christian
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    miss was to bring you in
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    direct contact
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    with students in the mid 50s.
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    And that was a wonderful experience
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    and a lot to do
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    with shaping my
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    theological acumen.
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    Give me some substance to my
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    ministry because
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    those days the World Student Christian
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    Federation
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    was a major
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    intellectual
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    gold for young
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    Christians.
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    Prepare tremendously
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    significant Bible studies
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    theological documents had
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    important international conferences
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    and the World Student Christian federations
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    major affiliates in the United
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    States were not the denominational
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    student movements like Westminster
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    Foundation the foundation
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    but the middle like ACM the New York
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    as the end of the new.
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    So that I had close contact
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    with the international
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    people like Hans really.
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    I can't think those who came
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    to some of the people I've
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    heard you mention oh Driti
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    Nilles and then Tamasin
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    all those people
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    came into my orbit
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    through the regional conferences
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    programmes
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    and through the literature that we use
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    in the U.S..
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    My job was to travel among
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    the colleges and universities in five
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    states and the District of Columbia
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    organizing student
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    associations
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    and acting as a resource person to
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    those associations
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    and so I was at some of the finest colleges
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    in the Mid-Atlantic region
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    and I
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    had an opportunity there for them to be
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    challenged by bright young people
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    and force therefore to go back
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    to my books to continue
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    my education
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    in a way that has made a
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    marvelous contribution to my
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    development. This was the beginning
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    of your ecumenical embol.
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    Yes hello we you to continue
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    theological and Delphia lives
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    and how long were you in
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    this position.
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    Wallet's Yes
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    I was I guess
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    five years
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    because I went from there to the
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    Board of Christian Education Department
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    of Social Education Action
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    and if I had my old watch that
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    Maggie couldn't have been this game I could
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    tell you exactly because they
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    had the date on the back I story.
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    I don't have a lot more I
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    can't remember I think I was
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    with little I guess about five.
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    That would have taken you through the period of the mid
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    50s
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    when a whole different thing was
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    beginning to happen in this country.
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    The Supreme Court's decision of 19
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    54.
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    The Montgomery Bus Boycott
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    1955.
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    Little Rock Arkansas
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    in 1957 what what kind
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    of impact were
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    these events to
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    have upon your future involvement.
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    You worked
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    with students and from there to the Christian
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    education.
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    Absolutely crucial of course.
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    I remember
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    the 1954 Supreme Court decision.
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    Now
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    on May 17
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    1954 when I was
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    commuting from tainting
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    an interracial
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    cooperative community an intentional
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    community near Westchester
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    to Philadelphia.
  • speaker
    The more I remember
  • speaker
    coming back on the train the commuter
  • speaker
    train that I took
  • speaker
    with Bob James
  • speaker
    was my colleagues.
  • speaker
    On this day
  • speaker
    I remember reading the headlines
  • speaker
    on the evening papers paying Court
  • speaker
    decision Brown vs.
  • speaker
    Board of Education
  • speaker
    and
  • speaker
    watching the faces of my fellow
  • speaker
    passengers
  • speaker
    shocked to realize
  • speaker
    that a whole new year
  • speaker
    race relations
  • speaker
    being ushered in by this historic
  • speaker
    decision
  • speaker
    and chuckling in my soul inside
  • speaker
    of myself
  • speaker
    with glee to be to
  • speaker
    have made it will be a part of
  • speaker
    the width of witnessing
  • speaker
    such discomfort on the part of
  • speaker
    the people I presumed to be racist.
  • speaker
    You know that
  • speaker
    Coach on our way
  • speaker
    back to Westchester.
  • speaker
    Well this is to say that it may
  • speaker
    have tremendous impact on me
  • speaker
    upon everybody that
  • speaker
    had anything to do
  • speaker
    with during that period
  • speaker
    and I knew that my nose
  • speaker
    be greatly affected by
  • speaker
    what was to happen
  • speaker
    here in the in the
  • speaker
    field of desegregation.
  • speaker
    When I went to work for the board Christian
  • speaker
    education I worked mainly
  • speaker
    in the field of industrial relations Ben
  • speaker
    Sissel was supposed to be handling race relations.
  • speaker
    He was doing that before I came.
  • speaker
    It's what I came in
  • speaker
    and there was some question about whether I was
  • speaker
    now going to take over race relations
  • speaker
    or whether Ben since I was going to continue
  • speaker
    to do.
  • speaker
    And of course I think Ben was a very little
  • speaker
    bit sensitive about that.
  • speaker
    But he handled it beautifully by
  • speaker
    are becoming fast friends.
  • speaker
    He initiated that.
  • speaker
    He really became my best friend
  • speaker
    during that period.
  • speaker
    I didn't know if
  • speaker
    as close as
  • speaker
    we were during that
  • speaker
    period since that time was
  • speaker
    it
  • speaker
    I think something's happened to him.
  • speaker
    I think he flip from
  • speaker
    a strong liberal
  • speaker
    position
  • speaker
    whatever his position is now.
  • speaker
    But in any case
  • speaker
    during that period I was not supposed
  • speaker
    to be dealing with race relations
  • speaker
    but with industrial relations
  • speaker
    economics
  • speaker
    and bandwidth handling rates.
  • speaker
    But of course I did
  • speaker
    get involved in developing pronouncements
  • speaker
    in the field of race relations leading
  • speaker
    study groups consultations
  • speaker
    during united press
  • speaker
    with the emphasis
  • speaker
    on the work
  • speaker
    Oscar I get these years mixed
  • speaker
    up I would really have to go back.
  • speaker
    You can check the record on this.
  • speaker
    I think
  • speaker
    I work for the workers
  • speaker
    education for
  • speaker
    in any case you know
  • speaker
    Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
  • speaker
    invited me to
  • speaker
    come to teach social ethics there
  • speaker
    after giving me
  • speaker
    some time to work on
  • speaker
    a doctorate.
  • speaker
    They assume that I could complete my doctor
  • speaker
    in one year because I had the year
  • speaker
    and if I had manipulated it in some
  • speaker
    way I perhaps could.
  • speaker
    But they were wrong.
  • speaker
    They gave me full selling car parts
  • speaker
    parch salary
  • speaker
    and turned me loose
  • speaker
    and I left the board of education
  • speaker
    in nineteen sixty.
  • speaker
    And what did you feel like
  • speaker
    as a doctoral student
  • speaker
    and I finished my languages there
  • speaker
    with French and German
  • speaker
    and most of my
  • speaker
    residence.
  • speaker
    But the next year I transferred
  • speaker
    my residence to temple
  • speaker
    and then completed residence
  • speaker
    for Dr.
  • speaker
    and began to write
  • speaker
    or did write secular relevance in
  • speaker
    the church which I always
  • speaker
    believe was the reason I never did my
  • speaker
    dissertation because instead
  • speaker
    of these narrow secular elements
  • speaker
    of the church and edited 12
  • speaker
    books The Westminster Press
  • speaker
    Christian perspectives on social issues
  • speaker
    any case.
  • speaker
    In 1960
  • speaker
    one I reported
  • speaker
    in the fall of 6 to report
  • speaker
    a Pittsburgh to teach
  • speaker
    and then commuted back
  • speaker
    every week
  • speaker
    either by plane
  • speaker
    or a Greyhound bus to Tampa
  • speaker
    where I completed my residence
  • speaker
    which is amazing and I stopped it thinking
  • speaker
    that the school gave me
  • speaker
    the scoop.
  • speaker
    I guess I was.
  • speaker
    No I took that money out of my own pocket for
  • speaker
    it. But it was possible to do
  • speaker
    it.
  • speaker
    But that was a long commute because my mother
  • speaker
    lived in Philadelphia so I had a place to stay.
  • speaker
    I got all my meals
  • speaker
    and helped were
  • speaker
    able to maintain your
  • speaker
    social emboss social
  • speaker
    concerns and involvements
  • speaker
    when you arrived in Pittsburgh
  • speaker
    seminar and teaching
  • speaker
    and writing style
  • speaker
    No.
  • speaker
    I was so much involved in
  • speaker
    trying to get my coursework
  • speaker
    Temple completed.
  • speaker
    And breaking in
  • speaker
    as a new teacher
  • speaker
    that I did not get involved
  • speaker
    in social action
  • speaker
    courses in the Pittsburgh
  • speaker
    area except the home
  • speaker
    would Preston Redevelopment Authority
  • speaker
    which and I got involved
  • speaker
    and needed more
  • speaker
    and that night
  • speaker
    which was really a community organization.
  • speaker
    At the same time Patrick
  • speaker
    was involved in a number
  • speaker
    of things in the presbytery
  • speaker
    and we attended his church.
  • speaker
    So I was
  • speaker
    participating vicariously
  • speaker
    in Leroy's Patric's ministry.
  • speaker
    Also I had known all of the people
  • speaker
    in the Presbytery from my
  • speaker
    social education and action years.
  • speaker
    I knew the social activist
  • speaker
    Marguerite
  • speaker
    Marguerite
  • speaker
    Koefer Ofer Hoefer yes
  • speaker
    was one of the people I knew very well
  • speaker
    and so I was on the edge of things
  • speaker
    but I had to concentrate
  • speaker
    on my studies so
  • speaker
    I could not get involved active
  • speaker
    and do
  • speaker
    so in the period of early 60s.
  • speaker
    When you were for the most part
  • speaker
    the students didn't
  • speaker
    teach her to become faster.
  • speaker
    I had put the social activism
  • speaker
    of the Board of Christian education
  • speaker
    years on the back shelf
  • speaker
    so to speak
  • speaker
    and had really started out
  • speaker
    in the direction of a scholarly
  • speaker
    career.
  • speaker
    So one might say that you heard
  • speaker
    Pittsford minding your own business
  • speaker
    in 1963 when
  • speaker
    the United Presbyterian Church created
  • speaker
    something called the Commission on religion race.
  • speaker
    Mind my own business yes
  • speaker
    but I do think that Edna
  • speaker
    and Brian
  • speaker
    and other northern black
  • speaker
    ministers and the Church knew
  • speaker
    that markings Adler Hawkins
  • speaker
    and Bradshaw and George
  • speaker
    Bob Johnson
  • speaker
    the Royd Patry
  • speaker
    those men knew of my commitment
  • speaker
    to racial justice
  • speaker
    and my commitment to them
  • speaker
    because I had attended meetings of the Presbyterian
  • speaker
    council of the north
  • speaker
    and west.
  • speaker
    I had already identified myself
  • speaker
    with the movement
  • speaker
    of unrest within
  • speaker
    the black ministry of the North
  • speaker
    that was on the verge
  • speaker
    of doing something to
  • speaker
    open the church up to
  • speaker
    a stronger commitment to racial justice.
  • speaker
    So when they
  • speaker
    came to me in the classroom
  • speaker
    as they did
  • speaker
    to ask me to come to New York they
  • speaker
    were coming to somebody they didn't know
  • speaker
    or somebody they thought was
  • speaker
    so much of an egghead
  • speaker
    that he probably wouldn't work out where
  • speaker
    they were coming as somebody who
  • speaker
    with whom they had been acquainted previously
  • speaker
    approached you initially about taking
  • speaker
    that position.
  • speaker
    I think it was it.
  • speaker
    I think it was Edgar
  • speaker
    and I'm trying to think whether he actually
  • speaker
    came to Pittsburgh
  • speaker
    or whether it was by correspondence
  • speaker
    telephone calls.
  • speaker
    But I know
  • speaker
    he'd challenging me to
  • speaker
    leave the classroom.
  • speaker
    I said I'm on the verge of writing a
  • speaker
    dissertation I'm
  • speaker
    getting a face of my doctoral program.
  • speaker
    You can go back to all that.
  • speaker
    We need you now organize
  • speaker
    this program with you this morning
  • speaker
    and said we
  • speaker
    want you to come to New York
  • speaker
    and do.
  • speaker
    You didn't.
  • speaker
    We didn't have much time to decide because
  • speaker
    somebody had made its decision in May
  • speaker
    and by August you want
  • speaker
    a job.
  • speaker
    I didn't have I think I made that
  • speaker
    decision about 48 hours
  • speaker
    and packed up and stuff.
  • speaker
    I think I took lead
  • speaker
    by surprise
  • speaker
    and I don't think she was altogether ready for
  • speaker
    that.
  • speaker
    I think she thought it was too precipitous.
  • speaker
    I was raring to go anyway
  • speaker
    because all hell had
  • speaker
    broken seemed to
  • speaker
    me that world of scholarship was
  • speaker
    roaming around my ears anyway
  • speaker
    face earthquake.
  • speaker
    What's going on in American society
  • speaker
    over race.
  • speaker
    So I was ready to lead the class
  • speaker
    but had every anticipation
  • speaker
    of coming back
  • speaker
    to it. After two years
  • speaker
    the president is to agreed to release
  • speaker
    me for two years on
  • speaker
    but of course to use
  • speaker
    right in the midst of
  • speaker
    and I could go
  • speaker
    with you. You were not in the
  • speaker
    Des Moines assembly in 1960.
  • speaker
    You must've heard many times
  • speaker
    over this
  • speaker
    but different version Virgen versions
  • speaker
    as to how
  • speaker
    the Commission on religion race came
  • speaker
    into existence.
  • speaker
    Is there one that you prefer
  • speaker
    over others
  • speaker
    to just ask.
  • speaker
    I don't really know.
  • speaker
    I have ever understood completely
  • speaker
    how it came into existence.
  • speaker
    I was not
  • speaker
    a party to the
  • speaker
    politicking that went on
  • speaker
    with a small black group
  • speaker
    that brought it about
  • speaker
    so I really don't know.
  • speaker
    I do recall
  • speaker
    that our church was the first church
  • speaker
    to take seriously
  • speaker
    the challenge that had been laid down
  • speaker
    by the National Council of Churches
  • speaker
    the organization of its commission
  • speaker
    as a life that we may be
  • speaker
    the NCC
  • speaker
    and getting a commission launch
  • speaker
    with full budget and.
  • speaker
    I remember a lot of talk about
  • speaker
    necessity of getting
  • speaker
    on with me.
  • speaker
    It was a note of urgency
  • speaker
    of what actually took place.
  • speaker
    The best picture
  • speaker
    you must there was you must walk
  • speaker
    into some of these politics though
  • speaker
    when you came to the commission
  • speaker
    in the summer of 1963.
  • speaker
    Here was a new entity
  • speaker
    with a unique
  • speaker
    mandate
  • speaker
    able to act on behalf
  • speaker
    of that nomination in this
  • speaker
    whole area.
  • speaker
    With a budget
  • speaker
    small.
  • speaker
    Looking back now it's significant
  • speaker
    given the way in which it was created.
  • speaker
    Do you remember some of the dynamics
  • speaker
    in those early
  • speaker
    years rather.
  • speaker
    You're absolutely right.
  • speaker
    It was a political question.
  • speaker
    There was tension between Ken
  • speaker
    night and Bill Marshall
  • speaker
    over this
  • speaker
    and which
  • speaker
    had been lodged in the Board of
  • speaker
    Christian education the national
  • speaker
    missions.
  • speaker
    And that was the crux of the problem
  • speaker
    for was on the board of national missions
  • speaker
    that many people felt
  • speaker
    the whole race emphasis belonged
  • speaker
    because it was so that
  • speaker
    no one was more expert
  • speaker
    in the field of desegregation race
  • speaker
    relations than the urban
  • speaker
    oriented staff
  • speaker
    of the board of national missions
  • speaker
    both those in headquarters
  • speaker
    and those on the field.
  • speaker
    And here comes along these
  • speaker
    egg heads so to speak
  • speaker
    or write curriculum material
  • speaker
    who are Christian educators for the most
  • speaker
    part now claiming
  • speaker
    that an activist
  • speaker
    agency or the church belongs
  • speaker
    with them rather than
  • speaker
    with national missions.
  • speaker
    So I I remember
  • speaker
    that Bill
  • speaker
    and Ted were
  • speaker
    across the table from one another
  • speaker
    and all the meetings of the
  • speaker
    early
  • speaker
    board that government
  • speaker
    like the commission its commission on religion
  • speaker
    race it seen breaking
  • speaker
    young Coventry Smith standing on
  • speaker
    that G.
  • speaker
    John was on the edge
  • speaker
    of that
  • speaker
    little Bako
  • speaker
    never really intruding
  • speaker
    but looking
  • speaker
    on with great interests
  • speaker
    not supporting either side.
  • speaker
    But I thought waiting for opportunities
  • speaker
    to make
  • speaker
    coal its contribution to him
  • speaker
    which he did in a very
  • speaker
    strategic way.
  • speaker
    He brought missionaries into
  • speaker
    a whole new thrust
  • speaker
    of involvement on the field
  • speaker
    and many of them as you know
  • speaker
    were involved with us in marches
  • speaker
    and so forth.
  • speaker
    And the state declared
  • speaker
    a state of Kurt
  • speaker
    I think Gene
  • speaker
    made it clear to both
  • speaker
    the board of national missions
  • speaker
    and the world in
  • speaker
    education
  • speaker
    that this new agency
  • speaker
    was related to
  • speaker
    the office of the General Assembly
  • speaker
    as well by virtue
  • speaker
    of the fact that it was the commission.
  • speaker
    Yes.
  • speaker
    Yes
  • speaker
    and that
  • speaker
    he needed to be involved
  • speaker
    and decisions
  • speaker
    that were to be made.
  • speaker
    I cannot exaggerate
  • speaker
    I guess the fact
  • speaker
    that all four of these men
  • speaker
    Smith Marmot's
  • speaker
    and Blake
  • speaker
    were involved in almost every
  • speaker
    policy making meeting
  • speaker
    committee
  • speaker
    or mission.
  • speaker
    So
  • speaker
    that was making a decision about the
  • speaker
    posture and strategy
  • speaker
    of our church.
  • speaker
    You interpret this
  • speaker
    that their involvement
  • speaker
    as being because they took
  • speaker
    the issue serious
  • speaker
    or were they
  • speaker
    nervous about what this new
  • speaker
    group may do.
  • speaker
    Or were they also there to protect
  • speaker
    their own interests.
  • speaker
    That's very perceptive perceptive.
  • speaker
    All three of the
  • speaker
    I think first of all
  • speaker
    they were here
  • speaker
    and I think they were seriously committed to
  • speaker
    seeing United Presbyterian Church
  • speaker
    vindicate itself as
  • speaker
    a major liberal
  • speaker
    American denomination that ought to be committed
  • speaker
    to racial justice.
  • speaker
    But they were also nervous
  • speaker
    about what this new
  • speaker
    black executive this
  • speaker
    unusual power
  • speaker
    and what those new black
  • speaker
    commission members whose
  • speaker
    names they did not know before
  • speaker
    had no experience
  • speaker
    with would do
  • speaker
    with this new agency
  • speaker
    with its five hundred thousand dollar bill
  • speaker
    on President Social
  • speaker
    Action a church
  • speaker
    and so on.
  • speaker
    He had the feeling from time to time
  • speaker
    of a certain amount of
  • speaker
    paternalistic oversight
  • speaker
    I think they were also interested in protecting
  • speaker
    the interests of their agencies.
  • speaker
    The tension between national
  • speaker
    issues education
  • speaker
    school.
  • speaker
    Interestingly enough
  • speaker
    that tension got
  • speaker
    played out in terms of staff people
  • speaker
    between Clifford Earl Maggie
  • speaker
    Ben Smith the
  • speaker
    Social Education Action
  • speaker
    bureaucracy of Christian education
  • speaker
    and Brian George David Ramage's
  • speaker
    and the George to the
  • speaker
    urban church bureaucracy
  • speaker
    of the board national emissions
  • speaker
    so that there was
  • speaker
    among those people that
  • speaker
    there was jockeying for influence
  • speaker
    on this nuke.
  • speaker
    This situation has the potential
  • speaker
    to upset a lot of
  • speaker
    previous applecart in terms of the
  • speaker
    Urban
  • speaker
    Ministries piece from the national missions
  • speaker
    and the social education
  • speaker
    and action piece.
  • speaker
    When 40 percent education
  • speaker
    because this is the first time now that
  • speaker
    there was an entity
  • speaker
    with a clear stated mandate
  • speaker
    of the assembly to be the focal point of racial
  • speaker
    justice. And that that was
  • speaker
    that was the phrase focal point.
  • speaker
    Do you remember
  • speaker
    any points at which this tension
  • speaker
    between national missions
  • speaker
    and Christian education got in the way of the
  • speaker
    commission doing its work.
  • speaker
    No I don't really think so because for
  • speaker
    good reason because
  • speaker
    the blacks on that
  • speaker
    commission under the leadership of
  • speaker
    were always able to
  • speaker
    develop a leadership role
  • speaker
    which transcended
  • speaker
    the bureaucratic interests
  • speaker
    of the boards
  • speaker
    and agencies that were involved.
  • speaker
    In other words we made our decisions
  • speaker
    on other grounds not what was
  • speaker
    good for Dasch image as a Christian education
  • speaker
    or even the Presbyterian Church.
  • speaker
    But what we thought ought to be done for black
  • speaker
    folks
  • speaker
    what our church ought to be doing.
  • speaker
    And because of that I was never
  • speaker
    aware of any
  • speaker
    real obstacles to the
  • speaker
    exercise of power.
  • speaker
    Whatever we wanted to do it
  • speaker
    worked it out so it could be done.
  • speaker
    And somehow or another got the approbation
  • speaker
    of the people who
  • speaker
    could have stopped it if they wanted.
  • speaker
    You haven't mentioned another name
  • speaker
    or person.
  • speaker
    Marshall Scott who is the first
  • speaker
    chairman of the commission.
  • speaker
    What what kind of role did he play in those
  • speaker
    early years.
  • speaker
    He leaned to the national
  • speaker
    issues group of course because he
  • speaker
    had been there from
  • speaker
    his institute
  • speaker
    was funded by
  • speaker
    World Natural missions.
  • speaker
    So he
  • speaker
    tried to steer the commission
  • speaker
    in the direction
  • speaker
    of a kind of
  • speaker
    adjunct mechanism to what
  • speaker
    the board of national missions already
  • speaker
    had on the urban scene.
  • speaker
    But he never could quite bring that
  • speaker
    off because I was not
  • speaker
    an urban specialist.
  • speaker
    I didn't come out of that until I came
  • speaker
    out of the more
  • speaker
    shall I say conceptually
  • speaker
    oriented Christian education moral
  • speaker
    pronouncement developing into the development
  • speaker
    of strategies
  • speaker
    with in the Kotori
  • speaker
    structures rather than on the edge
  • speaker
    of them as the urban churchmen
  • speaker
    tended to work
  • speaker
    so that he could not
  • speaker
    although we were close friends
  • speaker
    and worked very well together.
  • speaker
    I thought that Marshall never
  • speaker
    thought of that
  • speaker
    but thought of him as one of his
  • speaker
    boys so to speak
  • speaker
    had a lot of boys around the church that
  • speaker
    was not of a college graduate.
  • speaker
    My dad had gone to
  • speaker
    his two
  • speaker
    Manhattans for one summer
  • speaker
    and had come to that
  • speaker
    with the cold
  • speaker
    hard labor Temple
  • speaker
    labor relations.
  • speaker
    Yeah I was a graduate.
  • speaker
    The fact that you would had this contact
  • speaker
    service with the Board of Christian education
  • speaker
    that get in the way of your
  • speaker
    relationships
  • speaker
    or relating to the national missions
  • speaker
    yes.
  • speaker
    Because I think they all felt
  • speaker
    that I was loyal
  • speaker
    to the Borchers and education staff
  • speaker
    that I was built viruses boy rather
  • speaker
    than canonized boys so to speak.
  • speaker
    And
  • speaker
    they always helped me a little
  • speaker
    bit in arm's length because.
  • speaker
    But
  • speaker
    the pressure of the times the urgency
  • speaker
    and day seemed
  • speaker
    I must say to
  • speaker
    take precedence
  • speaker
    over
  • speaker
    picayune political
  • speaker
    controversies.
  • speaker
    There is a sense in which the
  • speaker
    whole the external
  • speaker
    societal activity
  • speaker
    and pressure
  • speaker
    that occasioned
  • speaker
    the very establishment of that commission
  • speaker
    also became your primary
  • speaker
    prodder once you were organized.
  • speaker
    We were carried along by
  • speaker
    the wave of the events.
  • speaker
    Every newspaper headline
  • speaker
    was almost
  • speaker
    a factor for
  • speaker
    making a new decision
  • speaker
    or a new movement action
  • speaker
    with the structure of the commission.
  • speaker
    1963 was a rather crucial
  • speaker
    year and some.

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