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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Arthur Shores, July 17, 1974. Interview A-0021. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Prominent Birminham citizens meet to fix problems

Shores describes weekly meetings of prominent white and black Birmingham citizens. These citizens discuss and attempt to solve various problems afflicting the city.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Arthur Shores, July 17, 1974. Interview A-0021. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACK BASS:
How are the rank and file people selected?
ARTHUR SHORES:
From various organizations like the Urban League, NAACP, like the Alabama Council for Human Relations and the Alabama Council for Christian Movement. That's the one that took the place of the NAACP when the NAACP was injoined in this state. That was unknown organization, which became an affiliate of King's SCLC. And the civil leagues, which is a grass root organization throughout the county, members are selected there.
JACK BASS:
You go to these meetings.
ARTHUR SHORES:
Oh yes.
JACK BASS:
Whats a typical meeting like?
ARTHUR SHORES:
Well, I mean, the press is barred. As a result, of course, a statement is given at the end of each meeting. Various problems effecting the community. As I say, it started off about getting blacks interested in becoming members of the police force. Then we had a problem of food stamps. We devised a plan that went to Washington to see about making it more easy to distribute food stamps where it had been . . . a large county like this, where there's just one place for the people to come. And we established a bus that would go from district to district and set up another distribution point. There are certain problems in the school system that the group would discuss and make recommendations. And various problems. The matter of housing and recreation. Just various problems where we felt that conditions should be ameliorated. Such a broad spectrum. Like the superintendent of schools. Both the county and city. The chief of police and the sheriff. They're members of this group and meet. Problems effecting various agencies of government. We meet and discuss them. And the mayor, members of the county commission, the chairman of the senate delegation, the chairman of the house delegation. One problem we took up was the matter of getting blacks represented on the personnel board which selects the members of the board . . . oh, gosh, I didn't realize it was this late . . . that set up the examinations and the director of the civil service board here. There were no blacks and the law was set up where it was impossible for a black to become a member. For instance, the federal judges, the probate judge, the president of certain labor organizations, the presidents of the white colleges, Sanmford and Birmingham Southern. So the CAC . . . I was made chairman of the committee to have legislation passed to change that. And as I say, we had the chairman of our senate delegation, chairman of the house delegation. And the law was changed so we were able to get three blacks— [END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A] [TAPE 1, SIDE B] [START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
ARTHUR SHORES:
—and the president of Daniel Payne [?] . I mean that was legislation passed by the legislature. So those are just samples of things that were done.