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Title: Oral History Interview with Charles M. Jones, July 21, 1990. Interview A-0335. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Jones, Charles M., interviewee
Interview conducted by Egerton, John
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Mike Millner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2006
Size of electronic edition: 124 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2006.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2006-00-00, Celine Noel and Wanda Gunther revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-12-18, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Charles M. Jones, July 21, 1990. Interview A-0335. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series A. Southern Politics. Southern Oral History Program Collection (A-0335)
Author: John Egerton
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Charles M. Jones, July 21, 1990. Interview A-0335. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series A. Southern Politics. Southern Oral History Program Collection (A-0335)
Author: Charles M. Jones
Description: 114 Mb
Description: 31 p.
Note: Interview conducted on July 21, 1990, by John Egerton; recorded in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Jovita Flynn.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series A. Southern Politics, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Charles M. Jones, July 21, 1990.
Interview A-0335. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Jones, Charles M., interviewee


Interview Participants

    CHARLES M. JONES, interviewee
    DORCAS JONES, interviewee
    JOHN EGERTON, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
JOHN EGERTON:
You say you're eighty-three years old.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Eighty-four.
JOHN EGERTON:
How do you sign your name?
CHARLES M. JONES:
I've signed it two ways, Charles M. or C.M.
JOHN EGERTON:
Or C.M., because I think I've seen it two different ways.
[To Charles Jones's wife] And your name's Doris? Oh, Dorcas. Where did you all come here from? Where were you born and raised?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Tennessee. Nashville.
JOHN EGERTON:
From Nashville? Sure enough. Well, gosh, I should have known that. That's where I've lived for the last twentyfive years myself.
CHARLES M. JONES:
I lived out on Cleveland Street. My father was a photographer there. He worked with the Thusses, and he had his own place.
JOHN EGERTON:
He worked with the Thuss brothers?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah, the Thuss brothers. [Shows photographs] Now he did that himself. [Looking at pictures]
JOHN EGERTON:
Did you go to school in Nashville?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh yeah, I went to Hume-Fogg High School.
JOHN EGERTON:
Then where'd you go to college?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Maryville [Tennessee].

Page 2
JOHN EGERTON:
And you came out a Presbyterian preacher, or you went in a Presbyterian preacher, which one?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Well, I was Presbyterian all the time on my mother's side. My Dad was nothing, except [unknown]. He was my favorite, of course.
JOHN EGERTON:
But how did it happen that you went to Maryville. That must have been about 1920 or '25?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah, I was in Arkansas, I guess, where I was selling [unknown]. Oh, I was with my Dad. He wanted me to go to college.
JOHN EGERTON:
Is that about right?
DORCAS JONES:
After we finished high school, he went on a trip to, where?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh, I went to St. Louis and . . .
DORCAS JONES:
A number of places.
CHARLES M. JONES:
I just wanted to leave home. I'd never been away from home.
JOHN EGERTON:
Right around 1920?
DORCAS JONES:
I should have figured them out.
JOHN EGERTON:
Well, I'm just trying to figure, if he's eighty-five now, he was born in 1905 or thereabouts.
CHARLES M. JONES:
January 8, 1906.
JOHN EGERTON:
So you would have gotten out of high school maybe about 1922 or 1923 or something like that.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah, '23.
DORCAS JONES:
I know you came to Richmond [Virginia] in 1929 to the seminary.

Page 3
JOHN EGERTON:
Is that where you're from?
DORCAS JONES:
Yeah. And you [Charles] had been to Texas.
JOHN EGERTON:
You'd traveled around some by then?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah, I went with my father. I had a cafe in San Antonio. He had what we called itching feet. He just liked to travel. He bought a cafe in San Antonio. Then he got excited about a hotel in Cotulla, and he got excited about getting something else. So I ended up with a cafe and a hotel. It was lots of fun.
JOHN EGERTON:
This was all after high school or before?
DORCAS JONES:
I think Texas was after college.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah, I didn't know what I wanted to do.
JOHN EGERTON:
In those years, like in the '20s, before you went to Richmond——you said that was '29——did you ever run across any of these guys that you later knew like Buck Kester or . . .
CHARLES M. JONES:
I don't think so. Now, in Burnsville, Buck came up one time.
JOHN EGERTON:
If you knew her [Dorcas] though, when he did, that was after Richmond.
DORCAS JONES:
I think the fellowship time was the first year [unknown].
JOHN EGERTON:
What kind of experience was Maryville for you? Was that a pretty conservative place?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh yeah.
JOHN EGERTON:
Didn't change your outlook much at all?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Well, intellectually, no. I didn't have much intellectual change there. They were too strict with rules. You had to be in the dormitory at, I don't know, something like eight

Page 4
o'clock, and study for an hour, and then you could converse with people, and then you go to bed and lights at ten. All this sort of stuff.
JOHN EGERTON:
So by the time you got through with that you were ready to have a little freedom?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah.
JOHN EGERTON:
How did it work out that you decided to go to Richmond to seminary?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Well, I was in Texas, and a Mr. Bates was a Presbyterian. I sort of pumped his organ, pipe organ that you had to pump [unknown]. He got interested in me, and he wanted me to go to Austin.
JOHN EGERTON:
Was this in San Antonio?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah. And I didn't want to go to Austin because it was too far from home. I wanted to get back to home base. So that's why I came on back.
JOHN EGERTON:
I see. So he told you about the seminary in Richmond and you decided to do that?
DORCAS JONES:
You were interested, or so you told me, I didn't know you then, in music. You sang a lot down there at churches and such, and you decided to go to seminary.
CHARLES M. JONES:
In music education.
JOHN EGERTON:
What happened to you over there? You said that was sort of a big change in your life.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Well, it was, I guess. Intellectually, it wasn't so much, really, but for the first time not to have somebody tell

Page 5
me, "Be sure and comb your hair," and that kind of thing. I was socially free.
JOHN EGERTON:
How'd you handle that?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Well, she ought to know. I did all right. It didn't worry me. I didn't worry about it.
JOHN EGERTON:
You were pretty grown by then. You had been around. I bet he was pretty mature by then.
DORCAS JONES:
Oh yeah, he must have been about twenty-three.
JOHN EGERTON:
That was '29 until the spring of '32. Then where did you go from there?
CHARLES M. JONES:
I went to Clarkesville, Virginia, and they had an home mission secretary there, like most Presbyterians, name of Garrison, and he took me on for summer work, Vacation Bible School work. I stayed with him, and then he told me I ought to get a church in the Presbytery. He wanted me to, and then I got two churches [unknown]. Soon expanded that to a place called Madison. From there, I went to Brevard College [North Carolina] because I think Dr. Thompson——two Thompsons there, Ernest Trice, he was professor of history, and E.T. in education. I was special friends to both of them. In fact, Dr. Thompson gave me the same series of lectures he gave at Harvard [unknown].
JOHN EGERTON:
Were you all married by then?
DORCAS JONES:
We married that fall of '32 after he finished seminary.
JOHN EGERTON:
You had lived in the city of Richmond all your life. So then you were a minister, and you all lived in different communities, mainly in Virginia and North Carolina through the '30s.

Page 6
DORCAS JONES:
Yeah, in Virginia about five years, I guess, and then in Brevard about five.
JOHN EGERTON:
Okay, and then came to Chapel Hill. That was in what year?
DORCAS JONES:
'41.
CHARLES M. JONES:
See, Brevard had Brevard College, and Dr. Thompson at the seminary thought that I would be nearer them because, well, I somehow another appealed to them. I never started my sermons [by saying] , "My sermon this morning is from Isaiah," so and so. I started it with a situation and then went on. To start with the scripture itself used to turn me off.
JOHN EGERTON:
That's a sign to close your ears [laughter].
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah, well, you were asleep.
JOHN EGERTON:
You came to Chapel Hill during the war, or had the war started? Earlier that year [1941]. And you all have lived here ever since?
CHARLES M. JONES:
With the exception of one year, we went away when the Presbyterian Church was having those difficulties.
JOHN EGERTON:
Yeah, I wanted to get to that in a minute. What's the Presbyterian Church here called that you served?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Well, they called it the First Presbyterian most of the time.
JOHN EGERTON:
Was it US or USA Church?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh, it was Southern [U.S.].
JOHN EGERTON:
I guess everything was in North Carolina, wasn't it? You know, Tennessee had some northern Presbyterian churches.
DORCAS JONES:
I think he had gone to a northern.

Page 7
CHARLES M. JONES:
I'd belonged to a northern.
JOHN EGERTON:
I don't know how that worked, why that happened.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Well, it came with the Mason-Dixon Line.
JOHN EGERTON:
Yeah, but what I don't understand is why Tennessee would end up with some of both, whereas most other parts of the South would only have the Southern Church.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Well, I think people had strong sympathies. It broke up families.
JOHN EGERTON:
Yeah, it really did, I guess. It was pretty much tied to the whole Civil War.
DORCAS JONES:
I think the Presbyterian Church [in Chapel Hill] now calls itself the University Presbyterian Church.
JOHN EGERTON:
Okay, so you became pastor at that church, a fairly sizable and thriving church at that time.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh yeah, I had two services on Sunday.
JOHN EGERTON:
What was at the heart of the dispute that you got into there with the people?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Well, it had to do with the Creed.
JOHN EGERTON:
Apostle's Creed?
CHARLES M. JONES:
No, I didn't use it in church because students didn't come there knowing it, and wouldn't stand up and say something they didn't believe. I dropped that a long time ago. But the reason I had so many people, frankly, is it's right across the street from the campus.
JOHN EGERTON:
Oh what street?
CHARLES M. JONES:
On Franklin Street. And it's so close, all they had to do was step out of the dormitory and get to church. That really

Page 8
is the reason, because when I changed to Community Church, I didn't have people flocking through the doors. In other words, I had a ready made population [at the Presbyterian Church].
JOHN EGERTON:
Would it be fair to summarize the conflict by saying that you were too liberal for the congregation at that Presbyterian Church?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh my Lord, no.
JOHN EGERTON:
Well, why did they jump on you?
DORCAS JONES:
It wasn't the local church. It was the Presbytery.
CHARLES M. JONES:
A fellow named T. Henry Patterson, [a church executive].
JOHN EGERTON:
Of the North Carolina Presbytery or whatever. What did he do to initiate the conflict?
CHARLES M. JONES:
I don't know what would be fair to say. I think he really started it.
DORCAS JONES:
Well, I don't what you would say to that. It was just a combination of liberal things. One was race. This church was the first one to let blacks come.
JOHN EGERTON:
What year was this, that the trouble really kind of came to a head?
DORCAS JONES:
When the Presbytery finally took all the power away from the church and didn't let its officers act, and they [Presbytery] took contol of controlled everything, that was in 1952.
JOHN EGERTON:
When did the trouble with the Presbytery really start, as you look back on it, when did you first begin to feel that you really had a problem on your hands?

Page 9
CHARLES M. JONES:
I guess when Patterson came.
DORCAS JONES:
I'm sure there were feelings and grumblings and all kind of things for some period of time, but the real situation, I think, didn't happen too long before that. There's a book here that's written on that whole situation. It's a thesis done by a Presbyterian minister.
JOHN EGERTON:
Would it be in the library at the University?
DORCAS JONES:
No. I'm sure it would be in the University of Virginia library, and then I think there's one at the seminary.
JOHN EGERTON:
I'd love to see it.
DORCAS JONES:
I meant to review it. It's been so long since I've read it now. I've forgotten a lot of it, but he did his whole thesis on that situation.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Read the preface to that, give you an idea.
JOHN EGERTON:
I'll just read this aloud so it'll be on my tape. "My first knowledge of Charles M. Jones was in 1952 when, as a teenager of thirteen, I became fascinated with the newspaper accounts of the controversy in Chapel Hill. I did not understand the complexity of the situation but generally believed, along with most of my friends and my local minister, that Charles Jones was a heretic and was getting his just reward.
I lost interest in the controversy because it was concluded and assumed that Jones was eventually tried for heresy and conflicted. Such an impression for a thirteen year old can be excused, but the same impression was also held by numerous people who should have known better. My interest in the Jones controversy was rekindled by Professor Paul M. Gaston of the

Page 10
faculty of the University of Virginia when he asked me to consider writing an account of it. Since the initial inquiry for material about the case, I've traveled several thousand miles, interviewed many of the principles, including Jones, and have discovered that the controversy is still very much alive in the minds of many people. I also found that there still exists much confusion as to what actually took place twenty years ago in Chapel Hill. This study is an attempt to unravel the confusion which still surrounds the controversy between the Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church, Orange Presbytery, and Charles Jones." I need to read that, [the thesis] I think.
DORCAS JONES:
Yeah, I think that would give you the whole . . . It might be possible for you to get a little one. Joe Straley has made copies.
CHARLES M. JONES:
You can call up Joe.
DORCAS JONES:
He was a person in the Presbyterian Church, and one of the main ones in Community Church later.
JOHN EGERTON:
Well, just to summarize, the Presbytery, which, of course, in the Presbyterian Church there is a hierarchy unlike the Baptist Church, that has some authority over local congregations, and they exerted authority over you, ultimately forcing you out. Did they actually put you on trial for heresy?
CHARLES M. JONES:
They called for it, but [higher church authority] wouldn't do it. They went so far as to go to the Synod and ask for a trial, but . . .
DORCAS JONES:
The only trial they would have allowed was for the same Presbytery to have had it. So they wouldn't be accusers, judges

Page 11
and everything. At that point, I think, Charles decided to leave.
JOHN EGERTON:
But really, their purpose all along was just to force you out, wasn't it?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh yeah.
JOHN EGERTON:
That was their whole objective.
DORCAS JONES:
Yeah, because earlier they had told him that if he would just go somewhere else, they'd recommend him.
JOHN EGERTON:
Did it ever come out in the public debate that race was one of the issues involved in all this?
CHARLES M. JONES:
No, I don't thik so.
JOHN EGERTON:
They kept it on a theological plane, so to speak?
CHARLES M. JONES:
They called it a high plane.
DORCAS JONES:
They wanted a "real Presbyterian."
JOHN EGERTON:
But you're pretty much convinced though in your own heart that race was one of the factors?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah, also, if they'd done it openly and right. I did not believe in the Confession of Faith. I didn't hold to this, but they knew it. But they wouldn't have a trial [inaudible]. So it forced me to make a statement which I made at the end of that thing, why I was leaving.
JOHN EGERTON:
There was that incident in 1947 when Bayard Ruskin and the other three guys were on the bus, and you got involved in that in a very direct way. You think that was one of the catalytical factors here?
CHARLES M. JONES:
I don't think so, not here, no. The chief of police might have . . .

Page 12
DORCAS JONES:
I think some of the townspeople were unhappy about that.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh, there was about eight or nine people.
DORCAS JONES:
Some few church people.
JOHN EGERTON:
But all along you pretty much felt that you had the support of the majority of your congregation?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh yeah, yeah.
JOHN EGERTON:
And they were really trying with you to ward off these attackers?
CHARLES M. JONES:
While I was taking a year off, just to let things settle, they had a fellow named Dr. McMullen, quite a guy too, very intelligent fellow. He came as an interim pastor, and he tried to be fair, don't you think, Dorcas?
DORCAS JONES:
I think he tried.
CHARLES M. JONES:
But somehow or another, he couldn't quite make it. It soon became apparent, the officers in my Presbyterian Church had a meeting without him. They never had a meeting without me, but they had a meeting without him. Well, I guess they'd have to say this, but I think they . . .
DORCAS JONES:
But finally the Presbytery took all the power away from your officers [inaudible]. And Dr. Frank Graham was one of them on the board at the time [laughter] , president of the University.
JOHN EGERTON:
Yeah, I wanted to ask about him. He was a member of your church.
DORCAS JONES:
Yes, one of the officers.

Page 13
JOHN EGERTON:
Was he a stalwart? He hung in there with you through all this or not?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yes. But when it comes——as they say in the mountains——between a rock and a hard rock, when it came to that, he was [inaudible] through and through.
JOHN EGERTON:
So he had to go with the body?
CHARLES M. JONES:
He came to me and talked to me about it.
JOHN EGERTON:
Was this an agonizing choice for him, do you think?
CHARLES M. JONES:
No, I don't think so. He hated to do it but . . . He had no doubts. He knew what he had to do.
DORCAS JONES:
He did everything in his power to help Charles.
JOHN EGERTON:
When he finally decided that he had to stay with the denomination rather than with the individual, was that a disappointment to you?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh no.
JOHN EGERTON:
No. You pretty much understood that?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh yeah. He and I had travelled quite often. Once, we went to Sweet Briar. I went to Sweet Briar and he went to Hollins, two girls' colleges. I took him because he'd never drove a car.
JOHN EGERTON:
He didn't drive?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Never had a car.
JOHN EGERTON:
How in the world did the man get around?
CHARLES M. JONES:
He had a black fellow who drove him or if I was going, he rode with me.
JOHN EGERTON:
Did you like him a lot?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh, yes.

Page 14
JOHN EGERTON:
You know, everybody I've talked to, I have yet to meet anybody who didn't just love that man.
DORCAS JONES:
He was wonderful.
JOHN EGERTON:
And here you're telling me that he was an officer in your church, and, push came to shove, and your denomination was cutting you off at the knees, and he went with the denomination. And you thought so much of him that you understood that and accepted that.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah, and [to Dorcas] you did too.
DORCAS JONES:
Yes, Charles wrote to all of his members. I don't remember just what he said, but letting them know that, because they were real Presbyterians, he felt that they should stay. Charles understood that completely.
JOHN EGERTON:
Well, his reputation has stood the test of time, you know. It's amazing to me. I've talked to people who maybe disagreed with him on a lot of things or maybe they were a lot more conservative than he was, but they all just think he was the greatest.
DORCAS JONES:
He was so fair. You couldn't think otherwise.
CHARLES M. JONES:
He went to the United Nations and mediated between India, Ghandi as a matter of fact.
JOHN EGERTON:
He made quite a reputation for himself after he left the University and the Senate.
DORCAS JONES:
I think he was in the United Nations when all this was happening, part of the time. He came back to meetings.
JOHN EGERTON:
Yeah, that's true. He wouldn't have been here when the real crisis came.

Page 15
DORCAS JONES:
I think that's right.
CHARLES M. JONES:
He'd stand up on the train.
DORCAS JONES:
But he would come back for the meetings, went to the Presbytery with Charles.
JOHN EGERTON:
Getting back to that incident in '47. Would you mind talking to me a little bit about that, how that all came up and how you happened to get involved in that?
CHARLES M. JONES:
In which?
JOHN EGERTON:
Bayard Ruskin and the guys on the bus?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh yeah. They wrote me, didn't they? The Fellowship Breakfast?
DORCAS JONES:
Yeah.
JOHN EGERTON:
Oh, I know who you're going to say, Roger Baldwin?
CHARLES M. JONES:
No, I knew Roger. A.J. Muste. A.J. was a peaceful fellow and a scholar too. But the real person that——I guess it was Bayard and two or three other fellows.
JOHN EGERTON:
There were two whites and one other black person and Bayard Ruskin.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Nelson was the black fellow's name.
DORCAS JONES:
Jim Farmer was one of them.
CHARLES M. JONES:
And Jim Farmer. He is now blind and, I think, president of a black college in Virginia.
JOHN EGERTON:
Oh, James Farmer is? Is that right?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Unless he changed within the last year or two. He was a great guy. We had, oh, many black friends.
DORCAS JONES:
They came to Chapel Hill. They'd had trouble in Durham, and they came over here.

Page 16
JOHN EGERTON:
Riding on a Greyhound or an Interstate bus.
DORCAS JONES:
And they had breakfast or lunch or something with us, and they were going on to Greensboro, is that right?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yes. Some of them were, and some of them were going to South Carolina.
DORCAS JONES:
They had trouble at the bus station, didn't they?
JOHN EGERTON:
And that's when they got arrested?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Right.
DORCAS JONES:
They were going to take them, I don't know whether I can remember it, they were going to take them off the bus, and the cab drivers were right across the street. Somebody heard remarks about them, and so Charles' assistant [inaudible] telephone. Charles went down and got them in his car to bring them back up to our house [inaudible].
JOHN EGERTON:
This is before any arrest had taken place?
DORCAS JONES:
I think so, wasn't it?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah.
JOHN EGERTON:
You brought them back to your house?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh yeah.
JOHN EGERTON:
Did you live here then?
DORCAS JONES:
Lived on Franklin Street in the Presbyterian manse.
JOHN EGERTON:
And you took them there, and then what happened?
DORCAS JONES:
Well, I don't remember it very well. But the cab drivers tried to follow you, and you got there first, and y'all came in the house. The cab drivers were sort of threatening. They stopped out in front of the house. Charles called the police. Had to call them a number of times before they'd come.

Page 17
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh, there's something else, Dorcas. There was a bunch of students who heard about it.
DORCAS JONES:
Well, yeah, but that was later. Then the police finally did come and help escort you out of the county and far enough to get them so they could, somebody was going to meet them and take them to Greensboro. Anyway, I don't remember. They got arrested in Chapel Hill. Do you remember?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah, when they got arrested in Chapel Hill, the officers were [inaudible].
DORCAS JONES:
Did those people riding the bus, then get arrested here?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah, and they turned them loose because we [inaudible].
DORCAS JONES:
Well then, maybe they arrested them first.
JOHN EGERTON:
Yeah. You got them out of jail.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Got them out of jail. We had one friend on the police force, a fellow named Blake. He later became the Chief of Police.
JOHN EGERTON:
What about the students, were they on your side?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh my God, yeah. Yeah, they came, and they brought some weapons.
DORCAS JONES:
Well, there was so much commotion about it all that the Chief of Police at that time said he couldn't protect us, and he advised Charles to take me and the children out of town. While he was gone, these students went in the house to take care of the house, our neighbors. And when you came back, there was a town meeting, wasn't there?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh yeah.

Page 18
DORCAS JONES:
Of everybody concerned and interested. They tried to talk about it and see what to do.
JOHN EGERTON:
How did you access the mood of the people in the town at that time?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Well, it wasn't Chapel Hill people. It was Carrboro people mostly, wasn't it?
DORCAS JONES:
Most of them were.
CHARLES M. JONES:
I didn't feel people in town were against me, not in Chapel Hill.
DORCAS JONES:
No, a few but not many.
CHARLES M. JONES:
And not the students.
JOHN EGERTON:
Or the faculty?
CHARLES M. JONES:
I know of one maybe, Hugh Holman. But he never overtly did anything, and remained a friend.
DORCAS JONES:
Dr. Berryhill was upset with it all. He was in the Med School, but I think he was partly on the basis that he was afraid this would effect the legislature giving money to the University.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yes. And his wife though, interestingly enough, met me on the street and said she agreed with me.
DORCAS JONES:
She said we're friends of yours now.
JOHN EGERTON:
Yeah. What about Howard Odum?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Howard Odum was no help, because Howard believed that the change in race relations would come gradually with no trouble.
JOHN EGERTON:
He did not like conflict, did he?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Not one bit. We remained friendly, but he didn't like it.

Page 19
JOHN EGERTON:
By reading of him from this distance is that his heart was always in the right place, but that he would have waited 'til the cows came home for things to change on their own. Yet, most people finally came to realize that that would have been forever.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Well, we had a crippled sociologist, Rubert Vance. He was just the opposite. He was in a wheelchair all the time and had to be carried up, but he was strongly for us.
JOHN EGERTON:
Did he have infantile paralysis or something?
CHARLES M. JONES:
I guess it was.
JOHN EGERTON:
Because he was stooped over and couldn't walk. He was really wheelchair bound.
CHARLES M. JONES:
He was a good sociologist though.
JOHN EGERTON:
And he was a hard hitter on this subject. More so than Odum.
CHARLES M. JONES:
And there was another named Lee Brooks, equally so.
JOHN EGERTON:
Did you ever know W.T. Couch, who ran the press?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah.
JOHN EGERTON:
Where was he on this issue?
CHARLES M. JONES:
He was a friend, but he didn't . . .
JOHN EGERTON:
He kind of stayed in the background.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah. We were just Charlie and Bill and so forth.
JOHN EGERTON:
Did you have any reading of how he felt about all of this?
CHARLES M. JONES:
I think he would play things safe, but would feel, wish he could do better.
JOHN EGERTON:
And what about Dr. Graham at that time?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Dr. Frank was at the United Nations at that time.

Page 20
JOHN EGERTON:
No, this was in '47 when the bus incident happened. Do you remember him coming into that picture at all?
DORCAS JONES:
I know he offered for us to come stay at his house if we needed to. But his help, I don't remember, because I didn't get into things too much.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Well, I don't think he would want to put himself in a position forcing me to do something, trying to force me, because he always left me free.
JOHN EGERTON:
Well, that would have been a really tough one for him to have stepped into the middle of, that's for sure, because no matter what he said, if he got into that one publicly, somebody was going to jump right down his throat on that.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Well, the Board of Trustees [inaudible]. They tried to get him once, I think, to cease some of his outside activities, saying he couldn't tend to things here, spread himself so far. But he was very persuasive. He had friends everywhere. I remember one student, a girl, who walked up town with a black fellow, and her father was a state assembly man. And they phoned him, somebody phoned him. So Dr. Frank heard it. He called the state senator up, and called him up.
JOHN EGERTON:
Kind of smoothed it over.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Well, I don't think he violated, to hide anything, but he tried to, persuasively . . . [Interruption]
JOHN EGERTON:
Yeah, he was pretty good at it.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh yeah, yeah.

Page 21
JOHN EGERTON:
It was a couple of years later, I think, it must have been about '49 or '50 when Bayard Ruskin and those people came back here for trial. That was a separate occasion.
CHARLES M. JONES:
The judge, I think, was Judge Hopkins.
JOHN EGERTON:
Do you remember that, Mrs. Jones?
DORCAS JONES:
Not much about it.
CHARLES M. JONES:
I remember this much. We went over to hear the trial, and some divinity school students from Duke went over there.
DORCAS JONES:
Was it heard in Durham or Chapel Hill?
CHARLES M. JONES:
It was in Chapel Hill.
JOHN EGERTON:
Was in Durham, was it?
CHARLES M. JONES:
I think it was, yeah, 'cause they were Duke students. They went in and read their Bibles 'cause he was asking people, somebody started reading the paper. Told them to get out. The court wasn't the place to read papers, but to try cases. So these fellows took the Bible [laughter].
JOHN EGERTON:
And started reading their Bibles.
CHARLES M. JONES:
They were divinity school students at Duke, and they just sat in court and read the Bible and wouldn't go out. So when the judge [inaudible] they were reading the Bible.
JOHN EGERTON:
And let it go. You said earlier that you had blacks who came to your church.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Not many.
JOHN EGERTON:
Would that have been back before this time? I mean, in the '40s did you ever have anybody black come to your congregation?

Page 22
CHARLES M. JONES:
[inaudible] Yeah, before that I had some students from Payne College, which was black, come up and sing. [inaudible] was playing the organ.
DORCAS JONES:
How about Brevard?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh yeah, Brevard. And she was playing the organ, and one of the men in town who ran a store objected. He didn't want those "niggers" sitting up there with Miss Lillian. But he was an awfully good friend of ours.
JOHN EGERTON:
But by the time this incident came up, underneath all of the formal complaints of the Presbytery people, was some feeling that you were too liberal on the racial thing?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah, but I would have to say now that they just differed with me. I would hesitate to say that that was the prevailing reason. See, because after all I did not . . .
JOHN EGERTON:
They had other axes to grind with you?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh yeah, the confession of faith. I had majored in physics and minored in chemistry, and anybody who had to think like that, you know it can't be true. But you know why it was true, because at that point in time, they were trying to figure the best they could what things were. And you have to, in a sense, respect them for that because they haven't done what I call spade work.
You can't come on later and [inaudible].
DORCAS JONES:
Did Floyd McKissick come to your church when he was student?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah. Floyd McKissick was a law student. Dan Pollitt was a teacher.
JOHN EGERTON:
At where, at the University?

Page 23
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah.
JOHN EGERTON:
Well, this would have had to have been after '52 or '53 because I don't think the University of North Carolina had a single black student until after 1954.
DORCAS JONES:
He was the first one whenever it was. Is that right, Chuck?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah. There a professor here now who——I guess he was my big supporter here as a professor.
JOHN EGERTON:
Who was that?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Dan Pollitt, and he had brought, I think brought or at least let [McKissick] into the . . .
JOHN EGERTON:
The Law School. Got McKissick into the Law School.
DORCAS JONES:
I don't remember when the [inaudible] school was here, but all their band members were black, and some of them used to come to church.
CHARLES M. JONES:
And then we had a couple of students.
JOHN EGERTON:
Would that have been during the war?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah, and the students made friends and they came to supper.
JOHN EGERTON:
But that was time when the University was still tightly segregated, other than for these special programs.
DORCAS JONES:
Yeah, the band was all black, and they had to live down in the black community. They didn't stay up here.
CHARLES M. JONES:
But they had a white chaplain who was a jackass, and he just didn't want to hear that kind of stuff. Parson [inaudible] was a judge in Chicago.

Page 24
JOHN EGERTON:
In March of '49, according to my reading, when that trial happened, Ruskin and the others, they got thirty days on the road gang. They were sentenced. Do you remember if they had to serve that time, or did they get probation? Do you recall if they actually went to jail?
DORCAS JONES:
I don't know. I know, because of that period, Bayard said something to the effect that Charles saved his life. Now, what he meant by that I can't remember. Don't know what happened.
JOHN EGERTON:
I imagine it was getting him out of jail.
DORCAS JONES:
But I just have forgotten.
JOHN EGERTON:
I'll check on that.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Bayard is dead now.
JOHN EGERTON:
Let me ask you a couple of other things, Mr. Jones. I've got a feeling that the University of North Carolina under Frank Graham was a kind of a liberal citadel, not just in the South but in the whole country, and that when he left here, or after he left here rather, this University slipped down a notch or two.
CHARLES M. JONES:
They got a business man for president.
JOHN EGERTON:
And all of the things that Frank Graham was the inspiration for, if not the instigator of, kind of dried up. Do you think that's a fair interpretation for me to apply.
CHARLES M. JONES:
I'd say so, wouldn't you?
DORCAS JONES:
I'm not sure everything dried up.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Well, a few professors could stick out as individuals and students from the class, but the power wasn't there.

Page 25
JOHN EGERTON:
And it being the only University in the South that really was out there anywhere at all, doing any of this social change, after it sort of lost that power with his departure, then it was way on down the road, maybe another decade or more, before the universities became a factor in all of this at all. And likewise, the churches. If you go back and look at what people in churches were saying during the days of the Social Gospel in the '20s and early '30s, they talked a good game on race relations, but when the crunch came, they didn't play a good game. Would that be a fair assessment?
CHARLES M. JONES:
That's right. They would issue their papers and so forth, but there was no implementation for it. It was sort of like the Creed. If you repeat the Creed, you're okay.
JOHN EGERTON:
And then likewise the press, if you look at what newspaper were saying back in the early '30s, there was a lot of liberalism in the press. But by 1950, it was dead as a door nail.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Now, we had one great fellow here, [inaudible] campbell. He was a reporter. He wouldn't go out on a limb, but the news got in the paper.
JOHN EGERTON:
Yeah. Did you know anybody, white or black, in those days who was going around saying in public, out loud, in print, or making speeches, saying, the problem we've got is Jim Crow, is segregation. And if we don't get rid of segregation, we're not going to be able to solve all these other problems we've got in the South. Thinking about the '40s now. Do you recall anybody you knew, who talked like that?

Page 26
CHARLES M. JONES:
I don't believe I do. Wait a minute, was Bill Finlator here then?
DORCAS JONES:
I don't know.
CHARLES M. JONES:
We have now a fellow named Bill Finlator, and he most of the time spoke. He's the liberal preacher for everybody. And we get him.
DORCAS JONES:
He's a Baptist from Raleigh.
JOHN EGERTON:
How old is he?
DORCAS JONES:
Sixty something.
CHARLES M. JONES:
But I had Bill up here for me every time I could get him.
JOHN EGERTON:
He has a Baptist church in Raleigh?
CHARLES M. JONES:
He did. But that was at State College where he had the support of the people. I think you might make the point that the change in the South came mainly through faculties, black and white, educators.
JOHN EGERTON:
Academic people.
CHARLES M. JONES:
I don't know anywhere [inaudible]
JOHN EGERTON:
As you look back on that period, '45, right after the war, up until the communist scare got started and everybody was all frightened by that, you know, there was about a five year period there when, it looks to me like, that was a kind of a golden opportunity that never got capitalized on. Does that seem that way to you?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah, I think it's true, and I don't know why though. Except didn't everybody care. See, what I call the idealism of

Page 27
the college was students. Students now are cheering football and baseball, and the heroes are the athletes.
JOHN EGERTON:
Wasn't so back then.
CHARLES M. JONES:
No. In fact, they had debating societies here in the University, and they just debated real controversial subjects.
JOHN EGERTON:
Do you think most people, white and black, kind of knew down in their gut in '48 or '9 or '50, that the South couldn't sustain a segregated society? That it had to change?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yes, I think when Dr. King got into it, he got so many white friends and spoke in so many white places. He spoke here. He was a great organizer. I would put Dr. King as the man who broke it.
JOHN EGERTON:
So that means the mid-50s. That doesn't mean '48 or '51. It was really after Dr. King that it all really, the consciousness got raised.
CHARLES M. JONES:
There was another black educator, Dr. [Benjamin] Mays, at Morehouse College, and he was invited to all sorts of white functions and places, but he never, I don't think he ever [inaudible]
DORCAS JONES:
I don't know.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Dorothy Mainer sang here and held a benefit concert for the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen. Her husband was president of [inaudible].
JOHN EGERTON:
Let's just take Buck, for example. You knew Buck Kester all through the '40s, didn't you, pretty much, all the times you were here? Did you think of him as being a white person who spoke out openly for an end to segregation or did he not do that?

Page 28
CHARLES M. JONES:
No, I don't think he did. That wasn't his major concern. His concern was the land, farms. I'd say he did for that, what others did for segregation. See, 'cause I knew Buck real well, but it wasn't through segregation.
DORCAS JONES:
He did a lot for sharecroppers.
JOHN EGERTON:
You know, everybody used to say, "If the Yankees would just leave us alone, we could fix our own problems down here." How long do you think it would have taken the South to fix its own racial problem if it hadn't been for the federal court and black protest?
CHARLES M. JONES:
I think you'd have had a black uprising.
JOHN EGERTON:
Had a revolution?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Being quiet, that's called harassing. Because I don't think you could openly have a revolution because you'd have police against you, but you could harass people. I remember when we sometimes had children parade, they would get harassed by the whites. But you couldn't get them arrested. You can't get arrested for harassing.
JOHN EGERTON:
A lot of people in that time would say, "Well, the law says separate but equal, and we never have really done that. So what we need to do is to make it truly equal." Did you ever believe that separate could be made equal?
CHARLES M. JONES:
I don't think so. You see, sometimes a husband and wife would decide to do certain things separately and still be married. They would give over on it and forget about it because they cared for each other. I don't see how you can do that down the line.

Page 29
JOHN EGERTON:
For the whole society.
CHARLES M. JONES:
With white couples, if they would say they were going to keep all their money and stuff separately, they can't do it even. I think the reason, and I think it probably grew out of, not only sociology but all the science, the universe is so bound together with earthworms needed to do this job, with chickens to crap off the pole and give us fertilizer for tomatoes. So it's interdependent. And the time comes if one of them is taken advantage of, somebody's independence is lost. You see?
JOHN EGERTON:
I see exactly what you mean. That pretty much covers what I wanted to ask you about. I'm really enjoying the search for answers in all of this, and I do feel as I go along that I'm getting a little surer grasp of what happened and how people felt about things and all.
CHARLES M. JONES:
It's pretty good if you can do that, because if you can see where you came from, you can see where you can go.
JOHN EGERTON:
I still am a little confused though about why that period of '45 to '50 didn't seem like more of a golden opportunity to people at the time. That they could do voluntarily and accomplish so much. That we went through twentyfive years of bloodshed to get to the very same place.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah, but right in our own generation, we've got a guy named Jesse Helms. I call him a big, damn fool. He does more harm. He's got a [inaudible] brain, but he's stupid.
JOHN EGERTON:
Yeah. You know, I guess it's almost always impossible to see what your logic would inform you to do down the road, you have to almost get——Presbyterians have a name for it,

Page 30
predestination, which means being able to look back and see why things worked out the way they did. It doesn't mean being able to sit down there and say here's what's going to happen.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah. [inaudible] Presbyterians was when they say it, they didn't try to pick up and go somewhere else. Presbyterians were traditionally segregated.
JOHN EGERTON:
You think the Presbyterian or Baptist or Methodist Church as an institution has been a force for good in the march of social justice through American history?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Overall, yeah. But you take any particular period and you'd be stuck. And I guess that's true of everything, you can't pin progress on this and that.
JOHN EGERTON:
There are always too many factors.
CHARLES M. JONES:
I don't get confused because I don't worry that much about it. But there's so much that you can keep confused and tied up with. I preached a sermon one time on the meaning of life, and the essence of it was you couldn't know because it's a mystery.
JOHN EGERTON:
The farther I go the less I understand.
CHARLES M. JONES:
But if you don't understand where you've been, you can't go anywhere either.
JOHN EGERTON:
Yeah, that's true.
CHARLES M. JONES:
So the problem, I think, often is a failure of the will. They see and don't do.
JOHN EGERTON:
Yeah. You think that was the South's problem in 1945?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Pretty much, yeah.

Page 31
JOHN EGERTON:
A failure of will. You hear a lot of people say, "Well, gosh, if I had known it was that bad, that people were really treated that way and all, I would have done something about that." But that's kind of like the Germans saying if they had known Hitler was such a bad guy, they would have . . . It just isn't so, is it? It's a failure of will. We do know but we don't act.
END OF INTERVIEW