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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Clark Foreman, November 16, 1974. Interview B-0003. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Family support for pursuing political goals without running for political office

Foreman's family generally supported his political activities yet would not have supported him if he ran for office. They equated professional politics with dishonesty. Foreman showed his commitment to honesty by suing the Atlanta Constitution for mislabeling the Southern Conference as communist.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Clark Foreman, November 16, 1974. Interview B-0003. 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

JACQUELYN HALL:
I had wondered before why you didn't go into politics.
CLARK FOREMAN:
One reason is money. Have to have a good backlog of money. Or you have to have supporters. And my father had told me, as a boy, that I had to chose whether I wanted to be an honest man or a politician. He'd just seen so many politicians who campaigned on an issue and got support and got elected on one issue and then the issue would change and he couldn't count on their support any more so he changed, too. In other words, this business of being honest was what he meant. BILL FINGER Did you agree with your father later on?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I do now.
JACQUELYN HALL:
In other words your family wouldn't have encouraged you to go into politics or supported you financially.
CLARK FOREMAN:
No, they would discourage me. I don't know what you mean by my family. If you mean my father and my brothers, they would have been against it. My uncle Clark, who was the most successful political member of the family, he would have been violently against it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
That brings up another subject, of how your family viewed your activities, your conflicts with the southern power companies and your being accused of being a communist and your being attacked on the radio as a dangerous radical. How did that effect your Georgia family?
CLARK FOREMAN:
My immediate family-my father and mother and brothers-were always very loyal and unquestioning about it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did they agree with you at all?
CLARK FOREMAN:
No. Well, my father and mother were tolerant. I wouldn't say they agreed with me, but they agreed with me to the extent that it was my business and they weren't going to interfere. My uncle Clark always said that he and I were going in two different directions. And then when he died his son took over the Constitution . Clark Howell, Jr. He became very hostile. As I told you, Ralph McGill ran that nasty column and I had to sue him. Did you know that I sued the Constitution? For libel and made Ralph McGill retract the column that he had printed. That was about 1943 or 4, I guess. Was it 1947?
JACQUELYN HALL:
Uhhuh, 1947. So you were suing your own uncle's newspaper.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, I was suing Ralph McGill, too.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why was Clark Howard Jr so violently opposed to you?
CLARK FOREMAN:
One thing, I think that it was a confusion, my name and his name and he felt somehow or other involved. That's why, after having us out for dinner that night, when we first came down here he and Margaret had Mairi and me for dinner with Ralph McGill and Ralph McGill's wife. And the next day he stopped using my name as Clark. From then on it was always Dr C. H. Foreman.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did he confront you personally with his differences or did he just treat the things that you were involved in in his editorials and in his newspapers in a very unfriendly, critical way?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I don't want to generalize about it. The main thing was that column that Ralph McGill wrote in which he said the Southern Conference was communist. And I took the position that when he said leadership that included me and that I had a right to sue. And I got a lawyer in Macon, Georgia, to sue. And they were sufficiently scared to settle it.