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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 >>

Comparing the Southern Regional Council and the Southern Conference

The Southern Regional Council and the Southern Conference shared similar goals but took different stances on segregation. The Council voted against Foreman's resolution to recognize integration in the YWCA. Yet the Council thrived while the Southern Conference failed due to political losses.

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:
What were the differences between the Southern Regional Council and the Southern Conference in their tactics?
CLARK FOREMAN:
One big difference was that we came out from the very beginning against segregation in the Southern Conference. We had to because of that Birmingham situation. The Southern Regional Council, or Interracial Commission, hedged around for a long long time on that question and gradually came to it, I think someone said the other night, about 1951. But I remember one meeting of the executive committee of the Southern Regional Council when . . . in the '40s . . . when the YWCA came out against segregation and said there would be no more segregation in any of their cafeterias and so forth. And I proposed a resolution, in the executive committee, of congratulations to the YWCA. I thought well if we couldn't do it at least we could congratulate somebody else who would. And it passed without any opposition. But then I was asked to come out and speak to a class-one of the classes at Morehouse College. So I left the meeting and went out to speak to this class. When I came back I found out that somebody else, in my absence, had introduced a resolution nullifying mine and cancelling it out so that that was not passed. But that's how ticklish the segregation question was even into the '40s.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What about economic issues?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, if you mean that . . . support . . . I suppose it was economic. But it was fear. The man who introduced the resolution nullifying mine was a Catholic priest from Savamah. Monsignor . . . something like that. Economics was not in his mind so much as respectability. But as far as the organization was concerned, if they had come out at that time against segregation it would have been much harder for them to raise money.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How do you account for the fact that the Southern Conference wasn't able to survive while the Southern Regional Council survived and prospered?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, the Southern Conference went down in '48 on the shoals of Wallace. It went all out in the Wallace campaign and when that was such a fiasco there was nothing for us to do but to fold up.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So you think it was a mistake for the Southern Conference to get so involved in electoral politics in that particular campaign?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, in the sense that it was the end of the Southern Conference, maybe. But on the other hand it was the only thing that we could do at that time logically. Because that's what we had been building up to. Wallace came out with our program. Wallace was the first candidate for president to come to the South and speak to unsegregated meetings everywhere he went. He spoke to unsegregated meetings in every state in the South. It was a very valuable precedent because since then no other candidate for president has had segregated meetings. So if you say it is a mistake, it's just like saying to a woman it's a mistake to get pregnant if the baby dies. As I see it, there was nothing for us to do but to come out for Wallace. It was a logical part of our program. We were very lucky to have Wallace come out and sort of champion our cause.