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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Guy B. Johnson, December 16, 1974. Interview B-0006. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Methodist women held a special interest in interracial cooperation

Guy and Guion Johnson discuss the history of the Methodist Church and women's social activism through that organization. Guion argues that the Methodist Church showed more interest in having black members than other denominations, and women carried on that interest. Methodist women also held positions in the Commission on Interracial Cooperation.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Guy B. Johnson, December 16, 1974. Interview B-0006. 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:
Was there a separate women's committee? Dr. GUY B. JOHNSON: No.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Never? Dr. GUY B. JOHNSON: No, the women were involved in it and . . .
GUION JOHNSON:
But they were a minority. Dr. GUY B. JOHNSON: Yes, that's true. We had people like Charlotte Hawkins Brown who were pretty active.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What were the proportions? Dr. GUY B. JOHNSON: Well, I don't know, probably in the general membership, I think they would be fairly high. Probably still a minority, maybe forty or . . .
GUION JOHNSON:
Well, Mr. and Mrs. Gurney Hood, for example . . . Dr. GUY B. JOHNSON: But in office holding or committee chairmen or anything like that, I don't think they . . .
GUION JOHNSON:
No, they weren't. It was a male dominated organization.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Gurney Hood?
GUION JOHNSON:
Yes. He was Commissioner of Banking. And Mrs. Hood was president of the Women's Society of Christian Service of the Methodist Church. You see here again, the Methodist Church . . . all through the South, women took an active role and they were usually members of the Women's Society of Christian Service of the Methodist Church, because the Methodist Church put so much emphasis in its discipline on social problems, promoting good relations.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How do you account for that difference between the Methodist Church and say, the Presbyterian Church?
GUION JOHNSON:
Well, I think that perhaps the philosophy of predestination of the Presbyterian Church had something to do with their moving slowly toward interracial cooperation. But the Methodist Church always, from the very beginning, when it was first organized in the United States, made a plea for the Negro participation. You see, this is a history of the Methodist Church in the United States that . . . Dr. GUY B. JOHNSON: Well, the first . . . what do you call the annual . . .
GUION JOHNSON:
The Annual Conference? Dr. GUY B. JOHNSON: The Annual Conference.
GUION JOHNSON:
Which was held in North Carolina. Dr. GUY B. JOHNSON: After the American Revolution, they had a plan for the abolition of slavery.
GUION JOHNSON:
Yes. Dr. GUY B. JOHNSON: Which they adopted.
GUION JOHNSON:
Yes, which they adopted. I remember in going through the early records for the history of the Methodist Church for my Ante-Bellum North Carolina, I found a complaint of some of the Methodists in Wilmington, that the ministers and the missionaries were making too much of bringing in the Negro. And that the Methodist Church in Wilmington was composed predominantly of Negroes. Now, this was, you see, during the Revolution and just after. So, I think that this accounts for the interests of the Methodist Church. And the women, of course, carried on. They felt that they could do things that the men could not do and so they pushed the frontiers back a little bit.