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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Marion Wright, March 8, 1978. Interview B-0034. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Civil rights victories of the 1950s and 1960s robbed the SRC of its purpose

The SRC declined as it lost its reason for being, Wright says. He thinks that new legislation in the 1950s and 1960s meant that the government was equipped to uphold civil rights. The SRC accomplished its goal and retired gracefully.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Marion Wright, March 8, 1978. Interview B-0034. 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

What is your feeling, though, about why what seems to be a decline in the Council has happened?
It's inevitable. The Southern Regional Council had a reason for being when you were fighting to establish the rights of a minority in this country. People would contribute to it; they took interest in it; you had something you could fight over. Now the rights have been either Congressionally or judicially established. If our sole mission had been to secure those rights, we should quit business at that time. It takes a different temperament and different talent to operate in an area when law has already stepped in. So I think it quite natural that you feel now not that we want to leave everything up to the government, but that the government has done the job, and the government is equipped to carry it on. Why should a private organization continue to exist? That's what it gets down to.
Part of what was going on, though, during George Esser's period was an effort to redirect the Council toward a different approach and different issues and so on, but that didn't seem to work.
If I were cynical, as I hope I am not, I would say that for the same reason that I criticize a government agency for seeking to preserve itself after it has accomplished its purpose, I would say that the Southern Regional Council had been attempting to preserve itself after its principal mission was accomplished. You have now the Urban League, which works on employment. The field is pretty well occupied, and our principal mission is ended.