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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Ruth Vick, 1973. Interview B-0057. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

George Mitchell and Harold Fleming, SRC directors

Vick describes onetime SRC director George Mitchell in this excerpt. Mitchell was a storyteller whose stories earned fame for him but not for the SRC. Harold Fleming, however, used his talents to promote the organization, publishing articles and building a mailing list. Fleming was director when sit-ins began, and gave protestors advice.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Ruth Vick, 1973. Interview B-0057. 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:
How was he promoting himself more than the Council?
RUTH VICK:
It seemed as though the people that should have known about the Southern Regional Council didn't, but they knew George Mitchell.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Like what kind of people?
RUTH VICK:
The people that could help us most, like other foundations, like Rockefeller and Field. You know, we've gotten very little money from them. We had almost none, maybe $5,000, with all that money they had, millions and millions of dollars to spend. I just think he'd sit up and talk about what he had done. And when he came to the Council he came in charge of veterans' affairs, because it was at the time that World War II was being ended. Veterans would be coming back looking for work, and they knew that in the type of society we were living in, that they would be the last ones to get jobs when they came back. I think he had worked very effectively in that, but when he got to be Director of the Council, he didn't like detail or anything like that. He liked to go off speaking, telling tales, and all that.
JACQUELYN HALL:
He was a big story-teller.
RUTH VICK:
He was a big story-teller. And I think that the Council was just forgotten in the mainstream. A lot of people didn't know what the Council was. So Harold really did a beautiful job.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Of publicizing the Council. What would he do, write articles for magazines and things?
RUTH VICK:
Anything. All sorts of articles, doing research, then getting it published, putting it before the public. We built the tremendously under him, and then Leslie Dunbar continued it. Leslie came under Harold as Research Director, because we haven't had a good research director since [laughter] Leslie became Director.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I know.
RUTH VICK:
No, we just haven't had one. I think that's one thing that the new man is going to do. I'm very excited about George Esser. I really am.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did Harold build up your mailing list? [Omission]
RUTH VICK:
Harold knew a lot of newspaper people, media people, that he'd dealt with while he was Director of Information. And he just began spreading the word around and what the Council was doing. And then the state councils did have a newsletter. We had a newsletter that we put out about the state councils. And of course we'd send information to the newspapers. He just got a lot more stuff going. We had more stuff really going once we got the state councils on their feet. And then the Council started doing so much more, hiring more people, and starting publicizing everything we did. And you got some people on your board who came out with these statements at these annual meetings every year, which kept people . And then they put out so many more publications about school desegregation and all that sort of stuff, and people were just eating it up like mad. Every time a group would come up, like the medical group here in Georgia, and they would visit all the doctors that said they wanted open schools, and all the other organizations that came up. we'd just . We kept people aware of everything that was happening, so it helped a great deal.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Who was Director when the sit-ins started?
RUTH VICK:
Harold Fleming.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did SRC respond to that? Did it take people by surprise?
RUTH VICK:
I think the very fact that it did happen when it happened— because nobody knew it was going to happen—was a surprise. But then we began to cooperate with the students. The students would ask our advice on things, and we would tell them what we thought. Because at that time we moved from Sixty-three Auburn. But when the first student marchers went down Auburn Avenue, we stood and watched them.