Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Ruth Vick, 1973. Interview B-0057. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The SRC did not officially participate in sit-ins, but members did so on their own time

While some Southern Regional Council members participated in sit-ins, the SRC itself barred members from direct action on the clock. Vick and another SRC member did eat lunch in a segregated area of a restaurant. Restaurant employees did not try to stop them.

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:
Did SRC people participate in any of the ?
RUTH VICK:
There were one or two people who did. You could do it on your own time. What you had to do was sign a leave slip, and then you could go out and march and sit in, if you wanted to. Marge Manderson almost got herself arrested several times.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did people have to really discuss that and make a policy decision about it?
RUTH VICK:
Oh, yes, right.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What were people's feelings about all of the participation like that by SRC people?
RUTH VICK:
They just said that you couldn't do it on SRC time. What you'd have to do is take a leave, and then when you were on your own, as long as they had a record slip in there that you were on a leave of absence or annual leave or what…
JACQUELYN HALL:
That was to protect …
RUTH VICK:
The Council. Really I guess it was, but I think there was something, and some lawyer mentioned this who was in the Council—I think it was Marion Wright at that time who was the President—and he mentioned that he thought that the senior staff members should not get involved in it, in the actual demonstration part. But otherwise they could go talk to the groups; they could offer them advice; they could put out any kind of reports; and of course they were the final reports during that time. And there were about four members of the Council there that were not considered senior staff members who did participate, actually sat in. But luckily none were arrested, but they did participate in the march city. And a lot of the staff people at the Council sent their charge cards in to Rich's, closed their accounts just like that, and told them why they were doing it, because they refused to open up their bathrooms. So of course Davison's was ready to do it right away, and Rich's kept trying to hold them off until they were ready.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was Rich's able to keep Davison's from
RUTH VICK:
This was real funny. A guy called Harold from Davison's —what was his name? it started with a J—anyway, he was a New York man that they sent down here; he was here for quite some time. He's not there anymore now; . But he called Harold and told him the reason they didn't. He said, "We're ready, but Richard Britch and Neely are just needling me: ‘Don't do it. We're going to do it, but we've got to do this thing. so-and-so and so-and-so."’ They just kept this going, back and forth, like this, for the longest time, until Rich's lost enough money, until they felt it, you see, and then they did open up. When they opened up, they decided that they didn't want the blacks to sit other than a certain place in the…
BOB HALL:
That cafeteria ?
RUTH VICK:
Up on the sixth floor. Albright was working on the Council at that time, and we were the first ones to go down and eat. She had a lot of guts. [Laughter] And she was the first one to send in her card and wrote them a letter and told them why she was doing it. So we ate together all the time, and we went down to eat. And you could see them, the person back here holding up their hand for two, and then the hostess here would turn around and see that there was a negro to be seated. Well, you see they would wait and find a spot where they wanted you to sit. So we decided that the next time we did that, that we weren't going to take the seat that they were ushering us to; we were going to take another seat in another part, and we did. And of course we could tell that they didn't like it, but they didn't do anything about it. So we went there daily, the two of us, as long as she was there. We just wouldn't go any other place, only when we went to the Hungry Club. So they know me very well . The Magnolia Room.