Documenting the American South Logo
Loading
Title: Oral History Interview with William and Josephine Clement, June 19, 1986. Interview C-0031. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Clement, William, interviewee
Author: Clement, Josephine, interviewee
Interview conducted by Weare, Walter Weare, Juanita
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 296 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-02-16, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with William and Josephine Clement, June 19, 1986. Interview C-0031. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0031)
Author: Walter Weare and Juanita Weare
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with William and Josephine Clement, June 19, 1986. Interview C-0031. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0031)
Author: William and Josephine Clement
Description: 348 Mb
Description: 103 p.
Note: Interview conducted on June 19, 1986, by Walter Weare and Juanita Weare; recorded in Durham, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Laura O'Keefe.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series C. Notable North Carolinians, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Editorial practices
An audio file with the interview complements this electronic edition.
The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as "
All em dashes are encoded as —

Interview with William and Josephine Clement, June 19, 1986.
Interview C-0031. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Clement, William, interviewee
Clement, Josephine, interviewee


Interview Participants

    WILLIAM CLEMENT, interviewee
    JOSEPHINE CLEMENT, interviewer
    WALTER WEARE, interviewer
    JUANITA WEARE, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
WALTER WEARE:
This is oral history interview for the Southern Oral History program with William and Josephine Clement, June 19, 1986, at their home in Durham, North Carolina. Why don't you begin again, Mrs. Clement, and retrace our steps here.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
All right. I was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on February 9th, 1918. My parents were Irene Ophelia Thompson, formerly of Columbus, Mississippi. And my father was John Wesley Dobbs, a native of the state of Georgia; he was born in Cobb County in 1882 but his family had actually moved into Atlanta in 1897. They were married on June 6, 1906. Lived all of their lives in Atlanta, and had a family of six girls of which I am the fourth. I went to school at Atlanta city schools until the sixth grade. I went to Morris Brown one year in the seventh grade and then entered Spelman High, but during the time I was in high school we had the consolidation of the university.
WALTER WEARE:
Now there were no public high schools for black children at the time in Atlanta?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
There were, but they were not quite adequate. And at that time all of the colleges ran their own high schools. I also went to private kindergarten, too, because obviously we didn't have any public kindergarten. During the time I was in high school they had the consolidation of the various colleges into Atlanta University and they gave up their individual high schools and formed the Atlanta University Laboratory High School. I graduated there in 1933 and entered Spelman College in the fall and graduated there in 1937. I went to Columbia University the next year and got a master's degree in home economics education

Page 2
in 1938. My first job was at Georgia State College in Savannah, Georgia. In fact I'd taught the second session of summer school which was kind of an extension school they had up in Hancock County, which was the home county of the President, Ben Hubert. You may know about the Hubert family in Georgia. I taught there for three years and met Bill in Savannah. He had a brother living there who was manager of the North Carolina Mutual district in Savannah. Bill was working between Charleston, his home, where he was assistant manager, and Atlanta, where he was working in the regional office. And so it was convenient for him to dip down by Savannah in coming back and forth. And we married in December of 1941. I gave up my job and came to Atlanta to be a mother and wife. He had a five year old child, he was a young widower. In due time we had three more children and after eight years we had two more. We had three boys and two girls; so we have a family of six, three girls and three boys.
Meanwhile, in 1946—oh, I'll go back a little bit—I did teach at the Morris Brown College in Atlanta for two years during that time. Bill was 1-A in the draft, didn't know when he might have been taken. He was almost on the verge of going when Roosevelt declared a moratorium. But anyhow, I taught those two years. Then my second child was born. I had the first one, Bill, Jr., then Wesley was named for my father, Wesley Dobbs. And he (Bill) was transferred to Durham, to the home office of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company in 1946. We moved here with my parents. Didn't know very much about Durham; I had been here once. We were driving through to New York. Of course

Page 3
you had to have a place to stop, you had to know where you were going to be. And we had spent the night with the Shepards, because Dr. Shepard was a friend of my father. My father was grand master of masons for Georgia and Dr. Shepard was grand master for North Carolina. So we spent the night with them and that was the sum total of my knowledge of Durham. People in Atlanta were a little aghast. In those days you didn't leave Atlanta to go anywhere. But anyhow, we came to Durham. We liked it very much. Bill had been here since June of that year. The family moved up in October. He had a house ready for us; everything was in readiness because I had this young baby. And we settled into Durham and lived on Lincoln for about three years and then built this home on Pekoe Street. And the last three children were born here in Durham. So they're North Carolinians.
During that time, and in the long interval that I had (between children) I did teach at North Carolina Central University off and on, and mostly part-time. I taught around my family. I haven't taught in about twelve or fifteen years. In 1973, I was appointed to the Durham City Board of Education. In talking to Bill about it he thought it would be a nice assignment, that I would enjoy it, particularly since it was not an elective board. Two years into my term the legislature changed it and made it an elective board. After much deliberation, because in 1975 there were not many black people running for office, and certainly not many black women, we decided that I would continue. So I ran in 1975 and led the ticket, there were eleven people on there, men and women, black

Page 4
and white. And I ran again in 1979; led the ticket then. I was elected chairman in 1978 and served five years in that capacity until 1983. We went through the rigors of integration. Of course the Brown v. Board of Education decision had come down in 1954 but there hadn't been much done about it. They were still working on it. So in 1975 we received a court order to integrate in ten days. So that was an upheaval. Quite a change. And we lived through quite a bit of history. In 1979, we brought the first black superintendent to Durham and in the state of North Carolina. He worked marvels with the system and got it straightened out and brought it back to its former level and we feel very good about that.
WALTER WEARE:
What's his name?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
He's Dr. Cleaveland Hammonds. He came here from eastern Michigan. He's still here.
After ten years (on the board), and five years in the chair, and I guess because I was sixty-five, I thought I should retire. And I came off the board and in about two months was approached by the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, which is our social action committee which had sponsored me before. Well, I might say, when I ran the first time I was sponsored by the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People which was seeking to get more blacks on public boards and the League of Women Voters which was seeking to get more women. But anyhow, they asked if I would run for county commissioner. Bill laughingly told one of the children that it took me all of five minutes to make up my mind. So I did run. This was different. I was not

Page 5
running in the city school district, we were running county-wide and we don't have any district. That was a very interesting experience. I came in second in that race two years ago in 1984. We are running again this year but fortunately we didn't get any Democratic opposition so we didn't have to actually run in the Democratic primary in May. We will run in November in the general election1 but we only have one opponent, a Republican.
WALTER WEARE:
Is he or she a strong candidate?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Well, there are stronger people. He seems to be a person who's not very well known. He's only been in the city two years and people don't generally know him, so. You have to be careful about things like that but he is not one of the better known Republicans, not one of the strong ones. So that occupies most of my time outside of the home. It's the focal point of my work outside the home because I've had to give up most everything else because it generates so much activity in and of itself. But it's very interesting and very challenging and I'm enjoying it.
WALTER WEARE:
Have there been women county commissioners before?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
One. Oh, pardon me, by the time I came on there had been two. There was one black woman, Eleanor Spaulding.
WALTER WEARE:
How is she related to Asa?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
His wife.
WALTER WEARE:
That's funny, I don't know her as Eleanor. I know her as …

Page 6
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Elna, E-L-N-A.
WALTER WEARE:
Wait a minute, I'm talking about Asa Senior and I bet you're talking about …
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
No, this is Asa Senior. She was the first woman, black or white, on the board of county commissioners. It's still a bastion of white males. Most everywhere you go to the meetings there are a sprinkling of blacks and very few black women on the board. But Elna, let's see, about the same time I was running for board of education, I think she ran for the board of county commissioners. And she served for about ten years. So it was her vacancy that they asked me to fill.
WALTER WEARE:
Had Asa been county commissioner before?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Yes, he was, for a short period of time.
WALTER WEARE:
He'd been the first black person to serve on the county commission.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Yes, he was the first.
WALTER WEARE:
William, why don't you begin then. Is it 1912, am I right?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
1912 is correct, May 6, 1912. I was born in Charleston, South Carolina. My parents: Sadie Kathleen Jones and Arthur John Clement. My mother was a native of Charleston and my father was a native of Rowan County in North Carolina. I went to a Catholic school for eight years, and then from there I went to Avery Institute. Avery is an American Missionary school. I don't know if you are familiar with the American Missionary school. They started Fisk University and Tougaloo and so forth, but they had secondary schools. And I finished Avery in 1930. I

Page 7
went to Talladega College, which is another American Missionary school and finished there in 1934. My father was the manager for North Carolina Mutual in Charleston, South Carolina. In fact, he started the operation for North Carolina Mutual in 1906 and he and my mother married in 1908. And so I started really working on the Charleston district in 1927, fifteen years of age as a high school student, in the summers, as a part-time agent. And then in '34 when I finished college, I immediately started working fulltime for North Carolina Mutual. I was assigned to Memphis, Tennessee, and worked as an agent at twelve dollars and fifty cents a week. And then I was transferred to Charleston in 1935. I married in 1935 and became a widower in 1940 and we had this young child; she was four when her mother passed. And in '41, Josephine and I married, as she indicated in her interview. And I stayed in Charleston working for North Carolina Mutual from 1935 to 1940. And I started commuting between Charleston and Atlanta, working with the regional office. I don't know if you remember John Wheeler, his father was the vice-president in charge of the southern region.
WALTER WEARE:
John L. Wheeler?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
John L. Wheeler, correct. And I worked with him. And then in 1946 I was transferred and promoted to agency supervisor and I worked in the home office. And during that period I worked as agency director, vice-president. And then I became vice-president in charge of agency operations. And then I also retired as executive vice-president in charge of our field operations. I was elected to the board of directors in 1962 and

Page 8
I served on the board until I retired at age seventy-two which was May of last year, which is the mandatory age for retirement from the board. From the fulltime employment I retired in '78 as executive vice-president. And so I had a period there of fulltime employment with North Carolina Mutual for a period of fifty-one years. It's the only job I've ever had.
Now, in connection with my extracurricular activities, I became involved as soon as I got to Durham, really, in the Durham Committee and also the Scarboro Nursery board which I served, and then got involved with the United Fund (then, it's now the United Way). And in 1970 I was elected president of the United Way, which was really the first black that they had ever elected to serve in that capacity in the South at that time, according to the research that they made. And we had wonderful success. I had a great team. We'd had problems in trying to really reach our goal during the late '60s and we decided to have a conference out at Quail Roost, a group of leading citizens, and we worked out a six-point plan to try to revitalize the United Way and we did. We implemented that program in 1970, and, believe it or not, we raised our goal that year and we have not missed our goal in Durham since that year. Last year, we went to around two million five hundred thousand dollars.
Then I got involved in the scouting. Our sons got involved in scouting, and I became what we call a division chairman, and they used that term during that particular period because that kept you from becoming a part of the council. You were a part of the district and not of the division. But anyhow, we finally

Page 9
were able to eliminate that problem and became a district, and as a district we were automatically a member of the Occoneechee Council, and so I served the first time that they had a black on that board, I don't remember the exact year. But I became vice-president of the Occoneechee Council and our three boys became Eagle scouts, all three of them, and I was fortunately awarded the Silver Beaver. So that was really my activity in scouting.
Then in the Durham Committee I became a member of the education committee and eventually chairman of that committee, and it was during the time that we were suing the city for separate but equal, that was the suit that was being heard. Thurgood Marshall was working with the NAACP; he was the attorney that came down. And in the meantime, in 1954, the Brown decision came down, so that eliminated that.
Then we started working on the matter of integration, and so, you know, about what went on in Virginia, and North Carolina, and finally, we had the pupil assignment law passed in North Carolina, and it was our committee's responsibility to go into sections of Durham to get the parents to agree to petition the school board for reassignment because the kids were leaving that community, walking past elementary schools, coming across to the black community. So we were able to get some of the parents and finally after a long period of time, I recall the many visits that we went up to the school board and I can hear the chairman of the board, now, Mr. Fuller, saying, "Never! Never! Never!" And they did a lot of things. They tried to start a double

Page 10
session because of the overcrowded conditions in the black schools.
WALTER WEARE:
Would this have been in the early sixties, late fifties?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
No, this was in the middle sixties, I imagine. During the early sixties.
WALTER WEARE:
Josephine, are you on the board at this time?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
No, she didn't go on the board until August 1973…
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
No, another era.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Yeah. There were no blacks on the board at all. It was really interesting. Some of the papers that I turned over to the Southern Historical Society [The Southern Historical Collection], some of the clippings from the papers, we were fortunate to have saved them. I had a very good secretary who really kept files, that's why my files, I think, were in pretty good shape.
So that was quite an experience. We finally got the school to approve six blacks to be integrated and there were three members on our committee and we took those three young students to one of the elementary schools for that whole year. We alternated. And then we got the parents and the friends, got clothes, remember we got clothes for the girls, and so forth. That was another really thrilling experience. So then I really retired more or less from the Durham Committee as chairman. I'm still on their committee and on the executive committee.

Page 11
And then I really got involved in a lot of other activities.
I became involved in education through North Carolina Central. North Carolina Central was made a part of the university system in '72 and I succeeded—gosh, what's his name, the big lawyer—Chambers, Julius Chambers. Julius Chambers was a member of the North Carolina Central trustee board but he then became a member of the board of governors for the university system in '72 and I was appointed to fulfill his unexpired term, which I did. So I served on the board as trustee for ten years—almost ten, nine and a half years— and served as chairman of the trustee board for a period of almost five years. I was elected chairman of the trustee board; that was another very interesting and thrilling experience because we went through some trying times. The university litigation was in effect. You know about that case, and that lasted for a long period of time and finally settled it, worked out an agreement whereby the university decided to set up some goals and so forth. My term expired and I went off the trustee board.
Another very interesting time was the law school got into difficulty and we were cited by the American Bar Association as to whether or not we should lose our accreditation. So we were able to get Mr. Strong, he was a professor at the University of North Carolina law school and it's known as the Strong Report, and he came and took a look. We worked with him on that. And they outlined some requirements that we had to meet. The physical need was a big need because we were meeting in the old library building on the campus, that's where the school of law

Page 12
was, and it wasn't adequate, we didn't have an adequate library. And so we were able to get that moving. Governor Hunt became governor; what year was that? Well, he became very much interested, and we got money from the legislature. We worked through Bill Friday and the board of governors and then we had to go around them (they don't know this very well) but anyhow, we had to go around them to get money. And we were fortunate in getting Harry Groves, I don't know whether that name rings a bell with you or not, but he came down and served as dean of the law school and really did an excellent job. We built a new law school building, it was dedicated, the Governor came over and also the associate justice that just died, Potter Stewart, died just recently. He was the dedicatorial speaker. I remember that day he came down. So that was a very interesting period.
And Governor Hunt got interested in some of the things that I was doing, I suppose, and he appointed me to the State Ports Authority, and I was the first black to serve on that. We had the responsibility of trying to improve our operations in Wilmington and Morehead and I served on that board for about three, four, or five years. And when Governor Martin, who is a Republican, came in, the next day I was released.
In the meantime, I was appointed, when I retired in 1978, I was appointed by the city of Durham to represent the city on the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority. The airport is owned by the four governing bodies, the city of Durham, the city of Raleigh, the county of Wake, and the county of Durham. And each agency appoints two representatives, so we have a board of eight. And I

Page 13
served on that board for the last eight years, and was elected chairman of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority last year and was reelected this fiscal year. So that's a brief history.
WALTER WEARE:
That brings us up to date.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, I forgot about the Masons, gosh, I forgot that.
WALTER WEARE:
We have a family tradition there.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
And that's the tradition, really, the connection. My father was a master Mason in Charleston, South Carolina. He was a member of the Nehemiah Lodge. I looked that lodge up the other day when I went down to visit the grand lodge of South Carolina.
But my father-in-law, John Wesley Dobbs, was an outstanding Mason and a Masonic scholar. And we (Josephine and I) got married. I didn't go into our marriage because Josephine related that, but we were married in 1941, December the 24th, and our office really was in the Masonic temple, North Carolina Mutual regional office, and so I was going to Georgia, we were making a tour through Georgia in 1941 celebrating our 30th anniversary and that's really when I met Josephine. But Mr. Dobbs's office and we got to be good friends and so forth. And finally, after we married, and having no sons, he talked with me about Masonry. He told me that, "Bill, I know you want to be a businessman and you are dedicated to North Carolina Mutual, and I don't want to interfere with that, but a little Masonry will not hurt you." And so I accepted that challenge and became a master Mason, was raised by him in his lodge in Atlanta, H. R. Butler. And then

Page 14
right after that I was able to qualify and recommend for the thirty-second degree and I was elevated to that level and that puts you eligible for becoming a Shriner. And so I was made a Shriner. Then in '45 was elevated to the 33rd and last degree and that's my ring. And Josephine gave me that ring. I took the wedding band off and that has become my wedding band and my Masonic ring, and it's all engraved and everything on the inside.
So I transferred to Durham and became a member of Doric Lodge, number 28, in 1946. And in 1948 I was elected senior warden and then in '49 I was elected worshipful master of my lodge and served for two years and that makes you eligible to become a member of the grand lodge. And so I started attending the grand lodge of North Carolina and in 1959 the grand master, who has the power to appoint some of his officers, he appointed me as a special deputy grand master and I served in that capacity for fifteen years until 1974. And then he retired as grand master and Bishop Shaw, Herbert Bell Shaw, of the A.M.E. Zion Church, became our grand master and he appointed me deputy. And he died suddenly in 1980 in Indianapolis attending a church convention, and I succeeded him to the office. Now I had to be elected. He died in January; our grand lodge meets in October. And so in October I was duly elected grand master of the jurisdiction of North Carolina, which is one of the largest jurisdictions in the country. We have 20,000 financial Masons. We must have a hundred Masons, but we have 20,000 financial; we have 18,000 Eastern Stars. And so we have a big operation.

Page 15
That's really one of my big operations now. We're in the process of having our regional meetings. We donate to charity more than $70,000 a year. We have a scholarship fund of $25,000 that we give to North Carolinians who are finishing high school going into college, any college of their choice, and it's male or female. And what we did, we established an endowment of $250,000 and the investment from that. So it's perpetual; we don't have to allocate it every year and vote it. We just allocate the funds from the endowment. And the resources now of the grand lodge are in excess of two and a quarter million dollars. I'm glad you mentioned it because that's really been fantastic.
WALTER WEARE:
It's been an important part of your career.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, yes. Particularly in the later years. I've always been involved in Masonry but since I retired and had the time and so forth to give to it, it has really been fascinating and we have a tremendous program, and we are now concerned about helping people. We have an orphanage that we give $20,000 every year. We've given the NAACP $10,000 in the last fifteen years. And we just made a special contribution to the NAACP in connection with their moving their headquarters from New York to Baltimore. And we also give funds to the United Negro College Fund and many other charities in the state and also in the country. Fantastic program.
WALTER WEARE:
In the future, there may be people listening to this who aren't aware that in—well, it really begins in the eighteenth century, what Prince Hall founded in 1787, I think.

Page 16
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Well, Prince Hall himself was raised to master Mason in 1775. He was born in Barbados and he came to Boston at the age of fifteen. In 1765 the British regiment was stationed there in Boston protecting their harbor and because of the tea and so forth and all. He was raised by the British regiment in '75. That was one year before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. But the regiment moved on, and these newly-made Masons had no charter. You cannot operate as a Mason without a charter. But he had the foresight to petition the grand lodge of England, because the regiment was an English lodge chartered by the grand lodge of England. And so they granted a charter in 1784. I had the pleasure two years ago of going up to Boston to see the original charter, African Lodge, 459. It's now in a vault; they only bring it out on special occasions. They have it sealed and everything and it's under security. But he had the foresight and so in 1790, the grand lodge of Massachusetts was established and he was elected grand master. And one of the landmarks of a grand master is to issue dispensations, and he issued a dispensation to establish a grand lodge in Rhode Island, in New York, in Pennsylvania, and in New Jersey. And so we trace our origin back to the grand lodge of New York.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
… King Solomon Lodge, number one, and it's still operating. That same year we established another lodge in Wilmington, Giblin Lodge, number two. And then the year later,

Page 17
1867, we established two more lodges—one in Fayetteville, which is known as Eureka, number three, and Widow Son, number four, in Raleigh. And in 1870, the grand lodge of North Carolina was organized and we are now planning, today we were talking about it, we are planning our one hundred and sixteenth annual communication in Greensboro, North Carolina, in October.
WALTER WEARE:
That's a nice little sidelight because a lot of historians in the future, scholars listening to this or reading the transcript, may not be aware that, as I was going to say, back in the seventeen hundreds, the eighteen hundreds, and on into the twentieth century, that there was a black organization and a white organization; particularly a lot of whites don't realize that there was a separate organization.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
They have not come together yet.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Black history is very important because of the legitimacy of Prince Hall. That's why whenever you see a grand lodge that's named—and Josephine's father was responsible for this—in the forties, they went around and got all of the jurisdictions to change the name of their grand lodge to the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, to identify it because we can trace our legitimacy to the charter that was issued by the grand lodge of England. You did have three grand lodges in England back in those times: there was the grand lodge of Scotland [pause] Well, anyhow, I better not get into that because I'm not as sure.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Well, you're talking about the grand lodge of Scotland.

Page 18
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
That's a legitimate grand lodge. That's a legitimate grand lodge, because we went down to Trinidad on a visit and my host was a member of the Masonic family, but his charter and history goes back to the grand lodge of Scotland, which is legitimate. But it's very important as far as black history is concerned in America, because this is the only charter that has ever been issued to blacks on the North American continent by the grand lodge of England. And so we feel that we are legitimate. So we refer to persons who are not members of Prince Hall as non-Prince Hall Masons. We don't call them clandestine but non-Prince Hall.
WALTER WEARE:
There's a pretty good history, a recent scholarly work, on Prince Hall …
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, yes. I have some books here.
WALTER WEARE:
… done by a graduate student out at the University of California, Berkeley. And then another done on fraternal organizations in general, looking at Odd Fellows, Elks and others.
JUANITA WEARE:
Is there a counterpart for women?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Yes, they have auxiliaries. But you know, that's really a continuum from African history; they had those secret societies in Africa.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, yes. It's interesting; we went to the Museum of Natural History in New York and we saw the ritual and so forth. And we went to Africa in '73, and went to Senegal and talked with some. And then "Roots," you know, they talk about it in "Roots."

Page 19
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
And we visited a lodge in Liberia.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
In Liberia, right. In fact, the lodge that was burned down when they had the coup, remember, we had visited that lodge. It was right there by the hotel. And I don't want to take up much time talking about it but that's a very interesting story because we went over there just to visit. And the gentleman who was there at the time, who was a Mason, he knew Mr. Dobbs personally.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Dad went over there for their liberation in 1957 when they declared their independence.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
You're thinking about Ghana, Sweetheart, we're talking about Liberia.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Oh, yes, Ghana, right, OK.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
This is Liberia. But he went over there, see, Liberia was free long before that and the Tubmans were all Masons, and Mr. Dobbs was very much involved with them and they made periodic visits. But anyhow, this gentleman knew Mr. Dobbs and he found out that Josephine was the daughter, he stayed with us all day and he was killed in the coup when Liberia had its uprising. He was killed.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
He was a graduate of M.I.T.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Streak, was his name. That's another side, that's a story in itself.
WALTER WEARE:
Well, while we're talking about Masonry and your father, maybe now is the time to make this transition and get back to talking about your parents and your childhood and early memories like that. Tell us a little bit about your mother and

Page 20
father, maybe starting with your father. Do you know when and where he was born, particularly where and what he did as a young man?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Yes. My father was born in Kennesaw, out from Kennesaw, in Cobb County.
WALTER WEARE:
This is Georgia?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
In Georgia, yes. They were poor farming people. His father died and his mother left the two children with the father's parents. She went to Savannah to work. So he grew up with that large family along with some of the younger ones. She did not forget them, though. He always said he could have stayed up there in Kennesaw, but she came back and got them. I presume when they were old enough to take care of themselves, because she had to work and they had to work. They went to Savannah first and then they came to Atlanta. He was fifteen years old when they came to Atlanta. My father was born in 1882. And he was able to attend the academy at Morehouse. Here, again, all of the colleges had their own high schools, and the academy was an outstanding part of their offering. He would like to tell stories about how he would get up early. He worked for a physician by the name of McDougald, who incidentally was a brother to the McDougalds here.
WALTER WEARE:
R. L.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Yes. He was the oldest brother in that family and he was a pharmacist. He had a drugstore and it was my father's job to open it up in the morning, clean it up, in the winter time to make the fire; in other words, to get it ready for

Page 21
Dr. McDougald when he came in. Then Daddy would get on his bicycle and ride across town, and there was a steep hill going down Fair Street right into Morehouse. And he'd like to tell about how he'd hear the bell ringing in the tower, which is still there at Morehouse, and he would go sliding down that hill into chapel, practically. He went two years in the college department. By that time, he felt the necessity to stop and go to work to help his widowed mother and his sister. So he never actually completed college at Morehouse, but he went there six years: academy and college.
My mother had a more middle-class upbringing. Her father was a barber and a businessman. He and his partner owned two barbershops in Columbus—one for whites and one for blacks. And they lived rather well for the little town of Columbus, that they had. My mother was privately educated and was a graduate of Union Academy in Columbus, at sixteen years of age. Got her certificate, her license to teach. But her father would not permit her to leave Columbus. He said if she could get a job in Columbus she could teach, but conditions were very bad.
WALTER WEARE:
Was Union a church-related school?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
I really don't know anything about it. I'm sorry that I don't.
WALTER WEARE:
It no longer exists, does it?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
I doubt it. I would doubt it, but that would be interesting to try to find out. But she graduated in 1901.
JUANITA WEARE:
Do we have her maiden name?

Page 22
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Irene Ophelia Thompson, she was. And her father would not let her go out to teach because conditions were so bad for young unprotected girls, and particularly if they were attractive and my mother was sort of, I guess you'd call, a ? woman type.
Anyhow, she had a sister who was married and living in Atlanta and she would go up to visit her periodically and when her new baby was coming, and she met my father when she was nineteen. They married two years after that. They were very much in love. They had a marriage of fifty-five years. I can remember one day my mother said, "Just think, I'm seventy-five years old and my husband sent me yellow roses." That was her favorite. Very romantic. There were six girls born in my family; they had no sons. (My father was hopeful to the end.)
They were very musical, my mother and father were. I can remember my father playing the piano. That was a great treat when he sat down to play the piano. He played in a style of Scott Joplin. As soon as I heard Scott Joplin's music, you know, when it came back, I thought about my father and always that syncopated that kind of rhythm. He played by ear. My mother was a trained musician. She had had piano lessons and she knew how to read music. And so between the two of them, they kept up with all of the music. They had a piano when they first married; that was very important to them, to have a piano. And they loved music. And I can remember when they would go to New York to see Broadway shows and would bring sheet music back from all the latest shows. Not so long ago we saw "Eubie," the life of Eubie

Page 23
Blake, and I could sing all of those songs along with them. Music was very important. I can remember in our living room we had framed pictures of the composers, outstanding composers. Of course, Daddy had one of Napoleon, and I used to say, "That's Daddy's friend Napoleon." I thought he was a personal friend of his. [laughter]
WALTER WEARE:
Was there ever any conflict between your father and mother over the style of music, because if she is classically trained, she didn't want the children playing syncopated music?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
No, except I can remember my father putting his foot down on a radio—having a radio in the house, he said because we would not play music. Everybody had to take music lessons, beginning at seven. The first four took from a teacher across town. I think the last two took from Ruth Wheeler; here again, the Wheelers were our neighbors in Atlanta. They took from her, but everybody took piano lessons. Singing was very important to us. We sang in the college glee club; we sang in the church choir; whatever music was around, we participated in that. And of course, my sister, Mattiwilda, became a world-renowned operatic star and is still doing some concertizing. But all of us were involved. My oldest sister, Irene, was a very accomplished pianist. She was the only one who followed through with her piano music. She took music and French through Spelman. All six of us graduated from Spelman. Two have the doctorate degree, and everybody else had the master's degree.
WALTER WEARE:
In what fields?

Page 24
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Irene was in languages, and she lives here, incidentally. She's the mother of Maynard Jackson, who was the first black mayor of Atlanta. That's an interesting story; I'll come back to that. She taught French; she studied in France at the University of Grenoble and then again at Toulouse.
My second sister, who went to Jackson, Mississippi, got her master's from Atlanta University and became chairman of the language arts area at Jackson College, and there is a building named for her—the Willie Dobbs Blackburn building there on campus.
My next sister, Millicent, taught at Arkansas State and then came back to Atlanta and then taught at Spelman and she just retired in the last two or three years; and she is an authority on Africa, Afro-American history, African art. She was planning to make her eleventh trip to Africa this year, but because of the terrorist situation, she didn't go.
Then I'm the next one. Then Mattiwilda was next. And then my youngest sister, June, is in counseling; she's a marriage and sex counselor. She has her doctorate in education and a master's in counseling from NYU, and has taught at Tennessee State. She was married to Hugh Butts, who was a psychiatrist; they have since divorced. But June trained with Masters and Johnson, and she's now working in Washington.
So we were a very happy family. Spelman was an important part of our life, because we went there over such a long period of time. And some of our earliest memories—in fact, I was born in the infirmary on campus at that time. For a period of time

Page 25
when they had nurse training they took people from the city. So, between that and going out there when my oldest sister began in high school, I had very long and very pleasant memories of Spelman.
WALTER WEARE:
Maybe we could capture more of Spelman, Atlanta, the myth and reality of early Atlanta.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Well, I had a happy childhood. Unlike some things you read, and as I have thought back on it and looked at it, I think the reason was because we were so severely segregated. We were really protected from some of the more traumatic experiences that some other people had. They had a large community of black people in Atlanta. It has always had a good, strong black community. And later, of course, as you got older, you ran into some of this. My father's philosophy was that you never accepted segregation unless you absolutely had to. That meant you didn't go to theaters, you didn't go places for amusement because there was no pleasure to go in the back door there. If you had to go on the streetcar to go to school that was worth the sacrifice. And he fought segregation for integration at every turn. I can remember when he decided that he was not going in the side door of the terminal station anymore.
WALTER WEARE:
This was the bus terminal?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
No, it was the train terminal. And he drove up to the front door in his Cadillac and his driver, and got out and walked in the front door. I don't know, what year do you think that was?

Page 26
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
I don't know, probably in the fifties. I can remember it, all right.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
But everybody was horror-stricken, and all the black porters came to greet him and to take his bags, and he strolled through and went on back and nobody touched him.
WALTER WEARE:
This would have been, do you think, before World War II, that early, or would it have been …
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
It was in the forties.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Gosh, it probably was or late thirties, somewhere in there.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Mattiwilda—remember, she was on her trip back and he alerted Chief Jenkins.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
He had a good relationship with … As Grand Master Mason, he had a rule that each Master Mason must be a registered voter, also. This posed a problem for people in rural Georgia trying to get registered. And so they would appeal to the grand lodge and my father and a big lawyer from Atlanta, the best lawyer they could employ, would go to these little places. Sometimes they were successful, sometimes they were not. Trying to help people get registered. Sometimes they were chased out by the Ku Klux Klan. Sometimes the Ku Klux Klan would come to Atlanta looking for him. But he had a good relationship with the sheriff of Fulton County, who told him never to open his door to anybody because they would have to serve a warrant through him, they could not serve it directly. And this saved him, I think.
WALTER WEARE:
How do you account for that relationship?

Page 27
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
There have always been some good white people.
WALTER WEARE:
Not usually the sheriff.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Really! [laughter]
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Chief Jenkins was the chief of police.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
I thought he was the sheriff of Fulton County.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
I think it was Chief Jenkins.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
But Atlanta has been an unusual place. It's been forward, progressive. But my father continued that through the thirties and forties, voter registration. There in about—when did they form the Atlanta Voters League, that was before we married and went to Atlanta—the late thirties?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
The late thirties, because it was going very strong in 1940-41.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
There were about four hundred registered black voters in Atlanta and my father and attorney Austin Walden, who was a Republican (my father was a Democrat). Let me say this: my father was a Republican all his life, as most black people were, to pay their debt of gratitude to the Republican party. He became dissatisfied with it, and in searching for something better, he moved to the Socialist party with Norman Thomas.
WALTER WEARE:
What year would that have been, do you know?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
It was before Franklin Roosevelt, so that probably was back in the twenties. Roosevelt came in the thirties, so probably in the twenties. I think he said he voted for Norman Thomas twice. Seeking something that would help people, would better them. There was not the connotation that you have today with socialism. When Roosevelt came to office in

Page 28
1932, he became enamored of him and began to campaign for him, changed his registration to Democrat. He was able to meet Franklin D. Roosevelt through his personal valet, who was a Mason.
He was the last person to see Mr. Roosevelt at night, he put him to bed; he was the first one to see him in the morning, you know, because he was disabled.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
McDuffie.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
So he was able to get my father in, and of course, Mr. Roosevelt was a Mason himself, and they talked about forty-five minutes; they had a good conversation. So my father, as I said, stumped for Roosevelt. But then after Roosevelt went out, he went back to the Republican party. At the time of his death, he was vice-chairman of the Republican Georgia state committee. But anyhow, he and Mr. Walden formulated the bipartisan Atlanta Voters League. Built that up and then began going into other places to build up voter registration. When Maynard ran for office, that was his political base.
WALTER WEARE:
This is Maynard Jackson.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Mm-hmm. My oldest sister's son. He was the first grandson of these six daughters.
WALTER WEARE:
Your oldest sister, Irene?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Irene. There were no sons in my family, and I think the first three grandchildren that came were girls, and then finally this boy. At the time Maynard was inaugurated, I suppose my father's name was on more lips than Maynard's. People were saying, "Oh, if Mr. Dobbs were only here." I always said, "I'm sure he's here because he wouldn't miss this for anything."

Page 29
WALTER WEARE:
What year did you father die?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
He died in 1961, the year they integrated the schools, the city schools in Atlanta. But he was a staunch fighter, a civil rights fighter all of his life.
When you mentioned about the name: he always taught us not to accept anything less. The interesting thing now is I've lived long enough to see that reversed. White people will come in and say, "Well, hello, Mary! Hello, John!" Or, "How do you do, Mrs. Clement?" You know, if they don't know it's a kind of reverse. But anyhow, that part is all right. But he really gave us a sense of self-esteem and self-respect that so many of our black children don't get.
WALTER WEARE:
Did that carry over in the schools? You talked about the irony, perhaps, of the complete segregation giving you something of an advantage in this regard.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Yes, because we had black teachers in Atlanta and teaching and teachers, the whole profession was very different then—people took a personal interest. And maybe it was just the times. We've lost some of that now.
JUANITA WEARE:
Teachers, I imagine, had prestige.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Yes, this is very true, this is very true. Because it meant that you had gone to school. Nobody ever asked you if you wanted to teach. If you were fortunate enough to go to school you taught; that was all there was for you to do.
But, I think of him so often, and the tremendous courage he showed, and where he got his sense of self-worth, having been born in a barren land up in Cobb County, reared by this

Page 30
grandmother that he talked about so. He didn't know how she could have come through such a diabolical system and come out such a moral woman. He said if you gave her a dollar to keep she not only gave you back that dollar when you asked her she gave you the same dollar. I remember her; I was about seven when she died. And she was a little old lady who was about as white as people get to be—blue eyes and hair like cornsilk—and they married her to the man they selected for her, who obviously must have been African, rather than the man she wanted to marry. His name was John Wesley Dobbs, also, because the uncles, my father's uncles and aunts, that I knew were about my color and knowing her, I presume he must have been a full-blooded African man. But he said she was a very moral woman and she instilled all these qualities in him that he thought were worthwhile.
He also had a love of poetry. We have a letter in his handwriting that he wrote my mother. Do you remember that letter?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Yes.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Penmanship, English, poetry, everything—it was just a marvel. But anyhow, I had a very happy and very pleasant childhood.
WALTER WEARE:
Was he a religious man?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Not too much. [laughter] He was a moral man and a good man.
WALTER WEARE:
Was he out of a Methodist tradition?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Well, actually, his mother was Baptist. I can remember my grandmother being in the Baptist church. My mother

Page 31
was Methodist, and when she came to Atlanta most of the people that she knew, her friends, belonged to the First Congregational Church, and my father went there with her and joined and stayed most of his life, and all of us were reared in that church. But when he died, he wanted to be buried on Auburn Avenue with the people, and so he went back to that. He believed in God, and morality was very important to him, but in terms of going to church a lot, that was not as important.
I can remember that we could always take people home to dinner and being in Atlanta there were a lot of girls in boarding school from different places. We could always bring them. There was a place where people could stop by. He knew people like Adam Clayton Powell. Oh, he came in one day and we heard the piano going and everybody rushed in to see who this was and it was Duke Ellington, he brought him home from Auburn Avenue. He was very cosmopolitan, traveled a lot in his latter days. He went to Africa to the liberation of most of the countries that came about. And just thoroughly enjoyed life. He and my mother both, they had a very good life and lived it to the fullest.
WALTER WEARE:
I think we should switch over to and we'll come back because I would like to hear more about Spelman as an institution, your memories from that. And maybe something about sweet Auburn Avenue and black Atlanta.
JUANITA WEARE:
And I would like to know, too, about the Klan. Were you aware of the danger that your father was in and was that …

Page 32
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Well, I was grown about this time, you see, by the time he was doing this kind of thing. But yes, there was real fear. I was talking to someone the other day when they were talking about terrorism and how glad they were it wasn't in America. And I said, "Oh, but we've had terrorism in America always." I said, "The Ku Klux Klan was a terrorist organization. The express purpose was to keep black people down."
But you know, by being in Atlanta, Atlanta was an oasis and really didn't belong to Georgia. When you got out of Atlanta, I used to drive from Atlanta to Savannah, and my mother would always hate to see me go on that trip but my father would encourage me to go. As I look back on it now, he didn't talk about women's liberation, but he insisted that we all prepare ourselves and we have education, be prepared to work, and he instilled something in us that a lot of women don't have. He wanted us to be married and to be good wives and good mothers and all, but there was a feeling there that women should have a certain amount of independence, I think, that was a little unusual for that time.
WALTER WEARE:
Do you think, while we are on it—because this is, I think, a key question that scholars in the future will be interested in—do you think that black women historically have been more independent, and why?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
In whatever way they could. Well, they had to be independent, not overtly but covertly, because the society would not permit black men to play their rightful roles, and America has always feared black men. But black women could say

Page 33
and do more things and get away with it. And then of course, historically, there has been unemployment among black men. You say as you talk about unemployment that, my father was a railway postal clerk for, I guess, about thirty years. That was a government job, civil service, you got good pay, good raises, you got rank, and so forth; then he worked himself up to be clerk in chief of his crew. He said that many a night he thought he was going to be thrown out of the mail car. You know, very often he was the only black man on the car and got to be the place that he was in charge and so forth, and it was this kind of strain and stress under which he lived. He qualified for retirement—how does that go? He wanted it.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Roosevelt declared that all persons who had thirty years of service could retire. They were trying to create jobs.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
But then they blocked him.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
That's why he went down to Warm Springs to talk with the president.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
He didn't want to retire at that particular time, he wasn't ready. But when he got ready, they blocked him.
WALTER WEARE:
And he got to Roosevelt through the valet.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
McDuffie.
WALTER WEARE:
That's intriguing. And it was at Warm Springs, Georgia, that that took place?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
You see, McDuffie was a barber and he worked for Herndon in Atlanta and when the president started going to Warm Springs, his friends there wanted to get someone to come

Page 34
over to shave him and to take the work with him. And so they recommended McDuffie, and so McDuffie got the job and then he finally went with Roosevelt, and his wife also went with Mrs. Roosevelt, and they stayed until he died.
WALTER WEARE:
And McDuffie had been a barber for Herndon?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Yes. He worked in …
WALTER WEARE:
This is Alonzo Herndon?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Alonzo Herndon, right, on Peachtree Street. And so, he kept on telling the president when he put to bed and so forth, "You know, my grand master's pension hasn't come through, yet." He said, "Well, the next time I go down to Georgia I'd like to meet him." He told him about his Masonry and so forth and all. So finally, that's when he made a trip down to Warm Springs and they arranged this appointment for John Wesley Dobbs to see the president, and he told him about this incident. And so the—
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
…Jim Farley (Post Master General under FDR). And they got the wheels turning, and the next thing he knew, he was officially retired and his pension checks started coming. What happened was, according to Mr. Dobbs's story to me, that he went into the mail service around twenty-one. So he was fifty-one. So it meant that he would get his pension beginning at age fiftyone and such a long period of time to be on pension, and that's why they were really blocking it.

Page 35
WALTER WEARE:
So he was the Grand Master in the Masons at the same time he was working at…
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
No, no, this was a later period…He always did one or two extra things to earn money; he had a large and growing family and there really was not much that a black girl could do between teaching and nursing work, and he couldn't get summer jobs and things to help out. So he would sell insurance, sell stocks and bonds, whatever, to try to augment his income and help his family.
JUANITA WEARE:
Did your mother ever get to teach?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
No, and you know, after he died, Mama came here to live with me. In his characteristic fashion, he had arranged for everything. And I found I got to know my mother better at that time; you know, I was a middle-aged woman myself, and I guess we could understand each other. She had never written a check in her life, she had never worked outside the home, and she'd clearly worked inside the home, because I can remember how Mama used to sew, she used to fix hats, get these beaver hats in the winter, straws in the summer, redecorate them and pass them around, the different ones; and we laugh now, and say sometimes that when we went out, Mama would have made everything we had on, except our shoes. So she certainly worked, and did her share, but it was always in the home, and this was part of the protective quality, I think. My father had lived through the race riots—well, I can't tell you the disrespect that white men had for black women, and he always tried to prevent any white man

Page 36
ever having to come to our house, to cross the threshold: that was a standing order.
WALTER WEARE:
But it sounds as if he were more protective of your mother than perhaps the daughters—you and your sisters—that he would encourage you to express yourselves…
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
After we were grown, and everybody went out, he kept his hand on everybody.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
After you were grown and married [laughter]
WALTER WEARE:
Did he see you and your sisters as having careers; was this ever broached as a possibility?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Well, teaching, that was the only thing that we'd do; and I think all of us came up more oriented to families than toward teaching. I think I always thought of my family first, and teaching around my family, rather than teaching and looking after the children;—fortunately, I was able to do that, and I'm very thankful that I was. We have a large family, we have six children, and they were spread out; so every time I went back to teaching, there'd be another one, and I'd have an interruption.
WALTER WEARE:
He was more the role model, then, than your mother, in your immediate family?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Um … They were very different; both very strong, very strong characters, but my mother had a very sweet and soft-spoken way, she was a very gentle person, whereas he was more forceful, and she was completely of the old school, deferring to his wishes on everything, so that she never had any problem there. But my mother was an unusual woman, in that she worked in the home, we had company, I never heard her complain about

Page 37
anything, like that sewing, doing—making sure that the family came first.
WALTER WEARE:
Was she a clubwoman; in addition to being an Eastern Star, was she in the National Association of Colored Women, for example?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Well, she was president of the YWCA, and I told this story when I was speaking to the YWCA on one occasion. I thought—well, they were talking about civil rights and integration, and I told them I thought the story of my family illustrated the changes that we had come through. My mother was president of the Phillis Wheatley branch of the YWCA in Atlanta, which was completely segregated. She took a great interest in the Y; I can remember, now, that she gave our Victrola to the Y. We had one of those, with records from Caruso to Bessie Smith. I came here, and somebody told them that I was the Y worker; I was not the Y worker, it was my mother, but anyhow, I couldn't get out of it, so they put me on the board there. And I didn't do a lot outside the home, then. I worked with the Scouts—Bill mentioned the Scouting program—and I had the Cub pack, I was a den mother, and I worked for the PTA, and so forth. But I did go on the board, and that was the time of integration: during the time I served on the board, they integrated the Y—the YWCA—and they put two black women on the central board, and each year, they put two more, to integrate it gradually. That meant I was one of the first two that went on.
JUANITA WEARE:
They would have been proud of you.

Page 38
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Yes, but then our daughter, our oldest daughter, who lives in Potomac, Maryland, outside of Washington, has just finished a term as the president of the greater metropolitian YWCA. So I thought that was interesting, and told the story.
WALTER WEARE:
Do you remember black women in Atlanta who were leaders and role models, that you looked up to?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Yes. My mother had a black physician, with our last two children, Dr. Georgia Dwelle.
WALTER WEARE:
How do you spell the last name?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
D-W-E-L-L-E. Georgia Dwelle. She had her own clinic.
WALTER WEARE:
Do you know where she took her training—at Meharry Medical School in Nashville.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
I don't know… (to her husband): do you?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
No, I didn't know her very well.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
But she had a clinic on Boulevard, and Mattiwilda and June were born there, I remember.
I can remember black women in Atlanta as teachers, businesswomen, clubwomen, like my mother, who presented themselves well, dressed well, were leaders in the church, those activities. Atlanta was a great society town; there were a lot of wealthy people, black people, in Atlanta. I had a friend who I grew up with, lived about two blocks from me, and we were classmates all the way through, whose father was a physician. The mother had her own car (that's back when I was growing up), and she would take us places. Not many black families had two cars, and not many black women drove, in those days. And she

Page 39
would take us to events, and so forth, and so forth. I think there were a lot of role models among black women in Atlanta.
WALTER WEARE:
I think maybe we'd better finish up, and let you (to William Clement) have the mike for a while.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Well, I was just thinking, really, both of us have had really strong family backgrounds. My mother, as I said, was a native of Charleston, and she finished Avery Institute, same school that I had graduated from, in 1891. That's her graduating exercise program; I went back there and got it. My father, as I mentioned, was a native of North Carolina. He went to Johnson C. Smith; it was Biddle University at that time. And he went there in 1901.
WALTER WEARE:
And this is in Charlotte.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Charlotte, North Carolina. And he graduated from college in 1905. And he walked from Rowan County, which is about forty miles, to Charlotte, in order to get his college education.
My grandfather and grandmother on my paternal side were very strong persons. I knew them better than my maternal grandparents. My maternal grandmother lived with us, she worked for some white people down on the Battery in Charleston (that's downtown) but during the time that I was young, coming up, she did not work, and she really lived across town, and finally lived with us, and died with us, with my mother.
But my paternal grandparents, both of them were slaves. They were slaves up around Hickory, North Carolina, and when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, they left the plantation, going north; they got as far as Rowan County, which is about

Page 40
seventy miles east. And in 1872, my grandfather bought a tract of land in Rowan County. They were married in '70; I think they were married—really, that date is not firm; we'd have to do some research on that, because—really, I've heard them tell us that they were married when they were freed, and then we also have in mind that they were married about 1870. But anyhow, in '72, I went back there and got the deed, a copy of the deed, of the property that he bought. And he farmed, and went to Pennsylvania to work in the coal mines, to finish paying for that piece of property. But what he did, he deeded a part of that land to the school board of Rowan County for the education of these newly emancipated slaves. Now, he and my grandmother, neither one could write. We have their mark, on the deed and also the mortgage, the deed of trust and all; they signed his and her mark.
Then he came back and gave a part of that land to the Presbyterian Church, and he became a member of that church, and was a ruling elder in that church, sixty-five years; until I reached the age of fifteen, my brother and I—incidentally, I had one brother and one sister; both of them are living—we went up there, my brother and I used to go up to Cleveland to work with my grandfather on the farm. We got there in time to lay by the crop, to do the last plowing and so forth, but our biggest assignment was—he had customers that he furnished wood for, in the town of Cleveland, North Carolina, and he knew—the grates in each room had a fireplace—and he knew the size that we would cut the tree down, and saw it back and forth. And then we would take

Page 41
it on the wagon and put it on the porches—these porches would go all around, and these door would open up to the porches, for this particular grate and that
So that was a tremendous experience, and he told us a lot; I'm sorry now that I didn't really record a lot of that, because he was an unusually—and my grandmother was very unusual—she developed a cleaning business. I don't know if you've ever seen clothes cleaned using gasoline and salt, mixing. And those customers would come by and leave their clothes the first part of the week, and she would clean them and so forth, pressed them, and they would come back on the weekend and pick them up.
WALTER WEARE:
Kind of early dry cleaners.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Yeah, right. And then they were very religious, particularly my grandfather, and in the rural areas, they had church services every other Sunday, maybe at the Presbyterian church the first and third, and the Presbyterian church the second and fourth. But anyway you had church. The church is still there now. Incidentally, we still own that property. Been in our family now since 1870.
My father was a very industrious person. He always was very careful and conservative with his money. And one of the first things he did, he bought an additional farm for his parents, for his grandfather to farm, in order to make a livelihood, because the tract that my grandfather had bought was around eleven or twelve acres. But then my father bought this hundred-acre tract, which was about three miles from Cleveland, down going toward

Page 42
Mooresville, going into Statesville, in that area. So my grandfather was able to develop a livelihood.
Now, my father was very, very interested in extra-curricular activities in Charleston, particularly the YMCA. And my mother, incidentally, was involved in the YWCA. I can recall as a youngster, going with her—she was the president of the board in Charleston, and I would go with her—we didn't have a babysitter, so you had to go with your parents to a meeting. And she'd put me in a room, and give me a little something to do while she was in the meeting. Then my father was very much interested in the YMCA, and really, was responsible for bringing all of the concert artists: Marian Anderson, the Jubilee Singers, the Johnson Trio, Hazel Harrison—all these are names I just happened to think of—that's how he raised the money for the YMCA to support their programs and so forth. So he was a very interesting person.
But the Dobbs family, when I came into the Dobbs family, in 1941, as I said, I had been widowed, I was only twenty-nine years of age, with this baby of four years of age, the Dobbs family just took us in. I remember courting Josephine—she was just twenty-three—I said, "you know, you've got a difficult assignment, to learn how to love not just one person, but two," and to take on this responsibility at that age. And my mother really wanted this daughter to stay with her, but somehow, I made a decision that she was going with us. And fortunately, it was a good decision, and my father—I'll never forget—he finally told us it was the best decision. We got married in Atlanta, we went to Charleston, got Alexine, and brought her right back to

Page 43
Atlanta: we started as three. And Mr. and Mrs. Dobbs were tremendous, they were very close—
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Family people.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Family people. And June and Mattiwilda. They were just teenagers. And they took Alexine over. And then we had these two boys, and the others came along.
But he had a very close family relationship, and I think that has influenced our family. We've been married forty-five years, but we have developed a very close family. They believed in educating; we've done the same thing. Our oldest daughter finished Spelman, went to the University of Iowa and got her master's in speech pathology. Then our son went to Morehouse College, and he finished his training and went to the Wharton School and got his M.B.A. The next son finished Morehouse, and he went to Meharry and got his M.D., and now he's an opthalmologist in Charlotte, and the other son was the first one to attend and graduate from the School of Design at North Carolina State University—that's a story in itself, because—by the way, he went to Deerfield Academy. Albert Manly, I don't know if that name rings a bell with you—he was president of Spelman, and they were trying to recruit some blacks to be principals up in New England, and so our son, really the youngest son, was interested in going. And so he went to Deerfield, and did very well, and when he finished, he went down to State, at the School of Design. And he was the first black to finish at the School of Design. And they did everything they could to discourage him. It was a five-year program, and I remember—

Page 44
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Architecture.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Architecture. And they called us over there, at the end of the third year, and wanted to know whether we felt that he was dedicated. Well, he hadn't failed anything. But they said, "now this is the expensive part of the educational program, and we've never had a black to finish it." But anyhow, he finished, to make a long story short.
WALTER WEARE:
What year was that?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
'71.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
'71. And they wanted to make a big to-do about it, the same dean that gave him all this trouble, they went back to the very schools to get their diploma.
WALTER WEARE:
And then they want to take credit for it.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Exactly.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
And so he came to me, he said, "I'd like to announce that your son is the first black to complete this program." I said, "you'd better ask him; he's very independent." During that time, he was wearing a daishiki.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
He graduated in one. Big Afro under his cap.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
He didn't even want to march! And we told him we insisted, he really did it for us. So we told him, no, he's not the first this, the first that, he's just graduating.
Then he left and went to MIT, and got his master's in architecture, and he's in Atlanta now.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
And they wanted him to come back and teach.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Right. And he's president of his firm, the Diversified Project Management Company in Atlanta.

Page 45
WALTER WEARE:
A development company?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Yeah, he's a project manager.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Construction manager.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Construction manager. And our oldest son has his consulting firm in financial planning. He was appointed by—I'm talking about Bill, Jr.—he was appointed by Carter as the associate director for SBA, and worked with Carter when he was president, in Washington. But after he left the federal goverment, he decided to go into consulting business for himself, and he's developing a very unique business, and he's the financial advisor for the county, for the city of Atlanta. Maynard put a lot of this in place, because they had to have joint participation and so forth, and so he works with Robinson and Humphrey, and also Merrill-Lynch. Last year, they participated in issuing close to a billion dollars worth of bonds: water, city of Atlanta, and so forth.
WALTER WEARE:
So two of your children are in Atlanta now?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Two of them are in Atlanta. Then, Arthur John went into construction with a company in South Carolina for a while; then he went to Atlanta and started working, and now he's president of his company.
Then, we have these two girls. Cathy finished high school here, and she went on to the University of North Carolina, and finished, majored in psychology, and then went to Indiana University and got her M.B.A. The summer before she completed it, she interned at I.B.M., and they employed her on the

Page 46
condition that she complete her program, and she did, and she's been at I.B.M. since she's been finished.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
She's just completed three years.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Three years. Then our youngest daughter just completed her training. Now, she went to Madiera; you remember—
WALTER WEARE:
Right, the headmistress—
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Right, Jean Harris. In fact, I forgot to mention that: I was on their trustee board, and was on the search committee that selected her. She was really a dual personality. (We won't get into that.) Anyhow, Julia—her name is Josephine, named for her mother; we call her Julia—went to Spelman, and got early admission into Howard University dental school, and just completed her server program and was conferred her DDS degree.
All six of our children fall into the same tradition that got established by the Dobbs family, and so we invested very heavily in our children's education. Fortunately, some of them were able to get scholarships. We could not get loans, because I made just enough not to qualify.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
They didn't qualify very well for academic scholarships, and we didn't qualify for the financial scholarships.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
So we paid every penny of their education, and not one of them came out of school in debt. Jody was just telling us how many of the kids in her class came out of school fifty, and sixty thousand dollars in debt. But I don't know how we did it; we struggled, we worked together and sacrificed.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Our high priority was education.

Page 47
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Right. Josephine said she did a lot in the home, a lot of sewing, like her mother did. She did the same thing for our children.
WALTER WEARE:
[unclear]
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Right.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
No joke. She sewed for herself, and for the girls, and always had what we called a piece of money. My grandmother said "go to Josephine and Mama for a piece of money when you get in trouble."
So we've had a struggle, we've struggled, we've stuck together. But life has been good to us. Every way you look at it, it's really been good to us. My grandfather—his story is just fantastic, what he was able to do, and my grandmother, particularly on my father's side.
WALTER WEARE:
I wanted to get back to the Dobbs-Clement tradition here. I'd like to hear more about this dramatic meeting between you two.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, let me tell that! [laughter] Well, as Josephine said, my brother was the manager of the North Carolina Mutual district in Savannah. C. C. Spaulding and Mr. Wheeler and I were making this tour in the state of Georgia, in connection with the thirtieth anniversary of North Carolina Mutual. So Arthur and his wife said, "we have a young lady that we would like for you to meet, and her name is Josephine Dobbs." She taught over at Savannah State.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
It was Georgia State then.

Page 48
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
So, what happened: Josephine was very much in love with another gentleman. So, she had a very good friend who was detatched, and her name was Dorothy Scott. Some good things come about meeting people at the night club. So, we went to the night club that night and there was Josephine and her friend, and then Dorothy and I. And so, I saw Josephine and I looked at her and thought, gol-lee: I got to meet that young lady. So Dorothy made the mistake of going to Havana, Cuba.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Yes, the University of Havana. She taught Spanish. We taught together at Georgia State.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
She left that summer to go there. In the meantime, we did make a trip to Atlanta, and Josephine took her friend Dorothy up there. Mr. Dobbs—I was running around taking both of them out, and he said, "By the way, Josephine, who is Bill coming to see?" She said, "Dorothy."
Well, anyhow, Dorothy left, went to the University of Havana to study that summer, and in the meantime, I had to go back to Savannah for a meeting of the National Insurance Association, and we started going out together. That was the beginning of it, and we started from that point on. And I remember George Cox: he was there, and he was a very good friend—I always looked up to him and he was really my mentor—so one night, we were going home, and I said to him, "Mr. Cox, you want me to drop you off at my brother's?" (That's where he was staying). I wasn't, I was driving up seven, eight miles, like a thunderbolt. He said, "I'll ride on up there with you." He's told that story over and

Page 49
over again. Bill has told Josephine how smart he was, how alert, and lo and behold, he made the dumbest decision. [laughter]
Bill was trying to get a chance to really spend a little time with Josephine, and there I was, "no, I'll ride on up there with you." And we'd come back together.
But you know, our courtship—in the meantime, I had to go back to Charleston, get Alexine. And bring her down, we had weekends—I have a letter in my file that our daughter wrote to Josephine when she was five. She wrote how much she enjoyed the weekend, and so forth. And as I said, this was a three-way situation.
Our courtship lasted six months. We were married within six months. And I think Mr. and Mrs. Dobbs kind of pushed it along. What happened was, when she finished summer school, I was in Atlanta, and we would ride and court every night, and come back drive up in front of the house and sit outside and talk. And I thought Mr. and Mrs. Dobbs were asleep. And so the next morning, Josephine said, "you know, Mom and Dad were awake."
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
I was a grown young lady, teaching, had a career—
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
So finally, I think she kind of said, "Josephine, I had agreed that we were going to get married, possibly at Christmas." [?]
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
My mother said to me one day, "I really can't understand where you and Mr. Clement find to go every night." [laughter] I said to Bill, "I think it's time for us to say something."

Page 50
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
We'd better say something. And so finally, I told Mr. Dobbs I'd like to see him. (His office was right across the hall from my office.) I was supposed to see him at three o'clock. He had a way of going home and sleeping, and Josephine told him to be sure to wake up at three o'clock. So finally he woke up and came down there, and I went across the hall to start talking. I never did get an opportunity to ask for her. He started talking right away; he knew what I wanted to do, what I wanted to say, and everything, and all he said was, "Bill, I want you to be good to Josephine, and if you can't treat her right, always bring her back home—see, I love Josephine." So finally, we went home to dinner, and Mr. Dobbs made this announcement, and Mrs. Dobbs didn't like it. Oh, gosh, you could tell. She's a very fine person, a lovely person—
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
She had been left out.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
She had been left out. And so she said, "Well, it seems as though I should have something to say about things." And there I was, now—
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
She didn't raise up often, but when she did, she made her point.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
So finally—this is September then—Josephine had to go back to Georgia State to start teaching, and so I stayed next door to a friend, and so finally, Mrs. Dobbs and I got together, and she would invite me over for breakfast, and we became perfect friends, and she was a beautiful person, and I'm telling you truly, I never met anyone better.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
She didn't know Bill that well then.

Page 51
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
No. Mr. Dobbs knew me, by North Carolina Mutual, but she just didn't know me. And she didn't know who this guy was who after six months was going to come and take away her daughter and didn't even ask for her. [laughter] But she finally lived with us ten years, and was a tremendous gift.
Oh, they had some of the largest family reunions, that was a big thing. The children would all go 'round there, and she would prepare the food, and Mr. Dobbs would start cooking, and bringing people in to cook—it was just tremendous, really. So we've had strong family support, and I think it has encouraged us to do some of the things—and he was a man who never really valued money. He thought that he was a messenger. He'd say, "I am a messenger of God," and he always kept dollars in his pocket, go out Auburn Avenue, passing it to people needing money, that type of thing. And the grandchildren would come around, and Grandpa would have this roll of money, and they'd love that.
But they were fine people, and we really have been very, very fortunate.
WALTER WEARE:
Do you think that families like yours—my perception is that this was a small world in which most everybody knew each other, and that your experience is not—
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
I can remember my grandmother talking about Reverend A. D. Williams, who was the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist

Page 52
Church, and the father of Alberta Williams, who married Martin Luther King, Senior. I knew her—Miss Alberta, we used to call her—she was a woman of great gentility and culture, refinement. Not particularly attractive, but well-educated, well-versed. King, on the other hand, was nice-looking, but a diamond in the rough. He came up from some little country town, Woodstock, or someplace like that, in Georgia.
WALTER WEARE:
Are you talking about Daddy King?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Senior, right. Married the daughter of this minister, to whom he was assistant. The children in that family were younger than I was. But M.L. was—that's Martin Luther King, Jr.—was along with my sister June, and they were very close friends—not romantically—they went through school together, and always maintained a very close relationship. And we all lived in the same general neighborhood. They lived in the mother's home, the Reverend and Mrs. Williams's home, because they had this one daughter, and she lived with them after they were married. But then the Kings moved about a block from us, and after he and Coretta married, they lived in the Wheeler home, which was on the next street behind us.
WALTER WEARE:
John Leonidas Wheeler?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Right, he had died, and Mrs. Wheeler had come here. And she lived right around the corner; John got a house for her and ?'s sister. And of course my mother had come here; they were friends and able to see each other here.
He lived in the Wheeler home (that was before the city took it over; all that area's cleared out now—urban renewal), and I

Page 53
was passing by one day—I think it was the last time I ever saw him—and stopped to chat with him, and he came out. He had his right hand behind his back, and he held out his left hand, and he apologized for extending his left hand. He had in his right hand the charred remnant of a cross that had been burned in his yard. And he was out there cleaning it up the next day, very nonchalant.
But my father saw him grow up, and heard him preach, and just became crazy about him, and predicted big things for this young man. And the attraction seemed to have been mutual. In fact, I have heard some phrases that M. L. used that my father used, that I think he got from him. But there was always the agreement that he would come when my father died, and participate in his funeral. He was up in Cape Cod, vacationing, when Daddy died. And he took a plane out right away, and he came, and he offered prayer at his funeral.
My granddaughter in Atlanta was writing a paper on Martin Luther King—she's thirteen—and didn't remember anything about Martin Luther King, and he seemed like somebody back in the past to her. So my son suggested that she call me and talk to me about some of this, and I was telling her some information, and found one of the funeral programs that had his name on it, and she was shocked to see this on her great-grandfather's funeral program.
WALTER WEARE:
I was going to ask, before I forget, about your father in Atlanta in the 1930s, about Angelo Herndon. I don't know if this name means anything to you or not.

Page 54
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Yes, I know who you're talking about.
WALTER WEARE:
May have been in the Communist Party; I'm not sure.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Right, yes, I started to say it, but I wouldn't.
WALTER WEARE:
It would be interesting to know what your father felt about that, having been in the Socialist…
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Yes. I don't remember specifically anything about that. We were very close to the Davis family; they were naighbors of ours too.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Are you familiar with Ben Davis?
WALTER WEARE:
Oh yes; now, maybe, for the the record, we ought to state that Benjamin Davis, Senior, was head of the Odd Fellows.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Right. And editor of the Atlanta Independent.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
He gave the dedicatorial speech here, when North Carolina Mutual dedicated its home office in 1921, or it was 1923.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
But I know who you're talking about, but I don't have any recollection—
WALTER WEARE:
And Ben Davis, Junior, was a member of the Communist Party, wasn't he?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Yes, oh, yes, definitely.
WALTER WEARE:
And he and his father, I don't believe, split over that?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Yes, I think they went different ways.
WALTER WEARE:
Although I think the father continued to respect him, even though they disagreed politically.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Right.

Page 55
WALTER WEARE:
But what I was trying to capture was that radical time in Atlanta in the 1930s, and how your father viewed that.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Right. I don't have any memories of Angelo Herndon and my father; I do know the name, and who he was.
You would have to really go back and know how it was with black people. I have read someplace—I don't know where I read it—that the nadir for black people in America was 1915. Now if this be true—because here I was born three years after this, my parents lived through it and all—in the '20s and the '30s, you were not very far away. Race riots that they had—I remember my father, being a railway postal clerk, had a gun as part of his standard equipment. I really don't know what they did in the race riots, but he did something in it; I was too young, I suppose, to remember anything about that, I really don't know when they took place, but I heard him talk about it. One day my mother had a younger sister who was visiting or staying with them, and a white man followed her down the street in his horse and buggy. He had, I guess, harassed her all the way in. By this time, she was weeping, coming down the street, and she ran up the steps, and he stopped—he had a horse and buggy—and ran up the steps after her. And my father came out, and that's the time he had his gun, and he told him if he didn't get off his front porch, he was going to blast his head off.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Do you remember that?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
No, I don't remember that.
WALTER WEARE:
Well, he had probably lived through the Atlanta riots. He was in Atlanta in 1906, wasn't he? 1906 was the year of the

Page 56
terrible race riot in Atlanta, and I think it was not too long after that that DuBois decided there was no way that he could be just a scholar, because he had witnessed the horror of this race riot.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Well, that's what I was about to say when you were talking about the radicalism. It was enough to drive people to the extremes like that, I suppose, although back in that time, they were not as radical. I remember when I went to Columbia University, that was my first experience in integrated education. We had white teachers at Spelman, had them in high school and college, but they were women who had come down from New England or those places, really, like missionaries. They had given up their lives, they didn't have any friends in the cities, they were people who were ostracized, they were quite pariahs. But this was my first experience with going to school with white people. As I look back on it now—it was so different from Atlanta, such a step forward—but there was a great deal of hidden, of veiled, racism. For instance: my sister Millie and I went together. We couldn't stay on campus. We lived at the YWCA, in Harlem, on 137th Street, in the Emma Ransome house, they called it, went back and forth. But the people who were friendly to us, who extended a hand of friendship, were the Jewish people, and many of them were Communists. Maybe I should say they were the Communist people; the Communists really came after young black students from the South, because you were just ripe for this sort of thing. And many of them were Jewish people. Many of them were first, second-generation immigrants.

Page 57
There was no feeling of ostracism or anything like that; the YCL, the Young Communist League, used to parade openly; they were one of the campus groups. This was after World War II, when we began to get this feeling about the Communists.
WALTER WEARE:
Do you think that, in the '30s, ironically, perhaps, that there wasn't quite the same stigma against the Left that there was after World War II, in the '50s and '60s, with McCarthyism? Because if you think about what I call the old black Left, whether you're talking about DuBois or even E. Franklin Frazier or Abram Harris or Ira Reid, names that scholars you're familiar with—St. Clair Drake—they were all—Richard Wright—were either in the Party or flirting with it in the '30s.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Absolutely, yes.
WALTER WEARE:
So there was something going on there, and I was wondering if it was in Atlanta.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Well, it was because of the outreach, I think. Because they were friendly to you— it was as simple as that.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
I was not really involved with that type of experience as far as to the Left, because I really didn't get into New York until about 1939; made my first trip in 1940. But I was very much aware of segregation, and we had the same commitment in regards to not participating in segregated places and so forth. We explained it to our children, and I can recall that we had some problems, because their friends were going to the theaters here. But for some reason, because of the explanation that we gave, they decided not to go, and they were glad eventually that they did not go. I had a personal

Page 58
experience myself, in Atlanta. Are you familiar with the CLU program? That's really a study program for the designation.
WALTER WEARE:
That's Chartered Life Underwriters?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Yes. And I knew what it meant to me professionally if I could qualify for my designation, but you have to get into a study group, and I tried several times in Atlanta to enroll, and because I was black, or Negro, I could not.
And I remember when I came to Durham, and I saw Dan McGill—I don't know whether that name rings a bell with you—but Dan McGill was then teaching over at the University of Tennessee, and was being employed by the University of North Carolina as the first Julian Price professor of insurance. He had come through the Wharton program, he was a Huebner fellow, and so forth, and as soon as I saw he was interested in the CLU program, I wrote him a letter, and told him that I would like to enroll, and he was glad to know that someone here knew about the program. But when he got here, he found out that I was black. It didn't make him any difference, but the problem was, the study group was going to be either at Duke or Carolina, and I could not participate because of segregation.
Well, all of those were kind of bitter experiences. But I saw the young man, two weeks ago, who took the leadership—that was over thirty, forty years ago—in getting me into the class: John Clayton, he was with Prudential. And so finally, I got into the class through his leadership, and finally qualified for my designation. And Dan and I became personal friends, and he

Page 59
became the advisor of Bill, Jr. when he was at the Wharton School. So when he took his examinations while he was there for his CLU, along with his MBA program. And I had the opportunity to really work with Dan McGill at the American College later on; I was on their Board of Trustees.
I got involved, really, in the integrating of organizations not through protesting or radical approaches, but really people sponsoring me, and then after getting in, being able to make some kind of a contribution. That has really been my personal approach. You've done a lot of study on North Carolina Mutual, and we were able to do a lot of things that you didn't bring out in your book, as far as exposing North Carolina Mutual to the trade organizations because of my working with some of the leading marketing people, and C. C. Spaulding, and also George Wayne Cox, pushed some of us younger fellows, coming along. You made me think about it because you were talking about this matter of radicalism and protest. But I think a lot of it can be accomplished by learning how to negotiate the system.
This is Vivian Henderson's statement. I heard him speak twenty-five years ago, and he was saying: "the black man, if he's going to rise in the business world in this country, he's going to have to learn how to negotiate this system," and I think that has really stuck with me as far as my personal growth and development is concerned, and whatever contribution I was able to make to North Carolina Mutual, in trying to integrate North Carolina Mutual in some of the leading trade organizations.

Page 60
We've only had one black on the LIMRA Board, the Life Insurance Management Research Association. I was the first one, and stayed on that board for a number of years. We went to many of the affairs together, and became good friends. Bob Becker—I got a note from him just about a month ago, personally inviting me to come back to the American College, for the dedication of a building there. They were trying to get all of the old directors to come back. You know Bob Beck, he's president of Prudential, and what they've done in developing that institution. All of these things have come about, I think, as a result of learning how to negotiate the system. I know a lot of people have been very radical, and we've made a lot of progress that way, and I think you need both.
WALTER WEARE:
What intrigues historians, though, is that you didn't know how it was going to turn out, that you were going to have this happy outcome, that there was going to be integration, yet you continued the work anyway. Now what really intrigues me is how both of you—and one could list countless people—kept from becoming bitter. How is it that you kept your sense of balance, that you didn't become so frustrated—what would keep you, after untoward incident, from just kind of going off the deep end?—and of course, some people have. Is there something special, do you think, that explains this?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
I think there are two factors: first, a strong family. A strong family can receive you back when you've been buffeted by the community. You get your first sense of self-esteem from your family, and we were never allowed to feel that

Page 61
we were inferior—it was just never a part of anything. I didn't even know that you were supposed to feel inferior 'til the civil rights revolution came along and people began to talk about it.
I remember once we were going down to South Carolina—Bill stopped to go in the office there—and I had Kathy—she was a little girl—in the car, and she got restless, and I got out and walked along the sidewalk with her. This elderly black man came up to me and said, "pardon me, Miss, but are you from around here?" I said, "no, I'm not." He said, "I didn't think so. I just watched you going down the street with your head held high and your good clothes on." And I didn't even think I had good clothes on—just traveling in the car, you know—nor was I aware that I had my head held high. These were the things that the family gave us.
And the second was: enough economic security not to have to be at the beck and call of everybody and everything. You didn't have to worry about survival, you could develop yourself and get your education. And so I think it gave us a base to withstand some of those things.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Another thing to consider, Jo: I don't think we ever had our conflicts in the presence of white people. We had enough intelligence to carry on some kind of conversation, and regardless of what direction it went— we weren't an authority and all that—but at least you had an opinion, you could have solved what was being said, and you could make a contribution. And people were just amazed. White people were just amazed that

Page 62
black people could talk, that they could express themselves, in terms that you could be understood in.
I always found out that you and the white man, on one-on-one, he would deal with you. But if you came in a mass, then he became frightened. And I remember Whitney Young making a statement—he was executive director of the Urban League—he said, "Yes, we need Jesse Jackson, we need Martin Luther King, we need McKissick, and [unknown] and all those people, for us to negotiate in the board room." I'm not out on the street protesting, but we need all types. Now, some of our children were involved in the movement. We encouraged them. But as far as being out there actually marching and so forth, I never had that opportunity.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
We have always been strong advocates of equality, not only for ourselves, but for everybody. You felt like you were a committee of one for the whole black race—that's what my father always told us.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
I remember we were down at Montgomery, Alabama, when they were having the Montgomery boycott; we had a district down there, and Mr. Kennedy—this is Bill Kennedy's father; he'd just been elected president—and our manager was very much involved. And we went to that meeting that night.
WALTER WEARE:
This is that famous boycott that came about in 1955?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh yes, absolutely. Rosa Parks. And we went to that meeting, and we got involved in it, Mr. Kennedy made a contribution, we contributed (not in the name of the company); we

Page 63
went to Albany, to the Albany movement. I remember Asa Spaulding and I were together.
WALTER WEARE:
This is Albany, Georgia.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Albany, Georgia. That's the only failure that Martin Luther King had. He left there and went on to Birmingham where he met with great success eventually, and many times, I was in Birmingham when he was there, conducting these marches and so forth, there at the church. What was the name of that church?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Dexter Avenue.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
No, that was Montgomery. But Sixteenth Street where the kids got bombed.
WALTER WEARE:
Oh, yes.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
But we were involved. Personally, I think you need all types to bring about any progress. We play a role, you play a role, you bring it all together, and as a team, you move forward.
Josephine, you ought to really tell about your experience with Governor Hunt. I think that is very unique.
WALTER WEARE:
I'd like to get to that. I'm thinking that at some points in your life, though, you must have grown introspective and thought about, with your education and your intelligence: if I were a white person, I would be at Prudential, or there wouldn't be this question about the CLU, or whatever. How would you handle that, internally?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Well, you do think about it, but I don't ever remember it being a problem that you brood over, or feel badly.

Page 64
WALTER WEARE:
Do you know people who do brood over that, and would it ultimately destroy them?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Well, I think with the high incidence of mental illness and drug abuse there must be people—I think those are reasons. I can remember my father taking us to New York, to Chicago, all through New England to see the historic spots, to see how people lived, and see places where there was no segregation. And I can also remember going in stores, and the clerk trying to get you to come to the back of the store, and he'd say, "no, I want to sit right here." And he'd sit down in front. We'd stop at a gas station, and it was always understood that he was not going to buy any gas unless they'd let you use the restroom.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
But you remember the incident we had going to Atlanta. Remember, we went to Atlanta, and I stopped to get some gas?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Mm-hmm.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Around Spartanburg, South Carolina. And you and the children got up to go around to the restroom. And the fellow hollered, said you couldn't go in there?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Mm-hmm.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
And I told him, "Stop that gas." And I paid whatever it was—about a dollar. I didn't know what he was going to do—it was Spartanburg, South Carolina. And as a result of that incident, we never let our tank get more than half empty.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Sometimes, you may have to give up and get gas.

Page 65
But it was always a race to see if you could get in the restroom before they put their gas in the car! And if they wouldn't give you the key—but you see, we were trained to go and ask for the key or to open the door and go in, so you never had any feeling—
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Back in those days, they had "White Men," "White Women," and "Colored." They finally got to that point. Are you familiar with that?
WALTER WEARE:
Sure.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
So I think one or two times, we had to submit ourselves to that, because of necessity. But we fought it on an individual basis wherever we went. I never accepted that, to be honest with you.
The only time that I swallowed, really, an insult, was when I attended the first meeting of the Life Insurance Management Agency Association in 1947 at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago. I never will forget it. We were going for the first time, we had just been admitted. And the managing director called us backstage. Dave Deans and I went. And they said that they hoped that we would not attend the banquet. (to Josephine): You remember I called you from Chicago that night? I was ready to come back home. And I said, "well, North Carolina Mutual needs this membership." We had struggled so hard to get it—it took us several years to get it, they kept on deferring, deferring, and so forth—and I finally stayed in Chicago, and went to the open meetings, but not the social affairs. You talk about bitter—but then, eventually—
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
You came to be on the board!

Page 66
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Eventually, in Toronto, Canada (the headline was in the paper—I don't know if I turned those papers over or not)—the headlines that "blacks elected to the LIMRA board for the first time." And I felt vindicated.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
You know, when Arthur John, the architect, was trying to draw—he was trying to draw a building plan for North Carolina Mutual, he always wanted to be an architect—I was trying to get some drawing lessons, some art lessons someplace, and I called all around: the college didn't have any provisions for children and whatnot. I called what was known as Allied Arts—it's the Durham Arts Council now. I told them, "We're a black family, and I have a son who is interested in drawing; I would like to get some art lessons for him," and there was this kind of pause, and she said, well, she would have to get back in touch with me. Well, she was a volunteer on the telephone, she couldn't say anything, and it turned out to have been Mary Hill, who is the wife of Watts Hill, Jr. She went back and told Watts, and Watts talked to Bill about it—they knew each other. And he tried to get it going, but they were getting ready to have a fund-raiser, they were afraid to rock the boat and they were getting ready to go before the public. Well, you know, it came to the point, in years later, that I was asked to serve on the board. These are the things that Bill was talking about: it's a sacrifice, if it's worth it. And if you're on the inside, you can open up for other people.
JUANITA WEARE:
But first you've got to get on the inside.

Page 67
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
You've got to butt your head against the wall, and if you are one of those, sometimes—
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Now the Arts Council is supporting you as county commisssioner.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Right, and I served on the North Carolina Arts Council.
Let me tell you this about Jim Hunt, because I've got to go—there's a North Carolina Federation of Women's Clubs meeting, and I'm bringing greetings from the county. I worked very closely with Jim Hunt in two campaigns. I was co-chair in Durham County for his gubernatorial campaign in 1980, and his senatorial campaign in 1984, and all of us were close personal friends, and it was just a joy to get to know him, and that was a real privilege, and one of the high points of my life.
WALTER WEARE:
Do you think you'll continue to be active in politics on a state-wide level?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
No, I don't think I want to get involved in another campaign like that.
WALTER WEARE:
If—and it looks like you will—win in November, for the county commissioner, do you see anything beyond that?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Oh, you mean for myself?
WALTER WEARE:
Mm-hmm.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
If I were younger. But I think that at my age, perhaps not. I would have, and I think I could have, won the race for the state House, at least I thought so.
WALTER WEARE:
I think you would now, if you ran.

Page 68
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Well, I think I'm a little old. I'm sixty-eight now.
JUANITA WEARE:
But you don't look it!
WALTER WEARE:
And you don't act it, and apparently you don't feel it.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
I really don't feel it. I have to convince myself sometimes.
I want to show you this picture—I know this doesn't go over on the recorder—but that was taken—somewhere in there it tells—some rich white woman on Park Avenue after Mattiwilda had sung at one of her concerts. (Book: Certain People by Stephen Birmingham)
JUANITA WEARE:
This is your family.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Yes, uh-huh. That's my mother, and that's my father, and that's Mattie Wilbur, and that's my sister Irene, and that's June, and that's me.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
But, you know, talking about Mattiwilda, and the Metropolitan Opera—Mr. Dobbs and Mrs. Dobbs would sponsor family reunions at that particular time. We would all gather in New York, I remember, and she made her debut at the Metropolitan. All of us went up and stayed at the Taft Hotel. (I was up in New York last month, and the Taft was just gone.) But we would have these big family reunions, go down to Sun Luck, A Chinese restaurant around the corner on 51st and whatever the street was, and have dinner, and go down to the Metropolitan. I remember that night, we came back to the hotel and we'd gone and stopped at one of the stores, got cheese and crackers, drinks, and so forth, waiting for the New York Times to come out to see what the

Page 69
reviews said. And I never will forget—I think we have a copy of that New York Times—"The Metropolitan Opera entrusted one of its unusual characters to Mattiwilda Dobbs." That was in Rigoletto; she sang Gilda. The review was just fantastic—Mattiwilda was so nervous, she left the party, and went down to her room—she didn't want to hear anything about it—call her if it was good, and if not, she'd see it in the morning.
She was there for eight years, and we did that each year while she was performing: we went up. And what we would do, we would get the records and the libretto, and read it, and understand the plot and so forth, and it was just fantastic.
But it's been interesting—
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 3, SIDE A]
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
… No, not Sullivan, he's here in Durham, the Sanford administration, and the administration before Sanford, talked about developing these industrial centers to try to prepare people for technical training, those who had not finished high school and that type of thing. But anyhow, those were some of the reports that we were making to the Durham Committee. And the point I wanted to make: we were in the midst of the integration fight here in Durham, in the school system, and we didn't want Durham Technical Institute to open up on a segregated basis. [unknown] Well, you know what the solution was? The solution was that it would open up integrated, but for male only.

Page 70
And Watts Hill, Jr., and I worked on that, and that was really a compromise. Finally, they graduated 500 students the other night, down at the civic center.
WALTER WEARE:
And it's now co-ed?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, yes. co-ed, and integrated, and everything else. And I was telling President Phil Wynn about this, and I borrowed this from my file on the integration (Southern Historical Collection).
WALTER WEARE:
That's interesting. They would do race, but not race and gender.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Absolutely.
WALTER WEARE:
Did they talk openly about their feelings? I mean, you and I know, but would the white opponents—would they talk openly?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Well, I tell you what: at that time, we were negotiating with Watts Hill, Jr. He was in the state legislature. (Watts was very young; I predicted that Watts was going to be governor of North Carolina, but things happened—he had marital problems and everything else.) He and Mary Seamans were on the city council in the early '50s, and they were dynamic, they were liberal—gosh, the things that they were saying and doing were just fantastic. And everybody was riling about it.
So he went on to the state legislature as a senator, and they were voting on this matter of these technical institutes to be located across North Carolina—they called them industrial centers. And the problem was how they were to open. But they

Page 71
were going to be under the supervision of the city boards of education. And so they had a segregated policy, and therefore they wanted to open these centers on a segregated basis. In other words, you would have the industrial program, the curriculum, over here at Hillside, for blacks, and at Durham High for the whites. Well, we were fighting for integration at that time—this was after the Brown decision; and so finally, Watts was negotiating with our committee—I happened to be chairman of the education committee, the Durham committee for black affairs. So finally the solution was—do you remember Harry Golden?
WALTER WEARE:
From Charlotte.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Charlotte. Well, it was during that time when he was talking about vertical integration: in other words, take all the seats out from around the lunch counter, and let them come in and stand up, because when you sat down, that created the problem. And so the same thing was true when we finally worked up the decision here. Well, at least, they didn't want the blacks and white females to be associated at that time, so what we agreed on, rather than vertical—they had to sit down and study—that it ought to be male. Eighteen and above. [laughter]
WALTER WEARE:
What did Watts say about that?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Well, that was the deal that we worked on.
WALTER WEARE:
But, I mean, personally, did he agree with this or not, do you think?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Well, that was the best that we could do. That's what I'm talking about: sometimes you have to negotiate as as far as you can go to get the door cracked, and then after you

Page 72
get in, I've found that people: "well, you know, you're not as bad as I thought, you don't smell, you got a tie on, you dress," and so forth. So that has been, really, my philosophy in negotiating, is trying at least to get in on an equal basis, part of the way, and before you know it, you're in and opening the door for a lot of other people. But that was a very interesting assignment.
But we've had an interesting—and I'm sure there are millions of stories just similar to ours—we've had strong support: one for the other, as well as our families, and our children, and the closeness, and so forth. We can sit down and communicate and talk, and I think the relationship has been strong.
Our son, William A. Clement, Jr., was Maynard's treasurer when he ran for vice-mayor.
WALTER WEARE:
In Atlanta?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
In Atlanta. In fact, he and another fellow, David Franklin, mortgaged their homes, took a second mortgage to borrow the money in order to start his campaign going. Our son in Charlotte—although usually doctors don't get that involved—he worked some for Harvey Gantt, and he is on the police review board. He takes time off from his practice to sit there, a whole afternoon, once or twice a month, whatever it is, to review these cases that come before the police review board. You don't even have one in Durham. And Arthur John, the youngest one, is very much involved. And our oldest daughter—as Josephine said, she was president of the Metropolitan—they had a budget that was up

Page 73
in the millions, the Washington Metropolitan YWCA. And they sponsor the Women Achievement Program. And we went up there last year, and some of the recipients were Betty Ford, Marian Turner. She's the head of the Metro system in Washington, DC; she's fantastic, she's been involved in the performing arts program. She and her husband, just this last month, invited us to come up to a special they were having in connection with the—what's the name of the concert we went up to the other day? I was telling about Alexine, and we went up to the Indian embassy—
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Oh, that was the New York Philharmonic, under Zubin Mehta.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
That's right.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
It was part of a series. And because it was Zubin Mehta, the Indian embassy entertained for him and his wife afterwards.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Right. Okay, bye.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Bye-bye. Pleasure to meet you both. Enjoyed it.
JUANITA WEARE:
Enjoyed talking to you. So much.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
See you. (leaves)
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
So we've tried to pass it on to the children, tried to perpetuate that. Because you need all types, I think, to solve. The unfortunate thing, I think, about our situation: I think we are really losing some ground.
I'm working on a speech that I'm going to give in Winston-Salem, and I've been trying to think how I'm going to approach it without being misunderstood. The subject of it is "It is Time

Page 74
for Self-Help." You've been reading about this—saw the article in the New York Times Sunday?
WALTER WEARE:
I didn't; we've been on the road, but I know that this is certainly very much in the air.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh yes, and the leadership that Robb is giving to this matter of self-reliance; I noticed the morning's paper had an editorial on it. Now, there are two sides to it; but, really, I believe that there is time for us take our destiny more in our hands. We've got to be vigilant; we've got to keep on fighting for civil rights and maintaining affirmative action and that type of thing. But I think blacks need to do more for themselves, and they can. There's no reason why we should let our families disintegrate, why fifty percent of the families in America are headed by single parents. There's no reason why three out of every four, I think it is, babies that are being born to teenagers are black. And that the unemployment rate has been fourteen percent the last two years, twice that of the average. I think that it's time for us to begin to really speak out. As I said, I'm working on this outline; I'm going to have to be very careful.
I heard Governor Cuomo the other day. He greeted us, the grand masters; the conference met in New York; and he told about how his parents came over here from Italy, and how they were able to pull themselves up. Now, the trouble with the blacks has been skin, the color. It's true there has been a melting pot for a lot of racial groups, but I think that blacks ought to try to maintain at least their position and improve on it.

Page 75
I can remember the time here in the city of Durham when you had tremendous pride for North Carolina Mutual, Mechanics and Farmers Bank, the Mutual Savings and Loan, these financial institutions made the white institutions and kept them honest. Now that we can go down there and make our deposits and make loans and so forth, we cannot forget North Carolina Mutual and Mechanics and Farmers Bank. Blacks now have reached the point—I got some statistics here the other day—209 billion dollars of gross income for blacks. I remember Mr. Cox used to go around and talk to the agents on the 30 billion dollar market, and now we're talking about 209 billion dollars. And the money's just going through our hands. Just one time, and you know with the Jew [?], [unknown] it stays, what, five, and six, seven times. And this is what I'm talking with self-help.
The matter of education: the decrease. We had thirty-four percent of blacks finishing high school, going on to college, around three or four years ago. Now it's dropped to twenty-eight percent. Now, I know that's because of the cut-back—we can't take the pressure off the Reagan administration, we can't do that—but it's coming, they are cutting—this is the problem that they're having at the county commission: trying to find funds to fund some of the programs that are going to be eliminated. Worthwhile programs, and they just don't have enough money, they don't want to increase the tax rate. But what we're going to have to do is do the same thing that we did. But you have to get your priorities in straight. A lot of things that we're doing now that we did not do when these kids were coming through the

Page 76
schools. We couldn't do it. But I think a lot of families can make the same type of sacrifice. And I think that we need to get over here and begin to talk about it.
WALTER WEARE:
Jesse Jackson has been putting that message out for some time.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Right, I got a clipping here on Jesse Jackson. He spoke at the Medgar Evers School up in New York on this same theme. I notice Tom Bradley has subscribed to this program. But now, there's some blacks who are saying that we cannot get soft on the administration, on the government. And that we need to keep the pressure. But, you know, the national debt—what is it, two and a half trillion dollars? Our budget now is a trillion. And yet still they're taking out the money that we had available. So the money is not going to be there; they keep on talking about it. And it's not available. And so we're going to have to really do some things for ourselves.
WALTER WEARE:
Do you remember being pessimistic in the past about—quote—"the future of the race," in regard to family and social conditions, as you are now?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
No.
WALTER WEARE:
Is this a low time, do you think?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Yes. I really thought that when we got our civil rights, and got our voting rights, that that was going to be the turning point, and that we would really begin to develop a base of independence, any way you look at it. But you look at the reports and the statistics now, you hate to say it, but, we haven't made much progress.

Page 77
WALTER WEARE:
Do you think it's become more of a class issue than a race issue?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
I think there's still racism. I'll admit to you, I've run into some racism. But I think that you're going to have to go around it, you can't become discouraged, or rationalize that the reason I'm not making the progress that I should make is because of racism, and go to sleep on that. I think you need to get your determination up.
I got a quote here that I want to give you. Frederick Douglass made the statement over a hundred years ago on self-determination: "Our destiny is largely in our own hands. If we find it, we shall have to seek to find it." Same thing with ?, I got a quote here from Dr. B. Mays, talking about goals: " It must be borne in mind that the tragedy in life does not lie in not reaching your goals, the tragedy lies in having no goals to reach." I mean, this is the kind of spirit and determination and drive that we're going to have to put in black people, and particularly young blacks.
I'm just reading the article that appeared in the Crisis magazine on the Buppies.
WALTER WEARE:
Yeah, the black counterpart of the Yuppies.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Yuppies, yeah, right. And some of them have gone up into the corporate structure; they've got to remember that some of us didn't make it. And that the NAACP and the Southern Christian Conference were responsible for getting them where they are. And they need to invest some money in these institutions so that others don't get over here in the suburbs

Page 78
and go to clubs and forget the people in the ghettoes. We're in trouble, we are definitely in trouble.
Bill Kennedy made a tremendous statement the other day. I don't know whether you read about it or not. The vice-president of Mobil resigned from the Fuqua School of Business because Duke University trustees passed a resolution to divest their investments. And he resigned. Knowing that Bill Kennedy was on their board, they called him, and he said he agreed with these people resigning too. In his position! President of the largest black institution, built by blacks and all. Even though you're on the board, that's a very handsome—a lot of dollars. And he said that the people that he talked with that came through here from South Africa, they are not interested in the businesses in America withdrawing. And so what they did, in the same article, they quoted Bishop Tutu—he was here on two occasions, at Duke, and he was the commencement speaker at North Carolina Central—and he was saying that we need economic sanctions, and we need to bring the screws on the South African government if we're going to get rid of apartheid.
You saw the broadcast last night? He and Peter Jennings had twenty minutes on the 6:30 news—twenty minutes of it was devoted to an interview he had with Bishop Tutu, and he said he may be arrested following this interview, because under the emergency, the people in South Africa are not supposed to talk with reporters.
But Bill Kennedy can't come out with a statement like that. It's ridiculous.

Page 79
WALTER WEARE:
I didn't see it.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
It was in the Durham papers also, and the News and Observer. He was trying to justify—he may resign too, because of what Duke and the students—I'm happy and glad they don't have a march going on at North Carolina Mutual.
WALTER WEARE:
Well, fifteen years ago, they might've.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Right!
WALTER WEARE:
These are more conservative times.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
I'm not marching, but I'm telling you from the platform where if I get a chance to talk about it. But at the same time, I think that blacks are going to realize that they are going to have to take their destiny into their own hands, if they're going to try to make it in. And we need to conserve some of the monies that we are exposed to, and not spend every penny we earn, and also mortgage that which we haven't even received yet, until we cannot help people.
A lot of things that we do, there's no money involved in it. I've been retired eight years, but we are busy, and involved, trying to help improve the quality—like Josephine, going night and day, and she's sixty-eight and I'm seventy-four. But I think it has helped us to remain relevant. Now, our two youngest daughters, I think we talked about the semi-colon[missing] and so forth, but that was a blessing in disguise. And our older children, they come home, and they are amazed how we relate to these two younger daughters as we related to them. Well, you have to make adjustments. We could tell Alexine and Bill and those to run outside and go play, but you can't say no to one of

Page 80
them. [unknown] And it's been very helpful. It's kept us alert. It's kept us our mentality and equilibrium. We've got two daughters going on in the music world, and what they're interested in, so we can converse with them, so they're amazed that we can deal with Kathy and Joanie and be such out-of-space people. But they admire the adjustment that we've made.
WALTER WEARE:
This would probably be a good place to end this, but in case nobody gets back, there's a question I think that maybe you could speak for Josephine on as well, and it has to do with Durham. You both having lived in Atlanta, or being well acquainted with Atlanta society, the institutions, black Atlanta, I'd sort of like your first impressions when you hit Durham, and the comparison.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Well, I was surprised, really, that Josephine agreed to leave Atlanta. I think if I were confronted with that decision today, it would have been far more difficult. Josephine was very submissive, and very cooperative, because of her mother. Her mother, whatever John Wesley Dobbs said, that was it. Occasionally, she would rise up. And Josephine was just sweet. Whatever she thought that I wanted, she just fell in line.
And she could not come to Durham, when Mr. Cox came by Atlanta in the fall of '45, and said, "Bill, I need you in Durham, and I'd like for you to be there the first of the year." We were expecting Wesley in April, the eighteenth. Well, you know, at that time, women didn't move after four, five, six, seven months. And so I came up—she had been through here once—she said, "Bill, if you think that this is going to help your

Page 81
career, and it's the best thing to do, we'll go." I came up here and bought a little house over here (it was right after the war period, and I bought this lot—I thought I could build, but I couldn't build because the material hadn't started coming back on the market), so I bought a little house for under 3200 dollars. I said, "Sweetheart, we don't have any place to put a washing machine." We had all these babies, and at that time, you had a roller washing machine—you don't remember that. But she said, "we could put it in the living room." So, she didn't come. And she was very submissive.
Josephine in the last twenty-five years—we've been married forty-five—in the last ten or fifteen years, since she got involved in public life, and this matter of the feminist movement and the matter of taking charge of your life, and being recognized as a person—she's changed. Fortunately, I changed. And really, she's a far more beautiful person because of her attitude. She doesn't back up at all. She's very nice, and very polished, but don't you step over her rights, as a woman, as a person. She's very much involved in the equal rights movement here in North Carolina, and that's one thing that's attracted her to Governor Hunt. He was in favor of passing the Equal Rights Amendment—but you'd never pass it in North Carolina. We needed three states, you remember, for the amendment. But she was in that movement.
And so, she came—to answer your question, I got away—we came, really, with a great deal of enthusiasm and drive, and determination. I was a North Carolina Mutual person through and

Page 82
through. My father worked for the company fifty years, the only job he ever had; I came along. And I had come difficult times at North Carolina Mutual: I wasn't a part of the family, but you know the history of that. So I had to negotiate that system, and really, was denied some of the greater opportunites that I could have had, because of the family situation. But I swallowed that, because I felt that the institution was bigger than any one person. Fortunately for North Carolina Mutual, it was a mutual company, it's not a stock company where you're passing on the equities to this generation, that generation. So I was sold on North Carolina Mutual, and I came up.
Now when we got ready to retire, we thought about Atlanta. We got two boys in Atlanta, Josephine has a sister in Atlanta, and all. And we decided we didn't want to go back to Atlanta, we wanted to stay in Durham… The opportunites here are so great: we got involved, Joseephine is involved—I'm not a politician, I support her, but I'm involved in appointments.
In other words, working for governmental agencies.
You take the airport. That's one of the most fascinating assignments I've ever had. I spoke today at the Durham board of realtors on the RDU development. We've got two hundred billion dollars worth of projects going on up there right now, developing the American hub, American Airlines—you ought to go by and see it. We're spending a hundred and thirteen million dollars to develop a hub for American Airlines. Piedmont is expanding its operations. We're putting in another cargo building, we're putting in a post office, we're putting in a catering service—

Page 83
two hundred million dollers, and I'm involved in it. I get thirty-five dollars per meeting, when I go. but it is the most fascinating thing that I've been involved in since I've been in Durham.
A year ago, we didn't even know that American Airlines would have its hub here. They announced July 2nd that they had decided to put the north-south hub at Raleigh-Durham. And that was just a memorandum of agreement. We had to work up the agreements to support the commitment, which dealt with the financing, the leasing, and the construction. And we did all of that between July and November, and went to the market and sold a hundred and fourteen million dollars worth of bonds, in twenty-four hours. And we used what they called "facility." Special facility bonds—they had never been sold in North Carolina. We had the revenue industrial bonds, but they had never issued in North Carolina facility bonds. But they had used them in some other places, the law permitted it. And in North Carolina we have an unusual situation because the local government commission handles all of the public debt financing in the state. Years ago—maybe a hundred years ago—they had problems with small municipalities defaulting, and the credit of the state. So now, if you're going to issue any debt, public debt, the local government commission has to get involved in it and certify and work with the bond council. And we did that all last summer and went with the bond.
To be involved in something like that, and Josephine is involved in the county commissioner's. She didn't tell you that they brought their first black county manager and she was

Page 84
involved in that, and involved with the school superintendent, and both of them are doing very well.
WALTER WEARE:
Is he still the manager?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Yes.
WALTER WEARE:
So if she becomes the commissioner—
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Well, she's already the commissioner. She's serving now.
WALTER WEARE:
Oh, I see.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
She's running for re-election. And she has no Democratic opposition, she has this one Republican.
WALTER WEARE:
So the county manager's black, a commissioner's black.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Well the chairman of the county commission is black. Bill Bell is an IBM executive here. They have five of them.
WALTER WEARE:
What do you think C. C. Spaulding would think about all that?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, brother. He would like it. You know, cooperation, my philosophy, negotiate—C. C. Spaulding built North Carolina Mutual by being Mr. Cooperation. He knew how to deal with white people. And he knew how to select men, and put them in positions to carry out a task, and he stayed out in front, in the public image, and developed North Carolina Mutual. He was fascinating. Every time I'd go in his office, "Bill, Billy-boy, push the button." And let the lights come on. He was fascinating.
WALTER WEARE:
You had met him before you came to Durham?

Page 85
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, gosh, he was a member of our family. My father started with the company in 1906, and C. C. Spaulding came from the country in 1899, and John Merrick and Doctor Moore, they were both involved—you know that story as well as I do—and they brought C. C. Spaulding, who was the first agent, the first general manager—he built the company. He didn't become president until '23, when Doctor Moore died, but he was the man who built it, and he built it by really gathering people and giving them responsibility. He never graduated from college, in fact he didn't finish high school.
WALTER WEARE:
Did he have a large influence on your father?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, yes, definitely. And he would come to Charleston when I was a little boy, growing up. See, I was born in '12, and he was coming there before I was born. And when Spaulding started coming from Charleston, I knew Mr. Merrick. I was a little fella when he died in 1919, and Mr. Merrick and Mr. Moore in '23. And when they would be making trips to Charleston, they stayed at our home. And my mother would start cleaning the house two months before. [laughter] And I remember one day I went down to the corner for a loaf of bread, and I came back with the bread—I must've been about six, seven years old—and he said, "gosh, the bread is as large as the boy."
So C. C. Spaulding was a great man; yeah, he was my man. They've never developed another man like C. C. Spaulding.
WALTER WEARE:
Now, your father never came to the home office.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
No, but he was on the board. They wanted him to come to Durham, but my father was very conservative. He was

Page 86
successful in Charleston, for his day and time. He bought a little piece of property there, and he kept it, and he was a man who wanted his independence…
[END OF TAPE 3, SIDE A]

[TAPE 3, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 3, SIDE B]
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
… Well, he retired in '49, and he died in '56; he was still on the board when he died.
So C. C. Spaulding was just like a brother member of our family, and I knew him. When I came to Durham, I used to drive Mr. Spaulding around, on trips to visit people. He liked to go on field trips, and he had a way of advertising: he'd sit in the car and he'd have a piece of literature or something that he wanted to drop out so that people could pick it up. And he developed a technique—that he would know exactly when to let it fall, and it would fall right at their feet. So people would pick it up and read "North Carolina Mutual."
Oh, he built it, he built it. We've never had an entrepeneur like C.C. Spaulding. Joe Goodloe and Kennedy and Asa—Asa was a different breed. Asa was selfish, and he built himself.
WALTER WEARE:
So you knew Charleston firsthand; you knew Atlanta firsthand, you know Durham firsthand—I guess, coming back to that question of your coming to Durham: how did it first impress you? Of course, I suppose you'd been here before, but, that is, coming here to live…

Page 87
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, I was excited. Just the idea of coming to the home office—now, my father did not want me to come. That was very unusual. He knew the family situation better than I did. My father was never really one to talk about North Carolina Mutual, but he knew that there was a struggle between the Merrick family and the Spaulding family, which really got the Kennedys involved. And he knew that, and he thought that I wouldn't be able to deal with that, and he thought that I should stay in Charleston.
But the reason why I left Charleston—I lost my first wife. We'd only been married five years; she died from cancer. And that was a tremendous blow. And I really wanted to get away from Charleston. And then I got to Atlanta, and I enjoyed Atlanta. And we were just getting started, because we had the baby to start with, and then we had two babies in Atlanta, so we really hadn't gotten into the social life, or the ongoing society, and so forth in Atlanta. But Atlanta was just a fascinating place at that time. And Durham was no Atlanta.
But Durham had so much business opportunites. It was Wall Street for blacks in this country. And you had a cohesiveness. I've always been interested in black businesses, and I still am. I've never worked for anyone else but the North Carolina Mutual. So that inspired me: I wanted to come; it was different. And then on top of that, when we got here, the Durham Committee—
WALTER WEARE:
What Josephine called the Committee on Negro Affairs.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Right. It was very active, trying to improve the quality of life, and Mr. Cox got me involved in that

Page 88
immediately. And it's still a very strong organization—in fact, it's stronger now than it was then, politically. But it had a political committee, an economic committee, an education committee—for five committees. And they were all working very hard, trying to improve the quality. And downtown Durham was very conservative, very fearful of what the action would be.
I liked that. Church life was very good, we had a very dynamic preacher, the Reverend Miles Mark Fisher, the boys got involved in the scouting program, Troop 55. They produced so many Eagle Scouts. We got involved in the schools around here, Josephine got involved—so we just fell in love with Durham. Really, you never can tell, but I imagine we'll die in Durham.
WALTER WEARE:
So it didn't feel like a big step down?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
No, no, it felt like a step up. Because I always felt I wanted to be an officer. In fact, I had ambitions one time of being president one day, and got right up to the door. But that didn't disturb me after I didn't get it, it didn't affect my loyalty to the institution. I kept moving right on up. And then these opportunities that I had for getting involved in the industry—that was stimulating, to able to be on the same boards with the president of Prudential and Metropolitan, New York Life, Equitable, and so forth. And I knew people firsthand, I could call them if I had a problem.
We had some union problems in Philadelphia, and some places, and Prudential was having them. Beale, then, was chief agency officer; he became president of Prudential. And you could call him up, I'd go up there and talk with him, about how to

Page 89
negotiate at the table. I had a very good friend at John Hancock—he became president, he was a marketing man—and he was the man who advised me, "get away from the table. You cannot negotiate with the union sitting at the table, then come back and try to supervise these people." That was worth millions of dollars. Because in labor negotiations, back and forth across the table, I'm telling you, that's pretty heated. And then to come back after you've signed a contract and talk about everything's fine and all, but, you know, you can't help it—So he said, "Bill, get away from that table. You go back to Durham and let the negotiating team bring the package back to you and take a look at it, since you're going to have to administer it." That kind of advice—product lines and things. We should've gone to the industrial business twenty-five years ago, and tried to get them to. But the people at Prudential told me, "that's gone." And today you can't get agents, debit agents, knocking on doors, selling home service. They're getting it through the mail.
WALTER WEARE:
Are companies like Mutual having trouble getting black agents to work when they can get work at Prudential, or—
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, yes, yeah, that's had an effect. The quality of our agents dropped considerably, because there was opportunity open elsewhere for them.
So—I don't know whether I've answered the question—I like Durham. I came to Durham, I wanted to come, I have not been disappointed. Durham has been good to us, and we love it, and we are glad to give back to the community all that we have, and

Page 90
now that we have the time and the opportunity, we're doing that. So I love it.
WALTER WEARE:
Durham in those early days had this kind of mystique; some of them called it "the Durham spirit."
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, yes.
WALTER WEARE:
I'm just wondering if you could really feel that, coming into the community.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, yes, oh, yes, definitely. Now, you don't feel it as much now as you did when we first came here. You see, the Research Triangle—some people have come in, some young, well-qualified people. It's just like the article we were talking about a while ago in Crisis Magazine: these people are a little above some of the problems that we had.
Now, Bill Bell, who's an IBM executive, he's very much involved in the programs in Durham, and life in Durham, and politics in Durham. And the chairman of the Durham Committee is an IBM executive, Willie Lovick. You have a few, but it's not like it used to be there. Whatever North Carolina Mutual officials used to say, that was it, but now, you got to sell it. [laughter]
WALTER WEARE:
It always struck me that that was a very special group and a very special time, in which you probably had a lot of overqualified people.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
We did, yeah.
WALTER WEARE:
People who, these days, would be doing—they'd be at IBM, which goes back to my question about how you may have felt, that you could have gone on to something else.

Page 91
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, no, I've never had a feeling of going to work for anyone else. Never. Particularly a white insurance company, I never had that. I had an offer to work with Supreme Liberty out in Chicago, which was a black company; they came out and sent three officers down here to talk with me about coming there, and they had a plan laid out that I was going to be the president. But my loyalties were with North Carolina Mutual, I wouldn't think of going somewhere else to become chief executive officer of a competitor like that.
WALTER WEARE:
Does that go back to your father, and then Spaulding?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Yes, yes. Spaulding was the man that I looked up to, and he was a great mentor, but George Cox was the man that exposed me, and gave me the opportunity to try to exemplify any talents that I had, in working with people, and trying to improve my qualifications, as far as the CLU program, and going to the LIMRA management marketing institutes up in New York and so forth. He just kept pushing me, which was very helpful. I learned a lot and made a lot of contacts. So I'm indebted to North Carclina Mutual.
Unfortunately, we have not been able to get any of our children into it. I thought Bill was going to go to North Carolina Mutual. Because he was interested in insurance; when he was a student at Morehouse, he was a part-time agent for North Carolina Mutual. Sold some insurance while he was in school. Then after he went to the Wharton School, he majored in insurance and finance. But you see, at that time, North Carolina Mutual, when he finished, was forty-three years of age. They had the

Page 92
concept that you had to start as an agent. That was unfortunate; we lost a lot of good people. A fellow coming out of school with his M.B.A. doesn't want to start there. Now we bring in people at different levels. And so he had an opportunity to go into banking. He was the first black at the North Carolina National Bank. Luther Hodges, Jr. recruited him off the campus. And I thought sure that he was coming to North Carolina Mutual. Well, North Carolina was maybe offering him four thousand, and the bank was offering him sixty-five hundred, and with the opportunity there, he went there.
WALTER WEARE:
But when you were coming up, those opportunities weren't there; North Carolina Mutual would have been—
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Well, I didn't even ask what the salary was. I got the original letter that Mr. Cox wrote me when I was getting ready to graduate from Talladega. He said, "Bill, I would like you to report to Durham on June the first." I was graduating May 31st. I didn't even ask about the salary. He gave me a ticket after six weeks; he said, "I'm going to send you down to Memphis, Tennessee." He gave me a letter of introduction to the manager, Dan Hancock. When Dan read the letter, he said, "did Mr. Cox talk to you about salary?" I said, "no, he didn't say a word." he said, "he's telling me to recommend twelve dollars and fifty cents." I said, "thank you." [laughter]
The same thing coming here to Durham. Josephine and I had three children. When we were married, I was making about a hundred and twenty five dollars, and then I got up to a hundred and sixty-two. When I got here, I didn't even ask Mr. Cox what

Page 93
the salary was going to be, or what I was going to do. He said, "I want you in Durham." And I came. I would do that again. I wouldn't advise any of my children to. And really, when I got here, Mr. Cox was the only person who knew I was coming. [laughter] You remember the name of Dan Martin?
WALTER WEARE:
Dan Martin, yes.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Dan Martin and I became very good friends. And Marie Ingram was Mr. Cox's secretary. Dan said, "you know, I'm going to show you a memo Cox received when he announced that you were coming." The memo was from W. J. Kennedy, Jr.; he was secretary, and he wanted to know what I was going to do, what was the assignment going to be. "Here I am, I'm already here!" [laughter] And guess what: I finally got a hold of the file, I think I got it in my papers somewhere. Mr. Cox then asked him for a desk, for office space, and he was raising a question as to "how'd he get here?" He remembered discussing it briefly at a meeting, but nothing was decided upon.
WALTER WEARE:
But there wouldn't have been any quarrel over this; I mean, he misunderstood that your father—
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Well, my father was easy. I mean, not that he didn't ever get involved in but he left it up to Mr. Cox, really. My father was very supportive of everything. He didn't want me to leave Charleston to start with, and then on to Atlanta. But he eventually told Josephine and me, "It was a good thing that you came to Durham," and the second thing was, Alexine came when her grandmother was getting old, and to try to integrate her into a family unit, five or ten years later. And no one knows it

Page 94
The relationship between Josephine—and the only thing is that she's not biological. That's the only thing. And this matter of being a stepchild—all of the other five children were close to her.
JUANITA WEARE:
Does she remember her real mother?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
No, she doesn't.

Page 95
JUANITA WEARE:
Oh. That made the transition easy.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Right, right. So, I took a lot of chances. I wouldn't do it again; I would advise any young person nowadays, "bring your wife down, ride around." They employed an actuary the other day, gave him a relocation allowance, all that kind of stuff.
WALTER WEARE:
So Cox was your big supporter; then you were befriended by Dan Martin. Did you have a circle, a kind of support?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, yes.
WALTER WEARE:
He's known as a radical.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Yeah, Dan was radical. He was outspoken.
WALTER WEARE:
Did he have any influence on you, politically?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, yes, yes. Every morning we walk, two miles, two and a half miles, and there's hardly a morning I don't refer to Dan Martin or something he said. He had a lot of wit, and common sense. He was a fighter, and he didn't fit into the groove of George Cox very well.
But Dan knew the business, he knew the details. But they wouldn't let him rise in the company. He used to guide me, he directed me around many situations at North Carolina Mutual.
Aaron Day was another influence. Aaron Day was a man who inspired me to get knowledge. He was the first person I ever heard talk about the CLU program, the Charter Life Underwriter program. Because he had taken a couple of exams himself, and didn't complete it. (He was at New York University studying, and took some exams.) But he inspired me. He was our training

Page 96
director, and he inspired me. I have a network I've developed, of people that are very loyal and so forth.
WALTER WEARE:
How did Martin and Wheeler get along? Were they political allies in trying to change things? John Hervey Wheeler.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
John Wheeler was a man who negotiated. He liked to pick up the telephone and talk. But one thing about John Wheeler: he did not commit black people. C. C. Spaulding would pick up the telephone and Victor Bryant would call him, for example—you've heard the name Victor Bryant—
WALTER WEARE:
Sure. Leading white attorney in Durham.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
He'd go, "well, that's all right, Mr. Bryant, fine, that's settled, okay, we'll do that." Then he'd call Dan in, and tell Dan what he decided, and Dan would come back, and do what he thought best. But C. C. Spaulding can't get people to vote! Dan would get out on election day and get the people to the polls. But C. C. Spaulding didn't get involved that way.
Now, John Wheeler was a little different, because he was a good honest person; he wasn't trying to get something for himself, he was working on behalf of the people. I learned a lot from John in that regard. You could send him out to negotiate with white people, but you knew that you wouldn't be sold down the river. But some of these others, they'd: "Yes, oh, yes."
Dr. Shepard, he and C. C. Spaulding, whenever they felt that they'd contacted those two in the black community, they could go to bed, and think that was the end of it, but one or two

Page 97
times, they woke up the next morning, they found out that they were off-base [laughter]
This is an interesting community. Small, but it's very interesting. I wouldn't take anything for it.
WALTER WEARE:
But you say Wheeler, although he wasn't conspicuous, and didn't run for office, that he was—
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Only the king-maker.
WALTER WEARE:
He was the king-maker.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, yes. No question about that. No one did anything 'til they'd put it by John. You don't have that now. You don't have anybody here who plays that role. You go by the Committee. And in some ways, the Committee has influence. But it's very effective, particularly in getting out the vote. They have a machine, a mechanism. It has been an honest organization; there's been no criticism, nothing they can point their fingers to as to mismanagement, taking money, that kind of thing, they file their reports. They have a very good record. They've tried everything, the papers…
WALTER WEARE:
Are whites still raising the question about block voting?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, yes.
WALTER WEARE:
They still raise that question?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, yes. But you know, white folks use block voting.
WALTER WEARE:
That's what politics is all about.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Absolutely. We learned it from them! And they criticize the "slate;" you know, we don't announce our slate

Page 98
until the morning of the election; they do everything they can personally—Now, they've got to the point they have some inside information. It was many, many years, thirty or forty years, they didn't know until that point when you went to vote, to the voting precinct, they gave you a sample ballot there, and most people follow it.
JUANITA WEARE:
(to WW) Did you get all your questions?
WALTER WEARE:
One little thing that a colleague of mine is interested in, and I doubt that you remember this, because it happened before you got here. It was a death penalty case where a man named Mason Wellman was sentenced to die. It was out in Winston-Salem, I believe—no, Statesville; and Governor Broughton of North Carolina actually pardoned the man. But it was an interesting build-up to this, involving the black community, and I think maybe I've seen a little correspondence with C. C. Spaulding to Broughton. My friend is writing a play about this.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, yes?
WALTER WEARE:
Yes; Paul Green was involved. And so I thought that I would ask you if you recalled anything about this. It was in '44, two years before you got here.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
No… What was the name?
WALTER WEARE:
The man's name was Mason Wellman, and he was accused of having raped a white woman in Statesville—typical kind of thing; he was identified from some photographs, and they found him, brought him in, and sentenced him to die. And people got organized; and actually, I think it's one of the few cases in all

Page 99
of the history of the South where such a case was overturned or pardoned.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
I don't know, I've never heard that case.
JUANITA WEARE:
Did you ever have trouble with the Klan?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, yes. Not now, but years ago, oh, yes.
JUANITA WEARE:
Personally?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, no. I've never had any intimidations, really. But whenever your brother's intimidated, you're intimidated, see what I mean?
They're honoring Floyd McKissick Saturday night, and I can't go. I wrote a letter today and sent a check, saying that I would love to be there, because he is really a great fighter in this town, particularly during the civil rights movement.
Ben Chavis—I'm familiar with that case, the Wilmington nine case, and he was just installed as the executive director of the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice, the organization that worked so well with him. The installation was at Duke, about a month ago. He was here, and now he's the executive director of—I can't think of the name. Anyhow, very much involved in the Wilmington Nine; I've been all through that.
Sad situations for Governor Hunt: they put a lot of pressure on him, he didn't give the Wilmington Nine any clemency, or reduce their sentences.
WALTER WEARE:
Some of those persons are still in prison?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, no, no, they're all out now; but during the time the trial was going on, they were convicted and served time [inaudible] But they worked on it from a legal point of view.

Page 100
But that was a big case, and lasted a long time in North Carolina, and created a lot of flack.
WALTER WEARE:
I was going to ask you: I'm sure Conrad Pearson has died, hasn't he?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, yes. yes. In fact, the Southern Historical Society [Collection] has some of my correspondence in connection with Conrad Pearson, particularly in the schools. In pupil assignment, I worked very closely with him. I have letters in my file that have already been turned over to the historical collection.
I have a tray downstairs that I call upon the Durham Committee, because they celebrated their fiftieth anniversary, and I asked Carolyn Wallace to loan me that tray; I wanted to see about this and some other things. But Conrad Pearson, yes.
WALTER WEARE:
Wonderful, to get the balance of your papers. What did Wheeler do with his papers?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Wheeler's papers went to Morehouse, in Atlanta. I don't know where Pearson's papers went.
WALTER WEARE:
He would certainly know about this Mason Wellman case in the '40s.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Yes, yes. Oh, I'm sure of that. Because he was involved in the first integration sit-in over at Carolina in 1932.
WALTER WEARE:
Hocutt.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Hocutt case, yeah. Dr. Shepard was—what's the word I want to use? Anyhow, he didn't cooperate. I'm

Page 101
familiar with that. We have read Simple Justice; that was tremendous. The book told about all these cases.
And then Leroy Fraser, the Fraser boys. Now, their papers—I don't think Leroy Fraser knows what he's going to do with those papers. You ought to get those papers. Because they were the first to integrate the undergraduate school. That was quite a case. Now their father kept a beautiful scrapbook; it's fantastic, the history and so forth. I've seen it.
WALTER WEARE:
John Wheeler—was he involved in that?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Oh, yes, and Conrad Pearson was involved, and also Hugh Thompson—I don't know if you remember that name.
Conrad was the North Carolina lawyer for the NAACP, and so he was really involved in all of these cases that involved the NAACP.
WALTER WEARE:
Next to John Wheelar and Conrad Pearson, and Dan Martin, are there other figures that, as you look back on it now, you would rank as important in the civil rights movement in Durham, in addition to yourself?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
When you say civil rights movement, you mean—
WALTER WEARE:
Well, going all the way back to, say, the founding of the Durham Committee, which goes back to 1935.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Well, J.S. Shag Stewart now, we have not mentioned Shag Stewart—he played a very unique role. He's the only living person that was present when they organized the Durham Committee.
WALTER WEARE:
I wonder if he's been interviewed; do you know?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
If he hasn't, he ought to be.

Page 102
WALTER WEARE:
Is he alert, do you know?
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Yes, very alert, very alert. John served on the city council sixteen years. John Wheeler succeeded him as chairman of the Durham Committee when he ran for city council. Shag Stewart is very alert and really knows the history. Ben Ruffin—that's a new name—do you know him?
WALTER WEARE:
A younger person.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Ben Ruffin: he was on the street. I heard him speak last night—he was with North Carolina Mutual, getting ready to leave North Carolina Mutual; I believe R. J. Reynolds offered him a fabulous opportunity. I told him that he could call and ask me [?] I swear you're going to have to give it some serious consideration; there's no ifs and ands about that.
But Bon Ruffin is probably one of the strongest young persons we have right now. on the scene in North Carolina, in Durham. He worked with the governor, he did a beautiful job.
Now, Willie Lovitt is a relatively new person, and he's chairman of the Committee, and he's a person who really ought to be interviewed.
And Bill Bell, you ought to interview him.
Another person that played a key role, and still plays a very key role, is Dr. Charles Watts. He's the son-in-law of Edward R. Merrick. And now he is playing a key role in North Carolina Mutual. He'll be seventy next year, but he's really in his prime as far as directing affairs at North Carolina Mutual. But his contribution to this town is the Lincoln Community Health Center. We had to close up the Lincoln Hospital, and we wanted

Page 103
to got something to maintain that image of health care in Durham. He really handled that, and was the father of that. And now it's really one of the best health care centers in the country. We've only had one director, Evelyn Schmidt, and she's fantastic. The problem, however, is finance, because they got a lot of financing from the government, which has been cut off, and now the county just can't subsidize all of these agencies. But Charles Watts would be a person you could talk to, because he knows the families: there's the Merrick family—
WALTER WEARE:
He married into the Merrick family.
WILLIAM CLEMENT:
Yoah, he married Constance. And he's chairman of the Heritage Room Committee at North Carolina Mutual.
END OF INTERVIEW
1. I did win again, came in second again.