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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Elizabeth Pearsall, May 25, 1988. Interview C-0056. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Putting religious faith into action

Pearsall discusses how her sister's illness and her religious beliefs influenced her efforts to work toward world peace. Her efforts to achieve peace on a local level included working with other races and ethnicities. However, Pearsall realized that members of her church opposed practicing racial cooperation.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Elizabeth Pearsall, May 25, 1988. Interview C-0056. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

ELIZABETH PEARSALL:
He never showed any fear or any feeling--as I say, he had the overview of everything. We were both like that. I don't mean that I had the capacity of thinking on the deep level that he did. But I had been out working for world government, world peace.
WALTER CAMPBELL:
Where had you done that?
ELIZABETH PEARSALL:
In Rocky Mount, from going as a young girl to Europe and seeing the battlefields of France, all those crosses. I look back now and I think, I wonder why I was so much more affected by it than those other young girls, about twenty-five of us, you know, whole bus load. And they ate Swiss chocolate and sang songs. I mean, I don't mean they did that through these cemeteries, but as soon as we'd driven through them, it was off their mind. I hadn't lost any brothers or a father or anything, but I think it was because I had had a crippled sister all my life, and I related to the pathos of it, the human condition. Tom said he thought that having lost his mother at seven, he developed that too. Anyway, when our first son was born, I just began to think about, you know, the futility of war. And about that time, world government was coming on the scene. There was a man from Mount Airy, a Quaker. His name was Sam Levering. I'm told he's still alive. He had been in the Olympics early in life, and he had gotten a world point of view from that. He had an apple orchard up there, outside of Mount Airy, and every year he gave $10,000 to this new movement for world government. I was doing some church work, and I was what they called district chairman and had to get speakers for my meetings. We were studying a book called Racial Amity as a Pillar of Peace. We were studying all about the Chinese, the Hindus, the Catholics, everybody except the people right around us. So I got Sam, Sam Levering came down here and talked about world government one time. Tom had discovered somebody up at--have you ever heard of Palmer Memorial Institute, the black college up there near Greensboro--well, he had discovered the president of that. It was a small college. Her name was Charlotte Hawkins Brown, Dr. Brown. He had met her on some committees. So he said I want you to meet that Dr. Brown. We were coming and going up that way one time, and stopped and went into chapel with her students and all like that. I was very much impressed with her. So I got her to come down and talk about racial amity from that point of view. She brought a quartet, two boys and two girls. And I got some hate mail from my fellow churchmen, and telephone calls. One lady, honestly, she couldn't have been a better person, practically held the church together by her physical strength. She called me up the night that they were going to appear--this woman was going to make the talk--and she said she just wanted me to know that she would be among those not present. She couldn't go along with that. And the book we were studying at that time, racial amity. So we both were always looking for the higher authority. I had these meetings. I went for two years having these meetings for world government.
WALTER CAMPBELL:
Do you remember when that was?
ELIZABETH PEARSALL:
That would have been about 1936, '7, something like that. I would hire the ministerial association to come in and give them dinner, you know, and beat the bushes for my friends to come and go. They were so apathetic. What can one person do?