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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Paul Hardin Jr., December 8, 1989. Interview C-0071. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Merging segregated Methodist conferences in South Carolina

Hardin furthered the process of integrating the white and black Methodist conferences in South Carolina by having the conferences meet together. A white Methodist complained because he did not want to accept a black minister, and black Methodists worried that white preachers were inadequate.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Paul Hardin Jr., December 8, 1989. Interview C-0071. 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

DONALD MATHEWS:
How do you integrate a conference in 1960?
BISHOP PAUL HARDIN:
Gradually we came nearer to it. On January for three successive years we had a meeting of blacks and whites from every section of the state. We let them come together in the hotel for a weekend. We took over the hotel. We had speakers to come in. I had black bishops and white bishops to come in. And we just talked and prayed together, and it was a marvelous experience. It really was great. Some of the bishops I brought down from the North were better preachers than some of our southern bishops were. And some of the white bishops who came down demonstrated the feeling of devotion to the cause that was beyond any sort of racial feeling. It just finally began to melt itself. Then I had two meetings of the annual conferences together. I brought the whole two conferences together. I had the secretary of this conference sitting up here with me, and his conference there and the secretary with the white conference here, sitting with me. And the white conference members out there. And we discussed it. I was in a swivel chair conducting two annual conferences. [Laughter] I don't know whether it was legal or not. I never bothered to find out. But we had these meetings. And the Lord helped me on more than one occasion. The funniest thing that happened, happened when we were meeting one day down in Columbia in the city auditorium, and we were just getting along beautifully. Here were the blacks and here was the whites, and everybody was in a good mood. And all of a sudden, a guy got up in the back of the auditorium, says, "Bishop, if we have this merger, how long will it be before you send us a black preacher?" You could have heard a pin drop. I mean it just got so quiet it was painful.
DONALD MATHEWS:
[Laughter] I guess it did.
BISHOP PAUL HARDIN:
And the Lord helped me. I grinned and I pointed, I said, "I know you. I can't hardly get you to take a white one!" [Laughter] Well, it just blew the whole thing wide open. He sat down. His face got red. I never heard another peep out of him at all. But you know, I learned a lot along in that time. You can laugh something out of court that you can't argue out of it.
DONALD MATHEWS:
Which of the white churches got black preachers first? How do you manage that?
BISHOP PAUL HARDIN:
I can't tell you that exactly. It was sort of an intermingling gradually, and it has not been as rapid as I think it ought to be. But it is doing it. It is going that way. When big churches like the church in Greenville, South Carolina, one of the stronger churches, they first took a black associate minister. And they began to feel that this move was for real. Then we began white. . . . Let me tell you something interesting, the black people basically don't want in the white churches. Apparently, they really don't want in them. They don't think white preachers can preach! They want somebody preaching with fervor and gusto, like Bishop Scott Allen.