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Title: Oral History Interview with Josephine Clement, July 13 and August 3, 1989. Interview C-0074. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Clement, Josephine, interviewee
Interview conducted by Nasstrom, Kathryn
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Mike Millner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2006
Size of electronic edition: 152 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2006.
© 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:
2006-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-12-12, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Josephine Clement, July 13 and August 3, 1989. Interview C-0074. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0074)
Author: Kathryn Nasstrom
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Josephine Clement, July 13 and August 3, 1989. Interview C-0074. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0074)
Author: Josephine Clement
Description: 195 Mb
Description: 52 p.
Note: Interview conducted on July 13 and August 3, 1989, by Kathryn Nasstrom; recorded in Durham, North Carolina
Note: Transcribed by Jovita Flynn.
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.
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The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
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Interview with Josephine Clement, July 13 and August 3, 1989.
Interview C-0074. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Clement, Josephine, interviewee


Interview Participants

    JOSEPHINE CLEMENT, interviewee
    KATHRYN NASSTROM, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
This is Kathy Nasstrom for the Southern Oral History Program interviewing Josephine Clement on July 13, 1989 about the civil rights era in North Carolina.
I'd like to begin with a bit about family background in terms of your interest and commitment to civil rights. If you would describe some of that.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
I'd be glad to, Kathy, because civil rights was not known by that name either publicly or in my family, but it was a way of life for us. It was the way my parents taught us, and my father in later years became known as a great civil rights worker, although they were not calling them that in that day. But we had rather strict rules in my family that you never accepted segregation if you could possibly get around it. For instance, if you had to take a segregated streetcar to go to school, then that would be a sacrifice worth making, to get your education. And so you sat on the back of a streetcar and went to school. But if it were a matter of going to a theater for pleasure, and you had to go in the back door or the side door, then that was no pleasure, and so we were never permitted to accept conditions like that. I can remember, growing up, being very afraid and very shaky but still standing up for my rights at various times. I can remember my father, when we were young, refusing to be sent to the back of a department store, and saying, "Well, we won't buy anything here," and leaving. Finally, eventually you had to buy someplace but you would have made your point. The same at gas stations when he

Page 2
would take us on trips. You stopped at segregated stations, or maybe even stations that had no facilities for black people, or had one for men and women—had signs, "gentlemen," "ladies," and "colored." We were trained to jump out of the car when he stopped and head for the restroom which we needed to use anyhow. Then if they said we couldn't use it and they had started the gas, he would say "stop" and we would go on somewhere else. So, this was a way of life for us. I heard my father talk about the Supreme Court decision of 1857, I believe it was, the Dred Scott decision, also the decision of 1896 which established the separate but equal. Of course, at that time we were trying to get equal though separate. That was the concept that had not yet been struck down. These are the concepts and the strategies that I grew up with. And doing that, or standing up for myself, or not permitting myself to be called by my first name—and it's ironic that now everybody uses first names—or being mistreated in any way that I thought we were mistreated, was a way of life. We just did not accept this kind of thing. My sister Mattiwilda [Dobbs], who was the second black woman to sing at the Metropolitan Opera Company, established the policy of never singing before a segregated audience. Of course, she ended up singing mostly in Europe. [Laughter] This was my contribution and this was the way I lived it rather than marching in a movement, which I did support, but wasn't able to participate in.

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KATHRYN NASSTROM:
I'm curious too, because I know from reading the other interview with you, the interview that Walter Weare did, that much of this had to do with being in a relatively large city.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Exactly, that's true.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
And then you came to Durham, which I think was in 1946. Is that right?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Yes.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
A much smaller town, but with a very distinctive black community also.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
This is true.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
Could you describe, if you recall, your perceptions of Durham at that point, coming here, and if you could compare it to Atlanta?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Durham was, and still is, the smallest place I've ever lived in. It took some getting used to when I did come here. However, Durham had the peculiar value of offering a well-knit, well-secured, strong, black middle-class community. When my husband and I came to Durham, we did not come as strangers, although I was actually. My husband's father had worked with North Carolina Mutual, which was even a stronger factor in the time of segregation than it is now that people live everywhere and work everywhere. That and North Carolina Central [University] were the two leading places of employment for middle-class blacks, other than the tobacco factories. So he had grown up in the company. His father went to work for the company in 1906, so he was well-known. When we came, we were welcomed immediately. There was a very warm sense of hospitality here and

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people came to see us. The other factor was that I had a new baby, six months old, plus two other children, so my center of activity was very much in the home. But I felt warm and safe and secure in this small community which was very similar to the community I had grown up in, although in a larger city. Other than missing buying things that you needed—because here they'd have to send to Raleigh to get it or what not—it was not that great an adjustment. My mother came up with us when we moved and stayed a week. She said she just wanted to see where I'd be living, and she was very pleased with the hospitality that was extended to us. Then she left and she said she felt very good about that. It was a very warm spirit—and we don't have that now. Our children go out into different communities and this is one thing integration has done. [Laughter] Sometimes they don't even get to meet our friends if we have them in that particular place. They live all around town. The same with the children of our friends. They may be here and work in a different area, and we don't even know them or see them. Maybe that's progress.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
I think it's sort of both/and. [Laughter]
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Yes, it's dubious.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
I'm thinking too of those years when you first moved to Durham. I mentioned earlier my interest in documenting any civil rights related activities, progress towards integration, in the years before 1960. You had several young children, but I'm going to guess you were quite active in a variety of organizations.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
I was, but mostly organizations that centered around the children. We had six children in all and following them

Page 5
through the various schools and being active in the PTA, which eventually led to my being on the Board of Education, took the time that I had. I was also active in the Girl Scout and Boy Scout movements for my church which was my way of doing something for the church, because I couldn't attend on Sunday morning, and doing something for my children, because I could have them here, which I did once a week. Organizations like Jack and Jill which is a national mothers' organization, for the most part those were the organizations that took up most of my time.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
We were talking earlier about your involvement with the League of Women Voters and the YWCA. Do you recall what year it was that you became involved in those organizations?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Well, actually I had a relationship with the YWCA as soon as I came here. I had been a Girl Reserve in Atlanta at the Phyllis Wheatley. My mother had been president of the Phyllis Wheatley, and she was always giving pieces of furnishings or what not that we didn't need. I remember she gave an old Victrola to the "Y" which would be collector's item now [Laughter] when she was president of the Phyllis Wheatley branch. So the YWCA was a very important part. Here again, as I said, I could not be too active in too many organizations, but I did work with the "Y" somewhat. I was a member of the board of the Harriet Tubman which was the black branch. Then when the directive came down from the YWCA, the national YWCA, to integrate, the plan was to put two black women on the board each year for, I think it was, three or four years, until they got the number that they wanted. I was one of the two black women that they put on the first

Page 6
year. So I had a part in that, in integrating. And I think this is the way my role has evolved, that very often I was asked to be the first one to open a door and to go in. And because it was a part of me, I guess it came a little more easily to me than it did to other people.
[Interruption]
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
As for the League of Women Voters, I did not know as much about a national directive, although what I remember fits in with such. But since I was already active in the black branch of the YWCA, I knew about that. But evidently the League of Women Voters actively solicited black women in their membership. Don't even remember exactly who mentioned it to me, but I did join. Because here again, I felt deep down inside of me if this organization is going to integrate and to open up, I should be a part of it and help to open the door for others. At that time it was the sense of the black community that integration was the panacea for all ills. We'd grown up that way. If you got your education and behaved yourself and so forth, everything was going to be all-right. Unfortunately, we have learned better and are a little bit disillusioned, and the young people have shown us that it's much more complex than this. But anyhow, I still believe that we ought to be a part of everything that's going, so that was why I went into the League of Women Voters.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
I imagine that we could, looking through records, establish these dates, but my own sense is that the directive for integration from the National League of Women Voters came in the

Page 7
late fifties, and I'm wondering if you have a recollection of when it was for the "Y?"
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Not the exact date, but I would certainly concur with the late fifties.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
I ask that because I was interested in placing it in context of before or after the Brown decision. Not that they're about the same thing but in terms of the climate, the anticipation of change if there was such a thing.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
I think that was very much a part of the same thing. Here was a concept that's being talked about and actually expressed by the Supreme Court. As I just mentioned, the Supreme Court in 1857 with the Dred Scott and then 1897 with Plessy v. Ferguson which established separate but equal, and now in 1954, although it was an educational decision, it struck down the concept of segregation. So we were beginning to get the first opening up of this sort of thing. It's very much in keeping with the League of Women Voters, I would think, to do a thing like this, because you can't fight for one segment or one part of a person and not for equal rights for all. This is how I think I came to the women's movement because I had been brought up to fight for the rights of black people and Negroes—colored as we were called then. And I realized that I couldn't divide myself up. I am not only black, I am a black female, and it goes together. I couldn't go out and fight the white community and come in and fight the black men, [Laughter] again. I had to be a black female. So now I feel that whatever concerns the rights of

Page 8
any human being for whatever reason, I think has to be dealt with. We must have equal human rights for all people.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
That commitment that you just mentioned now, was that something that became more consciously formulated as a result of the women's movement, or would you say it was something that you took into the women's movement?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
I think in all cases like that, there's always something inside of us that is awaiting some spark, so to speak. And when things happen in the larger community, we respond to those things that we believe, even though unspoken, and we may not have actually dealt with it. So we come to that point that we select those things that really are in keeping with what we believe deep down.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
More the idea, then, that it struck a chord of something you'd always known?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
This is true. And it also came, societal changes—I think it was Erik Erikson who writes in Identity about your own personal crisis points, in the self-identity, and the societal crisis periods, and the way the two coincide that is often very interesting. As I came to mid-life—and I think the menopause is a very important crisis period for women, that's why the whole fight for reproductive control and freedom is so important, I think it's deep-seated—as I came to that societal period and these other things in my personal development, the two just coincided.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
I'm just thinking we covered a lot of years right in those phrases. [Laughter]
Back with the issue of the League and

Page 9
the "Y", would you describe how that proceeded within the organization? What were some of the dynamics between the individuals? Was it a smooth transition? Were there points of conflict?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
As I remember, the transition in the League of Women Voters was more smooth than that in the YWCA; the YWCA is still having difficulties. In fact there's an article in the paper this morning. I went last week with the director of the YWCA to talk to the United Fund asking for an appeal because the United Fund had decided not to fund them anymore. But the YWCA has had more difficulties, and I don't know exactly why this is. The League of Women Voters has remained a white organization. I went to a meeting last winter in which they asked all the elected women officials from the city and the county to come and talk about some issues. We entered in and there were only one or two black women there. Whereas, on the other hand, the YWCA has become almost a black women's organization, beginning with the integration in the late fifties. I remember I came off of that board in 1960, because my youngest child was born. The white women were leaving, quietly—and this seems to be the style of Durham—not confrontationally, but just quietly to slip away. That support began to fall away. Then there have been some other problems with the "Y" within the women's movement. One group pulled out from the YWCA and took programs and volunteers and people and so forth, and that hurt bad. And then we got one or two bad executive directors. So the YWCA is in trouble right now, but the League is flourishing.

Page 10
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
Do you have a sense of why those two organizations evolved in that way—personnel issues or the nature of the organization?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Well, it might be—and I certainly don't know, but I'm just speculating now—it might be that the YWCA was already segregated. You had a black "Y" movement and a white "Y" movement, and you had to put them together. The League of Women Voters was white all the way. It never had any black component. So they began to bring black women in, but they still were in control of the organization. I don't know that they have such a strong black membership now because of their cultural differences. Generally, when you find organizations like that, their agenda does not speak to the issues of black women. It's a middle-class organization. The YWCA on the other hand, had a strong black component, so when you tried to integrate these . . . I think the truth of the matter is, that we are learning that white people have not accepted integration. If you will look at what has happened, you will find that all the integrating flows in one direction, from black to white. We move into white neighborhoods; we go to white schools; we join white organizations. White people never come to the black community. They don't come a lot where we ever feel them, not in large numbers, to the black schools, the black organizations, or the black neighborhoods. It just doesn't work that way. So the onus of integration has fallen on black people. If you move forward and integrate you find yourself giving up the culture that you were reared in, the friends that you had, the people, even

Page 11
sometimes the support of those people. You leave behind and go into an alien culture almost—it can be that different sometimes—which does not support you anyhow. So you have to come back. And I think this is what the young people first tried to tell us in the sixties. And this is why I say we have come to see that integration is not the panacea. I believe in integration, and I never want to go back to segregation in anything, but I think we have to refashion it and reshape it. We have to deal with the culture differences and so forth. White people will have to come to the point that they are willing to deal with integration. Don't think they have been willing to give up anything. If you can come in without making waves, it's all right, but they're not as dedicated to the concept of education—pardon me, of integration—as black people are. So that may account for the differences.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
It's interesting too that you just said "education." The thought in my mind was, when I look at the issue now of the Durham county schools and the Durham city schools, there's the same . . .
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
That epitomizes the whole situation.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
This might be a good time to get into your work on the school boards and those issues, because it seems as though that's really where a big chunk of your recent life has been spent. That's what you've chosen to put your time and your energy into.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Yes.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
And if I can, I would like to have you talk, before we get into your work on the school board, about what actually is a

Page 12
very long period beforehand. You came on in 1973. But maybe a good way to do that would be to have you comment on the earlier issues.
I think of especially the early sixties, in light of the fact that about ten years later you came on the school board. What your perceptions of that earlier time are? How it might have influenced your decision to go on the school board?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Let me say that that period was one in which my husband was more active than I was, the period of the sixties. I had a child in '57, I had a child in '60. My mother came to live with me in '61. So that period, leading up to the actual integration, although it was following the Brown decision, was one in which I was very much kept at home. My husband, however, served as chairman of the Education Committee for the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People. It is composed of many subcommittees. Most people hear about the political subcommittee to the exclusion of others. But during that time that was a very active [education] committee because the suits that were being instituted were for equalization, they were not against segregation. We had not caught up with that in suits that had already been filed, even though the Supreme Court had spoken. It does take some time for things to filter down that way. So they had suits trying to get schools opened up, trying to get facilities in the black schools which they had in the white schools. They couldn't get into the white schools. They had to get a court order to get a photographer in to take pictures of some of these things to document it that way. So that was a very important period in there. We always were part of any group

Page 13
action, class action, suit that was filed that our children were involved in. We had children in schools so my approach to that then was as from the perspective of a parent. I knew a lot about what was going on in the PTA and within the schools and so forth and my husband was working actively with the Durham Committee. At this particular point they had been working on, as I said, equalization of teachers' salaries, for instance. Black teachers did not earn the same money that white teachers did, principals, all the way through. There was segregation and a differential everywhere. This is what they were working on. After Brown came they took a little time in there to shift over to other things that you were going to have. So, I did not actually get into the political arena until 1971. Eleanor Spaulding had organized back in the sixties an organization called Women in Action for the Prevention of Violence and its Causes, which is never called by its full name. The men used to laugh at us and call us the Violent Women. This came out of a national meeting that McCall's Corporation called. The women who were invited there were asked to go back to their communities and set up organizations. It was a very significant organization because it was one of the few—you're talking about the League and the "Y"—that was not a national organization, but one of the few local organizations we had where black women and white women could come together on the basis of equality and meet each other. I was active at that time, and was program chairman as I remember. It was interesting in that when we had, say, committee meetings and had to go to each other's houses we always had to draw maps. You didn't even

Page 14
know there were sections of town, and there was a great deal of fear about white women coming into the black communities and their husbands did not want them to come and that sort of thing. That was very significant. In 1971 there was set up a Durham City-County Charter Commission which was a group empowered to write the charter for the consolidation of the city and the county. That stayed in existence for three years before they had the referendum which failed. We never had that to vote. That was really my introduction into the public arena. As a result of that, the Durham Committee, which was very active in this Charter Commission, I got to know them and to work with them for the first time. As I mentioned earlier they had me on their list for an appointment to the Board of Education. I had already worked with the League of Women Voters. Those were the two big organizations that sponsored me for appointment. So in 1973 I was appointed. The Board of Education was an appointed board at that time. There were four-year terms and I was appointed in 1973, but in two years the legislature had made it an elected board and there was a great controversy and decision about whether I should run. This was a big thing to enter the public arena and go out and offer yourself for election, and it was something very different from what I'd ever done. So we went through a lot of soul searching here at home before . . . But I wanted to do it in a way I would not have wanted to earlier on, but after having had the experience of being on the board for two years I felt more comfortable with it. I felt I was just beginning to be comfortable and well-informed and to make a

Page 15
contribution. It was also the beginning of a difference in the make-up of the board. They had had in the past white men, with usually one white woman on the board. They were lawyers, CPAs, architects, business people, who brought that perspective to the board. I guess the women—I really don't know how it worked with the white women before I went on—but women bring an entirely different approach and my approach was certainly through the schools as a mother who had been PTA president of two or three schools and worked on all kinds of committees and been in and out of all of the schools. I brought an entirely different perspective, too, but began to learn something of the business aspect. I was the first black woman on the Board of Education. Five years later when I was elected chairman I was the first woman, black or white, to serve as chairman. In fact they've never had a woman since, but they've just had two chairmen since. You know, as I look back on it, I think of the old saying, "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread." [Laughter] But here again, my earlier training took me on and I just accepted these things. I was very interested in the schools, what was happening. And as we get older, here again I'll quote Erik Erikson who says our attention and interest and love and compassion turn outward from our families. We are beginning to move community-wide. When you have your own children all your interest is just tied up right there at home trying to get them grown up. So all of that came in together, plus the civil rights movement and the women's movement and so forth.
I just went right in and when I was elected chairman I took up the challenge

Page 16
there. We had a long-time superintendent by the name of Lew Hannon who retired in 1975. We had spent the year before his retirement searching for a replacement. I can remember with some temerity—there was another black member, a black man, Dr. Theodore Speigner—that he and I actively searched for some black candidates. I didn't even know black superintendents existed at that time. There were not many.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
When we began to search for a replacement to Mr. Hannon who had been a superintendent for something like 27 years, Dr. Speigner and I, who was the other black member on the board—they had a black man on the board for several years—we decided to search for some black applicants. I didn't even know they had black superintendents but we were able to find two or three and had them apply. As I look back on it now, [Laughter] they weren't really seriously considered. They let us have our little turn to promote these black superintendents. There were six members on the board then, so we hardly constituted the majority. They did select a young white man to come in who proved to be a disaster. We found out later that he had been let out from another county—although we didn't know this, I didn't know it at the time—and they sort of took him in. He really was not a good superintendent. Plus the fact that he did not seem to want to identify himself with the black movement at all. He was hired in April, three months before, to overlap with the superintendent who was going out July 1. In July we received an order from the district court to integrate. Now we had been working on this, well, certainly for the two years I had been on the Board and there had been some work done before that. But for the whole two years that I had been on the Board this was a very important part of the work. Too much time really was spent trying to get this part going. Since 1954 there had been many stop-gap measures that had been introduced. You mentioned the Pearsall Plan and that was one. There were more than we had

Page 18
before but it was it was a band aid solution to things. We were constantly working on it. A suit had been filed here and the judge had ordered us to come up with a plan. We were never able to formulate a plan, the reason being we could never get a majority vote. We had several good plans, we thought. We got the white woman on the Board who often voted with us. She was Mildred Teer who was the wife of Dillard Teer, of the Nello Teer family, who were very wealthy people. It's often been true that white women who were independent and often very thoughtful could lead the way in things like this. And she often voted with us, but that was still a tie vote—three-three. Of course after the election they out the Board to five so that you would not have that problem of a tie vote. It isn't a good way anyhow. So we never got a plan going. I remember Mildred made the motion to ask for an eight months delay, which I supported because I thought if we could come up with a plan it would be better than having one imposed on us. Unfortunately we still did not resolve that in the eight months. That was about February or March when the eight months was up and we still had no plan. By July an order had come down to integrate immediately, which is of course what happens when you don't do it yourself. If a community can't come up with a plan then the judge superimposes one on you. Well, here we had this new superintendent who had just come on board in April. The old superintendent had gone out in July and I guess about two or three weeks after that he got the order to integrate. Integrating in ten days is [Laughter] , is not the way to do it. But anyhow, we did it. We had to set up strict

Page 19
quarters, we had very narrow parameters in each school. In each neighborhood we found—and we had the real neighborhood concept then because people lived in clusters—we had a white and a black school very close together. The solution that we finally arrived at was to pair these two schools, you see, and have one do the lower grades and the other do the upper grades. Otherwise you would have had even more cross-city, crossing [inaudible] than you had. We also should mention at that time that the city system was the prestige system, twenty-five to thirty years ago, and this is true across the nation, not just in Durham. Your affluent, influential people, black and white, lived in the city. I remember when we came here the beautiful old Victorian mansions, people like the Hills and the Carrs and the Watts and [inaudible]'s house is still left there. There was a whole street of those and they were all around. Now it's different. The demography has changed and the middle-class people live out, so the inner city is a euphemism for poor and black. So we've had a complete change in that period of time. My husband found the paper in his files the other day from 1957 during the time he was chairman of the education committee, in which they were attempting to integrate, but the city didn't want it. They didn't want the county to come in. Now that has come reversed, the county doesn't want it. Well, we got it done and we paired these schools in all of the sections, which was an artificial stilted sort of thing to do. We had to get a computer programmer to do these runs for us, to fit into the parameters, to get so many white children into each school. Was not the best way to do

Page 20
it, but we had to do it under court order. The result was that the white people just simply faded away, gradually, without any noise. They just disappeared, until the white enrollment went down, down, down. After a certain point it begins to tip and then it goes over faster because when white people find themselves in a minority they don't seem to be able to deal with it, because they are a majority in the United States. And of course even that is changing now. This meeting I went to on Tuesday was talking about minorities together will be the majority in the United States. But this follows the make-up of the world. White people who are northern Europeans, white people as we call them in this country, are really come from this little strip of northern Europe, say from England up through Scandinavia, and are a small minority in the world. But they don't perceive themselves this way in America. So after it began to tip the families just almost disappeared. We now have a census of about ninety percent black in the city. I'm getting ahead of the story, though.
Dr. Brooks came in in '75 and was a new superintendent, was hit with this court order and there was a lot of upheaval and a lot of things. Oh, and you had the first election, had a new Board and so forth. It became very evident from the start that he was not a competent superintendent, number one, and that he did not believe in—when I say believe in, I mean as black people do—in the ability of black children to achieve. He wasn't dedicated to that. He himself lived in the county and sent his children to county schools. I think that says a lot. I was not ready, at the end of two years, to cancel

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his contract, because there had been so many things going on. And then I think a person deserves a chance. He needed to get to know us and to understand us. Oh, I left out a very important point. During this election that took place—had taken place in October—he came in in April, the court order was in July, and he had a board election in October. All of this within the same year.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
And, just to clarify, this was 1975?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
1975, exactly. We went from a board of six, four of whom were white and two were black—that's how he came in—and a white superintendent that he was working under to succeed. We went to a board of five, four of whom were black. See, the blacks took over in the election. I don't know whether it was because white people had not caught up with the fact that the city board was going to be elected, just not give themselves up to it, or black people were so anxious to get in that we moved ahead. But we did sweep the elections and got four blacks in and one white. So that was a lot to come into a new situation and have your whole school structure changed and a whole school board changed.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
All in one election, too.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
That's right, absolutely. So I thought we could work together. But, anyhow, we soon found out that it got worse instead of better and there was no alternative but to let him go. We were giving our time, we didn't earn any money. We got the princely sum of 25 dollars per meeting, not to exceed three meetings per month, usually we had two, but we could have a third

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one and get paid for it. I was giving my time and my energy to make things better for the children of Durham city. And if you can't have a superintendent who's willing to do the same thing you just can't stick with him. I was the swing vote on that. There were two for him and two against and a lot rested on the way I went. I finally made up my mind that—well, there were a number of things that I just won't go into that helped decide it. In 1978 I became chairman of the Board. This is an aside. You're talking about school, but you're also interested in the women's movement. Usually, the new chairman is almost a perfunctory item you mention they had the elections, because you organize the Board every year in December, although you don't have elections every year. So when this happened and I was elected chairman there was a big blow-up in the paper the next morning. They actually called eight or ten prominent black citizens to ask them what they thought about it. It looked like they couldn't believe it and couldn't understand it. This was the first woman and then to have a black woman coming in as chairman. I mean, it was just such a totally different reaction. Fortunately everybody was very kind in their comments and so it sort of died down. That I thought was definitely asked for. Anyhow, the next year his [the superintendent] contract expired and we chose not to renew his contract. We told him in April, because you're supposed to make your reappointments by April for July 1. The fiscal year ends June 30. That was really the most unreal situation I have ever been caught up in. The papers really crucified us at that time. I had been going from a

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very sheltered, protected [Laughter] position, situation, into something like this, where when you answered your doorbell somebody thrust a microphone in your face and said, "Why did you fire Dr. Brooks?" Well, we didn't fire him. We chose not to renew his contract, which is a difference. And that's why some of them said to let him go and pay him off. I said, no, I wasn't going for that. I was going to wait and let it go. I said, no, he's a person, he's a husband, he's a father, he has a family. We're going to do it in the best possible way for him. That went on a long time.
At that particular time—here again I had not come to the place that I realized that there were black superintendents out there. I hadn't had any reason to. But as we began to advertise for a new superintendent it began to be evident that there had been a great change since 1975. This is four years, and that there were not only a lot of black applicants for the job, but there were good highly qualified people for it. As I said, this is after we had done what we did with Dr. Brooks. We were beginning to get these applications and I began to look at some of the black candidates. [Interruption]
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
We began the interviews, we narrowed it down to five people to invite for interviews. They came. We did the first, the second, the third, and the fourth, and there was no great feeling that arose from the Board about anybody. The fifth person that we introduced was Dr. Cleveland Hammonds. His resume didn't look that much better than anybody else's. We had our interview with him which was about three hours. And as I sat

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there and thought to myself, this is the man. I had said to the Board as we went into the meeting, "Will you please stay afterwards, we need to agree on a date to meet again." This was the fifth interview and the agreement was that if we did not select someone from the five we would go back to applications and select another group to invite for interviews. So I just wanted to be sure that we could get together on a date. I'd already started talking about another set of interviews. I said, how can I convince these people we've got to have this man. He is just what we were looking for. This is going through my mind, and at the end of the interview—they had set up a table of refreshments, we were meeting in the library of one of the schools—and I got up and walked over to the table. I was thinking, all these thoughts were running through my mind. And the one white member who was on the board who was a CPA here and had always been very nice to me although he's known as a very conservative reactionary person. I sat next to him and asked him lots of questions because I knew nothing about finance, public or private. He would always take time to explain things to me and I learned a lot. And I found another thing. I was not afraid to ask questions, the men were. They would not ask questions. I learned this. But when I'd ask a question, they'd listen. [Laughter]
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
For the answer.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
They were learning too. This man, and this is what was so significant—because he was the one white on the Board and a very conservative man and he had fought the Board about

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Dr. Brooks going, he was one of the two who was for him—he came up behind me and said, "Josephine, let's go with this one." Well, I couldn't believe my ears. Then somebody else came up and said, "Well, I think we've got our man." All five were in agreement! I mean it was instantaneous and unanimous that this was the man for the job, that we wanted.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
Would you take a minute and describe—because I'm struck by that scene that you just outlined—it must have been something in the way that he came across . . .
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
It was.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
Could you describe what qualities you felt at that time?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
He's very quiet and unassuming, low-key, so that you don't expect very much. But when he started talking his answers were right. Every answer was right. You just couldn't believe that he was what you wanted to hear. We had begun to go down terribly from a high prestige system when it was a white—when we had white and black. Both systems were higher prestige. Hillside was one of the outstanding black high schools in the nation. Kids left here and went to Ivy League colleges and so forth. The same with Durham High. It was one of the great systems in this state. It was known. So here, now, we had gone down in prestige, our scores are falling, discipline is a problem, people are afraid to go into the classroom. I'll give you an example. We had a problem with vans parking in front of the high school, wildly painted, all kinds of scenes on the outside. Of course, you couldn't prove anything, but you'd be

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willing to bet, almost, that they were drug dealers and they'd be around the high schools. We asked Dr. Brooks over and over and over again to get rid of those. "I'm working on it, the police are trying, we can't do anything with it." The school yards were dirty, they were littered. The neighbors were talking about a Durham High School and this was the pride of white Durham. And now here it is dirty and littered. Worse than that, we had white parents who came to us during the year—I remember one minister represented a lot of people—came to talk to us about the safety of white girls. My answer to them was, we are working on this. We will have a school that is safe for any girl of any color to walk down the halls. It's going to be safe for all of them. If you know anything about education, the Teacher's Association is a very strong organization, it's really a union, that's what it is for all intents and purposes. You cannot fire someone just because things are not going the way you like. We had a principal at Durham High who could not cope with this situation. The superintendent could not cope with it. Getting both of them out of office took a great deal of time and strategic planning and that sort of thing. It turned out that this white principal, who had been there a long time and was highly respected in the community, became ill and just sat in his office. So there was a void there. Yes, we had some bad boys who were there. We had kids who were out of control. But when you don't have any adult presence . . .
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
Who is in control?

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JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Exactly. They move into the vacuum. And it was true. I understood. There was some pretty bad situations going on and I didn't deny this. But resolving the situation and getting out of it was something else. I told everybody, I said, I'm not willing to accept the fact that Durham High School has to go down the drain simply because it's become black. We can keep the high standards that we had. In fact, I'm not going to let this happen. Well, we eventually worked it out. We promoted this principal to a position in central office. And he came with his lawyer when we first started talking, and that sort of thing. But we finally sold him on it. I think he was getting sicker by this time because he had only been on that job about two or three months when he collapsed and became ill and eventually died. We were looking for somebody to do these overt things, things that the public was looking at as well as bringing up academics. These were the things that you would normally look for in a superintendent. In his own quiet, reassuring manner, he [Dr. Hammonds] assured us that he could take care of these things. He could handle it. He had been cited by the Michigan legislature for doing these things. He had a belief in black children that they could learn, that they should learn, that there should be discipline and order, that no learning can take place before you establish discipline and order. These were the things that we all wanted. He just spoke every answer, as I said, flowed out of him. You just believed him. We hadn't heard this before from any of the candidates. He turned out to be as good as his word. The school hadn't opened before he began to get those yards

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cleaned up. The vans disappeared. Durham High didn't turn around then, not until we got another principal and the superintendent had been here a year or two. But when he got a principal that reflected his image, this is what happens. The superintendent sets the tone and it goes down, principals and so forth. He turned that school around so that there were articles in the newspaper about it and the neighbors began to talk about the way the children walked through the neighborhood and had respect for the neighborhood and themselves. It was just the kind of thing that you read about in big cities when people turn it around. So we all went with Dr. Hammond. Then the papers started, the press started up again, because they were sure that we did this to get a black superintendent. However, in time, there were two things that bore us out. And I always told Dr. Hammonds, I said, "I will always love you Dr. Hammonds because you bailed us out." [Laughter] If we'd gotten a black superintendent and hadn't done well, it would've been too bad. The former superintendent went to another county. They came up and had a site visit and talked with them and they asked me to come in and talk. I told them, I said, it may be that he will work better with you than he did with us because we were a predominantly black system and black board and he couldn't deal with that. He was going to a different county altogether. But, you know, it didn't work out. We began to get articles from newspapers. People would go down there on the coast and they'd pick up newspapers and bring them back. They got to the place where they had to have a sheriff in their meetings. They finally

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bought his contract before it expired. Paid him off, paid him $75,000 and let him go. Between what Dr. Hammonds did and what Dr. Brooks did down in Brunswick County, I think we were vindicated in our opinion.
It was interesting, this summer, or the spring rather, when they hired Dr. Faison, that not one word was said about a black superintendent. Dr. Hammonds was the first black superintendent in the state of North Carolina. So that was a big thing and we took the heat on it. We came out well simply because he delivered. He did what he said. That's why we hired him. The single most important thing a board can do, any board can do, is to hire a competent executive. A lot of board members think they're supposed to administer the organization and you don't really. You have an executive, a superintendent if it's schools, your manager if it's a county, and so forth. I guess you might say I grew up politically during that crisis. Of course my husband almost had heart failure [Laughter] , a stroke, it really did him in to have these things going and what not. But I grew stronger under it and it just substantiated all that I believed in. That we should do and that we must push forward, and education still looms large as the number one solution. I mean, it may not bring about integration, but education of itself, I think, is a solution for any people, particularly a democratic society must have an enlightened populace. I'm very disturbed at what's happening with our young people today. It's ironic that with opportunities opening up we have more young people dropping out of school than ever before. It was a pleasure to work with Dr. Hammonds. At the end of ten

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years I felt that I had made my contribution. The last five years had been very intense as chairman of the Board. They [the board] had had chairs who worked. I was not working at that time. You were available to go places and do things and recommend them, so they called upon you more and more, and it got to be like a regular job. In fact, it cost me money because I wasn't earning any. I was around with women who made very good salaries, the women administrators and so forth. This was another thing, Dr. Hammonds advanced women. He even sent a group of women administrators from the central office over to the Institute of Government for an assertiveness course. He had no problem working with me, because I asked him flat out if he thought that would be problem for him. No, it didn't seem to matter with him. So, as I said, the two seem to go together. You can't be against discrimination based on race and then not be against discrimination based on gender, it seems to me, or for whatever reason people are basing it upon.
After the end of ten years I thought perhaps I had made my contribution and I had given what I could give. I decided to retire from the Board. I had given ten years. I think you do get to that point, you can stay on too long. There's a time at which you feel you need to move. I came out in December, but I had announced this earlier in the fall. I was 65 and that was another thing. I said, well, this is the time for people to retire, retire while I'm ahead. Moving out to the Board of County Commissioners, Eleanor Spaulding was the first one [black woman]. She was the same Eleanor Spaulding that was the founder of Women in Action. She

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ran for Commissioners, and she was on the Board roughly the period that I was on the Board of Education. She was the first woman, black or white. They hadn't even had any white women on the Board of County Commissioners. You talk about a good old boys' network [Laughter] that is it. Hidden but, you know, carrying on their business very much out of their vest pockets. That has changed now a great deal. Women and blacks have really opened up government in Durham County, as I imagine they have other places. Eleanor announced that she would not run, and the Durham Committee [on the Affairs of Black People] asked me if I would consider running for that seat. Well, it's like an old fire horse, it is the [inaudible] [Laughter] My husband told one of the children on the telephone, he said it took your mother all of five minutes to make up her mind. [Laughter] And I said, "Well, I think I'd like to do it," and found out maybe I wasn't as old and decrepit as I had thought. I filed and ran. The county election is partisan, so you have to have a primary, a Democratic and a Republican. At that time, a Republican primary was a rarity. You hardly had any Republicans running, you certainly didn't have more than five. You only have to have a primary if you have more than five, because you can only have five candidates since there are five seats. On the Democratic side you would have as many as ten or twelve people running, so you would have to have the primary to bring it down to five. I used to hear my father say, back in Atlanta when he was fighting to eliminate the exclusiveness of the Democratic primary—and nowadays when I tell people that when I first voted, I couldn't

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vote in the Democratic primary, now I run in it, they can't believe that—he used to say, the Democratic primary is tantamount to election. Therefore if you elect out of the Democratic primary, you don't have any vote because when you get to the general election in November—and the South at that time, you see, was solidly Democrat—the election was a mere formality. You didn't have any Republicans running. I've seen that change just in the last four or five years.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
Oh, right.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
You know the whole state is changing. It's reflected itself here. The general election is now getting to be as important as the Democratic primary. You're running all year, for a two year term.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
This is Kathy Nasstrom interviewing Josephine Clement, a second interview, on August 3rd, 1989. We're going to finish up with issues when you were serving, as you currently are, on the Board of County Commissioners for Durham County. I'd like to pick up from where you left off last time.
Following up on your interest in education and talking about the city-county school merger issue. I'm wondering if you would talk about your position on that issue, given that you had been on the Board of Education for ten years. And then if it's changed over time in the last few years that have been so important for the issue.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Yes, Kathy, there has been a definite change, a very gradual but almost an inescapable change in that during my ten years on the Board of Education I had one point of view. I was very, I guess I was almost chauvinistic about the city system. Now as a county commissioner I have a broader view, a different perspective. We see the two systems as being a unit as far as funding is concerned. The county is the funding agent for both city systems although their own elected boards are the policy makers. From that point of view I began to see the problems of financial support. Children are the same throughout the county. They have needs, they must have an opportunity to develop themselves to the best of their capabilities, so that they can take their places as responsible and productive citizens. And so my view has broadened a bit, well, I'll say a lot. For instance, in the matter of funding we know that the

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city has a very small—the city school district, I should say—has a very small tax base as opposed to the county school system. Now this probably is becoming increasingly true throughout the country, but it is particularly true here in Durham County because of the Research Triangle Park. Also, because we had a very severe urban renewal program which tore down homes and businesses and what not, and hastened the flight to the suburbs so that the shopping centers and so forth are outside the city. By not moving the city district lines to keep up with the city governmental lines—they are not coterminus—we don't even get the advantage of the shopping centers and businesses like that, that are all on the outskirts of town. There is a vast differential, something like 149,000 yield from one penny in the city school district up until 585,000 from one penny in the county school district. That tells you something about the extraordinary disparity there. Then, of course, along with this change that we've had throughout the country in demographics, we find that our inner cities are now filled with poor and by black people. The poorest element in our cities are very often in the inner city and that is a euphemism very often, whereas the more affluent people, the middle-class people, white and black, live in the suburbs. And I say that because there is a definite correlation between socioeconomic level and achievement levels. Children just must have support and guidance and direction from their parents. Parents who themselves are educated and have sufficient funds to provide a good living can offer their children more and do offer more, whereas the children

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of poor parents are most disadvantaged in this respect. They have no books and things like that and so it further compounds the problem.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
I'm curious too about the merger task force. And I have to say that I haven't been able to figure out when that group began meeting. Was it in late '87?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
No. Let's see. It began in '88, about May, following the budget planning sessions of the Board of County Commissioners. Our fiscal year ends June 30th. At the beginning of the planning session, say about March or April, when we were setting goals to decide what we wanted to do and where we wanted to be, so as to direct us and the expenditure of funds, it was found that education was a top priority for all the Commissioners. We were in total agreement that we needed the best educational system that we could provide. Then the discussion turned to whether we were actually getting the most from our money in the present set-up. We were interested in the delivery of educational services in the most cost effective manner. So that of course led to the problem of the two districts, one very large and one very small, and whether this indeed was an effective method of delivering educational services across the county. From that the chairman, William Bell, appointed this committee—or we all did, but he broached the idea—and we came up with forty-one organizations, they applied for places on the Task Force, and we tried to get a broad spectrum of the community, geographically and in point of view of interests and so forth. From this the task force was set up.

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Each person on the task force representing in turn hundreds of other people from their organizations.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
Right. In your watching the task force deliberations and that sort of thing, that your position of the issue changed, or was it actually prior to this, say in your first couple of years on the Board.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
It changed gradually as I got into the funding. Of course as a school board member you go to the Board of County Commissioners asking for money and you begin to—you understand something about the funding mechanism. But your point of view as a county commissioner is totally financial and also it's looking at the county as a whole rather than at the city school district. If you say, this is your district, then that's what you're going to concern yourself with, of course. As a county commissioner we are elected by the total county population, we don't even have districts, we're at large. So you have to broaden your horizon to look at the whole county.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
In terms of your original position in favor of keeping the schools separate, and am I right in saying that you would have shared with many, as I understand in the black community, including people from the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, their sense that it was important to retain control of the schools, the community influence. That you, let's say living in this neighborhood, would know what was going on with the school children in your area, know those teachers, those issues about being in contact on a regular basis?

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JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
No, I didn't convey my opinion. It was a sort of an unspoken, shared belief. You have a shared system of values in a community and that existed. And I have not shared this with anybody else. This is really not for the public, because I have not totally come down on either side of the merger issue and I'm trying to keep an open mind, I'm trying to hear both sides of it. But I am telling you how I changed from the time I was a school board member to being a county commissioner member. I do have a different point of view at this time.
I will say this—and I do say this publicly at this time—some changes are in order. They need to be made. We have to do something about our disadvantaged children, white and black, and I say our poor children, regardless of race. We simply cannot afford the luxury of a large, growing under-class. And here in the Research Triangle Park we have a thriving community which is growing, and we have a community mired in abject poverty which unfortunately also is growing. If you pass by the homeless shelter you can see these people. When they put them out in the morning they have nowhere to go and they just hang around waiting for it to open again at night. This is no kind of life. The prisons are full, the social services is up to its neck trying to help people. It does not make for the kind of community that I think we want, that we ought to have. Helping people to get a good start in life builds a strong community and is also cost-effective.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
In the long run.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
In the long run. Sure it is.

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KATHRYN NASSTROM:
Along the lines of your—and maybe it's best to say evolving position, because you haven't come down firmly—is there a way . . . I suppose the question would be, do you have a vision, how the merger could take place, in a way that would satisfy your concerns and then what would that be?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
At present I am concerned that every child in Durham receive an opportunity, an equitable opportunity. I look at foreign countries, even the communist countries, seem to be ahead of us in this aspect. They recognize their most precious resource is the young people. They recognize that education is important, an enlightened populace is very important, and in this society, I think it's more important in a democratic society. We perhaps have bent over backwards in allowing people free choice in some areas. In other areas now we're going to pull in from free choice. [laughter]. But I think the sixteen-year old is hardly in a position nowadays to make a lasting decision about his future because he simply is not able to cope with this system we live in. He can't earn a living even if he should get a job and make a minimum wage, you can't live on a minimum wage. We have not only the people that are unemployed and unemployable, but we have a large group of working poor. And I think this is the greatest tragedy of all, people who work hard, all day, every day, and still can't earn a living. That's most unfortunate. I think it's like your child. You would not permit your child to make decisions before he was capable of making those very important decisions, to say, "You go out there in the street without looking and a car will come and hit you." You have to be

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absolutely sure that he can negotiate his way across the street before you let him, because there's too much at stake. And I think this is the way it is with our sixteen-year olds. All they're able to do is to replicate themselves, which they're doing. Saw a young mother in the library the other day who became angry with her child who was just standing up in her stroller, and reaching up and grabbing her mother's papers. She took him and pushed him back down in that stroller, and I said, "Ah!" I made a noise and I think I frightened her, and I went over to her and I said, "My dear, you cannot treat your child this way." And I talked to her and she seemed to be very surprised. But I doubt that she's ever had anybody to talk to her like this. A mother she was not. No idea. Well, I feel sorry for that child. We all know it's predictable, what's going to happen to him. He's not going to get very much from her, because she's not capable, she doesn't have it to give. This is what we're dealing with. I think there's too much at stake here to leave it to chance. In this society, right here in Durham, there's a lot you can do if you are literate and if you are skilled, and there is a very good place, a community college where you can go and get that skill. But if you don't have it you are lost.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
So the education issues lead for you directly into the job issues?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Oh, I think so. There was a time that you could work if you were strong and willing. I remember when we came to Durham, Pettigrew Street, Pettigrew and Corcoran was the corner

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where men stood if they wanted to work. Somebody would come by with a truck and get a load of men to work that day. Not very satisfying or rewarding work to be sure, but it was work. But now you have to have some skill to do almost anything. Went to a department store the other day to get a wedding gift and gave them the name and the date of the wedding and she punched a few keys and the young lady's name came up and all of her patterns and what she had and what she needed. Just in a department store you might think that's not particularly skilled labor, but you need to know how to do some computer work, so you have to read, you have to write. Literacy has taken on a new meaning. When I grew up and knew the word "literacy," it literally meant to read and write your name. That was about it, that was all you needed. But now there's so much more that you need to be considered literate. I consider myself computer illiterate, because I don't know anything about computers. They are just a vital part of our world today. But, my children and my grandchildren do, and that's the important thing.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
Have you found, then, in your now I guess about three years or four on the Board of County Commissioners . . .
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Five. It's five this month. I started in '84.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
I guess I was thinking it was '86, but then you were appointed . . .
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Well, we run every two years. The election was that year. I was appointed in August, but the term's '84, '86, and '88. Those are the three terms. I'm in the third term now.

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KATHRYN NASSTROM:
Have you found that that's been a vehicle through which you've been able to work on the concerns that you have? Has it been effective in that sense for you and what you're hoping to accomplish?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Yes, it's been fairly satisfying in that respect. Not totally of course, but I've been able to do some of the things I've wanted to do. First of all, I am continuing my interest in education because we do fund education in the county, and also because I am the liaison person on the Board of County Commissioners to the two school systems, so that I feel that I am still involved in that. Other things that we have done, have been perhaps in the area of employment. Here again, this is very important. I think everybody should have the opportunity to work. Whatever that society demands of a worker, we should train the person for that so they can work. Our system somehow has gotten off-track so that we don't encourage people to work and to prepare for work. Our welfare system is skewed to a great extent. So many people who have slipped between the cracks and what not. One of the things that we've been able to do is to help the racial imbalance in employment. We are an affirmative and equal opportunity employer. When we came there—well, let me say that we came in August, but the current manager was retiring as of that term, December we had to hire a new manager—up until that time all of the people in administrative positions were white men and all of the people in staff positions were white women. That's the way it was. I've very happy to say we have a much better mix. We have a good mix of administrative people who

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are men, women, black and white, and the same is true on the staff. We think it's more representative. We made the motion for the MWBE, which is the Minority-Women Business Enterprise Act. Now of course the Supreme Court struck down the Richmond Plan and things are a little bit in limbo. This is a peculiar Supreme Court. Nobody seems to know exactly what they're talking about in any of their decisions. I think in essence—and the lawyers have been discussing this, they don't seem to agree—but in essence it seems to come down to the fact that you cannot presume that there was discrimination. You have to prove it. It's one of those things that everybody knows and hardly anybody can prove. But it was a way of life in the South. Before that the total effect, the end result, was taken to be proof. If you had no black people but you had a pool of black people there, you could assume that they were denied work in those areas. So we are attempting, though, to put together some kind of history, which you're having to do to try to attempt to prove this. But at any rate, we've been very successful in getting purchasers and contractors, vendors of various kind, to agree to open up to minority and women. Women are not strictly speaking, we are not a minority, we're a majority, but it falls in the same category with those who have not been hired. We've had some pretty good results there. Maybe not what it ought to be, but it takes awhile to bring about a change, and people up there are cooperative.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
Along those lines, because I have read about the ordinance for encouraging minorities in business, I came across

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an interesting reference to the county creating, in 1987 I think it was, a women's commission?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Yes.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
And I take it that was more to study issues?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Right.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
But if you'd say a little about that?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
That is really not, I'm not sure it has worked out as well as we hoped, but it's in place and that is very important. I made that motion also for the establishment of a women's commission. There is a state commission, North Carolina commission, and then each county is supposed to have one to determine the needs of women in that particular area, to make a needs assessment and to make recommendations to the County Board of Commissioners as to what they can do to help the plight of women. In essence I think that is about—it's a little nebulous there. They are meeting regularly, they've not done an awful lot, but they are organized and in place. They've had some problems getting started. They've had their own internal problems, but I still have hopes that it's going to function, perhaps even more than it's doing now. They do sort of ceremonial things. It's amazing, the people you find who are against these things. You'll find black people who find some arguments against rights for black people, you'll find women who are against progress for women—we don't need any or what not. We've had a lot of that to overcome. The younger women on the whole, however, are very aggressive. They're ready to move

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forward and I just think we're going to do a little bit more than we've done already.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
Will the commission in the end come up with a set of recommendations?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
They're supposed to. This is what they're supposed to do. For instance, I'll just use the example of battered women. Suppose there are no facilities in the county for that. They're supposed to keep up with the needs in the county and make recommendations to us. They've not really come up with very much along that line. Their own internal organization seems to have taken most of their time and their energy. But that is exactly what they're supposed to do.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
So then it's hard to say at this point what will tangibly come out of . . .
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Right. I have hopes though.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
Good. Because I've found bits and pieces, in terms of references, during my research, but then it sort of disappears from the . . .
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
I think that's why. They're not doing very much now. During women's history month, they had a program and they gave an award to an outstanding woman. As I said, they were mostly ceremonial things. This is important too, because there is a lot of hidden resistance to this sort of thing.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
On a more general level, then, I'd like you to talk about any other issues that have been important to you in your time on the County Commissioners Board.
Again, in the senses of has the Board been a good vehicle for your interests?

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JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Right. Education, minorities—and that means in this area mostly blacks, we don't have a lot of other minorities—and women. Those are my primary concerns. But I think also there's another large area and that is one of what you might call the humane approach to ordinary problems that I think you find more coming from women than men. Most boards that we've had in the past have been comprised of white males, men from the business community, who are very oriented toward business and the business ledger. Do the books balance and the revenue and this sort of thing. In the last fifteen to twenty years we've a slow trickle of women and people who are not entirely oriented that way. I certainly don't mean to imply that we don't need business people. We do, because running any governmental agency is big business, and you must make it function. But I think there is a humane approach also. You're dealing with people and when you're dealing with people it's a little more than numbers in a book that balance. Now we have done some things. For instance, we have a homeless shelter which is rather new among counties. It's not generally considered a function of a county. We have part ownership in this, although we've taken the lead, but with the city and with the religious community. We bought a building which was available because we had monies from our bond issue, and they are repaying us from this. The religious community is raising money also for that, and the city is paying. We were able to buy the building and get started with the program. I'm also, have just been appointed to the Board of Social Services as representative from the Commissioners and this is another area, I

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think, in which we need a humane point of view. Not that they don't have it. I don't mean to imply that at all, but I'm saying it is one of the areas that is not as cut and dried as how much money you going to put in this building and how much is this contract going to be. I mean, these are human beings. We deal with dysfunctional families, we deal with children in trouble, children without homes, who for whatever reason no longer live at home, either they left voluntarily or the parents put them out or whatever. They say twelve, thirteen, and fourteen, that age group in there. It's hard to find foster homes for them because people who are foster parents want young children who they can train and manage, and you can understand this. They don't want incorrigible teenagers who might run off in the middle of the night. And so those are problems that you have, problems of our society. We have the problem of the jail. We're being sued currently for overcrowding. I think in making decisions there perhaps we—just listening to some of the comments that some of the men make, they seem to be less than sympathetic to the plight of the inmates. At least I see them as poor. Maybe I'm a bleeding heart, I don't know, and maybe I need them to balance me off, but I see them as poor, disadvantaged people who never had a chance. Maybe like the little boy in the stroller whose mother pushed him down and who has been brutalized over the years and has grown up without any loving hand or loving family to support him and restrain him. These are really pathetic people in our society today. I don't know what's going to become of them. I

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think having a point of view to balance off some of the others is also important.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
And it seems then that you certainly consider that your role.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
[Laughter]
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
On the County Commissioners, keeping those issues before the Board.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
I do. And I'm not trying to say that I'm the only one, but you asked me about my role, and this is the way I perceive myself.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
I wonder too, because it seems that the County Commissioners would have to deal with so many issues based on growth and development in the county, that it certainly could happen that they would overwhelm the time spent and people would be coming to you with those issues. You could not choose not to deal with them.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
This is true. Right now we've had one public hearing and getting ready to have a second one next week on the public thoroughfare system. The county does not do roads, the city does streets and the state does road, but more and more the county and the city are going in together and we're planning . . .
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
The county does not do roads, per se, the city does streets and the state does roads, but we are beginning to sit with the city to listen to planning. We merged the planning department for the city and the county because this is one county and one municipality and it makes sense to do it that way. The people on a certain street who are very much up in arms about the prospect that their street might be widened for a thoroughfare. Now I know that nobody wants that to happen to them, but I think that perhaps, here again, you can be a little more sensitive to people in terms of how many hours do you need, and can we not use a road that's already here, and maybe you have to go out of your way a little bit, but would it not serve that neighborhood better. The traffic engineer on the other hand is doing his job. His job is to find the quickest way to get from here to there, and that's what he presents. And so we've had lots of people saying, "Save our trees, save our roads," and this sort of thing. I am constantly looking for a balance. I think this is the big struggle in our country today. The balance between the kind of neighborhoods and communities that people want to retain and yet being able to meet the needs of a modern society that we live in. It's very nice to have a winding street, tree-lined streets, but they don't get you very far very quickly. [Laughter] Then those same people will come back next week and say there's the worst traffic jam down there, you can't get through. So there's a balance I think you have to do. People

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like the efficiency of a big city, but they want the amenities of a rural area.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
I wonder too if the development issues—it seems to me that there could be, for your interests, a sort of double-edged aspect—on the one hand, growth could provide the tax base for some of the more costly programs that you might be interested in, and then finding the time simply to deal with this.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
Exactly. This is what I was saying. It's a balancing act. Growth is necessary. Now there's some people who say I want to keep it just like it is. This is the way it was when I grew up, and I want my children—it doesn't quite work that way. We don't have neighborhood schools, we don't have children walking down tree-lined streets anymore. You do have to face up to the fact that we live in a different society, but I think our planners can help to keep as much of that atmosphere as possible while, as you said, expanding the tax base. This is very important. It's just like a family trying to live without money. The government can't live without revenues and people cannot provide all of the revenues. We are very fortunate in Durham County in having the Park [Research Triangle Park] which is a great asset to our tax base. You're very right about that. We have also been fortunate, I think, in having some very good developers. Not all of them, and you have to learn to look and to take advice from the professionals who do these things. I'm not a professional, I'm the people's representatives. We are elected and that's different from being a professional staff person. We had a meeting one day this week to meet with a very

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large national firm that's coming here, and we're very pleased to have them. The attorney has had them meeting with the County Commissioners two at a time because you can't have a quorum. He made a remark when I left, said "You still want to maintain an air of mystery." That was not my point at all. I started off by saying to him, "We are very please to know that you are coming to Durham County and we are very happy to have you." I made that clear. But I also said throughout, "I know you're working with our funding department, and I know you're going to meet all of our ordinances and so forth." I can't say, "Yes, come on," and then they come and not meet our ordinances. I'm putting myself on the spot. I have to know first of all that they have met the P and Z Board—that's the Planning and Zoning—they have met our planning staff, and the Planning Commission. When we get a clearance from them, we know that all of these details that we can't keep up with have been attended to. I fully expect this to happen because they're the kind of company that would, but I have to put it that way, based on the facts I know. Now you take Treyburn. From the very beginning those people came into the planning department with their plans, and they said we want to work with you and we want to do it right all the way through, and when we get through we want to make sure that we've met all of your requirements and not have any problems. I think, personally, that's probably one of the best planned developments—they've been an asset to this community—that we've ever had. The idea of rezoning 5,000 acres was more than some people could take. But you know, though we spent months on this, and decided

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it was better for those people who were [inaudible] people—Mr. Sanford, Sr. who was a man I'd known and respected and admired for years. They had convinced me that they were going to have a first-class development. It's better than being with twenty-five or thirty people who may put up a hodgepodge here and a hodgepodge there. I think he's doing the same thing in Erwin Square. There's a lot of difficulty—and of course that's the city. I'm not really dealing with that. They're going to make it very difficult for developers. Well, I don't say the developers should have it easy, but you can't drive them all away. We have to have industry. That's a fact of life. We talk about jobs for poor people. Poor people suffer most in a depressed economy or when money is not circulating. The economists can tell you how many times a dollar must turn over before it gets down to the poor community and how many times they can turn it over before it goes away. If you don't have a viable economy everybody suffers, and the poor people most of all. But we have to balance this with our ecological concerns. I think everybody's an environmentalist now, whether we started off that way or not. We just didn't know. Who could not be in fear of the hole in the ozone layer and all of the things? The water problems that we have, and the sewage, and what not. I never thought about sewer beyond flushing a toilet seat, because we always had running water in Atlanta. I had to learn about septic tanks and sewers and things like that. It's very important for your future health and to preserve your streams, to preserve the purity of the water. We have very good ordinances here in Durham

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County. Among the best in the state, certainly. We want those and we want people to observe them and live up to them. This way I think you can have a good community for everybody. This is what I think we ought to have, an opportunity at least for people to rise about poverty and having to ask for help.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
What at this point does the future hold for you in terms of the County Commissioners? Do you plan to continue running for reelection?
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
I don't know how much longer. I am 71 [Laughter] , I'll be 72 in February next year. At this point in my life, I just, I don't plan too far ahead. You begin to realize the meaning of, what is it, four score and ten, and if by reason of strength. You think about these things. I'm very aware of physical limitations, and mental limitations. It varies with people. I want to be active and I want to be helpful and I want to be useful as long as I can. So I just leave it at that and I don't try to put any time frames to it.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
I want to thank you for taking the time for these two interviews with me.
JOSEPHINE CLEMENT:
It's been a pleasure.
END OF INTERVIEW