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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Josephine Clement, July 13 and August 3, 1989. Interview C-0074. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Accomplishments alongside future hopes and fears

Clement believes that her various civic roles have allowed her to accomplish some of the social change she desired, though she sees more that needs to occur and worries that some rulings coming down from the Supreme Court may not only forestall future advances but even undo what has already been accomplished.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Josephine Clement, July 13 and August 3, 1989. Interview C-0074. 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

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 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.