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Title: Oral History Interview with Phyllis Tyler, October 10, 1988. Interview C-0080. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Tyler, Phyllis, interviewee
Interview conducted by Myers, Terri
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 104 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-02-16, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Phyllis Tyler, October 10, 1988. Interview C-0080. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0080)
Author: Terri Myers
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Phyllis Tyler, October 10, 1988. Interview C-0080. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0080)
Author: Phyllis Tyler
Description: 86.1 Mb
Description: 26 p.
Note: Interview conducted on October 10, 1988, by Terri Myers; recorded in Raleigh, 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: In cooperation with the "Raleigh's Roots: An Oral History of Raleigh's African American Communities" Project
Raleigh Historic Properties Commission
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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An audio file with the interview complements this electronic edition.
The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
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Interview with Phyllis Tyler, October 10, 1988.
Interview C-0080. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Tyler, Phyllis, interviewee


Interview Participants

    PHYLLIS TYLER, interviewee
    TERRI MYERS, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
TERRI MYERS:
I'm interviewing Phyllis Tyler on October 10, 1988 in her home in Raleigh, North Carolina. She has now moved to Baltimore, and we were led to you by Ms. Vivian Irving. I don't have the same kinds of questions that I would ask others about the community, but I guess would just start by asking you when you moved to Raleigh?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
In 1952.
TERRI MYERS:
You lived here in 1952? What brought you down?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
My husband joined the new student sanitation committee when it was first formed. He was an environmental scientist.
TERRI MYERS:
Oh, and he is Lloyd?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Lloyd Tyler. He was trained as a chemist.
TERRI MYERS:
Lloyd Tyler. He's an environmental scientist, and he worked with…
PHYLLIS TYLER:
He works with what is now called—I can't remember the name now, they changed the name a number of times—but he had worked from the beginning for them except for the years when we moved to Gaza.
TERRI MYERS:
Now, I had a note that you are a Friend. Do I understand correctly that it's part of your church related activities that you became involved with the civil rights movement?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
No, I think we've always been involved. Tomorrow night, in fact, the ACLU is giving us with an award, which we

Page 2
don't deserve. [Laughter] I don't know why they gave us one. But I can remember as a child, when I was fourteen years old, picketing my father's mines when they wanted to start a union in northern Minnesota. At the same time Lloyd was down there. His father was voting for Debs and for Norman Thomas. So it's sort of something that's innate in both of us, I guess.
TERRI MYERS:
You were picketing your father's mines?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
My father ran mines in northern Minnesota. When the IWW came in there, it was the end of the world, except that it wasn't. They thought at that time it was adolescent rebellion, and it probably was.
TERRI MYERS:
At that time you were fourteen?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Yes.
TERRI MYERS:
And you were picketing your father's mines in northern Minnesota. That's funny. In Arizona, I guess I was there on vacation, I saw an interview with a Wobbley.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Oh!
TERRI MYERS:
The mines there. I just thought it was real interesting.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
I think they're hiring right now.
TERRI MYERS:
I think so. In the mines there, the big open copper mines.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Iron mines, when I was [growing up].
TERRI MYERS:
So you said that was the first…
PHYLLIS TYLER:
I guess it's been in our blood. I became interested because of this that was in me, in what other people were doing. I investigated the Quakers and joined the Quakers and met my

Page 3
husband, actually, at a Quaker Meeting in Minneapolis. I trained as a social worker and worked with family services in Minneapolis.
TERRI MYERS:
You joined the Quakers in Minneapolis?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
I joined the Quakers in Pleasantville, having known my husband. I didn't just join on my own.
TERRI MYERS:
Okay. But, that's where you met your husband?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Yes.
TERRI MYERS:
After you married, you came to Raleigh primarily because of your husband's job?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
No, there was a period in there, they were formative years, when young people were involved in what they called the Blessed Community, I guess. The idea that if people got together and worked together, they could change the world. So we were members of that. One of them is in Celo, North Carolina.
TERRI MYERS:
In where?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Celo, North Carolina, the mountains of North Carolina.
TERRI MYERS:
Oh, I've never heard of it. Would you spell the name please?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
C-E-L-O, near Greensville. We came there with our friend Harry Abramson, who is a chemist, and who worked in Chicago for the national cooperative. We bought land there and lived there five year, but it was very difficult living. We had three children by that time. So then when this job opened up in Raleigh and they needed chemists, Lloyd came.

Page 4
TERRI MYERS:
So I see. You lived there for five years and tried to make a go. Was it a community?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
It was a community in which the land was owned in common. And, again, they really didn't accept us—most of us were Yankees—because we were also pacifist people who'd come from prison and from civilian public service camps to Celo. We were certainly odd.
TERRI MYERS:
But pacifist. We're talking a time period right after World II.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Yes, they had been pacifists in World War II. That's why they'd gone to prison.
TERRI MYERS:
That was not very popular.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
No, Heaven's no! Are there just wars? When you decide there are just wars, then you're over a hump. You're [unknown]. Those people decided there were no just wars.
TERRI MYERS:
I was active in the anti-war movement, Vietnam. I think it must have been so much easier. I think it must have been very difficult for people to be pacifists in World War II.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
It was, because it was a fight, they thought, to save their country.
TERRI MYERS:
It's funny, it seems that people forget, I mean we really had a long heritage of anti-draft in World War I and that sort of thing. But World War II, in some ways, negated that history.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Yes, that's true.

Page 5
TERRI MYERS:
It must have been difficult. Your husband was a chemist, and so many scientists were involved with the bomb. It must have been difficult for him.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
It was. It was very difficult.
TERRI MYERS:
Did the community have a name in Celo?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
It was just called Celo Community. The land was bought by Arthur Morgan of TVA fame. He brought a whole valley of which he said it was the most beautiful valley in the world, and it was. It was lovely there. It's changed, sadly so.
TERRI MYERS:
How has it changed?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Developers have come in, golf courses, and you know. Trees were cut down. In fact, there was so much building, that the beautiful trees, a lot of them died. There's a lot of lumbering.
TERRI MYERS:
Where is that near?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
It's near Burnsville. It's still there, and people come and stay a little while, mostly artists, doctors, who can afford, who can always find a way to make a living. Potters.
TERRI MYERS:
Is there anything there reminiscent of the time that you were living there in the community?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Oh, it's exactly the same. The fact that the community owns the land and didn't sell it outright means that it's intact.
TERRI MYERS:
So people are still living there as part of the Celo Community, but you folks decided that you needed to move to Raleigh.

Page 6
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Yes, it was very difficult because we all came for healing, a time of healing, at first with people coming out of prison. But we discovered that the world came with it, and it was hard to… Well, any community where people are living very close together, much energy is put into it. So it was hard. I say it was hard. It was wonderful. I'm using that word too much.
TERRI MYERS:
That's interesting. [Interruption] Getting back to Raleigh, you moved to Raleigh in 1952. It must have been much different from Celo.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
We actually moved into the city of Raleigh in 1954. Our youngest son was born in Raleigh.
TERRI MYERS:
You lived on the outskirts?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
We lived in what is now New Hope Village. [unknown]. And at one point, we lived on a farm in Knightdale. We were trying to buy a house in [unknown].
TERRI MYERS:
So you got this house in '54?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
In '55, actually, we came into it. It was during a golden age of education in Raleigh. Broughton High School was wonderful. The children had great teachers, some of whom are still in Raleigh.
TERRI MYERS:
Did all of your children go to Broughton?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
No, actually, this is such a long story. But we were so oppressed by the KKK, particularly our youngest son, we had to get him out of Raleigh. He was a protester against the Vietnam War, and he started the draft resistance movement in Broughton. And one night he was coming home from school, and the

Page 7
KKK came in with masks and beat him up on the stairway. At that time I was working at Enloe Park. I was the director, and I was really destroyed. He came home in terrible shape. One of the counselors came about midnight and said, "Get him up." I said, "I don't want to get him up [unknown]." They said, "Get him up. We have to tell him how to survive." These were two black men. One of them had come from an affluent family, and he said, "You learn how to survive." I never go around the corner without knowing what's on the other side. Never go anyplace without a friend with him, not even in the school in the restrooms. They alerted, the rest of that year, they alerted the janitors and [unknown] at Broughton. He said it was so embarrassing to see them watching. They looked after him [unknown].
TERRI MYERS:
He was a student at that time?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
He was a junior. No, he was a sophomore.
TERRI MYERS:
A sophomore, organizing a draft resistance. What year is that?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
He was probably fifteen, '54, probably around '60.
TERRI MYERS:
Early '60s?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Late '60s. Yes, he was born in '54.
TERRI MYERS:
He's the same age as my husband.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
We investigated the Friends' Boarding School. They said we couldn't count on anything unless you applied ten years ago. But they took him immediately in the autumn. His older brother stayed because he very much wanted to finish at Broughton.

Page 8
TERRI MYERS:
So he went his junior year, finished out his sophomore year?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
His junior year, and he went to Swartmore College. No, he went for both years.
TERRI MYERS:
The KKK actually assaulted him on the steps of Broughton High School in the late '60s.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
And the thing that was so frustrating was that when I called the principal, he said, "He got this coming to him. He was organizing draft resistance to the war. There's nothing we can do." So that was that. Our oldest son [unknown] I remember [unknown]. He came home from school at the time when the sit-ins were going strong, and was the first white male to join them. He was there, I think, for spring vacation. And in the night, one time, the KKK called me on the phone and said, "We've got him. You'll never see him again." I thought, "I can't believe this." And I got up, not knowing what to do, and was walking past his door and he was in bed in his room. It was just a scare technique.
TERRI MYERS:
It's almost unbelievable.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
I know it is when you think. When I hear people say, well, things really aren't any better, I can't believe that they said that. Because it is better. These people are safe now.
TERRI MYERS:
I think that there is a renewed effort in the Aryan Nations and all of that type of para-military, fascist activity, there's a new resurgence of it, a lot of it from the west. Maybe that's what people are saying, "Well, it hasn't changed."

Page 9
PHYLLIS TYLER:
I think economically it isn't any better.
TERRI MYERS:
What do you mean?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Blacks are not really, are not thinking about…
TERRI MYERS:
So you're saying that economically the situation hasn't changed that much for black people.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
No, I think it's changed a lot. I don't agree with people who say it hasn't changed that much.
TERRI MYERS:
As far as the…
PHYLLIS TYLER:
The prejudice, yes. A friend of ours, a young girl at Shaw, who, when I had four children, came to work for us, and then she got very sick. And was in St. Augustine's Hospital, and I was not allowed to give her blood because she was black and I was white. So, see, I think things have changed a lot.
TERRI MYERS:
When was that about? When was she at Shaw?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
She was at Shaw at the time of the sit-ins, a year before, '62. And Anne was the only white woman at the time, she was at Duke, who went to the sit-ins in Durham. The university was very upset about it. They said, "You must not ever walk home with a black." Not because you're in that much danger, but the blacks are, if they're seen with you.
TERRI MYERS:
That must have been an awfully…
PHYLLIS TYLER:
People were really concerned for her, and they tried to walk her back to the university, and they were told not to.
TERRI MYERS:
It's hard for me to have an understanding of this because I didn't live here. I didn't have that experience in my own life where I was growing up.

Page 10
PHYLLIS TYLER:
I know. It's almost like something from another time. I think it must have changed.
I'm sure it has, yes.
TERRI MYERS:
We don't have the same thing, but then we have people being shot in the marches at Greensboro.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Yes. So these things do come back up.
TERRI MYERS:
It seems like, from some of the things that you're telling me, your life, your home life, your life with your children and your family, must have been very much involved in the civil rights movement.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Oh yes.
TERRI MYERS:
How did that come about? Was this always a part of your life?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Well, it's always been. I think that that developed from the interest in the community. We'd take them to those meetings. But I think our first effort, [unknown]. The Quakers were absorbed into that church when we came. The Institute of Religion brought Martin Luther King here to speak.
TERRI MYERS:
Tell me something about the Institute of Religion. I've heard it mentioned several times but I don't know…
PHYLLIS TYLER:
It was an open forum. It was a time when there wasn't much going on.
TERRI MYERS:
We're talking about the 50s, 60s.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Late 50s, early 60s. They brought speakers from [unknown]. Humphrey, he brought Martin Luther King here. They would set a theme for the year, and then bring three or four

Page 11
speakers. I was on the Executive Committee for that one year, and that was very exciting.
TERRI MYERS:
What was it from, the Institute of Religion, was it a part of …
PHYLLIS TYLER:
It was a program that was one of the main events in the United Church. The printing was done by the Irving Press, so I knew Vivian Irving from that. I'm not just sure how it started but I think the first thing we did was integrate the League of Women Voters. There had been an order from headquarters that they were to be integrated, but Raleigh would hear nothing of it. So Vivian took two of her friends and joined, at great cost to herself. She invited us to have a meeting at her house, and the president at that time, the woman who was chairing the meeting, she quit at that point. The League membership went down by half when Vivian and her friends joined.
TERRI MYERS:
Do you know who her friends were?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
No, I'm sorry. I'm ashamed to say that I don't know. I think none of them live in Raleigh right now. But then we started on the theaters and the League, of course, was very much involved in the schools. Part of all this, my involvement—it hasn't been like Sylvia Ruby, for instance, who sat on that school board. As a representative of the school board, for years they made her stay outside. They actually had dinner meetings, and she couldn't go in until they decided everything, sort of under the table, and then she was allowed to go in. She said she always wanted to. When she was inside, she was listening to all the reasons why we can't integrate the schools.

Page 12
TERRI MYERS:
Sylvia Ruby, she was a black woman?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
No, her husband owned Land's Jewelry Store and a lot of property. She was a very influential woman in the synagogue. [unknown].
TERRI MYERS:
So she was a member of that, why did she have to stay out?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
They made rules so that people in power could say, "Well, nobody but school board members can come because we're having supper first or lunch first."
TERRI MYERS:
Why was she going to the school board meetings?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Well, the League was serving as a kind of watch dog.
TERRI MYERS:
And she was part of the League of Women Voters?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
She was a member. She went as a League representative.
TERRI MYERS:
How was Mr. Carnage involved?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
He was a member of the school board, the only black member. And she said how can he do it?
TERRI MYERS:
And they're having discussions about how they cannot integrate the school system with Mr. Carnage there as part of the…
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Yes.
TERRI MYERS:
Was he a full voting member?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Yes, but one of seven.
TERRI MYERS:
Do you recall any of the reasons that they couldn't integrate schools?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Well, it was too soon. People just couldn't understand it. These kinds of reasons. We finally found a

Page 13
wonderful way of reasoning out of that. Summer school had courses. The black schools didn't have the same kind of courses. And if a child wanted this course, say in Spanish, and couldn't get it in a black school, that was the only reason [unknown], if they lacked compulsories. [unknown] had two daughters, who are now doctors, who needed science courses [unknown].
TERRI MYERS:
We have just listed, Murphy School as the first integration, being Bill Campbell. It was the second grade, September of 1960. He enrolled in Murphy's School downtown. Do you recall that?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
I remember the time that it happened but I didn't think he was the first.
TERRI MYERS:
But you think that these two young women went to Broughton, took these science courses before that happened?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
I'm not sure. I think it was probably simultaneously. It all happened all at once. He wasn't the first I'm sure. I'm sure of that, but [unknown].
TERRI MYERS:
There are different ways to be first. [Interruption]
You remember going with Vivian Irving to…
PHYLLIS TYLER:
She was a chance-taker. But we went to all the theaters in Raleigh, went to buy tickets, and of course, we were not allowed to. There were days for black people and days for whites. The first time that we cracked it was over at the Varsity Theaters, which no longer exists, over by State College. It was just across from State. I don't believe there's anything there now. But as we were leaving, waiting to be rejected, you

Page 14
know, some very important women came by, Beth Crabtree and a friend of hers, and in front of this window, spoke to both of us warmly. I think they even hugged us, both of them. And we were let in for the first time.
TERRI MYERS:
Was it just you and Vivian at that time? Vivian told me that she thought she was the first black woman, that she was the first to integrate a movie theater in Raleigh, and she laughed. Her recollection, I think, was that the girl who was taking the tickets, whoever was taking the tickets, just didn't know how to tell her no. [Laughter]
PHYLLIS TYLER:
[Laughter] Actually it was Beth.
TERRI MYERS:
Beth Crabtree, they came by and greeted you, and that was seen.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Then we both went in, I don't know.
TERRI MYERS:
Well, as far as you know, you were the first.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
That was the first time. Vivian was the first.
TERRI MYERS:
Was there any "to do" made of it?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Of course not, it was silly. Some of the things were.
TERRI MYERS:
Do you remember the movie?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
No. [Laughter]
TERRI MYERS:
You probably were sitting through the whole movie just amazed at what had happened.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
I remember someone, one rather important black man, saying that he didn't see why his son was sitting in that dime store. Because even if they served him, he wouldn't have any money to buy anything. [Laughter]

Page 15
TERRI MYERS:
What do you do after you're allowed in? Well, those are the kinds of things, I think, when you're talking about economically, things haven't changed and whatnot. Sure, you're allowed to vote but what about jobs. That's interesting. And this was all happening about the same time.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Oh yes.
TERRI MYERS:
I knew that there was a lot of electricity in the air.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
It was exciting. It was really a wonderful time to live. We went to Washington, Vivian and I, [unknown]. It was a wonderful time to go. Now, I feel when I go, when we walked on Martin Luther King's birthday, that we were not welcome. Nobody spoke to us. There was a real camaraderie between blacks and whites in those days.
TERRI MYERS:
You mentioned in a letter to me that black and white people could be friends in a way that you don't think they can be now. Why is that?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
I don't know. I really don't. The rising of black consciousness [unknown]. I think it's good that they have to be who they are on their own.
TERRI MYERS:
I was talking earlier about black people owning property and having to get someone from the white community to sponsor them or to buy it for them. Are you saying that it's not needed now or not necessary to make that connection?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
No, and I lived through the debris. Friends of ours who were teaching at black college, like Roosevelt College in Chicago, and were asked to leave because they were white. They

Page 16
just wept. They can't talk about it yet. They felt that they had sacrificed so much and suddenly they were not welcome anymore. I don't think that side has ever been explored. It's just that suddenly the blacks were militant, and we all felt, some of us felt, that was right. But it was hard on older people because…
TERRI MYERS:
People who'd been involved in that movement for a long time before it was popular or before it was really the thing to do?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
The fact that I can't remember names is probably psychological. It was so painful at the time. I guess I just put it out of my mind. At the same time recognizing that's what it was for—the movement.
TERRI MYERS:
You lived here in Raleigh up until this past year.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Up until July of this year. We lived here thirty-three years in this house.
TERRI MYERS:
I asked that because you're saying, at this time that you're talking about in the late 50s and the early 60s, being an exciting time. People are taking risks, people like Vivian. She's going out there and putting herself on the line. You could have been arrested, the both of you.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Oh yes. But I think it was much more dangerous for blacks. Someone came in to organize a march one time, from the outside, from the Friends, Friend's meeting. He had very sharp orders. There was to be no hand holding. It was just to be very, very disciplined. No smoking, it was almost like walking in a crusade.

Page 17
TERRI MYERS:
You had to be pretty careful.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Yes, and you had to dress. You couldn't go in your jeans and your dirty tee shirt. We really dressed up. It was so different from the Vietnam thing where everybody was comfortable, relaxed.
TERRI MYERS:
That may have been part of it too. Not only do we want you to accept our beliefs, we want you to accept our appearance. Appearance was a whole part of that, that Vietnam thing. I truly believe that.
[Interruption]
PHYLLIS TYLER:
There was a special grant to build communities like this as long as it was integrated. But we weren't trying to integrate at first. Lloyd was on a committee with—five churches built that—Lloyd was on a committee, and we tried so hard to get some whites. But you had to be very brave to be one of one or two families. And they left a lot of resentment at their being there at all because the blacks needed the housing. So that was an argument that was used.
TERRI MYERS:
In Ridge Park?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Ridge Park.
TERRI MYERS:
Was it the United Church?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
The United Church and two black churches and First Baptist.
TERRI MYERS:
On Wilmington?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Yes, and I don't remember the other one.
TERRI MYERS:
And the United Church, and a Congregational Church, Pullen? And what you were trying to do there was… ?

Page 18
PHYLLIS TYLER:
The grant was given to build housing in a black area which would be integrated, and we interviewed everybody that came in. One of my jobs was to interview people.
[Interruption]
TERRI MYERS:
Like I said, I don't know how to go about it exactly the right way because I haven't had formal training in the methodology. I'm very interested in this project though. You were saying that a grant was given to build housing, and it would be integrated housing. This was Ridge Park, the community housing there. Wasn't there also a daycare there?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Yes, about the daycare, it used to be at Method and moved to Pullen. Carolyn King from United Church was one of the prime movers in that.
TERRI MYERS:
Is she related to Cyrus?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
She's Cyrus's wife.
TERRI MYERS:
But Margaret Rose Murray is running the daycare center in Method there.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Is it back in Method now?
TERRI MYERS:
There is a daycare center in Method which is an integrated daycare center.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
But isn't it out of Pullen Church?
TERRI MYERS:
I don't know.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
But isn't it operating out of Pullen? It had the name Method. I think it's still at Pullen.
TERRI MYERS:
This initial daycare center?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
The initial one was in Method but moved to Pullen Church.

Page 19
TERRI MYERS:
But it's moved to Pullam? So at least there is one, continuing that tradition. So you were involved in that with the United Church?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Yes.
TERRI MYERS:
You had said that the United Church had kind of absorbed the Friends Community?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
It had. And then there was a time when we felt that we were losing our identity, like the pilgrims. So we had the meeting. It was fine. It worked very well. We had a meeting house but when we lost that [unknown]. It's made up of largely people who come in the university and the membership.
TERRI MYERS:
Are the Friends meeting at the Women's Center on Jones Street?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Yes.
TERRI MYERS:
From what I hear from Vivian and other people on the A. A. committee, the United Church was very active in the civil rights movement. What kind of roles did the church play in civil rights?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
They had wonderful ministers who were always part of, they were the first person you called if you were black and had any trouble with the white community, like Gaylord Noyce.
TERRI MYERS:
Gaylord?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Gaylord Noyce, he got now teaches at Yale.
TERRI MYERS:
And other ministers that were…
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Carlos Kilburn was involved. He was a minister here. And I believe was here during [unknown]. We were friends of Brock Martin. They were involved with every event.

Page 20
TERRI MYERS:
When was that, the Martin Luther King? Do you recall?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
It was right at the, again, when was the Alabama? Oh, it's awful to be old! I can't remember anything.
TERRI MYERS:
It's not that. I can't recall exactly. It seems like there were all these things happening at one time, and it's hard to pin them down to a particular year.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
It was at that time when there was all this ferment. And it was exciting because people were so desperately eager to get into hear him, and there wasn't enough room, and we'd go over to the church basement.
TERRI MYERS:
Where did they bring them?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Now, we disagreed about this. I think he spoke in our church, and they broadcast his speech down to the basement. So you see, you heard it there too. Lloyd thinks he was at Broughton High. But I think he spoke there another time. But I don't know.
TERRI MYERS:
Where's the United Church?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
It's been torn down a number of years. It was a very old, beautiful church next to the Methodist Church, I believe. It was on Hillsborough Street, near Edenton.
TERRI MYERS:
Near the Edenton Street Methodist Church?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Near Edenton Street.
TERRI MYERS:
And it's torn down now?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Yes. For a while it existed as the black center. Our daughter says we're envying.
TERRI MYERS:
Does the congregation still exist?

Page 21
PHYLLIS TYLER:
The congregation moved out to a different church, Cyrus was part of that congregation, many old members in the church.
TERRI MYERS:
Cyress King and his wife? So the church still exists, the congregation still exists?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Yes.
TERRI MYERS:
And United Church, if it absorbed the Friends Meeting group here, does it have other parts to it? I'm trying to figure out that kind of a church it was?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Congregational Christian and Friends. And the Friends moved out. They were absorbed when they moved away again, and I can't think of the name.
TERRI MYERS:
Were their black members of the United Church?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
No, what happened was they just never attracted black members. So between that and the Congregational Christian Church, in the black community, we worked out an exchange for one year. Our family and Cindy Kline went to the black church for a year, and two families from that church went to the Congregational Christian Church for a year. But it didn't last. When the year was up, nobody else wanted to go. It was very interesting though. Susie stayed on for another year.
TERRI MYERS:
Susie… ?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Dr. Frank's part-German wife.
TERRI MYERS:
Fine?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Freyune.
TERRI MYERS:
Okay, so she and her family?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
She was a widow then.

Page 22
TERRI MYERS:
And you and your family? You're like the exchange family. What church do you go to?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
It was the Congregational Church.
TERRI MYERS:
Where was that?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Oh dear, it's in the black community.
TERRI MYERS:
Is it down on Bloodworth Street? Is it a stucco church down on Bloodworth Street?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
I can't remember.
TERRI MYERS:
I think that a lot of people call it Pete Wilder's church. [Laughter] I'm not sure. I'll have to look into it and see if it's Pete Wilder's church.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
They actually had a white minister.
TERRI MYERS:
Is that right? An all black congregation?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
While we were there the minister changed to a black minister, a very …
TERRI MYERS:
This is in the '60s. You're telling me that this is a very exciting time.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Oh yes.
TERRI MYERS:
A lot of people are, it must have seemed like things were changing with the federal court rulings and different things that were liberal, little successes, I guess, all along. And you must have known that things were changing. Something was in the air. When did that end or how did that end? How do you feel like it ended?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
It ended with, and I don't know when it started, it ended with the move to black power.
TERRI MYERS:
The feeling of camaraderie?

Page 23
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Yes.
TERRI MYERS:
Black and white together, and then all of a sudden it was more black militant.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
My best friends, I could say, were black, Vivian. And Vivian still is the only friend I've got in the black community now.
TERRI MYERS:
You mean living here, your best friends were black.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
I can't really say that, but my good friends were black. [unknown].
TERRI MYERS:
And Vivian is the only one who remained?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Yes. And Wilma Peebles, but our relationship was quite different.
TERRI MYERS:
Did you feel rejected by your friends or by some friends, or they moved away from having white friends?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
It's funny. It became the thing to do. And I think we could understand that, but we didn't feel rejected. We just felt that that was what they needed to do.
TERRI MYERS:
People made a conscious break?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Oh yes. We didn't make it, but they did. And I think it hit more forcefully at the time of Martin Luther King's birthday march. Where we used to start, the old capitol grounds, the auditorium, and we walked the whole way without a single black person beside us. That was the strangest thing.
TERRI MYERS:
Martin Luther King's birthday?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Yes, the rally. The last one.
TERRI MYERS:
His last one, January of this year, 1988. So marching in remembrance of Martin Luther King's birthday, you

Page 24
marched the whole way without—there were other white people involved in the march?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
No one spoke to them either. We were definitely segregated. [Laughter] And I think it's fine because I think we have to experience what they've experienced for centuries.
TERRI MYERS:
Still kind of sad though.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
It is sad, yes. I think Vivian takes chances in being our friend. [Laughter]
TERRI MYERS:
So there's no reason to stop now. I spent a lot of time at her house because her father is, we have meetings at her house. I always tell her, "Don't make things, no food." She always has something really nice, and I feel like that must be draining on her to do that. But she has us there at her house.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
It's funny to talk about this now. Suddenly one realizes that we were all risking, but Vivian took the greatest risk of all.
TERRI MYERS:
Why is that?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Well, I think she was always in danger. We used to worry about whether anyone would set fire to her building. But she was at the top level of black society, so I suppose she had protection somehow. It didn't save Martin Luther King.
TERRI MYERS:
What about her father, was her father active?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
He was very active, very outspoken. But his children out-stripped him. [And again, not for quoting, it embarrasses Vivian, I think, that her father is so [unknown]. [Interruption]

Page 25
TERRI MYERS:
Black school teachers are paid more than white in the 1800's?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Thirty-five dollars a month as supposed to thirty-three dollars a month. [Laughter]
TERRI MYERS:
That's something. How did you find that out?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
From the city directory.
TERRI MYERS:
You found from the city directory in 1888?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
That's a very helpful book. You'll probably find a lot of useful information there.
TERRI MYERS:
It think in the Architectural Historian American, Rick Matt refers to this. The city directory has the black school teachers making thirty-five dollars a month?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Again, I can't recall the exact amount.
TERRI MYERS:
Black teachers are making more money. That's interesting.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Yes, and women black teachers. I suppose because there weren't that many black woman willing to teach.
TERRI MYERS:
With the black power movement, you saw that kind of coalition between blacks and whites kind of break down. Do you think that's still the case? What do you see today? This is 1988. My son wonders why I'm doing this project. He said black people can vote same as white and there's no difference. He sees no inequities or anything like that. There's nothing to get excited about.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
I don't know because I think you have to be black to know these kinds of things.

Page 26
TERRI MYERS:
You were telling me that this break had to happen, that people needed to rely on themselves. And yet I still feel from you that there's a kind of sadness that you're not part of that or maybe can't be part of that.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Oh yeah. Well, I don't think you ever can be part of something and stay static. There's constant change. I don't know. A good friend of ours, Abraham Jones, for instance, lived on this street corner. Nobody cared. We had black guests and we were ostracized. But he lived on the street. He's a lawyer in a very fine law firm now. And he said that when he was at Harvard, he was concerned about what was happening to blacks at that time, around the Harvard area. They were trying to have some kind of protest. His roommate, who was a New York student, said, "What do you care about them? You're here." That disturbed him no end. But I think there's more of a concern that they want to be—so often you can say economically [unknown] better off. We're in bad shape economically. We're not up with the whites. That's [unknown].
TERRI MYERS:
I think that there are vast economic differences between black and white.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Of course there are, and it's incredibly problematic for children and…
END OF INTERVIEW