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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Phyllis Tyler, October 10, 1988. Interview C-0080. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Impact of the Black Power movement on the interracial dynamics of the civil rights movement

Tyler discusses the impact of the Black Power movement on the interracial dynamics of the early civil rights movement. Throughout the interview, Tyler emphasizes her friendship with Vivian Irving, an African American woman from Raleigh. According to Tyler, it was friendships and alliances like theirs that characterized the movement early on; however, with the rise of Black Power and a shifting emphasis on black consciousness, Tyler argues that these kinds of relationships were typically severed. Tyler expresses conflicted feelings about this, acknowledging that it was perhaps best for the movement, but also stressing the psychological impact it had on people like her who had always supported the movement, but were now left out.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Phyllis Tyler, October 10, 1988. Interview C-0080. 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

PHYLLIS TYLER:
It was exciting. It was really a wonderful time to live. We went to Washington, Vivian and I, (). 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 (). 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 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.