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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Vivion Lenon Brewer, October 15, 1976. Interview G-0012. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Adolphine Terry's effective leadership characteristics

Brewer describes Adolphine Terry's effective leadership qualities and family background.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Vivion Lenon Brewer, October 15, 1976. Interview G-0012. 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

ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
What kind of a woman was Mrs. Terry? How would you describe her?
VIVION LENON BREWER:
I think one thing that has never been said about her is that she had the most marvelous sense of humor. She let us have all of our meetings (WEC) at her house, you know, and she always sat in on them. She never went to the office. She had nothing to do with the administration of the Committee. But she always sat there, and as we would discuss what we ought to do, we'd get a little despondent about the way things were not happening, and she always had something funny and cheerful to say that would get us laughing and get us over the hump. She had a wonderful mind, and certainly there never was a more dedicated humanitarian. Until her final days her main interest was the racial problem. Of course, she did all sorts of things for the city and the state, but this was her central interest.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Did you know that a black child grew up in her family?
VIVION LENON BREWER:
Mm-hm.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
That surprised me. I went to see her a few years ago, and she told me the story about how her mother had been independent enough to bring a black child into their home and raise it.
VIVION LENON BREWER:
I remember she said, "She is a member of the household."
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
I think that's great. That explains a lot . . .
VIVION LENON BREWER:
It does.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
. . . about her concern and her willingness to abandon the traditional Southern racial attitude.
VIVION LENON BREWER:
Mm-hm.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Well, she seems to have been a great moral influence who was able to use her influence without expending all of her energies in administrative details.
VIVION LENON BREWER:
This was partly because she had a knack of getting other people to do things.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
She really did. As I travelled around this summer, I found letters from Mrs. Terry in every collection, lighting a fire under somebody saying . . .
VIVION LENON BREWER:
And if some problem would arise, she'd go right to the phone and call someone, you know. "Let's get them to do something." And I remember a few times--not too many, but a few times--when she entertained people in her home during the time of all this crisis, anybody saying to her, "Why, Adolphine, I wouldn't want them in my house." She said, "You use everybody you can." (Laughs)