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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Grace Towns Hamilton, July 19, 1974. Interview G-0026. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Reaction of outgoing Urban League director to the sit-in movement

Hamilton discusses her reaction to the sit-in movement that began in the South in 1960. Hamilton was just finishing her directorship of the Urban League when the sit-in movement began. Here, she explains that although she was not directly involved in the sit-ins, she was supportive of the student's actions and "rejoiced" with other African Americans in the community at its effects.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Grace Towns Hamilton, July 19, 1974. Interview G-0026. 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

JACQUELYN HALL:
Were you director of the Urban League when the direct action started and the A.U. students were demonstrating and sitting in?
GRACE TOWNS HAMILTON:
I think that was my last year. I think it was.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did … ?
GRACE TOWNS HAMILTON:
Because I went … I get a little mixed up on which year I left. I almost have to look at my resume to remember what year I did what. But I think I left the Council and went … I went back to join the national YWCA community staff. I believe it was 1959 or '60, and that effort, that student thing started around then. But I probably was not at the League.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did the Urban League and other organizations like that respond to that departure?
GRACE TOWNS HAMILTON:
It was supported. It was very supportive.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What kind of support did they … ?
GRACE TOWNS HAMILTON:
Oh, people who were on their board made bond, organized committees to support the demonstrations sit inners when they were in jail, get them out. And …
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did all of that come as a surprise to you at all? Had you seen it coming?
GRACE TOWNS HAMILTON:
I wasn't close enough to … I can't say that I was surprised, just rejoiced. I don't remember. And I think by and large the academic black community was very supportive. Of course, the original sit in activity didn't start here. It started in Greensboro. But the students in the Atlanta University center were supported by … it was a statement of affirmation that the University community drew up in support of the student activity, of the student effort at that particular thing, which I think expressed the feeling of the academic community.