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Title: Oral History Interview with Guion Griffis Johnson, July 1, 1974. Interview G-0029-4. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Johnson, Guion Griffis, interviewee
Interview conducted by Frederickson, Mary
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Mike Millner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2006
Size of electronic edition: 216 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2006.
© 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:
2006-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-12-13, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Guion Griffis Johnson, July 1, 1974. Interview G-0029-4. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series G. Southern Women. Southern Oral History Program Collection (G-0029-4)
Author: Mary Frederickson
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Guion Griffis Johnson, July 1, 1974. Interview G-0029-4. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series G. Southern Women. Southern Oral History Program Collection (G-0029-4)
Author: Guion Griffis Johnson
Description: 291 Mb
Description: 57 p.
Note: Interview conducted on July 1, 1974, by Mary Frederickson; recorded in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Joe Jaros.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series G. Southern Women, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Guion Griffis Johnson, July 1, 1974.
Interview G-0029-4. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Johnson, Guion Griffis, interviewee


Interview Participants

    GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON, interviewee
    MARY FREDERICKSON, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A] [text missing]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
When we talked before, we got to right where you were going to Atlanta.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, I wanted to spend a little time talking about when you were there, if that's all right.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You said that . . . I asked about your initial involvement with the Georgia Council, the Georgia Conference on Social Welfare. And you said that Mrs. Tilly came and . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, Mrs. M.E. Tilly . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
. . . and asked you to . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
And asked me to take the job and I said that I would take it tentatively, to see how Edward adjusted, because he was uprooted from the school and from his friends here. We lived in a neighborhood of children about his age, and he was extremely happy here. And our yard was the playground for the neighborhood. Here he was isolated and didn't know any children his age and I didn't want the change to be too traumatic. I think that I told you that our older son, Benny, refused to go to Atlanta.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No, you didn't. How old was he then?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Benny was fifteen. He said, "I went to New York with you. I went to Chicago with you . . . (when he was in the second grade) . . . I went to New Haven with you. I went to New York with you, but I am not going to

Page 2
Atlanta." And I said, "All right, you don't have to go to Atlanta, but under these conditions. First, you take college entrance to go to the University and if you pass those, that's fine. And then, if Ben and Patty Warren will let you come and live with them, then you may certainly stay here and go to the University." I thought that these were impossible, at least the first one, because he was just a junior in high school. I said, "Find out when the exams will be given and if you want some coaching, I'll coach you for the exam." He came back in the afternoon and said, "Mother, the exams are tomorrow!" I thought, "Goody-Goody."
[Interruption]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, you were saying that Benny stayed here and . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, and went to school. And Edward and Guy and I went to Atlanta. Of course, Guy went in January. I did not get to leave until August, because I was teaching in the V-12 program and could not get released until that time. Mrs. Tilly asked me about December if I would take this position and it was not until February that I finally decided that I would and on a half time basis. Again, to be able to give reinforcement to Edward at home until he found some friends. And after about three months, I found that he was well adjusted and then I worked full time. And very much enjoyed the work. I edited the magazine for the Conference, called Georgia Welfare, which was a small magazine giving general information about the area of social welfare, chiefly as it pertained to Georgia. I was able to get excellent writers. The members wrote short essays for me and other leaders in national welfare work [contributed]. So that I felt that it was rather interesting. Then, we decided as a policy to go out into the communities to explain the field of social welfare, in the cities and rural areas as well. And to set up a series of meetings on community council activities, how a community

Page 3
could work together to help solve the problems of health and welfare.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How long had the program been set up before you came to work?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Well, the Conference, the Georgia Conference on Social Welfare, was an old organization. I don't recall just when it was organized, but it was in full swing when I arrived. I did not know at the time that I took the position that the convention the previous year had resulted in a fight between private welfare and public welfare.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I was going to ask you about that.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, this was one of the chief problems with which I had to cope: The conflict between private and public welfare. The organization had been set up by private welfare and had been dominated by private welfare agencies: Family Service Society, Child Welfare and the Red Cross and all the other private welfare agencies, although, of course, Red Cross is somewhat public related, and yet its funds are private and, basically, Red Cross considered itself to be a private agency. But during the thirties, when public welfare became established and money began to pour into Georgia from the national agencies, public welfare became stronger and stronger and yet the private welfare leaders would not permit any public welfare [personnel] to have any office in the Conference on Social Welfare. And the public welfare people had decided to overwhelm the Conference and had done so and elected a public welfare person, Lucille Wilson, as president of the Conference. Whereupon, the executive secretary had resigned in protest. Stories had been splashed across the head of the Atlanta Constitution and the Journal and in all the other papers of the state. It was almost a riot, the convention was. And this is the situation into which I walked, without knowing anything about it.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You said that Miss Wilson came with Mrs. Tilly to ask you . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No. Well, she did later. Mrs. Tilly approached me alone first,

Page 4
and then Miss Wilson and Mrs. Tilly again.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, what did they know about you?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Well, of course, they knew Guy, because Mrs. Tilly had been a leader in the race relations movement in Georgia for years.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You said that she had been doing a lot of the work that Jesse Daniel Ames . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Well, she had been working with Jesse Daniel Ames and she knew the southern women, because she held office in the Woman's Society of Christian Service of the Methodist Church. She held a state office and then a Southeastern Jurisdiction office. And, therefore, she set up many, many conferences through the South. She was the one who actually did the leg work for the old Woman's — I don't remember the official title of the group of women who organized for the prevention of lynching — Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching perhaps, but that name still doesn't seem quite right.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
The Association of Southern Women for . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, something like that. And she would . . . I have seen her sit down with a stack of postal cards and her list of names when she would hear of something that needed to be done, and send out hundreds of cards to key women in the South. And she used her own funds. She and Mr. Tilly had no children and he was very much in favor of all the work that Mrs. Tilly was doing. And they used their own funds for telephone calls when a threat of lynching occurred. Mrs. Tilly was a sweet little southern woman with a soft voice, small features, and she dressed like a belle. In fact, she said to me that she disapproved of my severe clothes, my tailored clothes, She said, "When you go out to do battle, you must dress for the occasion." So, she wore frilly hats with flowers and lace on them and frilly dresses and always with white gloves, and she was accepted by the sheriffs and the commissioners and

Page 5
the city councillors and . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What was his position, Mr. Tilly?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I think he was in insurance. I'm not quite sure about this, but I think that he was in insurance.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was she from an old southern family?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, her father was a Methodist minister. And it was from his teachings and her readings of the Methodist literature that she became a liberal. I went, as part of my chore on the Myrdal study, I went through all the early records of the Protestant demoninations at the office of the National Council of Churches in New York, to determine the policy statements on social issues. And I came out of that research convinced that the Methodist Church had the most liberal philosophy of any of the churches. Their Book of Discipline, which is the Bible for the Methodist Church,[is] extremely liberal. The Congregational Christian Church was the only one that came closest to . . . and it was for that reason that Guy and I came back from New York determined to break our affiliation with the Baptist Church and join the Methodist Church.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see, so you were not brought up a Methodist?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, I was brought up a Baptist. Although my grandfather had helped establish both a Baptist Church and a Methodist Church, one on one corner and the other on the next in the little town where I was born, Wolfe City, Texas. And my grandfather attended both the Methodist and the Baptist Church. But he was a deacon in the Baptist Church and so I always considered myself a Baptist.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was Guy a Baptist?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But the interpretation of the Book of Discipline in the South at that time wasn't always . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh yes, this was the conflict that we had in Georgia.
I also

Page 6
affiliated . . . well, let me go back and tell the reason that I think that I had a free hand in working with the Georgia Conference on Social Welfare.I went into the office, which had been closed since the fight in the convention, and the first chore, of course, was to clean the office. I was very fortunate in finding a secretary who had been working in the area of social welfare for years, in Atlanta. So that she knew Atlanta fairly well, especially the social welfare resources. She came to work for me, oh, the second week and together we cleaned the office and I then began to go through the files. I wanted to know what had happened in the past. And I found all this information about the fight. I immediately stopped. I didn't read all the material, and telephoned the Board and said, "I would like to have a meeting.".
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
. . . leaders in social welfare, mostly professionals. Mrs. Tilly was the only non-professional member on the Board. And the private welfare people dominated . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Although by this time public welfare people were on there as well?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. At least they had the presidency. And I asked Miss Wilson to call a meeting and said, "May I get out the notices?" and "May I telephone the Board members?" Most of them lived in Atlanta, but some were outside. And she agreed, we set the time, called a meeting and I said, "I have been going through the files and I see that there was a controversy. I stopped reading the files because I wanted to hear from you as to the nature of the controversy. I was confused as to the nature of it and I would like for you to tell me what the trouble is." I did not get any information from the Board members. They engaged in a great deal of double talk. And finally they said, "We will support you in anything that you want to do. You will have a free hand to operate this office in the way that you think

Page 7
is most advantageous for the field of social welfare: health and welfare. And we expect you to be objective, we expect you not to take a major step without consulting us first, but we will give you a free hand and we will support you." This satisfied me and I had to learn from others, my friends in Atlanta, what the fight was about. I soon learned, of course, that it was a conflict between private and social welfare. Now, this kind of conflict prevailed throughout the time that I was in Atlanta and probably does exist partly to this day.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How did the legislature fit into this? Were you involved in getting funds?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
The legislature was not at all involved.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
It was federal money?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Federal money being used for public welfare. The Georgia Conference on Social Welfare was itself a private agency, you see, supported by contributions from the members and by donations from industry. So that one of my chores was to raise the budget, but since I had some past experience in money raising, it was not any great problem to me. I involved the members of the Board in helping.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But you were going primarily to private agencies to get the money?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I wrote to the members and asked the members to pay their membership fees and to make an additional contribution, if they found it possible to do so. And then I telephoned prominent businessmen, like Dick Rich and Hal Dumas of Southern Bell and various liberal-minded businessmen and industrialist, bankers, and went to see them and asked for contributions. Mrs. McGeachin from the big life insurance company (I have forgotten the name of it. It was founded basically for blacks, but it was white owned) gave me the . . . (Next to the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, it was the largest life insurance company in the country which sold life insurance to blacks and)

Page 8
Mrs. McGeachin gave me a thousand dollars the first time I went in to see her and asked for a contribution.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, what was her position?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
She was chairman of the board of the insurance company.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Is she still around?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, she was elderly at that time and I think that she died a year or two afterwards. I picked up the telephone to call Mr. Dumas, who was one of the leaders in shaping politics in Georgia, and I dialed his number and he answered his telephone and I said, "Could I speak to Mr. Dumas?" and he said, "This is Hal Dumas speaking." I said, "What are you doing answering your own telephone? An important person like you ought to have a secretary answering." He said, "Who are you?" I told him who I was and I said, "I want to come to see you. When may I do so?" He said, "Anybody who can talk to me like that can come to see me this minute." So, I went to see him immediately. His office was just around the corner from our office on Pryor Street and we had a wonderful little visit. He knew Bill Prince,1 who was the illustrator in Chapel Hill, he had known Bill and Lillian Prince for quite well, and was delighted that we knew so many people here in Chapel Hill [with whom he was acquainted.]And he said, "All right, as long as you are the head of the Georgia Conference on Social Welfare, I will give you five hundred dollars a year." So, I found it extremely easy to raise the funds, because, as he said, "We get a bad reputation outside of Georgia, but all of us are as concerned for the welfare of the little people as you are. The only thing is that I don't want somebody coming after me with a meat cleaver telling me that I have to be tender toward Negroes and labor."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, was the Board interracial, was the membership interracial?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
The Board was not interracial until '47. I asked that it be

Page 9
permitted to put blacks on the Board. But the membership was interracial and . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And had been?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, and had been long before I arrived. Yes. Because the social workers and health people were all rather liberal in Georgia.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And were they going to liberal organizations as well as . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, yes, they were.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I mean, well, Dumas and Rich, they . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
They were members of the planning council, the Social Planning Council, which had been organized for quite sometime before we arrived in Atlanta. It was the great liberalizing force. Mrs. Tilly often said to me, "We could not do in Georgia the things that we are doing, if it had not been for the Social Planning Council." She said," I have sat on the board of the Social Planning Council and I have seen men like Hal Dumas and Dick Rich and Mr. Black from Citizens Southern Bank come in saying that no poor person deserved anything. That he was poor because he didn't have the guts to go out and work. He was lazy and he was poor because he was lazy. And I have seen in a year's time the discussions on that board and these men changing their attitudes. No one forced them to change, but facts were brought out which led them gradually to see the reasons for poverty."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And this was the first year that you were sitting on the Board that you saw this change?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, she said, "In one year's time, I saw this change in men who had been considered to be extremely conservative and anti-welfare."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, what were the facts and who was bringing them?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
The Board was usually, now this was the Social Planning Council I'm talking about, the Board was usually composed of eighteen or twenty

Page 10
persons who were key community leaders. Usually about a third were "lay" leaders in the community, and they were wealthy people.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
This was the Atlanta community, or statewide?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, this was the Atlanta community. And the rest of the members of the Board were social workers and then they had various established committies, housing and . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, is this where you worked with the roads, the expressways, Grady Hospital?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, it was through the Social Planning Council.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But this was separate and distinct from . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, from the Georgia Conference on Social Welfare. It was only when I was recognized as the director of a private welfare agency . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
That you [were] asked to sit on the Board . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
That I was then accepted by all the agencies and was put on boards. We also joined the St. Mark's Methodist Church, which was a very prominent one in Atlanta and I taught the large Sunday School Class, two hundred and fifty women. I did not want to teach this large Sunday School Class. I wanted to teach the high school children, whom I had been teaching in Chapel Hill. And Dr. Lester Rumble, who was pastor of the church at the time, said, "You can't afford not to make this change. Because these are the wives of the men who make the decisions for Georgia. You will have an approach to them that you could never get otherwise. You have to teach this class." And I found that he was right.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, was Dr. Rumble on a lot of these . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Not at any time, not while we were there.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But he was just saying this to you as advice?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
As advice. Because, after all, he knew Georgia and he knew what Guy's work was and my work and he felt that this would be extremely

Page 11
important for me to establish this rapport with these leaders.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, what facts were coming . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
As the chairmen of committies on housing, poverty in general and health would make their reports, they would point out the needs in the community. Unpaved streets within a block of the capitol, which was a slum area of the black population. The location of Negro families scattered in the core sections of the city, where the old families . . . in Ansley Park for example, on Fifth Street . . . all the old families have moved from Fifth, but at that time, there were still Negro cabins in the backyards.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right behind St. Mark's Methodist Church.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. That's right. Most of these men were not aware of this. Most of them lived out in Buckhead, which was the fashionable suburb of Atlanta at the time. And they were not aware. If they were aware of the unpaved streets and the tumbledown shacks within a block of the capitol, they looked the other way. This had nothing to do with them. But when it was pointed out that a great deal of delinquency came from that area and a great deal of disease came from that area and was carried out into the larger community, then they became concerned.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, they weren't two-faced, were they?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, I don't think that they were. I think that they were simply unaware. Of course, I think that much of their pious remarks were made with tongue in cheek. I think that was true, but, no, I think that they became genuinely aware.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, from the rest of your work in the rest of Georgia, was this group in Atlanta that was available and willing to listen and change their minds, were they different from other cities in Georgia?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Of course, I did not know Savannah, or Augusta, or Albany, or Columbus, or Thomasville as well as I did Atlanta, but we took a group of . . .

Page 12
a panel to these communities. We always had excellent response. Sometimes we had a meeting in the courthouse, for example in Augusta. And [Ray] Harris . . . I have forgotten his first name, but he was a political leader in that community and at one time I think that he was speaker of the house. I think when we went to Atlanta, the legislature had been in session. He had been very outspoken against an increase in public funds, against matching funds for public welfare and had been more or less a reactionary leader. At one time he ran for governor. When we had our big meeting on the importance of the organization of community forces through the creation of a community council in Augusta, the courtroom was filled and, as I was speaking, I saw him come into the courtroom and stand at the back and I was a little fearful, because I thought that perhaps he would throw me out. After the meeting, he came up to me and spoke to me and said, "You're the first blanety-blank woman I've ever heard who could speak loud enough to be understood in this courtroom. Hereafter, I am going to keep my eye on you." I said, "I suppose that means that I have your blessing." He said, "We'll see what that means." But he was very supportive and even gave us a contribution for the Georgia Conference on Social Welfare, but he saw to it that no community council was organized in Augusta.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
At that time, your major aim was to get community councils set up. Johnson: Or at least bring the attentions of a large group of people in the large towns to an awareness of the needs of the entire community for the general welfare, for working together to solve the problems. That was the main purpose, and if we didn't establish community councils . . . as a matter of fact, we didn't establish even one community council, but we were using this as a reason for having conferences and as a mode for the solution of the problem. You see, once you call attention to the needs of a community, you must point out several different ways that these needs could be met. So,

Page 13
this was the modus operandi.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, did they know that you had an interracial Board?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I think that most everywhere that we met . . . the first year that we met, we had our conference in Savannah, and Savannah is very conservative, much more so than Augusta, even. There was no objection. We met in the large hotel, the DeSoto Hotel I believe it was, in Savannah and the blacks came and there was no word of objection. We met the next time in . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, this was in '46?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
My first big annual meeting was in '45, then '46, '47. There was no problem in '45, no problem in '46, but in '47, [Eugene] Talmadge was running for governor. The meeting was to be held in Atlanta and I had booked the Biltmore and talked to the manager and made all the arrangements. Two weeks before the conference, ten manager called me (Mr. Byrd, called me) and said, "I'm sorry to tell you that you can't have your conference here. If you do have your conference here, you will have to tell your black members that they cannot attend." I said, "I do not think that this would be acceptable to the Board or to the membership. However, I will consult with the Board and telephone you promptly." I polled the Board by telephone and they said, "Of course we will not. We will just call the conference off and not have it this year. We know that the Talmadge political gang is stirring up the emotions against the blacks, so we think that perhaps it would be better not to have a conference." I said, "Well, you let me see what I can do, because we already have our speakers lined up. They are coming from all over the country and I would dislike very much to have to call [such a leader as] Leonard Mayo and tell him that he can't come and speak. Let me see if I can find another place in Atlanta." We explored every place that would be large enough to accomodate about a thousand participants, because it was a large convention.

Page 14
And everyone said, "I'm sorry, we can't afford to incur the wrath of the Talmadge group."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
They gave that as a reason?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. "We can't afford to. No, I'm sorry, we can't afford to." Then I went to the pastor of my own church. We had ample room to accomodate the group discussions and the attendance in the auditorium (in the sanctuary). And I told him exactly what the situation was and I said, "What is your thinking?" He said, "I, as the pastor of this church, am the sole authority for the use of the building and I say that you may have it." I said, "I do not want to embarrass you. I would like for you to get the Board of Stewards to accept. Do you want me to come and speak to the Board of Stewards and explain the situation to them?" He said, "No, you let me handle it. I'll talk to various key members on the Board and I think that it will be all right." And I said, "How long must I wait?" He said, "Well, we're meeting in three more days and I'll let you know." They said, "Certainly. She's the teacher of the Richardson Bible Class. We cannot deny the teacher of the Richardson Bible Class the use of our facilities. Certainly. And we will provide them luncheon, too."2
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, was the church protected because business interests weren't as important as for a hotel? How did the Talmadge group work?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
By pressure.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I mean, what would they have done if you had met at the Biltmore?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Well, you can't meet in the Biltmore if the management says you can't.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I know, but say the management had, what would have been the result?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Pressure would probably have been brought upon the manager and he would have lost his job. It was that simple. And probably no threat had to be made. He knew that this would be the result.

Page 15
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, were things that bad all over at that time, I mean, was the Southern Regional Council having a lot of trouble during that period, during that campaign when Talmadge was on the rampage or whatever?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
There were those who thought that the Southern Regional Council was having a great deal of trouble. I do not think that anyone on the staff felt that it was a bad situation except Mrs. Tilly. The group moved in, rented the offices just across the hall from . . . The Southern Regional Council had one entire wing of Wesley Memorial Church and there was an area across the hall that was available for renting, and it was rented under . . . I have forgotten the name of the organization, but something innocuous. But Mrs. Tilly, being suspicious, having worked with sheriffs and boards of county commissioners,had known the intricacies of Georgia politics and as the equipment was moving in, she examined the boxes and found Talmadge's name stamped on some of the boxes, and the Klu Klux Klan name stamped on some of the boxes, so that she immediately decided that this group, small group, had been sent in to spy on the Southern Regional Council and to try to get something on them. But nothing came of it. In fact, Guy didn't feel any pressure at all. [at least, he expressed no anxiety.]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, the people you were working with, were they in the same line politically as the people who were in the Southern Regional Council?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Some were and some were not.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You had a wider spectrum?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. One of the men3 in public welfare who was head of the state correctional home for boys at Milledgeville, Georgia, was very much allied with the Talmadge group and might even have been in the Klu Klux Klan. He took me to (because this was the time of gasoline rationing, he took me when we had) our conference in Macon on community planning. He came up from Millegeville to pick me up to take me to Macon for our session.

Page 16
I spoke and others spoke on our panel. In fact, he chaired the panel. And as we came back, he said, "There are some people working on the Georgia Conference For Social Welfare who are too liberal for my thinking. I wouldn't be surprised if we don't find that they are Communists. And we are going to clean them out." I said, "Please let me know first of all, because I will be interested to know. I'm not aware of any. But if you find any, let me know about it." So, this was the only time that I had any suggestion from any member of the Board that I might be a little too liberal for the Board. Although he constantly told me that he supported me to the hilt. "I'm in favor of everything that you do." But after that session on community planning, I think that he was genuinely disturbed and felt that I had showed signs of being on the wrong side.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, were there any people more to the left than you on the . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, the treasurer of the Conference was elected in '46 and was, we learned later . . . well, he was not a card carrying member. His wife was a card carrying member of the Communist Party and was a leader in the Communist Party. But he never demonstrated in any of our meetings, nor in any of his behavior that he was a CP. You know, there were some members who were permitted to be members without carrying a card and so, he was in this high category.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you remember his name?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, I remember quite well, Floyd Hunter, who later ran on the Progressive ticket against Russell for the United States Senate, and that was when we were quite sure, [about his affiliations] but in the meantime . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But you didn't know when he was on the Board that he was?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I was a little suspicious, because sometimes he would come up . . . his office was . . . he was the director of the Social Planning Council and he would come up (his office was on second floor and mine was on third) and

Page 17
he would come up to talk to me sometimes and in these . . . he was very cautious in what he said and I was likewise cautious, because I was beginning to be a little suspicious that he might be an active Marxist. He issued a Social Planning Council letter, which he sent out widely, and more and more, what he said in the letter sounded Marxian. And the leaders in the Community Chest became fearful and I was appointed . . . they were beginning to demand his ouster and I was one along with Grace Hamilton and a few others who were appointed on a liason committee between the Community Chest and the Planning Council to try to bring some kind of harmony between the two. But the basic cause for the appointment of this committee was to have a watchdog committee over him and to begin procedures for his ouster. The men employed (the board of the Community Chest) employed detectives to explore his background and they found that he. These detectives brought in information to the effect that he was not a card carrying member, but his wife was. And then he declared that he was going to run [for the senate]. ou see, they wouldn't fire him outright. They wanted him to perform some overt act. But he was arrested, harrassed by the police, arrested for speeding and [was] constantly being stopped by the police and was under harrassment. And he would often come and talk to me about it and I said, "Well, what is it in your background that's causing this action? There's something the matter or you would not be harrassed." But they were still too decent to fire him outright. They wanted to get something on him and the police were cooperating with them. When he ran for the Senate against Russell on the Progressive Party, then they said, "We do not permit the director of the Social Planning Council to engage in political activity. Therefore we ask for your resignation." I had to leave and come back to Chapel Hill before the report had come in from the detectives, but it was through Grace Hamilton that I learned later that this information had been obtained. And he [Hunter] later came to Chapel Hill

Page 18
and took his doctorate in Sociology.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, you knew him again here?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I knew him. Before he came, I had a telephone call from him in Atlanta. He said, "I have been admitted to the graduate school for a degree in Sociology. Do you have any objection to my coming?"
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, he knew that you knew?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. I said, "Floyd, why would I have any objections to your coming?" And he said, "Well, I'm not coming if you oppose it." I said, "Of course, I'm not going to oppose your coming. You've been admitted by the Graduate School. The Graduate School is the only agency in this university who can stop a person from coming. After all, you must remember that this is the United States of America." He came.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was he still active when he was here?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I think so. I do not know [as a matter of Fact.] We studiously avoided him, so that I was not aware of his activities. But he was supported by the head of the Sociology Department, who had worked with him in a study of health and welfare conditons in Atlanta. And I do not know whether Gordon Blackwell was aware of his associations in Atlanta or not. I rather expect that he was not aware.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Gordon Blackwell was then head of . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Head of the Sociology Department and our neighbor. The only information that I had about his activities [in Chapel Hill] came through the Blackwells and of course, Guy was still on the faculty of the Sociology Department, although Floyd did not take any of Guy's work.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, we talked a little bit last time about . . .
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

Page 19
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you want to go on and talk about the Georgia Conference?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Very briefly, I would like to say that permission from the Board of the Council to participate in any community activities that I wanted, that they would consider this to be a part of my routine work, because they felt that by my participating in a great many community activities, I spread the news of the needs of health and welfare in the state. So, I was active in the local council of churches and the Churchwomen United. And in the state council, I went with Mrs. Tilly to set up a series of conferences on social and economic needs throughout the state. And we would take a panel of say, three or four, and visit many places in Georgia.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, would you take social workers.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, it would be social workers, economists, professors from Emory. And we would have a panel, and these meetings would usually be held in Methodist Churches, because that was her contact, her entreé. And she would call district meetings of the Woman's Society of Christian Service and these panelists would speak. We would always have some Negro in the group, so that it was bi-racial; and we had no difficulty at all until we arrived in Gainesville, and the pastor of the church, when he saw the panel come in and saw Frankie Adams, who was a social worker in the [Futton County] Department of Public Welfare, went to Mrs. Tilly and said, "You cannot have your meeting here."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you leave?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, Mrs. Tilly said, "My meeting has been scheduled. The Woman's Society is being called and is coming in from the district. Some of them are bringing black members with them." In nearly all of these meetings, the congregation was interracial. "They are bringing black members with them and I would not embarrass them by telling them that we could not have the

Page 20
meeting here, and I would not embarrass my church."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Meaning the Methodist Church at large.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Right. Then Mrs. Tilly got a copy of the Discipline and found the section that says that the Church is to serve all mankind, both black and white, and encourages local churches to invite black members to their workshops. And we began this meeting with a preliminary statement made by Mrs. Tilly, and there was by that time a rather good audience that had assembled and there were five or six black persons in the group . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, were these members of local churches?4
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, members of local churches.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How did that happen, was it common?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
As long as Mrs. Tilly had anything to do with it, all her meetings were bi-racial.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But I mean on the local level, these people . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
She encouraged members. She visited practically every Methodist Church in the state of Georgia and encouraged spreading the Gospel, this was Home Mission, "You must communicate with the black members."[in the Methodist church].
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, what was her title?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
At this time, she was simply Southeastern [Jurisdictional] Chairman of Christian Social Relations. That was the only title that she had, as far as I know, although she had various [other] responsibilities.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But she was on the Board of the Georgia Conference?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. She was on the Board of the Georgia Conference. And I read from the Discipline, after she had made her introductory remarks, saying "This is a meeting sanctioned by the Methodist Church. And I am going to ask Dr. Johnson to read from the Discipline, which gives us the sanction to hold this meeting." The pastor of the church was fuming on the front seat. She said, "After Dr. Johnson has read from the Discipline, I'm going to ask the very fine pastor of this wonderful church to lead us in prayer."

Page 21
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What could they do, they were absolutely over a barrel.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
We held our meeting, and it was a very good meeting. Excellent participation and we were talking about social and economic issues facing the United States with special reference to Georgia. We had a man from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There was usually one who came along with us from the U.S. Bureau of Labor, with the regional office in Atlanta. And he could cite chapter and verse and make it very interesting, to show the needs in Georgia. This we did. Then Mrs. Tilly was instrumental in getting a conference on rural health organized in Georgia. We had a big conference in, the First Methodist, I believe, in Atlanta. Very well attended by many people throughout the state, and we organized the Georgia Rural Health Conference and I was made the executive secretary of the Conference. So the work was administered from our office, and we helped with getting through the legislation, getting through the matching funds for Hill-Burton. It was the implementation of the Hill-Burton Act. And in that connection, we conferred with Governor Ellis Arnold as to the best techniques to be used, and he suggested. He said, "I guarantee you that if you get groups of people coming here to the public hearings when the debate occurs on the floor, if you will fill the galleries with people from all over the state, you will get matching funds passed." Then he turned to some of the committee members and said, "How many times did you come here to public hearings to get good roads?" And one of them said, "A hundred at least." He said, "All right, come a hundred times for your rural health program and I guarantee you that you will get it passed." The first session of the legislature, he got the matching funds established. I also wrote the publicity in behalf of the bill, because I was trained in journalism too, so I handled that very easily. All this went out of my office.
Then, Albany turned to me for help in setting up a juvenile court.

Page 22
Seven year old black boys were being arrested for shop-lifting and sent to prison [central prison] for hardned criminals.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Who in Albany came . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
The Director of the Department of Public Welfare, the county director and her board supporting her. First, I went to talk to her board. They had a board meeting to get their support in behalf of a juvenile court. Then, the pastor of the Presbyterian Church, who was a very popular man in Albany, and the editor of the newspaper [Mr. McIntosh], who was also greatly beloved. We got their assistance and got the minister to chair the meeting to establish it. The city fathers and the county board of commissioners said that it was against the law to establish the juvenile court, that if Albany wanted, if the county wanted, a special juvenile court, a special act of the legislature would have to be passed in order to get the court set up and that that would take two years. This was in the winter of '47. I said, "I doubt seriously that this is true, but I will check with the attorney general and find out." Eugene Cook was the attorney general at that time and although he was thought to be a strong Talmadge man, I felt that he would be honest with me in interpreting the law. I went to see him and talked over the situation and he said, "There is no reason at all. There is no law that prevents Albany from having a juvenile court if Albany wants a juvenile court. All they have to do is to finance it, appropriate the funds and set up the machinery." I said, "Well, will you write out an opinion on this for me so that I could have it to read in Albany?" "Yes,"he said, he would, and he wrote me a very fine statement. I said, "Will you talk to anyone by telephone if you are telephoned? Because I have been told that the superior court judge had talked to you and you had said that it was against the law." He said, "Oh no, that's not true." I said, "If he calls you, will you talk to him and tell him what you have told me?" "Yes," he said, "I will." So, we had a large community meeting in

Page 23
one of the churches in Albany and in the midst of the meeting, in marched (it looked to me like a thousand) members of the Highway Patrol, and lined up around the back of the auditorium. I wrote a little note to the Presbyterian minister, I asked, "Who's the leader? Why are they here?" He said, "They want to speak against the juvenile court and they are here to have a show of force to intimidate the people here." Because we were asking the people who had come to endorse the idea of a juvenile court. I asked, "Who is the leader?" and he wrote the name, "Captain So-and-So." Smith, we will call him. And when the first speaker was through, and I had made my speech, I ended by saying, "I am delighted that we have the support of the Highway Patrol here. I am pleased to see these men come and stand up in behalf of the protection of our young children. They don't want to see a five or six or seven year old child sent to Central Prison anymore than you in this audience [do]. Now, I'm going to ask Captain Smith to come up and speak to you in favor of the juvenile court." (And I had gotten a little information about him in the meantime from the Presbyterian minister. He said, "He's a deacon in the Baptist Church.") And I said, "I know that Captain Smith is a Christian. I know that Captain Smith loves every man as his fellow Christian. I'm going to ask Captain Smith to come up." And as he came down the aisle, I went to meet him, met him half way, and I shook his hand and patted him on the back. And he came [to the front] back and said, "Well, some of you here know that I haven't been too much in favor of a juvenile court, but since I've been hearing these fine talks, I'm going to say that I endorse it."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
That's incredible.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
So, we ended with the approval of a juvenile court.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
It was established.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was it the first one?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, Macon had a juvenile court and I had been asked to come

Page 24
several times by the juvenile court judge to talk to different groups of people in Macon over problems that were occurring and [1] had encouraged them to have volunteers who would work with the children who were repeaters in the court. And this was again one of Mrs. Tilly's ideas. She had wanted me, when I was teaching the high school youngsters in St. Mark's, to get volunteers from [among] them to work with the girls in the Home for Delinquent Girls on a one-to-one basis. I must say that this was not an original idea with me, but it had grown out of Mrs. Tilly's suggestion and experience with working with delinquent girls. The churchwomen had been working with delinquent girls, but had not been able to find enough volunteers. So, we did start that program in Macon, this was in '47. I've learned that after we left, the program did disintegrate because of the difficulty in finding people, and Macon is a very conservative town.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, were most of the children who were repeaters black?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Most of them were, yes. There were always of course, some whites, because there were more whites in the population than blacks. But the situation arose whereby the policemen on the beat, on the corner near my office building would bring delinquent girls or boys up to me and say, "Now Dr. Johnson, I want you to do something with this girl." And I would usually have a conference with her and then call one of the private agencies, either Family Service or Child Welfare or if they would not be able to do anything or want to do anything for the child, then I would call the Social Service Index, which had an index of all the resources in the community, and by working with the director, we would make some referal. Of course, this was not my responsibility, I should not have done any of this, because the professional social workers would have said that I was exceeding my jurisdiction, [and] this was bad social work. But I wanted to do something for

Page 25
the child in need, and I would get help for the child. But this was the prevailing attitude of private social welfare; unless the function of your office is to give direct services, then you are exceeding your authority and you are doing very bad social work. You are violating social work principles.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was this again a power thing so that they could keep control?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. I think so. Well, I think that is all that I will want to say about what was extremely interesting work, and I enjoyed it very much.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, did you feel like you were treading a thin line between what you could get through and . . . the interracial aspects of it just really amaze me, that that much was possible at that time.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh yes, it was. I have often said, and then the idea was formed in my mind when I was doing research for Racial Ideology and then it was confirmed by actual experience on the line in Atlanta, that in the United States, we were basically far more liberal than our practice and laws indicated. [In] the basic philosophy of the rights of man, and the Declaration of Independence, we were committed in founding our nation to the respect of the individual and the enhancement of the possibilities of the individual. So here was this basic [political] philosophy, and the churches reinforce this philosophy. But the power structure, to use Floyd Hunter's words, the power structure was constantly intervening, because they felt some threat. The threat of labor [for example]. If low income people demanded more wages, then the profits for industry would be less, and all of this [fear] went into formulating the attitude of the upper classes for the lower classes. I said that it was failure of leadership at the top, that if the leaders had been liberal and honest and fair, that the little man who votes would have gone along and accepted it, because it was part of their basic philosophy of the

Page 26
dignity of man, and the rights of man.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, maybe one reason that Atlanta has a fairly good record as far as civil rights is concerned, is because they were blessed with good leaders, more than the rest of the state.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I think that this is true. Yes, I think that.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Not that they have such a perfect record, but a tolerable record.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I Found it so easy to get very liberal programs through. For example, in Albany. Here was this man who had come to break up the meeting and to see to it that no juvenile court was organized in Albany, completely about-facing when attention was called to him. He was praised and called a Christian. Completely about-facing.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Are these the tactics that Mrs. Tilly excelled in?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh yes. Yes indeed. She taught me a great deal.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What did she do?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
She, in the last year that we were there, I don't recall if it was the winter of 1947, or the fall of 1946, she came to me and said, "Now, I no longer have any funds from the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the Methodist Church to carry on my work." And she said, "I've used all of Mr. Tilly's funds." She never referred to him by any other term except "Mr. Tilly," which was the proper southern way. No woman ever referred to her husband by his proper name, it was always "Mr. Tilly," or"Mr. So-and-So." So, she said, "I cannot ask Mr. Tilly to help me anymore. He's getting old. He's retired and our retirement income is limited and I simply cannot ask him to finance my activities anymore. I want to be on the staff of the Southern Regional Council. Won't you ask Guy? He needs a woman [on the staff] and since you are not going to serve in that capacity, won't you ask him to employ me? And I will work for very little. All I want is just a little money and the privilege of carrying on the work that I have been doing for so many years." So, I talked to Guy about it. And Guy said, "Well, I'll think about it. I'll

Page 27
take it to my staff and I'll take it to the Board, to my Executive Committee, and if they approve it, I will." And the Executive Committee approved it. And so, she came and it was an association that lasted until her death.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
When did she die?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
She died about two years ago. And in the meantime, had had a very serious fall and her health was really very delicate, although she was an amazing person who pushed herself on and on. But she fell and had a very serious hip injury from which she made herself recover enough to walk in a shamble and very, very slowly. And the last time that I saw her was in Atlanta at a Southern Regional Council conference and she was just barely moving along.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But she did . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Continue on the staff. Perhaps she resigned the last few months of her life, I've never asked.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was she very old?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, she was in her eighties. She was probably eighty-five or eighty-six.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, that is old.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, one other question about her work. Now, she had started her work on the Commission for Interracial Cooperation?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. She probably had been on the Board, I'm not sure of that.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then worked for Association of Southern Women, under Jessie Daniel Ames?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. And as I said, did the leg work for that organization and was the one who made the contacts. Because, Mrs. Ames had a very limited contact. She worked chiefly in Atlanta and had a very limited contact with the [numerous] leaders in the South. She probably knew the men better than she did the women. And if she had a conference of women, it was usually women

Page 28
whom Mrs. Tilly knew.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see. Well, the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching was not an interracial group, as I understand.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, that's true. It was white women, because it was felt that the problem was with the whites and the whites had the power to prevent a lynching, whereas the blacks did not.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right. But Mrs. Tilly, the majority of her work was interracial, then.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I mean, she followed the CIC on through and then this work she was doing in welfare with you was interracial.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, this is true. Although always she was aware that she could not succeed if the committees she was working with or the groups she was talking to, or the panels that she took to talk to groups of people in Georgia or elsewhere were predominantly Negro. It had to be predominantly white with a token black, or maybe two blacks.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What was her relationship with the black women she was dealing with?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
With the black leaders, very good. She worked with Mrs. Martin Luther King, Sr., she worked with the director of the Harriet Tubman branch of the Y. Always, you had a very able black woman who was director of what was called "the Negro group" of the Y, which was located in the Negro community . . . with the social workers, Frankie Adams, for example, in social work. She knew all of the key black women in Atlanta and in Georgia and elsewhere in the South.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And this was the same group of black women that you were mainly in contact with?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And was this the same group that the Southern Regional Council worked with?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, for the most part. Yes, this is true.

Page 29
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, there was real opposition to the kinds of things that Guy was doing?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You talked about going to Glenn Memorial and speaking there and . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh yes, this is true. There was strong opposition. Or Eugene Talmadge would not have been elected governor.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right. Well, how did it fit together, the opposition and the people who were allied?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I asked a leading social worker in Savannah why it was that most of the influential people in Savannah were supporting Talmadge instead of Carmichael for governor? She said, "I'm going to support Talmadge." I said, "You are? Why?" "For the same reasons that the members of my Board are supporting Talmadge."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Her Board in Savannah?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, her Board in Savannah. She was director of the Department of Public Welfare. She said, "Because we think that economic stability will be maintained in Georgia if Talmadge is elected rather than Carmichael. We do not think that Carmichael has the backing of the Southern Bell Telephone Company, the Trust Company of Georgia, the railroad, all the big economic interests, the mills". (although, you know, I think that Carmichael was a mill owner. I know that Ellis Arnold was a lawyer for the mill in Newnan.). "And that is the reason. We think that it is important for Georgia to be maintained strong economically and we think that we can suffer through a Talmadge regime without the threat of an economic depression. Remember, the war is over and we don't know what is going to happen after the war is over. We may have an economic collapse. And we do not think under Talmadge it will, and after all, Talmadge is a charitable man. He is a leader in his church. He is a humanitarian. He is not a wicked man. This is only a political tactic that he is using to get in. He doesn't hate Negroes. He has paid for the college

Page 30
education of his cook's son. They are devoted to him. The Negroes in Albany support Talmadge." And I found this to be true. A Negro doctor from Albany, he was the first Negro [man] that I got on my Board, and he said, "Yes, we will have to support Talmadge."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was his reason economic stability?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, where did you fit politically? Were you involved in politics? Could you afford to be?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I could not afford to be, and was not very much . . . I would go to small group meetings, closed meetings, and say, "I'm doing this not as Director of the Georgia Conference on Social Welfare, but as Guion Johnson, very much interested in a liberal regime in Georgia and I will give you the names of key leaders and I will help you in that way . . . "
MARY FREDERICKSON:
For Carmichael?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, for Carmichael. And I soon found that I knew more key leaders than the top management in the Carmichael campaign. "I will give you names of key leaders, but I cannot have any publicity." Then, I opened the Atlanta Constitution [one morning] and saw a full page ad with names, oh, at least it looked like a thousand names endorsing Carmichael, and here was my name in the group. And I had not been asked permission for my name to be used, and I was very much distraught, because I did not know what my Board would do. We were not supposed to engage in politics. I could promote social and economic issues for the health and welfare of the state, but I could not participate in any political activity. I did not have one word, none of them said anything.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Were they supporting him also?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I doubt it. I would guess that most members of my Board were supporting Talmadge. A few spoke outright in his behalf, in Carmichael's behalf, but most of them . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was Carmichael a real liberal?

Page 31
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Probably not. He was not an Ellis Arnold liberal, but he had been chosen by Ellis Arnold to succeed him as the most liberal of the potential candidates. He had very little political experience, I think. That's my recollection.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, when Arnold was in, did you have anything to do with him other than . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
The rural health, that was the only . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
The only time that you were . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
The only time I participated. As a matter of fact, the Director of the State Department of Public Welfare asked me to come to see him once and said, "Now, we put you in here in this job and remember, we don't want you to meddle in politics." And he was taping the interview we had, and I was not at all aware or suspicious of taping at that time, but he moved his microphone over near me. He didn't know that my voice was so strong that it would carry. [laughter]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I wanted to ask about the Southern Regional Council, what kinds of woman's work was going on. Mrs. Tilly said that they needed a woman, was she the only one?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Actually, there was not any program aimed directly at women. Guy had employed, at the suggestion of Josephine Wilkins, Margaret Fisher, who had been working in some kind of war program and wanted to get out of that work and into an area dealing more directly with economic and social issues. And he thought that she would conduct women's activities. We knew immediately that when Mrs. Ames was so distraught, thinking that I was going to take her job, that it would be extremely unwise for me to have anything to do with the work, and that this would just add, complicate any problem that Guy might have. So, I stayed away, almost never went to the office. But Margaret Fisher was not interested in directing any concentrated program for women, and there

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was this void on the staff until Mrs. . . . The approach was on a man-woman basis, women were invited. And then some of the leaders in the community, Mrs. Havens, for example, in Florida, was one of his contact persons in Florida, so he had women [leaders in the state there, and Mrs. Spellman in South Carolina, but they were to work with the broad spectrum of the population and not just with women. It was not until Mrs. Tilly was employed that the work was aimed specifically with women, although she too worked with men's groups and mixed groups.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, you didn't, or did you, directly support the work of the Southern Regional Council in you own work?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, I . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How did you support . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Just by it being known that I was Guy's wife. That was the only way. I did not want to be put in the position of or jeapordize my own usefulness by promoting the Southern Regional Council. I felt that my best way, the best way to promote the Southern Regional Council was to demonstrate my own humanity and care for people and concern for the welfare for all mankind and to let my personal integrity and concern show, rather than by mentioning the Southern Regional Council as an organization that you ought to support. No, mine was entirely an indirect support and then I learned a great many things about the power structure throughout the state, which I would pass on to Guy, which gave him insight into situations. And would know who was undermining the program, who would counter attack. In this way, I was useful.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you think you filled some of the void for not having . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh, I don't think that I made any contribution at all to the Southern Regional Council.5 I can't claim having made any contribution at all. It was very indirect. I would hope that I was able to establish some goodwill for the group through the many personal friendships that I formed, and

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when they (others) found out, (that my husband was director of SRC) they'd say, "Who is this Guion Johnson?" Because my name was very frequently in the paper. (John Ivy who left here and went to Atlanta to head up the Southern Education Board, which is now directed by John Griffin, said . . . came back three or four years later to Chapel Hill, and we had him and his wife for dinner, and he said to me, pointing to me with his finger, "You left your tracks all over Georgia.") So, I think that in that way, I might have been indirectly helpful. "Who is this Guion Johnson?" "Oh, her husband is the Director of the Southern Regional Council." "The Southern Regional Council!" Then, someone would come to my defense, you see. "Well, her husband must not be all bad."6
MARY FREDERICKSON:
That was the feeling about the Southern Regional Council?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, the fear was that the Southern Regional Council was endorsing integration, was fighting separation of the races. They opposed the separation of the races and they the Council wanted to break down all barriers and wanted the blacks to come into the schools and go into the lunchrooms and all that sort of thing. And of course, there was a great deal of fear about this. And it was on these fears that get Talmadge's political machine operated.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was that a widespread goal of theirs at the time?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Of the Southern Regional Council? Oh no. The Board had not, endorsed desegration oh no. Some of the biggest fights that the Board had were on this issue. I remember well so much, maybe at the second annual meeting of the Southern Regional Council, (I did attend those annual meetings,) that Dr. Benjamin Mays, was involved in this fight over a statement. A group of blacks and a small group of whites wanted the Southern Regional Council to adopt a policy which pointed to segregation as a social evil. And a hot controversy, arose and Dr. Mays had been very conservative on many policies, but he stood up . . . he

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was seated just in back of me, he was muttering about this) and he said, "I cannot in any way support any kind of policy that endorses segregation." And it was his statement that finally led someone to move to table the motion. [This action] said that the Southern Regional Council would take no position whatsoever on segregation.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, they had Mays support.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. Well, when Dr. Mays made the crucial statement that he could not support any kind of organization that endorsed segregation, see, this is the way that he stated it, so the whole statement about segregation as an evil . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
It wasn't a matter of having him endorse desegregation?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, no, they did not endorse desegregation. And I do not think that the Southern Regional Council took any very positive stand on segregation or desegregation until 1954. I may be wrong, but this is my recollection, that they did not openly endorse [desegregation], although many research reports were made pointing to the penalty which the South paid because of its maintenance of segregation . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Of the dual system?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was Guy's feeling one of waiting? I read his article in Common Ground answering Lillian Smith, was his one of waiting?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Gradualism. His philosophy at that time was one of gradualism. That you cannot force the change upon an unwilling people. That it must be by enlightenment and education, that you gradually get a change and any change that comes gradually rather than quickly or dramatically is the change that is lasting. That has been his position. I have not always agreed with him on the philosophy of gradualism. I think there comes a time when some dramatic change must be made. And my own experiences have

Page 35
illustrated that. For example, I tried to get during the war, when I was with OCD, [the community] to open a child care center, to get it set up in Chapel Hill to take care of the children of working mothers, and, of course, those would be the black children. And was bitterly blocked by a woman leader in Chapel Hill and everytime I set up a little conference calling for national . . . (You know, we would get national funds for this and I got one of the national leaders in from Washington from the State Department of Public Instruction and the head of Education Department here and the social workers here and we had this little meeting just to explore it, and) oh, she was violent in her opposition. And the OPA Board was meeting in the Town Hall, when the sirens, the fire siren, sounded and we ran to the window to look out, because we saw that it was toward Potter's Field, which is in the black community, and we saw the flames leaping up, and we scurried around trying to find out what the trouble was and where the fire was, and Mr. Moody Durham, who was chairman of the OPA came back, and his face was very grave and he said, "I'm sorry to tell you, three little Negro children have been burned to death in that fire." I said, "Find out more about it." And I found out that the mother had been working in a prominent home and had not been able to get anyone to take care of her children that day and she had locked the children in the house, with the seven year old, and there were two younger children, and that the seven year old had apparently gotten hungry, and it was cold, and she had tried to start a fire with kerosene and had apparently thrown the kersone on to the coals and had had an explosion and the house burned down and the children couldn't get out because the door was locked. And the mother had been detained by her employers because they were having a big party. So, I came home and wrote a story that night and called the news bureau. Bob Maddry was head of the news bureau and was also mayor of the town, and I said, "Bob, we are going to have that child care center. This makes it—the fact that three little children were burned to death because there was

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no one to take care of them-makes it possible." He said, "O.K., give me your story and I'll get it out." And he got it out on the wire, saying that because of this, (he told the story of the children burning and said that because of) the death of these three children, Chapel Hill had spontaneously risen up demanding that a child care program be started. And so, as soon as the story hit the paper, I had a telephone call from this woman who was very angrily denouncing me, "You have no right! you have no authority!" And I said, "You have no authority to stop me." And she said, "What do you mean, exceeding your authority?" And I said, "You are not the person whom I knew many years ago. You have had a serious personality deterioration." And she said, "Well, good-by, good-by." And as she was saying good-by, I said, "You will not oppose me." And we got the program started.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Could she at that point have opposed you?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
She could have tried to use her influence in the community and she had a great deal of influence. Her husband was a very prominent lawyer, a member of the law faculty. He was highly respected and greatly beloved and she would have had a great deal. [of influence] She was a member of the power structure.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And did the child care center go through?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, I got it [the initiating procedures] going and then had to go off to Atlanta. But others carried through on it, but at least I got the forces going. And with Bob Maddry, the mayor backing me, I knew that it would go through. He said that he would support me and [I should] he would carry through and just go on and teach history in the University and he said that he would carry through. He said, "I'll do it, I don't want her to try to chop your head off anymore." But, we got it going. So, that's the reason that I have disagreed with Guy. I think that sometimes, there must be . . . if I had

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waited and used the gradual approach, it would have been many years before we had any child care agencies in Chapel Hill. Now, we have many child care agencies.
It was the Home Days Nursery that we established and it is still . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And it was a private . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Well, yes, without . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
With these funds, though . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Well, except for a token contribution. I think that the town just supplied the building where the nursery was set up and then the federal monies were used to employ the staff. I know that when we left for Atlanta, I sent over a ton of toys for the program. All of the children's toys were sent . . . both Benny and Edward denouced me. "You gave my favorite electric train to that old day care center." But since then, it has been supported by the Community Chest. We were organizing the Community Council and Community Chest when I came back. It was one of the first agencies included because of the federal funds no longer being available. This was in '47 and '48 and it came into the Community Chest.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Have you been involved in setting up any others?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
In Chapel Hill? Well, I got the recreation program started when I was president of the PTA, working again with federal funds, the NYA, and I got a recreation director to come. There was no recreation director with a program in the community and I found that she [Mrs. Fred Fletcher] would be very glad to conduct a program if I could get grounds, a park or someplace where she could set up a program. And then most of the money would be supplied by NYA, but I would have to have some matching funds. I said, "Well, I would like to have this as a private organization, but it is not going to be sustained that way. Then we need to have it accepted by the community and the Board of Alderman." I was president of the PTA at that time and I said, "I'll get some of my board members and we'll talk about it." And we also got the University to

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open up the swimming pool in the gymnasium. You see, all the town children were excluded from the use of the swimming pool in the gymnasium. So, we just called Ollie Cornwall, who was head of the physical education program to a board meeting of the PTA and said, "Why can't we do this?" He said, "I don't know why it hasn't been done before." That was the first step, and then the second step was to get a program in the community and I went to . . . I took Lee Brooks and Mrs. D.D. Carroll with me to the Board of Aldermen meeting. The mayor at that time was John Foushee. And John did not especially like Mrs. Carroll, because she was very aggressive, so he called on me to state the reason that we were present, and I told him that we wanted a recreation program sponsored by the community, and we had the opportunity to get a well trained NYA leader, that I had already cleared the use of the school grounds and the basement of the high school for a meeting place and that all the money we needed was two hundred and fifty dollars, that I would raise the two hundred and fifty dollars myself if the Board would accept the program and set up a recreation department. And the men discussed it, asked a few questions, Lee Brooks spoke eloquently in behalf of the program. Mrs. Carroll endorsed the program, spoke very well in behalf of it, and, before we left, the Board had accepted the program. And then when Bob Maddry came in as mayor, he carried it on too. And the town appropriated the funds, although it was finally found that it was illegal for the town to do so, Legislation had to be passed permitting the town to use . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
By the state?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, the charter had to be amended so that funds could be used. Look at the budget of the recreation department now. It's tremendous. And only two hundred and fifty dollars, way back in 1937-38. I don't recall whether it was the fall of '37 or the spring of '38. Probably the spring of '38, when I went before the Board of Aldermen with my little committee.

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MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, was this integrated, the recreation program?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, it was not integrated. I think that the town would not have accepted an integrated program.
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
It was through the leadership of the Carrolls that a Community Center was accepted, started, for the Negro community. In an area on, I believe that it is Robertson Street. It is now called the Multi-Purpose Center. The Carrolls started raising funds to build a Community Center and Cornelia Love, for example, gave a large amount of money. Then, the building was erected and the war came and the Navy took over this building and completed it; used it for their band. The band was a Negro band and it was used as a practice room for the band and was completed for that purpose. Then, from the time that the town took over this building after the war, when the V-12 program turned the building over (back) to the town, some money had been appropriated for a program. Now, they have attempted to make this a multi-racial and multi-purpose center, but this grew out of the poverty program during the Johnson Administration, that the funds were used and that it became interracial. But for many years, it was used entirely by Negroes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
When you came back to Chapel Hill, what was the difference, the great differences you said, between the North Carolina Conference and the Georgia Conference on Welfare?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
It [the North Carolina Conference] was completely program oriented conference in that it was aimed at the annual meeting and that was all. And the director was employed half time. I talked to a friend of mine, Jean Heer, who was a trained social worker and the executive secretary when I came back, and I said, "Jean, aren't you bored to death just setting up an annual program?"

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She said, "Oh well, we have reports, so some research is made and I think that is important. This state wouldn't support an action program as you have been carrying on in Georgia."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, what was the rationale for that? Why did she say that?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I didn't ask her to explain and she wasn't very good at elucidating her position, so that I didn't press her. She has never been one of many words and I have known her for a long, long time. In fact almost since we came to the University.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But you felt that that was closed, that there was no . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, that this probably was true, because the health and welfare people were rather conservative on the state level, and . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
More so than in Georgia?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh yes, more so than in Georgia. And there were not very many private welfare agencies in North Carolina either. Florence Crittenden Home in Charlotte, and the Children's Home, which was entirely an adoption agency, in Greensboro, Red Cross was the leading welfare agency. Cancer, Heart, all these health related programs had not been started. I don't know whether there was any family service agency in the state at that time. There were very few private welfare agencies in the state.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, was Georgia ahead of other states as far as . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Why?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Atlanta. Atlanta is a branch managers town. The crossroads of the South, you see. And large businesses, the General Mills center, and by the way, the manager of the regional office of General Mills was a very liberal person. He gave me money for the Georgia Conference, because he said, "You are doing an action program, and we believe in action. We don't believe in sitting around the table with like-minded persons exchanging ideas about what to do for these poor people who need food and health care. We believe

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in getting out and doing something for the people. And we believe in the educational job that the Georgia Conference on Social Welfare is doing." And soon afterwards, or maybe . . . I don't recall just when Ellen Winston became director of the Department of Public Welfare, but soon after we returned, Ellen and I met at an organizational meeting, I think it was the family life conference, and she said, "Are you going to continue as the national president of the Directors of Social Welfare Conferences?" I said, "No, I don't think so. I would have to pay my own expenses to Washington State, or California or Canada or wherever, and I don't feel that with Benny at Harvard, I don't feel that we can afford to finance my whims, so that I have resigned." And she said, "Well, that's too bad, I'm sorry you have." I said, "Well, let's talk about the North Carolina Social Service Conference." And she said, "Oh, it's coming along all right. Now, I don't want you to disturb the Conference. It's coming along all right. We are doing a good job. We are pointing out areas of concern and we don't want to go too fast. If we start any kind of action program here, we might rock the boat. We're coming along."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
By action program, she meant . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Going all over the state carrying the discussion of social issues to rural communities and towns, getting people involved and thinking about concerns and needs of the community.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, this was really welfare of the community without involving the community?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did she continue that as long as she stayed . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, I think that she felt that [all] the programs were more orderly if managed from the top. I don't know whether she still has that attitude or not. I have not actually . . . I see her frequently, and I

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like her very much and she often says, "Every time I see you, I try to set up an agenda so that we will be able to talk about some things that I am concerned with and you won't run away with the discussion. We must get together and talk over the new trends in welfare." But she was very upset about my doing this research on volunteers.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I was going to say, didn't you run into this group a lot?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Is that one reason, like the North Carolina Council of Women's organizations that you founded, and you worked with the Federation of Women's Clubs, I mean, would there have been a place for big groups like that in a state like Georgia, or a city like Atlanta?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, they would have been very useful to say, me as Director . . . they would have been ready made channels through which to operate, to turn to. Once you go to their board meetings and present an area of concern, then you have the key leaders of the state hearing about these concerns, and you will get two or three out of a group of fifteen saying, "Tell me what I can do. Tell me where to start." This happened in Georgia, for example, when I was going to a conference on social welfare, a national conference in San Francisco in '46. I worked on the train, I was three days on the train, and all that time, except for a brief break, I was working on questions for the city of Albany to ask themselves to explore the health and welfare needs of the community. And that's probably one reason why we got the juvenile court going. They were deciding how they could mobilize the community resources to get a juvenile court. After I asked all these questions about sanitation, health care facilities, housing, food and nutrition and etc. I had worked on it for a long time and when I came back, [from San Francisco] I had a fifty page list of questions to send to Albany. So, you see, if there had been an organized group like . . . Now, there was a Georgia Federation of Women's Clubs, but they were interested only in doing harmless things. And then there was the Church Women United,

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but there were few of those groups. It was not widespread. You see, the Council of Women's Organizations touches every county in North Carolina. So, you can reach out throughout the state through these leaders and get concerns started. But I must say, it is very discouraging, even though you do have channels of communication. While I was president of the North Carolina Council of Women's Organizations, I did not dare, in order to establish a solid organization, I did not dare push any controversial subject. For example, the women in the Medical Auxilary were sticking very close to the organization for fear that I was going to push what they called socialized medicine. They didn't miss a meeting. The representative of another organization which will be nameless, came to every meeting, a long trip. It took her two or three and a half hours to get to Chapel Hill to get to these meetings, but she did not miss one, because her husband had been one who had been violently opposed to Guy's coming back from the Southern Regional Council to take up his job on the faculty. You see, there were five leaders on the Board of Trustees that wanted to fire him and not let him come back, and his wife was one who stuck very closely by me, but she became my ally and supported me and would often say. (I think perhaps I've told you this . . . that) "Honey, you know that I will agree with everything you say, but when the chips are down and a public vote is taken, I have to vote where my family stands and where my husband stands. But you know that I agree with you." And actually, she was very liberal. Widely read and she was on the National Executive Committee of the Democratic Party and was thus exposed to a great many liberal ideas and became herself a convert. So, all we did in the six years that I was president was to consolidate the structure of the organization and set up liberal trends in committees and make reports and research. This more or less falls in with [the plan of] the Social Planning Council in Atlanta, trying to endoctrinate the members

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by hearing the findings, the objective findings [reports and research].
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about the other organizations, AAUW, the Federation of Women's Clubs?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
In North Carolina? The AAUW was the only organization in the state to oppose the Pearsall Plan, which was proposed by the Hodges Administration to delay or nullify the Supreme Court decision of 1954. And when the vote was to be taken on the Pearsall Plan in the summer, the Winston-Salem branch of the AAUW . . . (First, I wrote a statement reporting the Supreme Court decision and proposed it as a policy statement, but I sounded out the Board first and talked about the matter and we didn't take any action at the first Board meeting and at the end, I said, "Here we are faced with the Pearsall Plan and we must take some policy position. After all, this is the law of the land and it will prevail regardless of how we kick and scream against it. It's much better that North Carolina should go along and work slowly and cooperatively, because it's coming. And if we do not make any threat against it or do any screaming against it, I think that we would have a much more peaceful integration of public schools." And this convinced them and I had prepared a policy statement. Some of them didn't like two or three words and I said, "Well, actually, the authority on this subject is downstairs in the hotel lobby. My husband is here. Would you like for him to come in and suggest some other words that might be better?" And he did come in and very quickly suggested a wording which did not undercut the statement, which yet was more agreeable to the Board, and it was passed.) And then the Winston-Salem branch carried through on a television program opposing the adoption of the Pearsall Plan and got widespread publicity as a result. They had difficulty getting a panel, but their chief panelist was Irving Carlyle, a liberal lawyer of Winston-Salem, who opposed the Pearsall Plan. He did an excellent job. And the rest were members of the Winston-Salem branch,

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which was a rather liberal branch. But AAUW was the only group that took any notice. Except voting silently in favor of the Pearsall Plan.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I wanted to ask you about the Commission on the Status of Women that you worked on. What was your feeling about how that turned out? There is a final report that was put out . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, there is. Have you seen it?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I haven't.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I have a copy of the report that I will try to find for you, if you would be at all interested in seeing it.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I think that it was considered to be one of the best of the state reports. Some of the state reports, for example, the Georgia state report, which was late in coming, was just practically a rewrite of the national report. But Anne Scott did an excellent job [for North Carolina].
MARY FREDERICKSON:
She was chairman?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, of this commission. We met a number of times, we endorsed, we re-examined each report, she divided the responsibilities among each of the members of the Board and was utterly amazed when I said, "I can't do this by myself." I was to talk about women's voluntary organization. I said, "I wouldn't presume to write this report. Let me have fifteen or twenty key women in the state to help me write it, bring them in and discuss the points and assign different areas for them to write and I can bring in the report. But I would not be so presumptious as to write the report." She said, "But we don't have any money to finance a large group of women like this." I said, "You don't need any money. These women are very glad to come in at their own expense and do this work as an act of voluntaryism. Just to participate in this discussion." And she said, "All right, but no funds are available." "Well enough." So, she let me set up a committee. I had about twenty-four key leaders and we

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met two or three times and had a secretary who took minutes and duplicated them herself. She had a mimeograph machine in Asheville. Everytime she came down to Chapel Hill for these meetings, it cost her fifty dollars and then she went back and did the mimeographing and sent it out and paid the postage to get this material out. So, we had a cooperative report. For our section. From their reports, I then wrote about ninety or a hundred pages and turned that in and they were overwhelmed. "We can't publish that much material. It's very good as background material for us, but please boil this down to about twenty pages." Which I did. Even so, Anne took parts of my material and sprinkled it throughout the report, which was allright with me, as long as it was there, because no one was given any particular credit for having done any particular part. And altogether, I thought that it was a very good report. And then Anne and I went to a meeting of the legislative committee in the fall after the report had come out, to discuss with the legislative committee and the Department of Public Instruction, the Department of Public Health, etc. what we might do to propose a lasting commission. And as a result of this, a commission was established. And neither Anne nor I was appointed to this commission, but we didn't expect to be and thought that it would be better not to be on the commission, to let it come spontaneously from the legislature.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did many of the states do this?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Some have and I think that some towns have set up . . . for example, Salisbury had a commission on the status of women that brought in a report. I think that Atlanta has had a commission on the status of women. I think so. But this has occurred only within the last five or six years, perhaps. There have been these various local commissions as well as the states. I think that every state, I'm not sure, but I think that every state has had a state Commission on the Status of Women and of course, out of this grew the drive for ERA. Martha Griffiths wasn't getting too far with her

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proposal for the Equal Rights Amendment, but out of the concern of the group, the National Commission established by President Kennedy and the state commissions and then the local commissions, there grew a groundswell of support for the ERA.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How do you feel about that?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Well, I think that we don't need that legislation. Actually, the Fourteenth Amendment protects us. We have the Civil Rights Act to do the same thing. But as a focus on the rights of women, perhaps it's needed. I know that there is great concern on the part of conservative lawyers and judges that women will be harmed and women who have worked bitterly and long to get special legislation protecting women and children are very much opposed to ERA. They think that women will be left without any rights at all. That yes, men and women are equal, would be equal under ERA, but that men would be more equal than women. And this is their fear. I know that I have talked to Chief Justice Bobbit and Justice Susie Sharp to get their opinons and they are both very much concerned, because they handle many cases and . . . I don't know what Justice Bobbit's experience was, but I'm sure that he was a superior court judge before he went to the Supreme Court. They have tried so many cases in which women have got the short end of the stick, that they. (and have been so grateful for legislation protecting the rights of women) that they are very hesitant to see these rights given up. So, I think that they would feel happier if we pushed the Fourteenth Amendment, applied it to women and implemented the Civil Rights Act which includes no discrimination on the basis of sex . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
On individual cases as they came up?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. And now that HEW is beginning Affirmative Action, they think that this is going to greatly improve the rights of women, and that this is the most solid way of establishing equality than to arouse the alarms by

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passing an Equal Rights Amendment. As far as I concerned, ERA might bring about the abolition of discrimination of women more quickly than would be a gradual process. There again, I'm for something dramatic, you need something dramatic sometimes to bring change. For example, the North Carolina Constitution of 1868, written by the carpetbaggers, gave women equal property rights, but the amendment was ignored and as Justice Walter Clark pointed out in a speech that he made to the Federation of Women's Clubs 'way back I think in 1914 when they were meeting in convention in Fayetteville, he said, "You have all of the rights. We didn't need the Martin Act, which gives you the right to will your property, because the Constitution of 1868 gave you that right, but the judges who administer the law did not approve of the Constitution of 1868. The Constitution was written by alien people whom most of the judges hated and, therefore, they ignored. So, it has been necessary to have a succession of legislative acts giving you these rights." And the same thing is happening nationally, you see, although the Fourteenth Amendment was passed long ago and . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And has been totally ignored.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Has been totally ignored. And even the Civil Rights Amendments, as my little essay on The Changing Status of Southern Women pointed out in a footnote, immediately after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, there were ways being sought to evade, and I cited that Doubleday had this little publication which was available and being circulated to industry pointing out the ways of evading the Civil Rights Act.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
When you came back to North Carolina, were you able to get more involved in politics, have you been, you and Guy?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, I was involved. I began attending precinct meetings and was never elected to any precinct office. My name would always be usually proposed for an office or proposed for a county executive committee job and usually I would be nominated, either by Bob Maddry, who was the mayor

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of the town and was in my precinct and was a neighbor, or by one of my black friends. And I would always fail by two or three votes. I was never elected. But on the state level, the Young Democrats began calling on me at their meetings to make addresses to them. And I once, Sparkman from Alabama was the keynote speaker at one of these meetings, sometime in the fifties, and I was asked to give the keynote speech for the women. You know, there is usually a man and a woman speaking. And by one of the reactionary columnists the next day, the story came out saying that "Dr. Guion Johnson was the better man of the two." And I was simply overcome with joy that this reactionary columnists would think that I had made a better speech than Sparkman of Alabama. And then I campaigned actively occasionally And the only time that I haven't campaigned actively at length was for Frank Graham when he was in the Senate. Then, when Governor Scott was going out of office (and I'm sure that this is something that he would not want known and most of the inner circles of the Democratic Party do not know, because I was approached privately and I tell you this in private, these papers will not be used without my permission will they?)
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right, we can close portions if you wish.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. Simply out of concern for Mable Hatch who was proposing my name to the governor, and I was always being asked by this little liberal group to go talk to the governor about an issue which he seemed to be [wavering on] . . . and I would always just pick up the telephone and say, "Ed . . . ", Ed Rankin was his executive secretary, "Ed, I want to see the governor for about ten minutes." "O.K. What do you want to talk to him about?" And I would tell him and he would say, "All right. Come on, get in you car and come right on over and you can go right in." And the governor would listen sympathetically and would do what I asked him to. So, he sent Mable Hatch, or Mabel Hatch had asked him if he would endorse me to run for lieutenant governor. This

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was when Luther Hodges was running for lieutenant governor. Luther was an unknown person who had never held political office. And they [leaders of the party] did not want someone who was unknown.
They wanted someone who would support them. I had been speaking to the Young Democrats and I had been speaking to the Democratic Women, to the State Convention and had been going around speaking to the district meetings of Democratic Women ever since the fall of 1947. I had been involved, accepted on the state level, but not on the local level. [laughter] So, Mabel came to see me and said that the governor wanted me to run for lieutenant governor and I said, "But I have no money." "Oh, but money will be no problem. You'll get all the money you need, and we'll help you with the organization." And I said, "I'm sorry, I cannot do it. For two reasons. When I enter some program, I want to succeed. I have enough ego to want to win. I have enough common sense and pragmatic approach to this to know that I cannot win. No woman can be elected lieutenant governor in this state for a long time to come, and I don't want to be the first woman defeated." Then I said, "In the second place, I'm vulnerable." She said, "You're not vulnerable, either. You know that the governor wouldn't want you to run for lieutenant governor if you were vulnerable." I said, "I think that any person who has had any strong committment toward desegregation or towards the improvement of the lot of the Negro is vulnerable. And you know quite well that my background will be delved into by the opponents and they will find that I am the wife of a man who was the first director of the Southern Regional Council. I'm the wife of a man who was almost kicked out of the University because of his stand on race."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Had there been a lot of publicity when that happened. Was it in the papers?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, yes. There were banner headlines in Atlanta and this went on for several days. I was in St. Louis making a speech and got this telegram when I was making the speech and I put it in my notebook and forgot

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about it, because I was so absorbed in what I was saying and then in the discussion that followed and then some man had sent a note up saying," Please have lunch with me afterwards." And this man was from Detroit and I thought that this was an opportunity to find about the Detroit Planning Council and how their Community Chest program works and this is going to be interesting and it was not until finally when our luncheon engagement was over and I thought, "Oh, I'm exhausted, I'll go to the room." And then I remembered my telegram. And here was this letter from Guy saying, "Don't worry, everything will be all right." And that was all. I didn't know what had happened, what was the matter. I tried to reach him by telephone and could not. I thought that something had happened to Edward. Maybe Edward had been run over by an automobile. That was before he had his accident.7 I cut my trip short and dashed back to Atlanta. I said, "What has happened?" And it was all in the newspapers. But people have a very short memory. But in a political campaign, they dig it up. You go back and get all the dirt you can on your opponent. Not that I think Luther Hodges would have run that kind of campaign, because I think that he was politically naive and he wouldn't have known it. But then there were other opponents who were long standing conservative politicians who were also running for lieutenant governor. So, that's the only political connections that I've had.
I did campaign with Gladys Tillet in eastern North Carolina until I felt that she could not (of course she was politically experienced and I was naive, but I knew the women of the state and she had been out a long time) and I felt that she was not, she did not know how to approach the women of North Carolina to get their support.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, what was she campaigning for?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
For Frank Graham. Both of us would go and speak to groups. I had to give her the names of the key women in the community and get the

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calling done to get these women to set up meetings. So, I was awfully tired. Not only was I doing the speaking, I was doing the driving, too. So, I went to see Bob House and said, "Bob, tell Frank that I'm not going with Gladys anymore. I will go on my own on invitation of the county committee or city organization and not where Gladys is going and we'll let Gladys carry the eastern part of the state and I will concentrate on the Piedmont." So, this is what I did.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Primarily because of the driving?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. His organization let it be known that I was available to speak in the Piedmont. I spoke in Durham. I went out to White Cross and spoke. That's a little community that was very active for awhile and now it is a dying community, I'm afraid. And at St. Mary's and I worked with those reactionary people that I had worked with in OPA and OCD and, of course, Frank Graham carried the county, but I had nothing to do with that, but I was able to get an endorsement from these people who were a little afraid of Frank because I had worked with them during the war. So, that's the only time that I have campaigned for anyone. I did campaign for Umstead after the primary election, I spoke before the general election. But after that, I haven't done any general campaigning.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about when the sit-ins were going on in Chapel Hill during '64, were you or Guy involved in that?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, not involved at all.8 Because I think that Guy and I both felt that although protest had to be made, and that it was important for protest to be made and I had written and published at least two essays expressing this idea, that the cause of the Negro had been largely a white liberal cause and very few Negros had been involved. Even white liberals would not permit Negro leadership, except in a few instances.

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Therefore, I considered this a rank sort of southern paternalism toward the Negro and that the time had come when the Negroes themselves had to win their own freedom.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And you felt in the early sixties that this was . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. I had a number of-well, John Hope Franklin for example. I had talked with John Hope about this and he agreed with me. I had talked to a Negro woman historian whom I had first met at Chicago when we were there, some simple name like-she's married and uses her married name now. I'll get her name for you if you would like. She is now at Howard University. And she had approached me (Guy has been on the Board of Trustees of Howard University for a long time and I go up with him occassionaly) and she saw me on one occassion and she said, "We have used your essay on the impact of war upon the Negro and your southern paternalism article as textbooks. And you say that the Negro must win his own freedom. We agree with that and this is what we are trying to do. So help us indirectly if you can, but don't take part in any sit-downs, because you will be violating your own principles." So, we were not involved at all. But when little frictions arose between little groups on campus, then I was able to intervene.
I have been the personnel advisor of the Chi Omega sorority almost from the beginning of the organization of that group. They were organized in 1923 and we came on campus in '24 but it was not until the thirties that I began to work very closely with them. But here again, these were the daughters of the leaders in the state who make the decisions for North Carolina and I considered it very important for me to work with them, to develop some kind of liberal, rational approach to the problems of the state.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, were you in contact with them during this period?

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GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh yes, yes indeed. And help them give leadership. I was not able to keep them all off the picket line. There were a few who were avid. A little girl from Jessup, Georgia, which is perhaps one of the most reactionary communities in all of Georgia, was one of the leaders. [Laughter] I said, "What would your parents do if they knew that you were taking part in these sit-downs?" And she said, "They would drop dead. Don't tell them." So, we did not at any time march with them or sit down with them.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But supported what they were doing?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Well, we didn't support the extreme stands which Howard Fuller for example, took on occassion. We felt that he was too extreme, and we still think that he has become irrational in his approach. Do you know who Howard Fuller is?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Just know who he is, that's all.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
He came here on the staff of the School of Social Work and then resigned and walked out. He wasn't meeting his classes; he was taking part in organizing the sit-downs. Then came to class one day, threw his roll book down on the table and said, "I refuse to have anything else to do with this reactionary, capitalistic (a few other expletives) department. I am leaving."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did he resign?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
He just left. And Floyd Hunter had done the same thing. He had just left and didn't meet his classes. Disappeared. He had gone to Hong Kong. [Laughter] When the head of his department was told that he was not meeting his classes . . . you see, he had quit but was then retained on the Social Work faculty as a staff member [until the Dean of the School discovered his absence.]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, what about what the Black Student Movement was doing? Was that . . .

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GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
That party was being organized at the time of the sit-ins and they asked Guy to come and speak to them one night on the black student movement and I went with him . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
To a group of black students?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Entirely. Because they were not too eager to have whites in the group. Which was all right with me. I thought that this was fine, that they needed to have just blacks in their group in order to develop strategy and talk through philosophy and ideology and so he and I and a liberal, white, Episcopal minister who was a campus minister supported by the Episcopal Church, attended. And he was a leader in the Black Student Movement and was working very closely with Howard Fuller.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What was his name?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I hope that I will remember his name. I can't recall right now what it is, but I will get his name for you. 9 He was the only other white person [present.] He sat in the back of the auditorium and Guy gave a brief historical sketch of the movement of the Negro in behalf of his own civil rights. He spoke very briefly about the Southern Regional Council and said that he endorsed the Black Student Movement, the idea of it, although he disagreed with some of the tactics. And then there was just an eruption, booing and they began practically to assault him, and one young man said, "I will not tolerate this white chauvinism in any group that I attend. I believe that the only solution to our problem is to take over the southern states and have black nationalism. This is the land that we tilled, the land that we cultivated, our sweat and our labor made the South prosper. The nation owes the South to us." I stood up and said, "You sound like a South African. You sound like an Afrikaner. This is what the Afrikaners want, the Bantustans

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in South Africa. Do you know what the Bantustan will mean to South Africa?" He said something like, "The hell with South Africa and you sit down and keep quiet." Whereupon a very attractive black woman in, oh I would say in her forties, rose and said, "I cannot sit here and hear Dr. and Mrs. Johnson abused. They have given so much to the progress of the Negro. I cannot tolerate this. I know Dr. Johnson's work in the Southern Regional Council. This is the first time I have met Mrs. Johnson, but I want to say that if it hadn't been for her book Ante-Bellum North Carolina, I wouldn't have a master's degree right now, and I want now publicly to thank her for what she has written about the Negro in ante-bellum North Carolina." And she sat down and things calmed down. And Kenneth Spaulding, who is now a lawyer in Durham and a very successful leader and lawyer, was then getting his law degree here, and he leaned over and whispered to me . . . we had met him before when he was a student at Howard University . . . "I didn't know that this was going to happen. I would not have asked you to come and talk to this group. These are just outside radicals. They are not even students here in the University, and I apologize." So, this was the only contact that we have had directly with the Black Student Movement. Guy was not asked to address the group anymore, and had no contact with the group whatsoever, or with any of the leaders.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about later, in '69 and '70 when all the Vietnam sit-ins were being held? How did you react to that?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I deplored some of the tactis being used. I had long opposed the war and felt that, despite the fact that I had taught naval history and strategy in the V-12 program and knew the strategy involved and knew why we were in Vietnam, because it was a part of the basic concept of American strength in the Pacific. Vietnam was a key bastion and if you accepted the

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philosophy that the Pacific is an American sea and that America is the greatest Pacific power, then you have to support the concept of the Vietnam war, but I deplored it. Knowing that people take the concept of Marxism and Leninism and adapt it to their own needs and that out of this process that if North Vietnam gained control and China gained dominance over North Vietnam, there would evolve an indigenous socialism and that lives of American boys . . .
END OF INTERVIEW
The Southern Part of Heaven
2. We declined the offer of luncheon as being too burdensome on the Church staff.
3. William Ireland
4. Black members had their own churches and were assigned to the Central Jurisdiction. There was cooperation across jurisdictional lines.
5. At one time, SRC helped me in a very real way. I was Chairman of the Social Studies Committee of the Atlanta Branch of AAUW, and the Committee was interested in (footnote continued in next page)
6. This sounds outrageous! Horribly egotistical! I apologize to Guy and to the reader.
year
8. See footnote on attached sheets.
9. Bill Couch, not, however, W. T. Couch.