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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Anne Queen, April 30, 1976. Interview G-0049-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Participation in interracial workshop at Fisk University

Queen describes her participation in an interracial work camp sponsored by the Friends Service Committee at Fisk University in 1944. Queen had just completed her degree at Berea College and was preparing to start graduate work at Yale in a year. Here, she discusses some of the other activists who participated in the workshop and describes the community reaction to this integrative effort. For Queen, the experience was formative in her move towards social activism during those years.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Anne Queen, April 30, 1976. Interview G-0049-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

One of the most important experiences while I was at Berea, and I guess led in a sense to the experience at …between the two years at Yale, was that I was a member of the first interracial work camp which Friends sponsored in the South. It was in 1944 at Fisk University. It was the first year that Dr. Charles Johnson's Race Relations Institute was held and our work camp was a kind of laboratory for a pilot project in this kind of community action and of course, it was just an intellectual feast for us. Countee Cullen was there, Ira Reid was there, Charles Lawrence was the assistant director and his wife, Margaret, who is one of the early black psychiatrists, was our camp doctor. The director of the camp was a man named Frank Loescher, who taught at Lynchburg College; and then he taught at Fisk and he was the founder of the U.S.A.-Union of South Africa Leaders Exchange Program. There were three students from Berea in that project. I met Bill Cousins, who …do you know that name?
JOSEPH HERZENBERG:
No.
ANNE QUEEN:
He's a black from Ansonia, Connecticut, who was one of the early black graduates of Yale. Clarence Mitchell's brother-in-law was a member of that work camp. There was Jane Carroll from Mebane, North Carolina, who had gone to UNC-G and then came here in the School of Public Health …
JOSEPH HERZENBERG:
Was this camp on the Fisk Campus?
ANNE QUEEN:
It was on the Fisk Campus and the women lived in one dormitory and the men in another and the Charles and Marie Johnson were just marvelous, it was a great experience. Margaret McCulloch was living in Nashville then. You know that she had been at LeMoyne, but she's from Nashville. She was really a great source of inspiration to us. Life was really tightly segregated and this was a daring experience. [END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A] [TAPE 1, SIDE B] [START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
ANNE QUEEN:
…I remember so well the day that I left Berea on the bus. I traveled by bus through Kentucky into Tennessee. I left Berea in the late afternoon. One of my jobs at Berea …and I didn't mention jobs that I had at Berea, which may be of some interest to you. My first job, I worked in the home of an agricultural teacher there cleaning and housework. Then when I was a freshman, every freshman had to wash the dishes. We didn't have dishwashers then and we had two cans of water which we brought to the table and they had dishes and water boys. (They weren't black.) By this time, I had gotten a job that was called a monitor and the monitor in a dormitory would take care of the linen and the supervision of janitors and all the students were janitors. The monitor had to close the dormitory. It was late in the afternoon when I got a bus to Nashville. I arrived in Nashville at four a.m. and I went up to the ticket counter and asked where Fisk University is; and they didn't tell me where it is, they said, "You know that it's a nigra college?" I said that I knew it was a Negro university. Finally I got directions and I got a taxi and the taxi driver was so angry over a white woman going into this community that I thought he might have a wreck before I got there. It was just about five o'clock when I got there and Jane Carroll, I'll never forget, was the person who greeted me at the door. I was really very glad to see another North Carolinian.