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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Josephine Turner, June 7, 1976. Interview H-0235-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Trying for a seat on the Durham city council

Taylor recalls her most recent and unsuccessful run for the city council in Durham, North Carolina. She ran her campaign on donations from local churches and small contributions from residents, winning a primary but not a seat on the council.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Josephine Turner, June 7, 1976. Interview H-0235-2. 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

KAREN SINDELAR:
You were talking some about why you ran for city council. Did you make that decision on your own to run for city council? How did you decide to do that?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
[laughter] Well, I was drafted the first time from the community.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Is this the East End community?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
East End community. You know, they had asked another lady and she said no, she was too shy. And they said, "Well, we'll get one that's not afraid to speak out." I said, "Well, you know, I'm not too well-bred (as they would say). But as far as talking for the people and helping, I'm able to do that." And I've done a lot of reading and research, so I filed.
KAREN SINDELAR:
So the community drafted you?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Right. They put my name out there, and so then they carried it before the Durham Committee.
KAREN SINDELAR:
On Black Affairs?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. So they approved me, so they put my name out there. Well, I never thought I would win.
KAREN SINDELAR:
You won in the primaries, though?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, I won in both primaries. You know, I was surprised the first time. I told them. I said, "You guys are going to get me out here in a mess." They laughed. I said, "Now you guys are going to put me out there and leave me hanging." They said, "Oh no." I was surprised that I won the primary the first time. Well, now the second time I had more encouragement, because even in the general election I got more votes than the people. So that's very encouraging, you know.
KAREN SINDELAR:
OK, now you're going to have to refresh my memory about this. You ran the first time in the primaries. There were two primaries, or there was just one?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, see I have ran two times: see, the first time being when Ruffin and I was running two years ago. This was last year, right. What was the other year, '72?
KAREN SINDELAR:
OK, let's do it in order, right. In '72 you and Ben Ruffin were running?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
OK.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
At large; both of us beared the primaries.
KAREN SINDELAR:
And you both won in the primaries?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, and we both lost in the general election.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Did you have the support of the Durham Committee on Black Affairs all the way through?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, at both times. Now I ran again last year, in '74, and I won the primary but I lost in the general election.
KAREN SINDELAR:
And you had the support of the Durham Committee on Black Affairs the whole way through? OK.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Not only that, but I had the support of the unions, the labor unions from the factories.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Which labor unions?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
I don't know the name of it [laughter]
KAREN SINDELAR:
The tobacco factories?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. I have all the papers; I just don't know where they is right now. You know, I've got them packed in boxes in there. Well, I've always had the support of all the churches in this community. Now this is where my funds came from, the churches, because the people over here knew me. And they knew I was the poorest thing out there running, so each church donated to my campaign. Then different friends, you know, because my campaign ran a thousand or some dollars. And they paid it; I didn't have to. You know, I didn't have no money; still ain't got none [laughter] .
KAREN SINDELAR:
So most of your money came from the churches?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Right.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Did the labor unions give you some money?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, no, no. All my money came from the churches and the community, and the people in the community: a dollar here, a dollar there and things like that. No, I wasn't endorsed, or not any money contributed from anybody, not even the Durham Committee. Nobody gave me the money.