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Title: Oral History Interview with Harvey E. Beech, September 25, 1996. Interview J-0075. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Beech, Harvey E., interviewee
Interview conducted by Foye, Anita
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 136 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
© 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:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-06-21, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Harvey E. Beech, September 25, 1996. Interview J-0075. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series J. Legal Professions. Southern Oral History Program Collection (J-0075)
Author: Anita Foye
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Harvey E. Beech, September 25, 1996. Interview J-0075. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series J. Legal Professions. Southern Oral History Program Collection (J-0075)
Author: Harvey E. Beech
Description: 171 Mb
Description: 46 p.
Note: Interview conducted on September 25, 1996, by Anita Foye; recorded in Kinston, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Unknown.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series J. Legal Professions, 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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Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
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Interview with Harvey E. Beech, September 25, 1996.
Interview J-0075. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Beech, Harvey E., interviewee


Interview Participants

    HARVEY E. BEECH, interviewee
    ANITA FOYE, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 2
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
ANITA FOYE:
Mr. Beech, I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about your early life. I'm interested in your relationship with your siblings.
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Well, I was born here in Kinston, North Carolina, about 73 years ago. I had two brothers and two sisters, and sometimes they would refer to me as the baby, but I resent that; I just happened to be the youngest child. We went to high school here in Kinston, all of us.
ANITA FOYE:
OK. And, do your siblings still live in the area?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Well, my two brothers are dead. I have two sisters living, and one is a resident in a nursing home in Greenville, North Carolina. She is the eldest; she's older than all of us; she's approximately 78 years old. And a sister, other sister lives in Kinston. Her name is Nell. She's 74. So there's three of us left.
ANITA FOYE:
Could you tell me about your father and your mother?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Like what, what would you like to know?
ANITA FOYE:
In one of your interviews, you talked about your father's business. Could you tell me a little about that?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
My father came from, migrated from South Carolina to North Carolina with a friend, about 17, 18 years old--he was, the friend was a little older. And they stopped in Kinston looking for work. My father got a job, working for, as a

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handyman, I would say, for some so-called rich person, and he later started shining shoes at a barbershop, where he learned how to be a barber. And after that. He became interested in business. His handicap was he didn't know how to read or write. For an example, my name is spelled "Beech" but my family name is "Beach." He didn't know how to spell it when he came to Kinston. He told me that they asked him how to spell his name, and he replied, "The same way you spell Beechnut chewing gum." So I've been a "Beech" but all my cousins are "Beaches."
He began to save and save and save, and whatnot. And while he--he related one time that while he was shining shoes at a barbershop, the barbers would send him to get Coco-Cola's at a nickel each, and give him a nickel he could buy his Coke. And he would never buy a Coke because it was too expensive. And he saved everything he could find, and he finally ended up after he learned to barber, buying the barbershop that he was a shoeshine boy. And owned as many as four barbershops in Kinston at one time.
I didn't like that at the beginning, that barber business, because when I finished high school, my brothers and sisters had all been sent to college and none had graduated from college. And after I graduated--I was probably the sixth or seventh in my class, guess--he told me that he was tired of spending money on college. He was going to send me to another kind of college, and he sent me to Harris Barber College in Raleigh, North Carolina, where I got my registered license at age 20. At age 17-I'd just finished high school. Finished at 17. He wanted me to be a barber like, as he was. I got my barber's

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license and I came back, and I wanted to go to college. My mother wanted me to go to college.
So I guess the statute of limitations has run now, but they had numbers at that time. I had ten cents and I hit a number for fifty dollars and I took my barber tools and that fifty dollars and I caught a ride with a nurse who was leaving to go into Atlanta, and I was on my way to Xavier University where my brothers and sisters had started, had gone to college. And, but the lady stopped in, her destination was Atlanta. So she put me off at the YMCA at Butler Street in Atlanta. A 17 year old boy, never been out of town except to Raleigh, afraid of everything. And there was a gentleman who was manager of the YMCA. a Mr. Holmes, he asked me about what were my plans. I said, "I'm trying to get to New Orleans, to go to Xavier University." He said, "Why Xavier?" I said, that's where my brothers and sisters went. He said, "Why don't you go to Morehouse?" I said, "Where is that?" He said, "Here in Atlanta." I said, I don't care where, any place would be all right with me. This was in June of 1941, July 1941. There was no summer school.
So he told me how to get on the streetcar. I'd never been on a streetcar in my life. I didn't know how you deposit the coin. Anyway, I made it. I went all the way over from east Atlanta on Albany Avenue and Butler Street, to west Atlanta where Morehouse is situated now. And I walked in the Bursar's office, which is the business office, and the gentleman named Mr. Gassett, he told me, Mr. Holmes told me to go see Mr. Gassett. So I walked in. I was probably, weighed

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about 185 pounds, five-eleven or six feet. And I walked in the office and he looked like a Caucasian gentleman. And he said, "What do you want, boy?" And I said, "I'm looking for a job." And he said, "Hell, this is not a--this is the wrong place." He said, "Bell Bummer plant is across town." And I said, "Thank you, sir." And the reason I was so timid about it, I had heard in Kinston where in Georgia if a black man, if you had to laugh, in Georgia you had to stick your head in a barrel and laugh, they wouldn't let black people laugh out loud in public. I'd heard that as a child.
By the way, I was born in the back of a pool room and I heard a whole lot of things. I learned how to cuss by being back of a pool room, and on Sunday Its played pool for recreation. Efforts it was right in the back of it and I played pool when I was seven years old. But I had, at five or so, I had to stand on a Pepsi-Cola crate to shoot. But I was an excellent pool player.
Anyway, he said, "You've got the wrong place. This is a college, to learn, this is not a place to work." So I started out of the door. He said, "Come back here!" I turned around, he said, "How old are you?" I told him seventeen. He said, "You want to go to college?" I said, "Yes sir, that's why I came." He said, "You asked for a job!" I said, "I need that, too." He said, he asked me about, did I play football, and I told him yes. He said, "Where you from?" I said Kinston, North Carolina. He said, "Where the hell is that?" And I said, "It's near Raleigh, North Carolina." He said, what side, and I said, near the ocean. He said go down and tell Mr. Wartlog, who's the man who's in charge, to put you to work.

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And that Mr. Wartlog, and nobody on campus but about four persons, I guess, working. And I got a job in July working, making $20 a week, I believe. painted every floor in Roberts Hall, which was a dormitory, and Sell Hall, which was the auditorium.
Went back to the YMCA to get my clothers, came back somehow, I don't know how I made it because I'd never been on a streetcar before. And I had a room on the first floor of Graves Hall. Graves Hall at that time was over a hundred years old, I guess. And that night, in that building, by myself, and the whole dormitory, I heard everything imaginable. And I started crying, asking for Momma. And the next day I met a young man who was an upperclassman, who took me under his wings, and gave me my first pair of pajamas. I didn't have any pajamas at that time. He gave me a pair of pajamas. Only thing about it, he was about seven feet tall, and I had to wrap them around my legs and my arms just to be able to wear them. His name was Paul Hyde. Paul died a few years ago. We became good friends. Oddly enough, his wife and my wife were roommates at Central. She's still living in Daytona Beach, Florida. I could go on and go on, but that's about enough about my early days, I guess.
Then I had my barber tools, by the way, and I cut hair on Saturdays before school opened. There was a young man who had a barbershop, a Morehouse person, he allowed me to come work. And after school opened, Mr. Gassett, the same man who was at the Bursar, gave me a position making $20 a month, keeping the time of the student employees. I did that for three--I finished in three

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and a half years. And I did that for three and a half years. I made $20 a month. Tuition, room and board was $27 a month.
So I cut hair every day, and I made 20 cents a head cutting hair, so I had plenty of money. Bought suits of clothes and everything. Out of my--I never got a dime from my mother or father. Never. They tried to send me something, but I was angry with them because they didn't send me to college. They had punished-I thought they had punished me by not sending me and they had sent all my brothers and sisters. Everyone had gone to college except me. And I refused to accept anything. Never got one penny from them for college. And I think it's the best thing, looking back on it, it's the best thing that ever happened in my life.
ANITA FOYE:
Were you upset that your father wanted you to go to barber school instead of college?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Yes.
ANITA FOYE:
So, you were mad that you were a barber at that time?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
What?
ANITA FOYE:
Were you mad that you were a barber?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
No, after I learned, after I learned to be a barber, the only thing about being a barber, at that time, they had a handicap program. A person who had one limb, who had a leg, an artificial limb, would get the tuition and everything free. And I was the only able-bodied person in the school. And I felt a little funny, because I walked down the street one day and a lady said, "Hey, he can use his legs better than any of them." Thinking I had an artificial limb. But it's the best

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thing that ever happened to me again, because, you know, barbering is a very respectable profession. And I kept my license, and I can cut hair now. I cut my grandson's hair and my son's hair, even now. But it caused me to be able to do some things that I would not have been able to do.
ANITA FOYE:
Could you tell me about Atlanta, when you were in Morehouse?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Well, remember, in Atlanta, that was in the forties, wartime, and there were only, maybe, in the whole school, maybe 200 students at the time. I graduated in '44 with eleven persons, and all were ministers except me. And I had attempted to be a minister because of the draft. And I signed up to take religion. Martin Luther King was in my class, taking church history. And it was sort of hypocritical, in that I didn't really want to be a minister, and the professor required you to do a little sermon every so often so I asked him to give me a raincheck because I was a B, at the top, you know, A, B, C, and he gave me a raincheck, and I got a few of the assignments together, they didn't make sense to me, so I finally got out of that.
And it was, at that age, I mean, they were drafting persons of my age. But my draft papers were in Kinston. So at that time you could have your papers transferred to a draft office where you were. So they sent my papers. I made that request, and instead of sending my papers, all my papers about the army stuff. Instead of sending them to the draft board of Atlanta, they sent them to the draft board covering Morehouse College. And the lady who was postmistress at the college was Mrs. Smith, I believe. And she put my papers in my post office box-all

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my draft papers, everything. So I kept them about a year, knowing that they could not do anything without the papers.
So, finally, I felt some guilt about it and I submitted them to the draft board. And they said, where have these papers been? And I said, I don't know. Immediately after that they drafted me to come to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to be inducted.
In the meantime, I had played football. This is about probably in 1942. '3; and I had a brain concussion, a serious brain concussion. I was unconscious for about six days. And because of that, the psychiatrist asked me, after seeing my records, asked me if I wanted to go back to college. And I told him, yeah. He said, OK, I'll fix it for you to got back. So I got a 4F. I didn't have to go to the army. I went back to Morehouse. And when I got hurt playing football I was out four months, because of the injury. Not the football injury, but I got, I was in a car accident, and had a brain concussion. But through all of that I did manage to graduate in three and half years.
ANITA FOYE:
What was your degree in?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Business Administration. They called it pre-law, but there is no such thing as pre-law. I defy anybody to tell me what a pre-law degree is. There isn't any.
ANITA FOYE:
So, as early as 1944, you knew you wanted to be an attorney?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Yes. I always did. The reason I wanted to be an attorney, was at Kinston they had a courthouse on the corner of King and Queen, where there was

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artesian water. Artesian water comes out of a spring, naturally; no pump, no electricity or anything. It just comes up. And they had captured it, and they had pure, artesian water. Non-motorized or anything. And on one side, they had "White," and on the other side they had "Colored." And I couldn't understand it, in front of the courthouse. And then on top of the courthouse, they had the lady, what do you call it? The scales of justice? She was holding them just as beautiful, equal justice to all, and right on, within 50 feet of that, "White" and "Colored." I, there was a great hypocrisy about what I see, as a child, this was when I was in high school, and I just didn't understand that. I told the Lord, I didn't understand why he was so unfair.
ANITA FOYE:
Did your family or friends know you wanted to become an attorney?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Probably. I used to, I was on the debating team in the high school.
ANITA FOYE:
And did they support you, or did they tell you that--?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Told me there's no such thing as a colored lawyer, doing anything. As a matter of fact, after I finished law school, or while I was in law school, someone told me that, they asked what I was doing, and I said I was in law school, and they asked me was I going to be a policeman. [Laughter] And I told them, I said, well you tell them no, I'm going to be a lawyer, and I'm going to use the courthouse just like my living room. And that's what I tried to do these forty some years, I tried to be comfortable in court. With no assistance from anybody of the other race.

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ANITA FOYE:
So, by the time you left Morehouse and came back to Kinston, can you tell me what you did?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Well, I had, unfortunately, I hadn't--this was in '44, and I hadn't taken any education to teach. I just took regular political science. And my wife, we had married, we married May 27, '44. She had a Master's degree in social work. couldn't teach because I didn't have a degree, and so I went back with my Daddy again, and started business--barber shop college. Cut hair, anything after college. And I got the idea of having a place where people could come and have dances and have some of the entertainers of note. So my, a friend of mine and I got the idea together and we borrowed some money from some other sources to build a building that would hold 3,000 people, called New Recreation Center. And we, this was in '46, about '46 when we finished the building. And I had gotten in touch with booking agencies, like Morris Brothers, and we started off, our first venture was Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie on November the sixth, 1944. We had 3,000 people who paid two dollars and a half apiece. My wife and I counted so much money we had to stop counting and let the money stay in boxes till the next day. I'd never seen that kind of money before.
But I didn't borrow anything from my father. I borrowed the money from a man who was a businessman. He leant me, leant us the money, and sent his lawyer to the bank with us, cashed the check, and took out ten percent up front, then charged--the legal interest was six percent, it was usury over six percent--but he got his ten percent in the beginning of the whole loan, then six percent, which

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was unlawful, but who would lend a little black boy money for an idea nobody thought anything of?
But it was successful. I got enough to be able to go to law school. And I stayed out of Morehouse College five years before going to law school, promoting Lewis Jordan, James Brown, Fats Domino, Cab Calloway. All of the young artists at that time. [Laughter] It was a time, it was a time.
ANITA FOYE:
Were your parents supportive of you doing this promoting7
HARVEY E. BEECH:
They didn't have to, they didn't get, they didn't have anything invested, so they had to be supportive. There was no alternative. We've always had a real close family, so--my father was geared toward business, so anything that was successful--he didn't like the idea at the beginning, but after it started going he did. But, because I wouldn't have been able to go to law school but for that. For five years, then I went to law school, in 1949; '44 to '49.
Selling hamburgers and stuff, had a little café thing, not a café but a little soda shop thing. Selling hamburgers at ten cents a piece. You go home and take a bath, a shower, whatever, you go to church or go anywhere, you smell like a hamburger. It was fat meat and stuff, flour, and you mix it in [Sound of slapping hands]. Billburgers, they called them, with onions and stuff. But I should have been--what I should have done, I should have, instead of being a lawyer, I should have been thinking about Hardee's or McDonald's, because I had, I knew how to make a hamburger. That was my biggest mistake. People used to come in and buy, give me six, give me seven, give me nine, and you cooked them right there

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on the spot, though. I should have gone, that was misdirection. Instead of law it should have been hamburgers, something like that.
And my wife with a Master's degree, she was selling hamburgers, and she couldn't get a job because she was Black. Her first job was--a social work degree, nobody would hire her. The only job we could get for her was the Recreation Department, making less than, something like $160 a month or something.
ANITA FOYE:
So your wife was active in helping you promote?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
No, she didn't have anything to do with that. She counted the money.
ANITA FOYE:
Well, that's important.
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Yeah. And she was, while I was, see in promoting you have to be out in the, you have to go around a radius of 50 miles from Kinston to advertise. You know, every time you have a promotion you have to go out and put out placards and stuff, and I knew everybody. And she would stay and take care of the store. Hot dog stand, or, it was a soda shop, really. A drugstore looking thing, but everything except the pharmacy. I sold every kind of medicine you can name, except for prescriptions. Anything you can name, I can give you the price of it in 1944. Vick's salve or something like that, Sloan's liniment, and stuff. Then we decided to have a little costume jewelry thing, that was her deal, Christmas, we sold Christmas stuff. You could get a banana split, milkshakes, and stuff.
But you had to work every day, including Sunday. And, you know, no time off. I used to curse the lock every morning when I opened the store. This is not for me, OK.

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ANITA FOYE:
So, did White people and Black people come to your shop?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Yeah, yeah.
ANITA FOYE:
The first time you heard the name Floyd McKissick, and you heard about what he was doing--.
HARVEY E. BEECH:
I was in school with him.
ANITA FOYE:
You were in school with him?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Uh-huh, yeah. He and I were friends at Morehouse.
ANITA FOYE:
OK. So when he began the court case against the UNC system, how did you first become involved?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Well, I have to correct you. He didn't start that case. The case was started before McKissick came to law school, came to Central. It was started by Epps, e-p-p-s, from High Point. And somebody before that. But what happened was, the case was started a long time ago, but every time there was a three year span, the case became moot to those persons, so McKissick replaced Epps, and Epps had to replace someone else. And when finally, it was finally changed that the caption of the case was with McKissick, but it was the plaintiff changing all the time. And when it came to fruition it became McKissick, but it had been pending for a long time. And the same thing happened to McKissick that happened to Epps. McKissick finished law school before the decision was reached, so it was a moot question to him.
And Thurgood Marshall and some others came down and asked if I would go to Chapel Hill. And Kenneth Lee, who was my roommate. And we said yes.

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McKissick, after McKissick had graduated from Central law school, he came over and took a course in something. But Mack and I were friends at Morehouse.
ANITA FOYE:
So how did Thurgood Marshall know to ask you and Mr. Lee?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Well, I had pretty good grades.
ANITA FOYE:
OK.
HARVEY E. BEECH:
I had all A's and B's at Central. But I didn't have all A's and B's at Carolina. I had probably one C at Central. And Kenneth also. Maybe, one or two, I don't know, but my grades were better than B at Central, anything I had, except maybe one or two. I can't think of anything, really. But at Carolina, I had to cut the mustard to get some A's. And I put on a special effort there in constitutional law, one year. Because there was prejudice all over the place, and they had some visiting professors. And one was from southern California, teaching con law. And there were students from New York University, Duke, everywhere. Two hundred and some students. And they had numbers, you know, when you take the exam. I guess they still do that. They gave four A's and I made one of those, and I felt like I had done something special. When I reached that, I said, well I think I got what it takes to compete. Because you can't practice law in a vacuum. You have to practice with everybody. So the persons you go to law school with will not necessarily be your opponents in the court. So you need to get out there and cut the mustard. Everybody does. After I made those achievements I said, well, don't worry about it.

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So Kenneth and I took the bar. The first time, it was, you know, breaking the ice, you know, one of us was supposed to flunk the bar. The first time, we both passed the first time, no questions.
ANITA FOYE:
Could you tell me about--?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
You have to make an A in con law, knowing that in Massachusetts they had a civil rights state law. Eloise and I, my wife, went up to Martha's Vineyard, to just relax a little bit. And we drove our car all the way to Wood's Hole, Massachusetts, where you wait for the boat to go to Old Bluffs. We hadn't eaten anything that day, and there was a little café near the dock. And this was in 1952. And I'm afraid to go and ask for a sandwich in a White restaurant, knowing that Massachusetts had a civil rights act already. This was before '54. I knew they had it, but I'm afraid mentally to go in and be embarrassed. We didn't go in. We waited, we got on the boat, went over to Old Bluffs, and we had our first meal. I said that to say this: segregation is harmful, any way you cut it, even the separate part of it is bad. But the worst thing about segregation, you can't have segregation without discrimination. You can't have it. And it, and if I had gone through all I'd gone through, made an A in con law at Carolina, and I'm afraid to ask for a sandwich in a White restaurant in Massachusetts, what about the fellow who's never had the opportunity that I have had? So it's a mental thing. And that's the dangers of, that's the culprit about segregation. The separateness, that's the stuff. It boggles the mind of a child. And the child doesn't know why. That's why I talked with the Lord about it a long time. It's not right, it's not right. I

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can see it unfolding itself now. But we still got it here. The only way I know how to overcome it is, personally, is to be smarter and richer. That's the only way. And even after achieving that, you look back, you say, well, I'd rather be by myself. Yes, do your own thing. That's what I tried to do.
ANITA FOYE:
Could you tell me about staying in Steele Building, on the main campus at Carolina?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Oh, the buzzard's roost?
ANITA FOYE:
What did you call it?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
The buzzard's roost. Chancellor House was chancellor then, and he--well, first thing, we went over there, they hadn't planned for us stay, I don't think, cause nobody said anything about a dormitory. So we asked, well, where can we stay, and they said, so they got together, and they said, well, they assigned us to Steele Hall, right across from the old law school, on the third, fourth floor, I believe, or third floor, up in the very top. Nobody on the whole floor but us. And we called it the buzzard's roost, because that's where the buzzards roost, and the birds, and the pigeons. Imagine. [Laughter] On the top.
That was unexpected. I mean, you know, you never knew when--the atmosphere--at your age, Anita, you don't have any imagination how tragic it was at that time, how tight, that tightness of things, like segregation, integration, the feeling between races and stuff. It was real tight. There could have been an explosion at any time. And what bothered me more than anything else was, when

Page 18
I got over there again, I got over and we went and, I thought where are the places to eat--Carolina Inn? It's not Carolina Inn.
ANITA FOYE:
Lenoir.
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Lenoir, yeah. Nobody even told us where we could get food. We had to ask for that. And you go in. We made a decision that we would not sit near anybody. We'd go over on the end, and to know your friends, those who might have been well-wishers, you had to go away and let them come to you. To show their intent to help, you know. And, but nobody ever told us where to go eat. We had to find that out.
One day we were, Kenneth and I were coming out of Lenoir, and at the Institute of Government they would train the sheriffs and the policemen and stuff, and it had a wire, said "don't walk on the grass," and a brick walk, I think. And we saw three sheriffs, deputy sheriffs with their guns on, standing broadside in front of us, with their arms close to each other, as if to say, "niggers, don't come this way." And I remember it as if it were yesterday. I said, "Kenneth, you see what's in front of us?" and he said, yes. I said, "You ready to die?" He said, "Yep, if need be." And we walked within ten inches of their faces, and they parted like the waters of the Red Sea.
But you had to challenge every damn thing there was, in order to remove it. You couldn't stand back and negotiate, you had to just challenge it. And we were ready to die. I was, and he was, too. Everywhere you went there was some

Page 19
obstacle, you know. And you had to just tear it down. It's hard for you to imagine. You know, this was before you were born.
It was, you know, you get tickets to go to the football game, and the chancellor himself tells you, "Young man, I know you all didn't come over here to go to the football game. You all came to go to law school." And I didn't say anything. Somebody said, I think one of them said, one of the fellows said, at that time we had three or four--"Yes, that's right, Mr. House." I said, "Well, wait a minute." I said, "He's speaking for himself." I said, "Mr. House, don't give me a ticket." He said, "Why?" I said, "Because if you give me a ticket, I'm going to sit any damn place I want to." I said exactly that. And I think Mr. House told somebody what I said, and it came out in the paper. Roland Giddeons was the fellow with the Durham Herald. Roland might be in Durham or Chapel Hill now. He printed it, as if to say, Harvey Beech cursed out the chancellor. I didn't. I just said I would sit any damn place I wished. That was the truth.
And, we did. We went with some other students, some White students, and we sat on the fifty-yard line. First time I'd ever seen anybody with cards playing card tricks. You know, you'd sit on the cards and you'd say "hello" and all this. Morehouse didn't have anything like that. But everything was a challenge.
The next time we went back to school, I think they had to give you a physical exam. I got in line like everybody else, and I ended up with a swimming card. Kenneth and the other two black students were in a room by themselves being examined. I just followed the line; I got a swimming card. So when I got to

Page 20
the room, dormitory, I said, "What happened to you guys?" They said, "Well, we had a special doctor to examine us." What happened to me, I said, "I just followed the line." To get the blue card, did they give you a blue card, it had a kind of heavy card with a little hole in it?
So, about three weeks later, the President, the dean of the law school, Dean Brandis, sent for me out of class to come to his office downstairs and said, "Mr Beech, Chancellor House has asked me to ask you, would you return that swimming card that they gave you by mistake." And I said, "What?" He said, "Now listen, I'm not asking you to do it, I'm just carrying this message, he told me to do it." I said, "What mistake was it?" He said, "I'll tell you what they said. They said they thought you were from Brazil, that's why you got a card." I said, "That's a damn shame. To be a native son." [Sobbing] It bothers me now, I hate to talk about it. [Sobbing]
ANITA FOYE:
Would you like me to pause the recorder for you?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
It hurts me right now to think about how bad they cheated people, and how they're cheating them now! Haven't done anything wrong. And they still say, and they'd rather see a Brazilian who have never paid any dues yet. You have students and these Chinese, Germans, Japanese! I don't understand that today. I don't understand it. I get emotional about it; I get upset about it. I don't understand right now. And I never- [pause] .
Let's change the subject. I can't deal with that one, even now. It's been forty years ago; I just can't see it. I pray about it. And it's still here, it's still here,

Page 21
prejudice. Racism is still here, there's a lot of prejudice today. Don't you let anybody fool you about it.
I never could understand that. A native son who'd never been in trouble, father worked hard, paid taxes, been to school, and you'd rather see a Brazilian or a Mexican or an Indian or a Japanese to get a swimming card or go to school than you'd see your own. In North Carolina. There is no test for right and wrong on that one, is there? Well, when will these people learn? And it's still happening today!
After I started practicing law, and the judge was--still smoking cigarettes back in those days, and he, and they'd go back in the chambers, and he said, "That burr-head nigger." The guy who was being tried, it wasn't my case, or anything. And somebody pointed at me, and he forgot because I had a little old light-skinned face. You know, he just overlooked it. "That burr-head nigger." You know. He wouldn't have said it had he realized that I was there and I was black. He knew me, but he just forgot. Old buddy joke. Old burr-head nigger." And he's supposed to be issuing out justice. You know, come on, pal.
It's still there. That's why I can't understand people like Clarence Thomas, talking about everything's all right. It ain't. He's got the right name, Tom. No kidding. They named him right. That's about the only thing they did that was right. No affirmative action, no this that and the other. [Noise]
After going through all that we've just finished discussing, Anita, I finally had done enough to become a graduate at law school, and I thought everything

Page 22
was over then. And I guess you might know or recall that the graduation, they march in, each school marches in in twos in alphabetical order. And as we were lining up to go into Kenan Stadium that night in May, my "B" partner found out that I was--who I was, Black, and he refused to walk with me into the stadium. And somehow, the word got back, all the way back to the R's, and I had a friend named Mike Ross who was editor-in-chief of the Law Review. He came up from his "R" partner and walked in with me with the "B's."
And when we got inside the stadium that night, Governor Carl Scott, Bob Scott's daddy, was the commencement speaker. And everything was dark except the lights around the stand, so you could see where to go and on the stage itself, where he was. And the first thing he said was, after people were seated, "Never in my life before have I ever seen so many intelligent people sitting in the dark." Never in my life before have I ever seen so many intelligent people sitting in the dark. He said, times are changing, and it's changing here tonight, and you might as well get ready for it. A great change is happening here tonight. You can expect it to come. You might as well get out of the dark and get into the light. He was talking about the transition to the future.
I was quite impressed with what he said and the way he said it. Because that was the first time Blacks had ever doffed a cap and gown at Carolina. The first time. And I don't have a whole lot of appreciation for it, because I never have understood why it had to be a first time. I never, still don't understand why I wasn't entitled to go to Carolina instead of going to Morehouse. I was, had been,

Page 23
a Tarheel bred and a Tarheel born, you know, but I couldn't go. [background noise] OK?
ANITA FOYE:
Could you tell me who attended your graduation? Did your family come?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
My father.
ANITA FOYE:
Just your father?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
And Eloise. And a friend of my father's.
ANITA FOYE:
Was there any problem in them getting in to see the ceremony?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
I don't think so. But he wouldn't have had a problem, anyway. My father wouldn't have had a problem. [laughter] He looked like Harry Truman. They could have been brothers.
ANITA FOYE:
So, your father was 100 percent white, or--?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
I don't know what he was, but, you know, it was a whole lot of mystery, but he never--let me give you an example. When I was in Morehouse my first year, came to Kinston. My daddy and I had planned to go to Greenville by bus, and we went to a bus station, and everybody knew my father in Kinston, and when I got on the bus, I went straight to the back of the bus. My daddy took the first seat on the bus. And he spoke to people and they spoke to him.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
HARVEY E. BEECH:
You want me to repeat that?
ANITA FOYE:
Yes.

Page 24
HARVEY E. BEECH:
When I finished law school, rather than come out of law school, knowing that I didn't know how to practice law, I had an opportunity to go with Mr. C. J. Gates in Durham, who was a black lawyer who had finished Boston University many years ago. And I was very up front with him, in that I told him in the beginning that I only wanted him to allow me to practice with him for two years; I was going home after that time. So, he said, "I wish you would stay with me. It wouldn't cost you anything, but if you're going to leave, then you're going to have pay one third of the rent, one third of the secretary." I did, paid one third of everything. After two years I came home to Kinston to practice. [interruption]
After graduation from law school, after coming back from Old Bluffs, I was trying to decide what to do, and when I came back to Kinston, having, I thought I'd passed the bar, but I had an inquiry with a member of the Board of Law Examiners named Mr. George Green, from Kinston. And he sent for me, and he said, "Harvey, you passed the written part of the bar," he said, "but now, we got to question your character, to see whether you're morally right to be a lawyer." said, "Why, Mr. Green?" He said, "Well, we hear that you know a fellow named Mike Ross." I said, "Yes." I said, "He's a friend of mine." He said, "Do you visit in his home, does he visit in your home?" I said, "Yes." I said, "The only difference is, when he comes to my house, we always fix chicken and collard greens and stuff like that. When you go to his house, he has beer and crackers and cheese." He said, "Did you know he was a communist?" I said, "No, I didn't." I said, "Do they wear buttons or signs or anything to show?" He said, "Don't get smart with

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me, young man." I said, "I'm not being smart, Mr. Green. I couldn't--all of them's White. I can't tell the difference between a communist and a White man. All of them look the same, got blue eyes and yellow hair." He said, "All right, that enough!" He said, "Where do you plan to practice law, if you do pass, if you do get approved?" So I got his drift, I said, "Well, I was thinking about Durham." He said, "Hey, there you go, that sounds real good. I understand in Durham they got nigrah lawyers and nigrah jurors in Durham, so you'd get along all right up there." "Well, that's where I plan to practice." He said, "Well, that sounds pretty good." So, I think he finally passed me morally since I said I wasn't coming to Kinston.
So, I went to Durham, and I met a Mr. C. J. Gates, who graduated from Boston University law school, many years ago. And I asked him could I come and learn how to practice with him. And he said, "Well, where do you plan to practice when you learn?" I said, "I plan to go back to Kinston." And he said, "Why don't you stay with me here in Durham, I need somebody." I said, "Mr. Gates, I plan to go home." He said, "Well, if that's the case, I have to charge you." He charged 24 me one third of all of his expenses. I paid one third of his rent, one third of the secretary bill, and one third of everything. And I had a chance, though, to learn how to practice under him.
We went to the Federal District Court, the Supreme Court--my first case was a case that he had, and I think it's one of the landmark cases on police brutality, I call it. They charged a young lady in Greenville with resisting arrest, and we took that case to the Supreme Court. I did all the legal work in it. And we

Page 26
won the case in the N.C. Supreme Court. The case was reversed. She was convicted; we reversed it in the Supreme Court. At that time, we didn't have enough money to cover the field. And during that time, if anybody Black got in trouble, where Whites were involved, the only person you could, they could hire would be Black lawyers, and we used to go to cases like, in Williamston, where a man was charged with raping a White woman, or something.
And in order to get paid you'd have to go and have the consultation with your clients and the people, and then you had to go to church that night and almost preach and raise money in a handkerchief. And I would go with the lawyers and I would count whatever money they had. Sometimes it would be hundred dollars or less. But that's the way it was in those days. We're talking about in 1952.
But I learned how to practice law with Mr. Gates, and I always will remember and be indebted to him, although he's gone now, for allowing me the opportunity to learn how to practice. I maintain today, and I think I mentioned it when I was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Law Alumni at Carolina, but I made the suggestion, that when a person finishes law school, passes the bar, he is the most inadequate person that I know of who can call himself a professional. He knows nothing about how to do it. I advocate, over and over again, that a law student graduating from law school and passing the bar should be required to take some kind of apprenticeship to learn how to practice.

Page 27
I stayed with Mr. Gates for two years. I came to Kinston in 1953 or ′4 and began to practice, alone, and had a rather successful practice in the very beginning. No one knew that I had been in training for two years. They assumed that I was just out of law school, I guess. But I used the courtroom just like my living room again, and I think being so brash, they gave me more credit than I was due.
One day, we had some undercover cases in criminal court, where people were being brought into situations and they documented evidence of a month or two and they brought everybody in on arrest. And they arrested about a hundred people. And I got only two cases, and I went into court--two or three cases. All the other lawyers were White lawyers. I was the only Black lawyer. They had the other cases, and they tried their cases and lost all of them, and finally got to me and I tried my first case and won it on technical grounds, identification. I figured that if a guy came here and stayed two months and arrested a hundred people, he couldn't identify a person two months later.
So I put my client and his brother next to each other, and I sat in the middle, and when all the evidence was in, they had the whiskey and everything. And I said, I asked him, I said, "Well, who sold you the whiskey?" And he said, "The defendant." I said, "Where is he?" He said, "What?" I said, "Well, where is the defendant?" He said, "Uh, uh uh." And he couldn't pick out the person that sold it to him. And the judge said, "You don't know who sold it?" And he said, "Honestly, I don't." He said, "Case dismissed." And when everybody heard that,

Page 28
being the first case that was won that morning, they fired their Caucasian lawyers and I was hired by thirty or forty people. I had money in my pocket, bad checks, and I had about thirty-five people at that point. So beginning with that, I had pretty good popularity, you know. Things went pretty well.
ANITA FOYE:
So at no time in those two years when you were in Durham did you want to stay?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
No. I had made up my mind. In fact, I built an office in Kinston before I graduated from law school. Same office I have now. I bought it from my daddy. I paid him, I think I paid him around $200 a foot for the space on Queen Street, a block from the courthouse, and I built my office with my hands, while I was a senior in law school. So I had planned to come to Kinston. Because I was still thinking about that lady up there with those scales of justice and talking about freedom and justice for all. I wanted to get that straightened out in Kinston where I was born [Paper noise]. Hopefully, I've tried to do so. Hopefully I've done so [rattling noise] . Next question.
ANITA FOYE:
Could you talk a little bit about your relationship with Kenneth Lee?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Yes, he was, and he still is, my best friend. We've been, we went through all of it together. The bad times and the good times. And I was the Godfather of his son, Michael, who died recently. We're very close. We talk every other day now. He's retired. In fact, he just called a little while before you came. We're going down to Sunset Beach, North Carolina, to argue with the Coastal Management Commission about taking our houses on Topsail, on refurbishing our

Page 29
houses on Topsail Island. He has a place down there.
But Kenneth is the kind of friend that, if I would call him every night and say, "Kenneth, I need somebody to do a real big favor for me." And "What is it?" I said, "Well, you need to go to China and check on something for me." "Are you kidding?" "No, I'm not kidding." "Oh, come on man, you know, you got--." "No, I'm not." "Really?" "Yeah." "What time should I go?" That would be the answer. He would get on the plane and go to China. And I would do likewise for him. I'd go anywhere he asked me to go. Anytime. That's the kind of friend he is. Friendship, that kind of friendship, to me it's like a hotdog. You ever gone to the hotdog stand and he said, "How you want it, want it all the way?" If they don't give you the onions, it's not all the way, is it? But true friendship means with the onions and everything. That's what it is.
ANITA FOYE:
Were there ever any times, right before you graduated law school, that you two thought about going into business together?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Well, no. While we were in law school, we were together, we gave dances in Salisbury, North Carolina, and lost our shirt. We had Erskine Hawkins, Tuxedo Junction, Erskine Hawkins, at the armory, in Salisbury, North Carolina, through my ingenuity and my band promotion days. And we had Erskine Hawkins and lost everything we had. But we tried. [laughter]
When we first went to Carolina we didn't have the dormitory room when we first got in. We were room-mating together in Durham. And Kenneth had a motorcycle that we would ride, I think it's highway 50, the old highway 50. It was

Page 30
a winding thing, and he would get on the motorcycle. He'd act the fool with that thing. I'd be on the back of it, and he'd be swerving. I said, "Kenneth, I'm going to choke you just as sure as the devil if you keep on swerving." We'd go to school in the morning on the motorcycle.
Then Kenneth had a Cadillac. And everybody thought over there that when we got over there with a Cadillac that the NAACP has hired us and paid all our fees to go to law school, and we never got one dime from any source. That was the talk among the other students. We went because Thurgood Marshall asked us to go, after it became a moot question with McKissick. And that's the only reason.
And again, I wanted to know whether--I never did really understand, to mention myself that I had enough to be a lawyer, to compete and be competitive with the world. I didn't want to be just a Black lawyer. When you study law, you can't study by yourself in a vacuum. If you had Black courthouses and Black judges and Black everything, fine. Segregation. And they should have done that. If White America was true to his theory of separate but equal, then they should have had a separate courthouse called the Black courthouse, a Black judge, a Black jury, back in 1924. Separate but equal. They got separate but equal when they wanted it. You understand me? But that's the fallacy of that old doctrine about separate but equal. Separate but not equal. [Interruption]
ANITA FOYE:
While you were--.
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Where were we? You asked me was he white, was he 100 percent white or something? [Inaudible]

Page 31
ANITA FOYE:
Right. And you were telling me about going to the circus, with your family.
HARVEY E. BEECH:
OK. OK. You asked me a question and I don't know whether he was or not. But he never did succumb to segregation. Never allowed himself to be a part of anything that was segregated. And he was a champion on teaching us that we were human beings entitled to all of the goodness that everybody else got. That's one thing I appreciate about him.
As I was told by my older sister, my dad took us to the circus one day. think it was Hayton-Becke Wallace, or somebody, whatever it was. The Cole Brothers or whatever. And when--they had a small portion for Black people. They called it the Colored section, back in those days. I imagine I was three or four years old. And my mother was with us, all five children. And Daddy went and got his tickets for all of us, and we went in and sat in the White section. And somebody attempted to stop my mother sitting with us. And someone, they had a little conference and someone overheard the man say, "Oh, that's all right, she is the maid." I guess we, at young ages, we were a little lighter than we are now, and he would look like he was white with blue eyes and blond hair. So, it went on. But he never did succumb to anything in segregation.
So you asked me what was he? I don't know. But he was--he had more blackness in him than most people that I ever met. I guess that's why I still get affected by even thinking about some of those things that happened to me, and

Page 32
other people similarly situated. I get emotional every time I get into it. You saw that a while ago.
ANITA FOYE:
Do you blame people, do you blame African Americans who used to pass, back in the old days?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
No, I don't--I never, you know. Let me give you a little example about blaming. I was, after practicing law, and you know, I was sort of in the political thing, and I was put on a commission, but Bob Scott appointed me on a crime commission, five or six of us. And Bob Morgan, the former Attorney General, was part of it. And he and Bob Scott were close friends. And Bob Morgan asked me one day, he said, "Harvey, the Governor told me to ask you would you accept the First Superior Court position as a Black judge." I told him, no, I wouldn't accept it. He said, "Why? You'd be the first Black Superior Court judge. You don't want it?" I said, "No. I didn't go to judge school, I went to law school, and I want to be a lawyer like I am. And I'm satisfied and fighting to try to get some of this stuff corrected. As a judge, you're a referee. As a lawyer, you're an advocate."
So, you say am I blaming, you know. Another reason I won't be a judge because I don't know--God has never given me, empowered me to be able to judge anything other than myself. And I'm very short on judging anything or any activity by anybody else. That's one thing I'm short on. I never will judge anybody. Have a hard time even judging my activities. So, I don't blame anybody for anything they do. Unless it's something that's harmful to others. A man wants to be White, and he's Black, that's his business. He's not hurting anybody. If he's

Page 33
White and wants to be Black, fine. He's not hurting anybody. But if he robs somebody or hurts somebody or does something that would be harmful, physically or otherwise, then blame him. That's the way I look at it. Good enough?
ANITA FOYE:
Yes.
HARVEY E. BEECH:
All right.
ANITA FOYE:
So, since you didn't think that you wanted to be a judge, what was the highest level you wanted to go to in the legal profession?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Practicing law. That I think I achieved. In everyday cases, in all kinds of cases. I, you say what is your specialty? Law. I wouldn't bother the intrinsic things about business and corporate law or anything, but the general practice, I handled personal injury cases for years. Criminal cases for awhile, and when we got in a partnership, we divided it all, but practicing law is a challenging thing to anybody. And being a judge wouldn't fit me at all. Because the first thing, I don't think God has endowed me with the power to judge anything, about anything.
ANITA FOYE:
So you didn't have a special area of law that you liked better? For example--?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Personal injury, finally. For the last ten years of my practice, that's all I did. With Mr. Pollock, Don Pollock who went to law school at Chapel Hill, under my encouragement. And Morehouse, by the way, under my encouragement. And Paul Jones, who is now a judge, I introduced to the court the other day. He went to Central. And he works with me. And Don Pollock.

Page 34
The criminal, the criminal, the most interesting part about the practice is criminal law; it's more intriguing than any other. And, you know, you're looking at justice as it is, and you don't get--a lot of people say did you win the case or did you lose the case. You never win a case or lose a case, the case is won or lost depending on what your client did or did not do. And the client is entitled to everything the law says.
This is what disturbs me about O. J. Simpson's trial. They keep on talking about what happened in his case. It bothers me as a lawyer. I don't have a whole lot of feeling for O. J. one way or the other. But I can say this: he was tried by the system, and he was found not guilty. Now, that should be the end of that. He is not guilty under law. Nobody said a thing in Mississippi when Emmett Till was killed, and the Klan was tried and couldn't find them, and tried them and set them loose and then, and all that kind of excuses about even trying them. Nobody said anything about it.
ANITA FOYE:
How did you feel when the media turned it into a race issue?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Well, I felt as I feel now. I felt the same way, that if they can't win--. They would have been pleased by the fact that if he were convicted and sentenced. So, the media is looking for things to excite people by. And I guess it's a business deal, too. The more attention they get, the more people interested in what they show, then the more advertisements they get, you know. That's part of the business game. So, you know, I can see their motive. Their motive is making money by selling a product, and selling a product is to get people excited enough

Page 35
to look. They don't bother me one way or the other. What I'm saying is O. J. was tried by the rules that we set down; he was found not guilty by the rules, now let's get on to something else. And I don't have a whole lot of love for him, one way or the other. OK?
ANITA FOYE:
Yes. Do you still have strong ties to Central since you went there for law school?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
What, now?
ANITA FOYE:
Do you have strong ties to Central sicne you did go there?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Yes, I contribute every year.
ANITA FOYE:
Do you get to go back to Central, to speak or visit?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Julius and I are very close friends, and every time he has a special program on, he sends a little note saying send him some money, and I send him whatever I can afford. Recently, I think, we had a group from Central to--jazz group that went to Switzerland or somewhere. And they needed some money to go and I sent them some. So, I'm real close. Because that was the beginning for me.
But for Central there would never have been a Carolina. There is no way in the world, Anita, that the law school would have opened up to Blacks in 1951. Understand? It had to be a court, we had to go to court and prove--and lose in the District Court and then appeal to the Circuit Court, to fight to get in. They'd never have opened the door voluntarily, and keep this in mind. They won't open it up again. You're going to have to fight the rest of your life to open new doors, to get

Page 36
what other people get ordinarily just by being White. You're going to have to fight for it. That's true today; it was true then. Now don't you let anybody tell you different, you hear? All right.
ANITA FOYE:
Could you say a sentence or two about your feelings about people attending historically Black colleges and universities?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Like what?
ANITA FOYE:
For example, I have a lot of friends who are at Central law school. And they always feel competition because of the White colleges. And sometimes they feel upset or they don't feel like they have the competitive edge. Could you say a sentence or two, what you want them to remember, when they graduate?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
I don't understand. [Rustling noise] I think the best thing we've got going now is the Negro College Fund. And Morehouse is a good example. One out of every ten graduates of Morehouse College has a professional degree, a medical degree, or a Ph.D. One out of every ten. So, they're competing all over. So we need historically black colleges today as, more, as much or more than we ever did. This thing is overbalancing itself about integration. But we need it with quality. And we got it with quality in a lot of places. A lot of Black institutions are first-rate. I have no kind of complex about inferiority about Black colleges. Excuse the expression: that's where it's at, today.
So, Central has to be a good law school. Here's a boy who couldn't get into Duke or Carolina, graduated from Central. Now he's your Attorney General. White

Page 37
boy. So it has to be a good school, doesn't it? He couldn't get into Duke or Carolina cause if he could, he would have gone. But now he's the Attorney General, what's his name? Mike Easley. So it has to be a good law school. He just happened to be White, though. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing necessarily wrong with being White. [Laughter]
ANITA FOYE:
Mr. Beech, you've been married for over fifty years. Could you tell me a little bit about your married life?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Yes, child, I finally survived it. [Laughter in background: third person]
ANITA FOYE:
Could you tell me how you met your wife?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Well, you know, I'll tell you about Morehouse days. [noise of eating. "Oh, Harvey, don't mess up."--third person] I was a football player, and captain of the football team. [Inaudible comment from third person] And during the war we didn't have many young men. Physically, you know, all the big physical fellows were in the army. We just happen to be 4Fs. The girls didn't know it. And I met her through a friend of her family's in Montgomery, Alabama. Eloise is from Montgomery, Alabama, where Martin Luther King was the pastor of her mother's church. And Martin's secretary lived with her mother. So we were pretty close.
Anyway, this friend introduced me to Eloise, and Eloise introduced him to a schoolmate of hers at Central, so we went out on a blind date. The only reason I was with Eloise was because she was a little taller than the other girl, and Joe Brooks was short. So we met, and from that blind date situation we kept on going.

Page 38
But when we, when I graduated, getting ready to graduate, she had finished her work at the School of Social Work, and we would sit in the back of her university's campus, and moonlight was shining, and she said, "Well, I guess we won't see each other any more." I said, "Maybe not." I said, "Where are you going?" She said, "I'm going to St. Louis to do field work." I said, "Well, I guess I'll go back to Kinston and start cutting hair since I can't teach and I don't have enough money to go to law school." And she said, "Well, why do we have to part?" And I said, "Well, that's the only thing I see.
So, somehow or other--I don't know who, I'm being very honest and frank with you. I don't know who first mentioned marriage. But we left there, called the priest, Episcopal priest, asked him would he marry us. He said yes, to get a license.
So we got on the streetcar from Atlanta, Georgia and went to Marietta, Georgia, and--on a Saturday, of all things. And the courthouse, I was so naive, I didn't know the courthouse closed on Saturday. And we got almost to Marietta. The conductor, a White fellow, said the courthouse is over here. But it's closed. So we got off just to check and be sure, and it was closed. So we started back, and someone said the Clerk of Court, which they called the "Ordinary" in Georgia, lived next door. So, I don't know whether I went or she went, but we were afraid to go to the front door because he was White. I think we went to the back door and knocked on the door, and he came out and he gave us the license to get married. Got back on the streetcar, went back to Atlanta, and Ashby Street, to

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the Episcopal Church, and got my wife's pastor, Father Harper was his name. He called his wife, he tied my hands and her hands together as we knelt, and he joined us and told us not to ever get apart. And we tried to do that. Been sticking it out. Sometimes it's been rough. But she's a beautiful person. Strong character. And I'll say this, and I'm saying it cause it's true. My wife and I never had any sex until we were married. Never. Zip. [Sound of smacking hands] And it's hard for people to understand that, but that's the gospel truth [Inaudible] .
So, we've had some hard times and had some good times, but through it all God has been with us. And we've been blessed with two children, Harvey Jr. and Pamela; two grandchildren, Nina and Michael. The only thing about Eloise, she works too hard at seventy-two, -three. She goes as if you would think she was in her teens, almost, the way she works. In the yard, moving things. It's time for us to kinda be quiet and calm. I think that's a part of her lifestyle, nothing I can do about it. I'm more reserved, laid back, observant rather than doing. Is that enough?
ANITA FOYE:
Yes. A lot of people who are in law school now and are married say it's very difficult. Would you describe your early married life, while you did go to law school, as difficult?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Well, you know, I stayed out of law school--I didn't go to law school till five years after we were married. But we were living with my parents and we got in some kind of confusion about something--nothing, I don't know what it was, dishes or something, in a house that would be the size for five people, four people.

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I was there, my wife was there, my father was there, my mother was there, and somebody else, in that one bathroom and all. I guess you just get frustrated. And something I said offended her or something, and she decided to go home. Said she was going back to Montgomery.
So I told her OK. I borrowed my Daddy's car, a little Plymouth, green little old Plymouth, about '47 Plymouth. I put all the bags in the car, took her to the train station. Started taking the bags out, to put them on the train, and I said, "Now, listen. If you get on the train, you just keep on going. There won't be any coming back." So I got the bags out and she started crying, "Oh, you want me to go! [in falsetto] " And I said, "No, I didn't ask you to go. You said you were going." I said, "Now, make up your mind." And she said, "All right. [Falsetto] " So I got the bags and put them back in the car. Haven't had any more trouble. That was two years after we got married. No more problems about going home.
Sometimes a man has to kill the cat. You know, he has to put his foot down, so to speak. This is it, these are the rules. Going to play by these? No? OK. And they have rules, too, that you have to play by, the man has to play by. It's tit for tat. It's a mutual thing.
ANITA FOYE:
When was the last time you've been back to Chapel Hill?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
I went back, the last time I went back was to a Trustee's, Alumni Trustee's meeting. A couple of months ago, a few months ago [Inaudible].
ANITA FOYE:
And how do you feel when you walk on campus?

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HARVEY E. BEECH:
Well, I don't do much walking because of this cane. But it brings back memories, but, you know, I still got a little feeling of--maybe I should get rid of it--but somehow or another I can't forget how much hell I caused, just trying to be decent. I should get rid of that before I die, but somehow or another I just can't do it. You saw the emotion I had a while ago. It reminds me of things that I still can't understand why, even then, they had to--I still--there's no explanation for that. Racism is a sickness, just like cancer. And the only way to get rid of it is to just puke it out and forget it [Inaudible] . So, but I plan to contribute some funds to the Sonya Center and I've already contributed some, I'm going to give some more. They've got a little scholarship over there and I'm going to do something on that. Just got a letter from the Black Student--what's the name of it?
ANITA FOYE:
The Student Movement?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Yeah. In October I plan to be--.
ANITA FOYE:
Oh, the alumni weekend.
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Yeah. I plan to come to one of those sessions, I don't know which. Think it's the one for the breakfast. They have something Friday, but I think it's Sunday morning at the Omni or somewhere. I plan to go to that.
ANITA FOYE:
How did you feel when the students in the Black Student Movement "stormed onto South Building" and we were demanding a black cultural center and the African-American Studies curriculum? How did you feel?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
I had mixed emotions about it.
ANITA FOYE:
Could you explain that, please?

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HARVEY E. BEECH:
I had mixed emotions about it. We fought so hard to get rid of that segregated thing. It looked like at first, I thought we were going back to the same thing we left. But now, I've changed. I had assumed that things were better than they are. And we still need some togetherness, not for the purpose of being separate, but for the purpose of preparing for the future to overcome some of the injustices that still exist. The only way to do that is to put your heads together like the Indians did: powwow. [Sound of clock chiming] Without hate, without anger or anything. Just a matter of being able to combat anger in an intelligent manner. [Inaudible] , but more than that, I think that we, in the naming of the Center, my personal theory is that it ought to be the Sonya Haynes Center, rather than Black Cultural Center. There's enough that she did to name it after her, rather than that it's Black. And let people come in and see what we can offer, what history shows that we have done. The reason for that thought is that if people, Whites, Caucasians, might say, well, they want to be by themselves, they want to be separate. But if we ask to be, the whole thing to be open then why can't we just have it open all the way?
It's a matter of culture, rather than race. And the emphasis should be on the cultural side, rather than on the racial side. And Sonya was a person whose life was lived where anybody, White or Black should try to get along. That's the story we should tell. I might be wrong on that, but that's the way I felt, at first. might, I'd get upset if there's something about a White center. I'd get upset. But I don't relate the two on the same basis, because Blacks have been down trodden so

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much, I think you deserve a little more freedom to express your Blackness than the others whose been beating on your head all this time. You need to overcome, and visibly do it.
But that's something you can think about. I don't think that's the important issue. The important issue is, when is America going to learn that it will never be great until we can forget this thing called race. When is an American going to be an American, without being a Black or a White American, or whatever? If Cuba can do it, and have you ever heard anybody say, "He's a Black Cuban?" No. Have you ever heard anybody say, "He's a Black Puerto Rican?" No. He's a Puerto Rican. Have you ever heard "Black Puerto Rican?" You read the paper, newspaper says that "A Black Puerto Rican committed this" or a Black Cuban? Have you ever heard that? Well, hell, if they can do it, why in the hell can't we be Americans? Without regard to race? When are we going to be Americans? Without the prefix.
ANITA FOYE:
I don't know.
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Well, that's--America will never be great until we do that. Because we're dividing ourselves by the explanation, Black or White. And the funny thing about it is, when a White man does something, they don't say he's a White American. They say he's an American. When we do something, it's Black American. Huh? You hear me? That's what we got to get rid of, this race thing. I'm an American, you're an American, they're Americans, this is America. And you fall or rise on the fact that you're a good or bad person rather than your color. [Inaudible]. America will never achieve what we hope it will achieve until that

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happens. You can talk about welfare, abandonment, anything you want to talk about, taxes, cutting taxes, whatever; that's the key thing we should have emphasis on; when are Americans going to be just Americans without color. Hopefully, I'll be a part of that. I got a few more years to live, and I hope to be able to contribute something to see that goal.
ANITA FOYE:
You've led a very active life. Were you active during the seventies with the women's movement?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
No, I wasn't active with the women's movement. Eloise was. I respect it, and would do anything to foster women's rights. If you're talking about the abortion issue, I got some thoughts on that. I think a man's a damn fool to try to decide whether or not a woman should have an abortion. I think they ought to have a referendum of all the American women over 18 and vote on it. Whatever they decide, let it be, constitutionally. A man shouldn't have his mouth in it, one way or the other. Because he doesn't know the pain or turmoil, a woman goes through to have a child. And never will. So he ought to be quiet on that issue.
ANITA FOYE:
How do you feel when Black leaders say that Black women should focus only on the race issue, and not on the gender issue, like in politics?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Well, you know, that's cutting it too short to focus on anyone things. First, you gotta is a wholesome individual, that lives--there are a whole lot of facets about life other than being White or Black or female or male. Moral issues about it. Helping somebody else do something that you can help do. You know, think that God gives blessings because, He gives us blessings not to keep but to

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share. And he's given me many blessings. But I guarantee you, when I stop sharing them, I stop getting them. I know that to be a fact.
So, you know, life is too broad to be put in a little facet over here and over here. It's completeness of living. There are so many things, so many avenues that you have to confront. And the thing is, you know, come right down to it, Anita, is not doing unto others as you would have others do unto you. The thing is, do good to others whether they do good to you or not. That's the thing. The Golden Rule is fine, as others, have others--forget what they do to you. If God blesses you, and if He doesn't bless you, whatever you got, share it with others and I guarantee you, if you do that with an open mind, without getting praised, without getting gain from it, that you will survive, and God will replenish you every day. To give, to give, to give. I have done that.
I thought when I'd stop practicing law that things would be bad. I make more money now than I did when I was practicing law, just by looking at the television. [Laughter] Stock market. So, He's--He speaks in a whole lot of different ways.
ANITA FOYE:
You give a whole new meaning to the world, "retirement." How many boards to you currently sit on?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
None now. When you get seventy, you have to automatically get off boards. I was on Wachovia's board and First Financial Savings and Loan. And I almost refused the law school board, but I said, well, maybe they want me to come on there now because I won't be arguing and raising hell. So I consented to

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that. But I worked, you know, 1952 to 1990, I guess, every day, all day and part of the night. That's about enough for work.
ANITA FOYE:
So, during your free time now, you do stock quotes--?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Football, all kinds of sports and stuff. I fished some, at the beach. Looks like I'm going to have to quit fishing since my house is--two girls came down, one night Bertha and one night Fran, and they did me in. Lost a motel--.
[END OF INTERVIEW]