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Title: Oral History Interview with Salter and Doris Cochran, April 12, 1997. Interview R-0014. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Cochran, Salter, interviewee
Author: Cochran, Doris, interviewee
Interview conducted by Thomas, Karen Kruse
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: 248 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.
2007-10-24, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Salter and Doris Cochran, April 12, 1997. Interview R-0014. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series R. Special Research Projects. Southern Oral History Program Collection (R-0014)
Author: Karen Kruse Thomas
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Salter and Doris Cochran, April 12, 1997. Interview R-0014. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series R. Special Research Projects. Southern Oral History Program Collection (R-0014)
Author: Salter and Doris Cochran
Description: 332 Mb
Description: 41 p.
Note: Interview conducted on April 12, 1997, by Karen Kruse Thomas; recorded in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Karen Kruse Thomas.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series R. Special Research Projects, 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 Salter and Doris Cochran, April 12, 1997.
Interview R-0014. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Cochran, Salter, interviewee
Cochran, Doris, interviewee


Interview Participants

    SALTER COCHRAN, interviewee
    DORIS COCHRAN, interviewee
    KAREN KRUSE THOMAS, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
I'm interviewing Dr. Salter Cochran and his wife, Doris Cochran, about their activism in the Weldon-Roanoke Rapids area, and the activism of health care professionals. Mrs. Cochran, if you could start by talking about your background a little bit. Where are you from?
DORIS COCHRAN:
I was born in Denver, Colorado, and my parents were easterners. My mother was educated at Howard University, my father at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. My father pursued a career in the Methodist ministry after being discharged from the service in World War I. Because they were adventurous, the two of them decided to move all over the country, which was sort of distressing to their families, from that generation who were so used to being in a fixed situation. I was the last of four children born in Denver. From there we went to Portland, Oregon, and from there to Oakland and Berkeley, California. I was educated on the west coast. I went back to Denver to finish high school, and then went to Howard University. That's where I met my husband.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
When did you come to Howard?
DORIS COCHRAN:
1945. That was because my father had been appointed to teach at Howard at that time, so the whole family moved. I was the last member of the family to leave the nest, since others were married or adults, so I was with my parents when he was appointed to teach at Howard. Salter and I married while we were still in school. From there, we moved here to Weldon, which was his mother's home. She was born in Scotland Neck, and then her family moved to Weldon, and that's when we came down in 1950. From there, we worked together. Salt was in Korea, perhaps he can tell you about that. I was trained as a musician—a violinist, and theory major in music at Howard. I had never lived in the South before moving to Washington, so it was all a very new experience for me.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
That must have been a really exciting time to come to the South and Howard, right at the end of World War II. Do you remember any experiences from then that really stick out in your mind?
SALTER COCHRAN:
All of them were negative!
DORIS COCHRAN:
Not all of them.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Coming to Washington, first, and then Weldon, too.
DORIS COCHRAN:
Going to Washington was quite an experience because I had never lived in segregation before that time. It was different. It was surprising in many aspects, but there is a sort of umbrella protection on a campus, you're insulated from reality in a way. That part of it wasn't traumatic, at least, but it was difficult to put together the pieces of the whole picture of segregation. In our nation's capital—that was a big joke, a sick joke. That, as you said, was quite interesting. There were a lot of veterans on campus at that time. Very serious about their work, very dedicated to getting through and doing the best that they possibly could. A lot of them were married with families. So there was a serious atmosphere on campus at that time.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Dr. Cochran, if you could tell about your background.

Page 2
SALTER COCHRAN:
I was born in Washington, DC, 1922. I was brought up in segregation. However, during my course of secondary education, I went to some of the better public schools in Washington. I graduated from Dunbar High School, which was an outstanding black high school. They've written books about it. My wife's mother finished there in 1914. I finished in 1939. Because of segregation, we had some of the best teachers. Very few didn't have PhDs in this high school, because they had nowhere to go after they got their degrees, because of the separation in education. During the high school days, you were exposed to a whole lot of bigotry within the city. As my wife mentioned, there was an umbrella around Howard and other educational institutions in the area. It was quite an odd situation. You had all these people with these big brains, that could have contributed to society, and they were limited within a certain scope of education in the city. My wife had a godfather who wrote many books, E. Franklin Frazier. Look him up when you go back. Allain Locke in philosophy. And they were all teachers of mine. E. Franklin was a character.
DORIS COCHRAN:
He grew up with my father in Baltimore. E. Franklin Frazier and my father were boyhood friends.
SALTER COCHRAN:
I was exposed to education that was limited in its scope, so I missed some of the things that she was exposed to in growing up. The cultural aspects of living. They didn't stress that at Howard, they stressed basic education, because the student body was constituted of a lot of people from backgrounds even worse than mine, from the South. That made some difference in basic and cultural education. But they did have quite a few people who did stress culture, like Allain Locke and Franklin Frazier. My experience there was enlightening, as far as basic education is concerned. But limited.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
This was at Howard?
SALTER COCHRAN:
Yes. It was an excellent institution at that time, it's still good now. Phylicia Rashad and her sister are graduates of Howard.
DORIS COCHRAN:
My mother graduated from Howard. When we moved to California, she did her graduate work at University of California, and had no trouble with her transcripts going from Howard to U.C.-Berkeley. It showed that there was a good quality of education at that time at Howard.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Dr. Cochran, how did you decide to go into medicine? Was that something you decided at Howard?
SALTER COCHRAN:
I didn't choose it. My mother chose it when I was four years old, and mentioned it constantly. She was a single parent. My father had a good mind, but alcoholism took over, and he died at an early age. My mother was rearing two children, I had a sister. We both got college educations, and I got further education. She influenced me more than anything, because she mentioned it constantly. I wasn't sure! We had unusual high schools that offered four languages, five years of Latin, and two years each of French, German and Spanish, three years of chemistry, two years of biology, and three years of physics. That was in high school. And the introduction to calculus in 1938. That was rare. I had brilliant kids in my class. There were five to seven hundred, a large class. It could have been more than that, because they merged. All of them

Page 3
had the ambition of furthering their education, and 95 to 98 percent did. So you were surrounded by an environment of competitiveness, as well as the attempt to further yourself in education, so you could be better prepared for the ordeal we had in later years.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
When did you enter medical school, and was that also at Howard?
SALTER COCHRAN:
Yes, in 1944, and I finished in 1948. Courtesy of the army, we went free. You've heard of the V-12 program? That was the Navy.
DORIS COCHRAN:
ASTP—Army Specialized Training Program.
SALTER COCHRAN:
We were excluded from the Navy program. That's where you had segregation, too. But we were in the Army specialized training program, for which they supplied everything. They eventually sent me to the front lines of Korea for 13 months, while the North Koreans and the Chinese were shooting at us.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So that must have been shortly after you arrived in Weldon.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Yes, we hadn't been here two years before they came after me. They sent an entourage, didn't they?
DORIS COCHRAN:
The threat had always been there, because he owed the government. That was one thing that kept us from starting our family any earlier than we did, because we knew that this was on the horizon.
We weren't sure we were going to come back to Weldon. I never will forget statement that my husband made when he came back, and finally decided that he would return. "If I could fight on the front lines of Korea, I could certainly do the same here in Weldon." Having to do with the situation we found when we came to Weldon.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Absolutely. So many people I've talked to have said they either fought in World War II or Korea, and came back and didn't intend to stop fighting.
SALTER COCHRAN:
We were in World War II when I was in medical school, but we had to go to basic training. We had to get up early in the morning, meet at 6:30 before we went to medical school. We were in uniform, too.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
But you weren't sent overseas in World War II.
SALTER COCHRAN:
No, they saved that little situation for me to go to Korea, and rushed me over there real quick, up to the front lines.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So you graduated from medical school in 1948, which was the year Truman desegregated the armed services. It was a historical turning point as you were finishing school.
SALTER COCHRAN:
It was a segregated set-up, because we had training out at Fort Myer before I went to medical school. We had to take care of the horses and the manure. This was a ceremonial group. Any time a president died, they accompanied the body down Pennsylvania Avenue. The soldiers who were in the regular army were jealous of us. They all Caucasian. There was a young captain over there who said, "Y'all are going to medical school?" There was some consternation that he had such an educated group doing menial tasks. I was shoveling horse manure. That disturbed him. This guy was from the South, a young boy, though, 23 or 24. He was a captain, so he had some political influence. We had two women in there who were in the WACs. They couldn't

Page 4
understand how they could send us out here to do these things, and we were getting ready to go to medical school.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Were you in a specialized medical corps unit?
SALTER COCHRAN:
It was specialized until they got to college. Then they had a whole battalion of medical students, and some were in the school of engineering. These were young kids that joined the army for their specialized training.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So all the people you were serving with were either getting ready to go into medical or engineering school?
SALTER COCHRAN:
They were young kids who had never had any previous exposure to college at all.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
When you got out of medical school and got ready to enter the medical profession, did you feel like things were changing, and there were a lot of opportunities opening up? Because it seems like some black doctors have felt that they were in a status quo that was very difficult to break, but then there's a turning point where the younger physicians start to really question a lot of the problems.
SALTER COCHRAN:
We had problems when we graduated. We were limited to black hospitals throughout the country, except a few in California, and maybe an occasional internship. They limited blacks in medical schools all over the country. They'd accept maybe two or three. Carolina's accepted none.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Until 1951.
SALTER COCHRAN:
We were married in 1947—we've been married for 50 years this year. My wife has been very supportive of anything that we've done. I interned at a predominantly black hospital in Baltimore called Provident. I got further training in a small clinic in Tarboro, Quigless Clinic. I got the board [certification] in 1950. We set up here in 1950. While I was taking the board, I had to stay at St. Augustine Hospital, which was a predominantly black hospital in Raleigh. You weren't able to stay in the hotels. The amazing thing about taking the exams—all the white students crowded around us. They thought we knew more than they did! In the final analysis, we did know more, because we were trained in medical school that you were going to meet all kinds of obstacles.
DORIS COCHRAN:
Dr. [Charles] Drew taught him.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Yes, the blood plasma man. He was a personal friend of mine most of my life. His sister finished high school with me. Eva Drew, who's a friend of mine. She's still living up in New York. That's early. We had been used to facing these things, but we were sort of in isolation in Washington. I was in the college crowd, but we were isolated in northwest Washington, and parts of northeast. But none in the suburbs all around. I knew nothing about that. You couldn't go to a theater there. You went to predominantly black theaters. I was prepared for it [segregation in Weldon], but my wife wasn't, with her background of being born in Denver, and going to Oregon where there were two thousand black people in the whole state. Her father was an AME [Afro-Methodist Episcopal] minister, so she's tell you more about that.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Do you remember at this time if you could have trained or practiced at any of the VA [Veterans' Administration] Hospitals?

Page 5
SALTER COCHRAN:
No, they were kind of radical, too, considering the whole situation. They didn't encourage you to come. The only VA hospital you could go to was down in Tuskegee, where they did that experiment you hear so much about [The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment]. Dr. Drew got killed going down there for a seminar. He got killed at Haw River. That was the only veterans hospital I know. They did not encourage us to come to veterans hospitals. In fact, in the service, we integrated for the first time at the hospital at San Antonio. They cut our tour short. We were supposed to be there for 60 days, but we stayed for 30. They were rushing me to Korea. This was in 1952. I stayed there in combat for about nine months. There were 300 of us that they shipped out. Now they were integrated. And we would go downtown in San Antone, and they looked at us right strangely. But these lieutenants and captains, I'd go in a mixed group, and nobody would say anything. Texas had that segregation law. We got ready to fly back, and saw "colored" and "white" on the doors, and I didn't notice the doors, because I was going in. I knew what was practiced, but they said nothing, because there were about 300 of us. I imagine they were afraid to approach any of the officers. All of them were officers.
DORIS COCHRAN:
During the Korean War, he may not tell you this, he was decorated twice with the Bronze Star. Plus, they were in front of the MASH hospitals on the lines. They were in the bunkers in front of MASH during his whole stay in Korea.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Five miles in front of MASH. The enemy was two or three hundred yards in front of you constantly. You moved them back, halfway up to North Korea, almost to the Chinese line, and then you came back, because they had three and a half million against our quarter of a million or half million. We had superior firepower, but we didn't have superior manpower. That's the reason you had the DMZ [demilitarized zone] line, because neither group could move the other.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
What were some of your memories when you came to Weldon?
DORIS COCHRAN:
My mother and father were both trained social workers, and their lives were very broad. As a result, they shared with us the experiences. . .
SALTER COCHRAN:
Can I interrupt? Their lives weren't always like that.
DORIS COCHRAN:
I'm speaking of when I knew them.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Because they were victims of the same things I was, in Baltimore and Washington. Her mother finished the same high school I did.
DORIS COCHRAN:
And Howard University. So, by being social workers and sharing with us—we even socialized together, my parents and our generation. I have three siblings. As a result, I think it gave us a step up in understanding society in general, people in general. It was a very interesting life, because we moved from community to community. By my father being a minister, you were welcomed in the community, you didn't have to forge your way through. At the same time, you met so many diverse people. The church in Oakland and Berkeley that my father had was integrated way back in the '30s and '40s. It had a small minority of other races, but they were there. There was an on-going exchange of rabbis and ministers within the ministerial alliances in Oregon, California, and Colorado. So we were really exposed to lots of different types of people. My older sister

Page 6
graduated from U.C.-Berkeley also, and as you might know, the international house there had a reputation of being quite an active, interesting and diverse community. My mother and father used to welcome young people to our home, because they wanted us to know people from all over they world, and they wanted them to be exposed to families in the area. We lived in Berkeley, right near the campus. So that armed me, so to speak, with a feeling that there are other venues, other aspects to life besides that that I had lived. When I came here [to Weldon], at first I had the feeling that there would be a very strong, almost militant group of people that were ready for anything that might come on the horizon. The military had been integrated, and I said, well, things might begin to fall after that. This was in my mind. So coming here, I had that feeling, not realizing that there had been generations of that slave mentality that was still here. I came to understand that the security people needed to go from one day to the next was in that slave mentality. That was a rude awakening for me. I didn't think that that would be the situation when I first came here. I remember that the older physician that was here—we'd met him before, his name was Dr. Tinsley— approached us one time, and said that he didn't believe that there was much hope. I think that he had just given up on the prospect of our races ever getting together, or people having understanding. So he was sort of negative in his whole aspect. I told him, I remember quite clearly, that if we could help just one person, maybe that would be progress. And he looked at me like I was sort of crazy. I guess he thought, here's this young kid that doesn't know what she's talking about. But still, I sort of hung on to that, because, I guess, my family had been so positive, and had instilled in me a positivity that I felt quite strongly about. But little by little, it was revealed to me that it would take a lot to overcome what had preceded us generations back. In the churches, which were the foundation of the black communities, there was a resignation about ever bursting out, ever becoming a part of the community in general. I remember quite a few experiences. One of them had to do with the fact that the minister of the church that my husband's family belonged to was in graduate school at Harvard University with one of my father's brothers. I was enthused about meeting him, and thought, "Oh, boy, this is really going to be something, because I'm sure that this man is going to be a very progressive man." And the very first time I went to see him, and went up to meet him at church, I said, "I have some exciting news. My father's brother and you were at Harvard together in the master's program. He said, "Oh, yes, what was his name?" I said, "Richard Hill." And he said, "Oh, I knew him, I knew him." I said, "Great. Since you've been in this community, what have you been doing to help with the leadership and so on?" And he told me, "I'm giving the people what they want." I almost fainted right there in the church! I couldn't believe—because when I heard him speak, it was so lacking in any perspective, any inspiration, it was so lacking in giving people the wherewithal to fight the battle. I just couldn't believe it, and that's why I was pressed to go to him and ask him what this had done to equip him for helping these people in his

Page 7
community that so desperately needed it? When he said he was giving them what they wanted, I felt like my heart just went absolutely to the floor!
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
And this was at a church here in Weldon?
DORIS COCHRAN:
Yes, yes.
SALTER COCHRAN:
First Baptist.
DORIS COCHRAN:
After that, I told my husband, "I've never been a very religious person, maybe spiritual, but not religious. But this does it for me. I just don't think I can become a part of that type of mentality. I've got to stay on the outside and find out what allows it persist, and see what I can do from the other end. But it's not going to work for me to be a part of it." I had grown up in a family that wasn't terribly religious, because we weren't even told that we had to go to church in my family, it was a matter of being exposed to all kinds of religions, and accepting what was acceptable to you. After that experience, the idea of becoming a part of the religious atmosphere in Weldon [was impossible]. And that set us apart, because in the black community, if you're not first, from that community, and you don't have the accent, that's sort of a startling aspect to you, and then if you're not a part of the church, there is something definitely wrong there! So that set me apart.
SALTER COCHRAN:
It's the slave mentality again.
DORIS COCHRAN:
So it was harder for people to look at me and say, "She'll be a part of us," than it was for them to look at my husband, because his family had been very involved in the religious community in Weldon, especially his grandmother. That was a revelation, number one. After that, I think I made up my mind with Salter that we'd do the best we could to bring to the people the best medicine and the best image of self-realization of some sort that we possibly could. It started off by our working very hard to create a physical plant. No one would let us have any property that we could house an office in, and we had to fend for ourselves.
SALTER COCHRAN:
They wanted to put us in the cotton gin!
DORIS COCHRAN:
We really had nowhere to go.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So you really had a hard time getting even office space?
DORIS COCHRAN:
Oh, yes. His aunt was still living in Weldon, his mother's sister. They had a big, lovely family home there. Across the street from the family home, there was an old, old house that had been built by slave labor in 18. . .
SALTER COCHRAN:
1853.
DORIS COCHRAN:
I have one of the original bricks.
SALTER COCHRAN:
It was a former clinic in the nineteenth century.
DORIS COCHRAN:
Yes, a former medical clinic, two stories. It was dilapidated, but when I looked at it, I told Salter, "Rather than renting from someone who doesn't want you there anyway, in a piece of a place that you'll have to pay a terrific rent for, let's fix this place up. We can do it." Salt said, "No, Doris, I don't see how!" Luckily, my mother and father had taught us to work with a hammer, saw, and nails when we were children.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Moving from parsonage to parsonage.

Page 8
DORIS COCHRAN:
Yes, and my mother always believed in exercising whatever you could to create some type of aesthetic surroundings for yourself. So I said, "We can do it, we can do it." When we went in the old building, it didn't even have running water in it.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Birds were flying in and out.
DORIS COCHRAN:
It had a dead cat in the hall. Salt said, "No, Doris, this will never work." I said, "Yes, it will." So we found people that would help us.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Did you own the building?
DORIS COCHRAN:
The family owned it, but it had been deserted for years.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Two doctors who were my cousins, after the Civil War—
I have a lot of cousins around here.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Most Southerners do have a lot of cousins!
DORIS COCHRAN:
I think that's the only thing that really saved him, because when he came back from Korea, he was quite militant. One of the judges in this area was a cousin of his. I think that he put out the word not to bother him, not to touch him. I think that was the one thing that kept him from being hurt, because otherwise, he could have been physically hurt.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
I can imagine, in the early '50s.
SALTER COCHRAN:
We were victims of a lot of physical threats, and some shootings.
DORIS COCHRAN:
Some mysterious telephone calls.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Of which we believed the FBI was behind.
DORIS COCHRAN:
A lot of threatening things had happened.
Anyway, we decided to renovate this building. It was a true challenge, but by not knowing how long he'd be in the area because of the military seeking him, we said, "We'll do this, and see what we can do on a temporary basis."
SALTER COCHRAN:
We were renovating the place initially, and couldn't get 1,500 dollars. I was a new doctor, and every white doctor that came in the area—one did come in before I went in the service, didn't he? And they loaned him 40,000 dollars right away.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Forty thousand dollars?
DORIS COCHRAN:
That was after you came back.
SALTER COCHRAN:
No, he came in while I was gone.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
And this was the local banks?
SALTER COCHRAN:
I had to have two signatures, my mother's and my aunt's, to get 1,500 dollars. We couldn't buy any materials, and I had an old lady that I used to go over and see when none of the other doctors would. She was Caucasian. She called down to the place and told them they'd better let me have anything I wanted.
DORIS COCHRAN:
And plus, we had a military surplus store in Rocky Mount, and I used to jump in the car and run down there to get paint and whatever else we could find at a very low cost. We physically worked along with other carpenters, and re-did that place.
SALTER COCHRAN:
The first time, we had a one-room apartment in the building.
DORIS COCHRAN:
With offices in the front.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So you lived in that building.

Page 9
SALTER COCHRAN:
Yes, before I went to war.
But at that time also, the black physician in town did not accept privileges at the hospital. They said if he accepted (knowing that he wasn't going to accept) that I could come in. I was trained. We were the first blacks to have outpatient privileges at Johns Hopkins. Now can you imagine that? [Before], we couldn't go in Johns Hopkins and observe the patients at the outpatient clinics.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
I'm not sure I understood what you just said. The other black physician here in Weldon didn't have access to the hospital, but they said as long as he didn't have access you could?
DORIS COCHRAN:
No. If he [the older doctor] agreed to come on as a staff member, limited, I'm sure, they would allow him [Dr. Cochran] to do so, but he didn't agree.
SALTER COCHRAN:
So that enabled him to block me. They knew I had been trained.
DORIS COCHRAN:
I think that was a ruse. I really don't think they would have let that man in there. Plus, he had, I'm sure, been traumatized. He had witnessed lynchings.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Oh my god.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Growing up in Henderson.
DORIS COCHRAN:
After he was an adult, I'm sure that he felt loathe to get into. . .
SALTER COCHRAN:
They used to send him mail on civil rights. All this happened before I went into the army in the later part of '51.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Was this Dr. Tinsley?
DORIS COCHRAN:
Yes.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
And he was basically afraid to accept privileges even if they were offered?
DORIS COCHRAN:
I think so, but I think it was a ruse. I don't think that they would really have done so. But he had witnessed lynchings, and he was part of the NAACP. He had been the victim of threats, both written and telephoned, over the years, and I'm sure that was one reason why he was not willing to get involved.
SALTER COCHRAN:
They turned me down, but within 30 days, if a white physician showed up, he'd get immediate privileges.
DORIS COCHRAN:
My husband continued to apply to the hospital for years, annually.
SALTER COCHRAN:
It took them 12 years for them to put me in there.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So when did you finally get privileges?
SALTER COCHRAN:
1961, '62. The only reason that came about was that they were getting ready to lose the Hill-Burton funds. They had put my picture in the paper when I was in combat in Korea, first time they'd ever done that for a black.
DORIS COCHRAN:
When you were decorated. We have that scrapbook with all that stuff in it.
SALTER COCHRAN:
I'm skipping around. That was in '53 when they decorated me. We're dividing it from '50 to '52, when I went into the service. Then after '54 when I came back.

Page 10
SALTER COCHRAN:
The main spokesman's going to be my wife, and I'll fill in. This is not the role I usually play. I usually run the talking! I think she is better organized than I am.
DORIS COCHRAN:
I don't know about that!
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
We had been talking about Dr. Tinsley. About how old was he when y'all got here?
SALTER COCHRAN:
He had known my family since my mother was pregnant with me. He had known her as a child.
DORIS COCHRAN:
He was born in the 1880s, wasn't he?
SALTER COCHRAN:
He came here in 1908, and he was 31 or 32. He died in 1961.
DORIS COCHRAN:
He went to Leonard Medical School at Shaw University. He was an interesting man.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Very intelligent, but he feared the system.
DORIS COCHRAN:
He had witnessed so much, and he had reason to fear what was going on.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
He had been active in the NAACP?
SALTER COCHRAN:
Oh yeah, he was president. But they could intimidate him.
DORIS COCHRAN:
I think the older he got, and then he was by himself after he lost his wife.
SALTER COCHRAN:
1948 she died.
DORIS COCHRAN:
And his children had moved away, and he was by himself. I'm sure it was difficult for him as he grew older to fight those battles. You get battle-weary after a while.
SALTER COCHRAN:
He didn't have a charming personality, either. [Laughter] He had a very gruff way.
DORIS COCHRAN:
He was very abrupt.
SALTER COCHRAN:
If you didn't do it his way, he was not understanding of your way. He would break it off sharply. He had known my family all my life. He had lived behind me. He moved his family out of here, for one thing. Washington, DC. They lived two blocks over from me in Washington. I had known him all my life.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
I believe Mrs. Cochran said that when you came back from Korea, you were very militant.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Oh yeah, I became very militant. That was a frightening thing as far as the establishment was concerned. They didn't know really exactly how to handle us. And they still don't, after all these years, they really don't understand.
DORIS COCHRAN:
I think it's because in small communities, if you're an outsider, you remain an outsider in many aspects. I think that was by and large part of it. Plus, we were different from the people that were here because our backgrounds were quite different, and our aspirations were quite different, too. That's hard to cope with, change is always hard to deal with.
SALTER COCHRAN:
When we came back, and were trying to remodel the building—we spent a couple of hundred thousand dollars to remodel it. Eventually, we remodeled it, and it was the most modern office in the area. It looks pretty close to the same way it looked then when we remodeled it. The house structure was solid, because they hewed the lumber.

Page 11
DORIS COCHRAN:
We decided to have our living quarters above the office. It was a large building, and my husband and I both said, with rearing a family, we needed to have some proximity there, because otherwise, they wouldn't have a chance to see their dad. So we decided to have our living quarters upstairs. I think a lot of that was safety in proximity, too. So that's what we did. The children grew up knowing what their father did, and sharing his work, and he sharing his time with them. So it worked out well for us.
SALTER COCHRAN:
It was difficult, because they didn't give me immediate staff privileges, and you were working at a definite disadvantage. After I returned, it was over seven years. And every white physician came and got his in 30 days. We had two white physicians in the area, Dr. Blow and Dr. Suiter in Weldon, and they were courteously polite. You know how people are? It still didn't solve my problems. We couldn't even go to clinics at Duke then. We went to clinics at the black hospital, Lincoln in Durham. We had quite a few liberal physicians at Duke who would come over and lecture all day on one- and two-day lecture sessions. They would keep us abreast of what was happening in the field of medicine.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So these doctors would lecture at Lincoln?
SALTER COCHRAN:
They called it Lincoln Clinic, and it was an all-day clinic, and part of the next day. We went for years doing that, and going maybe to seminars outside the state.
DORIS COCHRAN:
That's where I went to deliver all my babies, had to drive all the way down to Lincoln [approximately 80 miles]. For two reasons: I was Rh negative, and I didn't want to be relegated to a segregated area in the hospital here.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So there was a hospital here, but it was segregated.
SALTER COCHRAN:
In Roanoke Rapids [5 miles from Weldon]. It's the old hospital, and you're dealing with doctors who hadn't been used to treating black people like human beings. That was disturbing to them when I got on the staff. I sort of half-way intimidated and forced them to do things. I was delivering babies there in '61, '62, and they told me you had to send the babies downstairs to the colored section, as they said. I started sending them upstairs where everybody else was. And they thought I was a belligerent soul. Eventually, I integrated that hospital, didn't I, Doris? Because I started sending the patients upstairs. Everybody was afraid to say anything to me, because they would cut off the federal funds. It was the law then. Which was late—they had passed the thing a long time ago. I was the only minority physician there for 15 years. I caught hell.
DORIS COCHRAN:
Our children integrated the schools, by the way.
SALTER COCHRAN:
In Halifax County in 1964. Our son Tony went all the way through 12 grades, and he finished in 1976.
DORIS COCHRAN:
They integrated Weldon's school. They were the first blacks in Weldon or in the whole county to integrate. John Salter, I don't know if you've heard of him, he was with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
SALTER COCHRAN:
He was here in the late '50s and early '60s.
DORIS COCHRAN:
He helped us organize parents for integration, to get depositions. In fact, we housed a lot of the law students who were helping us to get depositions.

Page 12
SALTER COCHRAN:
You know where they came from? The Ivy League. Georgetown, Yale, Harvard.
DORIS COCHRAN:
They stayed at our house. We had army cots. And they helped us take care of the children, because we were really immersed in civil rights at that time.
SALTER COCHRAN:
And we believe the FBI tapped our phones.

Page 13
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
DORIS COCHRAN:
Our phones were tapped at the time, and we could tell that they were. So we contacted the FBI to tell them what we thought. They came to our house.
SALTER COCHRAN:
And acted so cavalier about it.
DORIS COCHRAN:
So we said, "You probably are responsible for it." It was amusing, but at the same time, I couldn't allow my children to answer the telephone, because we'd get so many threats on the phone. We didn't know what was going on. We had to be very careful.
SALTER COCHRAN:
And they did us physically in, too. They would take me out, threaten to put me in jail, and put me in there. But they were afraid to lock me up.
DORIS COCHRAN:
They locked up a very good friend of ours several times, who was a lawyer—James Walker, the man who integrated the University of North Carolina Law School.
SALTER COCHRAN:
And he didn't have many friends. He's the guy who came here in 1954 and started the civil rights movement. It was before Christmas, I had just come home. He was supposed to come down and talk to some other blacks in Weldon about the situation, and they backed out. They told him, "That young doctor that just came out of the army might be interested." That was the latter part of '54. So we joined him, and I ended up spending a whole lot of money with him. Cause nobody else would spend either time or money with civil rights.
DORIS COCHRAN:
We helped to finance his efforts.
SALTER COCHRAN:
We were threatened many times, and he was jailed at least a couple of hundred times.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
You had said earlier that you wanted to mention the integration of UNC Medical School, which I'm also interested in. Edward Diggs was the first black student admitted in 1951 to the first four-year class, and James Slade was the second, two years after that.
SALTER COCHRAN:
When we got here, Duke was the only four-year medical school in the state, and ECU was just a normal school in 1950. The president of ECU was a friend of Doris'.
DORIS COCHRAN:
Not really. I met him—Leo Jenkins. I think I was the first black member of the hospital board that was created before the construction of the new hospital in 1972. Our civil rights organization, the Halifax County Voters' Movement, had been pushing for a seat on various boards, school boards, hospital boards, wherever we could make our presence known. So I was appointed to the hospital board.
SALTER COCHRAN:
I was on the old staff [of Roanoke Rapids Hospital] for ten years. I was the only minority. They never would make me chief of staff for anything. I was too outspoken. They had some fear, but I didn't show too much fear. We used to have speakers from the John Birch Society come over from Rocky Mount, and they would tell black jokes. I would get up in the meeting with about 70 doctors there, and I was the only black doctor, and tell them to get the "H" back to Rocky Mount. The Philippino doctor was over there, telling me to "Sit

Page 14
down, sit down!" [whispers]. Most of the speakers were uncomfortable, and they got out of there, and went on back.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
In what situation were you listening to someone from the John Birch Society?!
SALTER COCHRAN:
Most of the Rocky Mount doctors belonged to the Birch Society back in the '50s and '60s. They would come over here as speakers for meetings of the county medical society. That was in the old hospital. They didn't pull too much of that in the new one.
DORIS COCHRAN:
Because things were integrated there.
SALTER COCHRAN:
More than they had been at the other. We still were occupying jobs at the lower end of the totem pole.
DORIS COCHRAN:
I never will forget, speaking of the integration of the hospital. The board was formed for the new hospital before it was completed, so we could be in on the planning of the hospital. The Hill-Burton funds were mentioned tirelessly, to the extent that we could not have double rooms, we must have single rooms. I said, "You're going to spend more money to segregate individually than you would if you were to have double rooms. It would be a lot cheaper." But they said people in this community just would not accept that. So the hospital was built with all individual rooms, instead of accommodating more than one bed per room.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
The hospital in Rocky Mount did the same thing.
DORIS COCHRAN:
Yes, that's right.
SALTER COCHRAN:
But see, the hospital in Rocky Mount integrated before ours. We were one of the last ones. What tickled me about the integration of the old hospital, which was in '61 or '62 that I went over there, until '72 when they built the new one, they gave me courtesy staff membership, because I lived outside of town. But they had been giving all doctors in Weldon courtesy staff privileges, they didn't give them full privileges. Full staff and courtesy staff, I couldn't tell the difference between the two, because you could do everything the other guy did, on courtesy staff. But what tickled me is, we had a place up at Gaston Lake, and we were out having a good time with the kids one Sunday [shortly after Cochran came on staff at the old Roanoke Rapids Hospital]. They had told me I couldn't work the emergency room, the people in the community wouldn't accept it. See, the people in the community accepted a whole lot more things than these doctors wanted you to believe. It was an economic thing. They didn't want you to meet any of the people that may come to you as patients. So this doctor was driving by in his boat, and saw me out there, and I was enjoying the children. His name was Woody Boone. He stopped and said, "What are you doing?" And I said, "Man, I'm out here!" I wasn't working the emergency room or taking care of business or those problems that they had, so I could just sit there and relax, and said, "Well, this is the best life." The next day, I don't mean a week, he asked me, "Would you work the emergency room one day a month?" And they never understood that my wife and me, we'd sit up here, and just say, "Well, go

Page 15
ahead." They found out it was to my advantage to let them do what they wanted to do.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Just to get this clear—you finally got staff privileges at the old hospital in '62, and even thought there wasn't any official policy of integration, you started sending patients to the second floor, which used to be the white ward.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Yes, that's right. They said something about it, but nobody had the guts to come up to me and tell me.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Was the old hospital built with any Hill-Burton funds?
SALTER COCHRAN:
They received some after it was built. Hill-Burton hadn't been running long when we first got here. The hospital was built in 1914.
DORIS COCHRAN:
In fact, Salter's grandfather donated money to the building of that hospital. David Smith.
SALTER COCHRAN:
My grandfather, who was mostly Caucasian, had about 90 acres. There's his picture up there [points to photograph on wall]. He's the one who had all the money. He owned a block downtown in Weldon. But we didn't receive any of that when we got here in the '50s. They lost quite a bit of money in the crash, my grandmother did. In place of the welfare department, that didn't exist for black people, she was the welfare department. So we were pretty substantially well off. We owned about 350 rental houses at one time, that's a lot.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So in the early '60s, at this old hospital, do you remember any talk of "Well, we might lose our Hill-Burton funds."
SALTER COCHRAN:
Oh, yeah, they talked about it. I was there. I got sick at that time, and they put me in the hospital. They gave me a private room—they cleared out the morgue! [Laughter] And my wife threatened to send me somewhere else right quick! They got it straight.
DORIS COCHRAN:
I don't think it was literally the morgue—it might have looked like it, but it wasn't quite.
SALTER COCHRAN:
But they cleared out a room that had no windows in it. I hyperventilated a few times, and had an inverted T-wave, which meant they thought I had a heart attack. My doctor was this Puerto Rican, Angie Patella. Angie was trying to appease and be part of the picture, until his brother came up from Puerto Rico. He was blacker than Angie, and they looked at him, and Angie had a little rougher time after that. He was Castillian.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So you were sick around '62 or '63?
SALTER COCHRAN:
Yeah, I was overworked, and I smoked three packs of cigarettes a day. My wife threatened to move me, but they never did put me upstairs [in the white section of the hospital].
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So they were still scrambling and looking for loopholes?
SALTER COCHRAN:
Oh yeah.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
But from what you said, Mrs. Cochran, it sounded like they didn't fully integrate officially until the new hospital was built in 1972?
DORIS COCHRAN:
I believe so—isn't that correct, Salter?
SALTER COCHRAN:
Yes.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
It sounds like there was a real gradual transition.

Page 16
SC and
DORIS COCHRAN:
Yes, yes.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Well, the babies were in the same place. That's about the only integration they did, in the nursery.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Until '72, the other patients remained segregated?
SALTER COCHRAN:
Well, they sort of kept them isolated up on OB. It's kind of hard to segregate, since they had to work on available space.
DORIS COCHRAN:
The doctors' offices were definitely segregated. I became a part of the Medical Auxiliary, so I had an opportunity to go in some of the offices to meet with some of the wives, and the offices definitely had "colored" and "white" waiting rooms. So the attitudes were pretty much the same, regardless of where the funds for the hospitals were coming from.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
But the hospital that was built in 1972 was built with Hill-Burton funds, and they really pushed for it. . .
SALTER COCHRAN:
The other one was partially built, they had an annex. That's what frightened them, because the new annex was built with Hill-Burton funds.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Do you remember when the annex was built?
SALTER COCHRAN:
It was added after I came out of the army, after '54. They were really nervous about that. In fact, they left the annex standing there for a while before they tore the old hospital down. It's ironic—they went all out of their way. I had a guy who was from the Balkans, named Cromke. He was mean as the dickens, but he liked me. I had three or four doctors that I could get information from. They'd interact with me, but if I got in trouble, I was in trouble. Those guys didn't want to help you. I believe they were less trained than I was. The intelligence level didn't impress me, because they were dealing with poor whites and blacks. This is a mill town. Stephens was there, and Beard, and what's that one with two names?
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
West Point-Pepperell?
SALTER COCHRAN:
Yeah, that's right.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
My mother used to work for J. P. Stephens in LaGrange, Georgia.
SALTER COCHRAN:
The mills would treat people like dogs. My wife was instrumental in the unions—you know that movie, Norma Rae? I was the only doctor that opposed the rest of the doctors in the area.
DORIS COCHRAN:
They were against the unions. We worked with some of the employees during the civil rights movement.
SALTER COCHRAN:
My wife was informing these people of their rights. She knew about unions and organizing.
DORIS COCHRAN:
Some of the black mill workers stayed at our house.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
You say the doctors of the community took a stand against unions?
SALTER COCHRAN:
It was socialized medicine!
DORIS COCHRAN:
They didn't do it overtly, but they were not for unions.
SALTER COCHRAN:
I was on the outside looking in. The mills paid certain doctors to take care of their patients. That's a form of socialized medicine. I never had been part of the picture. The mills always encouraged people not to come to me, because I have always been client-involved. Because if you get institutionally involved, you know you aren't helping people. It's managed care.

Page 17
DORIS COCHRAN:
In other words, a lot of the mill workers, when they were injured, would be sent right back on the job, rather than treated completely. My husband, of course, wasn't for that. He was for the patient, the worker. They opposed that posture. He always let it be known that he was not going to send a mill worker back before they had recovered from whatever injuries they had sustained. So that put him on the outside.
SALTER COCHRAN:
This was prior to 1970, or maybe early '70s.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
The white doctors in this area were in favor of working for the mills?
DORIS COCHRAN:
Yes.
SALTER COCHRAN:
That was their only way of making a living. This area has been known as the poverty strip. When you have mills, you know you have lower incomes.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
If I understand you right, it's kind of ironic that these doctors would support this what you might call "managed care" in the mills, but every white doctor I've talked to or read about in the North Carolina Medical Journal is very against any kind of socialized medicine.
DORIS COCHRAN:
It wasn't labeled as such. They didn't look at it that way. They saw it as an opportunity for them to have a steady income, and help the mills stay where they were.
SALTER COCHRAN:
You hit upon a point. Back in the mid-'60s, after I came on the staff, I became president of the Old North State Medical Society [for one term in 1968-69]. I was very militant, I wore a dashiki, and I would bring things up before the legislature. Because we were not members of the North Carolina Medical Society until the late '60s.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
I know that they gave scientific membership in 1955, but when were blacks admitted as full members?
SALTER COCHRAN:
By the late '60s. We were members of the Old North State [Medical Society] all those years.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So what were some of the things you lobbied the legislature on?
SALTER COCHRAN:
We lobbied them on membership, which was a waste of time.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So you went to the state legislature to get that?
SALTER COCHRAN:
We went to the state legislature when we were involved on the school separation bill in 1969.
DORIS COCHRAN:
A lot of the areas here wanted to create separate school districts within the townships, because blacks were living in the rural areas, and this would re-segregate the schools after integration, since the townships were predominantly white. So both Salter and myself appeared before the legislature to protest this, along with James Walker. He didn't appear, but he helped us to prepare. We had a lot of difficulties to overcome, because our mail was held up. Whenever we were approved to appear, they'd hold our mail at the post office, and we'd get a notice a couple of hours before time for us to be there, and we'd have to get in the car and speed all they way to Raleigh.
SALTER COCHRAN:
They gave us more than a couple of hours, they gave us overnight, but we had to put people to work on machines to get out the folders to pass out. Julian Allsbrook—you saw Julian Allsbrook Highway on the way in?—he was instrumental in the Senate for a number of years. So his colleagues asked him,

Page 18
"Who are those people named Cochran delivering all this stuff? What law firm is that?" [Laughter] He said, "He's a doctor, and she's a housewife." We killed it. They wouldn't pass the bill at first, but the second time, they put so much pressure on, they passed the bill. What they would do is, treacherous things like if the black high school in Scotland Neck was eight feet out in the county, they ran the line so that the white students within the town limits wouldn't have that many black students in their school.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Right. I'm familiar with the Durham situation.
SALTER COCHRAN:
They gerrymandered it.
DORIS COCHRAN:
This area is divided into three districts for the same purpose. Roanoke Rapids is one school district, Weldon is another, and then the county.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Which one would be the so-called black school district?
SALTER COCHRAN:
The county. Most of the blacks live in rural areas, so they draw that line accordingly.
DORIS COCHRAN:
It's changed now. In Weldon, it's predominantly black. Roanoke Rapids is still predominantly white.
SALTER COCHRAN:
But they're changing, because there are a lot of blacks moving in the mill houses, which are deteriorating.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Have the economic opportunities changed, because if I'm not mistaken, most of the mill workers back in the '50s would have been white.
DORIS COCHRAN:
They were.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Most of them are black, now. But the upper echelon is still predominantly white. The same thing in the hospital. There's not a black within the first eight spots in the hospital, never has been.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So it sounds like the economic structure of the community changed over time.
DORIS COCHRAN:
To some extent, yes. You have a lot of blacks now who are in services, where before, you didn't see a black person behind a counter anywhere, you didn't see them in a restaurant, you didn't see them anywhere. Of course, that's changed.
SALTER COCHRAN:
They were house people, domestic servants.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
You had said that your own children have chosen not to stay in this area. Do you feel there's been kind of an exodus from this area?
DORIS COCHRAN:
Oh, yes. Through the years.
SALTER COCHRAN:
It's been both blacks and whites.
DORIS COCHRAN:
Yes, it's happened here. There are no opportunities for them here. Plus, there's no acceptance, by and large, in the majority of organizations here. The service organizations like Rotary Club are still predominantly white, so that you're really not an integral part of the community.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Of the infrastructure.
DORIS COCHRAN:
The churches, of course, are still segregated—eleven o'clock on Sundays is the most segregated hour in America, as they say. You do not have an ongoing, diverse community, which would be ideal. You still have blacks completely separated from the white community. With a few exceptions.

Page 19
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Have some of the institutions that the black community relied on under segregation to fight for civil rights—have those institutions survived?
DORIS COCHRAN:
No, they have not. Primarily because during the time that we were working in civil rights, most of the professionals, like teachers, could not become a part of it, because they would have lost their jobs. Like Willa [Cofield Johnson] in Enfield, was fired from her job because she was involved in picketing the schools. Other people who would have joined her would have lost their jobs. So you could really understand, to survive, they were not able to become a part of the civil rights picture. As a result of that, through the years, young people, rather than having to put up with all the difficulties and lack of opportunities, have gotten their educations and just left. You've had quite a few young people, we can name any number of black kids, who have left never to return. So you have a dearth of young professionals.
SALTER COCHRAN:
All of them were my patients. We had a doctor who became an endocrinologist, and he didn't come back.
DORIS COCHRAN:
But you do have some who have back, like Ike Miller, who have joined predominantly white medical groups. There are quite a few East Indians in our area.
SALTER COCHRAN:
We should tell you about the change in the medical profession towards minorities. However, the East Indians don't consider themselves minorities. They are treated as minorities, I don't know how they don't realize it. They will utilize their talent, because they are well-trained in medicine. They have one, two and three boards [certifications in medical specialties]. But I question the acceptance of these people.
DORIS COCHRAN:
Plus, they're not the top people in hospital administration. It's still predominantly white, and always has been.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Isn't there a difference between minorities who are native to this country and foreign-born people? Is there a difference in treatment? DC and
SALTER COCHRAN:
Oh, yes.
DORIS COCHRAN:
Definitely so. There's more acceptance in the community of foreign minorities than indigenous blacks. At the same time, in a lot of areas here, you find that most of the East Indians especially, socialize among themselves, and have their own place, and work together, not specifically with the community in most aspects. There are a few who are more Westernized in their thinking, I guess.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Sounds like they stay self-segregated.
SALTER COCHRAN:
I don't they think they realize it, and don't want to accept it, but I tell them, "Turn your hand over, look at the back of your hand."
DORIS COCHRAN:
But you find that more whites are willing to go to East Indians or Asians or other minorities for medical treatment than would ever go to blacks. Even some foreign blacks are more accepted. We have an African in this area who has a large white clientele. It's still that old slave mentality.
SALTER COCHRAN:
But Dr. Tinsley had a large white clientele in Weldon, and he had a rat-trap for an office.

Page 20
DORIS COCHRAN:
But they didn't go to his office, Salter, not as much as he went to them.
SALTER COCHRAN:
But he'd charge all kinds of prices, and they'd pay it.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Were the whites in his practice mill workers?
SALTER COCHRAN:
No, he had some upper class, some blue-bloods.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Can you speculate on why you think that was?
SALTER COCHRAN:
Well, he was better. He improvised, and knew about drugs and how they would work together. He was ahead of his time.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So he was well-trained and very good at what he did.
SALTER COCHRAN:
He went to all these seminars all over the country, even before it was popular.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So he was recognized as an authority.
SALTER COCHRAN:
When nobody else could handle a case, they'd recommend Tinsley, and he's jump in there and do some miracle. Of course, immediately, they called us root doctors. We weren't supposed to have but limited intelligence. I used to tell other doctors that, and make them mad! Because you read their minds, and they knew that wasn't true. This was frightening to a person, when you threatened them a little bit, as far as knowledge is concerned.
DORIS COCHRAN:
One of the things that really struck me when I first came here was the fact that black people were spoken to in such demeaning and degrading ways. It occurred to me not long after I'd been here that this mentality had been so accepted by the black community that they really believed in how they were being treated. When I would go in stores, you'd see an old black man who was addressed as "boy," and I would always intervene and say, "Look, that man's old enough to be my father." And you'd see such anger in the faces of the whites. But I couldn't stand it. Yet the black person would cringe, because they knew I was treading on dangerous ground. By being young, and not realizing what damage I could do, I couldn't resist coming in there and defending somebody. I'd get in a grocery store line, and an old black woman would be in front of me. "Girl, what do you want?" I mean, the tone was just so hurtful to me. I'd say, "Look, that's not a girl—does she look like a girl to you?" And it would dawn on me, this black person is cringing because they saw imminent pain.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Yet my wife was inflicting imminent pain on the other person! And then they would be nice. When they got to her, it was, "How do you do?"
DORIS COCHRAN:
In some instances, clerks would find out my first name. I had never thought about this concept before I came here, and I realized it was a way of bringing me down a notch, by calling me by my first name when they didn't know me. I would say, "Come to the back of the store with me." And I would chew them out. I'd say, "We're not friends, we'll never be friends. Don't call me by my name." I had to become defensive. I started reading books that would give me and edge. James Baldwin would incite me, because that wasn't my personality, and I had to get an edge on my teeth. That wasn't my bearing, and I had to assume it, because I just couldn't take what I was seeing all around me. After a while, it dawned on me that these people being treated this way, after generations of it, have assumed that posture. "I'm not any good, I'll never be any

Page 21
good," and that's just the way this society had treated them. It became a reality to them. It used to incite me, to the point where I couldn't keep quiet.
SALTER COCHRAN:
She'd go in places that blacks had never been in, because she was used to going wherever. She was insulated in DC, and had gone anyplace in California, and nobody had said anything to her. If you sat down and ordered something, they'd serve you. But the word had gotten in around in this community, "Don't bother her, or she might cause you trouble." Even before the Brown decision on the schools in '54 started breaking the whole situation down.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Did you find it difficult to make friends here?
DORIS COCHRAN:
Yes, very difficult. My very best and only friend here died in 1977. She had been born and reared in New York, and we were of the same mind, I think. Although she was a teacher and couldn't be outspoken, we could talk to each other on any subject. Other than that, I never had any real friends, because I was not accepted. It sort of isolates you. The only saving grace I had was I'm Unitarian. Some Unitarians moved here that had previously lived here. They found my name on the list, and called me when they came in 1976. Without them, I would have felt like a lost soul, because my other friend died around that time. It leaves you quite isolated. If it had been for several things, and one of them was CADA, working with all people for a common cause. Plus, by being a violinist, I worked with the Murfreesboro-Chowan College Orchestra, and their string ensemble. Those two things kept my spirit alive and fed it.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So you found friends outside this community.
DORIS COCHRAN:
Oh, yes. I joined an organization, my husband pushed me into it, LINKS Incorporated. It's an international organization of minority women. At that time, the only chapter was based in the Rocky Mount-Wilson-Tarboro area. I joined them when my youngest child was only about a year or so old, I guess in '63. That kept me alive. Although they weren't right next door, at least I knew I could go to them, and would see them once or twice a month. I had a very supportive family, and of course my husband, so that made all the difference in the world.
SALTER COCHRAN:
They never appointed me to anything. I'm chairman of the board of elections in this county now, for the last five years. My wife, they'd choose her to be on every board. She was on the board of the community college for twenty years. They'd rather have her, because she's very nice in her approach.
DORIS COCHRAN:
I'm more of a diplomat!
SALTER COCHRAN:
I come direct. I don't believe in mincing any words, or going around the tree to tell you what I think. I don't think that's advisable as I've gotten older, but I did enjoy it. [Laughter]
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
After hearing what y'all have told me, did you ever consider going anywhere else but Weldon, and did you ever think you were going to have to get out of here?
DORIS COCHRAN:
I did! [Laughter]
SALTER COCHRAN:
My wife considered leaving, and leaving me here! [Laughter] But I'm glad she didn't.

Page 22
DORIS COCHRAN:
Many times, I thought it was an impossible situation, because I just didn't see how anybody could grow. I wasn't so worried about it until our family came along. And then I saw myself going in reverse. You always think of your children having a better life than you do, and I had really been more privileged than I realized when I was in Berkeley, Denver, and Portland, Oregon. I had access to everything—the San Francisco Opera House. It was just the simplest thing to get on the train and go over. You had a pass for students where you could go to the matinees, and didn't have to pay anything much. All these things I took for granted, I guess, and after giving so much thought to our having children, and knowing what they would be deprived of, I didn't know whether I could do it or not, whether I could sustain myself. But I think my mother and father helped me to realize that there was a world outside of this that they would have access to. We helped them to have that access by sharing our vacations with our Canadian relatives, and by being in other places. For instance, we took advantage of the Friends of the Concert series in Raleigh. I used to put a quilt in the back of the station wagon and take the kids pajamas in the car, drive down to the concert, put them in their pajamas in the station wagon, and drive home. Things like that made it livable. They took music at Chowan College and came in contact with a lot of different people. We traveled a lot with them. They opened their eyes to another world. I was constantly telling them that this is not the beginning and the end, this is just a phase in your life, and it's up to you to broaden it, and with our help, you will. And so it came to be. But there were many times when I wished myself to be anywhere but here.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
But what brought you to Weldon? How did you chose this as the place to set up your practice?
SALTER COCHRAN:
My mother. [Laughter] I guess we were looking for a spot, and she figured you had a good start if you came here. But my mother didn't remember Weldon as Weldon existed. Because they had enough material and financial things to shield her from the actuality of what existed in the community. She went to private schools and all that.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So you didn't exactly know what you were up against when you moved here.
SALTER COCHRAN:
No, I wasn't aware totally. I was aware partially, I had come down here for the summers, but in those formative years, you didn't realize the seriousness of the things that existed, and you didn't even recognize them. But my wife recognized all of those things when she got here.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
I want to backtrack and ask you about some of the larger issues that were going on when you first came here around 1950, and then I definitely want to ask you about your activity in CADA.
I have uncovered in my research several African-Americans who were really pushing for black medical education in North Carolina. The original Medical Care Commission report back in 1945 made that supposedly a goal of the health plan of the state, to increase medical education for blacks. When the debates started about expanding UNC to a four-year school, there were people who said, "If you're going to have a four-year school, you've got to admit blacks." There were also various plans for a regional medical

Page 23
school, sending people out of state, etcetera. I just wondered if you were aware of any of those debates, or do you remember people talking about that?
SALTER COCHRAN:
I remember it actually occurring, because they did not admit blacks to any medical schools in the state. They would pay your tuition at Meharry [Medical College in Nashville, TN] and you could go to medical school there. Well, a lot of guys applied so that they could go there free, because the state had to pay their four years medical school. [The state paid the difference in tuition and expenses between attending school out of state and the cost of enrollment at North Carolina College for Negroes in Durham]. They were talking about integration when we got here [in 1950], and it never did go into effect until—you said Diggs was the first in 1951? I wasn't aware of that. We had a friend here who got in in the late '50s, he was the fourth black that they admitted [to the UNC School of Medicine]. Lawrence Zollicoffer. He finished high school in this area at age 13, finished A & T at the age of 16, and had his master's by the time he was 18. He went out in the field and taught agriculture at the high school level.

Page 24
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
SALTER COCHRAN:
I was saying that [Lawrence Zollicoffer] applied to the UNC School of Medicine in the early '60s. Zollicoffer was a brilliant man, he finished number two in the class, one-tenth of a point behind the top student. Now you know who finished tops in the class. He told me that all the students told him he finished at the top. But they weren't going to let that happen. So he left, and he was the first black to intern at Georgetown Hospital in Washington, DC. He left Washington and did a residency in Baltimore, I believe, at Johns Hopkins. He was the first there. And he did a double run in pediatrics and internal medicine. He got his boards in both. Unfortunately, at the age of 45, he died of cancer of the colon. He's buried right up here in Littleton, North Carolina. Lawrence Zollicoffer, the fourth black to finish the University of North Carolina Medical School. And he finished one-tenth of a point from the top—now how do you determine that?
DORIS COCHRAN:
One of his sons is a medical doctor.
SALTER COCHRAN:
In Baltimore. And Lawrence has, in front of the Georgetown Medical School, a water fountain dedicated to him. He was a brilliant man.
DORIS COCHRAN:
Very unassuming, lovely man.
SALTER COCHRAN:
You would never believe it. And at 45, that's terrible. He died in 1977, I think.
DORIS COCHRAN:
He was very interested in the civil rights movement here, and used to come down and talk with us. He was living in Baltimore at that time. His wife was from Tarboro. He'd come down and just talk and seem to absorb it all. It just interested him so much, what we were doing. We were working with SNCC [the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee] and SCLC [the Southern Christian Leadership Conference]. Not so much CORE [Committee for Racial Equality], I tell you who came down here at one time, the lawyer who recently died—
SALTER COCHRAN:
Wild Bill Koontzler!
DORIS COCHRAN:
Yeah, he remarked to me that my hands were not those of a person who was in the fields picking cotton. I said that's because I'm not a cotton-picker! [Laughter]
SALTER COCHRAN:
He helped us get our depositions in Enfield.
DORIS COCHRAN:
We used to meet in Enfield, where they were shot up at one time. The Halifax County Voters' Movement.
SALTER COCHRAN:
It was rough, it was dangerous. They'd try to intimidate me all the time. They didn't do much to my wife, they'd just try to block her out if they could.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Who was it that was intimidating you, and how?
SALTER COCHRAN:
The Ku Klux Klan tried, and other rough groups.
DORIS COCHRAN:
We'd get mysterious telephone calls, anonymous notes left in your car in the summer. I would only leave my windows slightly open when I parked to go to the store or anything, because you'd usually find an intimidating note that had floated in. So I went to school with my children and picked them up every day, I never let them go by themselves until they were big. Still, they ran into quite a few incidents that were sort of scary. But we managed.

Page 25
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
This sounds like a good place to get into your involvement with CADA.
DORIS COCHRAN:
CADA was originally one of the first anti-poverty agencies. I had been so active in civil rights that we had constantly been asked to be admitted to the various commissions, to be recognized and asked to speak so that we could petition for seats on various boards. Because I guess my name was known, along with my husband's, when CADA was formed from an economic development agency that spanned several counties, they had one of their preliminary meetings in the courthouse in Jackson, North Carolina, which is the seat of Northampton County. At that time, they were being petitioned to have the economic wing of their organization become a part of the anti-poverty agency. We were there, and two ministers who were not from here, but had worked with us in the civil rights movement, flanked either side of me, because we didn't know what was going to happen. We knew one of the persons in the economic development organization was vehemently against the involvement of blacks in anything. So they promised they would be with me, and they were. We went to the meeting, and asked to be recognized in the courthouse. When I got up to speak, Stephenson, who was a lawyer, asked me to leave. He said he wanted me out of the courthouse. I told him I would not leave, and that I would meet him after the meeting to discuss anything he had to say. In the meantime, [we had gone to the meeting] to be recognized also as an anti-poverty agency. That was my first involvement with what would become CADA. That was around '64 or '65. Several of the white people in the community who knew me, and with whom I had had frequent exchanges and had met with in order to petition for our involvement, said that they wanted me on the board. That's how I became a part of CADA, and stayed with them for 30-some years.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
What kinds of activities did CADA do?
DORIS COCHRAN:
Oh gosh, they were involved in so much. They were one of the first Head Start organizers, in about '65. They were involved in all kinds of community projects having to do with trying to get economic parity in some way for minorities and for poor people. It had to do with the very basic aspects of the human endeavor, helping people to realize how to create a budget, how they could prepare themselves for job interviews, just the very rudimentary things that would help them pull themselves up. At one time, they went into house renovation, some of the basics to help people exist from one day to the next. How to do their income taxes, you name it.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
I know that there was a lot of controversy over the community action programs that were specifically trying to teach poor people how to organize politically to gain more of a voice. Do you remember anything about them?
DORIS COCHRAN:
Well, yes, there was bound to be, because here you had diversity, people from various backgrounds and cultures and races working together for a common cause. That wasn't supposed to work, so that was a basis of objecting to community action agencies. From there they, felt that perhaps this was going to weaken other agencies, or there would be some overlapping—there were all kinds of excuses given for objecting to their existence. But CADA, by virtue of

Page 26
their good leadership, was able to hang on. They did an excellent job through the years. I admired them and stayed with them because of that. I felt that they were making a difference, and they still are. And they still have a lot of problems to fight because of it.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Do you remember anything about how the North Carolina Fund was involved with CADA, because of course, the North Carolina Fund was cut off around 1968 because of a great deal of political opposition.
DORIS COCHRAN:
Yes, exactly. They helped with the logistics, I think, the organization. They had the expertise to direct anti-poverty agencies to seek means for funding, and for all kinds of basic expertise that they didn't have before. People in the community might not have had experience in business or in dealing with various parts of government, federal and local. I think they had a lot to do with educating people in those areas to make them more capable of handling the agency in general.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Did you ever meet Howard Fuller?
DORIS COCHRAN:
Oh, yes!
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
You don't forget him, do you?!
DORIS COCHRAN:
No, you don't, that's true. I met [George] Esser [Executive Director of the NC Fund] also.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Have you ever met the former mayor of Chapel Hill, who's now in the North Carolina Senate? Howard Lee?
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
No, I haven't.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Howard Lee could tell you some interesting things, too. He was the first [black] who ran for the congressional district over there, against L. H. Fountain from Tarboro. Howard Lee, a good man to look up for civil rights. He was one of the early politicians. Of course, Mickey Michaul was too. He used to come through here. He's in the state House of Representatives. We've been friends with Eva Clayton for about 37 years. Eva has interesting things she can tell you about integration. Floyd McKissick, who founded Soul City, was on the periphery, but claimed he was in the mainstream. Floyd would come in when the glory came. We've had some interesting times. This is the worst part of the state, the northeastern part.
DORIS COCHRAN:
I think it's because of the number of blacks that are here, because you have a lot of problems in the rest of the state, too, but there are smaller numbers of blacks.
SALTER COCHRAN:
The blacks outnumber the whites in this county, about 53 to 47. Before we started in civil rights, they had 469 blacks registered to vote in 1954. When we finished recruiting for the next four to six years, there were between 12 and 14,000. The University of North Carolina had considered us dangerous, my wife and I.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
UNC did? Why was that?
DORIS COCHRAN:
There was a write-up having to do with our activities in this area.
SALTER COCHRAN:
It was in the library at the University of North Carolina.
DORIS COCHRAN:
I don't know how, because we never saw the book, but someone that was working on his dissertation from Duke came across it and told us about it.

Page 27
He was saying that we were deemed "troublemakers." As my daughter used to say when she was a baby, "fubblemakers." [Laughter]
SALTER COCHRAN:
We have survived, but I think it's taken its toll. Even though I'm 75 and she's almost 70, maybe it doesn't show on our faces, but it was a tough thing to do in an area like this, that was resistant to change and is presently resistant to change. We haven't made much progress in this area. We have tried to change the thinking, and we have a lot of liberal white youngsters who are interested in changing the lifestyle of the community, but these old people are resistant. But they're dying out, and we're hoping for some improvement. I've always felt, and so has my wife, that we cannot survive in this country unless we solve the race problem.
DORIS COCHRAN:
A very sad thing that I've seen here and other places is that there's a lot of prejudice among blacks also. Understandably, because it's been like a shield to them.
SALTER COCHRAN:
It's color prejudice.
DORIS COCHRAN:
Not only color prejudice, but against other people.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Those with limited education are prejudiced against educated blacks.
DORIS COCHRAN:
It makes for a whole picture that, if you look at it one way, can be rather bleak. You just can't afford to give up too easily.
SALTER COCHRAN:
It's a picture of confusion among economics, race, and all those things. But the people who are at the top exploit that situation by creating more problems. But now they've found out it isn't feasible to go that way, because your community deteriorates. But it took them years to find that out.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
What do y'all see as some of the continuing problems that African Americans still face today, all this time after the civil rights movement?
SALTER COCHRAN:
I'll give one. Identification. You're physically identified by color, I'd say 90 percent of African Americans. Maybe less than that, since a lot of them are going over, so you really don't know who they are. I think it's obvious that if you can physically identify a person as African American, it's established within your mind that this person is inferior, so I'm going to take over. I don't know if my would agree.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So you think that's still a problem to this day.
DORIS COCHRAN:
It's definitely still a problem. The attitude is that slave ethic or mentality that still exists. I really don't know how you overcome it. By being a musician and being immersed in things that were aesthetic as a child, with my family and in school—we had marvelous orchestras and art departments when I was in school—I think that that's one way that some of this can be thrown away, some of the feelings of prejudice and overt acts of degrading other people. Day by day contacts are not positive, and could be changed through forms of art and culture. That will be a difficult thing, because in an area like this you don't have those institutions that admire, condone or nurture any type of artistic endeavor. That's something that's far off in poor and semi-rural communities. I really think that it's unfair to put the burden on schools, because they already have burdens of discipline. Many of the teachers when my children were in school were not equipped to deal with people coming from various

Page 28
backgrounds. They just did not have the outlook or background themselves to be able to make a difference. I think that's more or less a lost cause. So it leaves you with very little to deal with. Among the black churches, during and right after the Civil War, they were the alpha and omega to the black community. You found a lot of the black ministers who went away to be educated, and came back to help lead their people. But that is no longer the case, and has long since gone by the way because of economic pressures. You find a lot of ministers are not able, intellectually or in any other way, to lead large numbers of people into positivity. It just isn't there. I really don't know what the answers could possibly be, with the exception of the infusion of people from other areas. Like in Raleigh, the Triangle area, the Triad area, people moving in from other places make a difference, and make people become subject to change—it's not a choice. I really think that that's the only thing that's going to make a difference. Here, the infusion of other people has made some difference, because you find people understanding that, "Wow, there are other religions besides mine. There are other languages besides mine." In a very slow but definite way, I think that might make a difference, but I really don't know what the answers are.
SALTER COCHRAN:
We've found it difficult in the realm of acceptance of two people like us. And we've been here almost 50 years. You see how she talks, and my control of the English language isn't as great as hers. But we're seen as a threat, because we don't comply with what exists.
DORIS COCHRAN:
I don't think we are now. At this stage, we're seen not so much as a threat as we are an oddball.
SALTER COCHRAN:
What did Hitler do? He eliminated the intelligent Jews immediately. The intellectuals. I think they really tried to do that in areas of our society.
DORIS COCHRAN:
I think that people are just resistant to change. Because slavery was here, it was looked upon as an acceptable institution. It's very difficult to change your attitudes and your feelings. If you weren't reared in that situation, your aspect is completely different. It's a matter of an infusion of difference that will eventually change things.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
I'd like to ask you, though, from the other side of the coin, what has changed since y'all got here in 1950?
DORIS COCHRAN:
You do see a few people who seem to be genuinely interested in making a change, whereas you didn't before. You see a few people who are willing to verbalize that. People may have thought it before, but they were not willing to verbalize it. At this juncture, there are retirees who are coming back to the community. I think it's helping the black community in a lot of ways in that these people have been in other places, and have made a living. Some of them have done well, and have been able to invest in nice homes here so that they could live comfortably in their later years. I think that they're opening the eyes of people who have been protected so far as outside of this geographical area is concerned. In small ways like that, I think they make a difference.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
That's interesting, because the older people coming in may be of the same generation as the older people here who have lived here all their lives,

Page 29
so they at least have that in common. It's not like it's some young person coming in, trying to tell them what to do.
DORIS COCHRAN:
Exactly. It's been interesting to me too to see that happen. I think that's a positive note. Other than that, it's very difficult for me to see what real changes have come about, because you still have that most segregated 11 o'clock hour [on Sundays], with the exception perhaps of the Catholic church. When my nephew, who was from New York, used to come down to spend some time in the summers or when he was in the Marines and stationed at Camp Lejeune, he went to the Catholic church and was, I think, the only black Catholic there. I think there are a couple of blacks who belong to the Episcopal church here. There's Jehovah's Witnesses, too, that are integrated. You do have a bit more tolerance than you did at that time. I don't hear that same tone that I heard when I first came here. I don't hear anybody calling anybody "boy" or "girl," because I think they feel like they'll get slapped down in some instances! So that, I think, has changed. In your business, there are more black people involved in the banks and stores, and more visible. Those are slow things that are happening, but they are happening.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Those are entry level jobs.
DORIS COCHRAN:
Yeah, you don't find them in the administrative and the executive positions, but you do find them in the workaday world.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Dr. Cochran, can you talk about how health care specifically has changed for African Americans since you moved here?
SALTER COCHRAN:
When we moved here, my wife helped establish the OB/GYN clinic down in Halifax. [She appealed to the Halifax County health director.] They had never had that. I used to see pregnant women who had never been to the doctor, and this was their sixth or seventh child. Most of the time, it was home deliveries, and they had midwives around here. Health has changed vastly since we've had the influx of other doctors. You could practice basic medicine, but never advanced medicine. I'd better clarify that. Basic medicine was the medicine you did until you got to a certain stage, and then you'd try to refer them or do the best you could. General practitioners. But now, we have quite a few specialists in the area, and I feel more comfortable and dependent upon them. I don't fail to seek consultation—I've done that all my life. I don't figure that I know all the answers, even in general practice, to all the medical problems that exist. I immediately call a consultation. If we can't handle it here, let's move it out. I figure medicine has improved, but man has a long ways to go in medicine. We've improved life expectancies, however in 1900 they predicted that we'd live to be 130 in 2000. That doesn't exist. We only have a little over 4,000 people over a hundred now, however they predict in 2050 that we'll have multi-millions, four or five million people living to be 100 or better. I figure because of the advent of new drugs, we're able to help people. However, diseases like cholera, before they found a treatment, caused a lot of deaths. Now AIDS and various forms of cancer might cause your early departure. The gentlemen here keep up rather closely, and they're well-trained, most of them. The East Indians have two or three specialty boards. That's the

Page 30
positive. The negative is, I don't really think they understand minorities. They might have a background of being poor, but the doctors who come over here are the ones who have something, and have never really associated [with poor people]. In India, they probably don't know much about the untouchables of the past. Those people still exist. And they have a difficult time understanding the blacks of this area, because it's not an area a lot of them are used to dealing with. They have to deal with the language, and understanding what's wrong with people. I would say, not to put them down, but we have a lot of trouble with communication. But that is improving, because in one segment of the population, those between 20 and 30, these people have worked on communication, and do a little better. But above that, you have problems. And below that, you have problems, even though within the school system, they're supposed to be producing better students. But they said better academic students, they didn't say better moral students, or students who can apply what they've learned. But I think we're making progress, very slowly, or else you would have seen a better area when you drove in. Now here's something. They bring blacks into the higher echelon, and we don't even know they're here.
DORIS COCHRAN:
They don't usually advertise these things in the paper. The people who are in higher positions who are black, we don't hear much about. Usually, you find just the opposite in the white community—they'll put their pictures in, and talk about the person so you're able to know them. The man who publishes the paper now, who's getting ready to leave the area and has been here for about 12 years, is a tremendous liberal compared to the man who was here before. There was no comparison, but still, because of the pressures of the community, they're loathe to come right out and talk about these things.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Dr. Cochran, I had wanted to ask you about your practice, especially how care for the poor was provided in Weldon. You had mentioned that the other black doctor had had a lot of white patients, some of them wealthy. What was the composition of your practice?
SALTER COCHRAN:
You have a limited number of wealthy people in this area. In treating the poor, you have a race problem within a race. Black people have tendency not to have much confidence in other blacks who are professionals. I don't know if you've ever heard that before.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Yes, I have.
SALTER COCHRAN:
With me, I found that to be a discouraging thing. But I did the best I could with the poor. I was limited at first with welfare patients, because they didn't send me any of them. The majority of them at that time were blacks, but quite to the contrary, recently, the majority on welfare in our county are white. This was a report from a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who was lecturing. Many doctors in this area were surprised to hear that. It's a well-kept secret.

Page 31
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Who did the welfare patients go to?
SALTER COCHRAN:
A lot of them came to me, but a lot of them didn't like to come to me.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Because you were black.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Yeah, isn't it amazing? I guess I'm too direct. You must understand the relationship between patient and doctor in this area. When you talk about medical problems, that's a personal thing, and they don't think you should talk about personal things. They just think you're supposed to try to find out what's wrong with them. So a lot of the white doctors have assumed the attitude that "they don't understand me," and they don't talk to [their patients]. So they just treat what they think is wrong.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So there's not a lot of communication going on from either side.
SALTER COCHRAN:
No, that's true. Since you've got the East Indian [physicians] as a dominant factor in numbers—there are about 18 or 19 [in the county], and the blacks are in second place with about 13 or 14. The Caucasians are at the bottom. More foreign physicians are spreading out in the county now.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
When did East Indians start to come in?
SALTER COCHRAN:
About 20 years ago. They gradually came in. They didn't have a spot to go to in the city. It's rough establishing a practice, unless they worked for a hospital. With me, I don't have a conflict with talking to people, but seemingly, it's been a problem in this area for a long time. I imagine it's a problem all over the country. They don't communicate. But I communicate with them well—I communicate with the prisoners down there. [Cochran does clinics for prisoners in Halifax County.]
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Have you done any public health work, or anything outside the bounds of private practice medicine?
SALTER COCHRAN:
It wasn't public health. I worked for the U. S. Air Force. I treated patients at the radar station for about 13 or 14 years. They had about 600 men. I succeeded a public health doctor who was out there. He died.
DORIS COCHRAN:
He's spoken many times at various churches and fraternal organizations in the area about medicine.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Community education?
DORIS COCHRAN:
Exactly. Hypertension, then when AIDS first came to the fore, he started speaking to groups about AIDS.
SALTER COCHRAN:
That was 14 years ago. Nobody else would talk about the HIV virus. I talked to the high school students, every one but Roanoke Rapids High. By the time they got ready to ask me, I got mad! [Laughter] This is in the predominantly white community, the only one in the county.
DORIS COCHRAN:
When we first came here, you didn't go into Roanoke Rapids after dark if you were black. Some stores you weren't supposed to go in, I tested them, because I just couldn't believe it.
SALTER COCHRAN:
She tested them, and they didn't give her any trouble.
DORIS COCHRAN:
I used to get followed by the police all the way through town. That was not unusual.
SALTER COCHRAN:
After she stayed here one or two years, they said she was from the South Pacific. [Laughter] I was the Jewish doctor out of New York!

Page 32
DORIS COCHRAN:
They labeled us the black Jew and the Polynesian.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Anything but colored or Negro.
DORIS COCHRAN:
Or indigenous blacks, because they didn't want people to associate our demeanor with the usual black and how he was accepted. So they labeled us. It was really funny.
SALTER COCHRAN:
You'd go into a store, and this person would have finished maybe the sixth or seventh grade, talking to a school teacher who finished college, "Hi, Mary, what do you want today?" They used to call her by name, and wanted her to call them "Mrs. So and so." The insecurity of that individual—they didn't know what it was. They used to tell me about Uncle Davie, that was my great-grandfather who had all the money, and I would say, "I didn't know you were related to me. Uncle who?" And they'd say, "Well, you know the custom." And I'd say, "What, I don't know the custom, tell me about it." And they'd say, "OK, Doctor, I understand, you got your point over."
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
In the days before Medicare and Medicaid, did those programs make a lot of difference in your practice?
SALTER COCHRAN:
No, they didn't, because they would steer away the patients from me. Yet my cousin is the head of the county Social Services here. She was the first black person in that position.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
How would they do that?
SALTER COCHRAN:
They wouldn't refer them to you, and tell them, "He doesn't know much medicine." And the doctors among themselves would tell their patients, "Cochran doesn't know much."
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
And what was the organization that was responsible for referring those patients?
SALTER COCHRAN:
Social Services. It was the Welfare Department then. Any physicals they had done, they'd pay other doctors to do them, but would never send me any. Yet the majority of those patients were minority.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
But could patients who had Medicaid or Medicare choose who they wanted to go to?
SALTER COCHRAN:
They could, but [the Welfare Department] would suggest going to this doctor. That was really against the law, but they would do it. An odd quirk of circumstances—most doctors claimed they hadn't heard of Howard University, but they had heard of Charles Drew and his discovery of blood plasma. Then, in came a doctor when they were establishing a clinic for free—I'll let my wife tell you.
DORIS COCHRAN:
That was under that rural health system that was financed by the federal government.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Area Health Education Centers, AHEC?
DORIS COCHRAN:
No, these were rural health clinics funded partly by the federal government, and partly by the state, I think. Dr. Joseph Barry came in to practice in one of those clinics over in Northampton County. He was a brilliant man, with a board in internal medicine. He was politically active.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Very quiet, though, withdrawn.

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DORIS COCHRAN:
He served on many boards in Northampton County. Joe, I think, opened the eyes of many people, in that he had such a polished air and a wealth of knowledge about him that he became acceptable to a lot of people who did not think they'd be able to accept a black physician. He was a terrific asset to them at that time. He left here quite a few years ago. This was in the early '70s.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Mid-'70s. He finished 25 years, and I finished 49. Before Barry, they'd been giving me hell about writing admissions to the hospital. Mine weren't extensive enough, or they didn't understand them. You know how people can try to pick at you, adversely critical of you. Joe Barry came in, and used to write three and a half pages of admission notes, and those nurses had a stroke. I said, "We finished the same medical school at Howard University, and that's the way they taught him, to write that way." He finished a few years after me. Then they started saying, "Must be a good school." All these years, they [Howard] were no good, and I used to tell the Carolina boys, "Now man, y'all are escaping four years of medical school," back there in the mid-'50s. "Where are the other two?" Everybody used to go up to Jefferson in Philadelphia. I knew Bowman-Gray was two years, I don't know when they went to four. So they changed their ideas of our backgrounds.

Page 34
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]
SALTER COCHRAN:
I went to Howard undergraduate and medical school. He went to Princeton undergraduate, and Howard Medical School. I think he went to Howard because his father went there.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So he changed the attitudes of a lot of the white doctors toward Howard?
SALTER COCHRAN:
Oh, yes.
DORIS COCHRAN:
And towards black physicians' capabilities, too.
SALTER COCHRAN:
He was really the first minority [physician] to come into Northampton County, and I helped set his office up with personnel. It had integrated personnel. Dr. Tinsley died in 1961. Joe didn't come until the mid-'70s. For fifteen years, I was here by myself. They gave me a fit, and used to tell people I didn't know anything, I was limited in intelligence. When in reality, I think that wasn't true. I'm not saying I knew more than they did—from experience, a lot of them knew more than I did. But I knew quite a bit, and that was not acceptable.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
You had mentioned that there might have been a few white colleagues you felt you could go to as resources.
SALTER COCHRAN:
My cousin was one, Jarman. And Cromke, he has a son practicing in Rocky Mount now. And a doctor, kind of wishy-washy, named Frank Fondran. He was from South Carolina.
DORIS COCHRAN:
There were a few nurses who were equally decent.
SALTER COCHRAN:
But they always would try to be snide, they were resistant to change. But I survived, even though I have high blood pressure, diabetes, and all these other things. It's an experience I don't think I would go over again. I wouldn't expose her to it. Through ignorance and being unaware of what did exist—we were naive—we came back down here after I went to Korea. I think the children may have suffered some, but because of my wife, she gave them the supplementary education that they didn't get in school. The negativism we had was from our own race. Some teachers and administrative personnel gave my kids a hard time. Changed grades on my oldest child to make a friend of his first.
DORIS COCHRAN:
I tried to explain to [my children] in preparing them for school that our condition here, because we had traveled some and had been among loving family, and had been able to go other places and see people of all backgrounds getting along, they knew that this was a possibility. Plus, I had talked to them about the fact that there are places in this world where people understand each other, and live and work together, and thrive. So it wasn't as if they weren't prepared when they started school. It was difficult in some ways, because it's hard for a child to be in a hostile situation. You can't reinforce or prepare them totally for the day to day insults that they had to suffer. But I was determined to have a home where they could talk about these things, and try to grow in spite of them, and prepare them to be stronger. I think it really did that, made them very strong people. My family, just as his, was totally integrated. My grandmother was white, Irish Catholic. The difference was here, where Salter's relatives lived, there was not a recognition of the white part of your family and the black part of

Page 35
your family. But in my family, both sides all lived together. There was a German grandmother on my father's side, and an Irish Catholic on my mother's side. In reality, by their seeing the pictures of their ancestors, and by our talking about them, they knew that this could be a reality, and was. While they were in school, they found in many instances that their own people were loathe to accept them because they were the professionals' kids. This was an insult to them because of lack of understanding, and the threat that they might have posed to them. There were little things that were difficult. I didn't want my children to say, "Yes, ma'am" and "No, ma'am," because I thought it was servile. I just didn't like it, and I told the teachers exactly how I felt. I said, "Allow my children to call you by your name, Mrs. Smith or Mrs. Jones. But don't ask them to address you as ma'am, because I would rather they would not." There were books in the school system that referred to black slaves as being happy. I would go before the school board, I think I attended every meeting that they had, to bring up things of this nature that were offensive to me. They got tired of seeing me, and used to tell me, "Well, you're the only parent who ever comes up here." I said, "I think I'm the only one who's free to come." I would find myself before the school board, constantly asking to be recognized so that we could be more effective in making this thing called integration work. One thing that used to really worry me was the prayers that were said, not in school but before meetings. They always addressed Jesus. This was OK, but there were some Jews in that group. I used to say, "Do you realize that you've just omitted or insulted or eliminated other religions? This isn't fair, and doesn't recognize the fact that there are other people in this world." So it went on an on, this was consistent all the way through their schooling. Ultimately, I think my children benefited by recognizing what they were dealing with, and dealing with it overtly. And you can be strong and reinforce yourself in so doing. I know with Leslie, my oldest child who lost her sight when she was 13, we had to go to Butner for her to get mobility training. There were people who were very kind, but there were some stereotypical statements that might have been made from time to time, and I would always come right forward with them, so they would recognize what they'd said. I'd say, "You may not realize it, but this is offensive to me." I would say it before my children so they could understand that you don't just let things like that pass, because some people just take it for granted that that's the way life is, and it isn't. I think in that way, I prepared my kids for living, and made them stronger. At the same time, I think there were some aspects that embittered them, too. I didn't want that to happen, because so much is lost in being bitter.
SALTER COCHRAN:
And I think the bitterness came because I was on the school board for 12 years. With the integration of the systems, the manner in which the administrative personnel and some of the teachers reacted to my children increased that bitterness. I would say to them, "Is that necessary?" My wife would go up first, and then I would bring it up in the school board meeting, about how teachers treat people differently in the classroom. They would treat my child with an approach of jealousy, and then they would put down the poor kids. Up

Page 36
and down, they were putting down both people, in different ways. I would speak out against it. We had several incidents serious enough for people to lose their job, but we didn't press the situation. One we should have, but I don't see how that would have accomplished much.
DORIS COCHRAN:
We had a family decision with the kids to try to decide how far to take some things that happened. By and large, when we first integrated, it was a very hostile environment.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Were your children the only children that integrated the schools?
DORIS COCHRAN:
Yes. The only ones in the county. What happened was, all of those parents who had signed depositions and met with us for months preliminary to integration fell out at the end. They said that we thought we were better, and that we should be at the white school. So we couldn't win.
SALTER COCHRAN:
They said our kids think they're too good to go to our school, the all-black school. So they integrated, and after they got over there, they were criticized too.
DORIS COCHRAN:
It was not easy, but it was necessary.
SALTER COCHRAN:
So you can sum our conversation up by saying that basically, we've caught hell, but it could have been much worse.
DORIS COCHRAN:
We could have been South Africa, Salt! [Laughter]
SALTER COCHRAN:
We look at the television, and say, but for the grace of God, there goes me! Looking at the poverty and drugs that exist today.
DORIS COCHRAN:
It has not been just a hum-drum existence. It's not very often that we sit down and talk about all these things together, so it sometimes surprises me, listening to what went on, that we were able to make it through life without any big catastrophes. I know many times when my husband was out on calls, I would be afraid for him, because he would go on farms that were owned by people who had black tenants, and they didn't want those tenants to be treated by a black doctor. They threatened him several times.
SALTER COCHRAN:
They owe me hundreds and thousands of dollars for treatment, and I never got paid.
DORIS COCHRAN:
Plus he was threatened, and told to get off the property. So I just used to almost shake in my boots, waiting for him to come home. Every now and then, an emergency telephone call would come through from the police, and I'd just know somebody had killed him while he was out there. So it was not just the ordinary civil rights fight, it was a matter of getting through this by the skin of my teeth! You felt that you were really in jeopardy, because there were so many people who felt so very negatively about you, and had so much hate in them that you felt they were capable of almost anything. Salter was just oblivious to it, he just went out regardless.
SALTER COCHRAN:
I used to carry a gun.
DORIS COCHRAN:
That was after he came back from Korea. It was frightening at times, but you got past that night, and went to the next day, and there was always something going on. We were able to meet a lot of people who were active in civil rights. Fred Shuttlesworth.
SALTER COCHRAN:
That's King's boy.

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DORIS COCHRAN:
My father knew Dr. King very well. We came across so many interesting and courageous people, and it fueled us.
SALTER COCHRAN:
We had groups coming through, like the Quakers.
DORIS COCHRAN:
When we got ready to integrate the schools, the Halifax Voters' Movement backed a group of Quakers that came and taught black children, all during one summer, to prepare them for the physical presence of a white person in the room with them, which would not have been acceptable to some of them.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Was that a part of the Freedom Schools?
DORIS COCHRAN:
This was completely backed by the Friends. The Halifax Voters' Movement got in touch with the Friends, knowing they were going into communities for a summer, and working with students who were potentially going into integrated situations. The summer of '64, the Friends came to Weldon, and we had summer school.
SALTER COCHRAN:
I think they came a couple of summers, and they worked hard, about six to eight weeks, on physical encounters and how to do homework.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So some of those children who went to those schools may not have actually ended up going to integrated schools in the fall.
DORIS COCHRAN:
Eventually they did, but not that year. Ours were the only two that went.
SALTER COCHRAN:
We have another segment of my life. I was the medical examiner of this county for over twenty years. I started about '68, and ended in '91. I held up my hand, nobody else in the room on the staff would accept that job. They thought, "Coroner, ain't nothing to it." But they changed the name to medical examiner because doctors were taking over, rather than having the undertaker go to the scene. They had us supervise how bodies were disposed of.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Was the position considered an inconvenience?
SALTER COCHRAN:
That's what most of the doctors considered it, and it didn't pay much, but as we went on, it became a political thing. They couldn't foresee that. I had a lot of consternation on that, several cases accused me of being wrong in my decision to mark "suicide" or "accidental" because of the money, and I held my ground, even though all the doctors disagreed with me. That's when they really found out I was strong. Everybody was against me. My wife was the backbone, I'd come home and discuss it with her, and she'd say, "Just hold your ground, that's all." A lady lost 200,000 dollars, and called me a racist, said I didn't like white people. [Laughter] So we found out it was the difference between 100,000 and 300,000. They even offered me a bribe, indirectly, said "We can take care of this." I said, "Call me back in three days, and I'll tell you what I'm going to do." So they called me back, and I said, "If y'all can rake together 20 million dollars, I could change it." [Laughter] I could hear him mumbling all the bad words in the background. But for 75,000 dollars, they'd pay you and buy you for the rest of their life. We probably could have used it, we had kids going through school, but we always had those principles. I was able to maintain, and I never changed. I handled that job for 20-some years, until I got in conflict with the county police. They didn't like the way I ran it, but I ran it very well, and it's been in shambles since '91. They call up here, "Can't you please fill in?" No! And the guy calls me

Page 38
from Chapel Hill about every two or three months, and asks me, "Don't you want to take it back," and I tell him No! They couldn't appreciate my approach. You've go to stand firm. If you want to have an autopsy done, fine. The autopsy doesn't tell you what went on entirely. That was 22 years of interrupting your sleep and disagreeing, and they have had a dysfunctional system since. Not because of me, but they got people who are not really interested in it. They used to have trouble with the coroners, since they were political jobs, elected by the county. But we got rid of that situation, and had a pretty good time of it. The only reason nobody else held up his hand is they thought it was a little chicken job. And it was. I held up my hand just so we could get a doctor involved. It was really a political bombshell, because everybody wanted you to change death certificates, and they'd offer you any sum of money within reason. I said, "No, that's the way it's going to be." Sometimes you would recommend autopsies, and the families would insist, and they'd call Raleigh. Raleigh would call me back, and say, "If they don't want it so bad, don't run it." So in 75 percent of the cases, they made the wrong decision, because the results weren't conclusive.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
You'd mentioned going to some of those medical society meetings with John Birch speakers. Were you a member of both the county medical society and the Old North State Society?
SALTER COCHRAN:
I was a member of the county medical society. When you became a member of the state [medical society], they required you to be a member. I didn't stay in the state medical society [the predominantly white Medical Society of North Carolina], because I thought it was a waste of time. They don't take a stand on anything, to tell you the truth. I was secretary-treasurer of the county medical society for about eight years. I arranged the dances, and all the membership. AHEC arranged the speakers, but I had to confirm them. I was president for four years of the Northampton-Halifax County Medical Society.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
But when did you join the county medical society, because as I understand it, most of the county medical societies wouldn't have accepted blacks in the 1950s.
SALTER COCHRAN:
I joined in the mid-'60s, when I got on the staff [at Roanoke Rapids Hospital]. That was in '62. But the North Carolina State Medical Society hadn't accepted us. There was a gap.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So you were a member of the county society, but the state wouldn't let you join.
SALTER COCHRAN:
I was a member of the county medical society about four years before the state medical society accepted us. And then I got out of there after being in for 20 years, wasting time and wasting money. We're still members of the county medical society.
DORIS COCHRAN:
I became active in the auxiliary at the time he was in the county medical society.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
This gets complicated—you were in the county medical society, the state medical society, and the Old North State Medical Society.
SALTER COCHRAN:
I was in the Old North State all along, from the very onset. I became president in 1967.

Page 39
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
This was just as Medicare and Medicaid were being passed. Were there a lot of debates in those three organizations, concerns about socialized medicine coming in and taking over?
SALTER COCHRAN:
Oh, yes. But Old North State squawked because they were trying not to send them patients.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Because I haven't been able to find out how the Old North State Medical Society felt about that.
SALTER COCHRAN:
At that time, they were fighting everything. They were fighting for membership in the state medical society. Not the county, because we were members of the county society. You couldn't function in the hospital without being a member of the county medical society. That's where the county medical society met [in the hospital]. That's where the Birchers came to speak. Don't get me wrong, that's when the brought in speakers out of Rocky Mount. They used to bring in speakers out of Carolina and Duke. Mostly Duke, because Carolina was struggling, trying to get their identity. I think there was some apprehension about merging the two organizations. The Old North State refused to merge. They wanted to merge them and absorb them. That would eliminate the organization. But the 250 or 300 black doctors stayed together in the Old North State Medical Society, and turned down the bid for a merger. But we joined the state society, and were free to go to their meetings. But there was no merger, we still maintained our autonomy as the Old North State. Because we knew we wouldn't have a voice in an organization that had two or three thousand members, and you're going to bring in 250 or 300 members. We voted against the merger. That was during my regime, in '67-'68.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
What was the Old North State Medical Society's position on national health insurance?
SALTER COCHRAN:
Always positive, always for it. Because we knew there were so many minorities that didn't have this type of insurance.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Was that ever a sore point between the two organizations, because I know for sure the white state society was against anything like that.
SALTER COCHRAN:
It was, but we were very persuasive, as to how minorities would be treated if they didn't have any coverage. I said they would be ignored, and surgery wouldn't be performed when necessary. The only thing about it, too much surgery was being performed here. They'd do total hysterectomies every time you said blink. Because they were trying to cut down on the black population, which mostly was illegit., to a certain extent at that time. The numbers were increasing, and numbers always frighten people. We were very positive about medical care that could be rendered to anybody, black or white.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Once the members of the Old North State Medical Society became members of the State Medical Society of North Carolina—
SALTER COCHRAN:
We still remained autonomous.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
But you also participated in the formerly all white society. Did black physicians lobby for acceptance of government-funded medical care?
SALTER COCHRAN:
They did.

Page 40
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
And were they successful?
SALTER COCHRAN:
Yeah, they were successful.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So they did come around. I've read that even five years after Medicare and Medicaid were passed that something like 80 percent of North Carolina physicians did not accept it.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Oh yeah, they didn't accept Medicare or Medicaid, and you've got about 70 percent that don't do it now. But the person has within their grasp some type of care. I believe that minorities should have Medicare and Medicaid for medical protection, but I don't believe Social Services should send them a check.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
How do you think it should work?
SALTER COCHRAN:
I think they should have a work relief program, because a lot of healthy people around here don't need that check, and shouldn't be drawing it. I'm Republican-thinking in a matter like that. It's reasonable to me to give them two to four years and expose them to something other than sitting down doing nothing, and learn a trade, even though our economy won't let you get into some of them.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
You don't think, for instance, that Medicaid should be connected to other welfare benefits?
SALTER COCHRAN:
I think it should be separate.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
The Old North State Medical Society was for those programs in the late '60s. Do you think they lived up to your expectations of what they would do?
SALTER COCHRAN:
No, I'm certain they don't. Those of us in rural areas don't exploit it like those people in the cities. They're terrible, and this is what has caused the increase in the cost of care of a lot of Medicaid and Medicare patients. They aren't policed, if all the articles you read are true. They charge somebody 250 or 300 dollars to take them two blocks in one of those emergency units. Two blocks down the street! My sister's in a nursing home, and they charge her $175 to take her to the hospital from the nursing care facility. Now that's a waste of money.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Do you think in general that access to care improved for African Americans in this county from the '50s to now?
SALTER COCHRAN:
You have to look at it from two standpoints. Necessity and exploitation. Some of these people shouldn't be drawing it. You take an alcoholic—he's up there drawing a check and Medicare or Medicaid. I don't think that's fair to the people who actually need help from social agencies. In the long run it's not fair to the taxpayer.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So you think the program might function better if there were stricter requirements.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Yes, I do. In fact, it's not going to survive unless they change the requirements. Because it's based on Social Security. Back in 1935, they had 15 or 20 people supporting one person on retirement. Now, you've got a two to one ratio, at most a three to one ratio. So nothing can survive that way. People are living longer.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
I think that's most of my questions. Did you want to talk about the auxiliary?

Page 41
DORIS COCHRAN:
Just as an example of becoming more accepted, and the white community recognizing that black people are people, and they can contribute to organizations in a positive way. I was there by myself for a while, I guess because when you're one person, you're not a threat to an organization. I have many examples of that. I think that some of the people in the organization came to know that I was a human being, and they in some way respected me for that. I know when the community started to become more diverse, the organization collapsed, and has not been back on track since.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Does it still exist?
DORIS COCHRAN:
No, not really. We think they're trying to revive it, but it's very difficult, for a number of reasons. When the Asians and East Indians became large in numbers and started becoming active in the auxiliary, the auxiliary just shut right down, and that was the end of it.
SALTER COCHRAN:
Cultural backgrounds prevented a lot of the development of some organizations around here.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
What kind of activities did the auxiliary do?
DORIS COCHRAN:
They did eye screening for school children, and other kinds of health screening. They tried to have recognition days for physicians. They distributed health pamphlets, and spoke when possible to PTAs and so forth about the importance of shots for the children, and various health problems. Just general health information in the community.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Believe it or not, I don't have any more questions. Was there anything y'all wanted to add?
SALTER COCHRAN:
We've only scratched the surface. So many things happened in the last fifty years.
DORIS COCHRAN:
One thing that helped was that we had family nearby. My parents were in Washington, DC, since my father was at Howard. We could get up there quite readily and did. Then I have family in New York and Canada, so we were all on the East Coast. We could be together and support each other. That helped a lot, although I don't think my siblings understood how I was able to stay here. They often speak about that.
SALTER COCHRAN:
The country will have a stroke. Tiger Woods is leading the Masters [Golf Tournament] by three strokes. Minus eight and the nearest man to him is minus five. If he wins that Masters, it would be a real turnover. The minorities will be going to the country clubs to play golf! [Note: Tiger Woods became the first African American to win the Masters in 1997]
END OF INTERVIEW