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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Salter and Doris Cochran, April 12, 1997. Interview R-0014. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Scheming to exclude blacks from hospital jobs

Salter describes a ploy white administrators at his local hospital used to exclude black doctors: they offered access to one black physician who, traumatized by threats, was sure to decline. Until the doctor accepted the position, Salter could not practice there. Salter finally received a job offer in 1961, after twelve years of applications.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Salter and Doris Cochran, April 12, 1997. Interview R-0014. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

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 KRUISE 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 KRUISE 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 KRUISE THOMAS:
Was this Dr. Tinsley?
DORIS COCHRAN:
Yes.
KAREN KRUISE 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 KRUISE 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.