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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 >>

Remembering one racist organization and one anti-poverty organization

Salter describes the imtimidation he faced in this excerpt. Groups like the Ku Klux Klan made calls and left threatening notes. He also remembers CADA (likely the Choanoke Area Development Association), an anti-poverty organization.

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

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 KRUISE 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.
KAREN KRUISE 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 KRUISE 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 KRUISE 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 overlappingߞthere were all kinds of excuses given for objecting to their existence. But CADA, by virtue of 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 KRUISE 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.