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Oral History Interview with George Simkins, April 6, 1997. Interview R-0018. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Greensboro dentist George Simkins attended Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, from 1944 to 1948, when only two dental schools accepted black students. He assumed that segregation would continue, but soon set about trying to undo it: he fought segregation at a local golf course but again lost the case before the Supreme Court, this time on a technicality; he sought to desegregate a swimming pool; and in what may have been his most significant civil rights achievement, he built a case against segregation in two Greensboro hospitals. The Supreme Court decided Simkins v. Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in the plaintiffs' favor, ending the legal segregation of medical care. In this interview, he describes his various civil rights efforts and the responses of his white opponents, who resisted desegregation by fighting it in court as well as with harassment and threats. While Simkins won a major civil rights victory in the early 1960s, he sees a return of segregation in public schools, and a lack of sympathy for civil rights among political and judicial leaders. This interview will provide researchers with insights into a motivated individual's efforts to undo segregation and the hostile response of the white community, a response that continues to resonate today.
    Excerpts
  • Segregation at dental schools
  • Building a case against segregated hospitals
  • Black lawyers fear civil rights cases
  • Suing to desegregate a golf course
  • White community resists integration of a swimming pool
  • Inferior segregated black hospital
  • Desegregation at Greensboro's white hospital
  • Harassment by white segregationists
  • Fighting for civil rights
  • The civil rights struggle continues
  • Lack of sympathy for civil rights in Supreme Court
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.