StoryCorps: Dad and the UGA Race Riots 1961
Because I received several requests, I have included the excerpt of Dad’s StoryCorps interview on his role in the race riots at the University of Georgia in 1961.
For readers unfamiliar with that part of American history, I will give a brief synopsis.
Much of the Southern United States was racially segregated until around 1960. Where I live in Charleston, one can still see remnants of the segregated era, from a separate ‘colored’ entrance on an old theater downtown, to a wall that divided waiting rooms at the train station. We don’t use these things anymore, but the layer is there.
The Federal government forced desegregation in the South in the early 1960’s. Southern universities, which had historically been all white, were required to admit people of color for the first time, and many of the other separate barriers mentioned above were abolished. In the South, it was not a popular position, and it led to unrest, like the riot at the University of Georgia, in which my father played a key heroic role.
His story is about six minutes long. Set it to play and listen while you do something else at your desk. It always gives me chills to hear him tell it, and I’m very proud of him for standing up and taking what was, at the time, a very unpopular position.