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South Carolina - Charleston: Jack A. McCray Interviewee [Part 1]
Dent, Thomas C.
Tom Dent interviews Jack A. McCray in Charleston, South Carolina. He discusses the Orangeburg Massacre shootings. He is a native of Charleston, and talks about his background. Exposure was important to his family, and they traveled frequently. He attended Charleston public schools and finished high school in Brooklyn, New York on a transfer program run by the American Friends Society. He lived with a white Quaker family in Brooklyn for two years. Dent talks about the year he spent in Poughkeepsie at a Quaker school. He then attended Claflin College. He points out that Claflin students were out the night of the Orangeburg shootings. Some were shot, but none were killed. He attended an AME church, which is prominent in Charleston. He talks about why he chose Claflin. He had wanted to attend Princeton. He had been a novelty at his school in Brooklyn. He was the only one from the transfer program and received a lot of support. He was accepted at Princeton, but the principal of his high school had the decision reversed. He enjoyed Claflin, but missed New York City. He contrasts Charleston and Orangeburg. He found Orangeburg more racist, which was a difficult readjustment after New York. The white people were more country and conservative in South Carolina, with less exposure to black people outside the major cities. McCray says that retail shopping was the only environment in which black and white citizens of Orangeburg mixed. He talks about where people shopped. Dent talks about his impressions driving through Orangeburg. McCray recalls a radio broadcast the night of the shootings, which thanked law enforcement for protecting the city from the students. He talks about protests on the Claflin campus that occurred before he arrived. There had been no civil rights activity during his time at Claflin prior to the shootings in 1968. Hubert V. Manning was the president of Claflin at that time. They discuss his background and McCray's opinions of him. There were no demonstrations against him. Demonstrations were State led; the two colleges were close. The Claflin student body was pretty conservative and they did not have an active student government and were "parented" by the college. The girls had a 7:00 p.m. curfew and students were required to go to chapel. Dent contrasts McCray's experience to his own experience at Morehouse. McCray compares Claflin to South Carolina State University. Dent talks about President Turner's clash with "subversive" white staff, including Thomas Wirth, which led to their dismissal and subsequent protests. McCray discusses his interest in human rights supplanting his focus on civil rights. South Carolina was lagging in civil rights. Claflin students corresponded with students from Voorhees College. Professor [Gerald?] Albert was very active. He dressed in traditional African garb and ran a black book store in Columbia, where they frequently traveled.
Civil rights demonstrations
Tulane University Digital Library
Box 148, Item 8, Side 1, Tom Dent collection, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
Physical rights are retained by the Amistad Research Center. Copyright is retained in accordance with U.S. copyright laws.