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South Carolina - Charleston: Mary A. Moultrie Interviewee [Part 1]
Dent, Thomas C.
Tom Dent interviews Mary A. Moultrie in Charleston, South Carolina. They discuss her role in the Hospital Workers' Strike of 1969 and the changes she has seen in Charleston since that time. She talks about black political involvement in the city and voter registration. Black churches played a role in connecting political candidates with audiences. Morris Brown AME Church was a meeting place, where many nurses and nurse's assistants attended. Z.L. Grady was pastor at the time of the strike. James Brady was pastor at the time of the sit-ins. Grady is still in Charleston. Moultrie discusses the different denominations in the black community and the role they play. Church is both religious and social in Charleston. There have been economic improvements, including new black businesses. There were beauty parlors and the Brooks Motel, but now there are more small businesses. There has been an improvement in the level of employment of African Americans. Dent says he does not see many black service industry workers in the city. Moultrie agrees, but insists that it is better than it used to be. She talks about the work City Councilman Robert Ford has done to keep the community informed. Housing has improved, as well, in part due to the East Side Redevelopment Program. There is a drug and crime problem in Charleston, but it is not as bad as it is in other places. More kids are remaining after graduation than used to, but some still stay away, including Moultrie's daughter. She felt she had better opportunities in Columbia, and many students from Charleston stay there. There is still a division between light-skinned and dark-skinned African Americans in the Charleston community. Moultrie talks about her family history, from Wadmalaw Island. She encourages Dent to visit the islands, especially Johns Island. She graduated from Burke High School and then attended Morgan State College in Baltimore for a year before moving to New York. Throughout high school, she worked for Esau Jenkins at his restaurant on Spring Street near the Ashley River Bridge. He took her under his wing, and brought her to speeches and civil rights events. Dent talks about traveling to Johns Island with Andrew Young for the dedication of the Esau Jenkins Clinic. Jenkins stressed the importance of a good education, which is why Moultrie worked and saved for college. She had family in Delmar, Delaware because there was seasonal work available there and many workers traveled back and forth between Delmar and Wadmalaw Island. She traveled to New York with her family to find work, and got a job working at Goldwater Memorial Hospital as a nursing assistant and received further training to become a nurse. She stayed until 1967, and then returned to Charleston. Goldwater was her first experience working with white and West Indian people. She was part of the Teamsters 237 Union. She worked as shop steward for her hospital building. She was not aware of the larger civil rights movement at the time. Moultie describes Jenkins' involvement in the larger movement. He was politically aware and involved in education, particularly at Highlander Folk School. She met Septima Clark even before the hospital strike, and knew to get her involved when the strike began.
Civil rights demonstrations
Dent, Thomas C.
Jenkins, Esau, 1910-1972
Tulane University Digital Library
Box 148, Item 11, 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.