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South Carolina - Charleston: Millicent Brown Interviewee [Part 1]
Dent, Thomas C.
Tom Dent interviews Millicent Brown in Charleston, South Carolina. Dent talks about his time working for Thurgood Marshall at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He tells an anecdote about Marshall's reaction to a position paper written by Charles Black and how he tailored his arguments to the Supreme Court. They share recollections of Marshall. Dent talks about the work environment at the Legal Defense Fund and the differences in leadership between Marshall and Jack Greenberg. He explains the split between the NAACP with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the relationship between the two entities, led by Roy Wilkins and Marshall. The culture of the Legal Defense Fund had changed significantly by the 1980s. Brown talks about her reaction to a recent program about Thurgood Marshall and Charleston. She explains how she became involved with the desegregation of Rivers High School. The desegregation case began with her sister as the plaintiff in Minerva Brown, et al. v. Charleston School Board District 20. They dragged the case out as a deflection tactic, until her sister was about to graduate. Someone in City Hall was on their side and switched the names on the document so that the same case could continue. Millicent Brown was in seventh grade at the time of the name switch, and the case was not resolved until she was entering tenth grade. They got into the court in 1963. Constance Baker Motley of the Legal Defense Fund was her lawyer. Eleven students, elementary through high school aged, integrated the public schools on September 3rd. That year, Harvey Gantt also integrated Clemson University and Henrie Monteith integrated the University of South Carolina. Brown gives her impressions of Gantt and James Blake, who were active in the NAACP youth group. She talks about who worked with her father, J. Arthur Brown, who was the state president of the NAACP. He always tried to make sure those who were responsible for work received the credit, including Harry Briggs, Reverend Joseph DeLaine, Etta Clark, Mary Lee Davis and Bernice Robinson. School teachers could lose their jobs for NAACP involvement, so they could not be counted upon. Septima Clark stayed in the spotlight. Unsung heroes included Henry Hutchinson and Jessica Pearson, who lost their jobs for not disavowing NAACP membership. Brown talks about her father and his family history. His father was a contractor and her grandmother, Millie Ellison Brown, had attended Claflin Normal School and was part of the Ellison family of Sumter, South Carolina. Her father went to Avery Normal Institute and South Carolina State College. He inherited his father's business, which gave him the autonomy to take a stance on civil rights because he could not be fired. She gives her assessment of Esau Jenkins, who she loved.
Interview takes place in a restaurant with background noise.
Civil rights demonstrations
Law & legal affairs
Brown, Millicent E.
Dent, Thomas C.
Gantt, Harvey B. (Harvey Bernard), 1943-
Jenkins, Esau, 1910-1972
Marshall, Thurgood, 1956-
Tulane University Digital Library
Box 147, Item 15, 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.