Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Constance Curry, August 8, 1997

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00

FOSL: Okay. So I'm okay with very impressionistic--

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: --stuff. You know.

CURRY: Okay. Yes. Okay.

FOSL: Okay. I wanna know the very first thing you can ever remember about Anne Braden.

CURRY: Um, probably it was--was Anne at the Raleigh, the founding conference of SNCC? Okay.

FOSL: She had a newborn baby.

CURRY: Oh, okay. I didn't, I didn't think I remembered her. But, you know, I, I went--Ella Baker and I, uh, I, I went to the founding conference of, of SNCC in Raleigh. And, uh, I had come down in, through Atlanta in January of '60. Of course never ----------(??) that there would be a SNCC starting, you know--

FOSL: Sure.

CURRY: --that's ----------(??). And that was with the National Student Association Southern Project. And the idea was to get black and white students together. Well, uh, you know, word got out that--that I was 00:01:00there, that I had this grant. And, um, so right after the, uh, the sit-ins started and then the Atlanta thing, they had, they came to Atlanta, um, I guess Lonnie (??) came and Julian and others began to, uh, call my office at 41 Exchange Place and say, "You know, what is your role? What are you doing?" This, that and the other. So I don't remember the details. But so-- and then I met Ella Baker. And somehow or other I went up to the, to the Raleigh meeting. By that time, see, the national office of NSA was really interested in what was happening because this was, they had been for integration since their founding in '47.

FOSL: So--but you s-, but still, you came in January, and the sit-ins didn't start till February.

CURRY: February, yeah.

FOSL: So there was a little ----------(??). Because, you know, I've heard other people say--like I guess there was this conference in 00:02:00Highlander and I think it was, I think it was in like November of '59.

CURRY: Um-hm.

FOSL: And they're like, "Where are the students? Where are the young people? There aren't any."

CURRY: Yeah. Right.

FOSL: So did you, but do you feel that that's not true, that there was some kind of ferment that you could know that--

CURRY: Well--

FOSL: --this was about to--

CURRY: No.

FOSL: --kind of--

CURRY: What happened--

FOSL: --move forward?--

CURRY: --uh, what happened with, with the National Student Association was they had had a commitment since they were founded in '47 to integration. And when the Supreme Court decision came back, they passed resolutions. These were--

FOSL: (clears throat) Excuse me.

CURRY: --ostensibly, uh, relatively--not conservative. They were student government.

FOSL: Right.

CURRY: And they were elected by the student bodies and they were student government representatives. So when they came to the national conference to take stands on things, um, it was, you know, it was in the, they were liberal for their times, but it was all within a very--

FOSL: Sure.

CURRY: --uh, narrow context of academic freedom, uh, curriculum changes, 00:03:00anti-, uh, nuclear bombs. And that's, ----------(??) things like well, the eighteen-year-old vote, university, they were for the eighteen-year- old vote against university military training, so they--and then for--

FOSL: Just out of curiosity, what was their position on HUAC and that?

CURRY: Oh, they were totally opposed to HUAC, and bitter to the end. Huge fights with HUAC, which makes the subsequent take-over by the CIA very interesting.

FOSL: Um-hm.

CURRY: You know?

FOSL: Um-hm.

CURRY: Or the money. But of course the CIA was really giving money to NSA mostly for their international work rather than for domestic work. But they were--oh God, we did--there was a thing called Operation Abolition. FOSL: Right.

CURRY: And we, we showed that and fought against that, it was really big. But anyway, uh, so in the meantime, in '57, the first southern president, Ray Therapy (??), from the University of Texas, was elected national president of NSA. And he, coming from the University of Texas, thought very strongly that, in '57, that there were black and 00:04:00white students all over the South who hated their segregation and laws and the like and that they want-, wanted to change things. So he got money from the Field (??) Foundation to sponsor what was called the First Southern Student Union Racial Seminar. And that was in 1958.

FOSL: Right.

CURRY: And he got twenty students from all over the South to come to the--ten days prior to the conference, to sort of a training session on everything from politics to, uh, the role of the church, to economics, to everything.

FOSL: Um-hm.

CURRY: And they got their curriculars and all that.

FOSL: And where was that?

CURRY: That was, well, in '58, I don't know where the conference was in '58. Somewhere in-- they always had 'em in the Midwest. And then they--he had, got another grant and did one in '59. And, uh, so here were forty-seven students, mostly from either student government or, uh, a big, big Christian, uh, YWCA and YMCA, um, you know, -------- 00:05:00--(??) from which hence they came. Nothing, you know, ----------(??) Christian faith. So on the basis of those forty students and the success of this, in '59, NSA applied for a full-time grant to put somebody in the South to keep these seven student human relation seminars going, but to have somebody there, working full- time, to have them have--stay in contact after they got back, you know, sort of like jerking up these twenty people and then sending 'em back to be miserable for the rest of the year. So that was the definition of the project was to recruit and maintain and have smaller conferences to, uh, uh, set up a network of people who cared, you know.

FOSL: Um-hm.

CURRY: So that's when I came down with it, in December '59. Now in '57, Ray Therapy was president, had set up an advisory committee that was 00:06:00star-studded. It was Rudy Early (??), uh, Benjamin Mays, Ralph McGill, Will Campbell, Charles Parrish from University of, uh, Kentucky, uh, Dr. C.H. Parrish, uh, uh, Rufus Clement, gosh, uh, James McBride Dabbs, the Southern Regional Council was very influential in a lot of this. And, uh, uh, I can't reme-, oh, Cam-, Clark Victor (??) from New Orleans. I mean--Warren Ashby from The University of North Carolina, Max Howard (??) from the American Friends Service Committee was here. So, uh, and they were, they were in the network end, sort of adult liberal network in the Deep South in particular. And they had to convince Field Foundation to give this full-time grant. So when 00:07:00I came, that was my mandate was to just set up, uh, you know, build bridges with black and white students and hold meetings. And that was it. And then of course February 1st, 1960, the whole--

FOSL: Right.

CURRY: --everything changed. And, uh, I must admit--and so all of a sudden, and then were, after the Raleigh conference, Ella and I were ----------(??) adult advisors.

FOSL: Right.

CURRY: Uh, and, you know, I was an--

FOSL: Yeah, but how old were you?

CURRY: Well, I wasn't--(laughs)--much older.

FOSL: I knew that.

CURRY: But I had a full-time job.

FOSL: I knew that.

CURRY: I was twenty-three. But I was out of college. I had a full-time job.

FOSL: So you were like four years older.

CURRY: Yeah. And, yeah. And I had--I, you know, I, I was paid.

FOSL: Right.

CURRY: And, uh, my first salary was five thousand dollars, so, that, that first year. And my mandate was to do this and then to hold-- continue all the summer seminars prior to the conference. So, um, then, we had our first SNCC conference in the fall of '60.

00:08:00

FOSL: Right.

CURRY: And I think that's when I met Anne.

FOSL: She was there.

CURRY: Yeah. Yeah.

FOSL: She was there.

CURRY: Okay. And, uh--

FOSL: So you never even heard of her--

CURRY: No.

FOSL: --as far as you know?

CURRY: Unh-uh.

FOSL: Okay.

CURRY: No. No, I hadn't personally.

FOSL: But Ella knew her.

CURRY: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Well, I'm sure that Ella probably mentioned her. I mean, you know, that Ella probably talked to her, to me about her. But, uh, I hadn't known her prior to, to the summer of '60.

FOSL: Okay.

CURRY: Yeah, then of course I met her. I may have met her when she came down, 'cause she and Ella, as you know, were so close. Um, and I may have met her that summer. But I, I know that she was at that, uh, conference. But it was really funny, and I'm sure you've run into this, uh, with a million people. Uh, my advisory committee, uh, and the SRC in particular, they were always very leery--

00:09:00

FOSL: Oh yeah.

CURRY: --of, of, of, of the Bradens. And, you know, I'm, I'm not easily, I'm pretty independent, and I'm not very easily, uh, and I didn't even know enough about red-baiting, to tell you the truth, to, uh--

FOSL: Right.

CURRY: --I mean, you know, I didn't even know half the stuff that was, was going on half, half the time in terms of, of who was doing what. I do remember that we all--that, that I thought Joanne Grant was pretty scary, because when I first met her. Because she was working for the, uh--

FOSL: --Guardian--

CURRY: --The National Guardian. And she always looked like a million dollars. And she was so articulate. But, you know, Julian thought that Bob Moses was a Communist when we first came down. Because he was alway-, he was so smart. And he was from New York. And he always wanted to be in demonstra-, he always wanted to do organ-, I mean--

FOSL: Right.

CURRY: --so many kids back in '59, and '60, we were very, uh, uh, naive.

FOSL: And I would think especially like if the liberals are gonna tell you to worry about it--

00:10:00

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: --you know, if somebody, like if somebody from, you know, one of those other American-type--

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: --organizations had called you up--

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: --and that would have been--

CURRY: --yeah, wouldn't they, yeah--

FOSL: --a little more suspicious. But--

CURRY: But it was really funny, because they never--if I remember correctly, there was never any red-baiting particularly from my advisory committee, whom I really depended on. And I was very close to Will; I was very close to the SRC people. And I was very close to, um, uh, well, I'm, you know, Rudy, Rudy Early and some of the other, uh, people. But they never--that, that never came out. It was just sort of an unspoken distrust of the Bradens. It was very interesting.

FOSL: Hmm.

CURRY: And I, I think--now it didn't really rub off on me, because in my NSA files, um, uh, there's letters, there's an exchange of, uh, letters between Anne and me.

FOSL: Really? 'Cause I haven't found any.

CURRY: Well, have you been in, in--

FOSL: No.

CURRY: Yeah. Well, um--

00:11:00

FOSL: And it's in your ----------(??).

CURRY: Yeah. So, uh, but anyway, you know, so I never felt that--I, I mean I remember feeling a little strange about Anne. And I remember somebody saying to me once, it's, that, that's, it's not, that the problem with the Bradens didn't have anything to do with, uh--hey.

FOSL: Hi.

CURRY: Do you want to shut this down?

FOSL: Yeah.

[Pause in recording.]

FOSL: Okay, so we were talking about, so we really--

CURRY: --chicken and then my--

FOSL: Okay.

CURRY: --partly eaten ----------(??).

[Pause in recording.]

CURRY: Um--

FOSL: Okay.

CURRY: --I think I was, I was in the middle of saying--

FOSL: About the Bradens, how nobody ever said anything.

CURRY: Yeah. Yeah. And the one thing that, um, somebody at ---------- --(??) [noise] um, the one thing that, uh, I remember being articulated 00:12:00was that you needed to be--

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Thank you.

CURRY: --thank you--you needed to be afr-, be careful of the Bradens. And not that they were Communists or bad people, um, all this, that, and the other, but you couldn't trust them to use information in the best way.

FOSL: Right.

CURRY: That they were, that they would manipulate or use stuff in a way--not meant to hurt people, but that, um, that was not the most responsible way. And I don't know whether I'm talking about the Southern Patriot or exactly what. But that the Bradens put the cause or whatever they were doing at the time ahead of what, um, of, of relationships, you know.

FOSL: Um-hm.

CURRY: And, you know, the Service Committee, that's probably what--why I was so surprised. Because if anybody--the Service Committee 00:13:00historically is such an embracer of everybody, you know, they don't, you know, they never were red-baiters, and they were really--

FOSL: Right.

CURRY: So, but I--and I don't know what Barbara's experience had been where, where something that, some project in the past that Anne--'cause she had been with--you know, or what made her feel that they, that they, they were not--

FOSL: Well, I will say this, and not that the charges were totally unfounded. But if you wanna look at a reason that could still, that, that wouldn't be rooted in an actual event--

CURRY: Um-hm.

FOSL: --is there, one of the people that was a, an anti-Communist liberal, who was really against the Bradens, who came after them, really came out against them in the context of the Wade case, the '54, you know, housing desegregation case that made them so famous.

CURRY: Um-hm. Um-hm.

FOSL: Was this guy named Lee Thomas, who was a very, very big guy in Quaker circles.

CURRY: Oh, really?

00:14:00

FOSL: He was a Louisville Quaker. Very interesting story.

CURRY: Oh yeah.

FOSL: I've never been--Lee Thomas, I don't even know if he's alive now.

CURRY: Um-hm.

FOSL: But he was alive in 1999--

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: --when I first started--

CURRY: Well, that's interesting. Because, you know, and there again, I never--I mean I took that in, but it was never an operative thing for me, because if in thought, in my own experience, what I remember most about Anne is that the SNCC people all loved her. And that was good enough for me, you know. And Anne and I never had a close relationship. We, we always, uh, I mean--in fact, I, I have thought I have to go back and read this correspondence. Because she would write and ask me stuff, and I would write her back. And she said, "You know, what do you think about hiring so and so, Chris Elmer's (??) job?" Or, you know, all of that. So--but we were never confidantes. It was strange. Because a lot of people always looked to her sort of as a role model.

FOSL: Um-hm.

CURRY: And she was certainly old enough. But I never had a role model. Because, you know, here I was, Ella Baker's peer. And I was really sort of Anne's peer.

FOSL: Right.

CURRY: Plus the fact I would, I had my own degree. I'd been, you know, 00:15:00I, I had been to graduate school. I mean it--I wasn't an easily, um, in-, influenced--

FOSL: Right.

CURRY: --and that kind of thing, in looking for--I didn't need a role model in, in the way that a lot of, particularly white southern women may have who, who looked to, to her. Because, you know, I wasn't a white southerner. My parents were from Ire-, Ireland. Um, so--

FOSL: Did, you did grow up in--

CURRY: I grew up in the South. Oh yeah, I grew up in North Carolina.

FOSL: That's right.

CURRY: But I mean I didn't have roots--

FOSL: Right.

CURRY: --in, in the, in the South. So I never had to go through all those identity things that Anne did when she talks about herself and, and being from Alabama and knowing there was something wrong and feeling and wondering about all of that, so that it's not a great deal of, of, me, for, being, having, seeing an older, white southern woman--

FOSL: Um-hm.

CURRY: --um, do all that. You know, so I really just always accepted her at, at face value in whatever the context was. And that has sort 00:16:00of been, uh, been the relationship over all the years.

FOSL: Um-hm.

CURRY: Um, she's always been supportive of me. She--as, as far as I know. I mean, you know, she's always seems glad to see me. I'm always--and she's, was very helpful about the book, um, and when I was trying to do it, you know, she was so encouraging.

FOSL: Um-hm.

CURRY: And, uh, I, I used to worry a little bit, 'cause she's--when, when Dorothy Dawson, who came down from, uh, to be my assistant director at the project for, uh, voter registration.

FOSL: Right.

CURRY: Um, and she--that Dorothy wanted to picket or demonstrate with me and--what was it? It may have been the Bay of Pigs. But anyway, uh, and we had a very strict, it seemed from my advisory committee that, as professionals, or as paid workers, that we weren't supposed to demonstrate, but we really weren't supposed to demonstrate in 00:17:00peripheral stuff. They would take away the focus of the racial issue.

FOSL: Um-hm.

CURRY: Because that's what--not only is because we were getting money, but that period of people felt that--(Fosl clears throat)--black and white in, in the ----------(??), felt that you didn't confuse war, with the racial thing was so clear, and that you didn't wanna get it all interwoven, you know, with other issues.

FOSL: Um-hm.

CURRY: So, um, anyway, Dorothy and I had been, and my advisory committee had a big fight, and she left and went to marry Rod Burlage and went up North. But Vincent Harding (??) and Anne were big allies of hers in, in, in that. I don't think that the three of them ever bad-mouthed me for that, for, for, for my stand on, on that. But I--

FOSL: I've never heard any--seen any correspondence on it.

CURRY: No. But I think that I always felt that they--I think I felt 00:18:00kinda badly about it, because I mean I could see that, that all of these issues were linked.

FOSL: Um-hm.

CURRY: And bit by bit, you know, and certainly when I went to work for the Service Committee, I was more aware than ever of the whole international stuff and everything. But you know how you get--I probably felt kind of guilty about all that. And I used to think, I wonder if Anne and Vincent and all of them think that I'm kinda chicken-shit, you know, because I didn't stand up for, uh, Dorothy's right to, uh, to do this.

FOSL: Um-hm.

CURRY: But I never felt that from Anne, uh, on a personal level. And so--

FOSL: So you could even, you could have a disagreement and go on working together.

CURRY: Yeah. Yeah. And I don't even know if she ever, I don't think she ever even said anything to me.

FOSL: Um-hm.

CURRY: I think she was just supportive of Dorothy, to Dorothy.

FOSL: Um-hm.

CURRY: You know. I mean I don't--

FOSL: Well, you know, my argument about Anne is very much that she kept try-, well, you heard my paper.

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: She kept trying to push--

00:19:00

CURRY: Um-hm.

FOSL: --the civil rights activists in the early sixties towards a greater kind of critique of class and--

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: --other--

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: --forms of oppression that was more coming out of the Old Left.

CURRY: Um-hm. Um-hm. Yeah.

FOSL: So that would certainly--

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: --be consonant that position--

CURRY: Exactly.

FOSL: --would be consonant with her desire to link those issues.

CURRY: Um-hm. Um-hm.

FOSL: Yeah, so that certainly sounds like something--

CURRY: Yeah. Yeah. So then we were, um, you know, together at a lot of SNCC, um, meetings. 'Cause I was, you know, sat in the, uh, back of the, the Beman's (??) Restaurant through all those executive committee meetings. And, as it, when it sort of drifted further and further away from the, uh, campus concentration, from the student concentration, more into community organizing, the project began to distance. Because our mandate from the field was college student organizing and race 00:20:00relations. So by the end of '63, it was clear to me that, um, um, the NSA was sort of in-, involved in a way that wouldn't be, it wasn't helpful. Because we were a college based, uh, group. So I think I resigned from the executive committee, and then I resigned from the project. 'Cause, um, AFSC had offered me the job as southern field secretary. And, uh, Hayes Nasiah (??) took my place at the, at the Southern Project. So, um, you know, but like I say, my main feeling was one of being g-, so glad on a personal basis, when, when SRC, after all that time, um--

FOSL: Apologized.

CURRY: --apologized and, and, and gave her that award.

FOSL: 'Cause SRC was really kinda one of the main--

CURRY: Oh, from, absolutely.

FOSL: --leaders ----------(??) and then the ----------(??).

CURRY: Oh, really?

FOSL: You know, they really iced him ----------(??).

CURRY: Really? Yeah. Yeah.

00:21:00

FOSL: Um, but there was something I was going to ask you. Oh, I know. You, you mentioned in a general way how much, like, the SNCC people loved her. Was--could you elaborate on that at all? I mean I know Sara Evans goes into that in great detail.

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: A great deal of detail in her book about Anne as a role model.

CURRY: Yeah. Yeah.

FOSL: So are you just mainly--echoing that sentiment?

CURRY: Well, that--although I didn't know, I don't, I don't know if they--I mean nobody ever told me that.

FOSL: Um-hm.

CURRY: Um, but I mean--Jim For-, I mean the men and the women, they just never had anything--Jane Stembridge, um, all those people, they never had anything good--anything bad-- anything but good things to say about Anne.

FOSL: Well Jane, I guess, became very close to Anne.

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: Do you know what ever happened to Jane?

CURRY: Yeah. Yeah. She's in, uh, I, I--she called me last week, as a matter of fact.

FOSL: Really?

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: Where is she?

CURRY: She's in, uh, Illinois. ----------(??).

FOSL: She's somebody I really should talk to.

00:22:00

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: And I've never really--

CURRY: Well, she'd be glad to--

FOSL: Really?

CURRY: Yeah. If you'll call me, I'll give you her, uh, phone number and address. I don't have it with me.

FOSL: I will do that.

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: It was something I meant to get from Anne. I--

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: --just--see, I'm really just up to the SNCC people--

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: --in a way.

CURRY: Oh, wow.

FOSL: You know, in terms of interviewing.

CURRY: Um-hm. No, you definitely need to talk to, uh, Jane about her impressions of those, of those early days.

FOSL: Um-hm.

CURRY: But, you know, I've noticed, I mean everybody; they all seemed to really love and respect her. And, uh, uh, and to really trust her. I mean I never felt any, any worrying about, uh, in b-, have you interviewed Julian or Forman, or any of those folks?

FOSL: I just wrote Julian.

CURRY: Um-hm.

FOSL: About an interview.

CURRY: Yeah. Yeah.

FOSL: I have basically not interviewed anyone about her involvement with SNCC.

CURRY: Um-hm. Yeah.

FOSL: It's--I've been, you know, I've done most of the paper research.

CURRY: Um-hm.

FOSL: But I've not really dealt with the interviews at all.

00:23:00

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: Because there's so much to interview, it's so many people to interview in Louisville--

CURRY: Oh wow.

FOSL: --about Anne's long history, and this incredible, really, they call it the Braden sickness. And it really was. And this incredible reputation, how anything she touched was just immediately tainted.

CURRY: Really?

FOSL: A lot of it has carried over a very, very long time in Louisville, Kentucky.

CURRY: Wow. You know a guy named Galen Martin?

FOSL: The name is familiar.

CURRY: I, I, I went to this NSA 50th anniversary reunion, uh, at Wisconsin a couple--(Fosl clears throat)--weeks ago. And Galen Martin was there from, uh, Louisville.

FOSL: Oh, I'm glad you mentioned that.

CURRY: And a guy named Ken Kurtz, who lives in Louisville, I don't know what he's doing now, but he, he was an early sort of left in the NSA. But, um--

FOSL: Really? ----------(??).

CURRY: But anyway, Galen was at this NSA reunion. And boy, he was coming down hard on, uh, uh, the--he was head of the Kentucky Human 00:24:00Relations Commission for years and years and years.

FOSL: What's his name again, Galen Martin?

CURRY: Galen Martin.

FOSL: That's where I've seen the name.

CURRY: G-a-l-e-n Martin.

FOSL: Right.

CURRY: And he was having dinner a couple week-, uh, uh, at the weekend with Ken Kurtz.

FOSL: Is that K-u-r--

CURRY: K-u-r-t-z, yeah. And this guy came down so hard on the, uh, NSA people who started playing footsie with the CIA. I couldn't believe it. And I meant to--I thought, God, I should have asked Galen what his relationship with the Bradens. It'd be fascinating.

FOSL: Um-hm.

CURRY: 'Cause he was really into SRC stuff. But boy, the way he was railing at these people for being into the CIA. I'd be interested to know where--

FOSL: --these alignments have changed--

CURRY: True. Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

FOSL: Um, well, what about, uh, oh, this was a ques-, well we really already dealt with this question--what sort of impact do you think Anne had on SNCC?

00:25:00

CURRY: Well, I mean I think--well, by the, I think that she, they, that regardless of what the fall-out was, or regardless of what the Braden- -I mean a good example of what you're talking about may have been the, the fact that Anne was mad at Carl for releasing that, about, the, the information about her being, uh, you know, they, they were quick--I don't think there was ever any malice. But they were quick to, to, to, to say, to keep on--and I understand why, you know, keep on trying to prove how they were at the cutting edge, you know.

FOSL: Um-hm.

CURRY: Uh, because I'm sure that at times they must have felt that--just worthless when nobody was, yeah--

FOSL: They were asked to stay out of Mississippi in 1964.

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: And that's the summer their daughter died, too. You know they were going to-- [noise]

CURRY: Hmm. But anyway, let me, let me say one thing about that. I think that probably, and I may be dead wrong about this, but you might ask other people, it was probably for people like Anne and Carl that, that these young people got educated to the fact of a broader of, of 00:26:00the broader issues--

FOSL: Yeah.

CURRY: --of, of, of cl-, issues of class. Of course Forman was already there. But, you know, maybe--it may be, uh, made them aware, someone like Sue Thrasher, made them aware that class, race, war, peace, uh, all economic issues, all that. And I would, you know, you might wanna check that out.

FOSL: I will. I will definitely--

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: --talk with people about that.

CURRY: Yeah. But, um--

FOSL: Would Julian be at Charlottesville in the fall--

CURRY: Um-hm. Yeah.

FOSL: Okay.

CURRY: Um-hm. Yeah. Yeah, he was the chair there. But, um, I tell you the other thing that I will do is, when I'm going through my NSA papers, I will, since you probably are not gonna-- there's thirty-four boxes. And--

FOSL: I will probably look through it.

CURRY: Well. Some of it you can ignore, because some of it is what I was telling you about, the '57 through '60. Uh, but I will just make copies. There's not a lot. But I'll make copies of anything to do with Anne. Yeah. Yeah.

FOSL: Yeah, let me just, no, you've got my, right?

00:27:00

CURRY: No, you did e-mail.

FOSL: Well, you've got my e-mail.

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: Maybe I should give you my address.

CURRY: Okay. Yeah.

FOSL: Do you wanna put it on--

CURRY: No, put it on that piece of paper.

FOSL: Okay.

CURRY: But, um--

FOSL: Well, what about the atmosphere surrounding, you know, anti- Communism in general? Do you think that once somebody was thought to have ever been associated with the Communist Party or any project thereof, then they're an untouchable? Would you say that's true? Or you think SNCC changed that?

CURRY: Well, I was talking to Tim Jenkins (??), who was also at this NSA thing about that because, um, he was talking about, um, we were talking about the CIA infiltration of NSA. And I said, "Well, you know, I remember sitting in a SNCC meeting and he-, hearing Forman or somebody 00:28:00say, when there was a question about who to take money from and how the CA--the CIA they wouldn't give it the, if we took from somebody, or if we had the Bradens, or if we had Byron Russell (??), I guess." And I remember, of course Forman saying, "Well, you know, we are clear about what we're doing, and we'll take money from the government itself." And I said that to Tim. And it was very true, because he said, "Oh yeah, but we would never to see in our membership--about where we, we took money from."

FOSL: Hmm.

CURRY: And that's the big issue with Anne and some people. Because they had a constituency of, you know, seven hundred colleges out there, that never knew--

FOSL: Right.

CURRY: --about, about that. But--(clears throat)--um--(Fosl coughs)- -anyway, I, uh, I just remember--(coughs)--particularly in the early generation of SNCC, everybody was welcome. I mean all these people, I remember being so undone by, um, all these people that I was sure--of 00:29:00course I thought like Julian and some of the rest of us, that they talked fast, didn't shave their legs, wore sandals, and were, uh, from New York, that they might be Communists, you know, because they were just otherworldly. And back then, anybody who was strange, I mean worse than you could say--

FOSL: Right.

CURRY: --was that they were probably Communists. And that may have been stupid, it didn't mean anything.

FOSL: Well, tell me this. Talking about Anne and her appearance, do you think she was very, very mainstream?

CURRY: Yeah. Yeah.

FOSL: I mean she didn't even like wear blue jeans all the time.

CURRY: Unh-uh.

FOSL: Or anything like that.

CURRY: No, she always was ladylike as, in, in--

FOSL: Right.

CURRY: --in her persona, to me. You know, much less threatening than--

FOSL: Do you think she was a pretty woman?

CURRY: Yeah. Yeah.

FOSL: I, I think she was very pretty.

CURRY: Yeah, me too. And she was always nice. You know.

FOSL: Very welcoming.

CURRY: Yeah. Yeah.

FOSL: Very welcoming.

CURRY: Yeah. I always, I always felt kind of, on, um, but I still, of course I still feel this--which is, um, sort of, bewildered by her 00:30:00single-mindedness.

FOSL: Um-hm.

CURRY: I mean it's just overwhelming.

FOSL: It is.

CURRY: I mean, you know, you ask her about something, and she, she--Ella was this way.

FOSL: Was she?

CURRY: You know. Oh yeah.

FOSL: I never knew her.

CURRY: Yeah. Well, you know, you'd ask her something, and Ella was a lot more mellow than, uh, than, than Anne. But I mean to tell you, they, they were not easily diverted. And, uh, uh, Ella--I used to make Ella laugh. Um, but I don't know if you--and, and this is a huge generalization. But you know a lot of serious-minded, hell-bent for leather cause people, are not big on sense of humors.

FOSL: Um-hm.

CURRY: They do not have--

FOSL: Right.

CURRY: --huge sense of humors. And, uh, and so it was awesome to me that, um, no matter what was going on, Anne always, you know, would come right back to whatever was at hand. And I used to find that rather, uh, um, strange, because there, there were other people seemed 00:31:00more laid back.

FOSL: Right.

CURRY: She was always in there, just always, always seeing an issue every, you know, and--

FOSL: Well, a good friend of hers in Louisville, and a long time colleague in the various struggles, always characterized a very basic difference between herself and Anne is: Anne has no sense of humor. And Carl apparently had quite a sense of humor.

CURRY: Really? Yeah. Yeah.

FOSL: Relative to Anne.

CURRY: Um-hm. Yeah. (laughs)

FOSL: You know.

CURRY: But, um, anyway--

FOSL: Well, here's a question. Um, you know, like Sara Evans has written in detail, and, and, and you sound, you know, on similar track about Anne's influence on a lot of the women. And yet, when I ask you and Jane and some of the others there, when you're collecting this together, had it ever come up in your meetings, y'all said no.

CURRY: Never did.

FOSL: I just found that interesting.

CURRY: Um-hm.

FOSL: It, it isn't really a question.

CURRY: Um-hm. No, it never did. But see, that later generation of that 00:32:00movement came in '64 when there were ---------(??) then the three of the women, Emmie and, uh, Pen-, well, Penny Patch might have.

FOSL: She reme-, Anne remembers Emmie, too.

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: And Penny Patch really remembers Anne.

CURRY: Yeah. Yeah.

FOSL: So I don't know. I mean she obviously made some sort of impression--

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: --on people.

CURRY: Yeah. Uh, but, no, it didn't, I don't think it did come up in our, uh--

FOSL: Yeah, that's what they said too.

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: Now, uh, maybe it's, maybe this isn't a question that you're, you know, really close enough to Anne to answer. But do you think that she's changed over the years?

CURRY: You know, I, I--there was such a--when I worked for city government, um, I used to see her from time to time when I was with the Service Committee. But--there wer-, I'm, I guess I didn't see her for twenty years.

FOSL: Right.

CURRY: 'Cause when I was working for city government which was sixteen years, I didn't see her until--I didn't see her like from the seventies through the, the nineties, you know.

00:33:00

FOSL: Um-hm.

CURRY: So--but I would, would say, you know, off the top of my head, I don't think she has.

FOSL: Yeah, there's an incredibly static quality to her that I--

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: --is just almost striking.

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: I just never s-, I mean just like the same words, even the same ---------(??)--

CURRY: Yeah. Yeah.

FOSL: --since 1955.

CURRY: Oh, right. And, well, yeah. I mean because we're not--the, the times I've heard her speak like last time I heard her speak she was with, uh, C.T. Vivian at the, uh, Smithsonian when, uh--

FOSL: Right. I am so sorry I missed that.

CURRY: She--yeah.

FOSL: She even called me and wanted--

CURRY: Really?

FOSL: --me to come.

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: And a very dear friend of mine's father's funeral was that day.

CURRY: Oh, really?

FOSL: And I just couldn't do it.

CURRY: Yeah, well, Cord-, you know, and right after--there's, uh, the day after Cordell's, uh--

FOSL: I knew that.

CURRY: --memorial so a whole bunch of us were there. But I was just stunned. I thought, God, she's sounds [noise] sounds [noise] exactly the same, on, it's like a recording, you know, of what, what ---------- -(??). Another thing is Anne is always so self-effacing.

FOSL: Um-hm.

00:34:00

CURRY: And [noise] that bothers me from time to time, not that she needs to be--[noise] I think she truly feels that way. But, um, [noise] she's like Jane in that respect. You know, because Jane wouldn't join- -Jane Stembridge wouldn't join our group of, um ----------(??) they are gonna wonder where the hell, if this ever goes in an archive, they're gonna wonder where we were.

FOSL: I know.

CURRY: But anyway, um, uh, Jane said, "I didn't do anything. I didn't do anything."

FOSL: Right. Anne is like that.

CURRY: Yeah. And I mean that's ridiculous.

FOSL: I think that's been part of the process for me. And, and actually--

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: --I think that's a good change that she seems to be going through.

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: Uh, because now ----------(??).

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Thank you.

CURRY: Ella would be so funny, because even when she had--was getting Alzheimer's, you know, she would get up and just drive Joanne cra-, crazy. Ella would say, "Well, where's my bourbon?" And it'd be seven in the morning, you know. (laughs) That's horrible--(laughs)--but, yeah, I mean boy, you think about some of those women in those early 00:35:00days when they were, uh, meeting and everybody was so scared, it must have been so hard. And, uh, they would have had their glasses and neat bourbon. Must have been wild times, I tell ya. Well, I don't know why I'm saying that, when I think about the--they just switched to scotch in the sixties. It's awful. (laughs)

FOSL: That is awful. Well, I have really just--

CURRY: Okay.

FOSL: --one more question. And it--I, I bet the answer is gonna be no. But are there any instances that you concretely remember about SCEF or Anne's being excluded? [noise] I mean I've definitely got a, a log of some of them, but I think there are a lot more that I just don't know.

CURRY: (pause) Not that I can remember. It looks like I would remember--

FOSL: Well, it got--

00:36:00

CURRY: --some--

FOSL: --much better, really--

CURRY: --from--

FOSL: --by the time you, you all came along.

CURRY: Yeah. I mean it looks like I would remember--the Southern Interagency Conference.

FOSL: They were excluded from that.

CURRY: They were?

FOSL: They had, they had a petition to join ----------(??) along with his--

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: --got turned down.

CURRY: Yeah. Well see, that was going on before I, uh, got there. So, uh, I don't--so they'd already been excluded--(laughs)--I'm sure. Geez. Uh, but, no, I don't, I don't, I don't remember anything.

FOSL: Okay.

CURRY: By then, you know, they would have been more embraced by, uh--

FOSL: Okay, last question. Is there anything I haven't asked you that you think you should say to me? (Curry laughs) In, in--

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: --in a--

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: --I mean in a ----------(??).

CURRY: No. 'Cause I've, I've told that I can, can think of, you know. What's, what's important is, uh, if I can get in my papers, it will trigger memories. You know, when you see a document about, about--and 00:37:00I can't remember when all this correspondence was, and whether it was Anne saying that they were coming to the Nashville Leadership Conference. But anyway, something, um, that, that NSA had gotten money for. But anyway, there's, there's correspondence in there. So--

FOSL: Yeah, I'd love to see that.

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: And, and if that jogs any more memories--

CURRY: Yeah.

FOSL: --just jot it down.

CURRY: Yeah, I will.

FOSL: Or call me.

CURRY: I will, sure. I'll--

FOSL: Well and that I have permission to quote from this interview?

CURRY: Yeah. Yeah.

FOSL: 'Cause that--and you have release forms, but I didn't bring one. So--

CURRY: Yeah.

[End of interview.]