Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Milo Manly, September 11, 1984

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Early history and employment

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Partial Transcript: That should do it.

Segment Synopsis: Manly discusses his teenage years, dropping out of high school and attempting various jobs, encountering racism at work, and finally achieving acceptance as a machinist's helper.

Keywords: "The Saturday Evening Post"; 15th Street; 16th Street; 31st and Chestnut Streets; Armistice; Baldwin Locomotive; Cheltenham High School; LaMott; Machine shops; The American Machinists; Trolley Car 24; World War I

Subjects: African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions.; Race discrimination.; Racism; United States--Race relations.; World War, 1914-1918

GPS: McElvain Drug Company
Map Coordinates: 39.962541, -75.163122
00:06:30 - The Race Riot of 1918 and its effect on Manly's perspective

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Partial Transcript: Now, I was there when the Armistice was signed.

Segment Synopsis: Manly recalls the Philadelphia Race Riot of 1918, as well as his return to high school and how he found his way to his college education in mechanical engineering.

Keywords: Armistice; Cheltenham High School; Chestnut Street Bridge; Engineers; Machine shops; Machinists; Protection; Race riots; University of Pennsylvania; Violence; WWI; World War I

Subjects: African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Civil rights demonstrations; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions.; Race riots--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia.; Racism; United States--Race relations.; World War, 1914-1918

GPS: Chestnut Street Bridge
Map Coordinates: 39.953019, -75.181100
00:11:05 - Director of fieldwork for the National Council for Permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission

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Partial Transcript: That whole situation in that shop taught me that prejudice, discrimination are the result of ignorance.

Segment Synopsis: Manly discusses how the 1918 Race Riot changed his perspective and inspired him to become involved in the Fair Employment Practices Commission as director of fieldwork.

Keywords: Employment practices; Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC); Fellowship Commission; Inventions; Labor; Speeches

Subjects: Race discrimination.; Race riots--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia.

00:14:59 - Race relations and riots in Philadelphia

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Partial Transcript: You know, you mentioned that, um, I guess it would have been fall of nine--1918, or winter of 1918-1919, that the riots were taking place?

Segment Synopsis: Manly discusses the lack of reporting of race relations and violence in the press, specifically regarding violence against Blacks.

Keywords: Armistice; Ellsworth Street; Media coverage; Sailors; The Record; The Tribune; Violence; War industries; White press

Subjects: African Americans--Crimes against.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Civil rights demonstrations; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions.; Race discrimination.; Race riots--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia.; United States--Race relations.

00:17:38 - Manly's father and recruitment of southern laborers

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Partial Transcript: Now you, uh, you quit high school, uh, first year of high school to go to work. Um, um, let’s concentrate on the, on the, the period of the war years, then, before I go back into, you know, family background.

Segment Synopsis: Manly recalls labor conditions after the Armistice ending WWI was signed. He relates how his father Alexander contributed to the founding of the Armstrong Association, and served as a labor agent for them by going to the South and presenting the benefits of migrating north to southern workers.

Keywords: Armstrong Association (Philadelphia affiliate of the National Urban League); Baldwin Locomotive Works; Cramps Shipyards; Factories; Firemen; Hampton University; Industry; Labor agents; Lumber mills; Manufacturing; Migration; Military draft; Quakers; Shipyards; Skilled labor; Southern Blacks; Tuskegee University; Unskilled labor; Welders

Subjects: African American business enterprises; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Southern States.; World War, 1914-1918

00:25:09 - The influx of southern workers and housing

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Partial Transcript: Now, you say there was housing.

Segment Synopsis: Manly recalls the influx of southern laborers to Philadelphia as a result of labor agents and recruiters. He notes that the Quakers encouraged and helped finance the migration. He then discusses the problems housing all the new workers.

Keywords: Armstrong Association (Philadelphia affiliate of the National Urban League); Laborers; Migrants; Quakers; Southern Blacks

Subjects: African American business enterprises; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Housing.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions.

00:26:35 - Alexander Manly and the activities of the Armstrong Association

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Partial Transcript: Now your father was industrial secretary with the Armstrong Association?

Segment Synopsis: Manly discusses his father's work with the Armstrong Association. He mentions the how the Armstrong Association helped Black workers find jobs.

Keywords: "The War Years"; Armstrong Association (Philadelphia affiliate of the National Urban League); Black workers; Workplace integration

Subjects: African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Discrimination in employment.; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions.; Race discrimination.

00:32:54 - Relationships between white and Black workers

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Partial Transcript: Now that, that’s an interesting story. I've talked to a number of men who did work at Hog Island.

Segment Synopsis: Manly discusses workplace integration and the role of the NAACP. He mentions how the NAACP and its president I. Max Martin were not very active during this time, but that Martin did work with Manly's father in attempting to recruit workers for Hog Island. He also talks about the workplace practices of Hog Island Shipyards.

Keywords: NAACP; Workplace integration

Subjects: African American leadership; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Integration; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions.; Race discrimination.

00:36:06 - The Armstrong Association does not target specific industries

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Partial Transcript: Did the Armstrong Association target any particular industries or, or corporations?

Segment Synopsis: Manly discusses how the Armstrong Association did not target specific industries, but worked behind the scenes, and were very successful. He mentions that they were eventually absorbed into the Urban League.

Keywords: Armstrong Association (Philadelphia affiliate of the National Urban League); Industries; Quakers; Targeting

Subjects: African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Societies, etc.; Discrimination in employment.

00:37:30 - Manly's pre-war recollections of early civil rights figures

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Partial Transcript: No, because, uh, uh, during that period, as I told you, I was working at, at the machine shop, went back to high school, and, uh, I’d get up first thing in the morning, and with our Model T Ford, would drive my father down to 1434 Lombard Street, where the Armstrong Association was operating, got started.

Segment Synopsis: Manly recollects his years in high school and his parents' interactions with Marian Anderson and other early civil rights figures. Manly's mother, a singer, helped Anderson with professional suggestions.

Keywords: Armstrong Association (Philadelphia affiliate of the National Urban League); Football; High school; LaMott; Marian Anderson; Track team

Subjects: African American leadership; African Americans--Civil rights; African Americans--Social conditions.; Civil rights movements--United States

00:39:39 - Convincing employers to hire Black workers

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Partial Transcript: Did your father, um, in the evenings, when he came back, any talk during the war years into the--you know, 1919, 1920, talk about any of the great successes, victories, or defeats that the Armstrong Association had?

Segment Synopsis: Manly relates how his father and later, he, attempted to convince employers that hiring incoming southern Black workers would be to their benefit.

Keywords: Benefits; Laborers

Subjects: African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Discrimination in employment.; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions.; Race discrimination.; United States--Race relations.

00:41:34 - R. R. Wright, Jr.’s autobiography and the founding of the Armstrong Association

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Partial Transcript: Um, one other thing I wanted to ask you about, you know, which you might or might not have knowledge about is, uh, recently I read Bishop Wright’s autobiography.

Segment Synopsis: Manly discusses what he considers to be a fallacious account of the founding of the Armstrong Association in R. R. Wright, Jr.’s autobiography. Manly comments on his father's true role in the association, especially the surveys and studies his father conducted.

Keywords: Armstrong Association (Philadelphia affiliate of the National Urban League); Richard Wright; Studies; Surveys; Urban Archives, Temple University

Subjects: African American leadership; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Health and hygiene.; African Americans--Housing.

00:45:48 - Reticence of the migrant workers to discuss their backgrounds

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Partial Transcript: One of the interviews I had was with Mrs. Elsy, who was, uh, I guess a industrial secretary.

Segment Synopsis: Manly tells of the reticence of southern Blacks to talk about their lives in the South, and of how he first learned his own family's history and about unknown relatives in the South from non-family members.

Keywords: Biracial; Employment conditions; Reticence; Slavery; Southern Laborers; Workers

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Conduct of life.; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Genealogy.; African Americans--Race identity.; African Americans--Social conditions.; African Americans--Southern States.

00:49:30 - Politics and social standings within the Black community in Philadelphia

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Partial Transcript: Well let me ask you a little bit about politics during this period, and just get your reactions to some of the, the names of the, the prominent men and women back then. Uh, what can you tell me about Amos Scott?

Segment Synopsis: Manly discusses politics among Philadelphia's Black community. He speaks about the upper-crust of "Negro society" and their disdain for people from outside their circles.

Keywords: "Negro society"; Amos Scott; Bachelor-Benedict Club; Class structures; Community work; Philadelphia Club; Philadelphia society; Social discrimination; Social structures; Socioeconomic conditions

Subjects: African Americans--Politics and government.; African Americans--Social conditions.; African Americans--Social life and customs.; African Americans--Societies, etc.; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions.; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social life and customs.

00:53:43 - Philadelphia ward politics in the early 1900s

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Partial Transcript: I don't know who came before Blankenburg, but--

Segment Synopsis: Milo Manly discusses his father Alex L. Manly's involvement in Philadelphia ward politics during the 1910s and 1920s. He talks about the Republican control of Philadelphia and its strategy of controlling the Black vote by using African American figureheads such as John Asbury and Andrew Stevens in the state legislature.

Keywords: 30th Ward (Philadelphia, Pa.); Andrew Stevens; Cheltenham Township (Pa); Equal Rights Bill, 1921 (Pennsylvania); Jack Johnson; John Asbury; Republican Party (Philadelphia); Rudolph Blankenburg

Subjects: African Americans--Politics and government.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions.; Republican Party (Pa.); Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- )

00:57:36 - Race relations and the Pennsylvania Equal Rights Bill of 1935

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Partial Transcript: Now, those civil rights bills that you’re talking about, my father helped write.

Segment Synopsis: Manly talks about his father's involvement in Pennsylvania's 1935 Equal Rights Bill, also known as the Reynolds Bill. According to Manly, Hobson Reynolds and his father sat down at their house and constructed the bill. Although the state passed the bill in 1935, Manly argues it lacked enforcement until the 1950s, especially in areas outside Philadelphia.

Keywords: Commonwealth Court (Pennsylvania); Equal Rights Bill, 1935 (Pennsylvania); Harrisburg (Pa.); Harrisburger Hotel; Hobson R. Reynolds; Penn Harris Hotel; Reynolds Bill

Subjects: African American leadership; African Americans--Civil rights; African Americans--Legal status, laws, etc.; African Americans--Politics and government.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Civil rights--Law and legislation; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions.

01:02:58 - Philadelphia's African American lawyers in the early 1900s

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Partial Transcript: What can you tell me about G. Edward Dickerson?

Segment Synopsis: Discussing Black lawyers in Philadelphia during the 1910s and 1920s, Manly says that G. Edward Dickerson had the best reputation. He suggests the Black lawyers defended their clientele well, even though their clients lacked financial stability.

Keywords: Bachelor-Benedict Club; Colored Protective Association; G. Edward Dickerson; Joseph Trent (builder); Old Philadelphia Club; William Robinson

Subjects: African American lawyers.; African American leadership; African Americans--Legal status, laws, etc.; Race riots--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia.

01:06:22 - Attitudinal differences between "Old Philadelphians" and southern newcomers

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Partial Transcript: Now during the--one of the things I'm interested in too, during this period, is, um, the differences in the attitudes between the men like yourself from the South, who had educations, who had professional backgrounds or skills when they arrived, and, um, the Old Philadelphia of, of similar class background.

Segment Synopsis: Manly talks about the attitudinal differences between the Old Philadelphians (O.P.s) and the Black newcomers arriving from the South. Manly asserts that newcomers who had an education and the money to support themselves fit in just fine. He shares that OPs and southern newcomers differed most in their attitudes about jobs and home ownership.

Keywords: Hampton, Virginia; Home ownership--Philadelphia; Old Philadelphians (O.P.s); Southerners; Tuskegee, Alabama

Subjects: African Americans--Conduct of life.; African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Housing.; African Americans--Social conditions.; African Americans--Southern States.; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions.

01:10:59 - African American families settle in Eastwick

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Partial Transcript: So what, what’s the Eastwick story then? After, after Hog Island?

Segment Synopsis: Manly discusses the establishment of Eastwick communities after the arrival of many southern Black families. According to Manly, a company from Philadelphia sold pieces of land in Eastwick to families desperate for housing, and the families built homes and churches to establish a community. Eastwick transformed from swampy meadows to a developing community.

Keywords: 84th Street (Philadelphia, Pa.); Chester, Pennsylvania; Eastwick (Philadelphia, Pa.); Eastwick Avenue (Philadelphia, Pa.); Hog Island (Philadelphia, Pa); Hog Island Shipyard; Home ownership--Philadelphia

Subjects: African American neighborhoods; African Americans--Housing.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions.

01:15:56 - The Wilmington Race Riot of 1898 and Alex L. Manly's journey from North Carolina to Philadelphia.

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Partial Transcript: Can you tell me, uh, a bit about the--your family background and, and your father’s early history, and how he came to Philadelphia?

Segment Synopsis: Manly tells the story of his father's journey from North Carolina to Philadelphia. According to Manly, his father was the editor of the only African American daily newspaper in the country, and a mob threatened Manly's life during a riot in Wilmington, North Carolina. Manly's father escaped to Washington D.C. where he married his wife Caroline. In 1901 or 1902 they moved to Philadelphia where Manly established himself as a successful painting contractor.

Keywords: Alexander L. Manly; Charles Manly (Governor of North Carolina); George White (Congressman); Hampton, Virginia; Migration from the South; North Carolina; Rev. Francis J. Grimke; Sumter, South Carolina; The South; Washington, D.C.; Wilmington, North Carolina

Subjects: African Americans--Conduct of life.; African Americans--Newspapers.; African Americans--Social conditions.; African Americans--Southern States.; Race discrimination.; Racism; United States--Race relations.

01:24:02 - Employment during the Great Depression

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Partial Transcript: How did he feel about being a painting contractor? He'd been, uh, an editor of a, a, a very prominent and important newspaper.

Segment Synopsis: According to Manly, after the stock market crash of 1929, his father lost his painting and decorating business. Manly states he would never forget the day his father lost his business, "he turned into an old man overnight." Milo then talks about the jobs his father held during the Great Depression, and his work with the Lloyd Committee relief agency and the Mothers Assistance Fund.

Keywords: Alexander L. Manly; Armstrong Association (Philadelphia affiliate of the National Urban League); Employment offices--Philadelphia; Great Depression; Hampton, Virginia; Jenkintown Bank and Trust Company; Joseph Trent (builder); Lloyd Committee (Philadelphia--Great Depression); Mothers Assistance Fund (Philadelphia--Great Depression); Old Philadelphians (O.P.s)

Subjects: African Americans--Economic conditions.; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Social conditions.; African Americans--Societies, etc.; Depressions--1929

01:32:04 - Eastwick during the Great Depression

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Partial Transcript: And, uh, this is where I learned the story of Eastwick, and what went on after Hog Island, and after the war had stopped, and how the people out there in Eastwick were, were taken care of.

Segment Synopsis: Manly discusses Eastwick during the Great Depression. According to Manly, Eastwick suffered the worst in Philadelphia during the Depression. Manly witnessed the hardships families suffered through his relief work with the Lloyd Committee.

Keywords: David Triester; Eastwick (Philadelphia, Pa.); Great Depression; Herbert Hoover; Hog Island Shipyard; Home ownership--Philadelphia; Lloyd Committee (Philadelphia--Great Depression); Relief Programs--Philadelphia

Subjects: African American neighborhoods; African Americans--Economic conditions.; African Americans--Housing.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Depressions--1929; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions.

01:43:42 - Manly's experiences with Philadelphia ward politics in the 1930s.

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Partial Transcript: When that was all over, Dave Triester called me. And I had -------??, I had gone to him time and again to, uh, hold off on somebody who couldn't pay rent or something like that.

Segment Synopsis: Manly talks about his personal experiences with Philadelphia ward politics in the early 1930s and later in the 1950s, and about the detail work he did with committeeman Alexander (Sandy) Greene.

Keywords: Alexander Greene; Committeeman; David Triester; Great Depression; Philadelphia ward politics; Political impact of the Great Depression

Subjects: African American leadership; African Americans--Politics and government.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions.

01:50:53 - Response to the release of "The Birth of a Nation" in 1915

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Partial Transcript: “Birth of the Nation,” the film, was your father--uh, I know, when it at--when it opened in Philadelphia, there was quite an uproar. Any recollection? w--can you tell me anything about that?

Segment Synopsis: Manly briefly discusses his father's disapproval of the release of the film "Birth of a Nation."

Keywords: Alexander L. Manly; Ku Klux Klan (Philadelphia chapter, Division 47)

Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions.; Birth of a nation (Motion picture); Ku Klux Klan (1915- ); Racism; United States--Race relations.

01:51:12 - How African American churches assisted southern newcomers

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Partial Transcript: Um, how about, uh, Reverend Tindley and his activities?

Segment Synopsis: Manly discusses the role the churches played, especially Tindley Temple, in supporting the Black migrants from the South. He explains the role the churches had in the Black communities in Philadelphia and the aid they provided compared to organizations such as the Armstrong Association.

Keywords: Armstrong Association (Philadelphia affiliate of the National Urban League); Church; East Calvary Methodist Church (Philadelphia, Pa.); Migration from the South; Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church; Rev. C. Williams; Rev. Dr. Charles Albert Tindley; Tindley Temple

Subjects: African American churches; African Americans--Religion.; African Americans--Social conditions.; African Americans--Societies, etc.; African Americans--Southern States.; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions.

GPS: Tindley Temple today
Map Coordinates: 39.941414, -75.166669
01:55:13 - The Ku Klux Klan in Philadelphia

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Partial Transcript: How about Ku Klux Klan in, in Philadelphia?

Segment Synopsis: Manly briefly discusses the Ku Klux Klan in Philadelphia. According to Manly, the KKK never amounted to much in the city but had a bigger impact in the suburbs.

Keywords: Ku Klux Klan (Philadelphia chapter, Division 47)

Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions.; Ku Klux Klan (1915- ); Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions.; Race discrimination.; Racism; United States--Race relations.

01:55:53 - The Philadelphia N.A.A.C.P. in the 1930s

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Partial Transcript: Oh --------??. I was vice-president of the, of the Philadelphia NAACP after, uh, uh, Martin. Ted Spaulding and I took over the NAACP. That’s the only way we could describe it. We weren't elected.

Segment Synopsis: Manly talks about his leadership in the Philadelphia branch of the N.A.A.C.P. in the 1930s. He talks about finding the first office location and hiring a secretary for the organization. He discusses the Philadelphia branch's relationship with the national organization headed by Walter White, and with the Philadelphia Tribune and its editor Eugene Washington Rhodes.

Keywords: "Philadelphia Tribune"; Eugene Washington Rhodes (editor, The Philadelphia Tribune); Hobson R. Reynolds; Isadore Maximilian Martin, Jr. (realtor, NAACP branch president); Isadore Maximilian Martin, Sr. (realtor, NAACP branch president); Lawyers in Philadelphia, Pa.; NAACP Philadelphia Branch; Rev. Leon Sullivan; Walter White (NAACP)

Subjects: African American leadership; African Americans--Societies, etc.; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

GPS: 16th and Lombard Street
Map Coordinates: 39.945053, -75.168573