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Charles Morgan Jr. Interviewed on February 24, 1995

Charles Morgan Jr. Interviewed on February 24, 1995

BCRI Oral History Collection
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00:01:01 - Beginning of Interview

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Partial Transcript: Just for the record, Chuck, give me your name.

GPS: Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Map Coordinates: 33.516200, -86.813870
00:01:07 - Biographical Information

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Partial Transcript: And you were born where?

Segment Synopsis: He grew up in an upper middle class white community.

Subjects: Birmingham (Ala.); Southern States--History

00:01:55 - Family Status

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Partial Transcript: And, so, that's why your family moved there?

Segment Synopsis: His father worked for National Life and Accident Insurance Company, which is the work that brought his family to Birmingham.

Keywords: Kentucky

Subjects: Birmingham (Ala.); Industrial life insurance; Southern States--History

00:03:50 - Education

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Partial Transcript: Okay. You went to high school, then, when you got here.

Segment Synopsis: He attended the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Subjects: College students; University of Alabama

00:04:36 - University Desegregation

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Partial Transcript: Okay, but you got interested the minute you got down there in student politics.

Segment Synopsis: He was supportive of the Brown v. Board of Education decision but wasn't yet a public figure when it occurred.

Keywords: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka; University of Alabama

Subjects: Alabama--History; College integration

00:06:16 - Politics in Alabama

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Partial Transcript: Except race.

Segment Synopsis: He sees Alabama as a progressive state and supported democratic politics.

Keywords: Folsom, James Elisha; Wallace, George C. (George Corley), 1919-1998

Subjects: Alabama--History; Political parties--Southern States

00:09:27 - Steel Workers and Race

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Partial Transcript: This was a big labor center.

Segment Synopsis: Race relations in organized labor was central to workers' struggles.

Keywords: AFL-CIO

Subjects: Birmingham (Ala.); Iron and steel workers--Labor unions; Race relations in the United States

00:10:37 - Trajectory of Political Education

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Partial Transcript: So, you, then, became, can I fairly say this?

Segment Synopsis: As his politics developed through law school, he noticed the impact that WW2 had on Black soldiers returning.

Keywords: World War II

Subjects: African American soldiers; African Americans--Segregation; University of Alabama. School of Law

00:12:48 - Race after World War II

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Partial Transcript: But Chuck, if these people came back from the second world war—

Segment Synopsis: Birmingham was a segregated city that soldiers had to return to.

Subjects: Birmingham (Ala.); Segregation--United States; United States. Supreme Court

00:14:12 - Effects of Brown v. Board of Education

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Segment Synopsis: Birmingham followed the rest of the south in resisting desegregation.

Keywords: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

Subjects: African Americans--Civil rights--Southern States; Birmingham (Ala.); Iron and steel workers--United States; Segregation--United States

00:17:06 - Working towards Desegregation

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Partial Transcript: Let's go back to Tuscaloosa and the Autherine Lucy case because you, in your book.

Segment Synopsis: He wanted to assist Authurine Lucy in attending the University of Alabama to desegregate it.

Subjects: Segregation in higher education--United States; Tuscaloosa (Ala.); University of Alabama

00:18:25 - Involvement in Politics and Law

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Partial Transcript: How did you begin to work with people like Orzell Billingsley and Arthur Shores?

Segment Synopsis: He was involved with the Young Democrats and began to be known for his beliefs.

Subjects: University of Alabama; Young Democrats of America

00:20:50 - Practicing Law

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Partial Transcript: Alright, what was the first confrontation that...?

Segment Synopsis: He started a law practice and, because of his politics, began to defend cases.

Subjects: Alabama--History; Civil rights lawyers

00:23:15 - Becoming a Well-Known Lawyer

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Partial Transcript: Deal with that a little bit.

Segment Synopsis: While a lawyer, he was also involved in the Young Men's Business Club and associated with various politicians.

Subjects: Alabama Council on Human Relations; Birmingham (Ala.); Political parties--United States--History--20th century

00:28:09 - White Resentment for His Work

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Partial Transcript: I know. Stop right there though.

Segment Synopsis: Because of his work, white people, especially in Birmingham, resented him.

Subjects: Alabama--History; Birmingham (Ala.); Race relations

00:29:16 - Conscious Decision for Civil Rights Cases

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Partial Transcript: Stop right there. What made you...?

Segment Synopsis: As a white lawyer, he saw himself as one of the few who consciously chose to defend civil rights cases.

Keywords: American Bar Association

Subjects: Birmingham (Ala.); Civil rights lawyers; Civil rights movement

00:31:53 - Consequences of Defending Civil Rights

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Partial Transcript: But, Chuck, you suffered a lot financially, in a lot of different ways and yet you kept
plowing ahead.

Segment Synopsis: Because of his civil rights work, his life was threatened and he had to adjust his life accordingly.

Subjects: Alabama--History; Civil rights lawyers; Self-defense

00:35:20 - Getting the Black Vote and Jury

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk about some of the most famous cases.

Segment Synopsis: He saw that it was necessary for Black people to be able to vote and serve on juries for them to have any power in society.

Keywords: American Civil Liberties Union. Southern Regional Office

Subjects: African Americans--Civil rights; Alabama--History; Segregation--Law and legislation

00:41:12 - Working for Racial Justice

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Partial Transcript: Before we get to that, also—

Segment Synopsis: He worked on legal cases to desegregate juries, prisons, and voting across the state.

Keywords: American Civil Liberties Union

Subjects: Alabama--History; Civil rights lawyers; Segregation--Law and legislation

00:47:39 - ACLU Work in Atlanta

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Partial Transcript: But, talk a little bit about where you were at that time.

Segment Synopsis: He was working with the ACLU in Atlanta when Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed.

Subjects: American Civil Liberties Union; Atlanta (Ga.); Civil rights lawyers; United States. Civil Rights Act of 1964

00:51:18 - Social Climate after Sixteenth St. Church Bombing

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Partial Transcript: Chuck, let's go back to 1963.

Segment Synopsis: He was deeply bothered by the 16th St. church bombing.

Keywords: 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing, Birmingham, Ala., 1963

Subjects: Birmingham (Ala.); Racism--United States--History; Violence--United States--History

00:53:45 - Practicing Law with Black Lawyers

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk a little bit about practicing law in Birmingham—

Segment Synopsis: He worked closely with two Black lawyers in Birmingham during years of segregation.

Keywords: Birmingham Bar Association

Subjects: African American lawyers; Birmingham (Ala.); Civil rights lawyers; United States--Race relations--History

01:00:39 - Defending Vietnam War Cases

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Partial Transcript: Yeah, right, but you might very well have seen things differently—

Segment Synopsis: While working with the ACLU, he saw the ways that the Vietnam War impacted the Civil Rights Movement.

Subjects: American Civil Liberties Union; Civil rights lawyers; Civil rights movement; Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--United States

01:06:09 - Perception of the Anti-War Movement

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Partial Transcript: But you took individual cases, Chuck.

Segment Synopsis: He reflects on different civil rights actors and their overlap with the anti-war movement.

Subjects: Civil rights lawyers; Civil rights movement; Race relations in the United States

01:10:42 - Involvement in Watergate Case

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Partial Transcript: Okay, but then the other famous cases...

Segment Synopsis: He was a lawyer defending the Democratic Party during the Watergate case.

Subjects: American Civil Liberties Union. Washington Office; Civil rights lawyers; Political parties--United States--History; Watergate Affair, 1972-1974

01:14:25 - Looking Forward to the Next Social Change

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Partial Transcript: Chuck, here it is February 1995.

Segment Synopsis: He is skeptical of the political parties but finds importance in democratic ideals.

Subjects: Democracy--United States; Political parties--United States--History

01:17:13 - Progress of Race Relations

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Partial Transcript: Do you think the social revolution, looking back—

Segment Synopsis: He sees society as better off than it was and access to power as necessary for further progress.

Subjects: American society and culture; Political parties--United States; Race relations in the United States