Interview with Gordon Carey
QUESTION 8
INTERVIEWER:

IN FEBRUARY THERE IS THIS ENORMOUS SPREAD OF THE SIT-IN MOVEMENT, IT JUST, IT'S LIKE A WILD FIRE. NOW, COULD YOU TALK ABOUT THAT? AND WAS ANY OF THAT PLANNED OR WAS IT ALL SPONTANEOUS OR WAS IT A MIXTURE?

Gordon Carey:

Oh, none of it was planned. When the, when the sit-in movement began to spread in February it was completely spontaneous. None of that had been planned. However, the conditions were ripe for this. I, and others, had written reports and various things, in the preceding months. A lot of observers had felt that that there was a great deal of volatility in the South, and that things were going to begin to happen, especially in the upper South. What happened in Greensboro was completely spontaneous, local, no outside agitation or interference except reading books and learning about what other people did. Then, that experience in Greensboro inspired students on other campuses, and I think what happened initially in North Carolina was that these demonstrations took place by and large centered around black colleges, and North Carolina has the highest concentration of black colleges in the nation. They have something like sixteen campuses in North Carolina, and competition between the colleges—it's just like the football competition took place and the kids in Durham said, you know we're not going to let the kids in Greensboro get the best of us. If they can do this, we can do it. And Winston-Salem, it's the same thing. Now, the rule we played then was when George Simkins and Floyd McKissick asked us to help train the kids. Yes, we helped train them, and as the thing began to spread, after a couple of weeks, by the middle of February when it became absolutely clear that this thing was moving all beyond anyone's expectations, at that point we did begin to try to organize it. It wasn't, it wasn't national CORE that was doing it, it was Floyd and myself and other local ministers around who would call each other and say, well look I got a bunch of kids interested in having a sit-in, what do we have to do? Can you send, you know, Gordon Carey up there? Can you send someone else up there to do some training, so we'll know what to do? And yes, we began to help organize it, but in no way did we instigate it. It was a completely spontaneous kind of thing.