Audio interviews

These interview excerpts with Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III and Mrs. Marian Caudle provide insight into the civil rights era in Huntsville.

Mrs. Marian Caudle, one of the first students to integrate Butler High School, shared her experiences in a 2013 interview with Lucas Hopkins. This interview contributed to Kelly Hamlin's 2014 Master's Thesis, "This is Rocket City, U.S.A., Let Freedom Begin Here."

Segregated Life - Life in Huntsville under segregation (1:07)

 

World War II - WWII experience’s effects on black soldiers (1:42)

 

Boycotts - Recalls boycott of W.T. Grant Store in downtown Huntsville (1:25)

 

Boycotts & Sit-ins - Regular boycotts & sit-in participants; shocking story of white retaliation against sit-inners at Walgreen’s (2:34)

 

Church Involvement - Two main black churches in Huntsville were critical in organizing civil rights movement activities and mass meetings (0:59)

 

White Collaboration - Describes meetings with white teenagers in preparation for integration of Butler High School (2:01)

 

Butler Pep Rally - Black students at Butler High School stood up to discrimination at a pep rally (2:04)

 

Turmoil at Butler - Butler High students riot in protest of fight song “Dixie”; general concern and turmoil over integration at Butler for years (1:27)

Segregated Life - Marian Caudle
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World War II - Marian Caudle
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Boycotts - Marian Caudle
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Boycotts & Sit-ins - Marian Caudle
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Church Involvement - Marian Caudle
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White Collaboration - Marian Caudle
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Butler Pep Rally - Marian Caudle
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Turmoil at Butler - Marian Caudle
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Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III was very active in the Community Service Committee in Huntsville and was one of the only African-American doctors in the city. His son Sonnie IV was one of the children who desegregated Huntsville schools in 1963.

This interview was conducted by Dr. Jack Ellis in September of 1997. For more on Dr. Hereford, read his memoir Beside the Troubled Waters.

Segregated Hospital - Working life for black doctors and nurses at Huntsville Hospital prior to integration (3:24)

CSC leadership & community participation - Leadership of CSC and planning activism (1:41)

CSC Activities - CSC increasing pressure on city (1:02)

 

Black Community - Gaining support of black community for civil rights movement (1:17)

 

CSC works for labor equality - Describes CSC’s program for training women to work as cashiers & clerks; other labor successes (2:21)

 

Boycotting The Huntsville Times - Black community’s boycott of The Huntsville Times  (1:38)

           

Community & Business Response - Describes the quick response of the business community to desegregation (1:19)

 

Threat to Redstone - CSC uses federal presence as leverage; attention on Redstone (1:37)

 

Sit-in planning - Thought behind starting movement with sit-ins; support of NAACP Legal Defense Fund (0:55)

 

Picketing planning - Strategy for picketing; advice of CSC legal advisor Randolph Blackwell (0:37)

 

The Bargaining Table - CSC’s efforts to bring whites to bargaining table (0:46)

 

Arrest of Women - Describes arrest of Joan Cashin & Martha Hereford at lunch counter and press response (2:45)

 

Activist Women - Acknowledges several local women who were very active in the movement, such as Frances Sims (now Washiri Ajanaku) (2:33)

 

White Collaboration - Cooperation from white community once movement gained momentum (2:54)

 

Servicemen - Servicemen discouraged from participating in movement (0:36)

 

Hospital Integration - Describes cooperation of hospital administrator in desegregating Huntsville Hospital (5:08)

 

Hospital Cafeteria Integration -Integration of cafeteria at Huntsville Hospital (0:45)

Decision to Integrate Schools - Strategy for testing school integration (1:29)

September 3, 1963 - Sonnie describes his memory of the first day of school integration on September 3, 1963 (1:11)

 

Working with Constance Baker Motley - Sonnie & his brother Tom remember working with NAACP attorney Constance Baker Motley on school integration; legal strategy in response to Wallace’s interference in schools (2:27)

 

Cub Scouts- When Sonnie Jr. wanted to join an all-white cub scout troop, the leaders dissolved the troop rather than integrate (1:02)

 

Cooperation from Police & FBI - Describes cooperation from Huntsville Police and from FBI during sit-ins and school integration (1:08)

 

Selma-to-Montgomery March - Memories of participation in Selma-to-Montgomery March (5:23)

Segregated Hospital - Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III
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CSC Leadership & Community - Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III
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CSC Activities - Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III
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Black Community - Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III
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CSC Works for Labor Equality - Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III
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Boycotting Huntsville Times - Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III
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Community & Business Response - Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III
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Threat to Redstone - Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III
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Sit-in Planning - Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III
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Picketing Planning - Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III
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The Bargaining Table - Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III
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Arrest of Women - Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III
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Activist Women - Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III
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White Collaboration - Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III
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Servicemen - Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III
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Hospital Integration - Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III
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Hospital Cafeteria Integration - Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III
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Decision to Integrate Schools - Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III
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Sept. 3, 1963 - Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III
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Working with Constance Baker Motley - Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III
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Cub Scouts - Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III
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Cooperation from HPD & FBI - Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III
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Selma to Montgomery March - Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III
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