Gwen Moore Interview

UMSL Digital Humanities: Oral History
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´╗┐Name: Gwen Moore

Date of Interview: 4/22/2021

Location: Missouri Historical Society Library & Research Center, 225 S Skinker Blvd, St. Louis, MO

Interviewer: Cameron Harmon and Ryan Ingle

Project: Civil Rights in 20th Century St. Louis

Recording no.:

00:00 -- Introduction, Describing the scope of the project from Shelly v Kraemer, the city sit ins, and up to Percy Green protest climb up the arch.

00:39 -- Where was the civil rights movement in the city at? Distinction between movement and struggle and why she prefers the latter term. The events early in the city history from the 1930's to early 40's leading into the landmark Supreme Court Cases.

02:42 -- Jumping back to describe what the state of Missouri was like during the time period in question (1940's)

05:41 -- More details about the struggle of African Americans in the city and the strategy of the NAACP

06:29 -- Detailing what led up to the Shelly v Kraemer Case, how it unfolded, and the significance of the case

08:30 -- The March on Washington and St. Louis role in that march

09:19 -- How the case helped or hindered the movement. How it and previous cases helped to incrementally advance the movement's goals of tearing down segregation in the city

11:37 -- The early CORE sit ins in the city in the late 1940's (47/48). The Courage of the participants in fighting segregation

15:34 -- Other groups involved in the sit ins. CORE was the main one in the late 40's, others emerged later. How younger generations in the NAACP differed in their opinion of appropriate strategy with the older members so they transitioned to CORE around 1957 and the Youth Council around 1960.

18:46 -- If the groups had different goals

20:16 -- Levels of difficulty in convincing the stores to give in to the protesters demands. The step by step process the early CORE organization used before commencing a sit in

21:51 -- Role of city leaders during the sit ins. Talked about the city's Human Rights commission and how the city leaders didn't play a major role until the 1960's

23:02 -- Evolution of CORE from the late 50's into the 60's. Talks about the Jefferson Bank protest and how it came about, and how significant it was in terms of the size of the protest and how it resulted in mass arrests.

28:36 -- A view on the impact of Percy Green's climb of the arch construction. She says the movement should be defined as pre and post Percy Green. Talks about how impactful his forming of ACTION was

31:56 -- What do you see/think when you look at the arch today in light of the controversy surrounding its construction?

33:12 -- Any other questions or issues you wanted to address? Stresses that St. Louis has a long Civil Rights history dating back to when African Americans were brought to the country as slaves

34:07 -- Where did the civil Rights movement/struggle start in St. Louis? Forms of resistance

36:39 -- Why do you think the study of the Civil Rights Movement is important for young scholars today? Stresses the importance of knowing the past to understand where things stand today. Thought on the phrase "not your father's Civil Rights movement"

39:55 Thanks for meeting with us

The last two minutes or so of the recording are just me and Ryan packing things up before we actually remember to turn the sound off.