Special Collections of the ODU Libraries

Vivian Carter Mason Interviews, 1978 | Special Collections and University Archives

By Jan Halecki

Collection Overview

Title: Vivian Carter Mason Interviews, 1978

ID: 00/MG 53

Primary Creator: Mason, Vivian Carter (1900-1982)

Extent: 0.5 Linear Feet. More info below.

Date Acquired: 07/19/1982

Subjects: African Americans--Civil rights, African Americans--Education--Virginia--Norfolk, African Americans--Segregation, Discrimination against African Americans, Mason, Vivian Carter, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Norfolk (Va.)--History--20th century, Norfolk (Va.)--Politics and government--20th century, Powell, Adam Clayton, 1908-1972, Public schools--Virginia--Norfolk, Race relations--History--20th century, School integration--Massive resistance movement, School integration--Virginia--Norfolk--History--20th century, Segregation in education--Virginia--Norfolk, Women's Council for Interracial Cooperation (Norfolk, Va.)

Languages: English

Abstract

Founding member of the Women’s Council for Interracial Cooperation and an active participant in the Civil Rights movement. Contains transcripts and audiotapes of an interview that documents her life and the Civil Rights movement in Norfolk.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The collection consists of the cassette tapes and transcripts of four interviews recorded between March and October of 1978. Each interview of Vivian Carter Mason was conducted by Zelda Silverman. The interviews primarily cover the early 1900s up to the 1950s and largely with regard to Carter Mason's family history and civil rights issues.

The March 24, 1978 interview tape was damaged. Although it was restored, some of it is still inaudible. Topics covered in this interview include: Her experiences trying to find employment, her home town in upstate New York, police in Norfolk in the 1940s, taking her son to New York to go to school.

The March 29, 1978 interview includes discussion of her childhood in Auburn New York, Carter family history, slavery, civil rights issues, social work, the train accident.

The May 8, 1978 interview includes discussion of her civil rights experiences, job discrimination, black colleges, Adam Powell, the NAACP.

The October 19, 1978 interview covers civil rights issues, Norfolk politics, the Women's Council on Interracial Cooperation, segregation, Massive Resistance in Norfolk.

Collection Historical Note

Vivian Carter Mason was born February 10, 1900. Her father was a Methodist minister and her mother a music teacher. She grew up in a mostly white neighborhood in Auburn, New York, where she experienced discrimination first hand. She was also greatly affected by the stories her father told of her grandmother's life as a slave.

Carter Mason credits her parents with encouraging her and her siblings to work hard in school and insisting that they go on to college. She succeeded in school and graduated from the University of Chicago in 1925. After college she was a social worker in New York where she worked her way up to the position of Director of Social Services from 1940-1942.

After being injured in a train wreck in 1942 she went to Norfolk, her husband's home town, to recuperate. During this time she began thinking about ways to reconcile the differences between the races. She began by calling women that she knew or were recommended to her, both black and white, who were concerned about racial injustice. These concerned women formed the Women's Council on Interracial Cooperation in 1945. This was the first group in the area to hold integrated public meetings. Mason served as the Council's first president from 1945-47.

Mason was involved in many other civil rights organizations. In 1953 she was elected the third president of the National Council of Negro Women. During her tenure as president she helped the organization devise strategies to work toward implementation of the Brown vs. Board of Education supreme court decision. In Norfolk, when schools were closed during the massive resistance she helped educate the "Norfolk 17" by administering the school opened for them in the First Baptist Church.

She became the first black woman to serve on the Norfolk city school board in 1971. She served on the school board until 1978 when she resigned to start the Urban League of Hampton Roads.

Vivian Carter Mason died on May 10, 1982 in Norfolk. She is survived by her son William T. Mason, an attorney in Norfolk.

Subject/Index Terms

African Americans--Civil rights
African Americans--Education--Virginia--Norfolk
African Americans--Segregation
Discrimination against African Americans
Mason, Vivian Carter
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Norfolk (Va.)--History--20th century
Norfolk (Va.)--Politics and government--20th century
Powell, Adam Clayton, 1908-1972
Public schools--Virginia--Norfolk
Race relations--History--20th century
School integration--Massive resistance movement
School integration--Virginia--Norfolk--History--20th century
Segregation in education--Virginia--Norfolk
Women's Council for Interracial Cooperation (Norfolk, Va.)

Administrative Information

Repository: Special Collections and University Archives

Alternate Extent Statement: One Hollinger document case

Access Restrictions: The collection is open to researchers without restrictions.

Use Restrictions: Before publishing quotations or excerpts from any materials, permission must be obtained from Special Collections and University Archives, and the holder of the copyright, if not Old Dominion University Libraries.

Acquisition Source: Mrs. H. M. Silverman

Acquisition Method: Gift. Accession #A82-12

Related Materials:

Oral Histories in the Perry Library: Oral History Interview with Vivian Carter Mason, Part 1

Oral Histories in the Perry Library: Oral History Interview with Vivian Carter Mason, Part 2

Oral Histories in the Perry Library: Oral History Interview with Vivian Carter Mason, Part 3

Women's Council for Interracial Cooperation Papers (MG 54)

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], Box [insert number], Folder [insert number and title], Vivian Carter Mason Interviews, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Box:

[Box 1],
[All]

Box 1
Item 1: Interview Cassette Tape, March 24, 1978
Item 2: Interview Cassette Tape, March 29, 1978
Item 3: Interview Cassette Tape, May 8, 1978
Item 4: Interview Cassette Tape (I), October 19, 1978
Item 5: Interview Cassette Tape (II), October 19, 1978
Folder 1: Transcripts of interviews with Vivian Carter Mason

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