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Interview with Carl Rowan, May 14, 1964

Part of Robert Penn Warren Civil Rights Oral History Project

Interview with Carl Rowan, May 14, 1964
Carl Rowan; interviewee. Carl Rowan; interviewer.
oral histories
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Carl Thomas Rowan (1925-2000) was a journalist, writer, and television commentator. Rowan was one of the first African American officers to serve in the Navy during World War II. After serving as a communications officer in the navy, he earned a degree in mathematics from Oberlin (Ohio) College in 1947 and received a Master's in Journalism from University of Minnesota in 1948. Rowan was a copy editor for the Minneapolis Tribune and in 1950 he became one of the first African American reporters reporting largely on the civil rights movement. Rowan served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State from 1961 to 1963 under President John F. Kennedy, Ambassador to Finland 1963-1964, and director of the U.S. Information Agency from 1964-1965. Rowan was the first African American to attend meetings of the National Security Council. In this interview Carl Rowan discusses the state of African American organization leadership, such as the NAACP, CORE, and the National Urban League, within the civil rights movement. He discusses the difficulty in making a distinction between the civil rights movement in the North and the South and describes the feeling of regional persecution throughout the South due to the prejudices of the northern states. Rowan also discusses the relationship between economics, race, and social class. He describes African American identity and culture and compares Southern whites and Southern African Americans. Rowan talks about militancy and its effect on the civil rights movement and leadership within the civil rights movement. He considers whether the civil rights movement is a revolution, discusses the meaning of the slogan "Freedom Now," and the symbolism associated with the colors "black" and "white." Rowan also provides his views of President Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson.
Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
University of Kentucky
Rowan, Carl T. (Carl Thomas), 1925-2000--Interviews, African American journalists, Civil rights leadership, African American leadership, Civil rights legislation, Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 Views on slavery, Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865--Views on race relations, Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826, Civil rights movements, Racism, African American--Civil rights, Civil rights movements--Press coverage--United States, Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Congress of Racial Equality, African Americans--Race identity, African Americans--Economic conditions, African Americans--Social conditions, African Americans--Cultural assimilation, Social classes--United States, National Urban League, Myrdal, Gunnar, 1898-1987, Whites--Southern States, Southern States--Race relations
Robert Penn Warren Civil Rights Oral History Project
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