Ruth Turner Perot attending the We Speak for Ourselves conference, April 3-5, 2008, hosted by the Robert Penn Warren Center at Vanderbilt University.
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A man named Mr. Cohen joins the interview late in the conversation.

Photograph of the young Ruth Turner courtesy of Ruth Turner Perot. 

Photograph from the 2008 Vanderbilt conference courtesy Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities.

Audio courtesy of the University of Kentucky.

Ruth Turner

Date: 
May 7, 1964
Related Documents: 
Ruth Turner
Ruth Turner Bio

Ruth Turner (now Ruth Turner Perot) was the Executive Secretary of the Cleveland chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) as well as a National Action Council member. She was born in Chicago and educated at Oberlin College, and taught German in the Cleveland public schools before assuming her position at CORE. She is credited with the formulation of the Black Power philosophy. Currently she is the Executive Director of Summit Health Institute for Research and Education, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., which works to eradicate health disparities and aid vulnerable populations in attaining optimal health.

Image courtesy of Ruth Turner Perot.

Abstract

Turner discusses the events that convinced her to leave teaching and devote herself fully to CORE (Congress on Racial Equality). She states that events in Birmingham had a profound effect on her decision. Turner describes the role of the "white committed" in the civil rights movement. She explains her views on why blacks in Cleveland are not as organized as they are in some southern cities. Turner states that the situation in Cleveland is just as precarious as the South, only Cleveland looks better on the surface. Turner also explains that her parents and the parents and grandparents of other civil rights workers helped to propel the civil rights movement forward. Turner describes the struggle between African Americans and other minorities, such as Italians, in Cleveland. She also mentions school integration and her belief that it is as important to look at the quality of education as it is to look at integration. David Cohen, a white CORE worker who teaches at history at Cleveland's Case Institute of Technology, joins the interview late in the conversation. He describes the poverty experienced by many blacks in Cleveland and explains that social, economic, and legislative changes are needed to fulfill the goals of the civil rights movement.

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