Collection Title: Valencourt (Dr. J. Roy) Papers
Collection Number: M 384
Dates: ca. 1960-1967
Volume: 18 items
Provenance: With the exception of a letter written by Dr. Barbara Watkins (Spring 1964), materials in this collection were gathered and maintained by Dr. J. Roy Valencourt.
Donor: Dr. J. Roy Valencourt
Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by The Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).
The Commission on Race Relations of the National Council of Churches (NCC) enlisted Dr. J. Roy Valencourt to serve as a spiritual counselor for civil rights workers and NCC staff participating in the 1964 Mississippi Summer Project. Most of his time was spent counseling in Columbus, Mississippi.
Dr. Valencourt was born in Manistee County, Michigan on April 16, 1927 to Perry and Ruth (Ganee) Valencourt. He had six siblings, Marian Pratt, Mildred Ritchey, Kathryn Erisman, Carol Olson, Don Valencourt and Richard Valencourt.
After a 1944 graduation from Mesick High School in Mesick, Michigan, Dr. Valencourt earned a B.A. at Manchester College in North Manchester, Indiana, a master’s degree from Bethany Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois and a Ph.D. in New Testament from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Dr. Valencourt taught briefly at Manchester College, his alma mater, before moving to Salisbury, North Carolina in 1958 to begin teaching at historically black Livingstone College. He joined Hood Theological Seminary at Livingstone in 1961. He lived with his wife Carol and four sons, René, Joel, Keith and Jim, in Salisbury for 23 years.
The Valencourt family moved intermittently, leaving Salisbury to spend three years at the Church of the Brethren headquarters in Elgin, Illinois and to serve in the mission field in Quito, Ecuador for six years and Nigeria, West Africa for two.
In 1990, Dr. Valencourt returned from Nigeria to serve for two years as associate dean of Hood Seminary at Livingstone. He retired with Carol to Goshen, Indiana, where he passed away on March 20, 2004.
Contents of the collection.
The Goshen News. URL: http://www.goshennews.com/news/files/2004/3/3-21-2004/obits.html (no longer online)
Post, Rose. “He put fears aside to lend support to Civil Rights movement,” Salisbury Post. URL: http://salisburypost.townnews.com/articles/2004/07/01/columns/post/9748-rose_col_on_roy_valencourt.txt (no longer online)
Scope and Content:
This collection consists of 17 photocopied newspaper clippings and one photocopied letter regarding the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Items are arranged chronologically:
Newspaper article dated July 26, 1960 titled, “Stores Serving Negro Lunchers in Greensboro.” The article discusses the food service integration of two stores in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Newspaper article dated February 28, 1962 titled, “Negro Student Demonstrators are Jailed Here,” Salisbury Evening Post, Vol. 220, No. 59. Reports the arrest of fifteen black youths and one white youth attempting to enter a movie theatre through the whites-only entrance in Salisbury, North Carolina.
Newsletter titled, “The Fiery Cross,” the official publication of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). According to a handwritten note on the cover page, the newsletter was, “distributed at a Klan rally near Salisbury, N.C. ca. 1963.” It includes affidavits from a number of individuals describing their encounters with blacks and whites participating in the Selma March.
Handwritten letter dated Spring 1964 sent from Barbara (Mrs. Ernest) Watkins to
Carol and Roy Valencourt. Barbara Watkins was the wife of a psychology professor
at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), a student majoring in psychology,
and a friend of Dr. Valencourt. In her letter, Mrs. Watkins supports the civil rights
movement and agonizes over the arrest of two visiting ministers in Hattiesburg.
Newspaper article dated June 25, 1964 titled, “Professor Goes to Miss. for Work in Civil Rights,” Salisbury Post. The article describes Valencourt’s reasons for volunteering in Mississippi.
Newspaper article dated June 25, 1964 titled, “200 Troops Furnish ‘Copters’ to Help Look for Three Missing Agitators,” The Commercial Dispatch, of Columbus, Mississippi. The article refers to the search for three missing civil rights volunteers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, last seen in Philadelphia, Mississippi. References are made to a discussion between Lyndon B. Johnson and the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, J. Edgar Hoover, about the polemic situation in the south.
Newspaper article dated June 30, 1964 titled, “Military Occupation of Mississippi,” Des Moines Tribune. Author Joseph Alsop expresses frustration with requests for a military occupation of Mississippi in response to the murders of civil rights volunteers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. Includes an editorial cartoon titled “Eclipse” by Bill Mauldin depicting “racial violence” eclipsing the “summer of 1964.”
Newspaper article dated summer 1964 titled, “’Token’ U.S. Force in Mississippi?” Author Marquis Childs reports on military forces in Mississippi and speculates the existence of three types of civil rights volunteers.
Newspaper article dated September 20, 1964 titled, “Long Hot Summer in Mississippi: Skeptical at First, Professor Found Movement Justified,” Salisbury Sunday Post. Author Rose Post discusses Valencourt’s trip to Mississippi. A report in the same issue discusses Valencourt’s call to work with underrepresented groups.
Newspaper article dated circa 1965 titled, “Post Staffers Cop Prizes,” Salisbury Post. The clipping describes an award-winning article authored by Rose Post titled, “Long Hot Summer in Mississippi.” In the article, Post reports on Reverend Valencourt’s volunteer work in Mississippi during Freedom Summer 1964. A copy of the article is included in the collection.
Newspaper article dated April 17, 1965 titled, “Cross Burned on Catawba Campus, Fire-Bottle Found on Prof’s Porch.” Articles discusses two racially motivated incidents, one involving a burning bottle placed on the porch of Dr. Valencourt’s home in Salisbury.
Newspaper article dated October 22, 1965 titled, “Recanting Klansman Tells of Death Threat” Salisbury Evening Post with subtitles, “Dragon is Getting Plenty of Mileage from Constitution” and “Another Renounces Allegiance.” Article details a session of the House Un-American Activities Committee investigating the activities of the KKK.
Newspaper article dated circa 1966 titled, “’Do-Gooders’ should stay at home.” Author James E. Turrentine, in a letter to the editor, expresses frustration with the National Council of Churches (NCC), the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), the Freedom Democratic Party and Dr. Valencourt.
A newspaper article dated circa 1966 titled, “Valencourt Trespassing? Isn’t this America?” Author of the piece responds to Mr. Turrentine’s letter to the editor.
A newspaper article dated July/August 1966 titled, “Lost Between Two Worlds, Wife Finds Her Way Out,” Salisbury Post. Author Rose Post interviews Carol Valencourt, wife of Dr. J. Roy Valencourt, about her experiences living in Salisbury, North Carolina. The article features two photographs of Roy and Carol Valencourt. Copies of the same article published in the Winston-Salem Journal and Sentinel and in the Greensboro Daily News are also included in the collection.
Newspaper article dated March 5, 1967 titled, “She Found Her Identity in Racial Struggle,” Winston-Salem Journal and Sentinel. Author Rose Post interviews Carol Valencourt. The article features a photograph of Carol Valencourt. Copies of the same article published in the Salisbury Post and in the Greensboro Daily News are also included in the collection.
Newspaper article dated April 6, 1967 titled, “Conquering Two Worlds Not Easy,” Greensboro Daily News. Author Rose Post interviews Carol Valencourt. The article features a photograph of Roy and Carol Valencourt. Copies of the same article published in the Salisbury Post and in the Winston-Salem Journal and Sentinel are also included in the collection.
Newspaper article dated sometime between 1964-1968 titled, “Klan Chief Denies Law Being Violated,” Salisbury Ev[ening Post]. The author interviews Bob Jones about his political beliefs and KKK-related legal concerns. A report by Ned Cline in the same issue under the subtitle, “Strong Convictions Guide Bob Jones,” provides a political and biographical synopsis of Jones’ life.
This collection would be of interest to researchers of the Civil Rights movement circa the 1960’s, especially those researching the experiences of volunteers participating in Freedom Summer 1964.