Charles W. Pace


As Interviewed by Carter Pace, March 12, 2011

Charles Pace: In His Own Words

My name is Charles W. Pace. I was born on December 25, 1939 in Dallas, Texas. My grandparents were from Haskell, Texas. My father was from Haskell, Texas, which is in West Texas, 200 miles due west of Dallas, Texas. My mother was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas who came to Dallas and met my dad who was in medical school. My dad was a doctor, a surgeon, who had been trained at Mayo clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota. I went through the Highland Park High school system in Dallas; I graduated and met your grandmother at the University of Texas at Austin. We married as I got out of graduate school in Philadelphia. We moved to Dallas and had four children: your dad, Charlie, your uncle Stewart, your aunt Holly, and your aunt Shannon. We all attended the Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas; Iíve been in the investment counseling business since 1964. I started my own firm in 1986, which Iím still active.

We were segregated in the high school there were black schools where the black children went to school, and the white high schools where white children went to school. It was totally segregated when I was in grade school, middle school and high school.

I went to the University of Texas, which was during the time integration had just started. There had been a push in the mid to late 50ís to bring the Afro-American into higher education (college). There werenít a lot of feelings because there werenít many black kids at the University of Texas in the late 1950ís. The only thing that I had ever known were white institutions

Well, I didnít really have an opinion one way or another, Ďcause I hadnít been exposed to it or any effort to integrate. [Integration] just started in 1954 when some Supreme Court cases provided for integration.

I canít tell you how to compare an-all black school to an all-white school because I never went or attended one. The first time I saw blacks that I was involved in and around with was in graduate school right after college in 1962, 1963 and 1964 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. That was the first time that I had been around integration. I saw black kids in my class; there were a few black kids in my graduate school program. I saw black members at my church and I saw black men at movie theaters, restaurants. Philadelphia was pretty integrated, especially as compared to Austin, Texas or Dallas, Texas.

I played basketball in high school and we never played against Afro-American kids. I played freshman basketball at the University of Texas. I just never experienced any of that until I went to Philadelphia. I played basketball there with Afro-Americans, because I was in a much more integrated society in a town like Philadelphia. I was privileged to be able to watch Muhammad Ali who back in 1960 was called Cassius Clay. I was able to watch him fight in the Olympics in Rome Italy. Around that time, I got to see a lot of Afro-Americans that were on sporting teams, especially track. I really didnít think about it one way or another, but I was glad to see them excel in their performances.

After I got out of graduate school, I got married and moved to New York City. In June 1961, we went to a Park Avenue Church and it was in that church on that hot summer day, that we were asked to join these three white ministers in a march to Washington. This was the March on Washington where Martin Luther King gave his famous speech. I couldnít go, and nor did I care to go, because I had just started my job at the bank and I knew that I couldnít just get up and leave my job at the bank to go on this March to Washington. There were over 100,000 people that ended up in Washington D.C. that had marched from New York, and as part of that march, there were some people that were arrested, including the three ministers from that church. I donít remember the details, but I remember thinking, ďIím glad I wasnít on that march, I could have been arrestedĒ.

There werenít many riots where I was in NYC but down in the south, especially Alabama, there were all sorts of problems, including Little Rock, Arkansas. I think Dallas and Texas were on the edge of it. I think most of the violence occurred in Louisiana and Georgia.

I donít remember what John F Kennedy did. I think it was during that time that we started bussing, which became the national thing. Bussing was moving black kids from the poor neighborhoods into the predominantly white neighborhoods and vise versa. This created a lot of problems in places like New York City. There was a lot of violence on these buses. I mean kids were killed violently. It was a real tough thing to police. My theory on it was that they were moving kids 10-20 miles every day [which] could be very traumatic. I was always wondering why they didnít bus the teachers, but the environment played a big role too.

I just think I was on the fringe of it, I never saw any violence except on TV. I didnít have any friends that were active one way or another. But I knew of a lot of people from newspapers and the TV that were very adamant in their stand either against or for segregation.

I had to develop my own thought process on that and I considered myself fairly liberal. I felt like everybody had an equal education but I didnít take any action to stop or continue this segregation. I saw a lot of white flight out of Dallas. This created a lot of nasty neighborhoods and the situation got worse, and regardless of how I felt, this white flight on the suburbs of Dallas left the Dallas Independent School District in pretty rough shape. These people were predominantly Black and Latino, maybe 20% white. We still have problems today.

I think gender discrimination has been another major part of my life, the gender discrimination and racial integration, came along about the same time. When I got married the workforce was about 5% women and 20 years later, 50% of the workforce was female, and that was big. There was a lot of discrimination against women in the workforce about what they could and couldnít do, at the time in the 60ís and 70ís. I think thatís been pretty well addressed here in the last 50 years, that they are capable. I know itís not equal everywhere, but itís a far cry from what it was 50 years ago.

I think men had a stronger feeling about it then woman. I canít speak about it for woman but the general impression that I got was that men were the most outspoken people. You just didnít see woman out there campaigning.

When I went to graduate school in Philadelphia, I saw a fully integrated society. To me, this was a very integrated society form all aspects; from transportation buses to theaters, churches [and] schools. It was something that I adapted to very well; it didnít bother me in the least. When I went to work at the bank in New York, there were several minorities working on the program that I became good friends withÖ good friends with. I had no issues with it.

African-Americans made the most progress in housing, education, the neighborhoods are integrated now, for the most part. It would appear to me anyway that they are integrated. I see Afro-Americans in most every neighborhood. I also lived in California, which had a very integrated society, especially Asians and Afro-Americans. Afro-Americans constitute only 12% of the nationís population. I think we see minorities in all parts of our lives.