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|Size||1.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 425 items)|
|Abstract||Joseph Felmet received an A.B. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1942. He was arrested on numerous occasions for his pacificism during World War II and social activism later. Correspondence and files relating to various activities of Joseph Felmet. Photocopies of FBI files pertain to Felmet's actions as a pacifist and civil rights advocate as a University of North Carolina student and later. Correspondence pertains to Felmet's struggle to gain permission to take the bar exam in North Carolina. Also included are letters describing Felmet's position on civil rights and documents relating to his 1978 senatorial campaign in North Carolina.|
|Creator||Felmet, Joseph, 1921-|
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Joseph Felmet was born in 1921 in Asheville, North Carolina. As a student, he was chair of the American Student Union, a group that was active in the effort to secure civil rights for blacks. Felmet's passion for civil rights led him to take part in the Journey for Reconciliation in 1947, an early attempt by civil rights advocates to test the Supreme Court decision outlawing segregation in interstate travel. During this demonstration, Felmet was arrested for violating Orange County's segregation laws. Felmet left the American Student Union for political reasons, and later joined the Workers Defense League to help promote civil rights. His activities with this group led to his arrest for protesting the treatment of black migrant workers in Miami, Florida.
Felmet's pacificism precluded military service in World War II. Obtaining a deferment, he was assigned to civil service duty. Believing that this assignment did not recognize his position as a conscientious objector to the war, he successfully petitioned for reclassification of his draft status. After being drafted, he refused to serve. Convicted of draft evasion, his sentence was suspended with the provision that Felmet work in a hospital for nine months.
Felmet's application to take the North Carolina bar exam was rejected in 1948, the Board of Law Examiners of the State of North Carolina believing that Felmet would not uphold the law in cases in which his moral convictions conflicted with the law. Felmet tried to rally support behind his appeal, but was unsuccessful.
In 1976, Felmet ran for Congress and was defeated. He attempted to mount a campaign for a Senate seat in 1976, but his unorthodox campaigning style made it difficult for him to obtain the funds and recognition required for a successful campaign.Back to Top
Series 1 consists of letters collected by Felmet that relate to his attempt to take the bar exam in North Carolina in 1948. Series 2 consists of photocopies of FBI files relating to Felmet's activities from 1941 to 1947. Also included in the collection, in Series 3, are two documents describing Felmet's 1978 senatorial campaign.Back to Top
This series focuses on the letters Joseph Felmet wrote in his attempt to be granted permission to take the North Carolina bar exam. They include board letters rejecting Felmet and his written appeals to friends to act on his behalf. In addition, there are copies of letters sent to the board on Felmet's behalf, and a letter from the board refusing to re examine the case. Other correspondence consists of letters dated after 1950 that relate to Felmet's reapplication to take the bar exam, that congratulate friends who passed the bar, and two letters in 1956 that relate to civil rights.
These files reflect Felmet's activism in the 1940s, with an emphasis on his civil rights work with the American Student Union and Workers Defense League. In addition, there are files relating to Felmet's arrests for protesting the draft, segregation in interstate travel, and mistreatment of migrant workers. Felmet is also mentioned briefly in other files listed below. Felmet obtained copies of these files under the Freedom of Information Act. They were heavily edited by the FBI prior to their release.
Documents relating to Joseph Felmet's unsuccessful attempt to run for a Senate seat from North Carolina in 1978, biographical materials, an essay by Felmet titled "My Stance on the First Amendment," and other materials. Folder 22 contains photocopies of materials on file at the Archives of Labor History and Urban Affairs at Wayne State University about the Southern Workers Defense League.
Processed by: Robert J. Foster, April 1988; Roslyn Holdzkom, 1989
Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008Back to Top