Dr D B Gaines


Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor

Person interviewed: Dr. D. B. Gaines

1720 Izard Street, Little Rock, Arkansas

Age: 75

"I was born in 1863 and am now seventy-five years old. You see,

therefore, that I know nothing experimentally and practically about


"I was born in South Carolina in Lawrence County, and my father moved

away from the old place before I had any recollection. I remember

nothing about it. My father said his master's name was Matthew Hunter.

"I was named for my father's master's brother, Dr. Bluford Gaines. My

name is Doctor Bluford Gaines. Of course, I am a doctor but my name is


"My father's family moved to Arkansas, in 1882. Settled near Morrilton,

Arkansas. I myself come to Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1885, October

eighth. Worked in the homes of white families for my board and entered

Philander Smith College October 8, 1885. Continued to work with Judge

Smith of the Arkansas Supreme Court until I graduated from Philander

Smith College. After graduating I taught school and was elected

Assistant Principal of the Little Rock Negro High School in 1891. Served

three years. Accumulated sufficient money and went to Meharry Medical

College, Nashville, Tennessee. Graduated there in 1896. Practiced for

five years in the city of Little Rock. Entered permanently upon the

ministry in 1900. Was called to the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church where

I have been pastoring for thirty-nine years the first Sunday in next


"The first real thing that made me switch from the medicine to the

ministry was the deep call of the ministry gave me more interest in the

Gospel than the profession of medicine furnished to me. In other words,

I discovered that I was a real preacher and not a real doctor.

"Touching slavery, the white people to whom my parents belonged were

tolerant and did not allow their slaves to be abused by patrollers and


"My mother's people, however, were sold from her in very early life and

sent to Alabama. My mother's maiden name was Harriet Smith. She came

from South Carolina too. Her old master was a Smith. My mother and

father lived on adjoining plantations and by permission of both

overseers, my father was permitted to visit her and to marry her even

before freedom. Out of regard for my father, his master bought my mother

from her master. I think my father told me that the old master called

them all together and announced that they were free at the close of the

War. Right after freedom, the first year, he remained on the farm with

the old master. After that he moved away to Greenville County, South

Carolina, and settled on a farm, with the brother-in-law of his old

master, a man named Squire Bennett. He didn't go to war.

"There was an exodus of colored people from South Carolina beginning

about 1880, largely due to the Ku Klux or Red Shirts. They created a

reign of terror for colored people in that state. He joined the exodus

in 1882 and came to Arkansas where from reports, the outlook seemed

better for him and his family. He had no trouble with the Ku Klux in

Arkansas. He maintained himself here by farming."


"It is my opinion that from a racial standpoint, the lines are being

drawn tighter due to the advancement of the Negro people and to the

increased prejudice of the dominant race. These lines will continue to

tighten until they somehow under God are broken. We believe that the

Christian church is slowly but surely creating a helpful sentiment that

will in time prevail among all men.

"It appears from a governmental standpoint that the nation is doomed

sooner or later to crash. Possibly a changed form of government is not

far ahead. This is due to two reasons: (1) greed, avarice, and

dishonesty on the part of public people; (2) race prejudice. We believe

that the heads of the national government have a far vision. The

policies had they been carried out in keeping with the mind of the

President, would have worked wonders in behalf of humanity generally.

But dishonesty and greed of those who had the carrying out of these

policies has destroyed their good effect and the fine intentions of the

President who created them. It looks clear that neither the Democratic

nor the Republican party will ever become sufficiently morally righteous

to establish and maintain a first-class humanitarian and unselfish


"It is my opinion that the younger generation is headed in the wrong

direction both morally and spiritually. This applies to all races. And

this fact must work to the undoing of the government that must soon fall

into their hands, for no government can well exist founded upon graft,

greed, and dishonesty. It seems that the younger group are more

demoralized than the younger group were two generations ago. Thus the

danger both to church and state. Unless the church can catch a firmer

grip upon the younger group than it has, the outlook is indeed gloomy.

"We are so far away from the situation of trouble in Germany, that it is

difficult to know what it is or should be. But one thing must be

observed--that any wholesale persecution of a whole group of people must

react upon the persecutors. There could no cause arise which would

justify a governmental power to make a wholesale sweep of any great

group of people that were weak and had no alternative. That government

which settles its affairs by force and abuse shows more weakness than

the weak people which it abuses.

"We need not think that we are through with the job when we kill the

weaker man. No cause is sufficient for the destruction of seven hundred

thousand people, and no persecutor is safe from the effects of his own


Interviewer's Comment

The house at 1720 Izard is the last house in what would otherwise be

termed a "white" block. There appears to be no friction over the matter.

Note that if you were calling Dr. Gaines by his professional title and

his first name at the same time, you would say Dr. Doctor Bluford

Gaines. He has attained proficiency in three professions--teaching,

medicine, and the ministry.

Dr. Gaines is poised in his bearing and has cultured tastes and

surroundings--neat cottage, and simple but attractive furnishings.

He selects his ideas and words carefully, but dictates fluently. He

knows what he wants to say, and what he omits is as significant as what

he states.

He is the leader type--big of body, alert of mind, and dominant. It is

said that he with two other men dominated Negro affairs in Arkansas for

a considerable period of time in the past. He does not give the

impression of weakness now.

Despite his education, contacts, and comparative affluence, however, his

interview resembles the type in a number of respects--the type as I have

found it.

Douglas Parish Duncan Gaines facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail