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“Project Friendship” Continues in Knoxville, Promotes Racial Healing

May 8, 1963 - The Project Friendship experiment in Knoxville, Tenn., has turned out “very well,” one of its leaders reported today. Dr. Merrill Proudfoot, director of this week’s visits between white and Negro families was “much pleased” to hear that President Kennedy had commented favorably on the experiment at today’s press conference and had suggested that one should also be conducted in Washington. “I didn’t hear the President’s comment, but a member of the faculty called me and told me of it,” Dr. Proudfoot said. He is professor of religion and philosophy at Knoxville College, a Presbyterian College for Negroes. Dr. Proudfoot said 165 families had signed up for the experiment. Although most of them exchanged visits last Sunday, others had arranged for their visits this week, he said. Besides the visits in Knoxville, there were visits by families in neighboring Blount County. The project in which white families called at Negro homes and Negro families visited white homes was designed to “help people get acquainted as friends and neighbors and clear up some misconceptions,” Dr. Proudfoot said. “One misconception is that when people of different races get together, they have to talk about something special,” he said. “When the families visited, they talked about business, hobbies, their homes and families.” Dr. Proudfoot said Knoxville area ministers had recently been urged to encourage members of their congregations to join Project Friendship, and many had done so.

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