Interview with Leonard Pearson, June 5, 1978

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History
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00:00:03 - Leonard Pearson's background

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Partial Transcript: The following is an unrehearsed interview with Mr. Leonard Pearson for the Lexington Urban League Oral History Project.

Segment Synopsis: Pearson revisits his early childhood, his many occupations, his time as a hobo in the 1920s, and race relations in Georgia and Alabama.

Keywords: Alabama; Cotton picking; Railroads; Randolph County (Ala.); Working

Subjects: African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Cotton textiles; Labor; Race relations; Railroads; United States--Race relations.; Wages

00:08:50 - Race relations in Alabama

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Partial Transcript: Okay, going back to your birth in Alabama, during that time how were the relations between blacks and whites?

Segment Synopsis: Pearson recalls the relationship between Blacks and whites in southern Alabama within everyday life and within the workforce.

Keywords: Alabama; Blacks; Georgia; Violence; Whites

Subjects: African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Segregation; Labor; Racism; United States--Race relations.

00:11:13 - Race relations in Lexington, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Okay. So when you came to Lexington, did you see a difference in the race relations between black and white?

Segment Synopsis: Pearson speaks about the differences in race relations in Alabama and Lexington. He also speaks about the treatment of Black workers.

Keywords: Alabama; Blacks; Freedom; Jobs; Race; Whites

Subjects: African Americans--Employment.; Labor; Lexington (Ky.).; Race relations--Kentucky; Workers

00:14:00 - Pearson's life during and after the Great Depression

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Partial Transcript: During 1929, which you were then, uh, 26 years old during the Depression years, what did you do during that time?

Segment Synopsis: Pearson discusses The Great Depression and the changes to the workforce as a result of the economic refraction. He also discuses the post-Great Depression policies of Franklin Roosevelt and their effect on Blacks.

Keywords: Franklin D. Roosevelt; Jobs; Junkyard; Money; Policy; The Great Depression

Subjects: African Americans--Economic conditions.; African Americans--Employment.; Depressions--1929; Economy; United States--Race relations.

00:18:26 - Pearson's inability to serve in the world wars

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Partial Transcript: Okay. I just want to ask you about the war. When the War came along, what were you doing?

Segment Synopsis: Pearson recalls his time during World War One and World War Two.

Keywords: WW1; WWI; War; World War 1; World War 2; World War I; World War II; World War One

Subjects: Armies; Military; World War Two; World War, 1914-1918; World War, 1939-1945; Youth and war

00:21:58 - Segregation in Lexington

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Partial Transcript: In Lexington, during this time, there were--segregation was rampant, I guess and--

Segment Synopsis: Pearson recalls the age of Jim Crow segregation in Lexington and the effect it had on people of color.

Keywords: Colored; Jim Crow; Undercover

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Blacks--Segregation; Judicial corruption; Lexington (Ky.)--Race relations.; Race discrimination.

00:28:00 - Civil Rights Movement in Lexington and corruption of Black ministers

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Partial Transcript: I wanna ask you about 1960 on, during the right--during the time of the civil war--the civil, I'm sorry, the Civil Rights Movement was going on.

Segment Synopsis: Pearson describes the troubles of the Civil Rights Movement and explains the corruption of Black church leaders during the movement. Pearson also discusses the Nixon Watergate scandal and expresses his confusion with Black Republicans.

Keywords: Black Republicans; Black ministers; Bribes; Protests; Richard Nixon; State; Watergate

Subjects: African Americans--Politics and government.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Civil rights movement; Corruption; Discrimination--Law and legislation

00:32:42 - Reverend Reggie H. Johnson's absence in the Civil Rights struggle and the effects of desegregation

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Partial Transcript: During, during the, the '60s and the Civil Rights Movement, like I said before, the, the minsters of Lexington were pretty much the leaders.

Segment Synopsis: Pearson explains why Lexington minister Rev. Reggie H. Johnson did not participate in the fight for civil rights. Pearson also explains the job loss of Blacks that was the result of the strides made by the Civil Rights Movement.

Keywords: Backlash; Desegregation; Integration; Job loss; Rev. Reggie H Johnson

Subjects: African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Segregation; Discrimination in employment.

00:35:42 - Pearson's financial stability

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Partial Transcript: And I walked down the street in Cincinnati...

Segment Synopsis: Pearson describes his success with work despite the economic hardship for Blacks at the time. He also describes his work environment and his special relationship with his employer.

Keywords: Financial success; Work

Subjects: African Americans--Economic conditions.; African Americans--Employment.; Money