Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Wiley Branton, March 17, 1964

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:05 - Desegregating public school systems

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Partial Transcript: This is a conversation--afternoon, March 17th--Mr. Branton, Atlanta, Georgia.

Segment Synopsis: Branton gives his take on Senator Russell's remarks in the newspaper concerning the civil rights bill. He also discusses the topic of segregation in the public school system and the process of desegregating schools. He also discusses housing discrimination and the role it plays in the desegregation of schools.

Keywords: Arguments; Border cities; Busing; Busing proposals; Civil rights bills; Contributions; Educational controls; Filibusters; Foolish; Housing; Housing renewal; Legal sanctions; Milton Galamison; Newspapers; Overnight; Political entity; Proposals; Public education; Public school systems; Redevelopment programs; Richard Russell, Jr.; School districts; Senate; Significant; Suburbs; Time tables; Transition periods; Voluntary

Subjects: African Americans--Legal status, laws, etc.; Busing for school integration; Civil rights movements--United States; Discrimination in housing.; Education; Integration; New York (N.Y.); Segregation in education.; Urban renewal; Washington (D.C.)

00:10:07 - Demonstrations in the South

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Partial Transcript: Uh, tell me something about the target of the demonstrations and protests in the South.

Segment Synopsis: Branton explains the varied goals of, and rationale for, civil rights demonstrations in the South, as well as discusses the different kinds of demonstrations that took place. He talks about Greenwood, Mississippi, Birmingham, Alabama, and Albany, Georgia and their influence on surrounding communities.

Keywords: African American leadership; Arthur Shore; Attention; Attitudes; Backlash; Bloodbath; Bombing; Boycotts; Charles Morgan; City hall; Civil liberties; Civil rights bills; Constitutional rights; Damages; Defendants; Demonstrations; Effects; Failures; Federal government; Gossip; Grand jury; Gunshots; Harassment; Headquarters; Help; Influence; Intimidation; Jails; Kennedy administration; Local community; Marching; Net gains; Northern capital; Northern industrialists; Personal opinions; Picketing; Planning; Police dogs; Pressure; Protection; Provocations; Register; Riots; Roger Blough; Shock; Southern; Spontaneous; Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); Targets; Threats; Trials; Voter Education Project; White merchants; Writing; Wrongful death

Subjects: Albany (Ga.); Birmingham (Ala.); Civil rights demonstrations; Civil rights movements--United States; Civil rights workers--Violence against; Greenwood (Miss.); Protest movements.; Voter registration--Mississippi

00:22:38 - Containing the civil rights movement

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Partial Transcript: What about, uh, containing such, uh, impulses though?

Segment Synopsis: Branton gives his ideas on how to contain the potential threat of a "real" race riot in a northern city, as opposed to the smaller race riot Warren describes as taking place in Birmingham, Alabama. Branton tries to explain the desires and motives of African Americans in terms of violence and nonviolence, especially regarding Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam. He also discusses what African Americans have gained from demonstration in the South.

Keywords: African American police officers; Ally; Apathy; Arrests; Church bombing; Churches; Cold War; Containment; Distrust; Disturbances; Eliminate; Employment; Facilities; Fear; Grievances; Harassment; Insurance policy; Intimidation; Majority; Malcolm X; Ministers; Minority; Nonviolent; Police officials; Resist; Rifle clubs; Survey; Victory; Voter registration

Subjects: Birmingham (Ala.)--Race relations; Civil rights demonstrations; Civil rights movements--United States; Cleveland (Ohio); Discrimination.; Greenwood (Miss.); Montgomery (Ala.); Race riots

00:35:37 - Violence in the civil rights movement

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Partial Transcript: Shifting a little bit.

Segment Synopsis: Branton talks about some of the new local leaders in the civil rights movement and how their concerns are at the local level only. He also talks about the degree of violence in the South, as well as African Americans carrying firearms on their person or having them in their possession.

Keywords: 'Negro Movement'; African American reporters; Arms; Attitudes; Automobiles; Controversy; Greenwood Commonwealth; Guns; Harm; Illegal possession; Involvement; Judgment; Laws; Malcolm X; Newspapers; Overboard; Publicity; Reverend Milton Galamison; Rifles; Self-defense; Situations; Social responsibility; Surprising; Temptation

Subjects: African American leadership; Civil rights movements--United States; Evers, Charles, 1922-; Little Rock (Ark.); Mississippi; Violence; Weapons.

00:44:40 - The Civil War and racism

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Partial Transcript: Let's turn to the Civil War for a moment.

Segment Synopsis: Branton discusses his knowledge regarding the Civil War, as well as his early readings about President Abraham Lincoln. He also compares racists at the time of the Civil War to racists at the time of the interview.

Keywords: 'The War Between the States'; Abolitionists; Africa; African diplomats; Anthropology; Attitudes; Complexion; Conflicts; Development; Emancipation Proclamation; English gentleman; Features; Forces; Fredrick Douglass; High schools; Historians; History; Image; Immigrants; Library; Missionary; Moral issues; Opinions; Opportunity; Readings; Separate; Slaves; Spears

Subjects: Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865; Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 --Views on race relations; Racism; Slavery--United States.; United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865; United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Causes

00:54:32 - Voter registration in Atlanta, Georgia

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Partial Transcript: What I'm getting at here, in a way, is this changed climate of opinion that's happened in my time.

Segment Synopsis: Branton shares his experience with voter registration in Atlanta, Georgia in 1962 and its results.

Keywords: Attitudes; Emergency legislation; Gallery; Georgia Senate; Leroy Johnson; Picketing; Senators; Separate; Sit-ins; Spectators; State capitols; Voter Education Project

Subjects: Atlanta (Ga.); Elections; Segregation.; Voter registration

00:58:25 - Negro General Assembly candidates in Mississippi

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Partial Transcript: What about the possibility, uh--possibilities in this situation having two candidates in Mississippi for congressional seats?

Segment Synopsis: Branton expresses his thoughts on the probability of African American candidates winning seats in the Mississippi legislature.

Keywords: African American candidates; African American voters; Candidates; Challenge; Elections; Federal government; Legislation; Registrar; Right to vote

Subjects: Civil rights movements--United States; Mississippi--Social conditions; Mississippi. Legislature; Voter registration--Mississippi

01:01:18 - His opinions on Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jefferson

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Partial Transcript: What do you think of Robert E. Lee?

Segment Synopsis: Branton attempts to answer Warren's questions on Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jefferson, but he explains that he does not have enough knowledge about them to form an opinion.

Keywords: Backgrounds; Colleges; Confederacy; Current leaders; Emancipationists; High schools; History; Opinions; Principles

Subjects: Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826; Leadership; Lee, Robert E. (Robert Edward), 1807-1870

01:03:18 - March on Washington

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Partial Transcript: It leads us to certain, uh--leads me to reflect on the March on Washington.

Segment Synopsis: Branton tries to address the disparity Warren mentions regarding the March on Washington and African Americans' views on Abraham Lincoln. He also talks about African Americans voting for Democrats or Republicans.

Keywords: Business people; Democratic primary; Democrats; Development; Emancipators; General elections; Heroes; Lincoln Monument; Majority; Negro Freedom Movement; Opinions; Professional people; Republicans; Right to vote

Subjects: Civil rights demonstrations; Civil rights movements--United States; March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963 : Washington, D.C.); Voting