Transcript
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Index
Search this Index
X
00:00:01 - Johnson's thoughts on history education

Play segment

Partial Transcript: --with Lyman Johnson on Tuesday May the 22nd at, uh, his home on Muhammad Ali Boulevard between the hours of eleven in the morning and two in the afternoon.

Segment Synopsis: The interviewer begins by asking Johnson about how it affects black people to always have to be race conscious, while white people don’t often think about their race. Johnson talks about how important it is for white children to be taught a true version of American history, with the harm white people have committed against other races included, along with the important African Americans who contributed to history. He says we must stop romanticizing the South in our culture, in cultural artifacts like “Gone with the Wind” and “My Old Kentucky Home.” Johnson also emphasizes that we have to teach the history of all non-white people, not just African Americans. He talks about the history of Chinese Americans working on the railroad. Johnson says that manifest destiny is inherently racist, the idea that the white man can take over the whole country. He also objects to the fact that African American history is taught separately from white American history. Johnson says it is important to realize the potential black people could have had, if they hadn’t been tied down by oppression.

Keywords: African American academics; African American history; Benjamin Banneker; Chinese-Americans; Gone with the Wind (Book); Gone with the Wind (Motion picture); History education; Immigration; Manifest Destiny; Race consciousness; Southern culture; Whitewashing of American history

Subjects: African Americans--Race identity.; American culture; Education; Emmigration and immigration.; Racism; United States--Race relations.

00:24:18 - Obstacles facing African Americans after the civil rights movement

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What are some of the--what, what are some of the problems that the black person you think will face in the future?

Segment Synopsis: Johnson talks about the problems that black people will face in the future. He says that racism is so deeply entrenched in America, that it is hard to shake. He talks about the history of African Americans in the United States--that there was a sense of possibility for them right after the Civil War, but that was quickly taken away. He says that after World War II, black servicemen came home ready to fight for their civil rights. Johnson talks in depth about the problems with discrimination in education. He says that the high drop out rates among African American students are a result of their economic conditions, race, and being pushed out of the system by white teachers and supervisors.

Keywords: African American drop out rates; African American history; African American schoolteachers; Educational inequality; Reconstruction; Wealth inequality; White schoolteachers

Subjects: African Americans--Economic conditions.; African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Social conditions--1975-; Discrimination in education.; Education; Education--Political aspects; Educational equalization; Racism; United States--Armed Forces--African Americans.; United States--Race relations.

00:40:18 - Race and immigration in American history

Play segment

Partial Transcript: You see there's, there's another one of those haughty concoctions that we people in the United States have arrogated onto ourselves.

Segment Synopsis: Johnson talks about how the rest of the world sees Americans as a cocky and overbearing presence in the world. Johnson then talks about the relationship of the United States to the rest of the world, and the history of immigration in the U.S. He gives an overview of the history of immigration laws, and the revisions to the laws made in the 1920s which allowed immigration from Southeastern Europe. White Americans did not like these people, but they were white-passing and able to be assimilated, whereas black people have been in this country for centuries and never been fully assimilated.

Keywords: Assimilation into American culture; Immigration laws; Passing (racial identity); Southeastern European immigrants

Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions.; American culture; Emigration and immigration.; Immigrants; United States--Race relations.

00:45:01 - African American vernacular and folk languages in the rural South

Play segment

Partial Transcript: But don’t you think that one of the differences, is that--because the black people in this country have been speaking English for hundreds of years.

Segment Synopsis: The interviewer asks Johnson about black vernacular. Johnson gives an overview of the history of black vernacular and how black people learned English as a necessity during slavery, or a form of English with some remnants of native African language. The interviewer says that he thinks that black vernacular is a folk language. Johnson talks about going to a black school in a white neighborhood, and how some of the kids at the black school would say Johnson and his siblings talked like "crackers" because they associated with poor white people.

Keywords: African American dialects; Language acquisition; Language learning; Regional language differences; Southern United States dialects; United States dialects

Subjects: African Americans--Race identity.; African Americans--Social conditions.; African Americans--Social life and customs.; English language.; Intercultural communication.

00:50:47 - Class and race divisions in the rural South

Play segment

Partial Transcript: --I, I, I associated--yes, I associated with, uh, some of the, uh--shall I use the word 'nicer?' You, you do, you--you kind of guess what I mean by 'nicer' white families?

Segment Synopsis: Johnson talks about a white woman he knew who would have him and his brother over to her house. She told him to stay away from poor white people, because they would bring down his reputation. The interviewer asks if it was rare for white people to have his family over. Johnson said it was, but that this woman was more liberal than other white people. However, she only invited Johnson and his brother because they came from a respected, educated family, and she would not have invited poorer children. Johnson also talks about the economic benefits of wealthier white people pitting poor whites and poor blacks against one another, to drive down the cost of labor. Johnson says though, that no matter how educated his family became, they would always be seen by their race. He tells a story about how a white fruit vendor came to his house, to sell cantaloupes to his father. The fruit vendor calls his father “uncle” and his father does not take kindly to this. The white man pulled out a knife, and they get in a physical altercation which ends with his father threatening the man with his shotgun, until he leaves. Johnson talks about how most of the fruit vendors were white, because they were the farm owners, and black people just did cheap labor on their farms.

Keywords: African American farm workers; Capitalism; Cost of labor; Race relations in the rural South; Sharecropping; Southern white liberals; White liberalism

Subjects: African Americans--Agriculture.; African Americans--Economic conditions.; African Americans--Social conditions.; African Americans--Southern States.; Racism; United States--Race relations.

01:08:29 - Agriculture in the rural South

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What, what were some of the other, uh, kinds of produce that were sold from the wagons?

Segment Synopsis: Johnson talks about the types of produce that they ate growing up, both produce that they bought and that they grew themselves. Johnson says that they have so many vegetables that they could feed themselves most of the time, they only bought melons.

Keywords: Agriculture; Family farms; Produce; Rural southern agriculture; Vegetable gardens

Subjects: African Americans--Agriculture.; African Americans--Southern States.; Families.; Farms, small.

01:10:14 - Political involvement and voting rights of African Americans in the late 19th and early 20th century

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Another, another subject. Have you, have you been a lifelong Democrat?

Segment Synopsis: Johnson talks about his family's history with politics. He said that his father and grandfather were lifelong Republicans, because they remembered the Republican Party as the party that freed the slaves. However, Johnson says that the Republican Party also abandoned them, and left them when they made a deal with the Democrats in the 1876 election. Johnson said that his grandfather was the first person in his family to vote, and was very proud of it. Johnson talks about the ways in which black people were kept from voting after the end of Reconstruction through grandfather clauses, poll taxes, and even physical intimidation. He tells a story about a man he knew who was asked to recite the Constitution before he could vote. The man quoted the Gettysburg Address instead, and was allowed to vote because the white man guarding the polling station didn't recognize the difference. Johnson then talks about his uncle's experience being a delegate at the Republican National Convention.

Keywords: African American political involvement; African Americans in Republican Party; Democrats in 19th century; Federal Republican Party; Grandfather clauses; Local Republican Party; Poll taxes; Reconstruction; Republican National Convention; Republicans in 19th century

Subjects: African American leadership; African Americans--Civil rights; African Americans--Legal status, laws, etc.; African Americans--Politics and government.; Civil rights--Law and legislation.; Voting.

01:31:15 - Johnson's views on contemporary politics

Play segment

Partial Transcript: They are--they are--take, take, take the name Connelly out there in Texas...

Segment Synopsis: Johnson talks about how the U.S. political parties have switched over the course of the 20th century. He talks about how black voters have turned against the Republican Party, because the party is growing more and more conservative and pushes out its more liberal members. He laments growing wealth inequality, and traces the history of the Republican Party back to our founding fathers, and other figures throughout history. He said the means were always there for powerful people to have economic control.

Keywords: Democratic Party in the 20th century; Franklin Roosevelt; Great Depression; History of wealth inequality; Republican Party in the 20th century; Wealth inequality

Subjects: African Americans--Politics and government.; Depressions--1929; Economics.; Politics and government; United States--Economic policy.; Voting.

01:39:39 - Johnson's thoughts on the history and economics of slavery, and its effect on Southern society

Play segment

Partial Transcript: But, but the Republican Party that we know today was started in eighteen--in the 1850s as a very radical party, wasn't it?

Segment Synopsis: Johnson talks about how many white people supported abolition for economic, not moral reasons. Working class white people could not get jobs because they could not compete with free slave labor. Johnson says that these white people were pushed up into the hills, onto the poor land, and this was the beginning of "hillbillies." Johnson says that he thinks Abraham Lincoln’s views on slavery were primarily economic, and that he came from poor Southern white people and knew their struggle. Johnson then says that he has always had sympathy for poor Southern whites, although his friends joke with him that he should be more worried about African Americans. He says that the system of slavery hurt both groups of people. Johnson then talks about the economics involved in slavery, and the economic concerns of slave owners.

Keywords: Abolition; Abraham Lincoln; Economics of slavery; Poor Southern whites; Race relations in the rural South; Slave-owners; Slavery

Subjects: African Americans--Economic conditions.; African Americans--Southern States.; Appalachian Region--Social conditions; United States--Race relations.

02:05:56 - Wage inequality between African Americans and white people

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Uh, I, I worked for less than white teachers.

Segment Synopsis: Johnson talks about a woman he knew who worked at the bank for a $1.25 a day, and hired a black woman to do the housework for 75 cents, even though the black woman did more work around the house. Johnson says that the white woman liked that she was making a profit. He also says that, when he was a teacher, he made less than white teachers.

Keywords: African American domestic workers; Pay inequality; Racial discrimination in wages; Wage inequality

Subjects: African Americans--Economic conditions.; African Americans--Employment.; Discrimination in employment.; Teachers; Teachers--Kentucky; Wages.

02:07:55 - Johnson's thoughts on the Back to Africa Movement

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Do you think the black person would have been better off if he'd have gone back to Africa?

Segment Synopsis: The interviewer asks if Johnson has thought about if black people would be better off returning to Africa. Johnson says no. It would be very hard to figure out what tribe that man belonged to originally. He also says that now, most African Americans are mixed race. He also says that, today, Africans view African Americans as foreigners. He compares the African Americans returning to Africa and creating a colony to the Israeli-Palestine situation and the moral complications of that.

Keywords: Africa; African tribal identity; League of Nations; Liberia; Relationship between African Americans and Africa

Subjects: African Americans--Genealogy.; African Americans--Race identity.; Emigration and immigration.