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Wilborn / College and his First Job

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Interviewer: So, after you finish—you get out of the military. You go to college. What did you major in college? Wilborn: I majored in social science, but I changed my major. I was in chemistry up there. All night, day—there again, I’m a party boy, I guess. All night running those experiments. I asked one of the instructors, I said I was going to be a teacher. I said, “Does elementary and social sciences teachers make the same thing as chemistry and math?” He said yeah. I said, “Why?” He said, “No reason at all.” Nothing. So, he didn’t see me anymore. I dropped the course. Interviewer: So, then you did social science— Wilborn: Yeah, social science, elementary, and P.E. Interviewer: Immediately after that did you go to Texas Southern? Wilborn: No. After that—I finished in 1956. I went to—I started teaching in Paris, AR in 1958. Taught there and coached one year and two months. Something like that. My friend tried to get me to apply for Dallas, but I wouldn’t. I said I don’t know anybody (inaudible) didn’t know anybody either, but you hear these rumors that you got to know somebody to get a job in the city. A good job and all. Why I didn’t get one in Texas. I went all over Texas. We had a fella by the name of Dr. MacMillan who integrated swimming pools here. He and a few more college boys and the superintendent during that time was going to punish Wylie because Wylie wouldn’t fire this professor. The president wouldn’t fire him. (phone rings) Wilborn: He didn’t—so, they were going to punish Wylie students by not hiring any Wylie students. He got all the superintendents in this area, East Texas area, not to hire any Wylie students. No Wylie student got hired unless you had unusual major. Now, I got a friend, he’s a doctor now, Sumter Brooks. He was a chemistry and math major. He got hired in Carthage, TX. I found out because the principal there told us. Now, we still segregated at this time. He said, “Wilborn, you’re not going to get a job. Your major’s a dime a dozen. Don’t me no harm, but Brooks, I’ll be hiring you.” He told us what was going on and Brooks did get the job because we used to get together, looking for jobs. People with different majors to go get jobs, job hunting. I ended up in in Paris, AR. I was shaving a fella by the name of Bode Anderson. He’s deceased now. Three years of medical school. I didn’t think anything of it. He had been teaching everywhere. He had a little bad luck with his medical profession. So, I wrote my address on some shaving paper. He teased me about it. I said I ain’t getting no job. He ain’t (inaudible). I just wrote it down. So, he called me. He’s the one gave me a job. I was on my way to Odessa, TX. Matter of fact, I made it to Odessa because I had a classmate and a friend who had a job there. He said, “There are always people who don’t show, and you could probably get a job out there.” So, I went out there, but as soon as I got out the car, the lady who he was rooming with, she said, “You must be John Wilborn. You got a job in Paris.” Well, I thought it was Paris, TX. I didn’t even eat, as hungry as I was. Man, I was so happy. I immediately got on the bus and went to Paris, TX because that was close to home. Paris is only about a hundred miles from here. I had a car, but I left my car—I was married during that time. I left my car with my wife in case I ran out of money. See, I was going to thumb. I was going to California because during that time it wasn’t as dangerous as it is now. So, I got to Paris. I got upset. He said, “No, we don’t have any vacancies here.” I’m glad he’s an intelligent man and compassionate because if he hadn’t been, he could have been like a lot of folks I know—I’d have been up the haystack because I got warm. I really started screaming because here I had probably lost out on a job in Odessa. Gone out there and left. I don’t have much money and I come back here. He asked me, he said, “Calm down. How did it happen?” I told him. He said, “You can trace that. You can trace that call.” I didn’t know that. So, he told me how to do it. So, it was Paris, AR. I got in contact. He teased me, he said, “Yeah, you thought I wasn’t going to do anything for you (inaudible) disrespected me. Wrote your name on some shaving paper.” Said okay, I’m going on home now and getting my car. I knew I had a job, so I went home and got my car and went on to Paris.

Interview Interview with John Wilborn
Subjects Family › Marriage
Work › Discrimination at Work
Discrimination or Segregation › Discrimination or Segregation at School
Education › Elementary Education
Education › Higher Education
Historic Periods › 1956-1969
Discrimination or Segregation › Discrimination or Segregation of Public Accommodations › Swimming pools
Tags Texas Southern University
Wylie College
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Interview date 2015-06-23
Interview source CRBB Summer 2015
Interviewees Wilborn, John
Locations Paris, TX
Paris, AR
Duration 00:05:43
Citation "College and his First Job ," from John Wilborn oral history interview with ,  June 23, 2015, Marshall, TX , Civil Rights in Black and Brown Interview Database,, accessed December 10, 2019