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Wilborn / Working, Working on a Masters, and Administrative Role in School

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Interviewer: So, after you get your master’s in Houston, do you relocate back to Marshall? Wilborn: No, I didn’t move. I went during the summer and I went on Saturdays. Drove down on Saturdays. That’s what we did. Couldn’t take out no leaves. Had to work, yeah. Interviewer: And you were there on Saturdays? Wilborn: Yeah. Interviewer: How long was the school day on Saturday? Wilborn: Oh, four or five hours. Something like that. Interviewer: And the drive? How long is the drive from here? Wilborn: Four and a half hours. You leave early in the morning. When you’re young, you do what you have to do to survive and they was paying you more money with a master’s then than they do now. Interviewer: So, after you get your master’s, what do you decide to do? Wilborn: Well, I still taught until I became—matter of fact, the first interview I had to be an administrator, I failed the interview. I didn’t say what they wanted me to say. I was myself. I was determined to you hire me being John Wilborn or I just won’t get hired. Although, I cried afterwards, but I had to—and I don’t regret it even today because everybody including my brother who went ahead of me, they’re deceased, and I think part of it is because of the stress. I don’t know. I’m sure God was ready for them, but I know if I had taken the job under those circumstances, it was too stressful. I wasn’t going to do that. I didn’t have to, put it that way, because they didn’t hire me under those—wasn’t going to—not like they offered me and I turned it down. Matter of fact, some questions that I was asked, and I gave the wrong answer and I knew it was the wrong answer and I ended up being the interviewer rather than the interviewed. So, I lost out. I’m the one who told my brother, I said, “They’ll try to hire you to rub it in on me. Somebody’s going to get the job. You may as well go up there and get it. You have the charisma. You go on and get it.” He got it. So, he became a principal. Interviewer: Did you serve the city of Marshall? Wilborn: I served the city of Marshall from 1986 to 2006, I believe it is. I served twenty—total of twenty-four years on city of Marshall as a city commissioner and two years of that as mayor of the city from 1992 to 1994. I came on in 1986, so you add twenty-four, that’ll tell you when I went off. Interviewer: So, before we get to 1986 onward, I guess we still have this 1970s and 1980s I’m curious about. You were a teacher and then when did you move to an administrative position? Wilborn: I didn’t do that until about—I retired in 1991, so it was about 1982, I believe it was. I retired in 1991, so. Interviewer: So, throughout the 1960s, there’s a few things I’m curious about, I would like to know about. In 1960, there were sit-ins? Wilborn: There was what now? Interviewer: The sit-ins. The sit-in protests? Wilborn: Yeah. Interviewer: Did you participate? Wilborn: No. Interviewer: Do you know anyone who did personally? Wilborn: No. No, I don’t because they used mostly students. Local people, I don’t know, they contributed to getting them out of jail and all. I told someone one day, it’s like y’all don’t wear y’all’s capes, your white capes day and night. (inaudible) what we do is a secret. Money was collected, you know, to get the sit-ins out of jail. They were usually college students. Bishop and Wylie, they organized it. They had people. They had local people involved too. The doctors. There were black doctors and all. Some of the college professors, so forth. I wasn’t involved in organization of the sit-ins, but I contributed. Interviewer: To help bail them out? Wilborn: Yeah, because I was going to do it with a certain person, but I know they can’t keep their mouths closed. So, I went to another that I knew could keep a secret. So, I was an anonymous contributor.

Interview Interview with John Wilborn
Subjects Work › Occupations
Community Organizations
Education › Higher Education
Education › Teachers and Administrators
Historic Periods › 1960-1963
Historic Periods › 1980s
Student Activism › Sit-ins
Family › Siblings
Tags Texas Southern University
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Interview date 2015-06-23
Interview source CRBB Summer 2015
Interviewees Wilborn, John
Duration 00:05:36
Citation "Working, Working on a Masters, and Administrative Role in School ," from John Wilborn oral history interview with ,  June 23, 2015, Marshall, TX , Civil Rights in Black and Brown Interview Database,, accessed August 25, 2019