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Payne / Lessons Learned

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Payne: I can tell that—you can see it on their face, because when you see my resume, my resume doesn’t look like a black person. I went to high school, finished salutatorian, went to the University of Houston, Order of the (inaudible), worked on the Hill, worked at Vincent and Elkins, work at Provost Umphrey. None of my resume looks like a black person, so when you walk in the room, and they’re expecting someone not black, and they walk in, “James Payne?” “That’s me! How you doing?!” You can see it on their face. You deal with that and then you just allow that to motivate you to be the absolute best that you can be. My son now, who was raised as the only, he was the one who was interviewed and said, “Dr. King was great man, believed in equality, killed by a white man.” He’s at Morehouse right now and he loves it. He’s finally in a position where he is not the only one and he is learning something that I could not have taught him in this community. He just got back from China. He’s decided to major in Mandarin. So, he’s majoring in Economics—double majoring in Economics and Mandarin. So, he spent a month in Beijing. He came back with all types of cultural experiences and he’s empowering himself. I love it. I love it and people are like why would you send your son to Morehouse? Why wouldn’t I? Everything I am is because what I learned at Lincoln, in my opinion, and I suspect my son is going to have that same experience, but he’s going to get it at college instead of at the high school level.

Interview Interview with James Payne
Subjects Family
Family › Children
Community Organizations
People › King, Martin Luther, Jr.
Tags University of Houston
Morehouse College
Lincoln High School, Port Arthur, TX
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Interview date 2016-06-16
Interview source CRBB Summer 2016
Interviewees Payne, James
Interviewers Grevious, Danielle
Duration 00:01:58
Citation "Lessons Learned," from James Payne oral history interview with Danielle Grevious,  June 16, 2016, Beaumont, Civil Rights in Black and Brown Interview Database,, accessed October 16, 2019