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Johnson / Father's Occupation

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Interviewer: So, you said you split your time between Houston and Rockdale. Who lived in which city? Johnson: My dad lived in Houston. Interviewer: And that’s where he worked for the wholesale company? Johnson: Yes. Interviewer: How long did he work for that company? Johnson: I think he left in the forties. He left Sidney Meyer’s Wholesale and went work for Dow. This was in the mid-war, beginning in the mid-war when a lot of jobs became available. The country went on—and he moved from Sidney Meyers to help build Dow in Houston and from there he went to Railway Express to where he retired from. Interviewer: Do you know if he ever joined any unions? Johnson: Yeah, they had—Railway Express had a tremendous union as I recall. I don’t know the details of it, but I know they had a pretty strong union because they had good benefits. That was another thing that was pretty important, particularly for guys like him who went with organizations who had strong unions. I think they were in effect separate, so there is a good possibility that the black members did not have the benefits of the white members because I think there was a reluctance for blacks to become union members. It was quite a difficult thing, and, in many situations, it didn’t exist, didn’t continue to exist and the degree of was depending on how strong the white group was. There was a relationship there that was dependent on strong whites because likely you’ll have a strong black. Typical of the time. Interviewer: Did you ever hear your dad talk about those times? Johnson: We had a lot of conversations about situations because we had to live with what was, the reality. We could fantasize a bit, but we always had to come back to the reality.

Interview Interview with James E. Johnson
Subjects Work › Occupations
Work › Labor Unions
Discrimination or Segregation
Discrimination or Segregation › Discrimination or Segregation at Work
Historic Periods › Jim Crow Period
Historic Periods › 1941-1945
Historic Periods › 1946-1950
Military › World War II
Tags Railway Express
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Interview date 2015-07-21
Interview source CRBB Summer 2015
Interviewees Johnson, James E.
Interviewers Acuña-Gurrola, Moisés
Bynum, Katherine
Duration 00:03:10
Citation "Father's Occupation ," from James E. Johnson oral history interview with Moisés Acuña-Gurrola and Katherine Bynum,  July 21, 2015, Prairie View, TX , Civil Rights in Black and Brown Interview Database,, accessed July 20, 2024