CRBB logo

Johnson / "It Takes a Village"

sign up or sign in to add/edit transcript

Interviewer: Then, one of the things we’ve heard a lot in interviews, students felt like they couldn’t act up in school because the teachers would report to the parents—like the news got back to the parents before you even got home. Was that the case for you growing up? Johnson: Oh yeah. Discipline was important as it still is. We don’t push it like they did then. In effect, the village did help. The old saying, “It takes a village.” Quite a bit of this—this was the mold for us. We were chastised by others out there. I remember a lot of incidents that they threatened to tell my grandmother and I begged them please don’t. She was not vicious because she could give me a severe punishment just by looking and quite often, many of the elders could do this. Often would not have to say anything, just make sure you know that they’re looking. This was a corralling kind of thing where children minded, paid attention to—of course, you know it was not perfect, but basically this was understood to be the situation. Interviewer: So, you were always afraid that they were going to tell your grandmother. What would your grandmother have done? Johnson: Just reminded me that that was not my best behavior or something to that effect. When my brothers or I would leave home, she would always say, “Behave.” Behavior was important in her and my mother’s life too. They wanted us to be on our best behavior always, because they pointed out that somebody’s looking at us all the time and it may not be a human. They were religious people and felt like God was watching.

Interview Interview with James E. Johnson
Subjects Family › Children
Family › Extended Family Networks
Family › Childhood Experiences
Religion › Spirituality
Education › All-Black Education
Education › Elementary Education
Education › Secondary Education
Education › Teachers and Administrators
Historic Periods › Jim Crow Period
Tags sign up or sign in to add/edit tags
Interview date 2015-07-21
Interview source CRBB Summer 2015
Interviewees Johnson, James E.
Interviewers Acuña-Gurrola, Moisés
Bynum, Katherine
Duration 00:02:41
Citation ""It Takes a Village" ," 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 April 20, 2024