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Johnson / The Military, Part One

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Interviewer: I wanted to ask about your military service because this was before the Armed Services had integrated. So, you served with an all-black unit, correct? Johnson: Oh yeah, not only that, but I guess when I left Fort Sam Houston going to Fort Eustice, VA, we were escorted by a white sergeant. At the time, this was the practice. He was to escort us. San Antonio is approximately six hours from Rockdale and I thought that by the time we got to Rockdale, I could be sitting in the dining car because it was always somebody, black person at the station in Rockdale because I was there a lot of times watching the train pass through. About Taylor, thirty miles away, the sergeant came back and told us that we couldn’t go to the dining car. He would have to go and get our sandwiches. This happened all the way to Cincinnati, OH. There we were able to eat in the train station. When we got to Fort Eustice, it was filled with German Prisoners of War. Looked like hundreds, thousands. We got there early in the morning. We had to stand aside to watch them go to breakfast. Looked like they were six abreast, marching quick time. Later we learned that the German POWs had better quarters and got better food than we did.

Interview Interview with James E. Johnson
Subjects Discrimination or Segregation › Discrimination or Segregation of Public Accommodations
Historic Periods › Jim Crow Period
Historic Periods › 1941-1945
Military › World War II
Military › Discrimination in Military
Military › Military Bases and Posts
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Interview date 2015-07-21
Interview source CRBB Summer 2015
Interviewees Johnson, James E.
Interviewers Acuña-Gurrola, Moisés
Bynum, Katherine
Locations San Antonio, TX
Rockdale, TX
Fort Eustis, VA
Cincinnati, OH
Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, TX
Duration 00:02:30
Citation "The Military, Part One," 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 October 30, 2020