Interview SummaryJohn Johnson talks about his family situation after the deaths of his parents, as well as the deaths of several other close relations. He also discusses W. H. Story, a black administrator who was supposed to become assistant principal after school integration in Franklin, Kentucky. Johnson states that he feels Story was unfairly kept from that position. Johnson states that as a child in Kentucky, he was taught to feel inferior to whites. He describes an incident in which he was arrested for talking back to a white man.
Johnson discusses how he became the president of his local chapter of the NAACP as a young man. Johnson discusses his efforts to promote the inclusion of more African Americans as teachers and administrators in the local schools. Johnson talks about the pamphlets he was sent by the NAACP to help him learn how to run a local chapter. He discusses Lawrence Rainey, a sheriff who was notorious for violence against African Americans in Mississippi, and who also ran for sheriff in Franklin, Kentucky. He shares how the local NAACP opposed his candidacy for sheriff, and describes meeting him in person.
Johnson discusses his work as a training coordinator with the Kentucky Institute of Community Development. He explains some of his work, including teaching community leaders in economically disadvantaged areas how to organize meetings and apply for grants. Johnson shares why he turned down a position in Ohio to work in Louisville instead. He talks about his work within the lowest income area in Jefferson County, then tells how he became the associate director of the Louisville and Jefferson County Human Relations Commission. Johnson talks about the effort to desegregate schools in Louisville, and the strong local opposition against it. Johnson shares how he became the president of the Kentucky branch of the NAACP. He talks about the lack of diversity in the Kentucky State Police, and the work that the Kentucky NAACP did to implement an affirmative action plan within the police force.
Johnson discusses the death of Medgar Evers, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Emmett Till, and Martin Luther King Jr., and talks about the effects that the assassinations had on people who were involved in the civil rights movement. Johnson talks about the death of Rosa Parks, her influence within the civil rights movement, and the funeral services in Montgomery, Alabama, Detroit, Michigan, and Washington, D.C. that were held for her. Johnson talks about some of the demonstrations that he participated in in Washington D.C., including some in front of the White House itself. He also briefly discusses the rules and regulations for protesting in Washington. Johnson discusses the NAACP's collaboration with various other civil rights and labor groups, such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the National Urban League, and AFL-CIO. Johnson discusses the disproportionate number of African Americans in Kentucky prisons. He talks about the lack of voting rights for felons in Kentucky, and why he feels that state politicians have failed to address these issues.