Interview with Robert L. Johnson, June 24, 1991

Project: Appalachia: War On Poverty Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

Robert Johnson, the grandson of Swedish immigrants, grew up in Little Cedar, Iowa. His father ran an farm implement dealership. Johnson studied agriculture at Iowa State College and worked as an extension agent in Iowa for twelve years. He returned to school to get his master's degree in agriculture education, first attending Colorado State University and then Drew University where he became active in the civil rights movement.

Johnson explains that he secured a job with the Madison County Community Action Program (CAP) as its executive director because of his experience with rural communities. He reported directly to the board which was largely composed of people with low incomes. He recalls the board meetings as a continual struggle between the low income representatives and power brokers in the county. Johnson explains that the Green Amendment changed the composition of the board and its emphasis moved toward economic development. Johnson recalls conflicts and struggles with the school system, local power brokers, and bureaucrats in Washington.

In 1966, the Madison County Community Action Program (CAP) joined with three other counties, and Johnson states that the emphasis on Washington-initiated programs and the political problems greatly increased. He explains that the jobs and lives of local people who spoke out were often threatened. Johnson describes how the area became transformed as the Community Action Program shifted its focus to housing and job development. Johnson left the Community Action Program after the death of his father. He ran the family farm implement dealership for a short time before becoming involved in a Des Moines Community College program to help unemployed people find work. He also taught agricultural business at the community college and ran a community center.

Interview Accession

1991oh188_app313

Interviewee Name

Robert L. Johnson

Interviewer Name

Margaret Brown

Interview Date

1991-06-24

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Johnson, Robert L. Interview by Margaret Brown. 24 Jun. 1991. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Johnson, R.L. (1991, June 24). Interview by M. Brown. Appalachia: War On Poverty Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Johnson, Robert L., interview by Margaret Brown. June 24, 1991, Appalachia: War On Poverty Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt7stq5r9s7j