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Interview with Timuel Black [Undated]

Lorene Richardson:

I'm speaking with Timuel D. Black, Jr. a veteran of World War II and Mr. Black, Professor Black is going to relate some of his experiences dealing with World War II and perhaps following his departure from the military, what have you. Professor Black, tell us about, first of all, were you drafted or were you a volunteer?

Timuel Black:

I was drafted. I was drafted in, in August of 1943. And I went to Camp Custer for assignment in 19 -- in September 1943. From there we went to Camp Lee, Virginia, which is right outside, close to Petersburg, Virginia. And we were -- that was our boot, I mean our basic training.

Some of us would have done pretty well on the Army General Agency Team, Army General Classification Test, were put aside to be -- to go to the officer's candidate school, but suddenly that was changed. And by the way, these were -- we were in all black companies, training companies, but had white officers. Black noncommissioned officers, but all of our officers were white, regardless to how well you may have done on the AGCT.

Generally speaking except for relatively minor amounts, black soldiers were non -- the highest rank they would obtain would be Master Sergeant, something of that. There were some that in all black units, some who were, who became officers, but none were over any white troops.

And so after Camp Lee was three months there and we had thought -- wasn't quite three months. We thought that we would be going to they called it the ?land root?. We thought we would be going home to go to another camp in the United States. But when I got home had a good time and then when I got back, I went to a camp in Pennsylvania and I forget the name of it. Travis went to that same camp. And he was, he and some of his fellow soldiers were fired on when they tried to go to a movie. At that time he was shot and disabled and practically almost killed. But two of the fellows were killed by the military police because they tried to go to this theater, which was off limits to African, to black troops. That was sworn on many incidents that happened during that period of time all over the country.

Camp, wasn't Camp Butner, I forget the name of it, but it was near Pittsburgh. From there we learned that we were going to go overseas. And I was so much against being in the Army and generally because there had been a race riot in Detroit just before I was inducted. In fact, there was a race riot in Detroit and one in New York and my dad's position was, "Why are you going to go over there and fighting when you should be fighting, going up to Detroit and fighting those battles?"

My mother, of course, was just as strong for justice as my dad was, but much more conscious of what that would mean in terms of my future and so she insisted that I go to take the draft. In fact, backing up a little bit, when they sent me my first draft notice it had something like, "Greetings, you have been selected from among your neighbors to serve Uncle Sam." And I sent it back saying, "I don't have an uncle named Sam. My uncles is named William and George."

But they sent me another one and my mother said, "You better -- you better go ahead." Just a little back up. That's the way many of us felt about that kind of thing. But once we were drafted, we, those of us who were drafted, there were many who volunteered. Many of my friends volunteered. Some of them were in the acclaimed Tuskegee Airmen. So they were lawless. We decided we had to be good soldiers. We had to come out with Honorable Discharge and take whatever assignments we had seriously and become good soldiers.

Many of my friends who were in combat units, wanted to go and be in combat against the Japanese or the Germans, but those of us who did not want to be in combat units and some of those who did want to be in combat units were assigned to service units, like the Quartermasters or the Engineers or the Communications or things like that, rather than actual confrontational combat. However, the combat soldiers could not do anything without these service units. And so we had to be close to them all the time in order to get them the necessary services, food, shelter, food, ammunition and any of those things.

So when we left there we went to the camp in New Jersey, which was the camp of departure for overseas. And we went the round about way to get to the British Islands and we touched down in Scotland and finally we wound up in Wales where we continued our training. In June of 1944, this was -- we had gone overseas and right after Christmas in 1943, right after New Year's, in fact, and we were in this place in London ?O'Junction? in Wales and because the people had never seen any blacks, they thought that we had just stayed out in the sun. But some of them had been informed by the white soldiers that we were like dogs and had tails. That we were not quite human. And so they were curious about that.

And they had to find out that we were very human, particularly the young ladies found that out rather quickly. And so that experience was -- by this time, I'm assigned to the 308. I have had the wrong thing, 308 Quartermasters, 308 Quartermasters, you may want to get that correct.

Lorene Richardson:

Correct, that.

Timuel Black:

308 Quartermaster's Unit. Some of this comes back as I'm talking. And we were being trained rigorously. We didn't know what for. But one night we were all put on these six by six trucks and we wound up in a town near, I don't know where Buckingham is, it is near London anyway, and we were locked in there with watch dogs and guards all around. We didn't know what that was about. And when we were there about two days, June the 6th, 1944, we learned that Americans had gone into France. My unit was supposed to go in.

Lorene Richardson:

The big invasion.

Timuel Black:

D-Day, June the 6th. My unit was supposed to go in, but my commander and another commander of the 307th, I think it was, wanted to challenge each other who would go in with their troops first and the other guy won. That unit went in that day was practically wiped out. I was glad.

They went into what they called the Hot Beaches Omaha and we went in, I think it was four days later. And fortunately, we went waded through the water to Utah, which was not quite as -- we went up into France.

It was Normandy Beach and there were land mines all over the Germans had planted and we were -- we were signaled to move several times and then we knew we win the war. Many of the men was out on the beach were forced to go inland by the, I think the grandson of the son of the former president, late president of the United States, not Theodore Roosevelt. I think it was his grandson. He was a general at that time.

Lorene Richardson:

One of FDR's sons?

Timuel Black:

No, his cousin.

Lorene Richardson:

Yes.

Timuel Black:

President, former president, who was the leading commander in the Spanish-American war. This was his son who had been president. So this fellow said, "You standing down here on the beach and getting killed. Let's go inland and get killed." So they commanded us to move in. And then when we got up to, we went up to Ste.-Mere-Eglise which was a small community on the beach, near the beach and we were welcomed by the French people. I was amazed. We had several guys and I can speak a little french myself.

We went in and it was, we spoke their level of french better than the interpreter who spoke original french. We had something with the and we had the young man in our unit who was from Louisiana and he could deal with patois and the various variations of the linguistic style of people down there, which I was amazed at seeing while animals were laying in the fields, they had people still out hanging their clothes up.

Lot of things were going on, bombs were bursting and they went on to do their daily chores, because I guess the idea was whatever is going to happen is going to happen and we may as well keep things going. And so we was down there and then later General Patton, George Patton took charge. I think he was the Third Army Commander at that time and he wanted to move very swiftly up towards Belgium and the service units -- oh, while we were down there near the beach, one of our -- one of the Germans were doing what they call, not blitzkrieg, but they would dive in and drop bombs and fire on trucks. We had the Red Ball Express.

One of my cousins, who had been an engineer in the Engineer Corp. that helped brought seawater down there. We happened to bump into each other. And he said, Don't get captured because the Germans are not taking any Negroes", we called them then. "So since you might die that way anyhow just die fighting protecting yourself." So we had that warning.

The officers, that is the commissioned officers, because the Germans were using sharpshooters, were doing sniping and their substance were that this guy with the -- with the stripe on his helmet was the leader and if we get the leader then the other troops would get into disarray. What he didn't understand, what they didn't understand about the American system, was that the leader might have worked while the lowest guy in the company, the lowest guy may be the multi-millionaire, but the commanding officer, of course, had a higher score and he became the leader so it would have been -- which it did happen. Those who had managerial experiences, when somebody would knock off the captain or the major, they just step in and take charge because they had experience doing that. And so, but they begin to take the, that stripe off of the backs of the helmets for the noncommissioned officers and the commissioned officers so that they could not be easily singled out.

Our experiences down there in Ste.-Mere-Eglise very interesting because we had in that area, the Germans dropped a bomb on one of the ammunition dumps and the command is that the service troops had to go in and isolate the live ammunition from exploding ammunition and some of those --

Lorene Richardson:

As it is happening?

Timuel Black:

As it is happening. As it is happening. Either you would be cited for disobeying your Commander's orders and they chose significantly the black soldiers service troops to do that. Some of them refused to do it and they received dishonorable discharges and some ventured in and did it. Some of them were wiped out in that process.

We had to move along with the trucks as Patton wanted to move further north and we had to move up with the trucks without having, without really carrying the necessary supplies that we needed. He wanted us to be up there waiting for the supplies as they came, as they were being dumped on the beaches and then the Red Ball Express drivers, now, those guys were fabulous.

They could, actually the trucks wasn't going that fast, but they could actually, since the Germans as they were shooting at the truck would try to shoot the driver, they could stand, they became so adept, they could stand outside on the running board while the truck was still moving and keep it moving with those supplies.

Lorene Richardson:

The driver?

Timuel Black:

The driver, yeah. Yeah, they were exceptional. That's another story. I think someone did a story about that, but these were just exceptional guys. We had a job to do and we wanted to get back home. So being careful was one thing, but doing your job was the main item of the immediacy. So the, we were surrounded at one time when we moved up towards Paris by the Germans and that was when Patton issued an invitation that anyone who wanted to be in the combat unit could do so, whatever his race and creed or whatever it was. We had some young guys in our unit 18, 19-year-old adventurous young men that volunteered to do that and I said, "Not me. I'm going to be right where I am." By this time I'm about 23-years-old. I have seen a few people die. I had seen a few people that were -- just in Chicago. So I could see what death was like. I didn't want to have no part.

These young men, some of them had prison records and they wanted to get discharged with honors and all this other thing so they could go back home and do some achievement. Most of the fellows that I was with in the Army, in my unit were from rural Arkansas and Mississippi. There was some of us who were not. We were kind of city boys, Leon Dash, for example, was from New York. I was from -- we had a number of young -- we had a number of guys from places like Detroit, Chicago, New York, New Orleans, and there was a distinct tension between the urban fellows and the rural agricultural fellows. We had to get over that.

They thought we thought and maybe we did, that we were better than them. But one of the things they had that we didn't have is because being reared in the rural agricultural communities of Mississippi and Arkansas, they knew how to shoot. And so we, and they learned the languages very quickly, French, Belgic and later German. They learned those languages very quickly, one of the reasons it gave them quick access to the young women. Now, in that same period, if a young girl, whether she was British or French or whatever, was 16 had the consent to have a love affair with a young man who was 18. He would -- she would have to testify against him at the camp, now, this I'm speaking of blacks now. She would have to testify against him on, with the threat of penalty or in many cases, of course, at this time with the bread basket of the whole war, they would withdraw the supplies from her town, from her family.

And so the pressure of that kind of threat, she would be in love with this young man. He would likewise have affection for her and do what young men and young women do when they feel that way, but it was forboden or forbidden. It was not to be. But there was one side of the terms of race. So we had young men in our unit that were arrested and incarcerated who were accused and found guilty of those charges.

The racism that existed was so blatant, Eisenhower became the Commander General, Five Star General of the ETA-ETO, European Theater of Operations and tried to solve that racial problem. That turned his officers against him.

(Tape interrupted)

So what General Eisenhower did in trying to solve this problem of intense confrontation in the towns and cities, both in particularly in the Great Britain, was to command that, that units be assigned to particular cities or towns. Now, the nicest cities and towns were given to the white troops and those that no one wanted really to go to were given to the blacks, the Negro troops. And, of course, there was resistance against that. And the black troops felt that they were being mistreated. They would go to the town and then you would have another kind of confrontation. So that kind of thing continued and the British civilians, although many of their troops were colonial troops from Africa.

Lorene Richardson:

Sure.

Timuel Black:

Because they did not have the racial problems in the islands that we had in the United States. They wondered why we had two Armys, one black and one white and they asked that question. And that the white troops had no black officers over them, but the black troops, by and large, except for those who were from the National Guard or something like that, had all white officers. The guys in the 92nd Division, for example, they had black officers. But primarily the black troops, regardless of their qualifications, college, university, whatever it may be and we had many of those, were being commanded by some guy who may have just graduated from high school.

So that created a social crashing and resentment. I certainly felt very angry about having an officer who had the control of my life, who I felt was not smarter. He felt that I knew that, so he had to keep me in my place. He had to do things to keep me, remind me. Fortunately, I had some skills that were needed and so it was, I had to be very careful about my own temper, which was true of many of us undergoing this kind of stress.

But these young men going up into Paris, going up into northern France, we -- we, finally our trucks and everything caught up and we were supplying, at one point we were supplying on a daily basis hundreds of thousands of troops with the necessities that they had in terms of food and equipage as they called it, equipment, military, of the ammunition was necessary. We did not -- we had carbine rifles rather than the M-16's, which were the combat rifles. We had to keep those handy because at any point we might run into trouble, which we did later.

We continued on up into Belgium. We liaised, we stopped in Luxembourg, but anyway we were in Belgium when the -- well, what I remember, again, and I can't remember the date, but we were asked when we got near Paris, we were asked by the fighting French of the Interior, whom which Jean Paul was Sergeant and that the rider that was the leader of, they wanted us to stay outside Paris until they symbolically liberated Paris. And when we came into Paris, we marched down Champs Elysees and what's his name, the man who had been the prime minister?

Lorene Richardson:

Of France?

Timuel Black:

Of France, yeah.

Lorene Richardson:

de Gaulle?

Timuel Black:

de Gaulle, yeah, he was that and he had come back from France, come back from England. He had been in -- yeah, he had been in exile and we marched down the liberated --

Lorene Richardson:

Really?

Timuel Black:

-- Paris.

Lorene Richardson:

Wow.

Timuel Black:

And that was a great day and the French who had remained hopeful after so many years of occupation and betrayed by some of their own citizens, some of their own leaders, they were saying, Vive La France, Vive L'Amerique, Vive Le Russe, and as the black troops passed they wave records from jazz music. We found that out, because we got off and they told us Louis Armstrong, the Hot Club of France, I'm forgetting the violinist and the guitar player, you know, they had the Hot Club of France, Louis Armstrong and Bennie Carter and those guys --

Lorene Richardson:

Right.

Timuel Black:

-- that played with them before the war at the exclusive. So they had kept those records and they wanted to play them to show their -- so we went through France, went through Paris and then up into Belgium and then just before the holidays in 1944 the Battle of the Bulge. The Germans had been their -- their oil supplies had been literally destroyed by our American planes particularly into where the oil fields were, though they had the planes they couldn't get many of them off the ground. They didn't have the fuel. And so the Commanding Officer's name that escapes me, again, but he wanted to destroy -- his tactic -- what was his name? His tactic was to destroy the supply lines.

Now, this is the same thing that Napoleon and others had been done earlier, had been done to them and we had done that. The Russians had done that with the Germans going into Central Prussia, the Soviet Union that is. And so that made us then the supply lines, blowup the bridges, cut off the supplies and that put us right directly in the area of the combat. And so we had to -- then we were told because most of our heavy duty people were captured Germans, who were German prisoners and we were told by those men -- we treated them like human beings.

They were captured and they were glad to be no longer on the front line. We were told by some of them that they had been, their ranks had been infiltrated by the younger SS guys who spoke perfect English, who had lived in, some of them had lived in the United States and their mission was to blowup the supplies from the inside while the planes were left to blow out the bridges and that meant then that we had to take, confine those, all of the German prisoners, and take the white soldiers, except for the data, take them out of action. The orders were to capture any white person that we saw, capture them or either kill them, any white person. That was the order. We couldn't trust, you know, because they spoke English. They knew American habits. You could ask them, you know, what the New York Yankees did. They could tell you pretty accurately.

Lorene Richardson:

Wow.

Timuel Black:

And so that was the -- that was the order that we had to. It is this same time the Germans had not perfected, but had developed missiles and the missiles would go awry because they didn't have any direction. So they would just fire them and, of course, our ranks were sometimes victimized by those. They were trying to get them into France and into England, into London particular area. So we had to constantly -- so getting sleep was out. This is called the Battle of the Bulge. I think it is Ardennes Forest or something, I've forgotten these names, but it was in that period.

We finally came to break through with younger -- they pulled the veterans, they pulled the veterans, seasoned soldiers out of the front line and then young men who had just been drafted or volunteered from the States, 18, 19-years-old were sent up to be cannon fodder. They were expendable. We were expendable and so that was quite an experience.

It was at that point and during that period of time we were always ambivalent, my commanding officer and I, that we heard that there was a condition that had been seen by -- the German troops are now beginning to surrender in many numbers. And so the combat troops now armed in the Battle of the Bulge is practically over and won, to go and find out.

No, we heard there was some awful things that these combat soldiers had seen in parts of, various parts of Germany. They had seen the concentration camps. And even though most of them had seen violence and had been in combat, they had not witnessed anything like that. So it kept men and officers -- in the combat zone all the rules breakdown. You can't afford any of them.

Lorene Richardson:

It is a matter of survival.

Timuel Black:

Yeah, and so we got into the jeep and went from where we were and I forget where we were exactly. We were in Germany, on the edge of Germany in Belgium. And went up into a town called Birkenau and as we got closer you could smell and hear the cries and when we got into the camp, we saw these human beings, actually see their ribs and organized, the place was organized so that all the gold, all the precious metals were very carefully taken and cataloged and we --

Lorene Richardson:

Wow.

Timuel Black:

-- and those who were -- who were no longer useful as prisoners, these are mostly Jews and Gypsies and little though it is known in a lot of the camps they were also affluent Germans and particularly gay people, gay men particularly. Those of the least, those were the ones that had the least organization, but then there were the poor Germans. Then they reached up began to get the others as time went on and I was so hurt so angry I began to cry and my first priority was to kill all the Germans. I was just overwhelmed.

Then I began to realize that some of our soldiers were German decent, Eisenhower, Eichelberger, you can go on and name them and then I reflected and I thought this can happen anywhere to anyone. And since by this time I had, I was pretty sure because I had survived the worst of the battles, I lived more cautious about my own soldiers because they are playing with guns. Sometimes they would shoot each other and good friends just playing around with weapons. And so I was more afraid of them by this time than I was of anything else.

But I had relaxed, believing that maybe I was going to get back home. I had one period where it hadn't been for a guy on the truck with me, I would have just jumped off the truck and then been crushed by the truck right behind. I didn't believe I was going to make it. That was just a very brief period. Then when the Germans had bombed out the trains that had the mail on them, my mind went a funny way. It was like I didn't believe because my mother wrote a letter every day, which was true of many, many parents had boys in the Army. I didn't believe that they were alive. And then I had a complex feeling and I quickly got the message all your mail was censored, blaming my mother and father for not keeping in touch with me.

So I had a double confused because I know they were, if there was any way possible, mama was going to get me a letter. Then so there was something wrong with them. Then my anger comes up that they had forsaken me and -- and my mother got to Red Cross and got me a message. When she got to that message, she got the Red Cross information, "My baby, he is all right. He is going to be all right. God is going to take care of him".

The confusions that arise and arose with me in that period of time were so great because I didn't -- I wasn't a gambler. I wouldn't play, you know, with the guys sometimes when they would have a little relief, they would play some poker or play some other game. I would practically be by myself a lot of times, too much time, when I had the time to be. And after seeing this situation in this death camp practically is what it was, the only ones there that didn't die because they were liberated because of the arrival of the American and the Russian troops, I felt like I was, had been given a second life. And when I returned home I was going to spend the rest of my life working for peace and justice and the commitment, which to the extent that I could keep it, I tried.

Lorene Richardson:

When did you come back?

Timuel Black:

I -- oh, let me get to that. So when we were then assigned to the unit and sent to Marseille, France and the intentions were that we would go to Japan to take over Japan with the troops that were already in the Far East. And in Marseille one day, I think it was August 6th or something like that of 1945, we learned that the Americans had dropped a weapon like nothing we had ever dreamed of.

I had been in London and the bombs went off in London and I had been in the European Theater, but I couldn't imagine something that was the size of a golf ball inside a bigger piece could immediately kill almost 100,000 people in a place called Hiroshima and then two days later Nagasaki. And I expressed the idea to my fellows soldiers that I would have preferred to have gone to Japan and taken my chances than for us to have done that to two cities, which were not major military targets and without much warning to the people. I would have preferred to go and that feeling still has me now. Because we have given anyone the example of what we now call pre-emptive strike. How can we say that some other country should not do the same thing, if they assume that this is the way? That was not a popular thought. I said it to my fellow soldiers.

Lorene Richardson:

It wasn't.

Timuel Black:

But I felt that way.

Lorene Richardson:

How old were you?

Timuel Black:

I was about 24 by this time, 24, 25. I was a man. And so then we got ready to come -- the war was over. We got ready to come back home and there were some young white soldiers -- we were assigned to a ship. There was some young white soldiers who just arrived in France and they were given the opportunity to board that ship. We were taken off and reassigned. And a young white guy said to me, a young white soldier, he said, "You mean to tell me you are going to let them take you off that ship?" And it was amazing to me for him to say that. I said, "Oh, no, I wouldn't let that -- I'm gonna -- I just got here and you are gonna -- you have been here and you are gonna let them take you off that ship?"

And in my shame, I said to him, "See, you don't understand. You are not a Negro." Which they were right. Just so many incidents like that kind of thing, you know. The sympathetic attitude of some white soldiers and then going back just a little bit.

One of my experiences when we were in the Battle of the Bulge and the Air Corp. got privileges that the other troops did not get. They could just come in ask for whatever they wanted. But there was a fellow in there called, we were in that base Brugge, I think it was Brugge [Bruges] outside of Brussels in Belgium and we were -- the trucks would come in we would get our supplies. There was a Jewish guy from New York who was in charge of the pickup unit and he was a nice guy. He would come in says, "We couldn't get gin, we couldn't get ordinary alcohol." He would always bring us some alcohol because the Air Corp. had privileges.

And he just happened to be a nice Jewish guy that I felt he was going to get it in there and this is after -- no, this is during the same period when we were getting up into Germany. And this other soldier with his unit, who was not Jewish, saw the privileges that we were according to this Jewish, I mean this Jewish leader and his unit, which they were going to get if it was a black leader. It wouldn't have mattered. The Air Corp. had privileges. And he said, "Hitler was right." And I said, "I don't know what you want, but we just ran out of it."

Lorene Richardson:

I love it.

Timuel Black:

I just couldn't resist replying that way and since I had charge of it, the commanding officer couldn't do anything because without me and the other guys he wouldn't get the supplies off anyway. So he said, "Private Black is in charge." He said that about the Jewish he could say the same thing about the niggers.

Lorene Richardson:

Of course.

Timuel Black:

And would say it. But when we were up into Germany, the Germans that were being captured would say almost invariably when are the Americans and the Russians, the Soviet Union, going to start their fight? Because like they were a predictable thing. Those are just memories of things that stick with my mind --

Lorene Richardson:

Part of the experience.

Timuel Black:

-- of how the divisions between people can cause them to try to divide other people. And so that's, backing up, you don't have to put this, edit it in a way that makes some sense. So when I am listening to this young soldier saying, "You mean that you are going to let them take you off that ship?" I had to explain it to him and when we had recruiters, if he were a Negro, he would be behaving like I want to get home.

Lorene Richardson:

That's right.

Timuel Black:

His feelings were you are an American. You have served your country. You have been in more danger than I have been in and I'm going to go home and you can't go home, hu-huh, that is not right. That was his attitude.

(End of side one of Tape One.) (Side two tape one.)

Timuel Black:

American, an American soldier about anti-semantic feelings that we had and then the feelings that we expressed by the Russians, the Germans, who were captured about their impressions of the relationships between the United States and the Soviet Union were things that I -- that carried with me and carry with me today.

Now, backing up a little bit because of the kind of service that we rendered from Normandy up through to the Battle of the Bulge. I'm trying to remember that gentleman's name, but anyway, we were awarded, my whole unit was awarded the Croix de Guerre with Honor.

We were not similarly honored by the United States Army. The French Army appreciated our service so much because down on the beach we saved the supplies. We moved the supplies up through France into Belgium. Without those supplies there would have been no victories because Rundstedt, Von Rundstedt, that was the General's name, the German General that wanted to blowup bridges and contain the troops by using and destroying the supplies. And so coming back that was at that point, coming back as we were coming, what's the harbor in New York? New York Harbor, coming in we see the --

Lorene Richardson:

You mean Ellis Island?

Timuel Black:

-- Statute of liberty.

Lorene Richardson:

Oh, yeah.

Timuel Black:

And as we were coming in the white soldiers for the most part up on deck crying and, "There she is that old devil, that old bitch, enjoy her". I was determined because I was so angry, I'm not going to do that. But I found myself going up on the deck and crying.

Lorene Richardson:

Yup.

Timuel Black:

Crying with joy, but in appreciation and that has happened on a number of occasions when I was asked how can you be fighting and so loyal to a country that mistreats you by someone else, you know, French or German or whatever. I would quickly respond, "That is none of your business. I am an American. We will straighten that out, but that is none of your business."

So the ambivalence of feelings you see, which I'm sure was shared by many and still shared by many, conflict almost, but a loyalty that overrides the conflict. And so when I cried, a friend of mine, a soldier friend of mine from upstate New York, as we shared our common experiences, he was in another unit and we said, "When we get back home, we are going to organize so that never again will there be a segregated Army." Now, that was a big thing for us to be thinking about.

Lorene Richardson:

Sure was, revelation.

Timuel Black:

And we kept in touch with one another. And when I came back home, when he came into, was it Camp Grant, no, it was the camp up in Illinois, northern, in the northern north section. And we came there and then we stopped at the, well, we stopped at the 12th Street Station.

Lorene Richardson:

Illinois Central.

Timuel Black:

Christmas day. Illinois Central, Illinois Central. We came in and waited to be discharged. A friend of mine, guy who looked like he was a white guy, which he was very black, which is another thing to understand about the Black Army. It was Christmas and I said, "For the first time I'm going AWOL." I'm going to be discharged two days later, but it was Christmas 1945. And we got on the street car and went to 6230 Vernon. When I put my key in the door my mother and dad were having Christmas dinner with some friends. And when I put my key in the door my mother said, "That's my baby." And we jumped up and I stayed overnight and went back, went back to camp, I forget where we were, Camp Grant, what is the one in northeast Illinois?

Lorene Richardson:

I don't know.

Timuel Black:

It is still there. I think it is Grant. But anyway, we went back to get a discharge. He agreed, when they asked him if he wanted to continue to be in the Army he said, "Yes." When they asked me I said, "I wouldn't even join the Salvation Army. Give me my discharge." And they gave me that piece of paper that you just -- but I had come home with the determination. Now, he stayed in and I think he served in Korea, but anyway he was later killed on the road. But from that point on, when the -- when the organizing began to be among whites and blacks, that no longer would that be a segregated Army and it was accelerated by the formation of the -- of the party, Progressive Party in 1948 where the former Secretary of Agriculture was running for president and Secretary Thurgood was running for president and Truman had been selected here in Chicago to be -- to be the candidate. When he was selected as vice president before --

Lorene Richardson:

Oh.

Timuel Black:

-- before when they rejected Henry Wallace, because he was too liberal, who had been a vice president.

Lorene Richardson:

Right.

Timuel Black:

The secretary and then he had been vice president. In Chicago they rejected him in the 1944 election and then Truman was accepted. They then had -- they then Wallace was no longer in active in the party. And Truman took over and it was Truman that gave the go ahead to drop the bomb in 1945. Now, when we came out of the Army, the Army was still very segregated. And by the way, the influence of Roosevelt was so universal that when he died of that heart attack in 1945 I believe it was, a woman in Liege, Belgium, she came up to me and she said, "Monsieur, Le president des Etats-Unis est mort, qu'est-ce que nous allons faire?" "President of the United States is dead, what are we going to do?" That was the affection that people had had. See, he was -- he was universal and that universality spread all over because he had a quality so different than one of oppression. I'm not saying he was a perfect person, but that's how great his influence. It spread. That this ordinary woman could come up and say that to me as a stranger. While in 19 -- when most of us arrived home, we arrived to segregated communities, segregated jobs, segregation was as epidemic as it had been when we left. And we had decided, many of us, this guy up in New York, we were just one of many that had decided, not just Blacks, but Whites and Latinos, Puerticans and the Japanese who had been incarcerated without, by the way, their unit in Italy was the most decorated in the whole United States Army

Lorene Richardson:

You know any of them personally?

Timuel Black:

One of them is here. He was a principal, I forget his name right offhand. He was a principal of a school, elementary school in Hyde Park. And then he was the principal of high school on the west side. He is retired now. Every once in awhile I bumped into him. I can't remember his name right now.

Lorene Richardson:

He worked for the Board of Education?

Timuel Black:

Yeah, for many years. I forget his name. But he was one of those that was in that unit. They had suffered tremendous casualties. That was the same time in the Poor Valley(ph) that unfortunately, Teekay Gibson, he's the Assistant Secretary of War, made the comment that, "Negro troops had fled in the face of the enemy". Everybody had fled, except those Japanese. Those Germans zero in on you in Nevada there and so why not move out. But anyway, he kind of retracted that since that time. I don't want to jump on Teekay.

Lorene Richardson:

Right.

Timuel Black:

He probably was told what to say and he did, but he was Secretary, he was Assistant Secretary of the Army at that time.

Lorene Richardson:

So you are back home now and tell us a little bit about, first of all, what were some benefits that accrued to former servicemen or service people I should actually say?

Timuel Black:

We had women in the WACS.

Lorene Richardson:

Right.

Timuel Black:

We had women, who in fact made my heart --

Lorene Richardson:

Did you come in contact with them?

Timuel Black:

Oh, yes, I did. It was just -- it was just when I was up in where was I, I hadn't seen a Negro woman in so long. When I got up into Paris I went to, you know, war does some crazy things, organized insanity, organized insanity. And I saw a young lady there who was working at the the famous night club.

Lorene Richardson:

U.S. -- oh, a night club.

Timuel Black:

Yeah. She used to dance at the Old Rum Boogie (ph) on 55th Street and like Josephine Baker, she saw a better opportunity, a lot of blacks did. So when I got up to in this place, where was that, the famous night club, the Chambray (ph) or whatever it was, and I saw her and I said, "Don't I know you? No, you don't know me." I said, well, (laughing). We talked a little bit in English. Then we went back to our friends, but that was, she was a highly paid person. I saw her then when I was, when we were where we were. These young women from the U.S. they was giving excellent service to those of us who got a chance to get away. So that was not often, but a beautiful experience.

Lorene Richardson:

Right.

Timuel Black:

Because I like black women so. But so coming back, those of us come back and we had GI Bill of Rights, which gave us some advantages immediately, like housing. We had the right to return to our old jobs if they still existed. We had most important education, which then gave my mother the opportunity to demand that I go back to school, because I had been putting it off. And she was, didn't like that and my daddy backed her up with all that stuff. My brother going to college. My sister going to college and I was just out having fun. I was making more money selling small insurance policies than they were making in college. I was working at Chicago Met when I left, Metropolitan Funeral System it was at that time.

So I didn't see, I was just gotten old enough to move around with the pretty girls, all that stuff. But now, when I'm coming back she say you are going to have to go. But I got married, started a family. Finding housing was a problem. Because we was still confined to the Ghetto and even though Woodlawn had opened up a little bit, Mr. Hansberry versus Lee in 1939, he was going back to Court with Earl B. Dickerson and Jewel Stratman's(ph) father up at the Supreme Court so.

In 1948 it was so extreme that if you found a little space that you could call an apartment, which would be about as big as this room. You would have to buy this table because they had a rent control still on, rent control. So you couldn't rent. So in order to make up the money you would have to buy this table for as much money that it would have cost you for the house. Rent control went off in Chicago must quicker. It is still on in New York, I think, certain places.

Lorene Richardson:

Oh, yes.

Timuel Black:

And so housing was tremendously short. By this time, again, many of these same kind of guys that I had been with in the Army in Arkansas and Mississippi, they were not going back there. They were going to go to other big cities. They were going to New York or California or Illinois. There were jobs here. And then there, many of their families, because the -- any war creates, brings out a lot of creativity and many inventions. Much of the old machinery was now obsolete because the new machinery was made in order to accelerate things.

One of the examples is the cotton picker. Because a cotton picker could pick more cotton in a day than a 100 men. Where were those 100 men going to work? These were generally men and women that had been deprived of the school opportunities. And so cotton was the only thing that they knew. No longer did they have jobs, they heard Chicago was a promise land. So the population here now has almost tripled from when I left Chicago to go into the Army. In 1943 the black population was generally about 275,000.

When I returned in 1945 in the same space that population is more than doubled and is increasing, but not only that, that new population, besides of those who came during the war to work in the factories, who had skills had been to school and all, they were like the people who were already here. But the new population brought another culture. And I guess one of the best ways to explain that is to listen to the music. Country blues versus city blues. They are very different. Style of dress, talking. We had been coached not to talk too loud, but because of the customs and habits of the field, loud talk was ordinary, they brought back and other elements of that culture. Now, this is also true of the white, the whites --

Lorene Richardson:

Oh, yes.

Timuel Black:

-- southerners from those same kind of conditions, only they were white, because Appalachian white. And so we had absorbed this new population where the Appalachian whites, although they moved into Lakeview for a while, could be absorbed into the larger population. So the jobs were temporary and they went away and again, increase in crime and things of this sort because young men and women had very little schooling and that condition is still with us.

But what we did when I got married and started a family man, my oldest child, daughter, was born. That's why we still packed up in my momma's and daddy's house. It was a spacious house, apartment, but two women going to the same kitchen sometimes that don't work out so well. So we were able to because I went back to school first to Roosevelt to get my BA and Sinclair Drake of Fame of Black Metropolis suggested that I ought to go onto graduate school and he, I forget the other sociologist told me the same thing. And I went over to the University of Chicago and when I went in to register with my discharge and everything else, the clerk said to me, "Are you sure you are in the right place?" She had not said that to anyone else.

Lorene Richardson:

And your answer was?

Timuel Black:

"Yes, I'm in the right place." And her assumption were because I had gone to Duke South High School and because I was black and all that that I couldn't possibly be qualified to go to ____+ --

Lorene Richardson:

Because your father wasn't a lawyer.

Timuel Black:

Yeah, yeah, any of that kind of stuff. So I went into the Master's program there, the Division of the Master's Program, which was a three-year program. I had finished Roosevelt in, four-year program in Roosevelt in three years. And then I went over to the University in the three-year Master's program, which was Master's Degree, Division of Master's they called it. And it was preparing you to teach at the college level, at the lower levels of the college level in the social sciences. I finished that three-year program in two years, but importantly, I remembered this young lady, this clerk. So when I made the Dean's list, I took my ___ --

Lorene Richardson:

You didn't.

Timuel Black:

-- to her and said, I said, "Do you think I'm in the right place?" And so she blushed --

Lorene Richardson:

Couldn't resist.

Timuel Black:

-- and apologized.

Lorene Richardson:

Couldn't resist.

Timuel Black:

Yeah. So but about this, in this same period of time, before this period of time, the Progressive Party again started and it had these people like Wallace and other celebrities.

Lorene Richardson:

Right.

Timuel Black:

One was a singer, famous folk singer was running and then we had among the blacks, people like W.F. DuBois, Paul Robeson, on the local level the Earl B. Dickerson, and Oscar Brown, Senior, and Oscar Brown, Junior, and Clarisse(ph) Durham and her husband, Richard Durham. So that was my crowd you see and so we were really, we were really serious about a third party. And we were making inroads and then we had the convention in Philadelphia in 1948. The election coming up Truman is running against Thomas Dewey. The election is coming up and then Thurgood comes into it with the third party, the Dixie Grad Party, the Dixie Grad Party.

Lorene Richardson:

Oh, yes, oh, yes, that was the big walkout in '48.

Timuel Black:

And yeah, yeah, that was it. And so we are demanding, one of the big demands and not just integration in the general sense, but also in the Army. Truman said, "I cannot do that. It will take Congress to do that". And the convention in Philadelphia, I forget this black lawyer's name, but he made this magnificent speech. I wish I could find it somewhere. I was collecting my stuff. He said, "Mr. President, you say that you cannot integrate the United States Army". Unfortunately, Jackie Robinson was on the other side. They had had him testify before Congress. He had just gotten into the big leagues and -- and he had been segregated himself in the Army. He was in Little Rock in Arkansas and he had been as an officer in the Army, he had been threatened, well, he had been arrested and threatened with a dishonorable discharge for willing to sit where there was a seat on the bus. But then he came out and he became, you know, a famous lawyer person. But the testimony Robinson gave was because he had been, he had lived in the Soviet Union for a while. Was that he would say to his children that they would not serve in a segregated Army. Mr. -- Mr., what did I just say the real estate man I'm talking about, what's his name?

Lorene Richardson:

Travis?

Timuel Black:

No, not Travis, Travis, Jewel, not Jewel, but wrote the state's plea, her father, I mentioned his name.

Lorene Richardson:

Oh, Hansberry.

Timuel Black:

Hansberry. Mr. Hansberry said, "His sons would never serve in a segregated Army". I think he was more concerned about the darks, but that was a good way to do it. And so you are beginning to get that kind of feeling among the general public. And but confused because they think that Truman had said that you can't do it. So this particular leader, this speaker said, "Mr. President, in a sense, let me tell you how to do it. Take pen in hand and write the executive order that will integrate the United States Army." Reluctantly Harry Truman did that. It put those of us in the Progressive Party in the strongest cue position because we knew that if we don't come back to the Democratic party Durham will be convicted, the Republican. And so we then begin to campaign to get our supporters to vote in the election, that made the difference. The night before, the night of the election, the Tribune said Durham wins the presidency.

Lorene Richardson:

That was the mornings papers.

Timuel Black:

That was the mornings paper.

Lorene Richardson:

The day after, yeah.

Timuel Black:

And so it was that close and so we had --

Lorene Richardson:

Do you have a copy of that paper?

Timuel Black:

I wish I did. I may have in all that other junk I have. I may have cut that out somewhere.

Lorene Richardson:

Priceless.

Timuel Black:

My brother may have. They probably have replicas or copies of that at the Tribune.

Lorene Richardson:

I'm sure they have that somewhere.

Timuel Black:

Yeah, somewhere, maybe the Historical Society may have.

Lorene Richardson:

Oh, yes.

Timuel Black:

But that turned the tide. Now, I think right after that, maybe even before that, Mr. Hansberry along with Earl B. Dickerson, as an important person in NAACP. NAACP was an important part of the Civil Rights, Civil Liberties fabric in Chicago at that time. In fact, we had the strongest union except for Detroit. Detroit had the strongest. New York was pretty good. We had much more to be going to Court for. So Mr. Hansberry financing this Earl B. Dickerson with the support of Thurgood Marshall took this case to the Supreme Court, again. The first Hansberry versus Lee had only dealt with a small portion of Woodlawn, the northwest portion of Woodlawn, north of 63rd and west of Cottage Grove, East Woodlawn was still segregated. My family had moved. My mother and father, along with, had moved into the newly emancipated northwest Woodlawn, from a congested community over on County Met(ph) where we lived. And again, you see it was crowded, but we knew people and so we were friendly. There was not the tensions that began to come after the second great migration. There was much more, so you could live crowded and not have the friction, the tensions.

Lorene Richardson:

Right.

Timuel Black:

Because there was so many similarities.

Lorene Richardson:

Is this rental property or were you buying at that time?

Timuel Black:

We didn't buy we rented.

Lorene Richardson:

Okay.

Timuel Black:

When we went out the back door, when we came in the back door the previous renter had been going out the front door. Their rent was $35 a month. Ours immediately jumped to $65 a month. We paid a colored tax for this. Mr. Hansberry was a beneficiary of some of this because he had kitchenette and things, but he was also socially conscious.

Lorene Richardson:

Yes.

Timuel Black:

In 1948 another case went to the Supreme Court, Collaboration of St. Louis and Chicago, which became famous and that is Shelly versus Kramer. Shelly versus Kramer ruled, in the Lee, the Hansberry versus Lee was just that small portion and it was confined just to that. The Judge, I think his name was Michael Fineburg (ph), and I remind my Jewish friends every once in awhile, you know, from the University of Chicago had said, the local Judge, "That restrictive covenants were not restrictive covenants", which meant that was an agreement between landlords that they would not rent or sell to certain people and those certain people were Negroes and Chinese. So this Judge, this local Judge said that that was not a violation of the Constitution. And so when that case, well, I just capsulized both cases. In 1948 when the Supreme Court decision was rendered, that decision said that restrictions of coloreds could not be enforced anywhere in the country. Which opened up and, of course, those of us who had lived in Chicago all our lives couldn't afford again to move out, Maynellas (ph), Prairie Shores and all the other places. Now, the Judge, the Justice that read both of those opinions, both the 1939 and the '48 was a man who had been an ex-Klu Klux Klan man. His name was Hugo Black and his earlier family was my families, my father's family slave masters.

Lorene Richardson:

Is that so?

Timuel Black:

And Hugo Black became one of the most liberal Justices on the Supreme Court, because he was in the Rosenberg case and all kinds. So it wasn't just Lee. But my daddy knew him as a person and he, my daddy did not like white people in general and white men in particular. But when I went in 1937 when he was nominated for the Supreme Court by Roosevelt, I went to my daddy, I had just graduated from high school. I said, "You know this man is nominated a Klu Klux Klan man"? My daddy put his cigar in and said, "You will be all right." I said, "My daddy is crazy." And I didn't know my father knew him. See, my father got away with a lot of stuff because in literal terms he was Hugo Black's nigger, you know, and there were a number of those around there.

Lorene Richardson:

It was very common.

Timuel Black:

Yeah. So a lot of people had to leave the south because, you know, they were in those favors or they left because many of them went to school because they had this sponsor somewhere. Well, anyway Hugo Black read the majority of the decision in both the Shelly, I mean the Shelly versus Kramer and the Hansberry versus Lee. Now, when we had this opportunity to move, I had been moved over into Hyde Park while I was going to the University of Chicago. Schools began to, because of the new population and because those who had lived in Chicago most of their lives and had had, insisted, in fact, that, that first migration, one of the things many of those people left, I know my mother and father and many other of their friends to get a better education for their children. That's what they thought they could get a better education, more array of education. And so they came and insisted that their children get a good education, even the schools that were segregated.

Momma, because she couldn't get a job nowhere, she would be over there harassing the principal, white principal, white teachers, be sure their child had a decent education. They could read and write already. They had taught us. I was able to read and write when I went to kindergarten. I could write and count up to ten or something, a hundred I think when I went to kindergarten. So that was not a problem, standing, I mean being a good boy which I wasn't always in school, was a major problem I had to face. I was kind of incorrigible on a lot of things. But now, we move out of the old neighborhood. We move out of the black belt. We move out of the west side, the old town west side, ostracized ourselves from the new west side and likewise and the north side and the north side where a lot of people don't know there is a black college over there for almost as long as there has been a north side. So they, we take our skills. We take our experience, our organizing, we take that with us when we move into Hyde Park and Woodlawn and Englewood and, you know, Douglas Park.

We take those things with us and leave this new population without the benefits and isolate them in a way that they are concentrated. Then the jobs go away. Now, going a little bit into the past, again, in the early days of my years in the segregated, we learned how to organize. John Sin -- not John Sengstacke, but the newspaper, the black newspapers, the Whip and the Bead, and the Defendant, creators of term called, Don't Spend Your Money Where You Can't Work. And that was in the 1920's and then the Communist Party came into the picture. Because during the depression, whether you were communist or not communist you watched how they organized and the causes that they stood for. Like when I was in grammar school they would say, "Somebody get put out". Said, "Miss George got put out let's go put her back in".

And so you learned certain values and you learned certain things that were common to your community. Didn't mean you joined in the party or anything. But labor movement began to accept blacks into it because blacks had to work. They'd walk across the picket line if you didn't have them in your union. So the Clerk's Union, the Steel Worker's, Auto, all of those began to be organized.

Lorene Richardson:

This was some of the war effort, too. That got started with some of the people coming from the south working in factories.

Timuel Black:

Yeah, yeah, they began --

Lorene Richardson:

They needed the manpower.

Timuel Black:

Yeah, and so what began to happen is the organizing skills that we had developed began to organize around other issues. And eventually when Dr. King came to full it was an organizing group in Montgomery that helped him to get --

Lorene Richardson:

Yes.

Timuel Black:

-- out into the leadership. They -- he just didn't jump up and say.

Lorene Richardson:

Oh, yes, this needed a leader.

Timuel Black:

Yeah, that's all they needed. That's right. And they had came and insisted that he be the same thing. And so what we used then became the basis for the now famous Civil Rights Movement. It had started --

Lorene Richardson:

Right.

Timuel Black:

-- in the earlier days way back when. And so those of us who had the benefits of the GI Bill returned to school and those in my generation went into businesses, returned to school, and I can say for Chicago at least, that there would be very few young men and women of my generation that have not been fairly successful.

Lorene Richardson:

That's astounding.

Timuel Black:

Because they had the opportunities and they had the will and many of my fellow soldiers, who were militarily inclined went in and served in the Korean War, which they didn't even understand why, but they had -- according to what they had been, if they were officers they were automatically --

Lorene Richardson:

Oh, yes.

Timuel Black:

-- still in service --

Lorene Richardson:

Right.

Timuel Black:

-- for a certain period of time.

Lorene Richardson:

Yes.

Timuel Black:

Since some of those were, they were -- they were confused about why they were there.

Lorene Richardson:

That was established as a result of what happened in World War II, wasn't that the scripted people and had to cast about to find out who could be officers, who were capable and so forth, didn't really have a standing Army so to speak. So this idea that an officer was discharged but not really --

Timuel Black:

Not really.

Lorene Richardson:

-- came after World War II and that experience.

Timuel Black:

Yeah, they were subject to RICO.

Lorene Richardson:

Yeah, right, yeah that's what I heard, yeah, subject to RICO.

Timuel Black:

And they were and so they were served and their experiences comparing the two wars with their experiences, they had much more heartfelt feelings about World War II --

Lorene Richardson:

Yes, quite a bit of difference.

Timuel Black:

-- than they did Korea. They didn't really know why they were there.

Lorene Richardson:

Well, the United States had not been attacked actually in Korea.

Timuel Black:

So.

Lorene Richardson:

Well, this has been a very enlightening interview and session. You told me some names of people that I might contact to see if they are willing to share their experiences. But this is very useful for World War II, to hear from World War II Veterans, because they are scarce in our society now and becoming scarcer. And, of course, this is quite articulate. You don't have a picture of or anything of that squad here?

Timuel Black:

I have it somewhere. I don't know where it is.

Lorene Richardson:

Well, can I make an assignment professor that you look for it?

Timuel Black:

Okay.

Lorene Richardson:

So we can --

Timuel Black:

By the way, my brother was also, he didn't go -- he didn't go to OCS, but he was in the Army before I was.

Lorene Richardson:

Oh, really.

Timuel Black:

But he was a training, he was with a training unit.

Lorene Richardson:

Is that so?

Timuel Black:

In North Carolina. Yeah, he was drafted before I was. That's what made my daddy so angry. "I got one boy in there what do you want with two"? And he cautioned me about being hotheaded.

Lorene Richardson:

And you paid attention to your older brother? Now, that's unusual.

Timuel Black:

He thought -- he thought that it would, you know, but when he got to England and then he began to see, he had the same, he came after the war was over. He was going to be in the occupied because he had been training in Fort Butner in North Carolina.

Lorene Richardson:

I see.

Timuel Black:

In the Engineering Corp. And they separated, when he began to protest, they separated him and another noncommissioned officer from the unit and sent them up to Austria. He learned that some things could be so not tough, but you can't stop them.

Lorene Richardson:

You can't stop them.

Timuel Black:

An incident when I was on a bus in Petersburg, not Petersburg, in Richmond, Virginia, while I was still in Petersburg. And I got on the street car bus. I forget which one. And I got on it. I just went in and sat down. The boardman, I guess it was a boardman, whatever, the driver, he didn't say anything. And so I was on my way to go to Camp Butner to see my brother. And so a white fellow, not in uniform, I'm in my uniform. White fellow not in uniform got on the bus and I knew immediately when he got on because I saw him glance at what he is going to do. And he went to the boarderman and told him, he had his girlfriend with him, he had a young lady with him, he was a young guy. He told him and the guy came to me, said, "Sorry, you will have -- he was polite. Sorry, you will have to go to the back of the bus." I said, "What, what do you mean?" He said, "That's the law." I said, "You mean that I am going overseas to lose my life to help this fellow, who is not going over, be able to tell me to go to the back of the bus? I'm not going to." At that moment in my life I was prepared to die. So you can't tell when that is going to happen.

Lorene Richardson:

That's right. That's right.

Timuel Black:

So to his credit and having good sense, he said this was the law. He gave me my fair back. Of course, relieved me to, I got off the bus and caught a cab. I never rode any public transportation in the south until years later and years later meant after Birmingham.

Lorene Richardson:

Right.

Timuel Black:

Because I had arrived. I had another experience like that in the Army.

Lorene Richardson:

Right.

Timuel Black:

While I was in the Army, similar in a unit where -- during that period I was talking about where we were told that any white soldier, we were kind of rebelling saying that, "If we have to do the work that the prisoners done to keep the supplies moving in the evening and have to stay up, have to be on guard all night, why don't those white soldiers do the work during the day?" Because they had nothing to do then because they had been white, you know, as I explained.

And then the Commanding Officer, Major I think he was, called the Regiment, whatever our unit was, called it all together. There were about five or six of us who were prepared to do whatever was necessary. We had the whole unit. And then he called them to attention and we were protesting and I remember him saying, the CIO had just organized at that time, the United States. "What do you think this is a CIO"? And we were, those of us who stood firm when he said, "March", and we stood firm on that issue, we were confined to quarters. We were under house arrest. And we were fortunately, I mean unfortunately, we were then to be tried under [Alien and] Sedition Act, I think.

It wasn't a Sedition. It was a very strong charge. And one of the officers, black officers from Detroit, who had been in another, who was in another fighting unit, which had been assigned to a -- which they hated, to a fumigation and bath thing. He took off because they had, for a while they did put me in the stockade. Boy, it was crazy. One of the girls said, I had never been out of the quarters. Because of the kind of guy I was, they had one of those young women to say I had raped her. I had never seen her in my life. They just went down the line, Number 10, that was the guy. And the officers in this unit, because they were trying to, the officers in my unit and other white officers were trying to disgrace these black officers of this all black unit.

And so I was hanging out with these guys when I had time because we spoke the same language, city language. They were New York or Chicago and some of them I knew. So that's when I -- that's when -- that's when I was pointed out. I was with these guys and they came to this place to disgrace these officers. And I was in the stockade for a couple of nights and finally the officers told the girl, "Why don't you tell the truth because this man never saw you. I know who you want. You want us. He is not guilty". So they put me in another lineup. She couldn't -- she couldn't point it out. So they had to let me go. And that was terrible, that was a terrible night because the guys who had been on the front line they had been crazy. I mean it was -- I was scared to death. And then this, when that happened, as they were trying, they put some of their guys then in the stockade.

(Tape 1 Side 2 ended.)

(CONCLUSION OF INTERVIEW)

 
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