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Reuben Davis, II Interviewed on April 3, 1996

Reuben Davis, II Interviewed on April 3, 1996

BCRI Oral History Collection
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00:00:30 - Introduction to Interview

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Partial Transcript: Mr. Davis, I want to thank you again for taking time out of your schedule to come back because you have so much information. In addition to Movement history, just history of Birmingham and the history of the development of politics in Birmingham. So, again, thank you for coming.

GPS: The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Map Coordinates: 33.5161, -86.8145
Hyperlink: BCRI Homepage
00:00:56 - Involvement in Politics

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Partial Transcript: Tell me just a bit about your involvement in politics. How did you get involved in politics in Birmingham?

Segment Synopsis: Reuben Davis explains how he didn't get involved in politics until he registered to vote, after that he joined a few different organizations.

Keywords: Voter registration--United States

Subjects: Alabama; Collegeville (Birmingham, Ala.); France; Franklin D. Roosevelt and the era of the New Deal; Hudson K-8 (Birmingham, Ala.); Progressive Democratic Council; The Civic League (Birmingham, Ala.); The Civic Youth Federation (Birmingham, Ala.); The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

00:07:14 - Economics in the Black Community

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Partial Transcript: How did that impact upon your community, the focus on economics?

Segment Synopsis: Reuben Davis explains the economic issues for black workers, and how hard it was to advance into higher positions due to discrimination.

Keywords: Economics; Unions

Subjects: AFL-CIO; Alabama ByProducts Corporation; American Cast Iron Pipe Company; ByProduct; Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company; McWane, Inc.; Sloss Furnace Company; Stockham Pipe & Fittings Co.; United States Pipe and Foundry Company

00:11:01 - Being Associated with Communist

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Partial Transcript: Between 1945 and 1955 or so, it was called "The Red Scare." The McCarthy Era. How did that impact upon you as a union officer?

Segment Synopsis: Reuben Davis explains how when blacks were making progress that sometimes they were be targeted as being a communist.

Keywords: Black Progress; Communism; Communist; Music Ban; Racist Symbols; Wrongful Termination

Subjects: Alabama; Birmingham News; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Hudson, Hosea; Paul Robeson Archives; Russia; The McCarthy Era; The Red Scare

00:14:54 - Asbury Howard

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Partial Transcript: Did you know Asbury Howard?

Segment Synopsis: Reuben Davis explains his relationship to Asbury Howard and his impact on the community.

Keywords: Asbury Howard; Court House; School field trips

Subjects: Bessemer City Hall (Ala.); Bessemer Voter's League; International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers; New York; Philadelphia (Penn.); Washington D.C.

00:16:14 - Interracial Social Interaction

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Partial Transcript: What do you remember about it?

Segment Synopsis: Reuben Davis explains the social interactions between blacks and whites, and the expectations whites had for being addressed a certain way.

Keywords: Foreman; Racism

Subjects: Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company

00:19:01 - Tractor Incident and Helping Out a Stranger

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Partial Transcript: But, while I was working for that company, I was a tractor operator and I made it a habit of checking the oil in the tractor every morning before starting it.

Segment Synopsis: Reuben Davis discusses the time his tractor got sabotaged by someone as his work, as well the time when he helped this white man who was stranded in Collegeville.

Keywords: Bible. New Testament; Sabotage

Subjects: American Salvation Army; Birmingham YMCA; Collegeville (Birmingham, Ala.); Louisville (Ky.); Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company; Tarrant City (Ala.)

00:25:44 - Being an Educator

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Partial Transcript: In addition to being active in political organizations, active with the labor movement, you also became a teacher?

Segment Synopsis: Reuben Davis discusses what it was like being an auto mechanic instructor for the Bessemer School System.

Subjects: Alabama A & M University; Bessemer (Ala.); Bessemer High School (Bessemer, Ala.); Birmingham (Ala.); Dunbar High School (Bessemer, Ala.); Flint (Mich.); General Motors Institute

00:31:39 - Opportunities of Running for Office and Owning a Business

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Partial Transcript: As you progressed in developing your techniques for teaching, you also remained in politics. What was the first office that you ran for?

Segment Synopsis: Reuben Davis expresses about the times he has run for public offices, as well as the time he thought about starting his own mechanic shop.

Keywords: County Commissioner; Lawsuit--Discrimination; Progressives

Subjects: Al Picket Equipment Company; Arrington, Richard; Bell, William; Bessemer Board of Education (Bessemer, Ala.); Birmingham News; Birmingham Trust; Collegeville (Birmingham, Ala.); Democratic National Convention; Jefferson County (Ala.); Norwood (Birmingham, Ala.); Progressive Democratic Council

00:43:57 - Experience Being County Commissioner

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Partial Transcript: What was that experience like as a County Commissioner?

Segment Synopsis: Reuben Davis discusses the issues he covered while being on the Jefferson County Commission.

Subjects: Bonner, Elizabeth; Cooper Green Hospital (Birmingham, Ala.); Jefferson County (Ala.). County Commission; Jefferson County (Ala.). Personnel Board; Jim Gunner; John Katapodis; Supervisor of Maternal and Infant Care

00:51:40 - Losing Re-election for County Commissioner

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Partial Transcript: Why do you think you were not re-elected?

Segment Synopsis: Reuben Davis explains why he was not re-elected due to conflicts on taxes and where money should go in the city.

Keywords: Endorsements; Hospital closures

Subjects: Arrington, Richard; Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Complex (Birmingham, Ala.); Cooper Green Hospital (Birmingham, Ala.); Jefferson County (Ala.). County Commission; Occupational Tax (Birmingham, Ala.)

00:55:09 - Million Man March

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Partial Transcript: Since then, we've had an event that has been, obviously world renowned that was the Million Man March. What was your opinion of the Million Man March, and did you attend?

Segment Synopsis: Reuben Davis talks about attending the Million Man March.

Keywords: American political parties and elections

Subjects: Democratic Party (U.S.); Million Man March (1995 : Washington, D.C.); Mississippi; Republican Party (U.S.)

00:57:17 - Significance of Million Man March

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Partial Transcript: Why do you think that the Million Man March was so significant?

Segment Synopsis: Reuben Davis explains how the coming together of black people at the Million Man March can help destroy racism.

Keywords: Black Brothers; Black Communities; Destruction; Racisim; Strength

Subjects: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement; Million Man March (1995 : Washington, D.C.); National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

00:58:28 - Combatting Racism in Present Day

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Partial Transcript: How then do you account for the ways in which White people versus Black people view the Rodney King situation, the O. J. Simpson case and the Million Man March. And, most recently, of course the beating of the Mexican man and woman out in California?

Segment Synopsis: Reuben Davis expresses how in today's world we can still combat the acts of discrimination and racism.

Keywords: Discrimination--United States; Racial profiling in law enforcement; Racial violence

Subjects: AIDS (Disease); California; Carver, George Washington, 1864?-1943; King, Rodney, 1965-2012; Million Man March (1995 : Washington, D.C.); O. J. Simpson; Washington, Booker T., 1856-1915

01:00:46 - Interpreting Media Coverage of the Million Man March

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Partial Transcript: Let me just ask you about, in relation to the Million Man March, the media consistently talked about "separating the message from the messenger." How did you interpret that?

Segment Synopsis: Reuben Davis explains his thoughts on what the saying means about "separating the message from the messenger".

Keywords: Religion

Subjects: Farrakhan, Louis; Garvey, Marcus; Million Man March (1995 : Washington, D.C.)

01:02:32 - Conclusion of Interview

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Partial Transcript: Thank you, Mr. Davis.