Samuel Greenwood Interviewed on November 14, 2000

BCRI Oral History Collection
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00:00:00 - Introduction of Interview

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Partial Transcript: This is an interview with Mr. Samuel Greenwood for the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute's Oral History Project. I'm Dr. Horace Huntley. We're presently at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; today is November 14, 2000.

Segment Synopsis: Interview subject is introduced.

GPS: Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Map Coordinates: 33.516200, -86.813870
Hyperlink: BCRI Homepage
00:00:20 - Background and Family Life

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Partial Transcript: Were you born in Birmingham?

Segment Synopsis: Greenwood discusses where he was born and his family life.

Keywords: Chicago (Ill.); Columbus (Ga.)

Subjects: Birmingham (Ala.)

00:01:21 - Memories of Police Brutality

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Partial Transcript: Those were some tough times and that period, of course, in 1919 in Birmingham, they had a force called 'Lynching Bs' where they actually lynched Black folks and there would be a festive occasion, so, I'm sure there were tough times.

Segment Synopsis: Greenwood recalls personal memories of when he saw or experienced police brutality.

Keywords: Ku Klux Klan; Lynching

Subjects: Birmingham (Ala.); Police brutality--United States

00:04:30 - Educational Journey

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Partial Transcript: Where did you start first grade?

Segment Synopsis: Greenwood tells where he went to elementary school and high school.

Keywords: Cameron Elementary School; Titusville

Subjects: All-black school; Birmingham (Ala.); Racism in education--United States

00:07:19 - Moving Around Between Family Members

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Partial Transcript: So, you were 21 years old at that time? What did you do between that times; did you go to work?

Segment Synopsis: Greenwood discussed moving around between family members and how his education in the South did not prepare him for education in the North.

Keywords: Chicago (Ill.); Connecticut; New York (N.Y.)

Subjects: Birmingham (Ala.); Class Differences

00:10:16 - Family Members' Involvement in the Communist Movement

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Partial Transcript: This period again, the 30s, 40s; in particular places like New York, Chicago, there were the Communist Movement was ripe. Were you ever involved or know anyone who was involved in any of those areas?

Segment Synopsis: Greenwood tells how his family members were involved in the communist movement and he saw how the communist fought for equal rights.

Keywords: Chicago (Ill.); Father Devine

Subjects: Communist movement; Communist parties

00:14:50 - Transition from Birmingham to New York and Chicago

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Partial Transcript: What was the transition like for you leaving Birmingham, a small Southern city to the megapolis of New York?

Segment Synopsis: Greenwood recalls how the differences between living in the South and the North.

Keywords: Birmingham (Ala.); Chicago (Ill.); New York (NY); Race riots--Illinois

Subjects: Police brutality--United States

00:17:27 - Personal Military Experiences

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Partial Transcript: What was that [military] experience like?

Segment Synopsis: Greenwood discusses how there were racial disparities in the American military.

Keywords: Airplanes, Military--Germany; Fighter pilot; Mistreatment

Subjects: Racial discrimination; World War II

00:22:52 - Return to Birmingham after His Service

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Partial Transcript: When you got out of the military the first time, what did you do? Did you go back to Chicago?

Segment Synopsis: Greenwood discusses how nothing really changed when he returned to Birmingham after he got out of the service.

Keywords: African Americans--Segregation; Eastern Airlines

Subjects: Birmingham (Ala.); United States. Army Reserve

00:25:03 - Integration of the Service

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Partial Transcript: Has the military changed since: because by then, Truman had integrated the service?

Segment Synopsis: Greenwood recalls how the military changed after Truman integrated the service.

Keywords: Integration of the military; Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972

Subjects: Desegregation

00:26:50 - Remembrance of the Mass Movements

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Partial Transcript: Now, the 50s, things are happening you know. You have the Brown vs. Board of Education decision and then, the Movement starts with the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Segment Synopsis: Greenwood discusses how he felt the mass movements impacted his life.

Keywords: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka; Montgomery Bus Boycott, Montgomery, Ala., 1955-1956

Subjects: Civil rights movement; Racism

00:30:38 - Convention of Chicago and Other Trials

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Partial Transcript: Chicago, now you're talking about the mid-60s; were you there in '68 during the Convention of Chicago?

Segment Synopsis: Greenwood recalls what it was like being in Chicago amongst all of the trials and race riots.

Keywords: Black Panther Party. Illinois Chapter; Black Stone Rangers (Street gang); Reverend Jesse Jackson

Subjects: Chicago 8; Convention of Chicago

00:34:15 - How Dr. King's Death Impacted Chicago

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Partial Transcript: This period, suddenly, '65 to '70, there was a Black Power Convention, I believe that was '70 or '71 or so, the Black Power Convention, well there was one in Chicago, there was one in Newark, I believe and then, of course the political--the Black Political Conference, that was held in Gary, Indiana and all of these things are taking place this is right after the death of Martin Luther King.

Segment Synopsis: Greenwood tells how Dr. King's death impacted the city of Chicago.

Keywords: Chicago (Ill.); Gary, Indiana

Subjects: Civil rights movement; King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968

00:37:39 - Career in Chicago's Board of Education

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Partial Transcript: You had mentioned earlier that you sold beauty supplies. What did you do after that?

Segment Synopsis: Greenwood explains what he did when he worked for the board of education.

Keywords: Working class African Americans

Subjects: Chicago (Ill.). Board of Education

00:38:57 - How His Personal Experiences Impact His Poetry

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Partial Transcript: So, you write poetry?

Segment Synopsis: Greenwood reads some of his poetry and tells how he draws inspiration from his personal experiences.

Keywords: Blacks--Segregation; Racism; Slavery in American history

Subjects: Alabama. State Department of Public Welfare

00:43:53 - Life After Moving Back to Birmingham

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Partial Transcript: So, you decided then to--after--how many years--four years in Gary? To come back?

Segment Synopsis: Greenwood discusses his life after he moved back to Birmingham from Gary, Indiana.

Keywords: Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, Ala.); Midfield (Ala.)

Subjects: Birmingham (Ala.); Gary (Ind.)

00:45:24 - Conclusion of Interview

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Partial Transcript: Well, I really want to thank you for taking time out of your schedule and you've been very enlightening and you helped an awful lot.

Segment Synopsis: Interview is concluded.