Walter Lee Gadsden

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

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Partial Transcript: This is an interview, today is Saturday, May 25, 1996, at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute with Mr. Walter Gadsden of Atlanta, Georgia.

Segment Synopsis: Interview subject is introduced.

GPS: Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Map Coordinates: 33.516200, -86.813870
Hyperlink: BCRI Homepage
00:00:11 - Early Childhood and Family Life

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Partial Transcript: Mr. Gadsden, as we begin this interview I would like to ask you what part of the state were your parents from?

Segment Synopsis: Gadsden discusses his parents and how he grew up in the poor, mainly "colored" section of Birmingham.

Keywords: Selma (Ala.)

Subjects: Birmingham (Ala.); Racial segregation

00:02:08 - His Community's Relationship with the Birmingham Police Department

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Partial Transcript: What was that community's relationship to the City of Birmingham Police Department? Did you ever see any policemen patrolling your area?

Segment Synopsis: Gadsden discusses what it was like growing up in his neighborhood and how the police interacted with people in and around his neighborhood.

Keywords: Aggression and violence

Subjects: Birmingham (Ala.). Police Department

00:02:56 - Involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

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Partial Transcript: How did you get involved in the Civil Rights Movement?

Segment Synopsis: Gadsden recalls how he promoted the Civil Rights Movement and participated in demonstrations and protests.

Keywords: Birmingham (Ala.)

Subjects: Civil rights movement

00:03:56 - Personal Experience with Police Brutality and His Arrest

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Partial Transcript: To the park area, Kelly Ingram Park over there. And we walked around the corner and during that time activity wasn't easy to view, so we walked around and came in the front of the crowd, rather than behind.

Segment Synopsis: Gadsden recalls how violent the police and a police dog were towards him during a protest and how he was arrested for simply being there.

Keywords: Birmingham (Ala.); Kelly Ingram Park

Subjects: Civil rights demonstrations--Alabama; Police brutality--United States

00:07:34 - Family's Reaction to Him Being Arrested

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Partial Transcript: After you return to school after being arrested, were you suspended?

Segment Synopsis: Gadsden remembers how his family was upset he went to the demonstration rather than school.

Keywords: Birmingham (Ala.); Ullman High School

Subjects: Arrest (Police methods)

00:09:06 - Goal of Integration

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Partial Transcript: What benefits do you, your family, and the community realized as a result of that movement in Birmingham?

Segment Synopsis: Gadsden states that the integration of public facilities and schools was one of the greatest outcomes of the movement in Birmingham.

Keywords: Birmingham (Ala.)

Subjects: Integration; Minorities--Political activity--United States

00:10:48 - Reflection on the Civil Rights Movement

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Partial Transcript: If you were in control of an organization or movement, as such, and could go back and change some things, what would you change?

Segment Synopsis: Gadsden discusses how he would carefully pick who was involved in the movement.

Keywords: Birmingham (Ala.)

Subjects: Civil rights movement

00:12:46 - Success of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement

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Partial Transcript: What is your assessment of the Birmingham movement or have you been gone too long to really be able to tell what assessment has occurred in Birmingham?

Segment Synopsis: Gadsden discusses the successes of the movement but states that it could have been more successful if "crooked" people were not involved.

Keywords: Birmingham (Ala.); Minorities--Political activity--United States

Subjects: Civil rights movement

00:15:18 - Racial Attitudes in Atlanta

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Partial Transcript: You now reside in Atlanta, Georgia. Do you have any assessments as you look at Atlanta and compare it to Birmingham? Do you have anything that you may want to say about the two cities?

Segment Synopsis: Gadsden discusses present-day life in Atlanta and how there is still a negative attitude towards "colored" people.

Keywords: Atlanta (Ga.); Birmingham (Ala.)

Subjects: Atlanta (Ga.)--Race relations; Racial discrimination

00:17:25 - Thoughts on the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

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Partial Transcript: Let me ask you about your visit with us here today.

Segment Synopsis: Gadsden reveals how he feels about his picture being in the institute and how he does not want any notoriety from it.

Keywords: Birmingham (Ala.)

Subjects: Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, Ala.)

00:20:20 - Preference of the Word "Colored" to Describe Himself

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Partial Transcript: Well, I'm still wondering why after all the information that I had given and all that -- all that does is establish me as a young African boy, which I'm not.

Segment Synopsis: Gadsden tells how he prefers to be called "colored" rather than "negro" or Black.

Keywords: Birmingham (Ala.); Self-identification

Subjects: Birmingham (Ala.)

00:21:20 - Closing Remarks and His Photography Business

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Partial Transcript: Is there anything else you feel like you want to talk about in a personal manner or anything else that you would like to say before we end this interview?

Segment Synopsis: Gadsden leaves his last remarks on the movement and briefly discusses his freelance photography business.

Keywords: Photography--Business methods

Subjects: Atlanta (Ga.); Birmingham (Ala.)

00:23:31 - Conclusion of Interview

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Partial Transcript: It's been a pleasure and we hope you come back to see us. Again, thank you for the interview.

Segment Synopsis: Interview is concluded.