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Interview with Walter Allen, January 30, 2014

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:00 - Interview introduction

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Partial Transcript: We're here today with Dr. Walter Allen. The date is Thursday, January 30th, 2014. And my name is Freda Scott Giles.

Segment Synopsis: Freda Scott Giles introduces Walter Allen and herself.

00:00:36 - Family, childhood, music education

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Partial Transcript: So, let's begin, um, by--well, you--I remember vividly, uh, my husband I had the honor of attending a dinner in your honor in 2008 where your students paid tribute to you as a musician, as an educator, and as a community activist.

Segment Synopsis: Allen talks about his family and childhood in Allendale, South Carolina, in the 1930s and 1940s. He discusses his education and study of music.

Keywords: 1930s; 1940s; Allendale County Training School; Allendale High School; Allendale, South Carolina; Augusta, Georgia; Florie Allen; Lonnie Allen; bands; education; family; instruments; literacy; music lessons; poverty; segregation; work

GPS: Allendale, South Carolina
Map Coordinates: 33.032, -81.183
00:06:05 - Early musical career, gigs, and attending Claflin College

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Partial Transcript: So, when did you go into the service? Uh, were you a teenager then or was that later?

Segment Synopsis: Allen discusses his early musical career, including his time with the Silas Green Band as a high school student. He mentions a trip to Athens to play at the Morton Theatre with the band. Allen talks about getting a scholarship and attending Claflin College.

Keywords: 1940s; Athens, Georgia; Atlanta, Georgia; Claflin College; Morton Theatre; Silas Green from New Orleans; South Carolina State University; Wilbur Jones; bands; college; high school; minstrel shows; scholarships; vaudeville

00:08:55 - Military service and music

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Partial Transcript: And then after college you went into the service?

Segment Synopsis: Allen describes his experiences in the army and mentions playing with various military bands. He discusses his time in Korea, involvement with USO shows, and playing with acclaimed musicians.

Keywords: 1950s; 36th Army Band; 7th Division Band; 8th Division Band; Bob Hope Show; Count Basie Orchestra; Fort Jackson, South Carolina; Fort Knox, Kentucky; Frank Foster; Julian "Cannonball" Adderley; Korea; Korean War; Louisville, Kentucky; MOS; Military Occupational Specialty; Nat Adderley; U.S. Army; USO tours; United Service Organizations; conscription; draft; graduation; infantry

00:11:40 - Teaching in Athens, superintendent Sam Wood, and integration in schools

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Partial Transcript: Also, wasn't it at that time that you found out about Athens, Georgia?

Segment Synopsis: Allen explains how he decided to move to Athens, Georgia, to teach music and band. He discusses integration in Athens and the role of superintendent Sam Wood.

Keywords: 1950s; 1960s; 1970s; AHIS; Annie H. Burney; Athens High School; Athens High and Industrial School; Battle Hymn of the Republic; Burney-Harris High School; Clarke Central High School; Clarke County School District; Sam Wood; Samuel F. Harris; Union Institute; band director; civil rights movement; integration; racial tensions; schools; social change

GPS: Athens, Georgia
Map Coordinates: 33.950, -83.383
00:19:25 - Graduate study at UGA post-integration

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Partial Transcript: Now, by this time, did you have your doctorate? Because you went to UGA to get your doctorate.

Segment Synopsis: Allen talks about attending UGA as a graduate student in the 1960s, shortly after the university integrated. He lists some of the first black students to attend UGA.

Keywords: 1960s; Athens, Georgia; Charlayne Hunter-Galt; Chester Davenport; Cleveland, Ohio; Hamilton Holmes; Mary Blackwell; Mary Frances Early; UGA; University of Georgia; Western Reserve University; discrimination; doctorate; integration; law school; music; psychology; racism

00:22:54 - Athens schools integration: student leaders and opposition to integration

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Partial Transcript: Well, what about African-American leadership? Would you like to talk a little bit about that?

Segment Synopsis: Allen discusses some of the leaders of efforts for integration and the civil rights movement in Athens, paying particular attention to Nathaniel Fox. He talks about some of the tensions and opposition surrounding integration.

Keywords: 1970s; African American; Athens High School; Athens, Georgia; Athens-Clarke County School District; KKK; Ku Klux Klan; Nathaniel Fox; Sam Wood; T.J. Burns; civil rights movement; demonstrations; integration; leadership; social change

00:29:13 - Work with Athens-Clarke Correctional Institution

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Partial Transcript: Now I'd like to take it in a--a little bit different direction, but--I understand that you did some work in the prison system.

Segment Synopsis: Allen describes his fundraising work to get a chapel and educational complex built at the Athens-Clarke County Correctional Institution. He discusses teaching courses to inmates.

Keywords: 1970s; Athens, Georgia; Athens-Clarke County Correctional Institution; E. Paul Torrance; UGA; University of Georgia; corrections system; education; facilities; fundraising; inmates; prisons

00:34:24 - Hosting a radio program / Volunteer work / Family

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Partial Transcript: So, another thing I wanted to talk about, also--when we moved here--uh, my husband and I--we listened to your radio show. And one day you played one of my favorites, uh, Rhapsody in Blue.

Segment Synopsis: Allen talks about his music appreciation radio program on WBKZ 880 AM. He discusses his philanthropic and volunteer work. Allen discusses his children.

Keywords: 1990s; Athens, Georgia; Boston University; Brian Allen; Jefferson, Georgia; Jeffrey Allen; Kaplan Test Prep; Moses Turner; Radford Brown; WBKZ 880 AM; Walter Allen Jr.; Zebra Magazine; community; music appreciation; radio

00:39:21 - Teaching in Africa with IFESH

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Partial Transcript: Hold on, we need to tell you about Africa.

Segment Synopsis: Allen explains how he began teaching in Kenya through the International Foundation for Education and Self-Help (IFESH). He describes some of his experiences there, including starting a chorus and developing scholarships for African students.

Keywords: 1990s; Africa; Athens-Clarke County School District; Frieda Brown; IFESH; International Foundation for Education and Self-Help; Julie Sullivan; Leon Sullivan; MCG; Medical College of Georgia; Nairobi, Kenya; Rwanda; SCA; Sickle-cell Anemia Center; Sullivan principles; United States International University; chorus; music education; rural; scholarships; teachers; volunteering

GPS: Nairobi, Kenya
Map Coordinates: -1.283, 36.817
00:47:41 - Race, poverty, and integration in Athens

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Partial Transcript: Well, um, is there anything else that you would like to say in regard to Athens, uh, integration? Any of that subject that I may have missed?

Segment Synopsis: Allen discusses race, poverty, and the importance of integrated education. He expresses his hope that UGA will work to uplift the entire community.

Keywords: 1960s; 1970s; Athens, Georgia; E. Paul Torrance; UGA; University of Georgia; Vince Dooley; discrimination; football; inequality; integration; prison system; racism; social change

00:51:49 - Picking cotton in SC as a child / Social justice / International exchange program with Africa

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Partial Transcript: Well, that's a great summation. Now, the last question is, is there anything I've missed concerning your career in music that you'd like to touch upon--

Segment Synopsis: Allen discusses his work picking cotton as a child. He describes an example of ways in which whites exploited black labor and his determination to fight injustices. Allen talks about his efforts to create exchange programs for students in the U.S. and Africa.

Keywords: Africa; Allendale, South Carolina; Georgia; HBCU; Historically Black Colleges and Universities; Nairobi, Kenya; United States International University; childhood; cotton picking; discrimination; exchange programs; family; injustice; integration; poverty; racism; social justice; work

00:58:04 - Early music career, touring in the segregated South, and minstrel shows

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Partial Transcript: Is it alright if I ask--if I ask a few--a couple questions?

Segment Synopsis: Allen describes his experiences traveling and playing with the Silas Green Band. He talks about what it was like to tour in the segregated South. Allen explains the format of minstrel shows and describes the music the bands played. Interview concludes.

Keywords: African American; E. Paul Torrance; Green Book; Imp and Blimp; Silas Green from New Orleans; Silas and Lilas; bands; blackface; blues; directory; discrimination; improvisation; jazz; minstrel shows; music; segregation; storefront hotels; touring