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Interview with John Vaughn, July 7, 2016

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:17 - Growing up in Rome, Georgia

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Partial Transcript: Tell us a little bit about growing up in Rome?

Segment Synopsis: John Vaughn talks about his childhood growing up in Rome, Georgia. Vaughn shares that southern Rome was a segregated community, split among blacks and whites in the area. Vaughn recalls his transition from living in rural southern Rome to attending Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia. Vaughn explains that his early college years proved difficult as he only had funds for the necessities which he felt made him stand out in comparison to his peers.

Keywords: Atlanta,Georgia; Floyd County; Morris Brown College; Rome Colored School; Rome, Georgia

00:06:33 - Staying in New York / Korean War draft

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Partial Transcript: I knew that I had to have money...

Segment Synopsis: Vaughn talks about his transition from living in rural Georgia to working in Hempstead, New York where he worked a summer job between his freshman and sophomore year at Morris Brown College. Vaughn shares that while in New York, he experienced less segregation and often enjoyed the entertainment the city had to offer. Vaughn recalls that he was eventually drafted into the army where he was trained by the National Guard before he was transferred to Fort Lewis, Washington. Vaughn states that he was then stationed in Korea in the early 1950's in an engineer combat battalion (ECB) during the Korean War.

Keywords: Apollo Theater; Fort Lewis; Hempstead, New York; Morris Brown College; National Guard; Rome, Georgia; burlesque shows; engineer combat battalion (ECB)

00:11:23 - Working as an Engineer Combat Battalion (ECB)

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Partial Transcript: So you served with an engineering unit?

Segment Synopsis: Vaughn talks about his experience working in the engineer combat battalion (ECB) in the early 1950's during the Korean war. Vaughn shares that the army was integrated during his service. Vaughn explains that while he was in the Korean war zone, his main duty was as a support operator for the infantry. Vaughn recalls that as a supply provider, he occasionally came under attack by the Korean opposition. Vaughn states that he was injured twice while on duty and was eventually transferred to Japan for treatment and then North Carolina as his second injury deemed him unfit for military service. Vaughn explains that upon returning to Rome, Georgia, he had a heightened awareness of the city's segregation and prejudice toward African Americans, and he states that this eventually led him to become involved in Georgia politics.

Keywords: 25th Engineer Combat Battalion; Mortar; infantry

00:18:17 - Leaving the military setting

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Partial Transcript: What did you do after you got back from the war?

Segment Synopsis: Vaughn explains that he came to go to college in Knoxville, Tennessee upon returning from his military service. Vaughn states that he initially wanted to be a doctor, but didn't pass the entrance exam into medical school. Vaughn recalls that he eventually came to Waco, Georgia where he taught biology, chemistry, and english to middle schoolers.

Keywords: Bremen, Georgia; Howard University; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); Waco, Georgia; World War II

00:24:58 - Coaching basketball / Attending the University of Georgia

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Partial Transcript: Did you forsee yourself staying in education, staying in...

Segment Synopsis: Vaughn talks about his experience teaching in Summerville, Georgia where he coached a basketball team. Vaughn recalls how he came to attend a truant officer program at the University of Georgia over the summer. Vaughn explains that, during his summers at the University of Georgia he often faced prejudice at the newly integrated university.

Keywords: Athens, Georgia; Summerville, Georgia; University of Georgia

00:38:49 - Returning to Floyd County / Owning a bar

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Partial Transcript: Were Rome and Floyd county schools desegregated by this time?

Segment Synopsis: Vaughn talks about his experience working in Floyd County and Rome as the only African American teacher. Vaughn explains that the segregated atmosphere in the school gradually dissipated over the ten years he worked there. Vaughn relates his experience owning a previously white-owned grocery store and explains that, while working the store, he often faced hesitation from other African Americans buying his foods as his customers were not as partial to buying food from a black owner. Vaughn states that this attitude eventually led him to convert the store into a bar that served a wide food selection.

Keywords: National Science Foundation; Rome, Georgia; The Chicken Shack; bar

00:45:26 - Selling the Chicken Shack / Administering at Coosa High School

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Partial Transcript: How long did you have the pool hall and Chicken Shack operating?

Segment Synopsis: Vaughn talks about his experience owning a bar while working at Coosa High School as a chemistry teacher. Vaughn explains that he came to sell the bar after the customers proved to be too rambunctious. Vaughn recalls the impact his bar had on the community and explains he regrets selling the bar, as many of the older community members still reminisce about it. Vaughn talks about how he eventually came to work in school administration at Coosa High School in Rome, GA.

Keywords: Coosa High School; Rome, Georgia; The Chicken Shack; education administration

00:53:02 - Administering at Coosa High School (cont.)

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Partial Transcript: I've been in the army, you know...

Segment Synopsis: Vaughn talks about how he applied some of the physics he learned while in the military to the classroom in the effort to teach kids hands-on. Vaughn shares his ideas on how the lack of originality in recent teaching has led students to need more assistance in subjects such as mathematics. Vaughn recalls that Coosa High School had a low African American population and he talks about his job as the assistant principal at Coosa High School as the administrator of funds, handler of discipline, and the occasional teacher.

Keywords: Army; Coosa High School; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); University of Georgia; active learning; hands-on learning; inclined planes

01:00:13 - Civil rights experiences / Retirement

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Partial Transcript: When did you get involved with those two organizations?

Segment Synopsis: Vaughn shares his experience in civil rights as a member of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). Vaughn emphasizes that his primary civil right's work came from working at the Floyd County Democratic Association and he recalls that his favorite experience while in the Democratic Association was in assisting African Americans to vote. Vaughn shares his disappointment in the current low African-American voting turnout. Vaughn talks about his life after he retired from the position of principal at Johnson Elementary School.

Keywords: Floyd County Democratic Association; Johnson Elementary School (Rome, Georgia); National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

01:08:18 - Changes in Rome, Georgia

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Partial Transcript: Just to wrap up, describe for me how Rome has changed...

Segment Synopsis: Vaughn talk about the ways in which Rome,Georgia has changed from his childhood. Vaughn states that more African Americans have been integrated as city council officials, and that a woman has taken the position as Chief-of-Police. Vaughn shares that, after retiring, while his wife has been more involved in the community, he has chosen to enjoy more leisure activities. Vaughn opines that while the majority of Rome has changed for the better, there are still some communities in poverty. Vaughn talks about a bar he used to own, called the Chicken Shack, which was located on Dwinell Street in Rome, Georgia.

Keywords: Chicken Shack; Denise Downer-McKinney; Rome, Georgia

01:22:57 - Family relations

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Partial Transcript: Your father, just to come full circle...

Segment Synopsis: Vaughn recalls that though his father was a Baptist preacher, he never voiced his feelings about his son owning a bar. Vaughn shares his opinion towards his father, as he states that his father as a non-materialistic person, often failed to give adequate care and attention to his family during Vaughn's childhood. Vaughn states that his father rarely gave his family anything, and his mother provided him with all his necessities.

Keywords: Baptist Church; Chicken Shack; preacher