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Interview with Archibald Killian, July 23, 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: It is July 23rd, 2014. We are in the Russell Library--the Special Collections Library in Athens, Georgia.

Segment Synopsis: Stephens and Killian introduce themselves and the topics for the interview.

00:00:38 - Early life / Time in Boston / Military service

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Partial Transcript: Um, so to start with you, could you just say when and where you were born?

Segment Synopsis: Killian discusses his time away from Athens after graduating high school. He talks about attending business school in Boston and serving as a military police officer in the Air Force.

Keywords: 1950s; Athens, Georgia; Bitburg, Germany; Boston, Massachusetts; Burdett School of Business; Conscription; Fort Gordon; Harris Street; U.S. Air Force; W.T. Grant Co.

00:08:20 - Time in California, deciding to return home

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Partial Transcript: After the passing of time--came back home, got married, moved to California.

Segment Synopsis: Killian discusses his time in Los Angeles and why he made the decision to return home to Athens with his wife and brother.

Keywords: Alfred Killian; Athens, Georgia; Boston University; California State University, Northridge; Ebenezer Baptist Church, West; Los Angeles City College; Post office; U.S. Postal Service

00:10:54 - Killian's restaurant / UGA desegregation

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Partial Transcript: So, Alfred and I came back, went to Athens Federal, got the money I needed to do what we wanted to do, and we opened up--really, I think Mr. Wilson will attest to it--we had the best restaurant in Athens, white or colored.

Segment Synopsis: Killian talks about starting his restaurant with his brother, Killian's Four Seasons. He mentions the role of Wilkins Industries in boosting incomes in local black communities. He discusses hosting Hamilton Holmes, facing threats from the KKK, and strategies of nonviolence and self-defense.

Keywords: Athens, Georgia; Caste and Class in a Southern Town; Center Meyers Dormitory; Charlayne Hunter-Galt; Constance Baker Motley; Desegregation; Donald Hollowell; Hamilton Holmes; John Dollard; Ku Klux Klan; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Morehouse College; Nonviolence; Stitchcraft; University of Georgia; Walter Danner; Wilkins Industries

00:20:50 - Relationships with white service members in Air Force

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Partial Transcript: Well, and you had served in the military. And you'd lived in Boston and Los Angeles, so when you came back to Athens I would think that those experiences affected the way you saw things.

Segment Synopsis: Killian describes friendships with white servicemen in spite of coming from segregated communities in the South.

Keywords: Cullman, Alabama; ETO; European Theater of Operations; John C. Tanner; U.S. Air Force

00:23:58 - Nonviolence, self-defense / Athens sit-ins

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Partial Transcript: So did that, did that experience--particularly risking your life with and for white people--how did that play into your decision when you were housing Hamilton Holmes to, to stand up?

Segment Synopsis: Killian discusses his willingness to defend himself and others against threats of violence. He talks about desegregation and civil rights demonstrations at Athens restaurants and his refusal to arrest activists while working as a police officer.

Keywords: 1960s; Civil rights movement; Dairy Queen; E.E. Hardy; McDonald's; The Varsity

00:29:11 - Killian's restaurant, integration, black business districts

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Partial Transcript: Um, well I want to talk, I want to talk a lot more about your experience in the police department, but I also want to talk a little more about the restaurant if that's okay.

Segment Synopsis: Killian describes the local black business scene, including his Four Seasons restaurant, Hot Corner, and Calloway Corner. He talks about his restaurant's popularity with white UGA students. He recounts a phone conversation with Lester Maddox, after which he had to turn away white customers.

Keywords: 1960s; AHIS; Athens High and Industrial School; Calloway Corner; Hancock Avenue; Hot Corner; Killian's Four Seasons; Lester Maddox; New York City; Pope Street; Reese Street School; Segregation; University of Georgia

00:33:52 - Joining the postal service

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Partial Transcript: And at that same time I had made up my mind--I was a policeman, too. I had made up my mind to quit the police force because I didn't like what was happening.

Segment Synopsis: Killian describes the process that led him to leave the police department and begin working for the postal service, despite resistance from the postmaster. He explains his unhappiness with the police department and his mother's insistence that he should open doors for other black Athenians. He mentions a tense exchange with Mayor Julius Bishop after being passed up for promotion.

Keywords: Alfred Killian; Athens Country Club; Frank Maddox; George Maxwell; Greater Bethel AME Church; Julius Bishop; Myers

00:39:58 - Joining the police force

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Partial Transcript: The post office job--it sounds to me from, from what I understand that you taking that job--the situation was a little bit similar to when you took the police job initially. Why--why did you--you were reluctant to take the police job as well, right?

Segment Synopsis: Killian discusses joining the Athens police department as the town's first black police officer. He talks about working alongside members of the KKK, helping a man who had attacked him and his partner, and facing backlash from both white and black communities.

Keywords: AMVETS Club; Donald Moon; E.E. Hardy; Ku Klux Klan; Ray Well; Rocksprings Homes; Segregation; University of Georgia; Wilbur Jones

00:49:58 - Police work

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Partial Transcript: And what was your assignment when you came in? What were you supposed to do?

Segment Synopsis: Killian discusses his assignment to patrol black neighborhoods and his focus on serving the community through mediation and protection. He recounts the first time he arrested a white person and the subsequent court case. He asserts that policing has changed and that police officers are mistreating people now.

Keywords: 1960s; 1990s; Athens, Georgia; Community policing; Devil; Domestic violence; Elm Street; George Maxwell; God; Hancock Avenue; Integration; Interracial marriage; Milledge Avenue; Olin Price; Police brutality; Prostitution; Savannah, Georgia

00:59:36 - Leaving police department / Postal service work

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Partial Transcript: You were frustrated in the department, though.

Segment Synopsis: Killian discusses his frustration with police work and explains that he was denied promotions because of his race. He talks about reluctantly joining the postal service and mentions some of the benefits of that job.

Keywords: Athens, Georgia; Employment discrimination; Letter carrier; Postal service; T6

01:02:27 - Changing neighborhoods, The Bottom

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Partial Transcript: During that time, there were a lot of changes going on in Athens. There were some--there was redevelopment going on and urban renewal programs. Right?

Segment Synopsis: Killian describes ways that Athens neighborhoods have changed over time. He talks about the history of the community known as "The Bottom," off of College Avenue, and explains his support for increased density in Athens construction.

Keywords: AHIS; Athens High and Industrial School; Athens, Georgia; Atlanta, Georgia; Bethel Homes; Boulevard; Chase Street School; College Avenue; Downtown; Frank Maddox; Henderson Avenue; Meigs Street; Morehouse College; Morris Brown College; Public housing; Redevelopment; Train station; Waddell Street

01:08:42 - Economic development, black Athenians, segregation

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Partial Transcript: I wonder if we could--I'd like to talk a little bit more about, maybe, sort of economic opportunities for, for folks in black communities in Athens.

Segment Synopsis: Killian talks about businesses that offered higher wages for black employees. He explains his belief that UGA and local leaders turned away Ford and other companies. He discusses the exclusion of black Athenians from campus and white neighborhoods and explains exceptions to segregation.

Keywords: Athens, Georgia; Class; Dairypak Butler; Discrimination; Fickett's Jewelers; Ford Motor Company; General Time Corp.; Magnolia Street; Magnolia Terrace; Ray Well; Segregation; Sunset Drive; The Varsity; University of Georgia; Veterans; Westinghouse; Wilbur Jones; Wilkins Industries

01:19:58 - Rev. Hudson

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Partial Transcript: Um, I'm, I'm really interested to know--as someone who, you know, witnessed the civil rights demonstrations in Athens--what do people not understand about that movement or that time that you think we should know?

Segment Synopsis: Killian explains his conflict with Rev. Hudson of Ebenezer Baptist Church, West, and discusses helping West avoid arrest during the period when Hudson was leading civil rights demonstrators.

Keywords: Athens, Georgia; Civil rights movement; E.E. Hardy; Ebenezer Baptist Church, West; Rev. Hudson; Rocksprings Homes; Sit-ins; The Varsity

01:26:20 - Multiracial heritage, challenging whites

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Partial Transcript: And they'd call me. And I'd go up there and tell them, "Just be quiet."

Segment Synopsis: Killian talks about his ancestry, including his great-grandfather who was a white slave owner and his grandfather who was the first fireman of color in Athens. He comments on standing up to white leaders in Athens.

Keywords: Athens, Georgia; City Hall; Firefighter; Madison, Georgia; Multiracial; Slavery

01:27:58 - White leaders and social change

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Partial Transcript: Well, I hope that, uh--I hope that we'll have a chance to talk again about some of that--uh, some of your family's history and your earlier history.

Segment Synopsis: Killian discusses white leaders who supported social change, typically behind closed doors. He describes a meeting between his father and Senator Richard Russell, which led to the Athens Post Office hiring a black WWII veteran.

Keywords: 588 National Alliance of Letter Carriers; Coca-Cola; Joe Gaines; Myers; Post office; Race; Richard B. Russell; Robert Nesbitt; Washington, D.C.; William Killian; World War II

01:32:58 - Youth and history / Jail expansion / Ministry / Interview conclusion

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Partial Transcript: Reverend Killian, thank you so much for taking time. Is there anything that I should have asked you that I didn't?

Segment Synopsis: Killian discusses the lack of knowledge about history among young people, the expansion of the Clarke County Jail, and the growth of the inmate population. He mentions his work as a pastor. Interview concludes.

Keywords: Athens-Clarke County Correctional Institution; Clarke Middle School; Republican Party; Segregation; Vocation