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Interview with Tommy Lee Harps, December 21, 2015

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:00 - Introduction / Family, childhood, work at the Georgia Experiment Station (now UGA Griffin Campus)

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Partial Transcript: I’m John Cruickshank, Librarian at UGA Griffin. I have with me today several other interviewers.

Segment Synopsis: Harps discusses his childhood growing up on a farm in Griffin, Georgia. His father was later hired by Dr. Stuckey at the Georgia Experiment Station, under the condition that he would send his children to school. Harps talks about how Dr. Stuckey treated all of his employees with respect regardless of their race. Harps also worked on the Station washing beakers for the chemical lab.

Keywords: Bill Baker; Great Depression; H.P. StuckeylGeorgia Experiment Station; Jack Williams; Meriwether County; Spalding County; UGA Griffin Campusl; William Baker

00:22:20 - Millitary Service / Mother's work for the Baker family

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Partial Transcript: See I left here and went in the Army...

Segment Synopsis: In this section, Harps talks about his millitary service in the United States Army in the European Theatre during World War II. He discusses his experience of segregation in the Army and the hypocrisy of fighting a war for a country in which he was treated as a second class citizen. He discusses his mother and her relationship with the Baker family in Griffin.

Keywords: Executive Order 9981; Harry S. Truman; Jim Crow Laws; Plessy v. Ferguson; Separate But Equal; United States Army; WWII; World War II

00:30:02 - School years

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Partial Transcript: What was school like for you? Elementary and … ?

Segment Synopsis: In this section, Mr. Harps discusses his school years at Mt. Pleasant Church School and Vocational High School. He discusses the conditions in the schools and relates his experience of the instructors who taught in them. He talks about the changes in discipline that occurred after schools were integrated, saying that black teacher were not supposed to beat the white children and vice versa.

Keywords: Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church; Mt. Pleasant School; Q.D. Flemming; Segregated School; Segregation; Spalding County School System; Vocational High School

00:39:41 - Discussion of the Ku Klux Klan / Description of School at Mt. Pleasant

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Partial Transcript: It was terrible back in those days. The Ku Klux Klan used to come and ride by Ellis Road.

Segment Synopsis: In this segment, Mr. Harps discusses the problem of the Ku Klux Klan and how it affected the African-American community in Griffin. He also comes back to the discussion of the Mt. Pleasant Church School.

Keywords: Domsetic Terrorism; KKK; Ku Klux Klan; Lynching; Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church; Mt. Pleasant School

00:49:54 - Thoughts on integration and its effects on education and the African-American community generally

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Partial Transcript: I only have one pressing question. You mentioned earlier that the consolidation of schools was a bad thing ...

Segment Synopsis: Mr. Harps shares his thoughts on the integration of schools and the differences he sees between segregated and integrated schools. He says that integration was a "bad thing" because the teachers couldn't discipline the students as much, but he agrees that the black schools needed better books, teachers, and facilities.

Keywords: 13th Amendment; American Legion; Black Codes; Civil Rights Act; Civil Rights Act of 1964; Desegregation; Fairmont High School; Griffin High School; Integrated School; Integration; Plessy v. Ferguson; Segregated School; Segregation; Separate But Equal; Vagrancy Laws

01:02:25 - Economy of Griffin during segregation / Working conditions for African-Americans

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Partial Transcript: When you talk about the Experiment station and working at the Experiment Station and working with Director Stuckey and working in the chemical laboratories, it sounds like your experience at the Experiment Station was a good experience.

Segment Synopsis: In this section, Mr. Harps discusses the working climate for African-Americans in Griffin under Jim Crow. He talks a little bit about his job as a truck driver which took him all over the state of Georgia and also discusses African-American businesses in Griffin. Mr. Harps further discusses the extremely broad vagrancy laws which were in effect under Jim Crow.

Keywords: Black Codes; Buford; Georgia Experiment Station; Herman Talmadge; Jim Crow Laws; UGA Griffin Campus; Vagrancy Laws