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Interview with Yaz Johnson, April 26, 2018

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:26 - Family Background

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Partial Transcript: And, with that being said, could you start by telling me...

Segment Synopsis: Yaz Johnson, born in Albany in 1967, discusses the state Albany was in in during his youth. He also briefly shares his family history, such as the birthplace of his parents, Johnnie Johnson Jr. and Thelma Johnson. His mother and father both came from a background in agriculture and married young.

Subjects: Albany Movement; Albany, GA; Smithville, GA; Terrell County, GA

00:06:40 - Johnnie Johnson in the Albany Movement

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Partial Transcript: So your father, so Johnny, he made his way...

Segment Synopsis: Johnson narrates that his father came to Albany in the late 1950s and began working as a sanitation worker for the city. Although he was not at the forefront, he did participate in the Albany Movement. He was more involved after Martin Luther King Jr left, which Johnson describes as finishing what MLK started.

Keywords: Albany, GA; Johnnie Johnson Jr

00:10:51 - Remembering Johnnie Johnson

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Partial Transcript: So, um, I guess Albany Movement, the direct action...

Segment Synopsis: Although Johnson did not fully understand the events happening around him until seventh grade, he knows now how his father took initiative for all black workers in Albany. As a city employee, Johnnie Johnson Jr walked off his job in protest and later filed a lawsuit against the city in April of 1972.

Keywords: Albany Movement; Albany, GA; Johnson v City of Albany, Ga; Martin Luther King Jr; segregation; workplace discrimination

00:16:25 - Worker Strike

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Partial Transcript: As much as you can remember, do you remember...

Segment Synopsis: After news spread of Johnnie Johnson Jr walking off his job site, 280 employees followed suit, making it the largest strike in Albany's history. Although the city gave a few people their jobs back, Johnnie Johnson Jr was not one of them. He relocated to South Carolina, who also fired him upon learning what he did in Albany.

Keywords: Albany, GA

00:19:13 - After the Strike/ Albany Courthouse

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Partial Transcript: They came down particularly harsh...

Segment Synopsis: During the worker strike, which lasted several months, Johnnie Johnson Jr was unable to obtain another job, so he began cutting hair in his community to earn an income. Yaz Johnson recalls some of the other events that took place during the strike, including an attempt on his father's life and a trash dumping on the courthouse lawn.

Keywords: Albany Journal; Albany, GA; Southwest Georgian Newspaper

00:25:01 - Original Records of Johnnie Johnson

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Partial Transcript: So, here it is. Here it is.

Segment Synopsis: Johnson shares some of the original documents of his father in his possession, including a newspaper clipping, termination papers for walking off the job, his work folder, and lawsuit papers. He discusses his father's injured leg, which his employer refused to cover.

Keywords: Albany Civil Rights Institute; Albany, GA; Johnnie Johnson Jr

00:36:04 - After the Settlement/ Long-term Change

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Partial Transcript: In the years after the strike...

Segment Synopsis: Johnson explains that several people received settlements in varying amounts after the trial, which he describes as an open-shut case. He mentions how he thanks his father every time he sees a black person in power, such as the first black sheriff of Albany.

Keywords: Albany, GA; Johnson v. City of Albany, Ga

00:40:34 - First Attempt Renaming a Building

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Partial Transcript: You said he was fed up, was one of the motivations...

Segment Synopsis: Johnson explains that he went to the city commissioners several times for recognition of his father. In his first attempt in a ten year struggle, he asked for the renaming of the Dougherty County Police Department

Keywords: Albany, GA; Dougherty County, GA

00:48:50 - Several Other Attempts Renaming a Building

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Partial Transcript: After that, I went to the county...

Segment Synopsis: Johnson shares everywhere he tried to get named after his father before getting the city to agree to make the Public Works Building and Wellness Center Johnnie Johnson Jr Memorial Buildings. He believes his persistence for ten years is the reason they agreed.

Keywords: Albany International Airport; Albany Public Works Department; Albany, GA; Dougherty County Police Department; Dougherty County, GA

00:52:47 - Comparison to Other Recognition

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Partial Transcript: Why do you think, uh, cause there's...

Segment Synopsis: Johnson compares the difficulty he faced to name a building after his father to the resistance to name buildings after other Albany Civil Rights figures. He feels that the city government may have been more adamant about refusing because they would not want other citizens following suit of Johnnie Johnson Jr.

Keywords: Arthur K. Williams Microbusiness Enterprise Center (Albany MBEC); C.B.King United States Courthouse; Charles M. Sherrod Civil Rights Park; Chevene Bowers "C. B." King; Johnson v. City of Albany, GA; Slater King; equal rights

00:57:49 - Johnson v. City of Albany Injunction

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Partial Transcript: There was, uh, an equal battle not just...

Segment Synopsis: Johnson and interviewer James Wall discuss the complications with carrying on the Johnnie Johnson Jr. legacy. They also mention the amount of time taken to lift the injunction of the court case. Yaz Johnson shares his plans to write a book about his father.

Keywords: Albany, GA; Johnnie Johnson Jr; Johnnie Johnson Jr Memorial Building; Johnson V. City of Albany, GA; Judge Herbert Owens

01:00:52 - Johnnie Johnson Jr. Memorial Building

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Partial Transcript: Let me tell you a story that hurts me to my dear heart.

Segment Synopsis: Johnson discusses the dedication ceremony that was arranged for the memorial building with Herbert Phipps as the key speaker. He shares a clip from one of the annual stories of his father on television station WALB. Johnson also explains that he feels the length of time it took to have the city rename a building helped to spread knowledge of the event and Johnnie Johnson's history.

Keywords: Albany, GA; Chevene Bowers "C. B." King; Johnnie Johnson Memorial Building

01:09:27 - Community Involvement

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Partial Transcript: I'm also in the, um, political arena...

Segment Synopsis: Johnson shares several news stories about his involvements in the community to make Albany a better place.

Keywords: Albany, GA; WALB; Walk by Faith Ministries

01:16:55 - Final Notes/ Future Plans

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Partial Transcript: Well, we will wind things down then...

Segment Synopsis: Johnson notes the awards his father was given, even after passing. He also announces some future plans, such as a soon to be recognized Johnnie Johnson Jr. Day and scholarship for political science majors.

Keywords: Albany Fire Department; Albany, GA; Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Award