Knox College Struggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College)
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Negro youth interview subject 04
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TitleNegro youth interview subject 04
DescriptionTranscript of an interview done by J. Howell Atwood. Atwood interviewed 22 Negro youths in Galesburg, Illinois in the late 1930s for the American Youth Commission as part of a larger research project investigating conditions and needs of Negro youth in the United States. Atwood's research informed the paper "Negro Youth in Galesburg, Illinois" published in 1941 in "Thus Be Their Destiny: The Personality Development of Negro Youth in Three Communities." Inteview questions are presented with the transcribed answers in the transcript. Interview subjects are not named.
SubjectInterviews
Youth
CreatorAtwood, Jesse Howell; American Youth Commission
Time Period1930s
TypeText
Formatpdf
IdentifierJ. Howell Atwood Manuscript Collection (box 9)
Languageeng
RightsSee http://library.knox.edu/digitalcollections/rightsinfo.htm
CollectionStruggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College)
Transcriptp. 1
1. [Name]
# 4

2. [Sex]
Female

3. [Age]
26

4. [School years accomplished]
12

5. [Birthplace]
Ill. [Illinois]

6. [State or states lived in]
Ill. [Illinois] D.C. [Washington, D.C.]

7. [Father's occupation]
Janitor, bank.

8. [1st vocational choice]
Nurse

9. [2nd choice]
Singer

10. [3rd choice]
--

11. [How do or did you like school?]
Very much

12. [How treated by teachers?]
all right

13. [How treated by coaches?]
--

14. [How treated by white students?]
OK

15. [Did you have a chance to take part in the school's activities?]
Not much -- as far as clubs courses & social
life it was very restricted.

16. [What activities?]
None.

17. [Were you encouraged?]
No

18. [Did you feel that they were interested in you?]
No -- not to any great extent

19. [What teacher seemed of most help to you?]
All were very nice so far as the class room
work went; they did their duty; included me
along with everyone else. No prejudice.

20. [If you quit before graduating from high school, please explain why?]
didn't.

21. [Employed?]
Yes

22. [Kind of work?]
Housework

23. [How long have you worked there?]
3 months

24. [Has it a good future for you?]
No

25. [Your plans for future -- say next year?]
No definite plans

26. [2nd year]
[left blank]

27. [3rd year]
[left blank]

28. [4th year]
[left blank]


p. 2
29a. [Favorite pastime -- winter]
outdoor sports -- ice-skating; attending games
football, basketball

29b. [Favorite pastime -- summer]
like tennis,

30. [Where enjoyed?]
a. Peoria & Washington, Chicago.
Hard to enjoy here in Galesburg. H.S. [high school] games
here at Lombard & H.S. [high school] gym.

b. but no place to play tennis in
Galesburg; don't feel free

31a. [Do you date?]
No

31b. [Where go?]

32. [Do you drink?]
Socially yes -- not habitual -- home

33. [Do you dance?]
Yes -- Public dances -- armory

34. [Church -- membership]
2nd Baptist attend -- belong to a Peoria church.

35. [Club membership?]
None

36. [What club or clubs?]
--

37. [Do you hear your friends talking about their future plans?]
No.

38. [What do they say?]
--

39. [Are they worried?]
--

40. [What is your attitude toward the church?]
I don't have a very good one. Church isn't
a place to worship any more. I don't have much faith
in the minister. I don't attend regularly. I don't feel that
I can get what I should from the service under
these conditions.

41. [How does it help young people like you?]
There aren't very many young people working


p. 3
in this church anymore. It doesn't help them
very much.

42. [What more could it do?]
[left blank]

43. [What more should it do?]
Should have a minister everyone likes -- who'd
be a good leader -- teacher -- interest the young
people in church. I'm not very enthusiastic
about church -- here. I'm not an atheist.

44. [What is your attitude toward the city officials here in Galesburg? (aldermen, police, mayor)
Have no interest in politics -- not a very
good citizen. They are fine men so far as
I know them.

45. [How do you feel toward the Main Street merchants?]
They're all right. One gets fair treatment
in the stores here. So far as buying & selling
goes there isn't much discrimination. It's
socially & as far as work is concerned that
there's a problem. They won't hire colored at
the stores except as janitors & stock clerks.
In Chicago, on the South side -- they have
both races as clerks. Here there aren't many
Negroes and one doesn't expect to get good
jobs here. There aren't enough of the higher
type Negro here to be an asset to the race &
to hold the better jobs.

46. [How do you feel toward the various movie theaters in town?]
They do discriminate -- sit in a given
spot -- all Negroes grouped together. They shouldn't


p. 4
do that in the theatres.

47. [Did you go to the NYA recreation center on West Berrien Street?]
No.

48. [Is there any substitute for that center -- now that there is no NYA center?]
No.

49. [Where do the CCC boys spend their free time when they're in town?]
In summer at beach; at winter they
dance at the old NYA place.

50. [Do you like the colored beach at Lake Storey?]
Can't say I dislike it. It could be better
provided -- tennis -- more games. For those
who don't swim it doesn't offer so much.

51. [Do you know young colored people who don't go out there?]
No, I don't. It is well attended.

52. [How does life for young Negroes in Galesburg compare with life in other places you know about or hear of?]
The young Negro merely exists in G-- [Galesburg].
In Chicago, a lot of the So. cities where there is
a large N. [Negro] population & where there are really
good N. [Negro] leaders who take an interest in youth
they see to it that there are more places of
recreation to attend. I don't think there's
any comparison at all. The small towns
around here are the same, -- little chance.

53. [Name a place you think is better. Why is it?]
See 52.

54. [Name a place you think is worse. Why is it?]
Can't say.

55. [What do you think of the WPA set up?]
I don't think much of it. It doesn't seem to
be helping much, ecomically -- The people
on WPA could find other work -- steady jobs. On
the other hand I guess it has put a lot of people
to work -- for a while. But as far as the WPA


p. 5
workers who are Negroes go I think they could
find better jobs if the factories & warehouses
would hire them. These managers are will-
fully refusing to hire Negroes.

56. [What contact have you had with the emergency relief case workers?]
None

57. [If you could have two wishes come true what would those wishes be?]
a. I wish G-- [Galesburg] offered opportunity for employ-
ment for N. [Negroes] other than housework.
b. I do wish we could feel free & had
equal rights as a citizen regardless of where
we are living.

58a. [Who is the outstanding Negro man in the U.S.?]
a. The only Negro tycoon is head of the North
Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Co. Mr. C.C.
Spaulding.

58b. [Who is the outstanding Negro woman in the U.S.?]
Mary Bethune

59a. [Who is the outstanding Negro man in Galesburg?]
Our chiropodist, Dr. C.M. Watkins

59b. [Who is the outstanding Negro woman in Galesburg?]
--

60. [What is the greatest obstacle in the way of Negro youth here in Galesburg?]
I think discrimination based on color. Lack
of intelligent Negro leaders who would see to it
that Negroes had good places of recreation. We
certainly don't have a Negro leader so far as the
young people are concerned.

61. [Do you live at home?]
Yes

62. [Are both parents living?]
Yes

63. [Do you have any conflicts or arguments with them?]
No

64. [What are the biggest points of misunderstanding?]
--

65. [Have you a room to yourself?]
Yes

66. [Do they expect you to contribute to the family purse from your earnings?]
More or less -- yes

67. [How do you feel about this?]
I'm willing to do as much as I am able.
As long as children of age are living at home they
should help as they can.

68. [Is there some other problem which troubles you or your colored friends of about your age which hasn't been asked about in this interview?]
No.

Remarks: The young people have so little to
do besides going to the beach & going home.
My brother can't go to the Y.M.C.A. There should
be a community house -- useable the year
around. When I was in Peoria I had a
job 3 yrs. At the Realto theater ladies rest
rooms. But there wasn't a chance to use
my head -- just be there. I feel that if
Negro graduates of high school could obtain
office jobs, clerking or other jobs in
which they could use the education
they have recieved, it would help
them in valuable contacts & see &
appreciate better standards of
living.
Physical Description8.5 x 11 in. handwritten sheets
FilenameNegro youth interviews/subject 4
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