Title: Oral History Interview with Lyman Johnson, July 12, 1990. Interview A-0351.
Interviewer: Egerton, John
Interviewee: Johnson, Lyman
Subjects: Tennessee--Race relations African Americans--Civil rights--Kentucky Louisville (Ky.)--Race relations
Abstract: Lyman Johnson's views on civil rights were formed by his father, who rejected racial hierarchies. Johnson started working to achieve racial equality in Columbia, Tennessee, and Louisville, Kentucky, after he returned from naval service following World War II. The interview begins with his description of violence that flared up in Columbia, Tennessee, after a black soldier's attack on a verbally abusive white store owner. Johnson asserts that the racial integration that should have occurred immediately after World War II was delayed as a result of apathy among white southerners, underlining the necessity of outside intervention. Though Louisville was more progressive than other southern cities, its leaders remained reluctant to endorse full equality. That reluctance made life difficult for black and white citizens alike.