Title: Oral History Interview with Guion Griffis Johnson, July 1, 1974. Interview G-0029-4.
Interviewer: Frederickson, Mary
Interviewee: Johnson, Guion Griffis
Subjects: Southern States--Race relations Women's rights School integration
Abstract: Guion Griffis Johnson was a sociologist actively involved in race, poverty, and gender issues. In this interview—the final part of a four-part series—she discusses her work with the Georgia Conference on Social Welfare during the mid-1940s and her involvement in the civil rights movement and the women's movement of the 1960s and 1970s in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Johnson went to work as the executive secretary of the Georgia Conference on Social Welfare in Atlanta in 1944 when her husband, Guy B. Johnson, became the first director of the Southern Regional Council. She describes the condition of the Georgia Conference when she assumed control over it, noting the divisions on its board over public welfare versus private welfare. Johnson helped to get the Georgia Conference back on its feet by raising funds and promoting awareness of poverty-related social issues throughout Georgia. She discusses in detail her effort to establish a juvenile court in Albany, the interracial dynamics of the Georgia Conference, and the impact of the Eugene Talmadge political machine on the Conference's efforts. In addition, Johnson explains her thoughts on the merits of gradual change for race relations (advocated by her husband and the Southern Regional Council) and more direct action, which she pursued in establishing a child care center for African Americans in Chapel Hill. During the 1960s, Johnson was active in various women's organizations and was a forerunner in the work of the North Carolina Commission on the Status of Women. She describes her thoughts on the Equal Rights Amendment, her political connections and activities, and her thoughts on the student sit-in movement. Johnson concludes the interview by asserting her belief that it was time for black leadership to take a more dominant role in the civil rights movement by the 1960s.