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Oral History Interview with Alexander M. Rivera, November 30, 2001. Interview C-0297. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    This is the first of two interviews with African American photojournalist Alexander M. Rivera. Rivera was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1913. His family settled there after fleeing Wilmington following the race riot of 1898. Rivera recalls his father's involvement in the NAACP during the 1920s and 1930s and the influence of his progressive racial views. Following in his father's footsteps, Rivera became a student at Howard University in the early 1930s but had to leave school to work during the Great Depression. It was during these years that Rivera first began to work as a photojournalist in Washington, D.C. His coverage of Marian Anderson's concert at the Lincoln Memorial was the first major event he covered. In the late 1930s, Rivera returned to North Carolina and finished his education at North Carolina Central College. During World War II, Rivera worked for Naval Intelligence in Norfolk, Virginia. Shortly thereafter, he began to work for the Pittsburgh Courier, covering events in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. As a photojournalist for the Courier, Rivera covered such events as the Willie Earle lynching in South Carolina, the Isaiah Nixon lynching in Georgia, and the school desegregation cases of the 1950s. In recalling these events, Rivera illuminates the nature of race relations and racial violence that characterized Jim Crow segregation; the impact of the Brown v. Board of Education decision and the role of key players such as Thurgood Marshall; and the changing social landscape. Finally, he recalls his travels to Africa with Richard Nixon in 1957.
  • Covering Marian Anderson's concert at the Lincoln Memorial
  • Recruitment and work as a naval intelligence officer during WWII
  • Willie Earl lynching case in South Carolina
  • Racial violence and atmosphere of fear and intimidation
  • Thurgood Marshall, J. Waites Waring, and school desegregation cases
  • The Brown decision, its impact, and southern reactions
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Howard University--Students--History--20th century
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
  • African American journalists
  • Lynching--Southern States
  • Rivera, Alexander M.
  • Rivera family
  • Riots--North Carolina--Wilmington--History--19th century
  • Anderson, Marian, 1897-1993
  • Pittsburgh Courier
  • Military intelligence--United States--History--20th century
  • Segregation in education--Law and legislation--United States
  • Civil rights movements--North Carolina--Durham
  • Ghana--Foreign relations--United States
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.