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Interview with Erma (E.B.) Johnson, December 21, 2005


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Narrator affiliation: Cook, Area 51, Reynolds Electrical and Engineering Company (REECo); Minister

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Johnson, Erma B. Interview, 2005 December 21. MS-00818. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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Nevada Test Site Oral History Project University of Nevada, Las Vegas Interview with E. B. ( Erma) Johnson December 21, 2005 North Las Vegas, Nevada Interview Conducted By Mary Palevsky © 2007 by UNLV Libraries Oral history is a method of collecting historical information through recorded interviews conducted by an interviewer/ researcher with an interviewee/ narrator who possesses firsthand knowledge of historically significant events. The goal is to create an archive which adds relevant material to the existing historical record. Oral history recordings and transcripts are primary source material and do not represent the final, verified, or complete narrative of the events under discussion. Rather, oral history is a spoken remembrance or dialogue, reflecting the interviewee’s memories, points of view and personal opinions about events in response to the interviewer’s specific questions. Oral history interviews document each interviewee’s personal engagement with the history in question. They are unique records, reflecting the particular meaning the interviewee draws from her/ his individual life experience. Produced by: The Nevada Test Site Oral History Project Departments of History and Sociology University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 89154- 5020 Director and Editor Mary Palevsky Principal Investigators Robert Futrell, Dept. of Sociology Andrew Kirk, Dept. of History The material in the Nevada Test Site Oral History Project archive is based upon work supported by the U. S. Dept. of Energy under award number DEFG52- 03NV99203 and the U. S. Dept. of Education under award number P116Z040093. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these recordings and transcripts are those of project participants— oral history interviewees and/ or oral history interviewers— and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U. S. Department of Energy or the U. S. Department of Education. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 1 Interview with Reverend E. B. ( Erma) Johnson December 21, 2005 Conducted by Mary Palevsky Table of Contents Introduction: birth, early life, marriage, move to Las Vegas, Jim Crow in 1950s Las Vegas 1 Recalls experiences working at Area 51, observations of tests 5 Recounts deaths of friends who worked at the NTS 8 Discrimination issues with working at Area 51 9 Health dangers of testing versus well- paying jobs at NTS 10 Leaves NTS, returns to construction work, is appointed by Governor Grant Sawyer to State Highway Department 11 Works as an activist to open more state jobs for African- Americans in Nevada 12 Talks about discrimination and segregation in the South and in Las Vegas, and personal and religious philosophy as an activist against racial discrimination 15 Recalls conversion experiences that led him to his religious ministry, people’s reaction to his ministry, and his work with people in church and community 21 Details family background: parents, wife, and children 27 Conclusion: recounts career as boxing lightweight champion of Las Vegas and California, and why he quit fighting 31 UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 1 Interview with Reverend E. B. ( Erma) Johnson December 21, 2005 in North Las Vegas, NV Conducted by Mary Palevsky [ 00: 00: 00] Begin Track 2, Disc 1. Mary Palevsky: Maybe you can start by telling me your full name and where you were born and what date you were born. E. B. Johnson: OK, my full name is Erma Johnson, and I was born in Racine, Wisconsin in 1933. Then my parents, they moved from there to Arkansas and that is where I grew up, in Arkansas. After I got grown, I went back to my home in Wisconsin and I stayed there until I got married and I had a child. I had some difficulties with my family, so I left and came to Las Vegas in 1952. You would’ve been how old then? Maybe I think I was around nineteen or twenty, somewhere like that. So then I went back. I didn’t like it here; it wasn’t nothing but gopher bushes. There wasn’t nothing out here for me. I saw all this stuff here and, oh no, I’m going back. So I went back and I stayed until 1955. And I left again and came back here. What brought you back? Was it for work? Well, I still had difficulty with my family and so I couldn’t stay there. I said, well, it’s my wish to get away from this place, and so I came back to Las Vegas and I lived with my sister and I started working at the Frontier Hotel. When I first came here in ’ 52, let me see, they had the El Morocco and they had— what hotel was it? Was it the Golden Nugget? I think it was. But it was only about three or four hotels. They had the Desert Inn here and they had the Sands here, New Frontier, and the El Morocco. It was just a very few. And I started working out on the Strip and I didn’t know that it was so tough and they didn’t even allow blacks anyplace. You could work at UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 2 the hotel, but you never could go back. You couldn’t go there and you could not gamble. All the way downtown it was the same way. And we had a place— that’s right, the Sand Dance. We had a place, the Sand Dance: that’s where we’d go cash all our checks. A friend of mine— no, he wasn’t a friend, he’s just an old guy named Mr. Johnson— he owned the place, they were black people. They mostly owned all of down where you see downtown now; right there by the post office, he owned all of that part there, a black guy. We had to come across the tracks and what they used to call the Old Spanish Trail, right through here now. They said it was over across town, but what we called the Old Spanish Trail was right down to about One Street and the Indian reservation. I’ve seen all of this stuff. When I came here, there wasn’t nothing. The first contractor that I saw here was a Japanese. He used to have a tractor and he did all of the contracting and leveling off, for the houses for the land and all that. And there used to be a farm right over there, he raised watermelons and hay and all that stuff. And it’s just amazing how this town grew from that. And the place, a lot of people say that it was the Mormon history or this, it wasn’t like that. I was right here to see it. I lived it. I walked it. I knew. The Indians, they used to come over here, dance and all this kind of stuff. We had the Brown Derby. We used to have a strip over here on Jackson Street because we had, let me see what that was, the El Morocco, we had about three or four clubs: Cotton Club, Louisiana Club. We just had a strip. Had high- rise hotels right on the corner of D and Jackson [ Streets]. And we had another hotel— just like downtown. Then the Moulin Rouge came later, later on. I’ve stayed here. I’ve seen it all grow. I’ve seen it grow from gopher bushes to—. And it used to didn’t even rain here, when I first came here. They had windstorms, sandstorms, and they would beat you down and you couldn’t get out of them. That sand would cut you up. You’d have to run and hide, you know, and it would blow, blow, blow. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 3 [ 00: 05: 00] And it’s just amazing what happened in this city. I would’ve never known that Las Vegas would ever be the Jim Crow, that the black and white could not associate together. And I was here through all of that stuff. When we first got for black people to go downtown and gamble, we marched. They throwed rocks at us. But we went on this trip and did the same thing, and finally they went to Carson City marching and stuff, to get this place to where it was. Now let me ask you a question about that because you’re saying you were surprised when you got here that Jim Crow was so strong here compared to Wisconsin? Oh, yes, it wouldn’t compare with that. Now we had Jim Crow in Wisconsin but it was against the Puerto Ricans. See, I was brought up with Puerto Ricans and things, you know, and Jewish people. That’s what I came up with, and what was obvious for me is to see this type of thing here. And these people out here, whoa! I just can’t believe that. So it’s a different kind of people. Do you have an example of something that happened to you that really surprised you that it happened, or was it just a general—? What surprised me, I didn’t think that people would be that cruel. Because to me, in Wisconsin, we could go anyplace, you know. We didn’t have no problem there. The only thing that we just stayed with— we just had gangs and we would fight. It wasn’t the whole thing, like you couldn’t go here, you can’t go there. We didn’t have that. But here, when you came here, there was only certain places you could go. If I could work in a place, looked like I could gamble at the place— we even had Sammy Davis, Jr. and he couldn’t even go back to the hotel. When he came here and did his thing, he had to find some other places to go. It was so amazing to me because I’d never been in that environment before. Another thing was that you couldn’t get the good jobs, black people couldn’t get jobs. They didn’t allow you to be— you couldn’t be a dealer. You couldn’t get the top jobs working. They wouldn’t allow you to get up there, no way. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 4 So I’ve seen it all. And I remember when the airport was out there, just a little airport, it was so small. Where the airport is used to be cotton, where you raised cotton. A black guy had a place out there. He tried to sell me some property, right out there where the airport is, back in there. All of that back in there was not anything. He had a cotton field there and he tried to sell me some property out there. Oh, no, I can’t stay here, no, not in this place, nothing out here. But I finally kind of began to wake up, so I bought property here, back in that time. I should’ve even bought more, but I didn’t. I’m OK, you know, I bought a lot of property and still have a lot of property. And that’s where I came from and doing my thing, working in Mercury [ Nevada Test Site, NTS], going up there. A friend introduced me to going up to Mercury. I told him, no, I ain’t going there. At that time, there was no time limit, you could work as long as you want to. At that time in 1959, I used to work almost forty hours round the clock because you make money. Right. Now you had been doing what? You’d been working at a hotel first, you said? I worked at the hotel first. What did you do at the hotel? Well, at the hotel I went from a dishwasher to a cook. I left the hotel, I said, I’m tired of this. So then I went back to construction, and I started working construction, and then I left there and I said, well, I might as well go back. It got so hot, so I guess I’ll go back to cooking again. So I went up to Area 51 and started back there cooking. OK, so they hired you there to cook. They hired me there and I cooked there. They had a café up there, yes, a big place, you know, and I cooked for all the presidents and all those kinds of places. They would eat in that mess hall up there, that was the only place that they came and ate up there. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 5 Now tell me a little bit about how it was, you’re working in the hotel, the casino industry, and this friend tells you about Mercury and Area 51, you said? [ 00: 10: 00] Yes, he just said, Man, he said, why don’t you go up there? You’ll make more money. I said OK. So he worked up there? Oh, yes, he worked up there. And so I did it, I went up there and started working up there and I stayed for about a year, year- and- a- half. You say you had a Q- clearance, you told me. Yes, you couldn’t get there without that, not in there. You don’t go in Area 51 unless you strain out. So what was that about and did you think anything of it? You’re pretty young at the time. What did you think? Well, I wanted to know but you see now there’s just some things they did. I’ve seen some things out there. The first time I ever seen a skip, they called it, an airplane, I never seen a plane like that. And that thing, it was in then, and now you don’t see them anymore. But it was so fast. It was just a blink of an eye, this thing would take off so fast, you couldn’t see it in a second. First time I’d ever seen that. I’ve seen a lot of planes and everything, but I’ve never seen one like that, how fast that thing moved. In seconds it was out of sight. And so there are some other things I’ve seen but I wouldn’t care to talk about it. It’s just amazing up there. A lot of people really don’t know what’s up there and nobody’s going to tell what’s up there. So I stayed up there, and it was interesting to me. But one of the things I didn’t like, I didn’t like all of the stuff that, you know, when they exploded those bombs. I didn’t like that. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 6 You could feel heat for weeks up there. They make you stay off three days, but it still would be hot when you go back in. So you were in Area 51, and could you see the explosions from where you were— or did they tell you to leave? Oh, no, you can see it. No, you had to get out of there. They wouldn’t let no one in there. When they do the explosion, only thing you could feel, when you were in Vegas, you could feel the ground shake. That’s all you could feel, you know. No one was in that area up there. They had another area up there and there ain’t nobody going to get up there. That was my experience with that place. Now you said you worked long hours, so you’re living in Las Vegas? Did you drive up every day or would you stay overnight there? Well, before I found out that I could stay up there, I stayed. Of course they had rooms and everything up there. You could do it. I said, hey, I’ll stop driving. So I just stayed on up there, stayed on my job, you know, that’s why I do it. And would you be cooking like twenty- four hours? No. I’d do about twelve hours. I mean I’d never take off, I used to go straight through. I never would take off. So I’d work eight hours here and they’d say, Well, could you come back tonight if we got something going tonight? And I’d come back tonight. Early in the morning, I’d go back in the morning. Just steady going. Now, I have worked twenty- fours, yes, started to cook, twenty- four. What kinds of stuff did you cook up there? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 7 Well, normal food that we cook here, but it just was a little— you know how with the President they had special things; they wasn’t like us, they had special stuff. You had to fix it special. They had bacon and eggs, but they had the best of that stuff. You mean the President of the United States or the president of the company when you say “ the President”? No, the President of the United States. I saw him come there. Which one? In 1959, who was the president? It wasn’t Nixon. It was Eisenhower until ’ 60, I think, and then [ John F.] Kennedy. President Eisenhower. That’s who I saw. Really! Wow! Oh, yeah, I’ve seen some of the congressmen and all of that. It’s amazing what you— it’s just a beautiful city, up there in those places; it’s nice up there. And like I say, you have Q- clearance and there was just certain people could go in, nobody else could go in [ 00: 15: 00] there but you. If you didn’t have a Q- clearance, ain’t no way you’ll get through the gate, never. And we would stay up there and we had a ball. Now to go through there, because as I said to you before we started to record, I’ve only been to the test site. I’ve never— Oh, you just went to [ Area] 12. You just went to the main thing. Yes, OK. You keep going? Oh, yes, you got to go back— some places you can go back sixty or seventy miles. And I think Area 12, where we were, I think we was around thirty, forty miles, something right along in there. That’s how far we was up. They had so many areas. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 8 I know. So you went through the regular test site to get to— Yes, you’d have to go straight through the gate, right at the main gate, and then you had to go— well, you had your Q [ badge] on and then you had to go way on up. Yes, it’s way up. But you were saying that you knew some guys that worked at the test site itself, too, in the tunnels? Yes, but, well, all of the guys that I knew that worked the tunnels, they passed away. One of my friends, I couldn’t believe how his skin was. He worked in that tunnel, and he died and he never drew one penny. Still he started work on it. But he was really messed up. And then the other friend of mine, [ Reverend] C. C. Smith, he passed away about three years ago with the same thing. Earl McDowell, he did the same thing. They passed away and he just passed away. It’s coming more and more that they are passing away. Yes, they are saying that they weren’t effected, and so I guess, I don’t know. Well, we was all there. I’m not going to say I’m not out of it, we probably would never— anything would happen to us. But I have some more friends that worked up there, they haven’t been too long retired either, and so I don’t know. It’s pretty—. Yes. And in the news lately, there’s been more about it. It’s terrifying. And to me, I just don’t scare easy. I mean people’s lives are lives. It’s not right, you know. Tell the truth. If things happened and if this is causing you to have this, causing you to have that, why hold it back? Well, we do the best we can. When you said that your friend, something happened to his skin, was it like skin cancer, are you saying, or do you think? I really don’t know what it was, I just know he turned— he was yellow. Yes, the color of his skin was just yellow. Hands were yellow, arms, you know, there wasn’t nothing he could do about it. And he was steady going to the doctor and that was— and so he passed away. Earl was the same UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 9 way, Earl McDowell. Jimmy. Reverend Smith. Oh, I don’t know how many others that I know that passed away. But they worked there a long time after I got out of there. Yes, they retired. I said, no, it’s too far for me to travel and I don’t like the atmosphere up here and I got out. So explain to me a little. It was too far and what else about it didn’t you like? I didn’t like the atmosphere. I didn’t like the air. I didn’t like to breathe in— that’s when I got out of there. No, I didn’t like that, so that’s the reason I left. Now when you were there— you talked about discrimination issues in Las Vegas itself. What was it like when you were up there for your work at Area 51? Was it the same or was it different? It was sort of the same. There was jobs there that the black people just couldn’t get into, not until, you know, it came down with affirmative action. You never would get to be a supervisor. But after so long, after affirmative action came in, that kind of kicked it over because it went [ 00: 20: 00] nationwide. But before then, no. Now what company did you work for when you worked up at the test site? I worked for Culinary at that time. I worked out of the Culinary Union. Because I know some stuff up in Area 51, like down at Mercury, was REECo: Reynolds Electric— Yes, REECo, yes. Well, see, Culinary had all contracted out of there, you know, and they had those cafeterias up there And so that’s when I say I went back to cooking when they, you know, because I said, OK, I got cooking background, well say hey, I’m making this kind of money, I’m gone, you know. I left the Strip and went up there. And when I got out there and they started shooting all those bombs and all of this stuff, wait a minute, you’re coming in so hot sometimes you go up there, whoa, no, no, no, no, I can’t stay here. So you had a feeling about it even then. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 10 Oh, yes. Yes. I really— I couldn’t stay there. Now at the time, do you remember at that time if there was other people worrying about it or talking about it, that it was not safe, or was that something that you just—? Well, we had a lot of people talking about it, but they said, heck, away with it, you know, I can make the money. You know, we talked about it all the time. Yes, we’d just sit down and discuss it. Man, why stay up here? A lot of people said, Man, well, I’d like to get out of here but you know, he says, we’ve got to take care of our families. We don’t make the money down there. So most of the people just stayed there. But I said, well, heck, away with it. I said, my life is more to me than money, and so I left. Yes, I could have stayed up there but no way. Now at this time, did you have a wife and children here? Yes. At the time I only had the one kid, my baby girl. My wife and I, we just had recently got married, so we had the one baby. And so that’s what I did, I worked up there, I traveled back and forth. And it wasn’t too good, you know. You’d drive up there— I would leave home in the morning at two o’clock— I had to go to work at eight. Just think about how far you had to drive to get to your work at eight o’clock. That’s the way it was, and I did that every morning. We used to have pools, guys would have cars, you know, and that’s what we did, how we had to get back and forth to work. But when I found out that I could stay up there cheaper than I could drive back and forth, I spent the week, two weeks, or whatever. And my wife is young, beautiful, and everything. I mean I’m losing— I thought no, huh- uh, I got to go home. So I finally put up with a year or so there and I said huh- uh, I’m gone. I quit. And I came back here and I went back into construction again, and I did well. I went from there to carpenter, from a carpenter I used to do electrician, and from there I went into UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 11 drywall for a while. And then— I still worked construction, worked two jobs— I cut loose in 1961. In fact, Governor [ Grant] Sawyer, he called me. I met him and I know him real well and he said, I want you to go to the Highway Department. I said, What you mean, Highway Department? He said, Yes, he said, we don’t have no blacks there. So I was the first black man that appointed and put in the State Highway Department. I didn’t have to go through all the— he appointed and put me there. Now how did you know him? I just ran into him, in fact when he was running for governor. I used to do the campaign for him. And so a friend of mine, very close friend, Reverend Prentice Walker— I know you’ve heard of Prentice Walker, one of the top black men that ever been in the state of Nevada. He and Sawyer were very close friends, so I knew him through there— he said, You go to work up there. And they put me down to the State Highway Department and I stayed with the [ 00: 25: 00] state from 1961 until 1983, That’s twenty- one years. And then I finally, I said, oh well. I got hurt there, I got hurt real bad; I’m 100 percent disabled. What happened? Well, my back. I was in an area down there where I wasn’t supposed to be and they had those big tires, they’re kind of like big tires, they’re huge, and so we stooped down and I caught myself in the right position and when I did, my back popped and my disc went a half- an- inch off. The doctor said I would never walk anymore. And so I never could go back to work. And that’s the reason I’m out here now, you know. I did a lot of things in the state of Nevada. I’ve caused a lot of black people to get top jobs today. They wouldn’t have been there if it hadn’t have been for me, because I fought there until— I was blackmailed through by the UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 12 governors or nothing. Why would you fight for these people? I said, Because you need jobs. I have to tell you, what I really did, when they had me recruiting. I recruited for all of the black people that got top jobs with the State Highway Department. They couldn’t be civil engineering, they wouldn’t hire civil engineers, not blacks, when I was there. They didn’t hire foremen, they didn’t hire them there. They wouldn’t hire technicians, inspectors, they wouldn’t do that. So I fought for that stuff. I went all the way to Carson City and I filed a complaint against the state. You’d be surprised how I was threatened, my family was threatened that if I didn’t get out— I said, oh, well, I said, just have to go. These guys need jobs. You wouldn’t believe all the people that I got jobs for, they sold me down. But I still hung in there. And right today, they have good jobs. Some of them have retired from inspectors. Some of them have retired from civil engineers. Big, big, big money, through me. So that’s most of the thing that happened with me in this city. So that’s really interesting. And Sawyer asked you to go in there to do that? Oh, yes. Yes, he just told me to go down and I went down there and they said, this, and I said, The governor told me to come down here. They just give me some form, I filled it out, filled out the application, and that was it. So you start working there doing what? When I first started there, I started picking up cans on the highway. So how were you able to really be an activist for other black people? Well, my thing is he sent me there to be a recruiter— I didn’t know that— because there wasn’t no black people there, none at all, when I worked for the Highway Department. So after I’d gotten there and I’ve seen different things that I would like to get into, I said, well, wait a minute, I’m not going to pick up cans all my life. And so I started to— they didn’t have any applications, so I would sometimes get with the guys [ and] I’d say, hey, I would like to do this, I would like to UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 13 do that, and so if they allowed me, then the next thing I went to is truck driver. So I started driving trucks, and I used to drive those ten- wheelers, those big ones. I already had been, mostly all my life I used to drive bulldozers. I did that from way on up. And then I went from that, then they wanted me to go to— they had a guy down there that could nobody get along with. He was a German guy, couldn’t nobody work for him. They just railroaded me into a shop with him. And then they said, You’ve got to go in here and work for a few days. And after I’d gotten in there— he was a sign painter— he taught me how to paint signs. So I went from that— we called it fabricating— I went from that to a sign— and the first ladybug, if you’ve seen the little spiders, look like a little grasshopper, they [ 00: 30: 00] used to be ladybug. I was the one who invented that. A guy came down from Carson City and he seen it because he was a sign painter up there, and he’d taken the talent, and he was the one that got the recognition for it. I drew it up right here at the State Highway Department down there. I drew the bug. And it’s statewide. So explain this to me because I’m not from Nevada. So that was something that was like a symbol on the—? Yes, just on the symbol, on the thing. They just taken it off maybe ten or twelve— maybe, I don’t know, about twenty— it stayed there for years, the little ladybug. OK. I’m going to look for that in some old pictures. Look, and it’s in there. It’s the ladybug. And if you see it, looks like a little beetle, and I was the one that drew it. You invented it? I drew it. You drew it. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 14 Yes. I don’t know when it was invented, but the guy had taken it and up there in Carson City, because he was in the sign shop, he got it, and then he got all the recognition for it, you know. No big thing. It didn’t make any— and so I said, well, hey, I won’t ever do that anymore. So it’s just amazing, some things that happened here in this city that black people, what they went through. I’ve seen it all through here, just like I saw it back in the southern part of the States. I saw that, and it was right here. And right now, it’s worse now than it was then. Only thing they done do— what they don’t do here, they do it economically. I’m so thankful that I don’t. I was a contractor here; I had my own business. So this is after you left the State? Yes. But in fact, the business I had during the State, I was working my contract then and I mean licensing contractor. I was doing that. I built many houses and many complexes for the governor. And now, it’s terrible. So you saw it get better, and now you’re seeing it get worse? Well, I’ve seen it get better, but to me it was worse. So there was that era during when you’re doing this thing, it sounds like you really did give more opportunity to more black people in the city. Oh, yes, yes. I did. I opened up the doors for them in 1961, we really did it. It was just amazing how we used to march, you know. And we’d get rocks throwed at us, and balls, and all this kind of stuff. But we did that for our people to get where they are now, you know, because it wasn’t here. You couldn’t do that here. I said, wait, whoa, I’d rather be back there, you know, because at least those people had gotten together. They had some things that they could do. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 15 Yes, I think it’s surprising. Well, I’m not from here, as I said, so it’s surprising to come to Las Vegas and hear these stories about the sixties because from an outsider, it sounds more like what was happening in the South. Oh, yes. I’d like to say, I lived Roots back there. I saw guys killed and friends of mine be hung on a line. They did that, I saw that. Where? Back in Arkansas. Yes, I saw that. And you couldn’t walk on the side of a street up there. If a white lady be coming down the street, you had to get off. The black had to get off. We weren’t even allowed that way. I saw that and I said, well, I can’t live this way. I have to leave there. And then I came out here, and I almost left from here, you know. I said, well, where can I keep running? What can I do? I got to start somewhere. I got to start doing something. And I just started from there and came on up. It was terrible. Where are you from? I’m from New York. Oh, OK. Yes, so, you know, I was born in ’ 49 and I was a young teenager during the civil rights movement, so you saw all those things happening and all the injustices, but you know I never lived in a segregated place. Oh, I tell you, it was— maybe not. Maybe you should’ve lived there. Then you’d probably have been a lot different. Yes. No, don’t get me wrong, there was racial discrimination, there’s no question about it. There still is. But the kind of thing you’re talking about where you couldn’t go in, and what [ 00: 35: 00] you’re describing so vividly is what it was like here and that you really lived through some major changes in this state. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 16 Yes. Right here. I remember the time the black police couldn’t arrest the white people. He couldn’t do that. And they would beat you, you know, they’ll catch you in a certain area, they’ll beat you. You’ve got to be careful. North Town was one of the baddest places there was. They would do that to you down there. I’ve seen all of this stuff, you know, but I lived through it, and I never was afraid, you know. I just don’t understand how it could have been, but it really was. I’ve seen it all. And they just lie so much, the system lies. They know all of this stuff happened, but the way they put it to you, well, it’s the history here. I’ve seen it, I know where it came from. Now when you said you “ lived Roots,” you’re talking about what you saw in the South? Well, the way they did it on Roots: I’ve seen the white man take the whip and beat the black man, and I’ve seen him take it and beat and rape the black woman. I’ve seen that, and you couldn’t say anything about it. She couldn’t tell her husband that the man had sex with her, she couldn’t tell her husband because what he would do is he would kill him. I’ve seen all of this stuff, and it was just hard for me to shake it off, hard for me to live with it, to look at people, look at white people, and say, how cruel could you be to do like that? I used to be a hater. I didn’t like wh