Transcript of interview with Lubertha Johnson by Larry V. Buckner, February 10, 1978

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Transcript of interview with Lubertha Johnson by Larry V. Buckner, February 10, 1978
Material Set
Buckner, Larry V.
Interview with Lubertha Johnson conducted by Larry V. Buckner on February 10, 1978. Johnson moved to Las Vegas in the late 1940s from Mississippi and worked as a recreation director, nurse, and director of an anti-poverty progam, serving as a civic leader.
Mrs. Johnson, who came to Las Vegas in 1943, discusses her family background, work experience, civic activity, and philosophy. Until she was seventeen, Lubertha Miller Johnson lived in her native state, Mississippi. With her parents, she moved to Chicago, after which they migrated to Pasadena, California. Three years later, the family came to Las Vegas and remained permanently. Mrs. Johnson has worked as a recreation director, nurse, director of an anti-poverty program, and director of a pre-school. She has been active in civic affairs in the black community to secure housing and civil rights, in the NAACP, in the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and served on the Human Relations Commission of Las Vegas. Her first work was in a war housing project in Henderson. In her position as an interviewer, she notes that most of the black migrants who came seeking jobs in the metal industries were originally from two southern states, Arkansas and Louisiana. She recalls that blacks were usually given less desirable dirty jobs in the plants and that this kind of discrimination caused protests and strikes. Mrs. Johnson subsequently served as a recreation director for war workers, but the end of the war necessitated a change in employment. She discusses the difficulties a black person had obtaining training and job opportunities. She became a Practical Nurse with another black woman, the first blacks in that profession in Nevada. Mrs. Johnson acknowledges discrimination, but states she had decided early in life not to permit her color to limit her opportunity. She says she has always considered that she could make progress if she worked hard enough despite discrimination and segregation. Mrs. Johnson declares she has always been concerned about people and their problems, and she says she became involved in every movement concerning them. She discusses her forty year membership in the NAACP, in the National Conference of Christians and Jews, her service on the Human Rights Commission of the City of Las Vegas, her efforts to secure better housing for black people in West Las Vegas, and the struggle for civil rights. She reminisces about segregation and discrimination she experienced in Las Vegas, but despite some unpleasant personal experience, she says that Las Vegans, for the most part, were very polite in enforcing the system and hospitable. The only Strip restaurant where blacks could eat, she says, was Foxy's. Mrs. Johnson recalls that the poorest schools were on the Westside, that the NAACP led the fight to improve school facilities there and also brought about busing of Westside youngsters outside of West Las Vegas. She describes the poor housing, lack of water and sewer facilities, and the difficulty in obtaining mortgage funds for Westside blacks. Mrs. Johnson tells of the discrimination black performers suffered in the 50s and 60s because they were not allowed to eat or lodge in the hotels where they entertained. Westside homes were opened up to them and Mrs. Johnson recalls she entertained many of the star performers in her home. Neither were black people allowed to attend shows, but Mrs. Johnson relates that Josephine Baker had a clause included in her contract which specifically provided for the inclusion of black people in her audience. Mrs. Johnson expresses disappointment that President Jimmy Carter has not carried out promises he made blacks during his campaign. She is critical of Congressman James I. Santini who she says does not act favorably on any legislation helpful to black people. Mrs. Johnson says opportunities are much greater now than when earlier black people were making contributions. She wonders if young people today are doing enough to say that, with better opportunities, they are making more contributions. Collector: Larry V. Buckner February 10, 1978
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F849.L35 J64
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Original Date (interview)
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This material may be protected by copyright. Personal, including educational and academic, use of this material is without restriction; but acknowledgement of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, University Libraries is requested whether the use is oral, web or in print. Commercial use of any portion of this material requires permission. For further information please contact Digital Collections: This document is an oral history. It is a spoken account of certain events and phenomena recorded at one particular moment and filtered through one individual's life experience, sensibility, and memory. As such, it should be considered a primary source rather than a final, verified, or complete narrative of the events it records.
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University of Nevada Las Vegas
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2445 x 3105 pixels; 8.2 x 10.4 inches; 23,084,343 bytes; 27 images
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