Transcript of interview with Woodrow Wilson by Jamie Coughtry, 1989

Metadata

Digital ID
ohr000222
Title
Transcript of interview with Woodrow Wilson by Jamie Coughtry, 1989
Narrator
Material Set
Interviewer
Coughtry, Jamie;
Description
Interview with Woodrow Wilson conducted by Jamie Coughtry in 1989. Born in a Mississippi sawmill town in 1915 to a family that ran a boarding house, Wilson completed high school at a private boarding school and attended two years of junior college before the declining economy forced him into the Civilian Conservation Corps to work as a cook and baker. Migrating west in 1940, Wilson soon settled in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he worked for Basic Magnesium, Inc. He became a prominent Westside community activist, founding a federal credit union and serving as president of the Las Vegas NAACP. Wilson worked for over thirty years as a warehouseman for companies that occupied the Basic Magnesium site. In 1966, he was elected to the state assembly, becoming the first black legislator in the history of Nevada, advocating open housing legislation, anti-discrimination regulations, welfare reform, and civil rights.
Abstract
Woodrow Wilson was born in a sawmill town in Mississippi in 1915, the son of a mill worker. His mother owned and operated boarding houses, and the family was somewhat more prosperous than the average black family of that area and time. Following the eighth grade, Woodrow was sent to a private boarding school to complete his high school education. He went on to finish two years of junior college work, but his plan to get a college degree was thwarted by the declining economy. He entered the Civilian Conservation Corps, was trained as a cook and baker, and became the mess sergeant for a nearby camp. In 1940 Woodrow left Mississippi and the depressed South. He joined the growing migration of Southern blacks who were drawn to employment opportunities offered in the timber industry, public works projects and nascent defense plants of the West. After a year in the timber camp of McNary, Arizona (and a brief sojourn in Chicago), Woodrow traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he found employment with Basic Magnesium, Incorporated (BMI). Thousands of other blacks settled in Las Vegas to work in this major defense plant during World War II, forming a large community known as the Westside. Woodrow Wilson became a prominent citizen of the Westside, active in his church and the local NAACP chapter. He soon found himself speaking out about segregation and the open racism that was common in Las Vegas at that time. Following the war, Mr. Wilson worked for over thirty years as a warehouseman for companies that occupied the old BMI site. He founded a federal credit union on the Westside, was elected president of the Las Vegas NAACP, and became increasingly active politically. In 1966 he was elected to the state assembly, becoming the first black legislator in the history of Nevada. During his three terms he was a vigorous and effective advocate of open housing legislation, anti-discrimination regulations, welfare reform, and civil rights in general. In 1980, Mr. Wilson was elected to the Clark County Commission, from which he resigned in 1984. He continues today to serve as manager and treasurer of the Westside Federal Credit Union. As conducted by Jamie Coughtry, this 1989 oral history concentrates primarily on the struggle for social and political equality by black citizens of Las Vegas, from the 1940s to the present. Within the context of Mr. Wilson's personal experiences, the reader is provided with informative, detailed description and analysis of segregation at BMI, life in the Westside in the 1940s and 1950s, the role of the NAACP in politics, the Moulin Rouge agreement of 1960, race and politics at the state legislature, and a host of other related subjects. This oral history is the second in a series intended to document much of the history of the black community in Las Vegas. The first in the series was the 1988 Lubertha Johnson oral history. For subsequent volumes to be published after 1989, the reader should consult updates to the Oral History Program's Collection Catalog. R. T. King University of Nevada, Reno 1989
Identified Individuals
Identified Corporate Bodies
Identified Neighborhood
Westside;
Neighborhood City / Town
Source
F849 L35 W67x 1990
Original Collection
Original Date (interview)
1989
Subject (FAST)
DC Type
Genre (TGM)
Specific Genre (LCSH)
Language
Rights
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: http://digital.library.unlv.edu/contact. 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.
Digital Publisher
University of Nevada Las Vegas
Digital Collection
Master Extent
1494 x 2512 pixels; 4.98 x 8.373 inches; 9,404,416 bytes; 153 images
Master File Format
Master File Quality
24 bit color; 300 ppi

Cite this Item

When linking to this object, please use the following URL:

http://digital.library.unlv.edu/u?/ohr,484

Tags

Comments

Subscribe to recent comments

There are no comments yet. Be the first to comment below!

Comment on this object