Interview with Everlyn Johnson, March 21, 2011

Material Information

Interview with Everlyn Johnson, March 21, 2011
Johnson, Everlyn ( Interviewee )
Weston, Marna ( Interviewer )
Mississippi Freedom Project (MFP)
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Oral history interview


Subjects / Keywords:
African Americans ( fast )
Mississippi Delta Freedom Project ( local )
Civil rights movements ( fast )
Oral histories ( lcgft )
Spatial Coverage:
United States of America -- Mississippi -- Bolivar


Everlyn Johnson talks about her family heritage as slaves in Mississippi, and her education. She also talks about her experiences with 4-H, and her training and work as an agricultural extension agent. People mentioned include; Al Roker, Alice Thompson, Alba Green, Willy Rowles, Arlene McCormick, Marilyn Purdy, and Stacy White. Places mentioned include Como, Cleveland, Starkville, Mississippi and Bolivar County, Mississippi.

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UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
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UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
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Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license:
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The Foundation for The Gator Nation An Equal Opportunity Institution Samuel Proctor Oral History Program College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Program Director : Dr. Paul Ortiz 241 Pugh Hall Technology Coordinator : Deborah Hendrix PO Box 115215 Gainesville, FL 32611 352 392 7168 352 846 1983 Fax The Samuel Proctor O ral History Program (SPOHP) was founded by Dr. Samuel Proctor at the University of Florida in 1967. Its original projects were collections centered around Florida history with the purpose of preserving eyewitness accounts of economic, social, political, re ligious and intellectual life in Florida and the South. In the 45 years since its inception, SPOHP has collected over 5,000 interviews in its archives. Transcribed interviews are available through SPOHP for use by research scholars, students, journalists and other interested groups. Material is frequently used for theses, dissertations, articles, books, documentaries, museum displays, and a variety of other public uses. As standard oral history practice dictates, SPOHP recommends that researchers refer t o both the transcript and audio of an interview when conducting their work. A selection of interviews are available online here through the UF Digital Collections and the UF Smathers Library system. Oral history interview t ranscripts available on the UF D igital Collections may be in draft or final format. SPOHP transcribers create interview transcripts by listen ing to the ori ginal oral history interview recording and typing a verbatim d ocument of it. The transcript is written with careful attention to refl ect original grammar and word choice of each interviewee; s ubjective or editorial changes are not made to their speech. The draft trans cript can also later undergo a later final edit to ensure accuracy in spelling and format I nterviewees can also provide their own spelli ng corrections SPOHP transcribers refer to the Merriam program specific transcribing style guide, accessible For more information about SPOHP, visit http://oral.histor or call the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program office at 352 392 7168. October 2013


MFP 073 Interviewee: Dr. Everlyn Johnson Interviewer: Marna Weston D ate of Interview: March 21, 2011 W: This is Marna Weston on March 21, 2011 in Starkvill e, Mississippi with Dr. Everlyn Johnson. Thank you, Dr. Johnson, for speaking with me today. J: Sure, sure W: Dr. Johnson is going to talk about her family and her career and help inform the study. I begin first, could you state your complete name? J: Everlyn Sanford Johnson W: Okay, and what was your date of birth? J: My date of birth is June 27, 1950 W: And where were you born? J: I was born in Pano la County, Mississippi three count ies in from the Tennessee line, a l ittle town by the name of Como, named for the river W: C U O M O? J: C O M O. W: C O M O. The Como River J: Right, right W: And were you born in a hospital or born at home?


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 2 J: last of the seven to be born at h ome with the assistance of a midwife. The younger brother was born in a clinic. W: Who are your brothers and sisters in order from oldest to you? J: Ok ay Anna, t he oldest one born in [19]43. Then there were twins born in Anna was born in May [19]43 T he twins were W: What were their names? J: Freddie and Maddie Then was another daughter, Doris, born in 1946. Doris was born July 4, matte r of fact. Louis was born March 8, 1948. I was born in June of 1950 and the baby boy was born in April of 1953. W: Okay. We are gonna have a lot of backgrou nd sound because Dr. Johnson is cookin just for historic note later on [Laughter] W: Who were your mom and dad? J: My mom is a Bertha Baptist Sanford. My dad is Freddie Joshua Sanford. They e was a carpenter and a farmer. My mother had been a teacher but resigned after the fifth child came along and pretty much ran the farm with those of us wh o were children. My dad, you know, worked on the farm as much as possible but he had a carpentry crew, so he


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 3 did small carpentry work around the area. W: And your dad is currently deceased? J: He is. He died when he was sixty nine of lung cancer. W: birthday celebration program from December 2010. J: Yes, that was on her birthday. She was born December 19 1910 and that was her one hundredth birthday. W : J: Oh, i t was absolutely a wonderful celebration It truly was. The paper there in Memphis most of u s were staying in Me mphis and my baby brother works for the news paper t he paper, h is paper did a fe ature on her that morning, which was the front page of the paper speaking about the centenarian who was turning that way on her birthday. W: Did she al so get that little Today Show they put your picture . ? [Laughter] J: on. s been three years since three years trying to get her on. So she did get a l name now, in Washington.


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 4 W: J: No, he used to do the weather. He broadcasts from Washington, D.C. It s not Al W: J: anyway, we did get a letter from him. My mother did, congratulating her on reaching this milestone in her life but she did not get on the program. W: J: But W: Well, let aug hter] You know, just set a goal, get there and then see what happens afte r that. J: [Laughter] Right, right. W: Now what about y ? J: [inaudible 4:46] Baptist. A nd he was one of eight, I think, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8. No, he was one of nine A nd James Baptist, but they called the nickname will come to me in just a second, but h e was a Baptist preacher and he and his wife had four children. W: ooking at my second historic document. Dr. Johnson comes prepared here


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 5 J: [Laughter] No, no. Okay, h e and his wife ha d four children. M y mother was the oldest of the four. W: And what was her name? Your grandmother on that side. J: Her name was Lizzie Tate. She was a Tate before she married a Baptist. Now his father was a toddler and he and his mother were the two who were sold to slave owners in De S oto county. T T his is a county just on the Mississippi side of Memphis, Tennessee. W: Was that family the Baptist family or did they have a different name? J: Yes, Baptist this was toddler and its mother. The husband of th at family and other siblings were sold to other owners. So it was just the mother and her child and the c hild s name was H i r a m. They wer e owned by a family called Hocks ies, I believe and th she was so bitter with her husband and her other siblings being sold off that she did not follow in the tradition of a lot of slaves. She did not keep the sl ave owner s name. She nam ed herself from the religion, f r o m John the Ba ptist. So, when they came to DeS oto C ounty, when he grew up, he married a young lady there in De S oto C ounty and they had the nine children. W: Okay m arvelous. J: Baptist name came about. W: where are they come from?


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 6 J: came from the southern end of P ano la C ounty. They were owned by a family called Sanfords an d the slave owners were called Sanfords. My and I think one or two of the other siblings ran away from th e plantation and got as far as N orth Mississippi but they were able to find work and were able to take care. Of course, they lived ou t in the woods for a while, while the heat of the search was going on. T hen they were able to settle into the north end of slaves were freed this was in the 1860s so they were not sought after that E ventually once they got you know, so they could get the transportation they went back down to visit some of tho se family members. Aunt Rachel this was one of the young slave s who became free and seems like she is the nucleus of the N orthern Sanfords and the S outhern my southern kin his brothers went down to visit their A W: Okay. Now, w J: Yes. My husband grew up in Hind s County and well Alcorn. W: And what is his name? All I know is W.C. J: W.C. It s initials only. W: Oh initials only.


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 7 J: He had two other siblings only have initials W hen he finished at Alc o r n he taught in H ind s County for some few years T hen he went to gradua te school in Indiana and got a m asters and then from ther e he went t o work in Minnesota where he had a brother and a sister living. After teaching for a few years he got in the doctoral program at the University of Minnesota and continued until he got his doctorate. W: What was your earliest formal education? J: I, of course fini shed high school there in Panola County. North Panol a was the name of the high school. Went to commu nity college just six miles awa y but in the next county, Northwest Community College. From there, I went to Delta State in Cleveland W: Okay. [Laughter] J: R ight, ri ght. Exactly, he and his family, I knew his dad. But yeah, I got my b m aster from Delta State W: Okay J: When I graduated from Delta State I had mentioned to my department h eads and some of my teachers that I wanted a career with the e xtension service because the agents that we had had in my county, you know, farm families, work with e xtension folks. They were my idols and I just adored them so that I wanted even at young age to do that as a career


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 8 W: school that you ever went to? J: Ok ay. Okay, it was called Como High school I t was from first through twelfth grade. W: O kay, and where was it located? J: It was located in Como. W: Who was the principal? J: Rennie Hill was the principal of all of it. W: And who was your favorite teacher? J: Gosh, I had so many favorites. My very first teacher was Mrs. Warfield and her husband was a county agent so I knew him as well as I knew her because later on when I got involved in 4 H, he carried it was during segregation, and because I was a child who had interest in that he would carried me in the car with the fellows to some of the contests because the c aucasian agent did not believe in carrying black voyagers out of the county. S he would set up the contest in such a way that a black child was not gonna win so that they could earn a trip out of the county. But I entered. I was in an area of course, you know, c lothing was a popular area, and popular. So, gardening was one of my main projects and food preservation was the other one. There was not any white co mpetition in that there was other black


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 9 to go to some of those contests beyond the county level. Reverend Warfield therwise. W: So 4 H was your ve hicle for exercising leadership, to get you started. J: E xactly, Exactly. 4 H and church, 4 H and church yes W: It a lways comes out of that. So, what is your definition of leadership? J: It s when you command through y our actions, or your interests, and your knowledge to, y ou know, lead a group of others, t o provide information that others can follow. W: What are your earliest memories of church? J: M y earliest memories of church was when we were really small, twice a year sometimes more than that but two main times a year, if you could speak you learned some kind of poem in the way of a rhymed speech and you had to come up before the audience and recite it. W: What y a ll looking at me for? [ L aughter] W: ome here to say J: It W: Debaters always get that one.


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 10 J: but yes, that was a very popular one. I used to pride myself in learning one of the ones that had a lot of segments to it. But two main times. But there were times when we would do some for Christmas. W: Did you also take an active ro le and develop leadership through Sunday school? J: Yeah. well, the boys attended every Sunday. The girls attended . well, when I was younger I attended every Sunday but when I got older I had more chores and everything s o I pretty much waited until my mother came and that was to regular church. W: Did you remain in the same church from the time you were a child you know growing up or . ? J: Exactly. W: And what was that church? J: Dub and I were married in that church as well W: Really? J: Exactly. And still went there several years into our marriage. Dub never joined it. He kept his membership down at his home. The name of it was Hammond Hill Missionary Baptist Church. W: And who was the pastor? J: Revere nd Jacob W. Davis and he stayed there for twenty something years.


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 11 W: And he also married the two of you in that church? J: Exactly. I think Reverend Davi s married all of the girls. Yes, h e married all four of the girls. Neither of the three boys in my f amily yes. W: What has the role of church been in dev eloping the person who you are now and the academic person that you became ? J: It was an integral part. It was a major part of my life, yeah. You always got encouragement from . s ee, the church on ce had a school where my mother worked for a part of her career So, it just kind of carried over from one to the other one. You know, the school and the church were kind of one in the same. W: Okay. W ell while you are p o uri ng off that water, I want to talk to you about your perceptions from back when you were first recruited to your job in agriculture at and the retention process that encouraged you to your thoughts on what implications there were for y our academic, professional and personal life. I also want to talk to you about the personal and professional connections that formed your decision to accept or reject tha t higher offer and your subsequent offers as you, you know, moved up. J: Okay, okay. W: gh connections with others and please feel free if you can


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 12 s end you some written material I f I could actually see the pathways of who your mentors and who was advising you to bring in who you are. So, with all that in your mind, I now have a few specific questions for you. The first is, how did you select your in i tial job on a college campus? J: Okay, my initial job on a college campus, because there were seven of us and always more than one in school at the same time, my first job was to work in the recreation hall of the community college. I helped to flip hambu rgers and do stuff like that, exactly. Sev eral students worked in the rec hall but yeah, that was my first job. Then later on when I went to Delta State I went to community college two ye ars and went on to Delta State I worked in what was then called the H ome Economics D epartment. Many of the students, studen t workers, worked in the office. Y ou know, they did photocopying, they assembled materials. I worked in the child development lab and I had to catch the rabbit ever y day and put it back in the pen. I had to clean up the, you know, the . W: Rabbit droppings and everything [L aughter] J: Yes. I had to clean off the cage for the rabbit droppings. T hen in the building portion, where there wa s play station or rest station different stations. These were three and four year old students, you know I straighten ed those up every day. W: Did anyone advise you or mentor you that this would be a good job to get you started or did you just kind of fall upon this position? J: I just kind of fell into it because when I applied and after I started school I expressed an interest in wanting to find work study


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 13 it was the department head or somebody over in the admissions office that contacted them once they knew what my major was. They often try to place students in their major field. So e body from admissions who contacted the home economics department and they found a place for me to do there. W: When you lef t Delta State with your m asters is that the end of your education at J: No. No it was not. Huh uh I wa s hired into the e xtension service. Like I said, I expressed to my teachers an interest in corpo rative [co operative] e xtension because of the idols that I had had coming up through 4 H. W: Who were some of those people? J: Alice Thompson, Alba Green, Willy Rowles. We had three different black a gents who worked with black 4 Hers. T hen there was, you know, a white staff. But there predominately black agent, you know, a n a gent that worked with black students. R everend Warfield took me on and got me to things W: So you feel then that those people took a special interest in you and helped guide your career? J: Oh yes. Definitely. Definitely.


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 14 W: Okay. So you got the corporative e xtension s ervice. You earned your doctorate then after you accepted that job? J: Ye s. I started working with the c orporative e xtension service I g raduate d in May [19] 72, started working with the e xtension service June 5 of 1972. I got my m asters in [19]75 and I got my Doctorate in [19] 93. So I maintained my em p loyment in the e xt ension service and went to school part time for the degrees. W: And the d octorate was from Mississippi State? J: Yes, yes. But the m asters and b achelors were both from Delta State. W: Delta State. Okay, so did Delta State then have a pivotal role also i n you becoming who you are? J: Definitely. Yes, y es. W: Okay. W hat did you think about prior to choosing your first job in e xtension ? What were your processes of, is job. Why am I looking at it? T hat kind of thing? J: Well, I had be en to C leveland at one time before I became a student at Delta State. It was a contest that was down there and here again Reverend Warfield took care of me, even though he was t he only male who carried a 4 It was something I was interested in. The white agent was not particularly interested in that contest so he carried me down. It was a make it yourself with wool contest and I won it. W: Make it yourself with wool?


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 15 J: Exactly. I t was a wool garment that I had made and I modeled it and it was judged on me and off of me. And I won in my division. W: What was the garment? J: It was a dress. It was a princess style dress. W: Out of wool? J: Out of wool. W: Now did you raise the sheep too or did you just do the wool? J: No T here were oth er parts of the contest that included speaking parts with posters dealing with wool and how wool is processed and stuff like that. But I simply zeroed in on the construction part. W: Okay S o you modeled it, you d esigned a campaign to explain it, advertise it inform the process, everything. J: W ell I was asked questions about my const ruction. T he judges asked me questions that would help them know that I actually did make this myself, you know. There was a series of questions T hen I modeled i t and we had a little routine, a little place to walk and stand and stop and turn around and things like that and they guided you through all that. T hen, I had to carry an alternate outfit because there was a point of the contest where I had to change o ut of my dress into the clothes that I wore and they judged it looki ng at the seams and how I finished it all the way through.


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 16 W: Wow. J: Exactly. You have to do a little bit more than the outside appearance. The inside has to be t here are certain techni ques that have to been don e, to finish seams and all that kind of stuff. W: So they looked at the workman ship? J: T W: Y opportunity to get them down one more time. Who were the specific colleagues, friends or mentors who informed your decision to accept the e xtension job that you took? J: Well my department head was Mrs. Arlene McCormick She set up the interview because the interview was done in her office at Delta State. Another mentor there at Delta State was my nutrition teacher. She had worked with public health which was a county setting, so she knew a lot about the e xtension service A nd the two of them re ally made the int erview and all that happen. But the initial interest came from those idols that I had had coming up through 4 H. W: who was white did not take as much of a direct interest in you that point J: Right.


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 17 W: I I have a question but I want to cut off in your reflection you might have. J: M y mother was in an adult organization that was part of it and there were guidelines passed down to her through her employment that required her later in life to work with bla cks And m y mother was a part of that group. I was about to go into college then. So it was a forced thing later but it was a strain still the same B ut, you know, my mother was very active and they saw through, you know, the discomfort she had initiall y B ut it all got better. It all got better. W: How then, did racial situation s affect whether or not, throughout the rest of your life and career, you would decide to accept or not accept a higher off er that was given to you? J: Well, a lot of times, black s carve their career and what they do on the black side of town. I never did. Initially my job was to work with low income people of Bolivar County so that was pretty much my audience. But still, all the time I did other projects that the white agen necessarily use me lik e a consumer leaflet we did to go in the grocery stores that helped people, you know, to make better consumer decisions. W: Everybody. J: Exactly. I was fond of art and used to do my own artwork to tell a story. A nd some of these, I designed them to work with the families, with the audience that was my responsibility the lower income people of the county which, you know, were black


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 18 people. But she used some of those to use with all of the audience s. T hen there was a time shortly after I started working, the home economist at th at time resigned to take a part time job because she had three children and I had the responsibility but was not given the title. So I did some of those consumer le aflets and did n ewsletters and stuff like that some of the things that she had done but I did them as an assistant still. Then, when they got ready to replace the position they brought in a lady from . w because I like the time I would get it. They brought in a lady who had been working with the gas company. She has been the home economist with the gas company. So they brought her in. With h er not being familiar with the e xtension serv ice, I had to train her but still she was over me. W: Yeah, I understand that. J: She only stayed about two and a half, maybe three years and she got married and I did apply then W: Okay. J: I was the first black to acquire the position by regular means. They had what was called an applicant review board at that time. That was a board made up of six professionals and the applicants had to go before them and we re asked a battery of questions. T hen there was a written part of it and then there was an interview series with the administrators. I was the first black to become a county home economist going through all that process. Now there was a lady, a black lady, who had become one in Yalobusha


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 19 review board process and the reason is because there were no other people to apply f or it. This was a small county ; s he got it automatically. So she was the very first home economist to be named in that position, first black one to become e xtension home economist for the whole county, but I was the first one to go through the applicant review board W: With competition and them to see you were the best person J: With competition and be named, yes. W: Well, I guess they just knew after two and a half years of taking somebody that knowledge [L aughter] J: but here again, the vibes that I got were not consistent throughout. But I was ready that next time and I did. W: Ok ay. C an you discuss a situation where you left a job involved with e xtension or your college because of information communicated to you by a colleague friend or mentor? And I guess in a way, you not applying for the job the first time is kinda been you know, other similar situations? a job because your information network gave you information that helped you decide? J: Well, I left the agency because of . some discomfort and some things tha t were s till very much racially related. In fact, I was in administration then and the person


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 20 who had been in my district and was elevated to assistant director still meddled in my district and he put roadblocks in front of me. Really, he tried to sabotage my whol e career. He was not successful with that but. . W: But he tried. J: He tried. He tried. But I did leave. I had just had enough. And he had changed his retirement so many times and I was determined that I was gonna wait him out but as it happened he kept changing it because he was in hog heaven. He was the assistant director. He was virtually running e xtension The director had not had any prior experience so he was really manipulating him. W: And the checks were coming in. J: right. W: So why, when everybody else is doing the job, you just manage it. J: Exactly, exactly. W: So if you got good people you can stay in a position J: H e knew some of the things that were happening to me but he was not gonna make any waves because while he knew that guy was sabotaging me, he knew if he had defended me, he could sabotage him because of his lack of knowledge. W: Can you prescribe a specific situation a nd I think that you just did, a negative one where a communication from a colleague, friend or others helped shape your career in positive way ? A s opposed to that example.


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 21 J: Oh yeah, constantly. There was always somebody to encourage me to do i n fact, this is was when I had only been home economist, you know I applied and go t it I had only been in that for, l et [19]75 is when I got it, [19] 79 right after we built our house and had our little baby and everyt hing, Dub and I got married in [19] 76. M y bos s here at the state level called and asked me to take a job on the state level. W: J: Marilyn Purdy Dr. Marilyn Purdy. Her home was Grenada but she was state leader at that time. She asked me to take that job a nd I was very te mpted. My husband , would have moved because he did not like the D elta. This was a chance to get to the hills that I worked with when I first went to Bolivar C ounty, was even though I loved t hem, it was ju st that focus on low income. But I felt like my training having trained in a predominantly white school in an integrated setting had prepared me to focus on a bigger audience not just the audience of my people. This job was to become the s tate person with that program. To me, that was just a bigger but narrower do s ince I had struggled and got out So I t urned down that job. T hen it was [19] 88. It was a little while, but my husband actually took a job at Mississippi State and I wa s offered one to come with him. T he two of us went together. W: Ok ay, so the package deal.


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 22 J: Yeah, yeah. Exactly. W: After participating in this process of inviting me to your home and answering these que stions and I appreciate that, because t hat w as through Dr. Stacy White and Mr. James Davis, s o it shows how connections helped to help us do things J: Yeah, yeah. Well e xtension has always been. We had car trouble once in a county on our way home on a Sunday morning and the block of our car just broke. A plug of it came out so our car stopped immediately. The person I called was the e xtension person in that county and they hooked me up to a wrecker service and everything. We waited a little while a t a had gone to junior college with but it was that e xtension agent that hooked me up with somebody who could pull our car back to Clevel and. W: Marvelous. Well, okay S o seeing that value in e xtension, let s move it just a little bit narrower to African Americans in extension and your college faculty with agriculture. J: Sure, sure. W: n e the ideas of r etired African American faculty in order to help strengthen departments? S o that once people leave, should they still continue to add something whether it s for diversity recruitment or ongoing and in any other means? J: Mm hm. Some. W: Informally?


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 23 J: Yeah informally W: Informally, okay. Would a formal process be beneficial to Mississippi State or any other institutions? J: It would be most beneficial T here are times if people had had really, really difficult circumstances, sometimes that might carry over but not often. I was blessed to have mentors and older agents, more experienced agents mentor me throughout my career. Mr. Davis was one. My inte rest in horticulture came from him and I led a 4 H club. This was on a pers onal basis, not through my job t his was in addition to my job. Work with 4 Hers and horticulture was one of our main areas. I trained teams that went on to national contests and won at the national level. It all came doing educational programs. W: So you had trust in him? And because of that you were able to build up social capital. J: Exactly, exactly. W: So, how do we and th is just us, chickens in the barnyard, because there s no exact science to it but how do we begin to formalize this transfer social capital and trust in a recruitment situation or retention situation with African American faculty who may be coming here fro there and someone is, you know, there maybe to advise them or not to advise them.


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 24 J: Sure W ell, main ly to encourage the staff to do this ; r would do it even at their own expense to com e and have lunch with a new agent and just kind of tell them a little bit about the town, a little bit about what they did in t heir job because it can lead to, well I remember that lady that had lu nch w ith me say ing that she did such and such. I m gonna contact her to learn more about it becaus e like to do something similar. just been at the discretion and the forethought of the person in c harge of the i nterview process or t he department head. W: But is that a gap in the process though? To not have it formalized b thinking not only . J: W: Y eah cial all these things could all be included. How does that become more formalized and what would the value of that be? J: How could it become more formal ized? Well, the powers that be which would be your department heads or the assistant heads who do the interview, whatever that title is to encourage them to do it. Maybe your studies, maybe your wo rk will show them the benefits of doing this. [Laughter] B ecause it will do nothing but pay off. Some young people can have an initiative of their own to seek this but even with them , maybe introvertedness, or see,


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 25 have any avenues. They have to kinda do it by trial and error and that c ould all be eased if they had an avenue to get in touch with people who have been there. W: Dr. Everlyn Johnson, I cannot thank you enough for allowing me to come to Stark ville an d be in your home which is love ly, by the way and ask you these questions which I hope will continue to inform my studie I opportunity to say anything something we t to leave but when you finish those comments that will conclude the interview with our thanks. J: Okay, okay. Well, I had a wonderful career, got a chance to work with some absolutely wonderful people. I still have some of those connections. The lady who taught me to do my job was the county secretary because w hen I got the job a person who had had that role still in the county B ut the secretary who had worked with all of the m is my train r in the next few weeks. All ve got to do is the finishing touches so. T hen when she retired, I think there were forty something former agents w ho went to that retirement becaus e she was just that kind of individual. She was a mother figure to so many young agents. Yes, terrific. I assumed other jobs. I star t ed off at the county level, spent half my career there then when my husb and and I took jobs here a t state, I had my m asters and I went part time workin g on a doctorate. Took me from [19]89 to [19] 93 to get it but I eventually got it. And then was assigned to become a leadership t rainee and I did a little bit in different depa rtments to kinda see where


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 26 I though t of myself as the better fit or, you know, the department head. So I did several things. T hen I actually wo rked in administration my last five years with the extension service. But I guess I felt more racial discrimina tion in four of those five years than I had ever experienced before because the person I ans wered to pu t and I had a wonderful relationship with my agents T here were twenty one counties that I was administrator for and myself and those staff members were it was just a beautiful relationship. Now, he had some favorites or some people in some of those counties who helped him put roadblocks but by and large the county staff was just great to work with. And he actually did put some roadblocks in my he did some things to me that made it seem like I was not taking care of business to the director. He even put some of my job w e had to write for a position to be filled and it s my understanding he put some of those in the waste can A nd because as he reported to the director I haven t heard from Dr. Johnson on that position, he was given the okay to move ; I know it ha ppened twice move my positions to another district, because as h e said he hadn t gotten m y paperwork. So, t hose kind of things were very discouraging were too many good things going on to offset it. And I tried to tell the director that this was going on but here again, he was in a precarious position because he had to depend on this same person so nothing was done about it. I did speak to an A ffirmative A ction person about it and had documentation and everything long but she left the very suddenly, she left the system and moved to Texas I think she was gonna do something about it. She was on her way doing something


MFP 073; Johnson; Page 27 about it but they put up roadblocks for her too, so. . A nd I hate that I put her in a position that led to that because she believed me and she believed my documentation. She was the A ffirmative A ction officer at the time t around long after we talked so [ Laughter] T . yeah. [E nd of interview] Audit edited by: Diana Dombrowski, August 13, 2013 Final edited by: Diana Dombrowski, January 2014

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