Interview with Eddie Johnson:
Jamahl Fields: Will you please share with me any rememberance of any racial conflicts that you have experienced?
Eddie Johnson: There were many, many conflicts as we were growing up. That was during the era of segregation. In high school, we (African Americans) did the manual labor where as the students of the other race had jobs as clerks and secretaries in the department stores. Would you like me to elaborate on some of them? Of course promotions, you weren't promoted because of your race there several incidents. I don't have to get into details, but there were certain things that we knew, there were places we couldn't go, things that we couldn't do because of our color.
Fields: Could you tell me what kind of name or label you all had?
Johnson: We did janitorial work, construction work that kind of thing.
Fields: How did you feel about riding a segregated bus?
Johnson: Nobody liked it at the time. It was given that if you got on the bus even though the bus was empty you had to go to the back of the bus and it was something...uh it took away something from you.
Fields: How did you feel about segregation?
Johnson: It was a part of life at the time you didn't like it you knew that but you try to overcome it. You knew you had to be better to get certain jobs. So we prepared ourselves to be better.
Fields: Do you know what events led up to the Baton Rouge bus boycott?
Johnson: There wasn't an incident as such as the uh... Montgomery Boycott. Nobody was put off the bus. It was just that some of the community leaders thought that it was time that we were able to sit anywhere on the bus, so that's what led to the bus boycott.
Fields: How did you hear about the Baton Rouge bus boycott
Johnson: Through Churches. At the time, Churches were the main source of communication and that's where we basically heard it from.
Fields: How did the members in the community feel about the Baton Rouge bus boycott?
Johnson: I remember the community coming together, pulling there financial resources to ah finance the boycott. So the whole community was behind the bus boycott.
Fields: In what ways did Whites try to stop the Baton Rouge bus boycott?
Johnson: Well, you could not stand at the bus stop in order to get a ride. They made that illegal. So, if you weren't going to catch the bus that meant you had to walk, until one of the cars came along to pick you up.
Fields: Did the police use tactics to stop people from participating in the bus boycott?
Johnson: Uh, I personally didn't have any contact with the police because I knew, we knew that and I say we...uh the friends of mind when we were going different places we knew what we had to do. We couldn't stand at the bus stop, so we didn't stand at the bus stop. So we walked and we as we walked we were picked up and taken to our destination. So, really I didn't have any involvement with the police at all.
Fields: In what ways did Whites support the bus boycott?
Johnson: I really don't know of any way that Whites supported the bus boycott.
Fields: Who would you consider the leader of the Baton Rouge bus boycott?
Johnson: Well at the time it was Reverend Jemison was the...uh...got all the credit for being the leader of bus boycott.
Fields: During the Baton Rouge bus boycott did you ride the bus?
Johnson: No, I didn't. No I don't think any, any Blacks rode the buses. I think it was a hundred-percent involvement with the city and with the community. Nobody rode the bus.
Fields: What events made you scared?
Johnson: Well things that you heard about...uh...in other cities...uh...the lynching those type things made you weary. Those things...those things, you know, those things that could've happened here. And so you were a little weary of repercussion that could've come from the bus boycott.
Fields: Did you like have any plans for if you encountered anything like that?
Johnson: No! No! Not at all.
Fields: Did you know that Martin Luther King came to Baton Rouge?
Johnson: I was here when he came to Baton Rouge, yes.
Fields: What did you hear about what happened with him and stuff?
Johnson: When he came to Baton Rouge...uh...he came to Baton Rouge to...uh...actually copy what had gone on in Baton Rouge with the Baton Rouge bus boycott and he took that program back with him.
Fields: Do you recall when he came?
Johnson: I remember him here. I don't remember what date and what time he was here, but I do remember him being here.
Fields: Were you involved in any other civil rights movements?
Johnson: Uh, yes, I joined the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. I was a member of NAACP.
Fields: What did you do with SNCC?
Johnson: I was just a member.