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Oral History Interview with Guion Griffis Johnson, July 1, 1974. Interview G-0029-4. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Guion Griffis Johnson was a sociologist actively involved in race, poverty, and gender issues. In this interview—the final part of a four-part series—she discusses her work with the Georgia Conference on Social Welfare during the mid-1940s and her involvement in the civil rights movement and the women's movement of the 1960s and 1970s in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Johnson went to work as the executive secretary of the Georgia Conference on Social Welfare in Atlanta in 1944 when her husband, Guy B. Johnson, became the first director of the Southern Regional Council. She describes the condition of the Georgia Conference when she assumed control over it, noting the divisions on its board over public welfare versus private welfare. Johnson helped to get the Georgia Conference back on its feet by raising funds and promoting awareness of poverty-related social issues throughout Georgia. She discusses in detail her effort to establish a juvenile court in Albany, the interracial dynamics of the Georgia Conference, and the impact of the Eugene Talmadge political machine on the Conference's efforts. In addition, Johnson explains her thoughts on the merits of gradual change for race relations (advocated by her husband and the Southern Regional Council) and more direct action, which she pursued in establishing a child care center for African Americans in Chapel Hill. During the 1960s, Johnson was active in various women's organizations and was a forerunner in the work of the North Carolina Commission on the Status of Women. She describes her thoughts on the Equal Rights Amendment, her political connections and activities, and her thoughts on the student sit-in movement. Johnson concludes the interview by asserting her belief that it was time for black leadership to take a more dominant role in the civil rights movement by the 1960s.
    Excerpts
  • Georgia Conference on Social Welfare
  • Raising awareness of poverty and promoting the general welfare of the community
  • Obstacles to holding an interracial conference in Atlanta during the gubernatorial reign of Eugene Talmadge
  • Establishing a juvenile court in Albany, Georgia
  • Justifications for supporting Talmadge and Carmichael in the Georgia gubernatorial election of 1947
  • Role of women in the Southern Regional Council and indirect support of the organization
  • Comparing the merits of gradual versus direct change in race relations
  • North Carolina Commission on the Status of Women and debate over the ERA
  • Choosing not to run for state office
  • Explanation of non-involvement in 1964 civil rights sit-in movement
  • Interaction with and perceptions of the Black Student Movement
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Southern States--Race relations
  • Women's rights
  • School integration
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.