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Johnny Shaw

Radio station owner and state representative Johnny W. Shaw was born on January 5, 1942 in Laconia, Tennessee. He attended the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee, where he received a degree in theology.

In the 1960s, Shaw was the spokesman of a local gospel group’s Sunday morning radio program on WBOL-AM in Bolivar, Tennessee, where he was also the first African American staff announcer. He was later promoted to program director and assistant manager, and then as general manager of WBOL. In addition to his work at WBOL, Shaw served as a minister at Saint John Missionary Baptist Church in Stanton, Tennessee. He also sang with the musical group, the Shaw Singers, and worked as a psychologist.

In 1987, Shaw and his wife, Opal, founded the Shaw Broadcasting Company, LLC, where he served as chief executive officer. That same year, Shaw Broadcasting Company purchased WBOL. In the early 1990’s, Shaw acquired the license permit to construct a 6000 watt FM station in Bolivar, which was then built and began broadcasting in 1992 as WOJG-FM.

In 1997, Shaw was appointed as a co-commissioner of Hardeman County in Tennessee, where he served for one-and-a-half terms. In 2000, he was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives, representing District 80, where he became the first African American to serve in the state legislature in rural west Tennessee since reconstruction. Shaw won re-election in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012. While in public office, he served as house member of the 102nd through 108th General Assemblies; member of the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee; member of the House State Government Committee and Subcommittee; member of the Joint Pensions and Insurance Committee; and chair of the Tennessee Legislative Black Caucus.

Shaw is a lifetime member of the NAACP, and has served as a board member of the National Civil Rights Museum. He also served as board chair of the Western Mental Health Institute, and was a member of the West Tennessee River Basin Authority Board. In 2012, Shaw received the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters (TAB) Distinguished Service Award.

Shaw and his wife have six children. They reside in Bolivar, Tennessee.

Johnny Shaw was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 23, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.060

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/23/2014

Last Name

Shaw

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Wilson

Schools

Love Elementary

Fayette Ware Comprehensive High School

Allen White High School

American Baptist Theological Seminary

First Name

Johnny

Birth City, State, Country

Laconia

HM ID

SHA07

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

State of Tennessee

Favorite Quote

God Cannot Get You Through It 'Til He Gets You To It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Interview Description
Birth Date

1/5/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bolivar

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Pasta

Short Description

Radio station owner and state representative Johnny Shaw (1942 - ) was the cofounder and CEO of Shaw Broadcasting Company, LLC, and owner of the WBOL and WOJG radio stations in Bolivar, Tennessee. He was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 2000.

Employment

WBOL-AM

Saint John Missionary Baptist Church

Shaw Broadcasting Company, LLC

Hardeman County, Tennessee

Tennessee House of Representatives

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652421">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Johnny Shaw's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652422">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Johnny Shaw lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652423">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Johnny Shaw describes his mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652424">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Johnny Shaw talks about his mother's education and aspirations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652425">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Johnny Shaw describes his father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652426">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Johnny Shaw talks about his father's upbringing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652427">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Johnny Shaw describes how his parents met and married</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652428">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Johnny Shaw describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652429">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Johnny Shaw talks about the sharecropper system</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652430">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Johnny Shaw talks about Tent City in Fayette County, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652431">Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Johnny Shaw talks lists his siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652432">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Johnny Shaw describes his earliest childhood memory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652433">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Johnny Shaw describes his childhood home</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652434">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Johnny Shaw recalls the entertainment of his youth</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652435">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Johnny Shaw remembers the influence of WLAC Radio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652436">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Johnny Shaw recalls his early aspirations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652437">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Johnny Shaw talks about his early education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652438">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Johnny Shaw describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652439">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Johnny Shaw recalls his high school education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652440">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Johnny Shaw remembers his father's voting rights activism</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652441">Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Johnny Shaw describes his senior year at the Allen-White School in Whiteville, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652442">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Johnny Shaw recalls his aspirations after high school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652443">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Johnny Shaw describes his position at Whiteville Auto Parts and Hardware in Whiteville, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652444">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Johnny Shaw remembers Memphis State University in Memphis, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652445">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Johnny Shaw talks about his employment during the 1960s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652446">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Johnny Shaw recalls being hired as a deejay at WBOL Radio in Bolivar, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652447">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Johnny Shaw describes the format of his radio show</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652448">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Johnny Shaw talks about The Shaw Singers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652449">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Johnny Shaw remembers The Shaw Singers' hit singles</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652450">Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Johnny Shaw describes his call to the ministry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652451">Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Johnny Shaw remembers founding Shaw's Broadcasting, LCC</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652452">Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Johnny Shaw describes the gospel format of WBOL Radio in Bolivar, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652453">Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Johnny Shaw talks about the challenges of radio station ownership</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652454">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Johnny Shaw talks about radio station ratings and wattages</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652455">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Johnny Shaw recalls the programming at WBOL Radio in Bolivar, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652456">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Johnny Shaw remembers purchasing WOJG Radio in Bolivar, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652457">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Johnny Shaw talks about WOJG Radio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652458">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Johnny Shaw talks about the gospel programming on WOJG Radio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652459">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Johnny Shaw talks about his competitor, Clear Channel Communications, Inc.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652460">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Johnny Shaw recalls his appointment as commissioner of Hardeman County, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652461">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Johnny Shaw recalls his election to the Tennessee House of Representatives</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652462">Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Johnny Shaw recalls the opposition to his campaign for the Tennessee House of Representatives</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652463">Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Johnny Shaw describes his challenges as a state representative</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652464">Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Johnny Shaw recalls renovating the Western Mental Health Institute in Bolivar, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652465">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Johnny Shaw recalls Stacey Campfield's campaign to join the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652466">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Johnny Shaw remembers Barack Obama's presidential campaign announcement</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652467">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Johnny Shaw remembers Opal's Family Restaurant in Bolivar, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652468">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Johnny Shaw recalls his retirement from Shaw's Broadcasting, LLC</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652469">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Johnny Shaw talks about his role in the Tennessee House of Representatives</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652470">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Johnny Shaw talks about per diem limits for legislators</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652471">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Johnny Shaw talks about partisanship in the Tennessee House of Representatives</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652472">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Johnny Shaw talks about the future of the Tennessee House of Representatives</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652473">Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Johnny Shaw shares his plans for the future</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652474">Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Johnny Shaw reflects upon his career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652475">Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Johnny Shaw describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652476">Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Johnny Shaw describes his political advice to his congregation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652477">Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Johnny Shaw talks about reconciling his religious and political beliefs</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652478">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Johnny Shaw talks about the separation of church and state</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652479">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Johnny Shaw talks about the role of religion in government</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652480">Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Johnny Shaw reflects upon his life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652481">Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Johnny Shaw talks about his family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652482">Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Johnny Shaw describes how he would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/652483">Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Johnny Shaw narrates his photographs</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

5$8

DATitle
Johnny Shaw recalls being hired as a deejay at WBOL Radio in Bolivar, Tennessee
Johnny Shaw recalls his election to the Tennessee House of Representatives
Transcript
But in the meantime, I had gotten a part time job working at the radio station, only on weekends.$$Now, now tell us how this, this job came about.$$The radio?$$And this is W- is this WBOL [WBOL Radio]?$$WBOL. Well, actually (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) In Bolivar [Tennessee], right?$$That's WBOL in Bolivar. I got hired when I first started--I didn't know this until later. I was hired because I was an African American, and FCC [Federal Communications Commission] had put pressure on southern radio stations and say that, "You got to have at least one black on your staff." So I got hired part time, became the local deejay; actually became, I guess, very popular in the community because I mean at that point in time, if you worked in radio, it was big thing; I mean people actually waited outside to get your autograph and, and whatever else. I mean (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) So this is 19--what?$$This--we are now in the upper '60s [1960s]; we somewhere about '68 [1968], '69 [1969], somewhere about. And so I'm working on there weekends but because it became such--the show became so popular they said, "We got to put you on every day."$$Now this a trajectory of--you were telling me before we got started, you said that your gospel group [The Shaw Singers] was on the radio, right? (Simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, this was--$$--and the station manager heard you?$$No, this--right, we--what we were doing were, we would--I had this group--we're the little community group, we were singing, so station manager hears our group; I'm doing the announcing for the group, "We're gonna be at Brown's Chapel [Brown's Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, Jackson, Tennessee] this Sunday evening at two o'clock, come and hear us sing." We had a couple of sponsors and do the sponsorship and that type thing. "Johnson Mays Appliance Company [ph.], you need your appliances fixed, go by Johnson Mays," you know. "Washing machine, dryers, et cetera," so forth; that type thing; Modeling Rivers Funeral Home [ph.] burial policies, all of that. So the station manager hear me making these announcements and decide that I'll make a deejay so he calls me and he hires me and I get ten minutes of training.$$So now what was his name?$$Ralph Clenney.$$Okay.$$Ralph Clenney in Parsons, Tennessee--lives there now; owns a radio station [WKJQ Radio] in Parsons now.$$How do you spell his last name?$$Ralph Clenney. You know I--I think he spells it with a K; he does. K-L-I-N-N-I-N-G [sic.], something like that, Ralph Clenney. But anyway, I got hired, so now I'm working on a radio station and I'm a local deejay every evening from three [o'clock] until whatever time the sun go down because this is a daytime station. I didn't get a chance to play the recorded commercials; everybody wanted me to adlib their commercials because I was ringing the cash registers. "If Johnny said it--," and I mean--and, and, and people in the community was going in saying, "I heard Johnny say, come by and get this and get that." And people were loving that, so I was doing all of my commercials live. Everybody else had recorded commercials but me.$$Can you do one for us the way you do one in those days?$$(Laughter) Gosh, I don't know. I'm trying to think what--you know, something like, "The Shirt Shack [ph.] at downtown Bolivar; get 10 percent off this afternoon. Go by and tell Vance [ph.], [HistoryMaker] Johnny Shaw sent you; they've got hot styles," or blah, blah, blah, you know--I don't know, I can't do that anymore, but (laughter) that kind of stuff (laughter). And that's how I started in radio, and that's when I was gonna share with you--I decided that I wanted to do production and I knew I had to be good; I knew I had to be real good with it, so I grabbed this Maxwell's Big Star [Bolivar, Tennessee] commercial and I go in the production room and I record it. I never heard it on the air; never heard it, so I asked the station manager. By now, my station manager is a different guy; it's not Ralph Clenney, it's a different guy. And I said, "I did the Maxwell's Big Star commercial and I never heard it; what happened to it?" He said, "Oh, by the way, I forgot to tell you they don't want blacks' voice on their commercial." And I said to him, I said, "Well in that case, someday I'll just own their radio station." Kind of just said it as a response, went on, and it was years later that he walked in and said to me, "You said you wanted to own a radio station; we got one for sale, you wanna buy it?" And I said, "Sure."$$Now let's--I'm gonna breeze past all this time, but you were on the air for how many years?$$I was on the air, gosh, for twenty something years there, before I bought.$$Okay, this is 19--$$Yeah.$$--so this would be 1968 until--$$All the way up until--$$--eighty-eight [1988] or so?$$Yeah, somewhere about '88 [1988].$$Okay.$$Yeah, um-hm, you, you, you're right; you're exactly right.$Election to, to the House--now you, this is a campaign. Now you, you have to run, actually, for--$$For the House of Representatives [Tennessee House of Representatives]?$$Yeah, yeah (unclear).$$Well, that came about by a lawsuit that was filed by some concerned citizens, and I don't wanna get into name calling 'cause I'd leave somebody out and they'd be mad at me. But there was a lawsuit filed that there was not enough representation for the rural, especially African American, community in West Tennessee. They won the lawsuit; I'm sitting at my radio station one day, I get a call, and this lady says to me, "Whoopee, we won the lawsuit." And I said, "What lawsuit?" She told me, she said, "And by the way, we know we don't have to, but we would really like to name our candidate to run for that seat, and we think you would be the perfect person." And her name was Mrs. Minnie Bowmer [ph.], and I say, "Miss Minnie, I don't have no idea what a state representative does; I have no money to run for state representative, et cetera, et cetera." She said, "It's nothing to it, it's part time; you can do it." Said, "Besides, we got your back far as funding--financing you; we got your back." Said, "Just tell us you'll run." I said, "I need to do three things; I need to get permission from God, from my family, and from my church [St. John Missionary Baptist Church, Stanton, Tennessee]." I told my family about it, they were so excited they wanted to throw a party. I knew when I got to church and told my church about it they were gonna say, "Whoa, no," 'cause I presented it this way; I say, "Now look, I'm gonna be gone a lot, okay? And there'll be times when you'll need me, I'll be in Nashville [Tennessee], and I just want to be honest with you. I'd love to do this, but if you don't want me to do it, I won't." And the very person that I thought would be against it stood up and say, "Pastor, if you go and represent us and do this, we will make sure that the church ministry is carried on." Well, that was my answer from God, from my family, and from them. So that's where it all started. And I ran in 2000--1999, actually, was when I ran and won that November, and January--well actually, in November of 1999 I was officially elected as state representative for the eightieth district [Tennessee House of Representatives District 80]; and that's been fourteen years ago and, and here I am.

Maxine Smith

Civil rights activist, executive secretary, and state government employee Maxine Smith was born on October 31, 1929, in Memphis, Tennessee. She graduated from Booker T. Washington High School and went on to receive her B.A. degree in biology from Spelman College and her M.S. degree in French from Middlebury College. In 1957, Smith applied to the University of Memphis and was rejected because of her race. This brought her to the attention of the local NAACP chapter, which she joined and became executive secretary of in 1962.

Having helped to organize the desegregation of Memphis public schools in 1960, Smith also escorted the first thirteen Memphis children to benefit from the Memphis school desegregation. Smith continued to fight for civil rights and school integration throughout her career, organizing lawsuits, sit-ins, and marches, including the “Black Monday” student boycotts that lasted from 1969 to 1972. Smith served on the coordinating committee for the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers’ strike that Martin Luther King Jr. travelled to Memphis to support before his assassination.

In 1971, Smith won election to the Memphis Board of Education, a position which she held until her retirement in 1995. In 1978, Smith was instrumental in ensuring W.W. Herenton’s election as the first African American school superintendant in Memphis, kicking off his political career. Smith was elected president of the Memphis Board of Education in 1991, the same year that her protégée Herenton became the first elected African American Mayor of Memphis.

Smith received more than 160 awards for her efforts on behalf of educational equality and civil rights, including the National NAACP Leadership Award, the Bill of Rights Award from the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Whitney H. Young Jr. Award from the National Education Association. She was a member of the board of directors for many charitable and civic organizations, including The National Civil Rights Museum, the NAACP, the Women’s Foundation for Greater Memphis, and the National Kidney Foundation. Smith has also been featured in several documentaries about the Civil Rights Movement, including Oscar-nominated Witness From the Balcony of Room 306 and Memphis: The Promised Land . She passed away on April 26, 2013.

Accession Number

A2010.094

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/30/2010

Last Name

Smith

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Schools

Booker T. Washington High School

Spelman College

Middlebury College

Lincoln Elementary School

Porter Elementary School

First Name

Maxine

Birth City, State, Country

Memphis

HM ID

SMI23

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cruises

Favorite Quote

I Gave It My Best Shot.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Interview Description
Birth Date

10/31/1929

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Memphis

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Pasta

Death Date

4/26/2013

Short Description

Executive secretary, foreign languages professor, civil rights activist, and state government employee Maxine Smith (1929 - 2013 ) was a leader of the Civil Rights Movement in Memphis, Tennessee, where she served on the school board for twenty-four years.

Employment

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

Memphis City Government

LeMoyne-Owen College

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625022">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Maxine Smith's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625023">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Maxine Smith lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625024">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Maxine Smith talks about her mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625025">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Maxine Smith describes her mother's teaching career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625026">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Maxine Smith remembers her father</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625027">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Maxine Smith describes how her parents met</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625028">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Maxine Smith talks about her father's education and employment</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625029">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Maxine Smith lists her siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625030">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Maxine Smith describes her community in Memphis, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625031">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Maxine Smith remembers visiting her father at the Memphis Veterans Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625032">Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Maxine Smith reflects upon her early family life, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625033">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Maxine Smith describes her early personality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625034">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Maxine Smith reflects upon her early family life, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625035">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Maxine Smith remembers her parents' finances</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625036">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Maxine Smith reflects upon her upbringing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625037">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Maxine Smith describes her schooling</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625038">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Maxine Smith remembers her father's burial</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625039">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Maxine Smith talks about being the youngest of her siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625040">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Maxine Smith remembers the Tri-State Fair in Memphis, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625041">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Maxine Smith recalls her family's periodical subscriptions</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625042">Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Maxine Smith remembers Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625043">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Maxine Smith remembers enrolling at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625044">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Maxine Smith remembers joining the board of the NAACP</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625045">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Maxine Smith recalls the language program at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625046">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Maxine Smith describes her courtship with her husband, Vasco Smith, Jr., pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625047">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Maxine Smith describes her courtship with her husband, Vasco Smith, Jr., pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625048">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Maxine Smith talks about her husband's upbringing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625049">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Maxine Smith remembers returning to Memphis, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625050">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Maxine Smith talks about her social circle in Memphis, Tennessee, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625051">Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Maxine Smith remembers joining the Memphis branch of the NAACP</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625052">Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Maxine Smith talks about her experiences at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625053">Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Maxine Smith talks about her social circle in Memphis, Tennessee, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625054">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Maxine Smith talks about the Civil Rights Movement</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625055">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Maxine Smith recalls the agenda of the NAACP Memphis Branch, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625056">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Maxine Smith recalls the agenda of the NAACP Memphis Branch, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625057">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Maxine Smith describes Memphis Mayor E.H. Crump's political machine</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625058">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Maxine Smith remembers her high school principal, Blair T. Hunt, Jr.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625059">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Maxine Smith describes the voter registration drives in Memphis, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625060">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Maxine Smith talks about voter disenfranchisement in Shelby County, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625061">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Maxine Smith remembers the elections of Russell B. Sugarmon and A.W. Willis, Jr.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625062">Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Maxine Smith remembers attending the March on Washington</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625063">Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Maxine Smith reflects upon the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625064">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Maxine Smith remembers the death of Medgar Evers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625065">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Maxine Smith talks about the Tennessee General Assembly elections of 1964</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625066">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Maxine Smith remembers confronting the Board of Education of Memphis City Schools</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625067">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Maxine Smith reflects upon her civic service</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625068">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Maxine Smith talks about the Black Monday boycotts in Memphis, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625069">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Maxine Smith remembers the support for her school board candidacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625070">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Maxine Smith talks about the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625071">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Maxine Smith recalls meeting W.W. Herenton</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625072">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Maxine Smith recalls W.W. Herenton's election as superintendent of the Memphis City Schools, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625073">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Maxine Smith recalls W.W. Herenton's election as superintendent of the Memphis City Schools, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625074">Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Maxine Smith talks about Memphis Mayor W.W. Herenton's leadership</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625075">Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Maxine Smith talks about her support for congressional candidate Steve Cohen</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625076">Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Maxine Smith talks about the political climate in Memphis, Tennessee, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625077">Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Maxine Smith talks about the political climate of Memphis, Tennessee, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625078">Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Maxine Smith reflects upon her life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625079">Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Maxine Smith reflects upon her legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625080">Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Maxine Smith describes the founding of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625081">Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Maxine Smith talks about the National Civil Rights Museum</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625082">Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Maxine Smith reflects upon the legacy of her husband, Vasco Smith, Jr.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/625083">Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Maxine Smith describes how she would like to be remembered</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

6$3

DATitle
Maxine Smith describes the voter registration drives in Memphis, Tennessee
Maxine Smith remembers confronting the Board of Education of Memphis City Schools
Transcript
But then you all were registering voters and, now--$$Oh yeah this is (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) getting more voters.$$This is--$$Okay. So you're getting into the voter registration?$$Uh-huh.$$Okay.$$Now this is in f- my first little task on the NAACP [NAACP Memphis Branch, Memphis, Tennessee].$$Okay.$$We went in, in two years we had over fifty thousand and all since the history of Memphis [Tennessee], we had less than ten thousand. We had ten thou- fifty thousand black registered voters.$$New, new voters?$$New voters.$$Okay.$$Registered there.$$Now how, how did you do it? Did you go door to door or?$$Door to door, yeah, that's what I tell these politicians now; they got my old self out here trying to help our politicians (laughter). I said I'm too old, but, so they put me on the billboard (laughter). But you know everything is so technical, so computer now, which is good. But I still, well that's my age and that's you know how I was raised. See the good in that personal contact.$$Okay.$$You know I'll, I mentioned the political club, the Democratic club [Shelby County Democratic Club], you said, how did we get--? We organized, we had eighty precincts all with a significant amount of black votes organized block by block. Each block worker was assigned or responsible for his block, if it was too short, two blocks maybe. And, and we'd ret- we'd go get them 'cause we didn't have postcard voting, registration then. Take them down to the, you know, voter registration office and then peo- people got killed, this what Chaney [James Chaney], Schwerner [Michael Schwerner] and Goodman [Andrew Goodman] got killed for in Mississippi, and they aren't the only ones. But what we were doing in many places before they went crazy, and Memphis never tried to block us because Crump [E.H. Crump] wanted these folks voting, so they couldn't stop that. But block by block we'd call by telephone, well we'd get them registered. We'd have to pick them up, find somebody with a car, buy a little gas to help him 'cause we couldn't even--some of us couldn't even afford gas. Then we had to go get them on voting day or Election Day and see that they voted and we had a little card file; we didn't have computers then. With every registered voter, we'd spend our money instead of paying folks, getting voter registration lists. We'd have card files, and as they voted, we'd put the voters in one box and about two o'clock in the evening if whatever's left we start sending troops out there to get them. "Go on out of this house and vote." We could get--'cause it wasn't as many voters then, it wasn't as many of us, we could get a 75 percent turnout. And 90 to 95 percent of us were voting together, you understand what I mean? Now NAACP could work up to the point of who you vote for 'cause our dri- drive, voter registration drives was to get 'em out, get 'em to vote, but we couldn't tell them who to vote for. So that's where the political club came in and we were so effective.$I wanted to ask you a question about Fannie Lou Hamer. Did, did, did she ever come to Memphis [Tennessee] to talk or anything that you remember?$$Yeah I saw her somewhere, oh gosh she was quite a figure. I remember her better at the Democratic National Convention in '72 [1972 Democratic National Convention] when that was my first national convention. That was in Miami [Florida], Vasco [Smith's husband, Vasco Smith, Jr.] didn't even know I was going. I had, and I was--my heart troubles were beginning to show I guess.$$Well maybe let's wait to the end then.$$Uh-huh.$$Just talk about, now, 'cause what you, we, you, we had started talking about the school crisis in Memphis [Tennessee] and the Black Mondays--$$Yeah.$$Tell us about what Black Monday was all about and what?$$Well we had a list, I have them somewhere here, I'm so disorganized, of fifteen demands that we took to the school board [Board of Education of Memphis City Schools; Shelby County Board of Education].$$And you took them as, as what? As, as the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] or as--$$Yeah, as NAACP. I was the spokesperson because I was executive secretary of the NAACP [NAACP Memphis Branch, Memphis, Tennessee]. For years, see, we always had kept a pretty even balance racially--numerically and racially. You know some years it may be a few more whites, some years it may be a few more black, but we never had a black school board member. We didn't have any black administrators, the only administrators we had was black principals who were principals over black schools. And, and whatever, they did it over black schools. And we were demanding more black representation that kind of imaged the s- school system. Every time a vacancy would occur on the school board, we'd go down--you know by death or resignation or something, we'd go down and ask for a representative, a black person to be appointed. 'Cause it filled themselves, I think the, the mayor of the city commission in those days I think it was called, had to okay whatever the school board ruled it was filled. You know not by vote, but, but they just turned their backs on us. I'll never forget the straw that really broke them down that began, I told, I'm so glad I didn't know this lady was about to die. There was a group of white women, mostly Jewish women who had, they called funds for--their, their primary interest was feeding the hungry children. I think they called themselves funds for needy children, fund for something; they had a name for that movement. And I went to the school board, Laurie Willis Sugarmon [HistoryMaker Miriam DeCosta-Willis], she was one, I don't think I got four in that car (laughter) looked like I had a vacant space, I was kind of late getting to the school board. 'Cause I was trying to get at least one car full (laughter). But we went in there and Bailey (unclear)--what is his name? Ed Bailey, Edward Bailey [sic. Edgar H. Bailey] was president, and I threw, told him--you know I served on the board twenty-four years after that. I didn't know what the procedure was then, but he was telling me I couldn't speak and I kept walking. "I, I, I have something I would like to present to the board." Now these women--I just knew it was full of people. I didn't look around--and it happened that I knew most of them, I wasn't looking around, but I was just, see the cameras had closed up. And I wasn't looking for a camera, I never have looked for a camera, that's never really excited me. And these, all these women and these are white women now, jumped up and started clapping. How them cameras--and they thought, everybody, they thought I was with them (laughter). I didn't know what was going on (laughter). So I got there and presented my fifteen demands from the NAACP, and we had some kind of exchange of words or, I don't know, I don't remember what. But the big thing I had a roomful of women they were mostly women it maybe a few men. White women mostly if any blacks, I don't know, and that was headlines (laughter) that was the beginning of Black Monday.