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Oscar Lawton Wilkerson, Jr.

Tuskegee Airman and radio programming executive Oscar Lawton Wilkerson Jr. was born on February 9, 1926 in Chicago Heights, Illinois to Oscar L. and Elizabeth Wilkerson. After his graduation from Bloomfield Township High School in 1944, Wilkerson entered the U.S. Army Air Force’s Aviation Cadet training program in Tuskegee, Alabama. He was assigned to the 617th Bombardment Squadron, where he was trained to fly the B-25 “Billy Mitchell” bomber.

Wilkerson received his commission as a 2nd lieutenant and his “wings” as a B-25 pilot in 1946. In 1947, he graduated from the New York Institute of Photography. Wilkerson also graduated from the Midwest Broadcasting School in 1960. Wilkerson became a weekend disc jockey and community relations director at WBEE-AM in Harvey, Illinois in 1962. As an on-air personality, he was known as “Weekend Wilkie.” As community relations director, he launched a weekly radio show hosted by Chicago Alderman Charles Chew, as well as publicity campaigns for the NAACP, the Chicago Urban League, the Committee of 100 and other organizations. Wilkerson was promoted to the position of program director at WBEE in 1965. Under Wilkerson’s supervision, WBEE launched the radio career of Merri Dee, who became known as “Merri Dee, the Honey Bee.” In 1969, he oversaw the station’s switch to a more jazz-oriented format, and took on the additional responsibilities of operations manager. Wilkerson also hosted his own program, Wilk’s World, on weekday mornings. Wilkerson left WBEE in 1971 to become the public affairs director at WMAQ Radio. In that role, he was responsible for all public service material aired on the station. Wilkerson was named program director at WMAQ in 1973, and served there until his retirement in 1988. Following his retirement, Wilkerson served as president of the Multi Media Ministry at New Faith Baptist Church in Matteson, Illinois. He is one of the “Documented Original Tuskegee Airmen” (DOTAs), and is active in the Chicago “Dodo” chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc. Wilkerson regularly visits schools around the United States to tell the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. He lives in Markham, Illinois.

Oscar Lawton Wilkerson Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 22, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.202

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/22/2013

Last Name

Wilkerson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Lawton

Schools

Tuskegee University

Midwest Broadcasting School

Bloom High School

New York Institute of Photography

Washington Junior High School

Lincoln Elementry School

Dr. Charles Gavin School

First Name

Oscar

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago Heights

HM ID

WIL66

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Warm

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

2/9/1926

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

Tuskegee airman and radio program director Oscar Lawton Wilkerson, Jr. (1926 - ) received his commission as 2nd lieutenant with the 617th Bombardment Squadron in 1946. After his service with the U.S. Army Air Force, he had a long career in radio as a programming executive.

Employment

WMAQ Radio

WBEE Radio

South Suburban Bus Lines

Golden State Mutual Insurance Company

Hammond & Powell Funeral Home

United States Army Air Force

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:46294,555:70240,867:102181,1249:109640,1357:122100,1525:137480,1741:142998,1970:167775,2447:200545,2871:213769,3062:214164,3102:257440,3708$0,0:6624,143:6912,148:11088,239:50514,761:56969,878:73888,1141:74364,1149:80348,1258:80756,1264:122080,1891:183510,2851
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Oscar Wilkerson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his mother's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his parents' occupations and their move to Chicago

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson mentions his older brother and describes the neighborhood he grew up in

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses his elementary school experience

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses his junior high school and high school experience

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his interest in aviation and in joining the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Oscar Wilkerson remembers his basic training experience in Biloxi, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about attending church as a child as well as his father's personality

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses his mother's personality and his interest in photography

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson describes how his family celebrated the holidays

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about going on family vacations

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his older brother

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses his basic training in Biloxi, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his primary training in Tuskegee, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his primary training in Tuskegee, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his first flight experience

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his first solo flight

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his experience as a cadet at the Tuskegee Army Air Force Base, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his experience as a cadet at the Tuskegee Army Air Force Base, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson describes Tuskegee's civilian environment

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses the first phase of his advanced training at Tuskegee Army Airfield

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses the additional phases of his training at Tuskegee Army Airfield

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about leaving military service

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his various civilian jobs and becoming a radio broadcaster

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about Tuskegee Airmen

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson recalls his flight training and the flying accidents that occurred

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson describes those officers in charge during his flight training and his various jobs after leaving the military

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about going into radio broadcasting and his interest in music

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about the first radio station he worked for

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his colleagues and responsibilities at WBEE Radio

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about the entertainers and radio personalities he knew at WBEE Radio

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses competing radio station, WVON

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses going to work for WMAQ Radio

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about former State Senator, Charles Chew, Jr.

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his colleagues at the radio station, WBEE

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about becoming Manager of Community Affairs at WMAQ

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his experience as Manager of Community Affairs at WMAQ

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about other blacks in Chicago broadcasting

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson compares his jobs at radio stations, WMAQ and WBEE

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about WMAQ Radio's shift into country music

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Oscar Wilkerson describes WMAQ under Charlie Warner's leadership

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Oscar Wilkerson explains what radio taught him and why he was successful

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about the community leaders he met during his radio career and his work with NBACA

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses positive highlights from his career in radio

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his participation in local organizations and his retirement

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about pilot, Jim Tillman and the differences between Chicago Heights and Chicago in Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his military emblems

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Oscar Wilkerson describes what it feels like to fly a plane

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about performing a prohibited plane maneuver in his hometown of Chicago Heights

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

2$4

DATitle
Oscar Wilkerson recalls his flight training and the flying accidents that occurred
Oscar Wilkerson describes his experience as Manager of Community Affairs at WMAQ
Transcript
Now you said 9,000 were trained to fly?$$Nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety two.$$Were flo--were trained to fly.$$Yeah.$$Okay. And so how many people were on the ground then?$$Ten times that, plus.$$Ten, okay. So you're saying the whole, whole contention of, of Tuskegee Airmen is about--that would be almost 50,000.$$Yeah, whatever the math comes to be, yes.$$Okay.$$This, this is support people that keep that plane in the air.$$And for each--so what, what did it take one to fly and how often were you flying when you were flying? Even the, the practice drills. How--what, what was that regiment like?$$Flew virtually every day. And when you're early in training, your instructor every day. Then you'd go out after you've soloed and you'd fly and practice those things that you were taught by the instructor. So you flew every day. And for most of the time you also had ground school courses to take every day. Learning flight, learning about the aircraft you were flying, and the many facets of keeping you in the air so that emergencies come along, you'll be able to take care of 'em and all of that is bound together to make one pilot.$$And so during the time that--were there any accidents that happened?$$Yeah.$$Okay and do you remember like the worse accident that happened?$$I remember there were in--not in my advanced class, but in some advanced class the cadets were flying T6's, the aircraft that I mentioned that was the first one with the retractable gear. Flying formation and somebody got too close and they clipped wings. The--one of the pilots was able to get out and ejected and I don't, I don't mean eject like in the jet when you pull a handle and you get shot out. You had to put the canopy back, get your harness off and get out of the plane. He didn't manage to do so and he went down with the aircraft. I don't recall who that was or what class it was, but that did happen, may have happened more than once. I, I know about that one. There have been other lesser accidents and people weren't killed. I was involved in one myself, but obviously I was not killed.$$You mean when you say you were involved in one, you were involved an accident and you came, and you came down with the plane.$$We were flying in advanced training and I was, we were doing night landings. Part of the training involved flying at night and they put you in the air and they would give you a segment to fly in until it was your time to come back to the field and land. So you'd circle in that quadrant and they would call you in to land. Well there was somebody--when they finally called me in to land, there was somebody ahead of me as there always is. You land and you do what they call touch and goes. You make a--what would be a perfect landing except you don't stop. You just pull the coat on and you take off and you go around again in order to save time; you're not taxiing on the ground. The guy ahead of me landed and was supposed to have taken off to go ahead and he didn't. And then the--I believe the tower told him to clear the runway, but he also didn't do that. And in the meantime they had cleared me to land and I didn't know that he was still on the runway. And when I landed, I see this guy ahead of me and I attempted to pull up to get a--away from hitting him. My landing gear clipped his--part of his canopy and both planes went over upside down. But I--both of us survived that. He got a big bump on his head and they had to shave part of his hair off, which was his major injury. And nothing happened to me. That was the crash I was involved in. But I'm sure there were others. I was about to say many, but probably not many; there were others.$What was your, what were--what did they say they wanted you to do and what did they want you to accomplish?$$Well I was responsible for making sure that we met all the federal requirements for a broadcasting station to stay on. You don't just come on the air and stay on the air cause you want to, you got to fulfill certain obligations so far as responding to community needs, determining what they are, programming toward response to those needs, and prove that you did. And the percentage has to be whatever is required at the time, eighteen percent or whatever it was, of programming that responded to those needs. And my responsibility was to make sure we're doing that; keep record of it so that when it came time to apply for license, you could prove that in paper and you did so, in sheaves of paper. That was my primary responsibility at that point.$$Well that's a good job for a black person to have at network station.$$Yeah, it was a good job.$$I mean, I mean a, a very good job. And so the question I have: Were they under any heat at that point that they hired you? Was [W]MAQ--were there any challenges about not doing certain things for the community or not?$$Not--I don't think so, no.$$Okay, so what you then do with the--with your, your, your job then? What are, what are the programs you put on, and--$$Well we did a number of discussion types of programs, specific ones I can't remember. And we were involved in the various community activities. I was like the face for the station at various banquets and stuff. I ate royally and attended a lot of things I would not have gotten a chance to see on my own. Went a lot of places that I would not have been able to go to on my own because I was in D.C. [District of Columbia].$$What were some of those places?$$Oh well New York City, the home headquarters, went there a number of times and we were located and still are as far as I know, located in the Rockefeller Center Building there. Had lunch in the Rainbow Room like the big dogs did and things such as that. I became the Treasurer for the National Association of Broadcast--$$National Association of Broadcasters?$$No, no, no.$$NABJ [National Association of Black Journalists]?$$NABA [North American Broadcasters Association] I think it was. Anyway the org--national organization of those who were in my kind of job and across the nation. And we had a couple of--$$You became what?$$The Treasurer.$$You were the Treasurer.$$Yeah, and NBACA [National Broadcast Association for Community Affairs] maybe, National Broadcast Association of--I've forgotten the rest of that title, but it was people who were in, in public affairs at stations across the nation. And we had several meetings in, in Vail, Colorado and that was nice. And all kinds of stuff like that, that I would not have been able to do on my own.

Malvyn Johnson

Journalist and civil rights activist Malvyn “Mal” Johnson was born July 4, 1924, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Johnson and her four siblings, Alice, Artie, Harvey and Norma, were primarily raised by their mother, Johnnie Reeves Taft, because their father left the family when Malvyn was still young; her mother would later remarry. Johnson attended Temple University, where she earned her B.A. degree while working to pay her own way through school as a riveter in the naval yards, among other jobs.

After graduation, Johnson began working for Veterans Affairs before moving on to become the program director for the local YWCA. Johnson soon married her husband, Frank Benjamin Johnson, whom she had known since she was twelve years old; the couple moved to California until the Korean War separated them, and Johnson was forced to return to her hometown. Because of her husband's service in the Air Force, Johnson and her husband traveled extensively beginning in the mid-1950s, including periods in Redding, England, Maine, and Wyoming. While traveling, Johnson began to teach.

Johnson returned to the United States to attend Springfield University in Massachusetts, where she received her M.A. degree in intergroup relations and community dynamics. Johnson’s husband tragically died at the Westover Air Force Base during the Vietnam War, and Johnson continued teaching. Prior to moving back to Philadelphia, Johnson got a job at the Philadelphia Inquirer as the assistant to the editor; at this time, she also became heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement.

Johnson eventually left the Philadelphia Inquirer to work with the North City Congress, a Civil Rights organization in Philadelphia, where she worked for two years alongside such luminaries as C. Delores Tucker; she also served as a co-chair of the local NAACP chapter with Tucker. In 1964, Johnson became director of community affairs for WKBS-TV, and worked as the "Cash for Trash" girl. Johnson soon became a news anchor and wrote as a columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune.

In 1969, Johnson was offered a job at Cox Broadcasting Corporation in Washington, D.C. after Barbara Walters and Jim Vance, both close colleagues of Johnson, encouraged her to take the position; she stayed with this organization for twenty-seven years. Johnson was the first female reporter employed by Cox and became the second African American female White House correspondent. Johnson covered five different United States Presidents, as well as Capitol Hill and the State Department. In 1980, Johnson became the Senior Washington Correspondent and the National Director of Community Affairs. Johnson also served as a representative of the United Nations International Association of Women in Radio and Television. Johnson also helped to found the National Association of Black Journalists, and the National Broadcast Association for Community Affairs. In 2000, Johnson left Cox to create her own media consulting firm, Medialinx International.

Malvyn “Mal” Johnson passed away on November 7, 2007, at the age of eighty-five.

Accession Number

A2005.219

Sex

Female

Interview Date

9/20/2005 |and| 1/31/2006

Last Name

Johnson

Maker Category
Schools

John Hancock Demonstration Elementary School

Philadelphia Military Academy

Temple University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Malvyn

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

JOH23

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

London, England, Solomons Island

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

7/4/1924

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish

Death Date

11/7/2007

Short Description

Media consultant and television and radio correspondent Malvyn Johnson (1924 - 2007 ) was the first female reporter for Cox Radio and Television News Bureau in Washington, D.C. and the second African American female White House correspondent. In 2000, Johnson founded Medialinx International, a media consulting firm.

Employment

Young Women's Christian Association

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

RAF Greenham Common

Philadelphia Inquirer

WKBS-TV Philadelphia

Cox Communications, Inc.

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
240,0:1760,13:2080,18:4080,68:4800,81:5680,99:6640,117:6960,122:8080,153:13600,283:18720,373:30928,481:31288,487:31864,499:34240,547:34744,556:35896,579:37552,610:37912,616:38344,623:39136,638:42160,702:50951,769:51899,786:53321,811:54348,836:56481,863:56876,869:57350,881:58693,909:59009,914:62880,977:63196,982:68192,1015:68480,1020:69416,1040:69704,1045:70928,1068:71504,1077:72008,1086:72584,1096:73448,1141:74816,1160:75176,1166:85616,1343:86336,1356:86912,1365:87416,1374:96984,1421:97374,1427:98076,1438:101430,1508:101820,1515:113130,1780:113832,1791:122930,1857:123270,1863:123610,1869:132450,2058:132722,2063:133266,2074:144530,2187:144974,2195:146158,2215:146898,2227:148008,2241:148304,2246:148970,2256:149266,2261:151856,2298:152374,2307:160992,2433:162642,2464:164094,2493:165150,2516:165414,2521:165876,2529:167394,2557:169902,2608:175020,2613:175364,2625:182330,2804:184910,2851:187146,2889:195479,3025:196172,3035:208410,3204:213000,3271:213360,3276:213990,3285:214890,3299:215250,3304:215880,3318:218670,3370:227640,3520:228008,3525:229296,3537:232976,3579:233528,3589:235460,3626:239416,3696:240060,3704:249776,3773:250352,3783:251432,3808:251720,3813:252296,3823:252728,3830:253232,3843:254312,3862:255176,3879:257048,3924:257552,3932:259928,3989:260504,3998:271505,4146:275640,4164:277538,4194:277903,4200:278779,4214:288050,4381:288342,4386:288707,4400:290021,4424:290386,4430:297236,4480:299018,4521:299282,4526:299546,4531:299810,4537:300140,4544:300404,4549:306410,4679:306806,4685:312782,4715:313470,4727:318090,4782$0,0:1858,14:3793,21:4706,38:7196,69:9188,98:9852,108:11180,126:12757,148:13089,153:13670,162:15662,193:15994,198:17654,216:19065,237:19397,242:19729,247:20642,261:21306,271:22717,289:23298,319:29829,347:31143,374:34501,422:35085,432:37348,476:39100,508:39611,515:41582,549:47860,648:49320,673:49831,681:57850,746:58420,753:58895,759:59275,764:60890,780:64595,816:72480,905:78981,945:79702,953:80629,959:82792,992:86191,1028:86706,1038:87324,1045:87736,1050:91286,1062:91656,1074:91952,1079:92544,1088:93210,1099:93802,1109:95504,1128:99204,1174:99722,1183:103200,1251:103496,1256:103792,1261:111638,1335:112340,1345:116702,1395:119144,1428:119440,1433:123510,1518:124398,1534:125212,1548:125804,1561:128616,1617:132390,1698:132834,1705:135572,1842:142149,1876:146692,1947:147308,1956:147847,1965:148463,1975:151543,2025:152082,2032:158240,2069:159740,2085:160265,2093:160940,2103:164315,2154:166490,2207:172115,2300:173090,2315:173615,2324:174215,2334:182870,2408:183710,2421:188570,2504
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Malvyn Johnson's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Malvyn Johnson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Malvyn Johnson describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Malvyn Johnson describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Malvyn Johnson lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Malvyn Johnson describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Malvyn Johnson describes her early homes in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Malvyn Johnson describes her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Malvyn Johnson describes her stepfather's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Malvyn Johnson recalls her diverse neighborhood and schools

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Malvyn Johnson describes her mother's education and profession

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Malvyn Johnson recalls her experiences with racial prejudice in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Malvyn Johnson describes the Philadelphia High School for Girls in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Malvyn Johnson recalls working while attending Temple University

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Malvyn Johnson remembers her experiences at Temple University

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Malvyn Johnson describes how she met her husband

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Malvyn Johnson talks about her husband's service in the U.S. Army Air Force

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Malvyn Johnson recalls her experiences as a housekeeper, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Malvyn Johnson recalls her experiences as a housekeeper, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Malvyn Johnson describes Royal Air Force Greenham Common in Reading, England

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Malvyn Johnson remembers her husband's death

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Malvyn Johnson recalls teaching herself to drive

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Malvyn Johnson describes her position at the Philadelphia Inquirer

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Malvyn Johnson recalls the Civil Rights Movement in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Malvyn Johnson describes the start of her television broadcasting career

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Malvyn Johnson describes her experiences with racial discrimination at WKBS-TV

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Malvyn Johnson remembers her friendship with Pearl Buck

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Malvyn Johnson recalls becoming a White House correspondent

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Malvyn Johnson describes her involvement with the American Women in Radio and Television

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Malvyn Johnson remembers interviewing Senator Richard B. Russell, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Malvyn Johnson recalls her trip to Russia with President Richard Milhous Nixon

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Malvyn Johnson remembers fellow journalist Ethel Payne

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Malvyn Johnson recalls her arrest in Johannesburg, South Africa

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Malvyn Johnson describes the Fourth World Conference on Women

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Slating of Malvyn Johnson's interview, session 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Malvyn Johnson describes her position with Cox Broadcasting Corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Malvyn Johnson recalls her interviews with politicians

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Malvyn Johnson talks about Cox Broadcasting Corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Malvyn Johnson talks about the members of the U.S. Congress

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Malvyn Johnson describes the founding of the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Malvyn Johnson remembers her social gatherings at the Watergate Hotel

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Malvyn Johnson remembers her mentors, Helen Thomas and Sarah McClendon

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Malvyn Johnson remembers reporter Sarah McClendon

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Malvyn Johnson describes her involvement with the American Women in Radio and Television

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Malvyn Johnson remembers President Richard Milhous Nixon's administration

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Malvyn Johnson recalls the United Airlines Flight 553 crash in 1972

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Malvyn Johnson corrects information regarding Sam Ervin and Sam Rayburn

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Malvyn Johnson recalls her coverage of the presidential campaign in the 1970s

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Malvyn Johnson describes her experiences with President James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr.'s administration

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Malvyn Johnson recalls her first meeting with Nancy Reagan

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Malvyn Johnson describes her involvement with the National Women's Conference

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Malvyn Johnson describes her work at the Fourth World Conference on Women, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Malvyn Johnson describes her work at the Fourth World Conference on Women, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Malvyn Johnson describes her involvement with women's rights organizations

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Malvyn Johnson describes government involvement in the 1990s, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Malvyn Johnson describes her government involvement in the 1990s, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Malvyn Johnson describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Malvyn Johnson describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Malvyn Johnson narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Malvyn Johnson narrates her photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Malvyn Johnson narrates her photographs, pt. 3

DASession

1$2

DATape

4$7

DAStory

3$2

DATitle
Malvyn Johnson recalls becoming a White House correspondent
Malvyn Johnson describes her involvement with women's rights organizations
Transcript
There came a time when [HistoryMaker] Jim Vance, who was the anchor with the NBC affiliate here in Washington, D.C., left Philadelphia [Pennsylvania] to come to Washington?$$Well he was working as the anchor at WKBS [WKBS-TV, Burlington, New Jersey] by then. And he got a--obviously somebody had, had saw him on TV and they invited him to go to work there. Well Jim didn't really want to leave his family, his mother, with whom he was living. So he came in my office to talk to me about this. And I said to him, "You know, I don't count any fools among my friends, you must take this job." So he did. And then three months later I got an offer and I called him up and said, "What do you think?" And he said, "I don't count any fools among my friends (laughter)." So we both ended up in Washington.$$And tell us about the offer that you received?$$I was--the, the first person that hired me turned out to be a good friend. He was the man who was, who had originally been on the soap operas and he turned out to be a good friend to me and he said that I should join the American Women in Radio and Television [Alliance for Women in Media], an organization I had never heard of. And he paid my, my membership for it and I joined it and got totally involved in it and ended up being the president of that chapter in Philadelphia and then ended up being on the national board of directors. And one weekend we were to have the board meeting in Washington. So I traveled down to Washington to the board meeting and when I arrived, there sat this only man on the board. I didn't know the board had a man. It turned out to be the president and CEO of Cox Broadcasting [Cox Broadcasting Corporation; Cox Communications, Inc.] headquartered in Atlanta [Georgia]. And we talked and discussed things and finally he invited me to lunch. And this dummy said, "Well I have these other ladies I'm going to lunch with." He said, "Well I'll take them too." So we all went to lunch and I sat near him and he said to me, you ought to come to Atlanta sometime and I very politely said that I had been there one or two times, but I didn't know Atlanta at all and that maybe I would sometime. Well the next day back in Philadelphia, in my office that Monday, I get this telephone call from him and he said he'd like me to come and visit. So I said, "Well maybe I will." And he said, "Let me send you a ticket and if you really decide not to go then you can just send the ticket back." So when I got the ticket I went into the office of the same general manager and told him and he says, "Let me tell you who this man is." And so he said that he not only taught Truman [President Harry S. Truman] to speak, he was the man who put together the fireside chats for Roosevelt [President Franklin Delano Roosevelt]. And he set all of that up and then he became Mr. Democrat [sic.] because he was running the democratic conventions [Democratic National Convention] and everything (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) His name was?$$J. Leonard Reinsch. And, and everybody knew him in the broadcasting industry and that I should go 'cause he wants to hire you. So I made the arrangements and went, and that was, was my story.$$Okay, and that year was 19-?$$Sixty-nine [1969].$$And they hired you at Cox?$$No, they tried to hire me and I said that I didn't particularly want to move to Atlanta, didn't know a thing about Atlanta anyway, except that I knew Martin Luther King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] and that was only one or two trips. And so I went back to, to Philadelphia and they kept after me for a couple of weeks and finally they asked me what salary would I take. Well I haven't the faintest idea. So I called up Barbara Walters and asked her what I ought to do. And she said, "You ask for twice the amount you're--two and a half times the amount that you are making now and you accept two times that much. And don't--and make 'em put it in writing before you accept." And so I did that and they sent me a telegram with it in write.$$Now let's--and so you were hired?$$I was hired, but then I said I didn't want to move to Atlanta and they said, "Don't worry, we have an office in Washington." So I guess there comes another story because I went--they had setup the appointment and I went to Washington and met the bureau chief who looked at me as if I were crazy and didn't even consider it. So I came back home and called Atlanta and said those people don't wanna be bothered with me in, in, in Washington. And he said I want you to go back next week. When I went back next week, everybody was falling on their knees to get me (laughter). And that's how it started. And they trained me to be a White House correspondent.$$And the date we are looking at, do you remember?$$Yes, March the 3rd, 1969.$You have been active before and after that time working on different women's issues, putting on a number of international and national conferences, both here and abroad and so forth. Could you just briefly outline a couple of them as to what they were?$$Well I became an activist after my husband [Frank Johnson (ph.)] died. As a matter of fact I became a feminist after my husband died and got myself totally involved in trying to raise the condition of women throughout the world, particularly through the United States at first and then I worked toward international projects as well. And I've been involved in a number of them and have gone to every one of the, of the women's conferences that have been held through the years. And they were mostly every five years. And this last one was in 2000 and we did not have one in 2005. But in any case, women have not reached equal status in various areas, like for instance in, in pay equity, in various other issues that, that concern women. Women are not admitted in all-men's clubs and things like that. Women still don't have complete control of their own bodies in terms of abortions or pro-choice, things like that. So there is still lots to do and there are a lot of people that do it. What--we have some great concern is about those in my era know what is was to go through the struggles that we went through, but we have not trained our children about it and they don't know from whence they come. We need to give them more history of the struggle. They think that it was all there all the time, and it wasn't all there all the time. So those are some of the things that, that concern us in the, in the women's movement.$$And you are still active with the American Women in Radio and Television [Alliance for Women in Media] (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) I'm still very much active with International Association of Women in Radio and Television [IAWRT] headquartered in India, and with American Women in Radio and Television and it's, of course, right here in the United States. So--and with the IAWRT, I do travel a lot to various countries around the world.$$Okay. And you are still doing a program with the UN [United Nations] and women?$$I'm still very much involved at the UN. I am the United Nations representative for International Association of Women in Radio and Television. And I still attend their meetings and participate in that and sometimes do workshops on media for them. And I am on their media committee as a matter of fact.