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Joe Dickson

Joe Dickson was born on March 5, 1933, in Montgomery, Alabama, to Mary Rachael and Robert Dickson. Dickson was raised by his widowed mother and his aunt Gertrude; he attended a Catholic elementary school before the family moved to the projects in Birmingham in 1939. Dickson graduated from Fairfield Industrial High School in 1950, and worked as a welder until he entered the United States Army.

Dickson then enrolled in Miles College from which he received his B.A. degree in sociology. While at Miles College, Dickson was involved in the civil rights marches and selective buying campaigns; he was arrested along with Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth and other civil rights activists in front of the federal court house in Birmingham. In the 1960s, Dickson joined A.G. Gaston’s Washington Insurance Company as an insurance agent, working in six different counties. Dickson also worked with the Urban League and acted as the deputy director for an experimental demonstration project at Miles College that trained African Americans for jobs within the community.

In 1970, Dickson attended Howard University Law School from which he earned his J.D. degree in 1973. Dickson then returned to Alabama and formed his own real estate and construction company. Dickson was the President of the Alabama Republican Council for a number of years and was asked to work for the former governor of Alabama, Guy Hunt, as the Assistant of Minority Affairs in 1988. Dickson began working with the Birmingham World newspaper in 1987 and in 1989 returned to run the paper. Dickson married Dr. Charlie Mae Dickson; together they had eight adult children.

Dickson passed away on July 21, 2018.

Accession Number

A2007.106

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/22/2007

Last Name

Dickson

Maker Category
Schools

Fairfield Industrial High School

Robinson Elementary School

Miles College

Howard University School of Law

First Name

Joe

Birth City, State, Country

Montgomery

HM ID

DIC04

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Alabama

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Alabama

Interview Description
Birth Date

3/5/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Birmingham

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Collard Greens, Fish

Death Date

7/21/2018

Short Description

Real estate entrepreneur and civil rights activist Joe Dickson (1933 - 2018) was involved in the civil rights marches and selective buying campaigns in Birmingham. Dickson later formed his own real estate and construction company, was the President of the Alabama Republican Council, and served as Alabama's assistant of Minority Affairs.

Employment

Urban League

Blue Cross and Blue Shield

Booker T. Washington Insurance Company

Vulcan Real Estate Investment Corporation

Century 21 Real Estate

State of Alabama

Birmingham World

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543221">Tape: 1 Slating of Joe Dickson's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543222">Tape: 1 Joe Dickson lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543223">Tape: 1 Joe Dickson describes his mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543224">Tape: 1 Joe Dickson remembers his maternal grandmother and great-grandmother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543225">Tape: 1 Joe Dickson talks about his maternal uncles</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543226">Tape: 1 Joe Dickson describes his mother's occupation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543227">Tape: 1 Joe Dickson describes his mother's education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543228">Tape: 1 Joe Dickson remembers his homeschooling</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543229">Tape: 1 Joe Dickson recalls the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543230">Tape: 1 Joe Dickson remembers his relatives' deaths from pneumonia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543231">Tape: 1 Joe Dickson describes his father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543232">Tape: 1 Joe Dickson talks about his father's work ethic</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543233">Tape: 1 Joe Dickson remembers moving with his siblings to Birmingham, Alabama</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543234">Tape: 2 Joe Dickson recalls his attempt to run away from his aunt and uncle's home</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543235">Tape: 2 Joe Dickson remembers Robinson Elementary School in Fairfield, Alabama</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543236">Tape: 2 Joe Dickson describes his experiences at Robinson Elementary School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543237">Tape: 2 Joe Dickson remembers his newspaper delivery route</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543238">Tape: 2 Joe Dickson describes his early personality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543239">Tape: 2 Joe Dickson recalls Principal E.J. Oliver at Fairfield Industrial High School in Fairfield, Alabama</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543240">Tape: 2 Joe Dickson describes his experiences at Fairfield Industrial High School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543241">Tape: 2 Joe Dickson recalls learning African American history at Fairfield Industrial High School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543242">Tape: 2 Joe Dickson describes the community of Fairfield, Alabama</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543243">Tape: 2 Joe Dickson recalls being drafted into the U.S. Army</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543244">Tape: 3 Joe Dickson talks about claiming his mother as a dependent</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543245">Tape: 3 Joe Dickson remembers the racial tensions in the integrated U.S. Army</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543246">Tape: 3 Joe Dickson describes his training in the U.S. Army</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543247">Tape: 3 Joe Dickson recalls qualifying for disability compensation from the U.S. Army</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543248">Tape: 3 Joe Dickson remembers seeing Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. in a parade</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543249">Tape: 3 Joe Dickson remembers his decision to attend Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543250">Tape: 3 Joe Dickson describes his experiences at Miles College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543251">Tape: 3 Joe Dickson remembers joining the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543252">Tape: 3 Joe Dickson remembers his graduation from Miles College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543253">Tape: 3 Joe Dickson describes the civil rights activities at Miles College, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543254">Tape: 4 Joe Dickson describes the civil rights activities at Miles College, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543255">Tape: 4 Joe Dickson recalls working at the Booker T. Washington Insurance Company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543256">Tape: 4 Joe Dickson remembers working at H.C. Bowhang</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543257">Tape: 4 Joe Dickson remembers his return to Birmingham, Alabama</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543258">Tape: 4 Joe Dickson talks about his first marriage</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543259">Tape: 4 Joe Dickson recalls his difficulties at the Booker T. Washington Insurance Company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543260">Tape: 4 Joe Dickson remembers working for the White Dairy Company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543261">Tape: 4 Joe Dickson recalls the selective buying campaign in Birmingham, Alabama</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543262">Tape: 4 Joe Dickson remembers marching with Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543263">Tape: 4 Joe Dickson recalls his release from jail</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543264">Tape: 4 Joe Dickson remembers his offer to work for Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543265">Tape: 4 Joe Dickson remembers working for A.G. Gaston in Tuskegee, Alabama</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543266">Tape: 4 Joe Dickson describes how he came to work for the Excel Superstores</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543267">Tape: 5 Joe Dickson recalls the attacks on Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543268">Tape: 5 Joe Dickson remembers being accused of stealing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543269">Tape: 5 Joe Dickson remembers the job training program at Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543270">Tape: 5 Joe Dickson remembers working for the Urban League's Project Assist</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543271">Tape: 5 Joe Dickson recalls working as an insurance salesman at Blue Cross Blue Shield</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543272">Tape: 5 Joe Dickson remembers the Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543273">Tape: 5 Joe Dickson describes his wife and children</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543274">Tape: 5 Joe Dickson remembers a lesson from A.G. Gaston</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543275">Tape: 6 Joe Dickson recalls the start of his real estate career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543276">Tape: 6 Joe Dickson talks about his real estate career with A.G. Gaston</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543277">Tape: 6 Joe Dickson remembers working as the gubernatorial assistant for minority affairs</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543278">Tape: 6 Joe Dickson remembers leaving the office of Alabama Governor H. Guy Hunt</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543279">Tape: 6 Joe Dickson recalls his nomination to the State of Alabama's personnel board</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543280">Tape: 6 Joe Dickson talks about his realty company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543281">Tape: 6 Joe Dickson remembers a lesson from his mother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543282">Tape: 6 Joe Dickson describes his plans for the Birmingham World newspaper</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543283">Tape: 7 Joe Dickson recalls facing criticism as the owner of the Birmingham World</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543284">Tape: 7 Joe Dickson reflects upon his life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543285">Tape: 7 Joe Dickson describes how he would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543286">Tape: 7 Joe Dickson shares a message to future generations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/543287">Tape: 7 Joe Dickson reflects upon the racial history of the United States</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$4

DAStory

1$10

DATitle
Joe Dickson recalls the attacks on Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth
Joe Dickson recalls his release from jail
Transcript
Okay. Before we go on to you managing Excel Superstores [ph.], right before you left Tuske- I mean to go to Tuskegee [Alabama], there was an incident with the kids in the park that you were telling about off camera.$$Well, what I thought I was telling you was that after the, the initial arrest being arrest and the sit ins were happening all over--all over the south and we were trying to integrate these lunch counters and the other restaurants and things. In the--in these department stores like Loveman's, Pizitz, they had a nice eating places in there. And so the kids were up there in the, the--they were--well we would let a senior student probably would take 'em up there to, to sit in and in these restaurants they had, you know.$$Um-hm.$$And you--as a consequence, it got out of hand. And so they called out and said that they were acting--the kids were acting kind of bad and for somebody to come up there and get them. So Fred [HistoryMaker Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth] went up there to get them. And I just was happening to be coming in at that time--'cause not coming in, I was coming, going about to go up there too. And so Fred had brought them from downtown, they were on 17th Street and he was on the left hand side coming, going north like you coming back to 16th Street Baptist Church [Birmingham, Alabama]. And right there at the--'cause Nelson Brothers Cafe [Birmingham, Alabama] was right there. And right time Fred got right there he had a white handkerchief in his hand. And he had right it--it was going--was going across--we was finna go--they were gonna go across the street and come down by the Masonic Temple [Masonic Temple Building, Birmingham, Alabama] on past the hotel and (unclear) and all that bunch down through there. And by the time he got right at the end, they put the water hose on him. They put the water hose on Fred, knocked him up against that wall while they was--and when he was coming off the wall another hose hit him and knocked him back up. Fred got up. Malcolm X was standing over on the other corner over there and when--when Fred got up, I don't see how. He got up and looked at him and several us said, "Don't put no more water on him." So he went on past and marched the kids on down past the hostess, the new (Unclear) hotel. And the new (Unclear) restaurant was the hotel up there. Walked on down there--there used to be a barbershop and was Ms. Lurleen [ph.] had her health and beauty aids stand right there. And some guys, tried to get in the--in the--they were keeping the kids in a single file march, keep, trying to keep it orderly. The streets were full. But they kept the kids in order to get them back in the church. Some black guys tried to get in the line and this white policeman told them, "You can't get in this line. You ain't worthy. You ain't good enough. You ain't good as these people." Said, "Get out move back." He was out--they were get in there after the kids have gone up on there and got in the line and marched back. They were gonna get in the line. The police said, "You ain't--you not good as these folk. Move back, move back." So when the kids got--when Fred got them across the street there--got all the children inside going in the church, Fred was going down in this little basement like thing on the right side that you can go down. Them folks put that water hose on Fred, about six or seven water hoses on him. And look like they tried to flood the basement. All I know is, I thought he was dead. They was trying to kill him with--Birmingham [Alabama] fire--firemen were trying to kill him. Fred survived that. I saw him over here yesterday. And that was--and I--and right after that I didn't--I didn't--I didn't wanna be nonviolent no more. That was--'cause that was--totally they didn't have to do that, you know.$So the next day the guy said, "[HistoryMaker] Joe Dickson all the way." I didn't know what he was talking about. So one of the guys in the--one of the criminals said, "All the way. Man, you going, you going. You getting out." I said, "All the way?" He said, "All the way mean you going and you getting out." I went out, they didn't say nothing, chewing gum didn't say nothing. Then another--another time we go to jail, I went to jail again they didn't say nothing. And the next time I went Piggy [ph.] told me he said, "Joe, we kind of want you on these debits and thing, you know, we need you to get some results for me. You made your--you made your witness. You can do that." Then I slip off and come over here and be with Dr. King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] and we would--then we went down in the poolroom, go to get the knives from people and so they wouldn't be cutting and beating on them. We went down there the police told us to get out. They ran us out the poolroom. They didn't want us in there. They didn't want us to bring no peace. So the last time I went to jail--I went to jail with N.A. Smith [Nelson Smith], he's dead now, John Porter. They had arrested everybody. All most of them were in jail. And weren't nobody out but Reverend Gardner [Edward Gardner] and he was the man that was getting folks out of jail. So I'm sitting next to John Porter, Reverend Porter I said, "Reverend," I said, "Reverend Porter, man it looks like they got us." I said, "Man, it's all over." I said, "They got us." And I said, "Martin in jail. Fred [HistoryMaker Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth] in jail. Ralph [Ralph Abernathy] in jail." All them folks in jail. I said, "Man," I said, "what we gonna do?" Porter told me this he said--he said, "Don't worry about it." He said, "Martin is dealing from on high." Same thing happened again. That next morning we still got all us thinking we gonna get on out, and the next morning, "Joe Dickson all the way." When I got over there to that office, Piggy was there. He said, "Joe you know the old man believe in what y'all doing." He said, "But we got a job for you in Tuskegee [Alabama]." He said, "We've already," (laughter), "talked to the lady down there. All you got to do is go down there and report. Don't get in no--don't go in no--just get in the--your car. Get in the car with an agent that rides and learn them debits. And so we can do some business down there." He said, "The old man believe this, that we need to do this. We need to fight this and everything is fine." He said, "But when they integrate, and if they integrate, if you go in there and buy a hamburger or a hotdog you gonna have to pay for it. So you go on to Montgomery [Alabama]. Pass on through Montgomery, you go to Tuskegee." And they sent me to Tuskegee to work (laughter).$$So it's--what year was this?$$It had to be around '64 [1964], '64 [1964]. Sixty--'64 [1964] or '65 [1965]. Maybe '64 [1964] or '65 [1965].$$Okay.