Aaron [00:00:01] Okay. Today is June 15, 2022. I am Aaron Fountain speaking with James Aloway. Okay, James, so my first question I love to ask everybody is, can you tell me about yourself? When and where were you born? Raise your parents in a neighborhood you grew up in.
James [00:00:19] I was born in the South. I was born in Alabama. Very small town that doesn’t even appear on the map. It’s a city that’s outside of Troy, Alabama. A lot of people know Troy because at one point Troy State gained some national prominence in basketball, beat a couple of Division One schools. And so people know Troy. But Troy is the big city outside of the big city that I was born in. So I spent my first five years of life in rural Alabama, the great great grandson of a slave. And we moved to Cleveland, Ohio, in the early fifties. I grew up in Cleveland, neighborhood 105th and Superior, and moved around the country since then, living in Pittsburgh, Detroit, New York, and I now currently spilt my time between a home in Chicago and a home in Florida.
Aaron [00:01:48] Okay. What did your parents do for a living?
James [00:01:55] They both had many jobs, multiple jobs. Again, coming from rural Alabama, as part of the Great Migration, they didn’t have a lot of skill. So they took whatever jobs they could, usually working two, and sometimes three jobs at a time. They both drove City Cab. My father also worked at a hospital as a porter, and my mother was a seamstress. So at one point she was a cab driver, a seamstress, and a beautician. And my father worked his two jobs at the same time. We lived good life. And I’m not going to say we struggled, but it came at the price of them working ten or 12 hours a day.
Aaron [00:03:14] Okay. And I’m curious, how was own Glenville in the 1950s? I’ve been to that neighborhood plenty of times.
James [00:03:26] Well, not too fond of a point. Glenville that was a different neighborhood than Superior. Superior, we were kind of rivals with Glenville, because Glenville was the St Clair neighborhood and 105th Superior. That was that was a completely different neighborhood. And there were a little, I hesitate to call them gangs because gangs now carries a certain kind of connotation. Gun, drugs, all kinds of nonsense. But back in that period, there were gangs. But, the worst the gangs there were was having fist fights. Somebody introduced a knife. It was like, you’re breached the local gang etiquette. You don’t do knives. That was the Glenville neighborhood. So I grew up in, again, the 105nd Superior. We didn’t really have a name like Glenville. It was just 105th and Superior. It was a great neighborhood because it was a movie theater there were thriving black businesses, great pool rooms. I shot pool myself. So I hung out the pool rooms. And it was it was a great place to be. I mean, there was a sense of security and family. It was a real traditional neighborhood where people looked out for each other. You did something wrong and the neighbors saw you then they were going to put you in check. They might beat your butt and tell your mom what you did. And then you got another butt beating from your mom. It was a situation where everybody looked out for each other.
Aaron [00:06:03] So I remember I was talking you told me about the Hough riots that kind of serve as like empowerment for the students. So what are your memories of that incident?
James [00:06:16] Well, the riots. They had different neighborhoods simultaneously. I think most people think of it as the Hough riots, but there were pockets of rioting going on in Hough, in Glenville, in Cedar, also on 105th. The thing that I remember most about it was the helicopters flying in the air and shining lights down. There were fires burning. And I had some friends who came by my house said, ‘hey man, let’s go out. Let’s get it.’ It really wasn’t what I was about in terms of the looting, because up to that point I was a fairly disciplined individual. I did a lot of volunteer work with CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality and the NAACP, and some other things. So our focus was more targeted. We were trying to achieve something, whereas the looting was just folks that were going out to get it. So I remember the fires, and I remember people showing up with new outfits that they got. It really wasn’t as objective oriented as it should have been. I think it did it certainly achieve a major purpose, which was to make people are aware that there’s a problem. We’re tired of not being heard. And if you’re not going to here’s one way, you’re going to hear this another way. In that regard, it certainly achieved its purpose. But in terms of having a clear set of objectives, we’re going to do this until this happens. We need this change to occur. And if this change doesn’t occur. We’re going to do this and we’re going to continue to do this until we get what we want. Those things were a part of the riots. There was a certain sense of pride that did come with the riots. Because I remember some other big cities that didn’t have riots or didn’t have major riots. And it was kind of like, why aren’t you guys participating in this? There was the Watts riots, and then minor things in Cleveland, minor things in Detroit. It just was odd to me at that point why it wasn’t happening on a national level. It was just these uncoordinated, poorly focused efforts.
Aaron [00:10:20] I do want to go back. You say you worked with CORE I’m kind of curious. What do you do with CORE?
James [00:10:30] I don’t know if it’s correct to say working with them, because working implies getting paid. I wasn’t getting paid. I was a kid when I first got involved with them. Initially I was involved with NAACP and we just, did youth projects. We helped out with voter registration, food drives, working with youth summer programs, and different things like that. And then with CORE, it was essentially the same thing. And I don’t remember why or how I transition from the NAACP to the CORE, but I was doing kind of the same things there. And after a period of time, maybe when I was maybe 15 or 16 or something like that, I began to participate in some of the evening sessions where they would move around the city and talk to groups. And then I would speak from a youth perspective about what’s going on, the need to organize. My involvement took on a more public role as opposed to just being a foot soldier. Eventually the director of the Cleveland chapter of CORE put together a small program that I ran and in Cleveland and it was again a neighborhood based program and working with youth and we would do after school programs and just different things working with youth.
Aaron [00:13:16] Hmm. Okay. That’s interesting kind of CORE and the NAACP that are kind of different into ways being more middle class, respectability. And then the CORE resonated more with the working class.
James [00:13:29] Right. And really, I wanted to eventually get involved with SNCC, but never did. I thought that they were putting the message out there the way it needed to be out there. Like we see these as being key issues. We see these issues as being non-negotiable and we’re willing to fight and die for these issues. So SNCC and the Black Panthers they were on a much more aggressive, high adrenaline, high octane, kind of an agenda. But I never got there. So my thought process was more Malcolm X than it was Martin Luther King.
Aaron [00:14:48] And that happened gradually over the course of time?
James [00:14:51] I think it was a gradual transition.
Aaron [00:14:59] Okay. So that does lead me to the student protest that occurred at John Hay, which I know going through newspaper clippings dealt with the quality of the school. So can you describe like the physical condition of school as well as the culture?
James [00:15:14] John Hay was originally an all-girls school. And I think the focus of John Hay was initially to train women to become secretaries, stenography, typists, those were the primary things that they focused on. It wasn’t about trying to take a student to his or her maximum potential to identify what the potential is and move them along. It was about creating this sort of this labor force. It was, I think, a total student enrollment of maybe either 1200 or. I don’t think it was [indecipherable]. It was a small school compared to like Glenville or John F. Kennedy or some of the other schools around. So it was a small school. The fact that it was a small school meant that we were really very close knit. We were like a family. The school had very limited resources in terms of what a lot of the other schools offer. No swimming pool, and just about everything in the school was old and dated. To say it wasn’t cutting edge is an understatement. It wasn’t anywhere near what the other schools offered. I was in the band. I remember when I first started to play in the band, I don’t have a uniform. I didn’t have a uniform to march in. Just because they didn’t have any. We didn’t have a lot of the resources the other schools had. I think one of the real tipping points for us though was we began to organize a black Student Association, Afro-American Society. And we got pushback on it, even though there were other clubs there, actually that was a chess club and I was a member of the chess club, but the chess club only had like three people that were members. There were other clubs; they didn’t they wouldn’t support an African-American society. And there were other little issues that were annoying. They weren’t really so little because they pointed to the differences between being black in the Cleveland public school system and being white in the Cleveland public school system. And this was a point that I made when you and I spoke the other day. They were trying to prevent us from having Afros. They had a requirement that your hair couldn’t be any longer, and I don’t remember that the length, but it couldn’t be longer than three inches or two inches or some arbitrary number. But the way they measured our hair versus measuring the white students’ hair was really very different because the white students’ hair would lay flat. Six inches on a white students’ hair would still be flat hanging down on his head, whereas six inches on the black students’ hair is going to be sticking straight up. And I don’t know if that was something that they came up with or in response to us wearing Afros. Or if that was something that always existed. It’s hard for me to believe that it always existed because it’s such an obscure thing to build into the dress code. That and the Afro-American Society thing just became the tipping point. And we just said enough is enough. And we began to protest. When we did protest it, we recognized that it was with some potential costs of potential consequences. Maybe being young and youthful, we didn’t fully weight the value of those consequences because for most of us from our seniors and we were looking towards the future and this could have an impact on our future. But in spite of those consequences, we decided we would move forward. And to be perfectly fair about it. As we fought about what we’re going to do and looked at strategies for what needed to happen. We did have support from a couple of the faculty members, one in particular, and I hesitate to mention his name. But one of the faculty members, a young black man, and his age was probably a lot closer to our age than I realize because he had just graduated from college, and this was his first teaching assignment. But at any rate, we met with him a couple of times to talk about strategy, to talk about how we ought to approach this and that. He was a supporter of our creating the Afro-American society. So that was the things that helped us to move forward with it.
Aaron [00:23:29] I was looking at some of my notes. I know other grievances included bad cafeteria food, poor maintenance of lavatories and inadequate science equipment and of course, locks on the doors and security guards which costed $1,000 per day.
James [00:23:49] Well, I’m glad you have those notes, because I don’t want all the details. The list included some things that were kind of peripheral issues. The main two things were, again, they were trying to suppress who we were with the afros, and they were trying to prevent us from having our African American Society. And if we could achieve those two primary goals, the other things would be the icing on the cake. I candidly don’t remember the condition of the bathroom being a male. We tend to have low standards and minimal requirements for the bathroom anyway. But I do remember the cafeteria from being kind of questionable.
Aaron [00:25:12] It doesn’t elaborate, but it did say security guards were arrogant and got fresh with female students. That’s what the grievances listed. So to my understanding from the research I’ve done, the spark of the protest in November of 68 started with a new disciplinary policy that suspended students for tardiness and loitering. I don’t know if you remember that exactly.
James [00:25:46] I don’t remember it specifically, but I do remember that they were becoming very. To step back a moment. This was during a period when corporal punishment was still a part of the school culture. It was standard practice for students to…There were things that happened. Well four, I guess. That was expulsion, suspension, detentions, and swats. Those were the four disciplinary procedures. You could in some cases decide whether you wanted to take swats or you wanted to accept the detention. And we didn’t like the swats. To have someone hit you on the butt with a paddle as hard as they can, two or three times. That’s pretty primitive. I’m sure, I’m not positive, but I’m relatively sure they never gave women any swats. None of the females got swats. It was just the male students. So there was pushback about the whole disciplinary program. The issue of being suspended for a minor infraction was just a part of this whole disciplinary procedure that they had in place. And after the protest, they stopped giving swats.
Aaron [00:28:25] Do you have memories of the first walkout? I know there were two walkouts. Do you remember the first one?
James [00:28:34] Yeah, I do.
Aaron [00:28:35] Okay. What are your memories of that event? Because I know that’s what led to Linda Fuller to be transferred to East High School.
James [00:28:44] The first walkout was kind of…we weren’t sure how successful it was going to be. We were really concerned about it because we knew the level of commitment that the core group had. The core part was maybe 15, 20 students. And when we did walk out, we were shocked that everybody walked out. I’m sure there were probably some people that stayed behind, but based on the people that showed up at our meeting point and there couldn’t have been many people left behind. There was a theater that was just around the corner from the school, and I don’t know who it was that negotiated the deal to allow us to meet there. But we all went over to the theater and when we got to the theater, there were four or five of us that spoke to the group to talk about the concerns and our commitment to stick with this as long as we have to stick with it in order to get what we wanted. I felt good about it because just like I mentioned, the riots tended to be unfocused. I felt that we were very focused because not only did the people look at this as an opportunity to not be in school, they kind of just went home. But they didn’t go home. They came over to the theater. And we sat in that theater and we talked about issues and we discussed them back and forth amongst ourselves. We had maybe five people on stage who presented, and then we discussed things back and forth between the groups, the audience. I can’t call them audience because we’re all part of the same thing. Five people were sitting on the stage and a thousand people are sitting in seats in the theater. So they’re not the audience. They’re participants just like we’re all participants. Questions were asked, discussions going on. And we were in that theater for two or 3 hours talking about things. It was really a very refreshing feeling for me because I felt like we were really about taking care of business as opposed to here’s an excuse for me to be out of school for the day.
Aaron [00:32:54] Do you remember when Linda was transferred? Because I know that was a common tactic among school administrators to expel, suspend, or transfer students they deemed troublemakers.
James [00:33:05] I’m sorry. I didn’t understand your question. Say it again, please.
Aaron [00:33:10] Do you remember how Linda was transfer?
James [00:33:13] Linda was not transferred.
Aaron [00:33:15] Oh, okay.
James [00:33:20] Linda, she stayed at John Hay. She graduated as part of the group. There was some other people that were transferred out. And I remember who the individuals were. I don’t think they went to East High. I thought they transferred that to, I can’t remember now, but I didn’t think it was East High that they transferred them to. There was another school that was not even close to John Hay. They were transfer. As I mentioned to you when we spoke the other day, there was one person. It was the strangest thing. As I said before, John Hay was a very small school. Total enrollment was, I don’t know, 1208. I think it was close at 1200. Our graduating class was only 118 students. So it’s a small school. But a guy popped up that now is active in trying to help us organize the Black Student Alliance. And some things. I never knew him before. He suddenly there. Then after everything kind of quieted down, suddenly he wasn’t there anymore. His image was scrubbed from every photograph that he would have been in. It was like he was never there. He was a ghost. And that was very odd.
Aaron [00:35:25] I do remember we’re talking about Linda was your then girlfriend. So I’m curious, how was she as a person? Because she seemed to be pretty active on campus.
James [00:35:38] Yeah. Linda was. Linda was also a member of the band. She was a very attractive young lady with long, brown hair that hung down past her shoulders. During the time that she and I were boyfriend and girlfriend. We’re both very political. Both in school and out of school. Linda cut off all of her hair. Because she was a very attractive woman. She was still very attractive without her hair, but she didn’t want to be defined by this traditional this is what black women should look like. This is our effort to look like white women. She kicked that to the curb, cut off all of her hair and had a very short afro. So she and I both had matching Afros. And this was at a time when guys having Afros was shocking, and she had an Afro. And so she was really, really, very cutting edge. She was all about the movement. I remember there was one occasion where we were doing some voter registration work, and Linda and I were going through the community and this little, old black lady, she said, ‘Excuse me, boys, but could you tell me? And Linda was so gracious, she didn’t she didn’t correct the lady. She just turned around and gave her the information that the lady was looking for. And I don’t know if the lady recognized that she was, in fact talking to a beautiful young black woman or not. That was Lynda. She was always positive and very respectful of the elders within the community. But she was working hand in hand and prepared to do whatever was necessary. We weren’t a violent group, but I think if violence had been necessary, she would have been prepared to shoulder whatever weight she had to shoulder in order to see the mission through.
Aaron [00:39:02] Were you aware of the other protests occurring at other high schools on the east side?
James [00:39:13] I knew that there were some other people doing some things. Our efforts were not coordinated in that respect. If we had really had a better network, if we had been aware, that would have been the ultimate thing to do to because our protest was not protest against John Hay, we were protesting against the Cleveland public school system. We were making a statement that needed to be responded to by the Cleveland Public School System. And if we had had that coordinated approach, then I think our voice would have been much louder and the response would have been much louder, much quicker. But I knew that there were some things going on and not because we were who we were. I think our protest was the best of the high school protests.
Aaron [00:40:37] It was definitely the most controversial one and definitely the largest one. They vary from city to city. Some cities there’s student protests at individual schools, but it’s all somewhat connected. And others there’s like citywide walkouts, like in Cincinnati and Los Angeles.
James [00:41:02] Unfortunately, we lack that connectivity. To be fair about it, I suspect that there may have been some pushback had we attempted to approach the other schools because John Hay was, as I said, it was a very small school. I doubt that the other schools would have felt good about the fact that the tail would be wagging the dog. The smallest school is here telling us about what we need to do are trying to coordinate an effort.
Aaron [00:41:49] So that’s lead me to the second walk out. So I know one thing what the demands is that now the students were asking their principal Paul B. High to resign. That was his first year there. So how was he, if you if you remember him well?
James [00:42:05] I don’t remember him well, I do remember that he threatened us when we had the first walkout. He threatened us before the walkout. He was not supportive of any of the…initially there were requests. Then they were demands. But he was an anti-force. And we just didn’t feel that he was sensitive to the needs of the black students in terms of what kind of a principal he was. I don’t remember. My wife retired from the Chicago public school system. I have a daughter that was a teacher. I have a daughter that was an associate professor at a university. I have lots of family members that are in education. So, I understand the role of a principal is something different than someone who’s there to respond to and deal with the needs as articulated by the students. So in terms of whether he was a good principal or not, I don’t know. But what I do know is that he wasn’t listening to what we had to say. He wasn’t hearing what we had to say. And if he did hear what we had to say, he didn’t view it as being valid. And so we felt he needed to go. And so that became another one of our demands.
Aaron [00:44:35] You’re probably not aware of this, but when I was the doing the research, the Plain Dealer, of course, condemned the protests. And the GOP even tried to attack Carl Stokes for the protest. But even the Call and Post actually condemned the protests and blamed it on inactive parents and black nationalists, which are refer to as a virus. Were you aware of like the allegations that were used against you guys?
James [00:45:03] No. I was aware that the protest was not looked on favorably. It was as though people could not separate the negatives associated with the riots, because most people, older generation, felt the riots were negative. And we should stay in our place. And our protests were negative. That we need to stay in her place. So I wasn’t aware of the specifics of any of their views or are any of that. But I do know that people outside of our generation and people outside of those directly affected saw our protest in a completely different way than those of us who were engaged in the protest. I think during that period more people were about to be quiet and be patient, change will come attitude. Most people have that attitude. And we were about we’ve been patient long enough, we need change to happen now. How long are we expected to endure before it becomes a too long? I’m really surprised that the Call and Post took a stance against something. I’m surprised to hear that.
Aaron [00:47:57] I think they started taking a more conservative tone after the Glenville shootout. A lot of papers were kind of blaming black nationalist for fomenting disorder in the schools. So I think that’s kind of what happened after the shootout and the riots.
James [00:48:13] That kind of pisses me off because when I was about 12 years old, I used to sell the Call and Post. I used to go down to, they had a thing where, I think the Call and Post cost. I can’t remember now. Maybe $0.10 or something. But you go down to the Call and Post, anybody, you go down to the Call and Post and you say, ‘give me 20 papers. I’m going to sell 20 papers.’ You go out you sell the 20 papers. You bring the money back. They get $0.07 for paper. Give me $0.03 per. That was a distribution process. It wasn’t like The Plain Dealer or the Cleveland Press where they had subscriptions. These people, they got the paper every day. Paperboy delivered the paper, Call and Post. It was the paper, you go out and sell it. And I sold their paper for them when I was a kid to make money. And I’m kind of pissed off now that I was supporting these guys and turn around and stabbing us in the back.
Aaron [00:49:36] Yeah, I’m looking at my notes and the title is called “Where Are the Parents?” Its call outsized spokesman of ‘dubious motivations’. They’re not taking sides. But they said it’s too many black parents are inactive and have been inactive with the John Hay controversy.
James [00:49:54] So they weren’t talking about me, they were talking about mama. Now, that really pisses me off.
Aaron [00:50:05] Like they’re trying to walk a fine line. You could tell they’re not really supportive of the protest. They just see it as like a minority of students depriving most students of their education.
James [00:50:16] Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. I knew that sentiment existed. We knew that was out there because that was an opinion that was expressed within the student body. Some people said, ‘I don’t want to do it because I’m ready to graduate and now you’re going to mess things up.’ As I said before, when we did march, or walk out, those people that express those concerns, they were there with us. And when we were at the theater, those people reiterated their concern that they spoke out again because when we were in that theater, it wasn’t a kumbaya moment where we’re all of a common opinion about what we ought to do. There was there was back and forth about what’s the next move be? Is this enough? All right. Fun and games over. Let’s go back. All that was going on there. I’m not so naive to think that it was universal. But certainly I would of though the black press would of been sophisticated enough to recognize that in order to achieve change, there has to be a little pain. I’m just surprised.
Aaron [00:52:14] I’m curious, were you part of when students occupied the school administration building superintendent Paul Bridge to meet him?
James [00:52:24] No.
Aaron [00:52:24] Okay. Okay. I know there’s like about a hundred and some students who went there to make demands directly to him.
James [00:52:32] Yeah, I remember that. I don’t know what the particulars were, why I wasn’t involved in that, because, again, as I said before, the school thing was one of the things that I was involved in. I was I was really active with CORE. I don’t know, there may have been something else that I had going on at that point that, but I don’t remember. I do know that I wasn’t part of an occupying group.
Aaron [00:53:23] I’m curious what the role of your parents during all this?
James [00:53:32] They understood. They had seen or they were party to my involvement with CORE and NAACP and being involved in different marches that they organized in the Cleveland area. And I also was involved in some of the activities that CORE had going on in Pennsylvania. So I was doing some local travel with them and also some things down in southern Ohio, down at Wilberforce. So this was not out of character for me to be involved in this, and they supported. They understood. I don’t think they fully calibrated the negative potential impact because I, quite frankly, hadn’t fully calibrated it myself. Fortunately, things worked out well for me in life. But it could have taken a very different turn very easily. So they understood. But to be honest with you, me and my high school protest and so forth wasn’t their biggest concern. They had two sons that were involved in the Vietnam War. Worrying about whether their two sons were going to come back home was probably a bigger concern, a bigger issue for them than me and a high school walkout.
Aaron [00:56:08] What did you do in the meantime? Hay closed down for two weeks, I think ten days, actually. Do you know what you did in the meantime during it?
James [00:56:18] No, I don’t. I don’t remember. No doubt I was active with the work that I was doing with CORE. When you look at social civil organizations now and what they’re doing, a lot of that stuff is month to month, maybe week to week. But back during the sixties, there was day to day stuff. There was something taking place at the CORE every day. And by the time that we had the school protest, I was also running my community club program after school weekends and so forth. If I had to hazard I guess to try to remember what I was doing, I would have no doubt been sharing my time over at the CORE office tonight, or over at my office, I had an office that was set up at a 123rd and Superior. The afterschool programs it was brick and mortar. I was there most of the time.
Aaron [00:58:21] Okay. I have two more questions. I kind of curious about you said you had two brothers in Vietnam. So how concerned were you about potentially being drafted?
James [00:58:33] I wasn’t in threat of being drafted. And that rate because you’re 16, 17 years old in high school. But when I graduated from high school and went to college, everybody had to register for the draft. And I had to register for the draft my freshman year of college. But as it turned out, my freshman year of college, I had an accident with a [indecipherable] glass door fooling around with my best friend. I almost cut my hand off. Fortunately, they were able to save it, with the grace of God everything worked out well. But for a period of time I had limited mobility in my right hand resulting from the injury. So when I went down to the draft board to register for the draft, they saw that I had limited mobility, would not have been able to operate a service weapon. They said, ‘Whelp, ok 4-F, you’re out of here.’ So, I was not eligible for the draft. But, you know, back in that period they were drafted people left and right. We were part of the tools of war, the weapons of war. I don’t think any of that would have been. Well, I guess I’m being naive here because I was going to say I don’t think any of that would have been impacted by what we were doing and our protest. But it very easily could have been.
Aaron [01:00:38] My last question I love to ask everybody is can you talk about your life after high school?
James [01:00:45] Sure. I have been really, truly blessed. After John Hay, I went to Walter Wallace College, which is just down the road from John Hay out by Cleveland Airport. There was a college nearby the university its, now is Baldwin Wallace University. I went there and continued the organizing ways when I went there with my best friend. And I would be remiss if I did not mention my best friend, R.J. Stidham, who was shoulder to shoulder with me during the struggles. R.J. went on to become one of the top fair housing lawyers in the country and did a lot of work with the Obama administration. R.J., unfortunately, passed due to cancer about six or seven years ago, but he was one of the brightest minds that I had the pleasure of knowing and certainly one of the most committed people that I know, people that are committed to the struggle. R.J. Stidham, and unfortunately, I don’t think his name would have appeared in any other things back during that time because he was growing into himself at that point. His role continued to grow with the passing of time. He grew to be a very important person in black lives because of the work that he did for fair housing, not just black lives. Fair housing applies to black people, white people, and brown people. But at any rate, I want to Baldwin Wallace College. R.J. was there with me. And when we got there in Baldwin Wallace College, there was, I think, 23 black students there when we arrived. We were an incoming class of about 45 students or so. And we made some serious changes there. We organized the African American Society there at Baldwin Wallace College. We unfortunately had to do a couple of protests there because of some racist things that occurred on that campus. But we were the agent for change at Baldwin Wallace College as well. So went to Baldwin Wallace College. Then I [indecipherable} Baldwin Wallace College after two years and went to the University of Pittsburgh. Got called in a fast track program for getting a MBA program at the University of Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, I did not complete the MBA program, but did a lot of work there. I was involved in the cultural house, which brought together 10 black people from the global community with 10 white people from global community. And by that I mean black people being African American, African, African, Middle Eastern, and white folks from the U.S. and around the world. So the 20 of us lived in this house, the grant house, handled all the business in the house [indecipherable]. So after that, I moved to corporate America. I work in corporate America in Pennsylvania, Detroit, New York, and Chicago. I was involved in insurance, and I was in an area of insurance where black folks did not exist. Working with mining companies, gold mines, copper mines, diamond mines. And I was blessed enough to travel around the world three or four times a year. Working with people. I married, wife with 3 kids, 5 grandkids. And I don’t know, I wouldn’t change anything.
Aaron [01:06:37] I should add it to one thing that came out of the John Hay High School protest was that the principal actually did resign and it increased the number of black principals to four out of six predominantly black schools in the city. That’s one thing that came out of it.
James [01:07:02] That’s a tactical thing that came out of it. Hopefully a bigger strategic thing came out of it. Allowing young people to recognize and know that they have a voice that they can speak up with when things aren’t right, or they see issues. They have a voice. And hopefully that kind of strategic thing has a much greater impact than just getting rid of one principal. Just like I mentioned when we took this thing from John Hay to Baldwin Wallace College, these other students that are involved, hopefully they took it to other institutions, not just academic institutions, professionals. My whole working career, I was an advocate for change. An advocate for people recognizing that things can always be a little better. I’m mentoring young people coming into the workplace. The seed was working with CORE in those folks because that was invaluable. But the germination of that seed was the John Hay thing because it was us students. It wasn’t someone behind the scenes manipulating us into doing this. This was the students expressing themselves. So, for me that was the germination of the seed from CORE and NAACP. And hopefully, if others took that seed for them and planted it in some other places then that’s the real positive coming out of that protest or that walkout.
Aaron [01:09:31] Oh, yeah. I’m going to stop the recording right now, by the way.
James [01:09:35] Okay.