Interview, Albert Dean
Albert Dean was born in Clermont, Florida. He attended a three-room school until tenth grade and then finished high school in Eustis, Florida, which was a 50-mile commute from his home each day. Dean attended Bethune-Cookman college in Daytona Beach, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in theology and sociology. After college, he joined the United States Army and was stationed in the Tank Corps in Louisville, Kentucky. After completing a tour of duty in France, Dean married Mildred Jones and returned to college, taking advantage of the G.I. Bill. He started a successful landscaping and irrigation business, but moved to Trenton, New Jersey, in 1960 to work in sales. He moved to Newark, New Jersey, in 1964, and later moved to Rochester, New York, where he went to work for General Dynamics. Dean later worked for the Board of Fundamental Education, the Worker’s Defense League Joint Apprenticeship Program, and a host of other equal opportunity organizations. At the time of his interview, Dean was working as a Baptist minister, promoting community development and equality. Dean and his wife raised five children in their home on Genesee Street, in Rochester.
In this interview, Dean discusses prejudice, significant civil rights events, and racial issues in Rochester. Dean remembers the prejudice that he faced in the Army, where black soldiers were not allowed to drive tanks. He recalls the day Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and remembers having a “bleak, grim feeling.” Dean talks about when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964. He also remembers living in Newark during the city’s race riots, and his subsequent move to Rochester with the hope of finding a better employment situation for African Americans. Dean discusses housing shortages and segregation in Rochester and being offered the worst shift in a position at Kodak. He shares his impression that Rochester was worse off in 1980 than it was in 1964.