Interview, Bobbie Johnson

April 2, 1980

Bobbie Johnson (b. 1929) was born in Rochester, New York. He graduated from Madison High School and was drafted into the United States Army at the age of 20. After serving for eight months, he returned to Rochester and found work at a meat packing plant. In 1959, he began working at the U.S. Postal Service and later, he went to work for DuPont. At age 40, Johnson began college courses at the Rochester Institute of Technology and Monroe Community College, embarking on a career as a poet and writer. He was a community activist who delivered the Frederick Douglass Voice newspaper, worked with Howard Coles, and challenged racial inequality wherever he witnessed it.

In this interview, Johnson discusses housing discrimination in Rochester and how he uses poetry to celebrate the beauty in black communities. He describes his experience during the 1964 race riots, and shares stories about police brutality in the 1950s and the lynching of a young black man in Rochester.

Content Tags


  • 1950s
  • 1960s
  • 1970s
  • 1980s