Interview, DeLeon McEwen

May 27, 1980

DeLeon McEwen was born in the southern United States and came to Rochester, New York, in 1957 to find employment. He later attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and then returned to Rochester and took a job as a surgical technician. McEwen soon became involved in community activism, joining the Freedom, Integration/Independence, God, Honor, Today (FIGHT) organization in Rochester. He became president of FIGHT in 1968, and created FIGHTON, a community development corporation co-sponsored by Xerox that sought to provide technical and leadership training to unemployed city residents. McEwen also served as an administrator in the Rochester City School District.

In this interview, McEwen shares a story about being turned away from employment at Kodak based on the color of his skin. He discusses the civil unrest in Rochester in the summer of 1964 and the underlying causes of the race riots that ensued. He shares that his greatest achievement was the formation of FIGHTON and expresses his hope that Rochester’s black community will become more united.

Content Tags


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