Interview, Earnest James

March 13, 1980

Earnest James (1905 – 2003) was born in Oklahoma to a family of 10 children. He lived in Cleveland, Ohio, until 1924, when he relocated to Rochester, New York, to work for a produce vendor. He married his wife, Emma, in 1936 and together they had four children. James eventually went to work as a driver for Eber Brothers Wine and Liquor Corporation, from which he retired in 1971.

In this interview, James discusses changes in employment opportunities for African Americans since he first arrived in Rochester. He reports that he never experienced racial discrimination personally, but he recognizes that many black Rochesterians did. He recalls that there was an absence of black realtors and nurses in the city until a federal investigation resulted in further opportunities for African Americans in these fields. He also discusses his involvement in the Mount Olivet Baptist Church and the local NAACP, dating back to when he first came to Rochester.

Content Tags


  • 1920s
  • 1930s
  • 1970s