Interview, James Christian
James Christian was born in Union Springs, Alabama, to a family of sharecroppers. He finished high school at the Tuskegee Institute and was then drafted into the United States Army. Christian earned a bachelor’s degree in business in 1953 and reentered the military, specializing in materials management and ultimately achieving the rank of Major. After 20 years of service, Christian retired from the military in 1972. In Rochester, Christian first worked in construction and then as a business manager at Wedge, Inc. He was active in the community, participating in FIGHT (Freedom, Integration, God, Honor, Today), the Urban League, the Community Chest, and the Pan African Cultural Exposition.
In this interview, Christian recalls his experiences with segregation, police brutality, and job discrimination at Kodak and the University of Rochester, noting that conditions improved after the civil rights movement. He considers himself to be a leader in the community and encourages young people to believe in themselves, get an education, and vote. Christian also discusses his experiences traveling around the segregated southern states in the 1950s and 1960s.