Interview, Stanley Thomas
Stanley Thomas (b. 1908) was born in Binghamton, New York, and graduated from high school in 1926. He studied music at Ithaca Conservatory and first came to Rochester with his band in 1929. In 1931, he moved his family to Rochester, where he worked as a musician and held jobs in the County Clerk’s office and as a janitor. During World War II, Thomas worked as a chemical mixer at Dupont, where he became an assistant foreman. He later worked as the Director of Sanitation and Director of Personnel for the City of Rochester. Thomas became engaged with community organizations such as the Elks and the NAACP, and was New York’s first black Democratic State Committeeman, a position he held for 6 years.
In this interview, Thomas reflects on employment discrimination and reveals that he received lower wages than his white coworkers at Dupont. He reports that he was demoted after World War II, when more white men became available for hire in managerial positions. He shares that he was often ignored and disrespected in his civic jobs, as well, which he also attributes to racial discrimination.