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Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with Albert V. Allen, Jr.
BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Albert Allen, Jr., was born in Hannibal, Missouri, in 1913. His family moved to Minneapolis and settled on the north side around 1917. Mr. Allen, Sr., became the state's first African American grocer, though the Great Depression forced him out of business. He then became the chauffeur and personal assistant to the president of the Minneapolis-Moline Power Implements Company. Mr. Allen, Jr., graduated from North High School in 1929, with an outstanding record in athletics. He hoped to become an athletics director, and was unable to continue his education at the University of Minnesota because of the depression. Instead, he went to work at the Minneapolis Athletic Club and effectively ran the handball court there until the U.S. entered World War II. At the Athletic Club Mr. Allen joined the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union Local #665 (Miscellaneous Workers) and was soon elected vice-president of the local, a post he held for several years. During the war Mr. Allen worked at several defense plants, and served as a shop steward for the united Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers' Union Local #1146 at the Minneapolis-Moline plant. After a brief return to the Athletic Club, he became a skycap for Northwest orient Airlines at the international airport. There again he helped to form a union, Clerical-Workers' Union Local 3015, and served briefly as an officer. Outside of work, Mr. Allen continued his amateur athletic career, and won the Twin Cities men's singles tennis championship for nine years in the 1940s. He also was president of the Minneapolis chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People from 1946 to 1949. Mr. Allen was married in 1932, and had two children. At the time of the interview, he was retired and living in south Minneapolis. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Memories of growing up as an African American in Minneapolis: racially-motivated fights and other incidents. Park board athletic activities, 1920s and 1930s. Attitudes about racial terms. Divisions within the African American community based on skin color; perceptions of affirmative action (1970s). Descriptions of the Minneapolis Athletic Club, 1930s: discrimination against women, business deals made, financial stability of the Club. Impressions of George Naumoff and Swan Assarson, organizers for Local 665. Mr. Allen's own conversion from an anti-union attitude to joining the union. Impact of the Fair Employment Practices Commission on the Twin Cities African American community. Description of working in a defense plant during World War II. Union organizing drive at Northwest Airlines, 1948 or so. Discrimination against African Americans in hotels, restaurants, and at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, 1940s. Activities of the Minneapolis NAACP, 1940s. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: The interview is rich in details about the Minneapolis African American community, and is particularly interesting because of the attitudes Mr. Allen expresses about the politics of that community.
2 hours sound cassette
25 pages transcript
Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
01:27:33 running time
Interviewee: Allen, Albert V.
Interviewer: Ross, Carl
Made in: Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
|Holding Type||Oral History - Interview|
OH 30 (Library Call Number)
AV1990.228.45 (Accession Number)
MHS Library Catalog
Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project'