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Working Lives Oral History Project

Interview with Rosa Jackson

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In this interview, Rosa Jackson talks about living through the depression and the civil rights era in Birmingham, Alabama. Jackson recalls how she worked for white people from the age of eight, first as a nurse and later as a cleaner of office buildings. Her husband was a steel worker, laid off just before the Depression. She recounts how they lived through the Depression: I just figured I'd make it somehow with the Lord's help, and I did make it through. It was tough. I'm not going to tell you there were any good points about it... She added that you could get by if you used your head. Jackson talks about getting aid from the Red Cross, how they didn't make it difficult for people, but everyone had to stand in long lines. There was no segregation in the food line; everyone was in the same line 'cause they was in the same position. She also recalls how her husband got coal from boxcars, a dangerous practice because of the hoboes. Jackson expresses her admiration for FDR, who she calls a dear beloved man, for starting the Social Security system, and she admired him for overcoming being a cripple: He made himself a mountain. Jackson discusses her role in the civil rights movement at length, saying she did what she could, but she tried to be peaceable because she was scared both of breaking the law and of the Ku Klux Klan. She said everyone was afraid of having their house burned; during that time, she says it wasn't smart for blacks to be out after 9:30. She also talks about Jim Crow laws and how she was once brought in on charges for making beer, which were dropped because the beer hadn't fermented yet and couldn't be proved as such.
Jackson, Rosa
Hamrick, Peggy
Date Created
Physical Description
2 audio cassettes
Physical Description
2 transcripts
United States--Alabama--Jefferson County--Birmingham
Jackson, Rosa -- Interviews
Document Types
sound recording-nonmusical


William Stanley Hoole Special Collections Library
Repository Collection
Archive of American Minority Cultures

Part of

Online Repository
The University of Alabama Libraries Digital Collections
Digital Collection
Working Lives Oral History Project

Additional Information

Digitization Funding
The digitization of this collection was funded by a gift from EBSCO Industries.
Access Conditions
  • Collection may be protected under Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Law.
  • To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library.
EBSCO Industries
The University of Alabama Libraries (Tuscaloosa, Alabama)