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Working Lives Oral History Project

Interview with Washington Marrisett

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In this interview, Washington Marrisett discusses his life in Birmingham from the Depression through the Civil Rights Movement. Marrisett remembers the Depression and the things he did to get by. He discusses the soup wagons in Kelly Ingram Park; the lines were segregated, but everyone ate the same food. He says he sold junk and scrap he would find in the garbage, including aluminum, iron, copper, and rags. He also hoboed for a time, traveling from Detroit to Birmingham. He explains that hoboing was dangerous. He remembers seeing blacks and whites, men and women in the life. Marrisett explains that while he didn't take advantage of Red Cross aid, he did go on welfare. He remembers that the people in the welfare office--even the blacks--made it hard on blacks to their checks. Marrisett also worked on the WPA, cleaning up parks and cutting grass. He says they were paid in something like foodstamps rather than with money. Marrisett also talks about working for the railroad in the twenties and during World War II. He enjoyed the travel. He demonstrates some railroad working calls for the interviewer. Marrisett recalls the rallies that took place during the Civil Rights Movement and speaks kindly of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Marrisett, Washington
Hamrick, Peggy
Date Created
Physical Description
3 audio cassettes
Physical Description
3 transcripts
United States--Alabama--Jefferson County--Birmingham
Marrisett, Washington -- 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)