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Working Lives Oral History Project

Interview with Leona Williams

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In this interview, Leona Williams discusses her life in Birmingham, Alabama, during the Depression and the Civil Rights movement. Williams was a domestic on and off during her life. After she moved to Birmingham, she also worked at a funeral home. She recounts living through the Depression, how she was working as the cook and maid for a banker, so she had plenty to eat and could share her earnings with her family. She says her family had no garden, and they cut wood for fuel. She also recalls the Roosevelts coming to Birmingham for a visit. Williams talks about living in the country before her mother brought her to the city. She calls their home a little shack house, with four rooms and no electricity. She talks about schools in the country as well as how they handled medical problems with no doctors. She describes coming to Birmingham and says she doesn't think of herself as a country person anymore. Williams also describes her participation in the Civil Rights movement. She says she was involved with several marches and knew Martin Luther King, Jr. She cooked for the protesters and often put them up at her house. She remembers having dogs set loose on them, as well as being hit with a spray of water hard enough that she remembers seeing people cut and bleeding, just from the water. She also recalls seeing two men shot at a march. Williams also discusses an incident in which a man claiming to be a police officer caught her out late at night trying to get to her sister's house; he propositioned her, and when she refused, he took her to the police station. But her employers at the time were well known, and they got her released.
Williams, Leona
Hamrick, Peggy
Date Created
Physical Description
2 audio cassettes
Physical Description
2 transcripts
United States--Alabama--Jefferson County--Birmingham
Williams, Leona -- 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)