Louis Tucker was born December 1, 1912 in Orangeburg, South Carolina. He recalls moving with his family to Philadelphia when he was eight years old. Tindley Temple United Methodist Church became his family’s church. As an adult, he later became a member of the Episcopal Church and served with Father Paul M. Washington, a prominent civil rights leader. He worked as a machinist at Westinghouse from 1941 until he retired. He and his wife, the late Annie Kay Tucker, had three children.
Louis Tucker Excerpts
I never thought I’d see the first Black president of the United States.
It was a surprise. I didn’t know society had changed so much that so many whites would vote for him.
Education Didn’t Seem to Pay for Blacks
In my day, Philadelphia was full of jobs. There were plenty of manufacturing jobs here. But things were tough. It looked like if you were a Black person, it was a waste of time sitting in school because the white people weren’t going to give you nothing no way. You’re still going to have the same old job after you come out. The few fellows that did go to college, they were working doing the same work I was doing. I was better off than they was in not going.
The Job World: Often A Tough Place for Blacks
Before World War II, the paper, in the want ads, would tell what race a person they want to hire. They would tell you whether it was white or Black or light colored.
Before the war, General Electric, Westinghouse and Navy Yard had all those good machinist jobs. Sometimes they have them advertised in the paper “Hiring 200 men Monday morning.” And they would be down there at the employment office bright and early. A whole lot of people, Black and white, would crowd that employment office, trying to get one of the jobs. They would be waiting there, anxious to get one of the jobs. After a while, the employment agency would come out and say, “We’re not hiring the coloreds.” And the coloreds would take it and walk on out.
Importance of Education
You’re seeing better days than I saw, that is, as far as society is concerned. But as far as living is concerned, it’s a little tougher for you all than it was for me. You have to have more education today. So I regret not being educated in my day. It wasn’t no guarantee that you were gonna fill your pocket up with money.
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