Interview with Dallas Barnes, Webster Jackson, Albert Wilkins at Morning Star Baptist Church, Pasco, WA.

Dublin Core

Title

Interview with Dallas Barnes, Webster Jackson, Albert Wilkins at Morning Star Baptist Church, Pasco, WA.

Subject

Hanford Site (Wash.)
Pasco (Wash.)
Kennewick (Wash.)
Richland (Wash.)
Church
Segregation
Migration
School integration
Affirmative action
Civil rights
Civil rights movements

Description

Dallas Barnes, Webster Jackson and Albert Wilkins discuss life in Pasco since 1950 and the history of the Morningstar Baptist Church.

A National Park Service funded project to document the history of African American contributions to Hanford and the surrounding communities. This project was conducted through the Pacific Northwest Cooperative Ecosystems Unit, Task Agreement P17AC01288

Publisher

Hanford Oral History Project at Washington State University Tri-Cities

Date

05/31/2018

Rights

Those interested in reproducing part or all of this oral history should contact the Hanford History Project at ourhanfordhistory@tricity.wsu.edu, who can provide specific rights information for this item.

Format

video/mp4

Provenance

The Hanford Oral History Project operates under a sub-contract from Mission Support Alliance (MSA), who are the primary contractors for the US Department of Energy's curatorial services relating to the Hanford site. This oral history project became a part of the Hanford History Project in 2015, and continues to add to the US Department of Energy collection. This oral history collection was done in partnership with the National Park Service under Task Agreement P17AC01288.

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Interviewer

Robert Franklin

Interviewee

Dallas Barnes, Webster Jackson and Albert Wilkins

Location

Morningstar Baptist Church Pasco, Washington

Transcription

Robert Franklin: My name is Robert Franklin. I am conducting an oral history interview with Dallas Barnes, Pastor Albert Wilkins and Webster Jackson on May 31st, 2018. The interview is being conducted at Morning Star Baptist Church in East Pasco. I’ll be talking with Dallas, Pasto Albert and Webster about their experiences living in the Tri-Cities. And for the record, can you state and spell your full names for us, starting with Dallas?

Dallas Barnes: Dallas Barnes, D-A-L-L-A-S, E, and Barnes, B-A-R-N-E-S.

Albert Wilkins: Mm-hmm, yes, and I’m Albert Wilkins, A-L-B-E-R-T, capital-T, W-I-L-K-I-N-S.

Webster Jackson: Mine, I am Webster Jackson. Webster, W-E-B-S-T-E-R, the letter U, J-A-C-K-S-O-N.

Franklin: Great, thank you. So we’re at Morning Star Baptist Church. Tell me about the church, how it was founded, and the role that it plays in the community—played in the community.

Wilkins: Mm-kay. Well, the church was founded in 1946. It began in the homes of several of the older members. I don’t remember all their names, but Brother Luzell Johnson, who was a major deacon in the church for many years, his wife, Etta B. Johnson, his sister—

Jackson: Velma.

Wilkins: Velma, Velma Williams, and several others. It was later—it established in a building in downtown Pasco off of Lewis Street in the early ‘40s, ’46? Yeah, around ’46, ’47. It was later moved to the corner of Butte and Wehe, I think in 1940--?

Barnes: Eight, I believe.

Wilkins: Mm-hmm, ’48. Where—it stayed there until 1956, when this particular building was built and established. This is where it’s been ever since.

Franklin: I’d like to ask each of you three what your first memories are of the church. I’ll start with Dallas.

Barnes: Well, I was involved with the church. We moved from St. Louis to Pasco in 1952. And I remember being taken to church, of course, by my mom, here to Morning Star. And I was in, I guess, junior high school or early—sophomore or somewhere around there. And became a member, did all the things that youth did in the church, and was baptized then in the Morning Star Baptist Church when it was on Butte and Wehe.

Wilkins: Yeah. We also moved here in 1952. I was two years old at the time, so my recollection of the move is non-existent. However, I do remember living next-door to the church in ’53, ’54, ’55, and I was baptized in Morning Star Baptist Church and I believe it was indeed here in this particular building around 1956, ’57.

Jackson: My folks, we came out to visit my mother’s sister and their families in 1948. And we stayed out here for about a month. We came from Texarkana, Texas. And we went back. My dad was a principal in the high school back in Texas. Actually it was in Arkansas. Texarkana, Texas and Arkansas, where the state line goes right through the center of that city. And we stayed out here for about a month visiting and then we went back to Texarkana. And my dad decided basically that we really needed to go back to Pasco. So we packed up and came back to Pasco. My brother, he enlisted in the US Navy out of Texarkana, and me and my mother and dad came out here. And he went to work at Hanford. And me and my cousins and so forth, the only thing we did was rode all the way around the city limits of Pasco, which was not that great. It was not that expansive in—

Wilkins: That time.

Jackson: In 1950 and so forth. I also—my dad, he joined St. James Methodist Church, and me and my mother joined Morning Star. That was also down on the corner of Butte and Wehe Street. And I was baptized in Morning Star Church.

Franklin: Webster, could I ask you what your first impressions were? Because you were in your teens when you came here, right?

Jackson: Correct.

Franklin: What were your first impressions of Pasco when you came here in ’48?

Jackson: Oh, it was the place to be for us youngsters, for us kids. Like I said, I had several cousins here, family—extended family here. We just had a good time as far as that’s concerned. At that age, I mean, in high school, in Pasco High—I graduated from Pasco High School, and it was not that many African American kids in there. I would guess at this time, I would say it was less than ten. We all got along. We had our ups and downs in school, as far as that’s concerned. But, like I said, we really rode our bicycles every day and we just had a good time.

Franklin: Great. I would—so you came from Texarkana, and Dallas you came from—?

Barnes: St. Louis.

Franklin: St. Louis. And, Albert, where did your family move from?

Wilkins: We came here from Louisiana. My father was a preacher as well.

Franklin: Oh, okay.

Wilkins: And so he came up here to work on the dams. He came up in ’50, and we followed, then, in ’52.

Franklin: Right on. I guess, what role did the church play in the black community? Both historically and here in Pasco.

Wilkins: Hmm. I don’t know. The church was the central piece of the community. At that time, the vast majority of African Americans lived in east Pasco. The church was the center of the community, so the role they played was—it maintained, or set the standard for moral behavior in the community. The pastor of the church really was the voice of the community and issues concerning civil rights or some injustices or any relationships with the authorities, the pastor of the church was the voice.

You have to remember, at that time, this was a very segregated area. In fact, I think I was seven years old before I ever saw another white person, you know? Really.

Franklin: Really?

Wilkins: I’m serious. Because it was that isolated. And so everything that we did, like Webster was saying, was done right here in east Pasco, riding our bicycles or walking out to Sacajawea Park or going out to James Johnson’s ranch and riding horses. Everything was done right here for a long time. For a very long time, in fact.

As I recall, probably around 1964, they had built Isaac Stevens Junior High School, and I was attending there, and I remember being in class, I was the only African American in the class. And that’s when they first started putting TVs in the classroom. And they were showing the civil rights movement in the South. It was really a traumatic experience for me, because they had this lady on the television, they were interviewing and asking her what she thought about segregation. And she looked directly into the camera—and you have to remember I’m the only African American in this room—she looked directly into the camera and she said, well, niggers can’t learn! [LAUGHTER]

I was mortified! I’m sitting there, going, huh. So what I had was a retreat to east Pasco where I could feel safe. I could feel safe. And that’s kind of the role the church played in my life: it gave me a safe haven where I could always come to. But yeah, it played a central role in the community for a very long time. When there was a physical community of African Americans, mm-hmm.

Barnes: And we did have a real community. You know, service stations that was owned and operated by black people, taverns, JD’s Store, and a community. We would, in many cases, because the workforce was intransient, a lot of folks, and a lot of folks came from the military base in Othello to Pasco to make it a little more robust, and from other places, too, like Hermiston. And just for the region, Pasco was the center for the weekend recreation and things like that. So in many ways, we could say that Pasco, for a lot of the people who were here and visited here, partied fairly well on the weekend and went to the church on the Sundays to get ready for that Monday morning work experience, be it back on the military base or out at Hanford and things like that. So if you’re talking about back in that period of time, yeah, segregation was really, really real, and we did have a refuge in east Pasco. And the church very much was the moral center place for keeping us all together as a community.

Wilkins: Yeah.

Jackson: And also, we talk about, yes, east Pasco was the dominant residential section for the African Americans as far as that’s concerned, but on the underpass, the railroad tracks underpass is what divided east Pasco from west Pasco. And 1st Street, you go underneath the underpass and you go on 1st Street, there were African Americans between 1st Street and the railroad track, which is only one block. And these people, they had—in fact, their names was Coleman.

Barnes: In fact, that’s where we lived, on that first street off of Wehe—on the side of the railroad tracks.

Jackson: And when we came to Pasco, we lived on Tacoma Street. But it’s right next to the railroad track. And I can’t recall any African Americans or black people living past that first street.

Wilkins: What about Navy Homes, that was all the way down the end of 1st Street?

Jackson: Navy Homes was at the end of that, and Parkside Homes was just to the west side of 1st Street.

Wilkins: Yeah, I remember—

Jackson: When we moved from Tacoma Street, in that building, there was me and my mother and father, like I said, my brother was in the US Navy, and my aunt and uncle—had two aunts and uncles, we all lived in the same—it was kind of like a little shack of a triplex, I guess you would call it. It wasn’t no triplex, it was—because there was only just one room and a bathroom.

Barnes: Are you talking about Navy Homes or Parkside?

Jackson: No, I’m speaking about on Tacoma Street.

Barnes: Oh, I see.

Jackson: Tacoma and Sylvester. And not very long after that, then we moved to Parkside Homes. That led moving into the ward off.

Wilkins: I know, that was as close to the west side as you gonna get.

[LAUGHTER]

Jackson: Exactly.

Barnes: Parkside and Navy Homes was part of the—well, even CBC had some of those particular—started out at the Air—

Wilkins: Mm-hmm, Naval—

Barnes: Yeah, at the Naval place out there where they had their station out there. As well as Port of Pasco had some military attachments to the Pasco community. So, Navy Homes and—Parkside was Army, Navy Homes was Navy and so forth. And we had down here an intern camp for some of the—I’m not sure if they were German or Italian prisoners, but one of the two.

Jackson: Yeah, there was no African Americans living in the Navy Home—I mean, yeah, Navy Home—other than, you know, military attachments, as far as that’s concerned. Later on, African Americans was able to live in Navy Homes.

Wilkins: Yeah, it became your first low-rent place. Those were just tentacles, because everything ended up being sucked back into east Pasco for any kind of community stuff.

Barnes: Right. That’s right.

Wilkins: And again, the church was the centerpiece. Morning Star is indeed the oldest African American church that was established back in the early ‘50s. Two other churches came out of Morning Star, because it had gotten so crowded. And so New Hope Baptist Church up the street came out of it, and then Greater Faith Baptist Church came out of it, as well as St. James, actually, the Methodist Church, because all of it was in one place at one point.

Franklin: Were those—you mentioned because it had got so big—were those pretty peaceful splits of the congregation, or was there any kind of disagreement that led to the foundation of the separate churches? And did it fragment the community as well, or was everyone—

Barnes: I don’t necessarily think that the community itself was fragmented.

Wilkins: No.

Barnes: And it probably could have been a combination of reasons. But certainly, growth would have been one of them and maybe—I’m just thinking about the dynamics of any large group, you know. That could happen. But I would say, it could’ve been a combination, and I’m not sure what percentage of the causes would be. But the community stayed intact. These churches get along very well even right as we speak, and from the time of their origin, they got along well.

Wilkins: And you have to hold in mind that during that time, there was a significant influx of African Americans continually coming in—

Barnes: This is what I’m saying.

Wilkins: --but were concentrated—had to be concentrated in this area. So of course the church swoled--swelled up real good. And so the splits—I wouldn’t even really call them splits, so much. Yeah, I guess they were, because you got a new church name and everything.

Barnes: New church name and all of that. We maintained the Baptist piece on all of it. And still again, if there’s a death, for example, or a wedding, or any other kind of celebration, then all these congregations come together wherever we go and whosever church we’re at, as one community family, one family. One church family.

Wilkins: Yeah, in fact, what we have in the works now—and I haven’t really announced this completely—but on the fifth Sunday in July, all three of those churches are going to come together for a unified worship service, which I think should be a real historic event since we haven’t done that. Yeah, for years and years. I don’t know that we’ve ever done that.

Jackson: I don’t think it’s ever happened.

Wilkins: But we’re gonna do it the fifth Sunday.

Barnes: Something other than a funeral or a wedding or something like that.

Wilkins: Something other than a funeral!

[LAUGHTER]

Franklin: Where is that going to take place?

Wilkins: Right here at Morning Star. Right here at Morning Star, it’ll be an 11:00 service like we normally do, only the other two churches are going to put signs on their doors saying, come to Morning Star. So any visitors will—hopefully, we’ll be able to fill it up in here.

Franklin: Oh, that’s great. What were—in the early days, the ‘40s and ‘50s, what were the conditions like in east Pasco compared to west Pasco?

Wilkins: Mm.

Barnes: ‘40s and ‘50s?

Franklin: Yeah.

Barnes: I’d have to start off in the ‘50s. Jackson, you were here in the ‘40s.

Franklin: Yeah, maybe we can start of with Webster. Kind of you can tell us, when you came, what was the comparison?

Jackson: In 1948, compared to the present?

Franklin: Yeah. Or compared to west Pasco. How was east Pasco different from west Pasco? Were there any services or conditions that were unequal?

Wilkins: We didn’t have sidewalks or—

Jackson: No!

Wilkins: Paved streets.

Jackson: There was no pavement.

Barnes: You didn’t even have sewer over there at that time.

Jackson: Let’s see, what was it, the Pasco—your organization?

Barnes: East Pasco Improvement Association?

Jackson: East Pasco Improvement Association. And my dad was part of that. And Luzell—

Barnes: Johnson, Thelma—not Thelma.

Jackson: Vanis Daniels, Thelma Hawkins.

Barnes: Hawkins, yeah.

Jackson: In fact, Thelma Hawkins was the lead in building that building that’s up there in Kurtzman Park right now. But the conditions, I mean, the difference is like day and night. Because there were certain places that black people could not go after a certain time. Like Kennewick, after 6:00 in the evening, when the stores close, you couldn’t—there were none allowed in Kennewick. And I’m not speaking about what I heard, or what Pastor Wilkins or Dallas Barnes is saying. I didn’t hear it from them.

Wilkins: We know that.

Jackson: I myself was—and two other friends. We were only youngsters, 16, 17 years old. But was turned around by the police in Kennewick. There used to be a green bridge across the Columbia River from Pasco to Kennewick. If we dropped off the Kennewick side of the bridge, the police turned the red light on, followed us around the curve there and pulled us over and said, the stores are closed. You have no business in Kennewick, so turn around and go right back across that bridge. And naturally, we obeyed his commands. But I must say that we didn’t stay in Pasco very long, because we turned around and went right back to Kennewick.

[LAUGHTER]

Wilkins: Yeah, but would you say that in terms of just things like street lights and paved roads, that there was a distinct difference between east Pasco and west Pasco?

Jackson: Correct, correct.

Wilkins: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Parks. Didn’t really have any until we—

Barnes: We didn’t have until we built Kurtzman Park.

Wilkins: Until we built Kurtzman Park.

Franklin: Right, and the community built that park.

Wilkins: The community built.

Barnes: Right, the community built. Kurtzman donated the land, and the community helped go seed it and so forth and so on.

Wilkins: Yeah, so when you asked the question, what was the difference between east Pasco and west Pasco, on the landscape side, you know, there were very few amenities in east Pasco.

Barnes: Right. There was no sewer here. I think if you look at the Urban Renewal record of the kinds of buildings that was being demolished and the kind of relocation that took place, you’ll find that we had trailers that had little attachments to them to make them two-bedrooms, those travel trailers. You had outhouses, water faucets on the outside of buildings and things like that—on some of the buildings, not all of them of course. But you did have a blighted area. And east Pasco was totally, totally neglected. And it was set aside like that. Now, we talked about the cows over there, that I had forgotten it was over there, but you got that toxic dump right over on the other side.

Wilkins: Oh, yeah! The dump was on the other—

[LAUGHTER]

Barnes: So I don’t want to put it in the harshest terms, but if we’re pressed for time, all of the debris and the trash in the minds of some city officials and whoever else the planners were, put the people who they considered a little less valuable as well as the livestock and the toxic trash all in the same category, and we called that east Pasco.
Now, on the other side of town, when I lived over there? We had paved roads, we had segregated lunch counters over there, and many of the people who worked there, they weren’t working at Hanford; they worked as domestic or field hands. Like picking potatoes and weeding beans. I’m talking about, there were black work crews in those days that would get up early in the morning and go out and weed farmers’ beans or—I remember Charles, you know, he drove that tractor for I don’t know how long, and did all kinds of farm work before it became more mechanized and things like that. So that’s what east Pasco was back in the early ‘50s as I recall. And mid-‘50s and even later than that. Even the late ‘50s. And ‘60s.

Wilkins: Early ‘60s.

Barnes: And the ‘60s. Everything that Pasco got was a product of advocacy on the part of his dad, his dad, and other people who came from the South with education. The ministers of the church played an active role; they always were the voice for the community. And if they were not, they certainly was a very, very close second of someone who was more articulate or had expertise on that issue. But the pastor of the church rallied the members, who was the community, to go down and to petition the city for paved roads, running water, better policing if it took that, better employment consideration over there, and that type of thing.

Wilkins: Yeah. The church played a pretty central role in that.

Barnes; Very, very, very much.

Wilkins: Because I recall my father, Reverend Bill Wilkins, was—I think he was the first African American city councilman? I think he was the first.

Barnes: I think, he may—yeah.

Wilkins: Advocated quite a bit for the community in a lot of different ways. But, yes, the church has been around for a good long time, and it’s only had five pastors. I’m the fifth, actually. Which is a testament to something. You know. [LAUGHTER] I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but when we look around and see how pastors go through various churches and you see the longevity that they have here. That speaks of some kind of unity. But yeah.

Franklin: Dallas, you mentioned Albert and Webster’s fathers. I’d like to ask each of you about your dads, or your parents and their experiences before coming here. I’ll start with Albert. Because, Dallas, you said that they were educated.

Barnes: Well, they were the spokespeople. I remember them very well facing the, if you will, powers to be. But they were men who stood tall in the community during those days.

Franklin: Great. So, Albert, you said your family came from Louisiana.

Wilkins: They did, they did. My father, like I said, was a Baptist preacher. The reason he came, I said, was because he went to work on the dams, which was true. But the real reason he came to Washington was because he had married a black man to a white woman. And the woman was the sheriff’s daughter, and they were going to hang my dad.

Franklin: He had done this in Louisiana?

Wilkins: He had done that in Louisiana. So, late in the midnight hour, everybody put money together and sent him to Washington.

Franklin: Oh, wow.

Wilkins: To save his life.

Franklin: Was that against the law in Louisiana at that time?

Wilkins: Absolutely.

Barnes: It was the law in America.

Wilkins: Absolutely. And so that was the reason he came, and then we came up a few years later.

Franklin: Okay. Wow, that’s quite a story.

Wilkins: But he was an Army veteran. He’d fought in World War II. He was—my father was a man of many different talents. And he was a very outspoken man.

Barnes: Yes, he was.

Jackson: Yes, he was.

Wilkins: So yes.

Franklin: What do you know about his initial experience in coming to work at Hanford and finding a place to live here?

Wilkins: Well, my father never actually worked at Hanford until later in his life. His major work was on the dams.

Franklin: Oh, right, right.

Wilkins: Mm-hmm, was on the dams. That’s what I recall. But my father was also a mortician and he would help sometimes with the mortician work here at Greenlee Funeral Home back then. Yes. And he was a carpenter as well. But mostly, he was a preacher.

Jackson: And he—in fact, Reverend Bill Wilkins, we worked at—I was working at Hanford and my office was in downtown Pasco. Actually, we were in the Federal Building. And Reverend Wilkins, he worked there at the same time.

Wilkins: And they carpooled there.

Jackson: He was in charge of the carpool.

Franklin: In Richland? The Federal Building in Richland.

Jackson: The Federal Building, you know, where people come to check out—visitors come in from other states and so forth, and they would check the cars out from the carpool. There was one right there at the west side of the Federal Building.

Franklin: Right. And, Webster, you mentioned that your family came from Texarkana.

Jackson: We came to Pasco from Texarkana. Texas, over on the Texas side.

Franklin: Right. What do you know about your parents’ lives before they came here?

Jackson: Oh, everything. Well, like I said, my dad was a principal of a school down there. Also, he did what people do in the South. He cut logs and this type of thing—I think they called billets, little short—harvest logs and this type of thing to make ends meet. Farmed. Just did everything. Pretty well-rounded as far as the South. I mean, that’s what African Americans did down there.

Barnes: You got to realize that Jim Crow didn’t end until ’64 now, so, we’re talking about back in the ‘40s, you walked on your side of the sidewalk, you said, yes, ma’am to little girls and all that kind of stuff, and you ran from the Ku Klux Klan like you had better do if you want to—

Wilkins: Live. [LAUGHTER]

Barnes: --Survive, yeah. And so you had that kind of thing and the people who came to Washington came with that same kind of ideology and that’s how come we had to had an east Pasco and you couldn’t go to Kennewick over here or Pasco over there or whatever you have, because the culture came here and is still with us, the remnants of it.

Franklin: Yeah. How did your father hear about Pasco and why did he choose to move the family up?

Jackson: Like I said, my mother’s sister—she had two sisters here on the west coast. They lived in Portland and they worked and they lived in Vanport in Portland, and they worked in the shipyards. They left the shipyards and moved to Pasco in order to work at Hanford. That’s where we visited them here in Pasco. Like I said, we stayed out here for about a month. Him talking to my folks, mom and dad, and talking with their mom’s sister and their husbands and this type of thing, and they were working at Hanford, so it seemed to be a better deal. We wasn’t getting anything and getting it aware down South. So we moved out here, and my dad went to work for, I believe it was JA Jones.

Franklin: JA Jones Construction?

Jackson: Right, but at Hanford. And my mother worked in—and her sisters, all three of them, they worked in, oh, heck, downtown, what was that Chinese restaurant down there?

Barnes: Chinese Gardens. Chinese Gardens.

Jackson: Chinese Gardens? It was Frank’s.

Wilkins: There was another one down there on Lewis Street.

Jackson: No, it was Frank’s Grill.

Barnes: Frank’s Grill, oh, okay, okay.

Wilkins: You remember Frank’s?

Barnes: Yeah, I remember Frank’s Grill, yeah, I remember that.

[LAUGHTER]

Jackson: That’s where they worked.

Wilkins: Frank Ng, Frank Ng.

Jackson: Mm-hmm.

Franklin: Frank Ng?

Wilkins: Mm-hmm, right. Right there on Lewis Street.

Barnes: And he’s still around, too.

Wilkins: Is he?

Barnes: His son is.

Wilkins: His son is, yeah.

Jackson: Oh, yeah, Frankie. Little Frankie, right.

Franklin: Oh, wait, is this—was it a Chinese restaurant or was it a—

Wilkins: It was a Chinese restaurant.

Barnes: Chinese/American restaurant.

Franklin: Okay. It was called Frank’s Grill?

Jackson: Yeah.

Wilkins: Frank’s Grill, yeah.

Franklin: Oh, that’s interesting.

Wilkins: There were only two at the time: Frank’s Grill and Chinese Gardens.

Jackson: I think so.

Wilkins: On opposite ends.

Franklin: And were these in east Pasco?

Wilkins: No.

Barnes: No.

Franklin: West Pasco.

Jackson: I can’t think—later on, the Eastside Market was the big store in east Pasco. In fact, the owners of the East Side Market gave this church, Morning Star, a house on Wehe.

Wilkins: Yeah, it was donated—I can’t remember.

Jackson: I can’t think. Gene, Gene, the first name? Gene Wright.

Wilkins: That’s right. Yeah, yeah. That was the only other—I mean, it was that place and George’s place were the only white establishments in east Pasco. If I’m right.

Barnes: Yeah. The other thing you want to do is, there’s the north side of east Pasco and there’s the south side of east Pasco. And white folks lived on the north side of east Pasco, and there was a few—like the Wilkins—folks who would move on the north side of—

Wilkins: Of Lewis Street.

Barnes: --of Lewis Street until White Flight took over, and
I’m not sure when that was, and they all moved to the west side of Pasco.

Wilkins: That was between ’68 and ’72.

Barnes: Somewhere in there. But for the longest, it was divided that way, too, in east Pasco, where the whites lived on the north side. And that’s where you see the nicer houses, back in those days, when Urban Renewal came in and wiped out the south side of east Pasco.

Jackson: The Urban Renewal project consisted of thirteen blocks in east Pasco. And like I said, it was mixed—

Barnes: Commercial and residential.

Jackson: A residential house would be right there and next-door would be a trucking company and this type of thing. And Wehe, Wehe Street is the one that divided them. And the fence and the tree grove is still there right now. So the city’s project, the purpose of the project was to separate those. And we did that. Under the Urban Renewal project, we had three phases of it. It was called—

Barnes: Demolition—

Jackson: Rehabilitation, relocation—

Barnes: And demolition.

Jackson: And demolition, right.

Franklin: You two worked on—Dallas and—Webster, you were in charge of the Urban Renewal, right?

Jackson: Right, right.

Franklin: Dallas, you worked on the Urban Renewal.

Barnes: Mm-hmm.

Franklin: So I guess since it’s been brought up, I guess, what was the impetus to start the Urban Renewal project? Where did that come from?

Barnes: Well, that was—the city got their contract to—well, you had model cities in some of the—you remember the Model Cities program, a federal program. Urban Renewal was a federal program, and then you had these zones that they had for development, so there was a lot of federal money running around. I forgot the person who—the city manager was pretty progressive—

Jackson: Mar Winegar.

Barnes: Winegar was pretty progressive in there, and Art Fletcher was pretty progressive—folks who helped to move Pasco forward. And so those folks were with it at all, put some of this activity in motion and they were successful in getting the Urban Renewal grant. I left the Community Action Program to join Urban Renewal as their relocation officer before I took another job at Pullman. But that’s where it came from, and the intent was those three aspects: demolition, relocation and rehabilitate—rehab. So we had all phases of that. And Webster can speak about all three of those phases; I just came in as the relocation officer--

Wilkins: Do you think—

Barnes: --finding people places to move before their houses got destroyed and—

Wilkins: Do you think that that was like a precursor to gentrification?

Barnes: I could say—well, it was. But I’m not so sure that the thinking was there at that time. Because at the time, we still had—we still was fighting segregation. Right at the moment I’m thinking about, 1968. ’68, Martin Luther King got shot; ’68, Bobby Kennedy got shot; ’68, the laws came in where we’re talking about no discrimination and things like that. So, at least that’s when I went into the Urban Renewal domain. And before that, we had the War on Poverty under Johnson. So all of those things, all of those avenues sort of opened up. And, even to this day, even to this very day, you’ll find that much of Pasco’s growth is based upon money trying to do something for the low income. We got CBC out there who is a Hispanic service institution. And part of that—we had all those Title I, IX, VII, IV and all that other stuff that built a lot of gyms up and down the valley.

You know, I’m not saying that people of color got their fair share—well, let me take that back. It’s worthy of investigating whether or not they got their fair share of the money that was intended for them in service. But being on the War on Poverty, I had a chance to see some of that at work, and certainly being in the vicinity of some of the politics of all of that, I know that that was a concern of a lot of the people in the valley. But we’re speaking about Pasco specifically.

So, what am I saying? I’m saying that all of those federal programs—Model Cities, Urban Renewal, Title I, Title IV, Title IX, and all of that—that Pasco itself has benefited greatly from that. And Urban Renewal was a part of that. That’s a long way of answering your question, but you asked where did it come from. It came from the federal government. I’m not sure that our city government did anything until Fletcher and Winegar came along and tapped into the federal funds to get some activity on this side of those railroad tracks. Because if you’re wondering where our city money went from our tax dollars, maybe you’re wondering where the state money went—I think the state may have done something—but if you’re talking about our tax dollars and the services we got from it like paved roads and streets like that? No.

Jackson: Well, there were the—like I said, and I think I mentioned it—the Urban Renewal project was a $4 million project. When they started running out of money to do things, there was 26 states across the United States, we all got together and went to Washington, DC. We met with a representative. We had lunch with him. Senator Warren G. Magnuson was the representative from the State of Washington. All 26 of us made our presentation to our representative from our states. There was money that had not—federal money that had not been released. And I distinctly remember, during my presentation there in the meeting—in fact, I said—I was telling about the poverty, the percentage of poverty here in Pasco and this type of thing, and to be honest, Senator Magnuson knew more about it than I did.

[LAUGHTER]

Jackson: Because he chimed in and helped clarify some of the things that I had said and this type of thing. And when we got back, he came back and there was x number of dollars relegated for Pasco that had not been released the same way. And I remember—I can’t recall his name, but a couple other states, Kentucky is one that I distinctly remember—but we all made our presentation and got that money released.

Franklin: Webster, how did you become involved in the Urban Renewal project?

Jackson: I was perfectly satisfied at Hanford.

Franklin: And what were you doing at Hanford?

Jackson: I was a draftsman. I was a draftsman at Hanford. For, what, Rockwell? Rockwell—I knew it was Rockwell.

Barnes: Rockwell-Westinghouse, I think.

Jackson: Yup.

Wilkins: Mm-hmm, Rockwell.

Jackson: Right, Rockwell. Now, the people in the community, they could not—they was not getting any place. There was relocations, there was—like you said, there were shacks and this type of thing, here in east Pasco people were living in. They did not trust the—

Wilkins: Establishment.

Jackson: --director of Urban Renewal. He was a white gentleman. And he just couldn’t communicate with the people. And Mar Winegar, the city manager, opened it up for recruitment for a new director. And many, many, many people in the community asked me, Webster, why don’t you—we would like for you to apply for that position and this type of thing. I applied the last day. The last day it stopped, like I came in from work. I would get off work at 4:13 at Hanford. And I stopped by city hall on the last—on the closing date to help with the city manager. And he said, Webster, if you drop your resume off—the police department was attached to city hall down on Clark Street here—you drop your resume off at the police department where I’ll get it the first thing in the morning and I will go up—I will consider your resume.

And I think there was a—it was like, I think they selected about six applicants, and I was one of those. Lo and behold, I’m the one that was selected. But I did not come to the city under any pressure, because my department director at Hanford told me, he said, Webster, if anything go wrong with that City of Pasco, you just give me a call and you can come right back here. So I just come in and they gave me two inventories about that thick. In those days, I could do a whole lot of reading and a whole lot of understanding and ask a whole lot of questions and this type of thing. The original—Dallas, what was that? In Seattle, yeah.

Barnes: You’re talking about the main office there?

Jackson: The main office.

Barnes: Yeah, HUD.

Jackson: Yeah, yeah, yeah, the HUD.

Barnes: Health and Urban Development.

Jackson: Yeah, the HUD office in Seattle. I got to be—we got on first name basis with all kinds of people in there that had responsibilities for the Urban Renewal projects. We got a lot of things done. We got everything—we got all of the relocations done except two, two houses. That was—I don’t know if I should call the names or not.

[LAUGHTER]

Wilkins: It’s all right.

Jackson: But we were able to address all of the houses in the 13-block area, except two, the people that still would not budge. And one of them is still sitting there today.
They’re both sitting there today.

Franklin: Wow.

[LAUGHTER]

Jackson: One is next to—a couple of houses from this church. And the other one is down across from Kurtzman’s Park. The people that just would not sell. And although under the Urban Renewal rules and regulations and this type of thing, we had the power of imminent domain, we could’ve taken those houses and forced the people to move. But Mar Winegar, the city manager said no, he didn’t want to force anybody out of their homes, and we did not.

Franklin: What was the effect of Urban Renewal on the east Pasco community?

Barnes: Well, we had a relocation program. A lot of people—it was fairly good, certainly from a home improvement situations, it was great. And at that time, we had some Fair Housing laws in place and we were right in the thick of the civil rights movement, the 2008 civil rights, no discrimination in housing and all that. And a number of people was able to move, if you will, to some of the places on the west side. We got all 1st Street so we might’ve moved out to 6th or 8th or something like that. We didn’t get out to Road 68 or anything like that.

[LAUGHTER]

Barnes: For two reasons: number one, I don’t think they money would allow it, and certainly the pressure of the neighbors who might not have been friendly wouldn’t encourage it. But that was one thing. We certainly improved the housing situation, we got some streets in, we got some curbing in, that people did not have to pay for. Jackson can talk more about the final product, but in terms of—and on the downside of it, we destroyed the community. On the downside of it, we destroyed the community. We got the housing project right there that the labor union put in, right next to Kurtzman Park. I don’t think that was part of Urban Renewal—

Jackson: No.

Barnes: --but it took place during that time. And we had a lot of black people move into that low-income housing, which was better than those trailers that was—

Wilkins: Terrible.

Barnes: And outhouses and things like that. So that was a product of it. And by and large, we still had residents over in east Pasco. Some people rehabbed the homes, as opposed to moving out, or they had some homes built and whatever it is. But in terms of the whole community and such, we got better streets, got some streetlights, got the paved road up here, and that type of thing. And you can talk about the other physical part. But I know that that part with the relocation and people taking the money that they got from selling their houses and buying another house that was up to code, which was a requirement, and moving on.

They still came to Morning Star Church, though. Whatever church was around at the time, and I think it was just Morning Star still at that point. But that’s what it did to the community at the time that I was there and that I observed. It broke up the community, it improved people’s homes physically, substantially.

Jackson: And it dispersed people.

Barnes: Well, that’s what I’m saying.

Jackson: In fact, the pastor of this church lived next-door here, okay? He was relocated over on 14th.

Wilkins: Across from the high school.

Jackson: Across from Pasco High. In other words, the people, they was free to move to wherever they could afford at that time, out of east Pasco.

Wilkins: Which essentially destroyed the community. It was no longer—the church was no longer the center of a physical community. It moved—Urban Renewal’s a good thing on many fronts, but what it ended up doing was causing a stand-up in a psychological community rather than a physical one. So that diminished—in my view, anyway—the power and the influence of the church, because it was no longer the center of a physical community.

Jackson: I might say right here, you gonna edit this interview anyway. And Vanis Daniels just walked in.

Franklin: Yes, Vanis Daniels did just walk in.

Jackson: And I can just see him smiling and this type of thing.

Wilkins: He’s remembering.

Jackson: He’s got some additions that he could do if you could get another chair up here or something like that.

Wilkins: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

[VIDEO CUTS]

Jackson: We mentioned Art Fletcher. But when Art came to town—he was the emphasis on the East Pasco Neighborhood—East Pasco Co-op.

Barnes: Yeah, it was a co-op, mm-hmm. And we had OIC up there that he was involved in, at least a part of.

Jackson: Right. But Art was very instrumental. In fact, he had a daycare here—

Barnes: That was at St. James, wasn’t it?

Jackson: No, downstairs here, in this church.

Barnes: Oh, okay.

Jackson: But he was very instrumental in the community. I recall him getting a little upset because he said he had a $5,000 bill when he came to Pasco, and at that particular time, he didn’t have anything left. I bet he put—

Wilkins: All of his money into it.

Jackson: --all the resources into—

Wilkins: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Jackson: --this and that.

Barnes: The co-op.

Jackson: And then when he was here is when he got the position over in the Nixon administration as Assistant Secretary of Labor.

Barnes: In charge of domestic affairs. And what’s key about that, is that oftentimes when blacks get appointment over there, they’re the ambassador to Ghana, to Kenya, to Dominican Republic or something like that, and don’t have opportunities to influence things—

Wilkins: Nationally.

Barnes: Nationally. He was. And so we get Affirmative Action, the Philadelphia Plan, and all of that had his fingerprints on it.

Franklin: Oh, wow. And he was—

Barnes: He was part of this community.

Franklin: He was part of this community. Did he grow up here?

Barnes: Oh, no.

Wilkins: No, he was an import.

Franklin: Oh, okay. And what did Art Fletcher do here before he went to the Nixon administration?

Wilkins: He was a councilmember.

Franklin: Pasco City councilmember?

Barnes: Yeah, but I think there was some other—I don’t recall what brought him to Pasco; it wasn’t to be a councilmember.

Jackson: No, no, no, what was it?

Wilkins: I cannot remember.

Barnes: I don’t recall, but I know that—

Jackson: Something—

Barnes: It seems like to me, he was associated with, I’m not sure if it was state or federal, but he had some involvement. But he certainly made his mark in the east Pasco community organizing a cooperative for east Pasco. We had a credit union under Art Fletcher, and some consciousness about how to go about community organization and self-help programs, that type of thing.

Jackson: Yeah, that was one of the greatest assets that he had, was to get people together.

Wilkins: He could organize.

Jackson: And he could speak, I mean, he could tell one of those benches over there to come alive, and it would start moving.

Barnes: And you do know that he ran for lieutenant governor, too.

Franklin: Of the State of Washington?

Barnes: Of the State of Washington, as a republican. And I don’t think he lost by very much, either.

Jackson: No, he didn’t. Right.

Wilkins: Yeah.

Franklin: I wanted to ask about opportunities. Were there opportunities available here that were not available where you or your parents came from?

Barnes: You talking to any of us? Well, I don’t know which one of us wanted to say yes or no first. But I mean, you know. If you want to start with—well, I’ll just wait and let you go. Well, there were some opportunities here and I think that was the attraction here, and that opportunity was Hanford.

We came up here because money was flowing freely—more freely than it was in St. Louis. And there were some other incentives: we had relatives here to come here, and the job opportunities even as a domestic—domestic going as people who worked for Hanford, and clean their houses while they were out making real money, you’d get to bring home half a chicken or whatever they had leftover plus one or two dollars an hour. Seriously. Where you were getting 50 cents in the South for an hour, washing dishes through the back window with the segregation things in people’s houses and all that.

So, from that particular point of view, the things out here was better. I don’t think the Ku Klux Klan was riding as freely, and I don’t think—I think the economics were such in this community that we didn’t have the kind of competition or need to exploit, as you would in the South. I’ll just stop that piece right there by saying the bottom line is yes.

Wilkins: Is yes. Yes. You know, my father was a World War II veteran. What he got in the South in terms of respect for his service was minimal to nothing. Plus, being a preacher, and I told you the circumstances surrounding his coming here, it was definitely a better advantage to be here than there. And as Dallas pointed out, there was much better work opportunities here, not just at Hanford, but you had Ice Harbor Dam, you had McNary Dam. You had all these dams being built, and a lot of—a good number of African Americans worked on them and made good money.

Jackson: Including me.

Wilkins: Yeah, that’s right. You worked on it as well.

Jackson: Yeah, I worked on Priest Rapids and—Priest Rapids up in Mattawa and the one up in—

Barnes: Ice Harbor?

Jackson: --on the side of Wenatchee.

Barnes: Oh, mm-hmm.

Wilkins: Yeah, so—

Jackson: Rocky Reach. Rocky Reach Dam.

Wilkins: I think in answer to your question, it’s a pretty resounding yes. Definitely.

Franklin: Kind of the flip side of the question, what ways were opportunities limited because of segregation or racism?

Barnes: What was that question again?

Franklin: In what ways were opportunities limited because of segregation and racism?

Barnes: Well, you still had your place. Even when Art Fletcher made a big dent in the Hanford Project out there, as well; his advocacy reached the Hanford Project with the Affirmative Action and some of those other kinds of things. I think in an earlier interview, there were certain jobs even at Hanford reserved for blacks. And those usually were the ones where you worked outside. They were black laborers. We didn’t bring in many or any professional people. I think Webster and his brother probably, because they had drafting positions or whatever positions that put them inside. You know, I had an inside position, a little bit better than washing pipettes and test tubes, but not that much hard.

The point that I’m making is, we had to have—there was segregation out there at the plant, as there is today, according to the information that I got yesterday. So, the point that I’m making is that you’re still limited. You’re still limited; you oftentimes are in a come-and-go. I understand now that there are—you’re employed as long as the contract lasts and then you get to go, and there’s no continuity of employment. But back in those days—

Wilkins: It was very limited.

Barnes: It was very limited. There was plenty of jobs there because they were still building everything there. We were still in the war deal, making plutonium. You know, there was building bombs, there was the Cold War.

Wilkins: But you didn’t have any nuclear operators, you didn’t have any engineers, you didn’t have any technicians, really. You had laborers, janitors, that sort of thing. So in terms of limits, that was it, okay? Still, that was better than sharecropping.

Barnes: Yeah, even if you’re thinking in terms of when they desegregated the military, even the concerns they had there during the ‘40s, same time they building these bombs, you know, blacks was limited to cleaning out latrines, being kitchen aides on military ships. And so those people brought all of that particular kind of thinking to Hanford, and that’s what we got, and it was better than what we had at that particular time. And so, because money was not a huge issue, relatively speaking, situations for blacks were a little bit better.

But if you’re talking about what was the obstacles? There was a lack of opportunity. The reason that we have a law of equal educational opportunity—that’s the law. Without that law, uh-unh. Equal employment opportunity. That’s the law. Without that law? No. You know. And so forth and so on and so on. Without those laws, then you imagine—and you, generally, not just you two folks here interviewing—what it would be without it. We would be in bad shape as far as I’m concerned as black people. We’re already in bad shape. And without those laws, we’d be in worse shape.

Wilkins: That’s a great point.

Jackson: Well, I—I mean, opportunities really opened up after 1952. Because I graduated from high school in 1952, and I think I might have mentioned this to you in previous interviews as far as I’m concerned, but my ambition was to be a pipefitter. The last six weeks or two months or whatever, to seniors in high school, they take an aptitude test in school, and mine came out to be plumber and pipefitter. And that’s what I wanted to be.

My high school teacher in that department in high school sent me down to plumbers and steamfitters union hall here in Pasco. And I go down there and fill out the application. When I filled it out, took it back to the desk, gave it to the secretary, the lady that was sitting there, and that was up there, Tony Osborne Chevrolet is where it was. And when I turned my application in and walked out the window—walked out, and I just happened to look at the window there, and she took my application and put it in the trash can.

And I went back to Pasco High and told it to my teacher what happened, and he went, well, Webster, was there any other building and trades—that’s what I wanted—did you have a desire for or this type of thing. Well, I like to build things. I would like to build things. So he suggested that I go to the carpenter’s local and I did and that’s what my career—I’m the first black person that completed a four-year apprenticeship program in carpentry. And it was—it did me a whole lot of good. Get me to the point where I put this floor here, I put this floor in this church. And I worked that trade for eight years. And then I decided to get my degree from Eastern Washington University. In fact, me and my brother both got one. And my brother, he worked at Hanford as a supervisor for, I don’t know, 35, 36, 37 years before he retired.

But that’s one of the things that, with this happening, and Dallas mentioning, you know, the laws that said equal, or civil rights law or this type of thing, but at that time, the only place I knew to go to was back to Pasco High and tell what happened. But I very seriously doubt if that type of thing would happen now.

Wilkins: Mm. Okay.

Jackson: Those kinds of things is devastating. They were and are and still is, if it exists. And I’m sure some of exists now.

Barnes: It still exists.

Jackson: But things a whole lot better now.

Barnes: Okay.

Jackson: Go.

Barnes: No, the only thing that I’m saying is, there’s a new reality for black people right now. I’m not sure that that’s where you want this interview to go, but our presence in public employment is noticeably absent in key positions. We don’t have a Webster Jackson at city hall anymore if you take a place like Pasco, where we have some evidence that black people used to be here. We only have, I think, only two employees for the whole city that’s black. And this is not a minority interview; this is one dealing with African Americans. And so speaking for African Americans, our presence in public places is conspicuously absent.

Jackson: That’s a point that I’ll touch on, also. I went to work for the City of Pasco in 1971, finished here at the Urban Renewal project in four years. And the city manager didn’t want me to leave, and I didn’t want to leave. So he made me his assistant to the city manager. Under that hat, I was the personnel—I was in charge of personnel. During my time with the City of Pasco in that position, we had 13 black employees. And just like Dallas just stated, to my knowledge there is only two now.

Wilkins: Mm-hmm, yeah, but you have to hold in mind also that in that period of time, you watched the African American community in Pasco disperse throughout the rest of the Tri-Cities. So you really didn’t have—what happened is now what was a black community is a Hispanic community. You look at their representation in the city, it’s commensurate.

Barnes: The thing that I know is we didn’t have—when I came through high school, there was not one black that contributed to my education. Not one. Going through the Pasco school system and Columbia Basin and—you know, we had a visitor come through, somebody like Art Fletcher or somebody from—a guest speaker here or there to come there. But in terms of a teacher or such, we didn’t have it, during—when I graduated in ’59.

Now, when the laws came along, War on Poverty and some of all of that, there was a special effort to go and recruit. We actually brought in a number of black teachers from some of the schools down South and from back east and so forth and so on, and our kids in the community had an opportunity to see role models that looked like them. This is not to say that the white teachers were not supportive and good teachers for black folks; they just wasn’t necessary the visible role models that a lot of other people benefited from. And so the lack of our presence was overcome with that mandate: if you want some federal dollars, you better make sure that your workforce looks like your taxpayers, and they went out and recruited.
Now, we got that term “minority,” that diminishes—I think deliberately, I mean, but that’s another subject matter—the significance of blacks’ contribution to the whole civil rights struggle and the laws that we currently enjoy, or employ at least, and that particular kind of thing. And all the other folks: immigrants, women. And all we have to do is just look at the record. I don’t necessarily have to do anything but remind you to look at the record, and you can see who the real beneficiaries from that civil rights struggle or black struggle or whatever you want to call it, but I’m talking about where black people actually paid the price to get in the record, those books that supposed to uplift people, and other people are benefiting except for the blacks.

Wilkins: And, you know, I’m a product of—see, these guys came along decades before me.

Barnes: Just one.

Wilkins: One decade, one decade. Maybe two.

[LAUGHTER]

Barnes: Oh yeah, you got him over there.

Wilkins: So they were my role models, actually. I mean, he graduated in ’59, I graduated in ’69, he graduated in ’52.
So you can see—

Barnes: The progression.

Wilkins: --incrementally, how things improved. I mean, because of these guys, I got the opportunity to be the first one in my family to attend a major university and graduate from it. And it was because of these guys that went before me and stood up and fought for these various rights and things that mostly—and Dallas I think accurately points out—mostly is underreported and underappreciated. I appreciate it, because it wouldn’t have happened without that. You know, I got a football scholarship from Pasco High School to go to University of Washington, which might not have happened if there hadn’t been some folks before me, you know?

Barnes: Let me point this out. There’s a graduate named Duke Washington who is a Pasco-ite, and he just recently died. But they almost—WSU almost didn’t play at the Texas stadium because of segregation. They didn’t want to play a football game if he was going to play in it. And I’m not sure if you followed that in your studies about the history of Pasco.

Franklin: Uh, yeah.

Barnes: You have followed Duke Washington?

Franklin: Yes, yeah.

Barnes: Okay, well, then I need not go down that trail. But that may give you an example of just how deep this situation is. Like I’m a product of his and Webster’s, just like you say, that progression is there. And as we sit down when we get a chance to talk to each other about that, we realize—and then your fathers before us—that we’re their children. You see?

Wilkins: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Barnes: We have a duty.

Wilkins: Interesting journey. Interesting journey.

Franklin: All three of you had kind of mentioned education before. I wanted to ask how—we kind of spoke about the lack of visible role models, especially for Dallas and Webster. But who were some of the people who influenced you as a child, during your education here?

Wilkins: I can think of one right off the top of my bat that wasn’t a black person. It was my history teacher at Pasco High School. Name was Bernie Hancock. He’s passed.

Jackson: Yeah, I went to school with Bernie.

Barnes: Yeah, I remember Bernie.

Wilkins: Yeah, he’s passed. But Bernie Hancock, I think, grew up in east Pasco a lot.

Jackson: I think he did.

Wilkins: He was a history teacher, and I remember going into his class, I must’ve been a sophomore at the time, and he pulled me aside and he said, you know, Albert, I want you to remember one thing. And that is that the first person to die in the Revolutionary War was a fellow by the name of Crispus Attucks, and he was a black man. Don’t forget that. That was the only piece of black history I got in my whole high school education. And that was revolutionary. Because you just didn’t hear anything.

Barnes: You didn’t hear anything.

Wilkins: About black people in history.

Barnes: In my case, there was a family of Catholics and an organization of Catholics, a group of Catholics that used to come to east Pasco and take us out to their ranch on Road 64.

Wilkins: 64! Way out there! [LAUGHTER]

Barnes: And make sure that we have some out-of-east-Pasco experience, it’s almost like some of the programs they have in the inner cities, where you have this concrete jungle and you get out and the person gets to know what it’s like to—

Wilkins: See some grass!

Barnes: Yeah! That type of thing. And they used to come over, and they would provide tutorial services. We actually went out there, and they sort of made sure—and there was several efforts like that with different folks from Richland, even from the Hanford Project: white folks, engineers, PhDs, that would come over and provide tutorial services in some of the churches to give some of the kids opportunities that they didn’t have when—I mean, just in the normal scheme of things. And all of them, at least the ones that I know, were Catholics, both in Pasco and both from Richland, and I’m sure there were some in Kennewick. I didn’t keep track of where all of them were from, but I do know that. And it was a concerted effort—they caught hell for that, too. You know, there’s a price. Even in your classroom at the college level, if you ask some people about race relations, a student, at least in my experience, had no problem saying, the only thing that people hate worse than an N-word is an N-word-lover.

Wilkins: Wow.

Barnes: Just as plain—I think I even kept the paper where he wrote it. But the point that I’m making is that they paid a price for helping black kids. And white people, I’ve heard tales, pay a price for hiring black people, you see what I mean? Why didn’t you hire a nice white kid? Or why didn’t you even marry a nice white girl or man or whatever it is. You hear that when you’re privileged enough, or close enough to someone who will tell you what the thinking is. And this is coming from some old timers that’s older than me.

Wilkins: Today, you just hear it in dog whistles, you know?

Barnes: Okay, but still again, you have that kind of thing. And thank goodness there’s pockets of support. And I know goodness will—and this isn’t just happening to me. This Catholic coterie of folks that were out to help people with less opportunity—and we had Mexicans and this type of thing. Native Americans was one of the other groups, then. And we were beneficiary. And they would come over here after work and put on tutorial programs. And they would take us to their homes, they made sure that we fed and played guitars. And we wasn’t always singing Kumbaya, either. The point that I’m making is, I know goodness will, in my case, that ranks high in how I moved forward with my education. Very high.

Jackson: Well, you know, just one comment here on way back when.

Barnes: And their name was Heidlebaugh, I want to put that in there.

Wilkins: Heidlebaugh, I remember.

Barnes: Just in case—

Jackson: George Heidlebaugh?

Barnes: George and Rebecca Heidlebaugh and their children.

Jackson: Oh, yeah. Yeah, they were—

Barnes: And I forgot the other’s name.

Jackson: Yeah, they were in the corners. You know, when I was growing up as a kid back South, and, like I said, we moved here. Came out to visit in ’48, moved here in ’50. You know, we didn’t—the black kids and so forth, like in Texas, we never did use the N-word. The N-word, I mean, you better be ready to fight. I mean, the black kids—the blacks didn’t use the N-word back there.

Wilkins: Back then. Mm-hmm.

Jackson: No. I mean, I was surprised when I got out here.

Wilkins: Yeah.

Jackson: No. We went to—and as far as me wanting to be a plumber and a pipefitter and this type of thing, you know, John Mitchell I believe, he’s the only one that I’m aware of that is a—no, he’s not. What’s his name? One of the—Bobby. Bobby Sparks, I believe it is. Isn’t he a--?

Wilkins: Electrician.

Jackson: He’s electrician. But John Mitchell is a pipefitter. He’s a pipefitter.

Wilkins: Yeah.

Jackson: Bona fide pipefitter.

Barnes: In other words, we don’t have many representatives in the various trades.

Franklin: What were the major civil rights issues for African Americans at Hanford and in the Tri-Cities?

Barnes: What was the major civil rights issues at Hanford?

Franklin: And in the Tri-Cities.

Barnes: And in the Tri-Cities?

Franklin: Yeah.

Wilkins: Civil rights issues, huh?

Barnes: Civil rights issues? Well, it depends on which institution we want to start at. Education is always been one, employment has always been one. We’ve got a criminal justice system that has never been fair to—in the minds of a whole lot of folks, because of the sentencing situation. And every black that doesn’t have any money have to plea out and pick up a felony just to get reduced time because they don’t have the money to hire the good lawyer. You know, it’s always interesting to say, make sure you get a good lawyer, like there’s a whole pool of bad ones that you might select and pay your money to.

[LAUGHTER]

Barnes: But the point is—and that’s a true statement, too, you see. So the civil rights is front-end on all fronts: education, housing, employment, health—

Wilkins: Mm-hmm, criminal justice—

Barnes: Health, there’s some issues there with—I’m not sure how prominent it is in the Tri-Cities with abortion piece being more present in the black community than in other communities. We did criminal justice and that. And I’m sure there’s an add on this, but I can’t think of a single public institution, whether it be military, health, criminal justice, politics, any of that, that has a plus sign on it for blacks. That’s from my point of view. And maybe there’s somebody else who can say, well, you’ve got some athletes out there. I don’t even see them there.

Wilkins: Mm-hmm, yeah.

Barnes: I don’t know if we have any—I don’t want to say anything except that I do know they’re putting academic requirements on your eligibility for sports in college. And I don’t want to go there, because there’s a lot of stuff there, but if you’re talking about the impacts on black people, or the impacts on people with no opportunity, then the opportunities to use athletics as a way out of their economic situation is closing down when they don’t have the grades to get into college or some of those other kinds of things. So, I don’t want to just start there at the college; it starts way down there, you know?

Wilkins: So what was the question?

Franklin: What were the major civil rights issues for African Americans at Hanford and in the Tri-Cities during your time?

Wilkins: I think Dallas covered just about everything.

Franklin: Okay.

Wilkins: Okay?

Barnes: Well, thank you.

Wilkins: I mean, if you had to tease out one single thing, I think you’d have a difficult time doing that, because it’s such a broad spectrum there. Yes. Certainly, economics.
Certainly economics.

Franklin: So, what actions were taken to address those issues?

Barnes: Protest was one. They have gutted, both at the state and federal levels, the civil rights laws and the budgets for civil rights agencies. At one time, the onus was on the employer to prove discrimination didn’t exist; now it’s on the poor, less-educated and less-legally-support complainant to prove that discrimination do exist. And the strategy is always to carry it out so far until you can’t afford to defend your own rights, see what I mean? So, that’s one.

Franklin: Who were the important leaders of civil rights efforts in the area? We talked about Art Fletcher.

Barnes: And we talked about Bill Wilkins.

Franklin: Art Fletcher and Bill Wilkins.

Jackson: What about E. M. Magee?

Barnes: We talking about E. M. Magee. We talking about
Tom Jackson. We’re talking about—

Jackson: All of those old-timers.

Barnes: --Wally Webster. Depends on how far you want to go back.

Jackson: Yeah, right. Wally Webster, he’s quite a ways back because he and I—

Barnes: But still again.

Jackson: He and I, we were running about even here as far as age-wise and this type of thing. But I mean, you know—

Barnes: You can take the ministers in the church. You can take Pastor Wilkins. You can take—if you want to know who’s in forefront, our ministers are still in the forefront.
Did you say in the Tri-Cities?

Franklin: Yeah.

Barnes: In the Tri-Cities? Have you talked to Dan Carter? Is Dan Carter on your list of interviewees?

Franklin: We have talked to Dan Carter, yes.

Barnes: Okay, well, put his name on there, you know because we’re--

Franklin: People are always less willing to nominate themselves.

Wilkins: Velma Jackson?

Barnes: Put Velma Jackson on there. And in fact, I’m not so sure who not to put on there.

[LAUGHTER]

Barnes: To tell you the truth. Although they may not have taken the lead. It’s like being in church. If you can’t clap, I mean if you can’t holler, just raise your hand.

Wilkins: Do you remember—

Barnes: So the point that I’m making is that—but the spokespeople are the ones who’s the most articulate and the ones who can afford to stand up then and say something.

Jackson: Well, there’s another one. I mean, as far as stepping up and taking up the lead and this type of thing, I can’t—

Barnes: Oh, yeah, Joe Jackson.

Jackson: Right. And—

Barnes: Katie Barton.

Jackson: Oh, Katie Barton was—

Wilkins: Definitely one.

Jackson: She was out there, and did not bite her tongue.

Barnes: No.

Jackson: And would talk to anybody. But Wayne Jackson was a—he was a teacher—

Barnes: Counselor at Pasco High.

Jackson: Counselor at Pasco High until—

Barnes: Put his name on there.

Jackson: --he retired. And he was one who wouldn’t bite his tongue, either.

Barnes: And Clarence Alford.

Franklin: Oh, yeah, I just talked to Clarence Alford a couple weeks ago.

Barnes: Okay, he has talked to Clarence Alford.

Wilkins: Pastor Ronnie White, who’s no longer here, of course.

Jackson: And Clarence is one that can talk without alienating whoever.

Franklin: He was one of the teachers that was brought in, right, from the South.

Barnes: Right, and Wayne Jackson was, too.

Franklin: Yeah, we talked to Wayne as well.

Barnes: Okay, and him and his wife.

Jackson: His wife, Katie.

Franklin: So, in the civil rights issues here, what were some of the notable successes?

Barnes: You know, we got—protests got Roland Andrews his job at Eastside Market, didn’t it? You know at that time, I think—

Jackson: Those was big pluses back in that day.

Barnes: I was just going to say, we’re sorta—just to get a job, that we have to put that up as a plus, that ought to show you how low—

[LAUGHTER]

Barnes: --things were. Because we had a lot of farm workers out there, weeding beans and all that to get a job


Wilkins: Picking grapes.

Barnes: All of that, yeah. And so one of the big successes—when a success has to be a job as a cashier, and we had a whole program up there training cashiers called OIC, when that came in, we were training cashiers so that you could go down and have a cashier job at the store. You know what I’m saying?

Wilkins: If I had to think about it on a personal level, I remember coming here back from college, we had what was called the Youth Involvement Program that was, I think, funded by some of the moneys you guys were talking about. And I was able, through that program, to get a couple people hired out at Boise-Cascade. I’m thinking of one young man right now that I helped to get hired out there who just recently retired from being out there all these years. So little things like that would not have otherwise happened, were it not for civil rights. So.

Jackson: Well, you know, it’s--

Barnes: What were the--

Jackson: Go—

Barnes: Excuse me. What were the name of the program that we used to have? I don’t want to call it a boys’ ranch, but they used to go and recruit kids and put them in a federal program. Yes, they came through here. I remember carrying a group out at Hanford.

Wilkins: I don’t know.

Barnes: It is a big one. A big one. Job Corps.

Wilkins: Job Corps, yeah, Job Corps, that’s what it was.

Barnes: Job Corps. Job Corps is what it was, for men and women. We have one up in Moses Lake and all of that. And people used to get a little money. We used to have some kind of little trainee thing, and you used to get a little presence of people of color, we’re talking about African Americans right at this point, because you would pay the employer half their salary, and people could pick up an employee you don’t have to pay, and soon as that little—you know, it’s mainly only job training to get them skills and all that. I think it was either OIC or Job Corps, one of them. Or maybe even both of them. But the point of it is, and then the employer would use up that extra money and get that extra service, and then you recycle them through again. You don’t get a job, you just sort of get recycled and they get a benefit, and that person get the opportunity to act like he had a job.

Wilkins: So some of these things came about because of civil rights, and so you could call those kind of pluses.

Barnes: Okay, we can put it in the plus column, because certainly without them, we wouldn’t even have that half of representation, you know what I mean? In the employment field.

Jackson: Well, you know, even like the federal programs, like Urban Renewal for instance, see, there was a requirement that the cities, where they spent their money and this type of thing, it had to resemble the makeup—

Barnes: Of the community.

Jackson: --of the community. For instance, for those four years that the Urban Renewal project was going, like I said, it’s not that they were not qualified or anything like that; they were qualified. But there were 13 African American employees with the city when I was in personnel, and each year, I had to send a report in to HUD. I don’t want to go—what happened quite a few times in recruitment. Because on the interview committee, it would always be myself, as the personnel manager, and the director of the department that the position was open in and so forth and this type of thing. And in those interviews, we started looking—getting ready to make that decision as who was going to offer the job to and this type of thing. It was not a walk-in in order to get these people. In other words, if there was a certain requirement for a position to do what this gentleman’s doing, and if there was a minority applicant that could do that, but then there was an un-minority applicant that could do that, and could do that, and could do that, many times, they wanted the person who could do all of these three things. And I’m sitting there saying, wait a minute, we’re not hiring anybody to do that and that and that, we just want somebody to do this right here. And fortunately, the city manager has the last say.

Wilkins: So you got it done.

Jackson: And he always went with my recommendation.

Barnes: I think—okay—I mean, I realize that, but—

Jackson: And the employee worked out great.

Barnes: Well, you hired him for the job that was advertised, that’s what you hired him for.

Jackson: Job-specific.

Wilkins: So, there were definite pluses, okay? Definite pluses. And I don’t know how much longer we’re going to do this interview, but I don’t want this interview to end without me saying emphatically and enthusiastically that the function of the church with respect to all of that was to continue to teach the principles of Christian development and growth. And to make sure that what we did with respect to Urban Renewal, what we did with respect to educational improvement, what we did with all of that was driven from Christian principles. That was the function of the church, and I think it did well over all of those decades in keeping that in the forefront. And is still doing that. Although we don’t have the numbers we used to have, we still teach Christian principles in the church. And we will.

Franklin: Awesome.

Barnes: I remember this church sending me off to college.

Wilkins: Oh, yeah.

Barnes: With a buffet kind of little thing that included some of the commodities that came from welfare recipients. That’s one of the reasons I’m back here this very day. Never will forget it. Wanted to say that.

Wilkins: Yeah, praise God.

Franklin: Yeah. Well, I think we are kind of getting close to the end. You guys have all been wonderful.

Jackson: Yeah, I’m beginning to look at the clock up here.

Franklin: Oh, yeah, no worries. I’ll just ask one wrap-up question but before I do I just want to thank all three of you. It’s been a really wide-ranging and really wonderful interview. You were right, Albert, you guys play off each other really well, and this is a real experience that I’m very happy for. So, well actually, I guess, you know what? I guess maybe that is a good place to end. I’ll just ask, is there anything else that any of you would like to mention in regards to the themes of this project, which are migration, segregation and civil rights and how they impacted your life in the Tri-Cities? You can take a moment to think about it.

Jackson: You sound like the Cash Cab there. “Take a moment to think about it.”

[LAUGHTER]

Franklin: Oh, I love that show so much. I just watched it last night.

Wilkins: I don’t know. I can’t think of anything we haven’t covered already.

Barnes: I think between the individuals in this group interview and the people that you got on your list, those 25 or 30, however many you’ve interviewed, I think anything I have to say have been covered. Unless you have some specific questions.

Franklin: We’ve covered a lot, I think. I think it was really—

Jackson: I think Herb and Renetta? Venetta?

Barnes: Rendetta Jones. Herb Jones, Rendetta Jones.

Jackson: Yeah, they’re the first blacks to live in—

Barnes: --Kennewick, that was the Slaughters, John Slaughter and Mary Slaughter. I think you got their interview.

Franklin: I did, we actually went to where John Slaughter’s living right now and interviewed him.

Barnes: Okay, you got John Slaughter over there.

Franklin: Yeah, it was a, that was a really great, really powerful interview.

Jackson: I don’t know if he could chip in a whole lot, but—recall his name. And I got him on my phone while you were—Wally Webster.

Franklin: Wally Webster, yeah, I’m still trying to get a hold of him in Washington—over on the west side at his home. We’ll get through.

Wilkins: I remember him. It was Jackson’s nephew.

Barnes: I’m trying to think of who else might be over there with. Did you—oh, I know who one is. Nat Jackson. Nat Jackson, he’s over in Lacey, Washington. And in fact, Nat Jackson just recently got the Affirmative Action initiative back on the ballot for the State of Washington. I mean, he was very central to that.

Franklin: Is he from--?

Barnes: He was here. He was here, yes, he was. He was here involved in Urban Renewal.

Franklin: Do you have contact info for him?

Barnes: I do.

Franklin: Maybe I can get it after—

Barnes: I can give you his number after we—

Franklin: Great, awesome. Well, I think that’s a really good place to end.

Wilkins: Okay.

Franklin: And again, I want to thank all three of you for taking the time to interview with us, here at Morning Star Church, such a central place for the community.

Files

Barnes Dallas, Webster Jackson and Albert Wilkins.JPG

Citation

“Interview with Dallas Barnes, Webster Jackson, Albert Wilkins at Morning Star Baptist Church, Pasco, WA. ,” Hanford History Project, accessed April 9, 2020, http://hanfordhistory.com/items/show/2030.

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