Interviewer: Mark Naison
Interviewee: Jack Johnson
Summarized By: Eddie Mikus
Jack Johnson is an attorney at Proskauer and Rose who attended Fordham in the 1970s after growing up in the Bronx. Much of his interview focused on how he experienced the differences between African-American and white cultures during his youth and college days.
Johnson moved to Bronx from Harlem at the age of eight years old. He says that while his elementary school was predominately African-American, there were more white people than Latinos. The same makeup held through when he attended junior high school due to his being placed on an SP track which held a number of his school’s white students. (The main intention of this track was to allow him to complete middle school in 3 years rather than two). However, Johnson said that he encountered a majority black and Hispanic population at his high school, DeWitt Clinton.
Johnson entered Fordham around 1975, and his racial identity formed a major part of his college experience. He said that his dress often set him apart from his classmates—so much so that a security guard once thought that he didn’t go to the university. Cultural identity also influenced Johnson’s extracurricular activities, as he founded an African-American leadership group on campus. However, Johnson also helped to improve interracial ties on campus by playing an active role in closing down a house owned by a group that only permitted black students to enter.