AACHM Oral History: Johnnie Rush
Thu, 12/01/2016 - 3:03pm
When: October 4, 2016
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Johnnie Rush was born in 1931 and was the only black person in his class at Ann Arbor High School. He recalls many fond memories of activities with the Second Baptist Church and his family, and he talks about the many challenges for African American businesses as Ann Arbor changed over the years. Mr. Rush is a licensed barber and has run his own barbershop for 55 years.
- [00:00:14.07] INTERVIEWER: So please say and spell your name for me.
- [00:00:17.58] JOHNNIE RUSH: My name is Johnnie Rush, spelled J-O-H-N-N-I-E Rush, R-U-S-H.
- [00:00:26.13] INTERVIEWER: What is your date of birth, including the year?
- [00:00:29.81] JOHNNIE RUSH: I was born August the 7th, 1931.
- [00:00:35.97] INTERVIEWER: How would you describe your ethnic background?
- [00:00:38.93] JOHNNIE RUSH: My ethnic background-- I was born and raised up in Mississippi, Starkville. And my family was farmers. My father liked the farming.
- [00:00:51.89] INTERVIEWER: But what would you consider yourself? Are you African-American?
- [00:00:55.65] JOHNNIE RUSH: I'm African-American.
- [00:00:58.41] INTERVIEWER: And what is your religion?
- [00:01:00.27] JOHNNIE RUSH: I'm a Baptist. Second Baptist Church has been my church for years.
- [00:01:07.47] INTERVIEWER: What is the highest level of formal education you have completed?
- [00:01:14.96] JOHNNIE RUSH: I went to Michigan State normal college for two years. And then I went to Washtenaw Community College for two years in social service. And I went in business administration at Michigan State normal college.
- [00:01:33.77] INTERVIEWER: OK. What is your marital status?
- [00:01:37.80] JOHNNIE RUSH: My marital status-- I've been married to my wife 59 years this year.
- [00:01:48.16] INTERVIEWER: How many children do you have?
- [00:01:49.59] JOHNNIE RUSH: I have three childrens. I have two girls and one boy.
- [00:01:55.74] INTERVIEWER: How many brothers and sisters do you have?
- [00:01:58.23] JOHNNIE RUSH: There was five boys in my family and one sister.
- [00:02:04.53] INTERVIEWER: What is your primary occupation?
- [00:02:07.27] JOHNNIE RUSH: My primary occupation, now I am an licenced barber. I run a barber shop for the last 55 years.
- [00:02:20.07] INTERVIEWER: Wow. So you haven't retired? You're still working.
- [00:02:27.84] JOHNNIE RUSH: I'm still working, yes.
- [00:02:29.47] INTERVIEWER: OK. Now we're going to part 2, which is going to jog your memories about your childhood and youth. Now this part of the interviews is about your childhood and youth. Even if these questions jog your memories about other times in your life, please only respond with memories for this part of your life. OK? What was your family like when you were a child?
- [00:02:55.46] JOHNNIE RUSH: My family-- my father and mother, they was very disciplined. They showed the love and family unity. That is very important to me.
- [00:03:07.18] INTERVIEWER: What sort of work did your parents do?
- [00:03:10.34] JOHNNIE RUSH: My father was a farmer. He liked farming. He picked cotton and did it all. He liked it farming.
- [00:03:20.51] INTERVIEWER: Did you have farm land?
- [00:03:21.98] JOHNNIE RUSH: We finally owned our land. At one time, he was sharecropping. But he finally wind up owning his own property and farming for his-self.
- [00:03:37.01] INTERVIEWER: Were there any special days, or events, or family traditions you remember from your childhood?
- [00:03:44.85] JOHNNIE RUSH: Yes, well, I know that my mother and them always liked to celebrate the holidays, like Christmas, Easter. And they was very, very good at that. They enjoyed that.
- [00:04:02.69] INTERVIEWER: What kinds of things did you do on those holidays?
- [00:04:06.38] JOHNNIE RUSH: We got together. We had dinner together. And we had our little fun sociable together, having fun with each other. And it was just a nice, friendly family orientation that we just enjoyed one another. Ate and played games.
- [00:04:28.91] INTERVIEWER: Played games?
- [00:04:29.89] JOHNNIE RUSH: Yes.
- [00:04:30.84] INTERVIEWER: You told me something about visiting at Christmas time in the neighborhood.
- [00:04:37.91] JOHNNIE RUSH: We had company that visited us. And then we would visit them. It was a combination of the two. And we looked forward to that. It was very, very enjoyable, being together as families and friends.
- [00:04:56.30] INTERVIEWER: Did you play any sports or join any other activities outside of school?
- [00:05:02.74] JOHNNIE RUSH: Yes. I was on the boxing team. And I also ran track. And that was a lot of fun, and very exciting.
- [00:05:15.89] INTERVIEWER: Were you good?
- [00:05:17.18] JOHNNIE RUSH: I was good. I always had the determination to be good.
- [00:05:23.48] INTERVIEWER: Did your family have any special sayings or expressions during this time of the holiday season that were traditional? Any special sayings?
- [00:05:36.95] JOHNNIE RUSH: Oh, you mean talk. Well, yes, they always reminded us that it was good that we sort of like a family unity, that togetherness. And you could enjoy one another, and have fun, and get more acquainted. And that was very enjoyable. But now really, I look forward to that.
- [00:06:00.59] INTERVIEWER: Were there any changes in your family life during your school years?
- [00:06:09.02] JOHNNIE RUSH: My family life or my life?
- [00:06:11.54] INTERVIEWER: Your life.
- [00:06:13.91] JOHNNIE RUSH: Well, yes. After I'm doing my school years, there was some changes. Because I had to walk with certain distances back and forth to school, because we didn't have the transportation. But we never lost the interest of going to school. And that was very, very happy with my parents to know that we had the determination to go. And we walked it, almost 10 miles a day, five miles one way five miles back to school.
- [00:06:49.76] INTERVIEWER: And this was in Mississippi?
- [00:06:50.69] JOHNNIE RUSH: This is in Mississippi-- Starkville, Mississippi.
- [00:06:55.43] INTERVIEWER: You lived during the era of segregation. Can you speak about that? Were your schools segregated?
- [00:07:07.78] JOHNNIE RUSH: No, my school wasn't segregated. My school was all blacks. And I had that experience, though. When I left home at 17, and it was quite a change when I came to Ann Arbor. Being only black in the class, it was quite a transition in my life, that I had to make quite an adjustment.
- [00:07:31.66] INTERVIEWER: So that was a big change.
- [00:07:32.97] JOHNNIE RUSH: That was a big change for me. But I finally got comfortable as time went by.
- [00:07:40.77] INTERVIEWER: So where was it you went to school?
- [00:07:45.37] JOHNNIE RUSH: I went to school here. When I came to Ann Arbor, I was a very young person. I went to school at Ann Arbor High here in Michigan.
- [00:07:54.26] INTERVIEWER: OK. So that was a big change for you.
- [00:08:00.66] JOHNNIE RUSH: Yes, it was.
- [00:08:05.26] INTERVIEWER: In Mississippi all of the students were black then?
- [00:08:08.90] JOHNNIE RUSH: All the students that was attending school was black. We was all black.
- [00:08:15.37] INTERVIEWER: And you've already told me that you walked to school.
- [00:08:18.52] JOHNNIE RUSH: Yeah. We walked to school every day. Didn't have no bus ride.
- [00:08:23.84] INTERVIEWER: So do you have anything else to say about when you came to Ann Arbor High, and you were the only black person-- did you say, in your class?
- [00:08:37.52] JOHNNIE RUSH: It was quite a transition for my adjustments. But I always had the determination. And I adjusted very well. And I had to express my feelings, which I've learned early.
- [00:08:52.37] Because when I was approached, and in class, and want to digest some of my opinions and ideals, it seemed like he-- my teacher-- ignored me. But I had had a chance to talk with him leaving class one day, and told him how I felt. And my disposition is the first experience I had being in the class with all white. He took some very serious consideration, and was very helpful in me, and helped me through my classes.
- [00:09:26.72] INTERVIEWER: So you were 17. And you came up here by yourself?
- [00:09:30.47] JOHNNIE RUSH: I came here by myself. I had some problems down there. And I didn't run away from home. And I don't know whether I should get into that detail or not with you. But I can tell you.
- [00:09:42.70] INTERVIEWER: OK. But your parents, what did they think of you leaving?
- [00:09:48.05] JOHNNIE RUSH: My parents were very happy for me to leave. Because there was some disturbance with me, with a couple of white people-- adults-- and that's where the involvement got started. We had some opposition. We wind up fighting. I whooped up a couple of them. And my parents got afraid for me. They going to find me hanging on a tree or something.
- [00:10:17.18] And I got afraid. And I just told them I felt I could make it on my own. And they acknowledged it. And gave me that disposition. And I took it. And they, in the end, felt very happy that I came here, and had that drive and get myself--
- [00:10:36.80] INTERVIEWER: So who did you stay with?
- [00:10:38.61] JOHNNIE RUSH: When I first came here, I stayed with my uncle, Fred Rush. And then later on, I had always had that self independence. Then I wind up getting me a little small room. And I got me a little job. And I continued school. And that's what I did--
- [00:11:02.11] INTERVIEWER: At 17?
- [00:11:03.32] JOHNNIE RUSH: At 17 years old. I walked around a lot of days hungry. But I always had a direction in mind through the will of God. I was sitting down one day. And I was thinking about, well, how I about to eat?
- [00:11:14.96] And I wind up getting me a job working where I could have my meal free. And the gentleman, my boss, liked me so well, because I was so [? aggressive. ?] He would come and relieve me, and let me get my meal, and let me go back, and give me an hour to look over my books.
- [00:11:35.23] INTERVIEWER: Where were you working?
- [00:11:36.69] JOHNNIE RUSH: I was working at Michigan Union up on campus. George [INAUDIBLE] was my boss. He was a very nice, wonderful man.
- [00:11:51.53] INTERVIEWER: All right. We're going to go to part 3. And this set of questions covers a fairly long period of your life, from the time you completed your education, entered the labor force or started a family, until all of your children left home, and you and your spouse retired-- well, neither one of you are retired, right?
- [00:12:18.11] JOHNNIE RUSH: My wife retired. She's--
- [00:12:20.01] [INTERPOSING VOICES]
- [00:12:21.14] INTERVIEWER: So we might be talking about a stretch of time spanning as much as four decades. After you finished high school, where did you live?
- [00:12:33.46] JOHNNIE RUSH: After I finished high school, I went and got me a little small apartment. And I got the job. And I was a little bit more independent. And I felt good about that. Because I had some privacy. And I was in control of what my function were.
- [00:12:56.12] And the first job after I got out of school, I worked at Kaiser and Frazer's. It the first time I worked at a plant when they made the Henry J car in Kaiser. And I got various jobs thereafter.
- [00:13:15.62] INTERVIEWER: So how long did you remain in that apartment? Or did you move around?
- [00:13:22.57] JOHNNIE RUSH: I was very consistent in what I did. I stayed in the apartment after I went to college. And I got drafted. And that's when I gave up my apartment. All other times, I was there.
- [00:13:37.66] And the person I rented from really respected me. Because I respected his place. And I never was in the mood with just moving around. So I enjoyed that. So I stayed there in the apartment until I got drafted in service.
- [00:13:53.36] INTERVIEWER: And how long were you in the service?
- [00:13:55.09] JOHNNIE RUSH: I was in service almost four years. I was in the Korean conflict in the Army. I went all over Europe, and all over. That's why I've spent all most of my time over in the foreign country.
- [00:14:14.80] INTERVIEWER: OK. I'd like you to tell me a little bit about your married and family life. First, tell me, how did you meet your spouse?
- [00:14:24.55] JOHNNIE RUSH: I met my wife going to Second Baptist Church. I went there. And I always considered what my mother told me when I left home. Son, you go to church some time. I know you ain't going every Sunday. But I kept it in mind. I did.
- [00:14:37.50] And I joined Second Baptist Church. And I got very active. I started to teaching Sunday school. I got in the Blue Crown Choir. And I became a usher. And that's how I met my wife.
- [00:14:51.73] And after I got drafted and went into service, the young lady that I have today, she got my address and start to writing me, and told me how much she enjoyed me, and she really cared so much about me. And one day, she wanted to be my wife.
- [00:15:11.35] INTERVIEWER: Now would she tell me the same story?
- [00:15:14.38] JOHNNIE RUSH: She would tell you that.
- [00:15:15.37] INTERVIEWER: OK.
- [00:15:16.50] JOHNNIE RUSH: And so I did my time in service. When I came back, I was at church that Sunday, back in Second Baptist Church here in Ann Arbor. And I decided I'd go by to meet her mother.
- [00:15:30.22] And her mother had told her who I was. And she said, oh, you're that JOHNNIE Rush? I said, yes, ma'am. All of these little old girl of mine, she says she just love you, want to be-- I said, be your wife. You can have her. She was joking, I guess. And so we laughed. And she was very nice to me after she met me and seen what kind of person I was.
- [00:15:55.59] And time passed. She found out my birthday. And I was a little Casanova back then. Because a lot of the ladies was sought after me. And so got my size, and went out and rented a machine, and made me a shirt. And that's when I really start thinking, this girl really care about me. My other girls that I was liking, they was just laughing.
- [00:16:28.64] And then I started taking her serious. And it started from there. And we started meeting at church. And I finally started to going out and having lunch with a friend. From there, we kept on. And finally, I married her at 18 years old right out of high school.
- [00:16:49.61] INTERVIEWER: She was right out of high school.
- [00:16:51.07] JOHNNIE RUSH: Right. And we've been together ever since, 50-- what-- nine years this year. Are we still together. And we raised three kids, two girls and one boy.
- [00:17:07.30] INTERVIEWER: Tell me about your children. And what was life like when they were young living at home?
- [00:17:14.86] JOHNNIE RUSH: It was quite an experience. Because my wife and I, we didn't never seek out help from anyone. And unfortunately, we had two kids within the same year. My oldest daughter is just-- they 11 months apart. My daughter, Rhonda, is 11 months older than my other.
- [00:17:38.61] We had them right together. And we sort of got a little tight about that. And as time went along, we-- it was about four years before my son came along. But we had a job. But we feel today that we did a good job. Because they turn out to be very good kids.
- [00:18:01.57] We kept that unity and discipline. And been many days that I've had my daughters, they call me up, and just say, hi, daddy. I just want to thank you. And I said, baby, what you thanking? You ain't got no birthday today. I didn't send you nothing. She says, dad, it's just the way you brought us up.
- [00:18:19.99] And I think they was telling me that, because each one of them have two kids a part. My oldest daughter have two girl. And my youngest daughter have a girl and a boy. And they see what the experience is in raising kids. That's what I see now. And they just say, well, he was just so good.
- [00:18:40.26] And my grandkids is beautiful, excellent, smart in school, and everything. And that makes me feel good today. They say, I thought you was the meanest father you could have. But now I see what you did for us. And I laugh about it. And I feel good about it today.
- [00:19:00.90] INTERVIEWER: What kind of things did you all do for fun?
- [00:19:04.26] JOHNNIE RUSH: My wife and my kids?
- [00:19:05.64] INTERVIEWER: Mm-hmm.
- [00:19:06.45] JOHNNIE RUSH: Well, we played a lot of little inner activities, like work together with chess, and stuff like that. And we played a little outside fun ball with them. And we went fishing together, and just a lot of little things that they enjoyed. And they talk about some of that today. And we really enjoy it.
- [00:19:35.52] We had that really family unity. And that was something I'm glad I was taught. And I think I learned that from being a Southern man out of Mississippi. Because the family were very close.
- [00:19:49.87] And I feel very disappointed when I see today, families don't have that family unity like they used to. And that's very unfortunate. And I see that.
- [00:20:01.92] INTERVIEWER: Was there any fun thing that you all enjoyed more than any other?
- [00:20:07.95] JOHNNIE RUSH: Well, we enjoyed the holidays more than others. Because we had other little things we did together, games, and had good food. And you had company that was visiting. It was just a combination that really expanded, and made everybody feel good, and enjoy themselves being together. And that was really nice. We enjoyed it very much.
- [00:20:40.06] INTERVIEWER: Now this next section is going to be about work and retirement. But you haven't retired so--
- [00:20:46.63] JOHNNIE RUSH: No, I haven't retired.
- [00:20:49.21] INTERVIEWER: Tell me again what your main field of employment.
- [00:20:53.02] JOHNNIE RUSH: My main what?
- [00:20:53.71] INTERVIEWER: Field of employment, your job.
- [00:20:56.53] JOHNNIE RUSH: Yeah, well, I'm a barber. I own and operate my own shop. And that's my primary object too. I want to always have some control of my direction.
- [00:21:10.37] I saw my uncle. He used to be a barber. And that's what really dawned on me, and gave me that inner will. I made quite a sacrifice to be where I am today. A barber drove to Detroit six days a week.
- [00:21:26.85] INTERVIEWER: That's where you went to get your training?
- [00:21:28.03] JOHNNIE RUSH: To get my barber license. And I worked at St. Joe Mercy Hospital as an orderly part time. And I learned the discipline. Whatever you have to do-- my father always told me, success is about hard work hard, son, and sacrifice. And that reveals to me today, which is very true, just as true as I'm sitting here.
- [00:21:55.46] And I went and got my barber licence, and served from an apprenticeship under John Easley, here in Ann Arbor down on Ann Street. And then I went back, took my state board exam to be eligible to open my own shop. And I opened up my own shop for myself in 1961.
- [00:22:19.11] INTERVIEWER: And that was on Ann Street?
- [00:22:22.58] JOHNNIE RUSH: That was on Ann Street. And I stayed just about 16 years. And things got a little out of control up there. Because a lot drug trafficking started. And it really destroyed the whole block and that area.
- [00:22:36.52] I seen five young black young mens get killed. And it was very frightening. And I start to losing a lot of my business. Even my own relatives started to getting afraid to come down.
- [00:22:52.89] I was cutting hair one day in my shop. And I let two guys come in and use my restroom. And they got back there, and got to tussling over the guns. And the gun went off. And that bullet ricocheted back up over near where I was cutting hair.
- [00:23:06.71] And my own uncle jumped up, and said, well, you is in the family. But I can't be coming down here. And that was quite a turmoil for me. I had to think about it. And finally, where I am today was a little gas station.
- [00:23:23.39] INTERVIEWER: Tell me a little bit more about the Ann Street-- you had your business there. There were other businesses down there.
- [00:23:29.02] JOHNNIE RUSH: Yeah. That's the next thing that bothers me. And that's what I'm concerned about. If I had time, I would try to get on the council. We don't have no representation here in Ann Arbor. And it's amazing how we, as black people, has regressed.
- [00:23:47.37] When I came here, Ann Arbor had more visibility of service and commendation within our race. You had Dave Keaton down there, had his nice beer tavern, beer vault. You had Sanford McKinney had a hat block and shoe repair shop. You had Pelly Bullock around the corner had his nice little dry cleaners. You had the friendly corner-- you had two restaurants down right there in that area.
- [00:24:16.81] Mr. Louis Harris had a auto repair automobile business shop. And you had Mr. [? Monty ?]. He had a nice little gas station. And I look around now. And I see what I see now. And it's just sort of heart aching to me.
- [00:24:38.33] The only thing we seem to have here visible now is churches. And they should be more community-orientated. And I say that implying to my brother. When we used to ministering, I was teasing him about the ministers, and how they getting over now, for getting new cars furnished free, and gas, and phone bill.
- [00:25:02.74] And I was teasing, they just the little legal pimpers now. And I gave him some ideas. Because I was a usher. And I seen how much money goes to the church. And I gave him that idea, and made some suggestions to him.
- [00:25:16.13] And I wish I had brought him with me. He wind up following that direction. And I helped to assist him. And he wind up building a 54 unit, low-income, multiple housing project. And I was shocked.
- [00:25:34.10] And he cut the ribbon in 2010. I was there. And just within two months, every one of the apartments rented out. And then he turned around and built the [INAUDIBLE] Education Center. And it's just amazing. In fact, it shows you what the need we have in your community.
- [00:26:01.40] INTERVIEWER: What would you say is the biggest difference in your field of barbering from the time you started until now? What is the biggest difference? I know you've talked about the lack of black businesses.
- [00:26:19.91] JOHNNIE RUSH: Well, the difference is now people-- I don't know what really is happening now. One thing I've learned too, but different from first start, people believed in their parents, and the personality, and the common nature.
- [00:26:42.43] Number one, you learn that you in business. And they didn't go around plaiting their hair, and all of that stuff, and didn't realize. And they had just common judgement about the health and physical conditions.
- [00:26:57.66] You know, I look at a lot of these guy wearing their hair all long and tight. And you wash your head, you can't wash the lather off. I had a guy come in my shop one day, all them braids. And his head was itching. I finally talked to him. And he got it got it cut off.
- [00:27:15.30] And he come to find out, when I got it down, he had lice in his head. And he just [INAUDIBLE] to fell out. So the disposition is that commendation of service too, that unity, that helping one another. And that was the job. And they felt getting a hair cut in a professional shop was very important.
- [00:27:37.77] But now, it's amazing what I see every day. And we should be much more focused and elevated. And we seem to be going the other way. Don't care how we look.
- [00:27:52.61] And that's really had effect on me. It's been a very interesting thing, and meeting a variety of people. And communication line in talking with people is very good.
- [00:28:09.25] INTERVIEWER: Tell me about a typical day for you in your shop. How does a typical day go?
- [00:28:16.89] JOHNNIE RUSH: A typical day is you have a lot of people. Is this your special day you're talking about, or just an ordinary day?
- [00:28:25.73] INTERVIEWER: Just an ordinary day.
- [00:28:27.43] JOHNNIE RUSH: A typical day for me is coming in and meeting a lot of the ordinary middle-age customers. And the exchange of communication, and ideas, and direction is a good combination there. And it elevates you.
- [00:28:49.57] Because you know these speak with an interest. And they're serious about it. And you look forward to that. Because you commendate one another.
- [00:29:01.06] And these are things I learned about every day that I've lived. We have to recognize that we all need one another. We all need one another. And that generate unity, and direction, and strength.
- [00:29:21.67] And we getting away from that. And I don't understand how these things are happening now. When we look at our young generation, they should be more elevated. We got all the opportunities and successments. And they not doing as well as our folk has. And that's awful sad.
- [00:29:42.94] But I look forward to it. Because it's an experience every day, that we meeting different people with different personalities. And my business is variety of business. I cut a lot of white customers' hair, as well your normal people. And that's important.
- [00:30:03.41] An exchange of ideas and communication is an elevation. It means something. It gives you that drive.
- [00:30:13.00] INTERVIEWER: How did life change when your wife retired? And you're still working, so did it change and the children were away?
- [00:30:22.60] JOHNNIE RUSH: Well, I think it changed more for her. And that's something she probably would say the same thing. I tell you, that's another thing that I concentrate on each day is, you retire. And you've been active all your life. And you get around. And you might take notice.
- [00:30:40.81] Sometime you retire, and the next year, or month, or two, or sometimes six months, you deceased and gone. I think it was quite a turnaround for her, sitting around and just sort of getting bored and inactive. And I even talk now she's working a little bit part time now.
- [00:31:08.21] INTERVIEWER: What is she doing part time? Tell me about it. Because she used to work. Tell me about--
- [00:31:12.13] JOHNNIE RUSH: Well, it's part time. She's a ride with the Ann Arbor bus system with the kids. And she sits in, and keeps control, and watch over the kids doing the transportation to and forth from school. And she found that to be very interesting.
- [00:31:30.45] The idea of being around people. Because you can get real bored just being alone all the time, especially when you've been active. And that's something I try to keep myself conscious of, just retiring, and don't have no other plans, and be active in anything. And I'm aware of that.
- [00:31:50.60] INTERVIEWER: Now she worked at a bank?
- [00:31:52.95] JOHNNIE RUSH: Yes, my wife was one of the first black managers here in Ann Arbor. She managed three banks here in Ann Arbor. She managed the Great Lakes Bank [INAUDIBLE]. She managed a bank out here out on Hewitt Road.
- [00:32:09.37] And she had up here, down here in a mall here in Ann Arbor, and one out here on Plymouth Road. And that's what she retired from the bank. And that was quite an experience for her.
- [00:32:25.99] INTERVIEWER: When thinking back on your working life-- and you're still working-- is there any important social or historical event that was taken during this time that personally had an effect on you?
- [00:32:44.09] JOHNNIE RUSH: In my what?
- [00:32:46.08] INTERVIEWER: Is there any historical event, like maybe the Civil Rights Movement or some of that that had an effect on you personally?
- [00:32:56.60] JOHNNIE RUSH: Well, the most important thing is the integration and seeing what Reverend Martin Luther King have done in his past. And just the idea right now, you know I said, and I never would have dreamed that I would see the history, which is just historically, Barack Obama, which is the black president of the United States. That is amazing to me.
- [00:33:22.04] And that is saying something. It just give me a different feeling about the system out here. And these are the things that I would hope that the younger generation that we have out here can take notice of the change that we have seen transpire. And it's important.
- [00:33:46.48] INTERVIEWER: OK, we're going to a different section now about history and social events. Tell me, how do you feel about living in this community?
- [00:34:03.56] JOHNNIE RUSH: In Ann Arbor.
- [00:34:04.65] INTERVIEWER: Mm-hmm.
- [00:34:05.97] JOHNNIE RUSH: Ann Arbor is a beautiful city. But I have been very disappointed over the last few years since I've lived here to see Ann Arbor has regressed so much. We don't have no visibility of entrepreneurs here. And it's very sad. And it's something that we need to communicate and talk about.
- [00:34:31.43] And just to see the change in this system here in this community, and the representation, and it's sort of disappointing me very, very much. And just the ideal having came here when I was a young man, and have seen what have transpired since I've been here, this invisible of blacks, commendation of business, and helping one another, and being able to help themselves. And that need to be confirmed, and need to be talked about. And let people see what is happening.
- [00:35:19.98] And it is unfortunate. And we need to mention that. I look at all the high-rise buildings, and all the things the university is getting by with. And we working every day. And everybody talk about the university. Ann Arbor wouldn't be existing it wasn't for the university. They'd ain't thought about the ordinary people that live here.
- [00:35:40.76] I pay taxes twice a year. University ain't paying taxes. And we all live here. And that's quite a sacrifice. And it need to be confirmed. That's why, therefore, I said, we all need one another. And that mean working together and doing things together, and giving us strength, and making us more visible in our direction.
- [00:36:13.27] INTERVIEWER: What advice would you give to the younger generation?
- [00:36:19.66] JOHNNIE RUSH: The young generation is number one. I read that book from Genesis, Exodus, [INAUDIBLE] and Ruth. It says-- the book tells-- watch as well as pray. When you watch things, that's what I used to do with my father. I'd see his disposition, and seen what he was doing in his inner will. That give me a motivation, and an instinctive drive. And that's what I try to tell these young people.
- [00:36:57.61] Nothing from nothing leave nothing. I think we've gotten away from the disciplining of our young people. Now we trying to befriend them too much, and give them everything. You got to be the parent, and give them some direction.
- [00:37:11.41] With the opportunities they have now, like just advantages that our forefathers in past-- it just sad to me. It's very unfortunate. And the next thing you look at, I might have to answer that later for you.
- [00:37:28.65] INTERVIEWER: OK. When thinking back over your entire life, what are you most proud of?
- [00:37:39.15] JOHNNIE RUSH: Number one, I'm proud to see the accomplishments and the commendation that have helped this system was Dr. Martin Luther King have given me that inner feeling and this sense of spirituality that he lived by that song. If I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living shall not be in vain. That's been an inspiration and he helped me.
- [00:38:14.20] And to see these things transpired to that positive, it just moves me. And I can see what I see today is the elevation of sin, the instinct, and direction, and the drive of my new president, Barack Obama. And the lack of giving him any kind of decent respect in accomplishing what he done, that's another thing we've got to get away from.
- [00:38:46.87] You see what people have done. There's nothing wrong with saying, oh, yes. Why you have to be so negative about everything? And be true. Be true to ourself. And be true to others. Ain't nothing wrong with just facing the truth. And we need to talk about these things. And that's why I said, therefore we need one another. I don't care who you are. And that gives you that inner-strength, that elevation, and progress.
- [00:39:19.65] And you can see what Dr. Martin Luther King is just an inspiration to me today. You see all the things that he already accomplished. But he was reaching out trying to help. That why I say, helping somebody, that means so much.
- [00:39:41.25] INTERVIEWER: OK, I think I am ready to ask you the last question. How do you feel, personally, about doing this interview, and its impact on you?
- [00:39:58.21] JOHNNIE RUSH: I think it's very inspiring. I think that it shows a sense that you have a feeling of reaching out, and ideals in exchange with one another, and having that communication with one another. That's the problem. I'm saying, we all need one another.
- [00:40:25.26] And if you ascertain that attitude, we can get more elevation, give us more strength, and more unity, and empower us to grow and be positive, and commendate one another. And it would make us a better system to live in, world out here.
- [00:40:48.58] INTERVIEWER: Thank you, Pastor Rush.
- [00:40:50.67] JOHNNIE RUSH: Is that what they say? I think I better set up my little coffee can now. And I told the boys, let them drop their donation in.
- [00:40:58.56] [LAUGHING]
October 4, 2016
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