Part 1
Part 1


Audio courtesy of the University of Kentucky.

John Hervey Wheeler

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John Hervey Wheeler
John Hervey Wheeler Bio

John Hervey Wheeler (1908-1978) was a businessman, lawyer, political activist, and civil rights activist.  Wheeler was born in Bronx, North Carolina.  Wheeler’s father took a position with North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company as a regional supervisor in Atlanta when John was four years old.  Wheeler was raised among Atlanta’s black elite, was a member of Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and finished his high school education at Morehouse College.  Wheeler graduated summa cum laude from Morehouse College with a BA in accounting and finance.  He later received a Bachelor of Laws from North Carolina College.  As a lawyer he became the first to challenge segregated schooling in the North Carolina public schools.  He worked on the 1950 court case Blue v. Durham, where the judge ruled that Durham schools were unequal and that the local school board needed to equalize spending for all schools.

The interview transcript identifies him as T.H. Wheeler, and in Who Speaks for the Negro one reference to him is indexed under the name W. H. Wheeler.    


Warren begins by asking Wheeler to explain the reason for the lag in the success of African American businesses as compared to the success of African Americans in other professions.  Wheeler describes the artificial barriers that keep African American business away from the total marketplace, and explains that this is true all over the United States.  He argues that his insurance business is successful because he provides a service that African Americans need.  Moreover, he explains that the insurance industry prohibits, in most markets, the selling of life insurance to African Americans.  Warren and Wheeler discuss integration as it relates to business and commerce.  Wheeler opines that it will take a long time before African American boys and girls share the same opportunities in business as white boys and girls.  Wheeler concludes with a discussion on African Americans holding public office.


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