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James Daniels interview, 2021-11-17

Identifier: dcpl_dcohc032_03.mp3

Scope and Contents

From the Collection:

D.C. Oral History Collaborative (DCOHC) is a citywide initiative to train community members in oral history skills, fund new and ongoing oral history projects, connect volunteers with oral history projects, and publicize existing oral history collections. DCOHC is a project of DC Public Library, HumanitiesDC, and the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. This collection contains oral history interviews, transcripts, and indexes produced by DCOHC grantees.


  • Creation: 2021-11-17


Language of Materials


Biographical / Historical

James Daniels was born in rural South Carolina and moved to Washington, D.C. when he was 12 years old. He took part in the Civil Rights Movement and Black Studies groups while in high school. In the 1970s he became a bus operator as WMATA (Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority).


From the Collection: 1.13 Terabytes


Please note this interview was recorded over a telephone call. In this oral history, James Daniels reflects on his time working at WMATA (Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority) and his work with the labor movement while at WMATA and beyond. He also speaks about his time growing up in South Carolina, where he lived until he was 12. The part of South Carolina he is from was still dependent on the cotton economy, and as a young child he picked cotton on a plantation. He remembers the fear that the Ku Klux Klan struck into his family and how that limited their political involvement. He talks about his excitement to move to Washington, D.C., away from a life that seemed to have no opportunities. In high school he was influenced by the Civil Rights, and Black Power movements and joined a Black Studies reading group. He already remembers marching with people from his neighborhood into white areas of town and being received with a high degree of curiosity.

Repository Details

Part of the The People's Archive, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library Repository

901 G Street NW
4th Floor East
Washington DC 20001