This interview with Russell Peyton was conducted by Dan Malone at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, Oregon, from July 28 to August 12, 1987. In the interview, Peyton discusses his family history and early life in Virginia. He also discusses his early jobs, including working as an assistant to a Chinese diplomat. He then talks about going to California and working in service stations, where he got involved in a lawsuit against the Shell Oil company. Peyton then discusses attending the University of Oklahoma and confronting his own racism. In talking about the lead-up to World War II, he discusses coming to Oregon and working for the Kaiser shipyards and his impressions of Portland. He then talks about a trip he took to Europe shortly after the end of the war. Peyton discusses his involvement with the Urban League and his work toward integration, particularly on housing discrimination. He also discusses the different forms that racism took in the North and South. He then talks about his work as an investigator for the Civil Rights Division of the Oregon State Bureau of Labor, detailing many of his cases. Peyton discusses his work with the Joint Council on Social Welfare and the legislation they lobbied for. He also discusses the achievements of the Oregon Prison Association; working with Portland General Electric to cease cutting off power to people who couldn't pay their bills in winter; and school busing. Peyton discusses his time as executive director of the Metropolitan Human Relations Commission, including affirmative action policies, working to improve the Portland police, food security, pay equality, and employment discrimination. He also discusses working with the Portland City Council and the Metro government. In addition, he talks briefly about Vietnam War protests in Portland. Peyton talks often about Edwin "Bill" C. Berry of the Urban League, as well as other leaders in Portland's black community. He then briefly describes each winner of the Russell Peyton Award from its inception to 1987. Peyton also talks about the numerous humanitarian organizations whose boards he served on after retirement. He closes the interview by reflecting on his career and accomplishments in civil rights.
Peyton, Russell A. (Russell Ackerman), 1903-1996