Fiction: The Gray Scare (Pt. 3)

April 3, 1968 – FBI Interview

Interviewer: What is your name?

Subject: My name is Randall Thomas.

Interviewer: Is that your whole name?

Suject:  Yes.

Interviewer:  No middle name?

Subject:  No, sir.

Interviewer:  Any aliases?

Subject:  Aliases?

Interviewer:  Yes, aliases.  Have you ever gone by any other name or names?

[pause]

Subject:  Ny name used to be Randolph Thomas Jefferson.

Interviewer:  Why did you change your name, Mr. Jeffer– I mean, Thomas.

Subject:  It was to signify a new beginning.  A fresh start.  I had it legally changed.

Interviewer:  A fresh start.  I see.  And do you have any family, Mr. Thomas?

Subject:  A wife and two children.

Interviewer:  What are their names?

Subject:  Why?

Interviewer:  It’s just for the records, Mr. Thomas.

Subject:  My wife’s name is Sallie Mae Thomas.  My children are Jerry Edison Thomas.  He’s three.  And Sue Mae.  She’s twenty months old.

Interviewer:  Are you a spy, Mr. Jefferson?

Subject:  It’s Thomas.  I don’t understand.  A spy?  I love my country.  I’m no Communist if that’s what you mean.

Interviewer:  The Gray Scare, Mr. Jefferson.  Are you a negro spy?

Subject:  Thomas.  My name is Randall Thomas.

Interviewer:  Okay.  Mr. Thomas.  Let’s approach this another way.  Why did you agree to undergo the Josephson Procedure?  It couldn’t have just been for the money.

Subject:  It’s complicated.  I don’t think you’d understand.

Interviewer:  Explain it to me.

Subject:  You don’t know.  How it is.

Interviewer:  I suppose I don’t.  So why did you do it?

Subject:  I wanted a chance.  The same chance that you have.

Interviewer:  For what?

Subject:  To be happy?  To be successful.  To be equal.

Interviewer:  And are you equal now?

Subject:  I thought I was.

Interviewer:  Explain, please.

Subject:  Well.  I had a good life, a good job, children, car.  And the woman of my dreams.

Interviewer:  Sallie Heatherton.

Subject:  That’s right.  I mean, that would have been impossible, right?  Negro men have been killed for even looking in the direction of a white woman.  Within a few years of the procedure — we’re married.  We have two beautiful children.

Interviewer:  Is that fair to her?

Subject:  Is what fair?

Interviewer:  Does she know that you’re a, you know, a negro?

Subject:  She knows.  Of course, she knows what I was.  Am.  She knows who I am.

Interviewer:  When did she find out?

Subject:   I thought you said this was an interview.

Interviewer:  It is.

Subject:  It’s an interrogation.

Interviewer:  Mr. Thomas, the sooner you cooperate the sooner you can go home.  To your wife.  To your children.  Now, again.  When did she find out?

Subject:  You know when.  During the congressional hearings.

Interviewer:  And you were the first?

Subject:  As far as I know.  The first successful case, as it turns out.

Interviewer:  And your, uh, wife?  She’s still with you?

Subject:  Yes, my wife is still with me.  Of course she is.

Interviewer:  According to our records, she–

Subject:  Yes, her parents more or less disowned her.

Interviewer:  Because she–

Subject:  Refused to give up the children.

Interviewer:  That would have been some inheritance.

Subject:  Money has nothing to do with it.

Interviewer:  Mr. Thomas, according to the constitutional amendment that was recently ratified all miscegenation by marriage is unconstitutional.  Your so-called marriage has been annulled according to the Constitution of the United States of America.  Your children are illegitimate.  They’ll receive no benefits of the state.

Subject:  And what do you think of that?

Interviewer:  I’m the interviewer, Mr. Thomas.  You’re the subject.

Subject:  What’s the harm?

Interviewer:  It’s the law of the land.  There’s nothing I can do about that.

Subject:  But I’m Caucasian, right?  Look at me.  My skin, my hair, my eyes.  How does that even qualify as — as race mixing?

Interviewer:  Artificially Caucasian, maybe.  Your parents are negroes.

Subject:  Artificial?  I firmly believe that race is an artificial construct to begin with.

Interviewer:  A construct.

Subject:  When can I see my family?  When can I go home?

Interviewer:  I don’t know.  That has nothing to do with me.  Frankly, it’s above my pay grade.

Subject:  I want to see my family.  I’m through with this.  This interview is over.

Interviewer:  I have something I’d like to share with you.

Subject:  I’m done.

Interviewer:  Mr. Thomas, the more you cooperate the more likely it is that you’ll be allowed to go home to be with your family.

[pause]

Interviewer:  I’m going to read this to you.  It’s a statement from the White House Press Secretary.  Then I’d like your opinion.

[pause]

Interviewer:  Reading now.  “This historic ruling and amendment to the Constitution has been divisive but unequivocally supported by the requisite number of states and the majority of our citizens.  It is therefore the law of the land and will be enforced as such.  It is not without heaviness in our hearts that all interracial marriages will be annulled in the eyes of the Federal government and subsequently all State governments as well.  Time will tell the full ramifications of these actions.  There are many families, many children in the balance and we have faith that our great nation will proceed adamantly and yet with compassion.

We have also concluded that given the success and nature of the Josephson Procedure a method is provided which will avert the miscegenation question altogether.  Any negro or other-raced individual can choose to acclimate and assimilate to the majority culture at any given time.  We welcome this expression of solidarity and its entree to public life.  The minority populations under our aegis will be held separate but equal in the eyes of the law.”

Subject: What is this?  What does that mean?

Interviewer:  I take it to mean that every negro has a choice.  And that you made the right choice but not at the right time.  It looks as if the Supreme Court is going to uphold Josephson Procedure recipients’ status as Caucasian Americans.  The ruling will not be retroactive.

Subject:  Injustice on top of injustice.  I’m done.

Interviewer:   Note that the subject refuses to continue this interview, which I am now concluding.

to be concluded… Part 4

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