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Griffin, James

Document Type

Oral History

Date of Interview



James Griffin was born 6 July 1917 in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he grew up and attended Central High School, graduating in 1936. After attending West Virginia State College for two years, 1936-38, and briefly living in Michigan, Jim returned to St. Paul. In 1941 he joined the St. Paul Police Department as a patrolman, a position he held until early 1945, when he decided to enlist in the US Navy. Jim was inducted in May 1945, just as Germany surrendered, and sent to Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Chicago for Basic Training. It was during this time that Basic Training in the Navy was desegregated, and Jim provides his personal perspective of this process as an African-American. Jim completed boot camp, but VJ-Day in August brought an end to the war before he could ship out. He spent the rest of 1945 and the first six months of 1946 at several stateside locations in Rhode Island and California, and was finally discharged in June 1946 with the rank of seaman first class. Following his discharge Jim returned to the St. Paul Police Department, rising to the rank of Deputy Chief of Police; he retired in September 1983. Jim served on the St. Paul School Board for seventeen years, and over the years devoted his time to other civic causes in St. Paul. He received an honorary degree from Concordia University, St. Paul, in 1990. Jim and his wife Edna were married in 1938, and the couple made their home in St. Paul.


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Jim Griffin - Transcript.pdf (562 kB)
PDF Transcript of Interview with Jim Griffin