John Woodard
Civil Rights

John was born at Charity Hospital in Shreveport, one of a family of seven children of John and Adline Hamilton Woodard. He grew up a four-room farm house in Dixie, Louisiana, where he helped on the farm, chopping and picking cotton with his parents. When he was 13 the family moved to Cooper Road in Shreveport, where his father worked for the Caddo Levee Board. He went through the 11th grade at Booker T. Washington High School, then joined the military, earning his GED while serving his country. "I wanted to leave Shreveport. I didn't see any opportunity," he recalls of his reason in joining the U.S. Navy in 1955. John took boot camp in San Diego, then was assigned to a transport squadron stationed at Moffitt Field, California, where he worked on aircraft engines. On August 24, 1958 he married Delores Johnson. They have four children and two grandchildren. After his discharge in 1959, John lived in New Jersey and worked for a steel mill as a welder. John returned to Shreveport in 1972. He was a member of a labor union and was able to get work with building contractors. "They had to hire me," he says, adding, "I could see a lot of folks didn't like it, but there wasn't anything they could do about it." He worked for Frees, an air conditioning company as the only black mechanic, and was paid union scale. John opened his own refrigeration repair business in 1975.