Partial Transcript: PP: And another thing that was very interesting: as we talked among ourselves, what we discovered is that each of us was probably the valedictorian or the salutatorian of our class.
Segment Synopsis: Peterson describes the academic background of her African-American classmates, including many of them being valedictorians or salutatorian, and high SAT scores.
Partial Transcript: HT: Well, Woman's College had a wonderful national reputation in those days, and, of course, once it became coeducational, that sort of-
PP: Yes, it sort of fizzled, right.
Segment Synopsis: Peterson describes the Woman's College transition to the Coeducation UNCG. Peterson also recalls some memories of men on campus.
Partial Transcript: PP: Let's see, another thing that happened with me was that I was the youngest girl in our class because when I entered college I was sixteen.
Segment Synopsis: Peterson describes attending summer school at UNC-Chapel Hill during her freshman year, resulting in Peterson achieving her bachelors degree in three years.
Partial Transcript: HT: Alright, well, let me ask you to backtrack a little bit: how was your transition from high school to college. I mean, you were so young.
Segment Synopsis: Peterson describes the transition from high school to college. Peterson also describes going from being social to putting more time into studies her first year of college.
Partial Transcript: HT: Well, talking about social activities, I've talked to several other ladies, and they've said, you know, the social activities were rather limited at Woman's College and UNCG because there were no African American men, and so they had to go to A&T.
Segment Synopsis: Peterson describes attending social activities at UNCG and A&T, including several balls.
Partial Transcript: PP: The only thing I did- I don't know how extracurricular it was- but I did help one of the professors, who is Dr. [ William E.] Knox [Sociology faculty]-
Segment Synopsis: Peterson describes being a research assistant to Dr. William Knox, as well as being a babysitter for Fred Chappell [English Faculty].
Partial Transcript: HT: Well, have you been involved with UNCG since you graduated?
Segment Synopsis: Peterson describes her interactions with UNCG after graduation, including buying a brick in Foust Park, meeting the chancellor when she came to Washington DC, and reunions. She also describes keeping in touch with her classmates.
HT: Today is May 12, 2013, and my name is Hermann Trojanowski, and I'm inAlexandria, Virginia with Mrs. Poinsettia Galloway Peterson, Class of 1966, and we're here to conduct an oral history interview for the African American Institutional Memory Project, which is part of the UNCG Institutional Memory Collection at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Mrs. Peterson, thank you so much for meeting with me this beautiful afternoon here in Alexandria.
PP: You're quite welcome. I'm glad to participate.
HT: Thank you, thank you. I'd like to start the interview by asking yousomething about your childhood, about when and where you were born, and that sort of thing.
PP: Okay, I was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, on September 27, 1946, and Ilived in Brunswick County. Wilmington is in New Hanover County; Brunswick County is the adjoining county, and that's where I grew up, and even today I go back 1:00home because I now own the childhood home, so I go back.
HT: Great. Well, tell me something about your parents and your family andgrowing up in North Carolina back in the 1950s.
PP: My mother and my father were educators, and my father and my mothergraduated from Fayetteville State University, which was then Fayetteville State Teachers College. And I have an older sister, Marion Galloway Mathis, and she attended Johnson C. Smith University. But my childhood was a very good childhood. My parents were involved in the community, involved in the church. They were involved in various educational activities; they were active participants in the Fayetteville State Alumni Association, as well as some of 2:00their friends who also went to school with them. So it was a good time; it was a very good time.
HT: And where did you go to high school?
PP: I went to Leland High School which is in Leland, North Carolina.
HT: How do you spell that?
PP: L-I-N-C-O-L-N was the high school, Lincoln just like Abraham Lincoln. Thetown is Leland, L-E-L-A-N-D.
HT: And tell me about your favorite subjects while you were in high school.
PP: I would think English and math were my favorites. Those were my favorite subjects.
HT: And why did you eventually decide to attend Woman's College, which in now UNCG?
PP: When I initially applied to college, I only applied initially to theUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and I received a letter saying they 3:00did not accept females in 1963 unless they were in nursing or allied health, but I could attend the University of North Carolina, the Woman's College rather, of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and then transfer over my junior year.
HT: And did your parents approve of your choosing Woman's College as opposed totheir alma mater, Fayetteville State.
PP: Oh absolutely, they didn't mind. Whatever university I chose was fine withthem, you know, that was fine with them. So actually that became the only university that I applied to after Chapel Hill. It was that particular university, and I did that. I received an acceptance notice and that was that. I didn't apply anywhere else.
HT: Well, tell me about your first days on campus. What was that like? That wasin the fall of '63.
PP: The fall of 1963. It was very exciting. When I first arrived on campus, I4:00thought it was a quaint campus and the-Now what I did unusual-which was unusual to students today-I hadn't visited the university. I went sight unseen. You know, students today visit; they walk around. It was sight unseen; we drove through the campus, and I thought, Wow, this is a nice quaint campus. And my dormitory, of course, was Coit Hall, and that was the dormitory where all African Americans were-where we lived. And, as a matter of fact, there were ten at that time; there were ten African American girls. We were all on the first [floor] hall of Coit Hall, and we met each other that day, and we met other young ladies-two Caucasian ladies-and we all just had a good time talking and sharing experiences, and actually most of our first days were spent really 5:00learning the university: how to get around although it was not that large when you think about it; going to your classroom; going to the dining hall; what's near here, of course the Yum-Yum, the movie theater; where the other universities are, Bennett College and A&T; and just getting to know Greensboro in general as well, too. So, also trying to acclimate to classes, because some of the classes were large, like the science. We had lecture in a big lecture hall; then we had the labs which were smaller, and so getting accustomed to the larger classes; and, too, the culture and climate of the university and the professors-just generally learning about the college.
HT: Now you said there were ten African American students; were they all freshmen?
PP: They were all freshmen-No, no. Oh, I'm sorry. There were ten in my class6:00when I entered in 1963. Yes, there were ten.
HT: In the freshman class.
PP: In the freshman class. What happened was there was one young lady who livedoff-campus, however, and we didn't really get to see her, and really-I didn't get to really meet her, but she lived off-campus, and then at the end of the first semester, there was another African American who was Irene [Cooper Harrington, Class of 1968]. She came and she did live on campus in Coit which made the number of African Americans in Coit Hall eleven. We went from ten to eleven.
HT: So there were two per room, I guess.
PP: Two per room, there were two per room, and on my side, there were six. WhenIrene came there were seven, and on the other side of Coit Hall, there were four African Americans. And we all just bonded because what we had in common was the fact that we were among the first African Americans there. And another thing that was very interesting: as we talked among ourselves, what we discovered is 7:00that each of us was probably the valedictorian or the salutatorian of our class. We were really top students from our high schools. They were segregated, but that notwithstanding, we were-most of us were valedictorians of our classes, or salutatorians.
HT: I can't remember: was the SAT test, was that in existence-
PP: The SAT was in existence then and we did have to take the SATs as well, somost of us did come with pretty-with top grades.
HT: Well, Woman's College had a wonderful national reputation in those days,and, of course, once it became coeducational, that sort of-
PP: Yes, it sort of fizzled, right.
HT: That's a good word. So you were right there at the end, because 1963 was thelast year that there was a Woman's College graduation. That was fifty years ago just a few weeks ago.
PP: That's right.
HT: So you were there during the transition from an all-women's to a8:00coeducational institution. And I've talked to other ladies, you know, who were there in the sixties, and they said that there really weren't than many men on campus, and so it still held some of those Woman's College traditions and values that were sort of lost by the seventies. Is that a true statement?
PP: I think in a way. I remember very vividly when it became coeducational in1964 because there were only two guys in that first class that we met, and the irony is that one had my last name: a Galloway. He was a Galloway and I met him. He was a Galloway and I was a Galloway. He was white; he was a Caucasian. He was not black; he was not African American but he was also a Galloway, and I said, Wow, and there were only two guys. Everyone said, "Oh, we have guys on campus. Oh, guys on campus." So those two guys, you know, did come on campus and everything. But another thing that happened because I didn't really-I can't 9:00really say that I really could under-really could say the impact of the guys there because a couple were in my classes. I think one of them was-As a matter of fact, I think the two were in some class; I had a class with a least a guy after that in '64 on. But I couldn't really see much of a difference other than the fact that they really-what difference they really made on campus.
HT: I think there were like two hundred and eighty-some maybe that were acceptedin the fall of . Some of them, of course, were day students, because there really wasn't a good place for them to live for a little while, so yes.
PP: I'm fairly sure, you know, that they can verify that there were only twoinitially: Galloway was one, and another young man. Let's see, another thing that happened with me was that I was the youngest girl in our class because when I entered college I was sixteen, and I graduated at nineteen because I went to 10:00Chapel Hill for those summers to make sure that I had the courses. See what happened, after the summer of '64, I said, Okay, I've made up my mind." I said, I think I'm going to finish early, and I couldn't get a job at home. I mean, there were very little jobs for people seventeen years old where I was from. So what was my option? Oh, go to college and finish early, so that's what I did. I went to Chapel Hill, and in the summer of '64, I took twelve hours of coursework there, and I came back to the university for my sophomore year, and then what happened the next summer after my-what would have been my sophomore year, I stayed at-I stayed there. I didn't go to Chapel Hill, because I knew-I was very astute at reading the bulletin, and so many of your last classes had to be on 11:00the campus. I think it was thirty hours, something like that, so I had to really schedule my time at Carolina and my time in Greensboro so I wouldn't get caught up in the fact that I didn't have the necessary-the requisite number of hours that were required there. And so actually that's where I met my husband, at Chapel Hill, and we're still married today. I met him in 1964 at Carolina, and so that's what happened. And so I guess because of my eagerness to finish and everything, then my mind was really set on getting-finishing my degree.
HT: I'd forgotten; what is your degree?
PP: My degree is in sociology.
PP: But I had parents who were educators, and they would say to my sister andme, Always try to get a teacher's certificate so you can get a job. This is the 12:00sixties, you know; you can get a job teaching, so therefore what I did, I took the requisite social studies courses I needed to get a teacher's certificate in social studies, which is what I ended up doing. I was a BA in sociology, of course, but I also took those courses, and I did my student teaching at Dunbar High School right there in Greensboro, so I did that as well, too. I did student teaching. So sociology-
HT: I'm not familiar with Dunbar High School. Where is it?
PP: I'm not even sure if it even exists anymore. Maybe it does. I'm trying tothink where it was located.
HT: Because Dudley-
PP: Not Dunbar, it was Dudley. Dudley, Dudley. I'm thinking D.C. Thank you forsaying that. It was Dudley; thank you, right, absolutely. It would have been a miss quote. Well, my gosh. Thank you, it was Dudley. That's right, Dudley High School; that's where I did my student teaching. I did it there, and so 13:00therefore, although I majored in sociology, you know, I did that at Dudley.
HT: And how was that experience?
PP: It was very interesting; I enjoyed it. I had a taskmaster; I mean mysupervisor there was a taskmaster. She wanted written lesson plans for every day, even with what you would probably say to the students, questions that you would ask, and everything. I worked very diligently for student teaching, and was well-respected among the staff there, because there's one thing I discovered in going to Woman's College is that there was a lot of respect for the girls who were there because the perception was that you were smart; you were intelligent. If not, you wouldn't have been accepted at that university. So it garnered up within itself just the fact that we had attended UNCG, I think we had the 14:00respect among other people. So that was a good experience.
HT: Alright, well, let me ask you to backtrack a little bit: how was yourtransition from high school to college. I mean, you were so young.
PP: I was young, but everything worked out fairly well. My freshman year, I wasnot enamored with my grades. I thought I just did poorly, and I did, but also because I was a little social butterfly. I was young, but I was everybody's friend, and that's what happened with me. I mean, I have to be honest. I liked everybody. I would go to everybody's dormitory room and talk to them, and not just the girls in my class, but the upper classmen. I mean I would go and talk with the seniors, with the seniors there, and the juniors, and the sophomores, and I was everybody's friend, and I loved to play bid whist.
HT: I've heard of that.
PP: Yes, loved to play bid whist. I would play bid whist, and if someone would15:00say, Hey, want to go down to the Yum-Yum for an onion dog? Oh yes, I'll go. So, I said, Wow. So I got those first grades back, and I went I went, Okay, this is not good at all. So then I buckled down and I knew-Yes, I mean I was still a little social butterfly, but I knew I had to put more time into the books. Then another thing that happened, too; I think with some of us it is easier for other people to tell you what you can and cannot do. There were a couple of girls in that sophomore class who said, Man, if you just get a C or a D in science or history, you're doing good. You're doing real good. So they had a tendency to almost make you think that average was okay. You know, because-But then you begin to think, No, it really isn't. You've got to be better than that. But the transition was not very-I didn't that it was-It was not very difficult.
HT: Well, tell me something about the courses you took and what were yourfavorite courses? 16:00
PP: My favorite were really my major courses and, see, I started my major soearly, like my sophomore-what would have been my sophomore year, because I only had three full years there. I started my major courses then so they were my favorite courses. My sociology courses, absolutely, because everything else was liberal arts. I mean everything, because it's a liberal arts school. So you know you had your math and your foreign language and your sciences and they were just okay. I had to do it, to do it-to graduate. I think once I began to dig and delve into sociology and anthropology, they became really my favorite courses.
HT: How did you become interested in anthropology and sociology?
PP: The times; it was like to me it's all about social-It's all about thepolitical protests of the time. It was a time to become involved in social 17:00issues. It was a time that that's the major-that you can have a voice in change and understanding social groups and norms and mores and folkways, and so I just said, "That's what I want to do," because there weren't a lot of options. You know, you could major in math and math [unclear] I mean I enjoyed math in high school. It really wasn't my forte that much in college. I said, No, I don't want to do that. Science: no, I don't really think I really want to do that. English: no, not really. So there weren't the choices that students have today, and when I looked at the choices, that was the best choice for me. That's what I chose.
HT: Well, now you came in the fall of '63.
PP: Fall of '63, yes.
HT: President Kennedy was killed that November. How did that-Do you recallanything about that?
PP: Oh, absolutely. I mean I heard about it on my way from class. Some girlsaid, Oh my God, President Kennedy has been assassinated! And I remember running 18:00to Coit Hall and seeing a couple of my friends who were there. They said, "Oh, my God, President Kennedy has been assassinated!" And we all gathered in a room and we mourned and we just lamented his death. And then everybody gravitated to the parlor. We had what was called "the parlor" and that's where we stayed the rest of the day, the rest of the night. I mean we were glued to the parlor, to the TV in the parlor.
HT: Yes, because that was the only TV probably.
PP: That was the only TV in the place. We didn't have TVs. We didn't have, youknow, that technology so we were all glued to the parlor to see. And it was like, Okay, what's going to happen now? Because we also felt that he was a president who was for integration, and to that end, we said, "Oh my gosh, you know, are we going to move back into a-Just what's going to happen." Are we going to go forward or what? So it was a very sad time for us, for all of us, and I didn't feel that the sadness was-It was general sadness among everybody 19:00there. We all lamented the fact that our President had been assassinated.
HT: And unfortunately it was just sort of a forewarning of what was to comelater on with the assassination of Martin Luther King, and then President Kennedy's brother, and so and so forth.
PP: Exactly. In the sixties. I mean, that was it. It was just a turbulent time.It was really a turbulent time, and even after I graduated from UNCG, and I taught social studies in Nakina High School which-and at that time I was the only African American teacher at that school. They had just integrated because they had just-You know, the rule had just come down, you know. We have to integrate the schools in North Carolina and so there were maybe twenty, twenty-five African Americans students there, and it was during that time, of course, that Martin Luther King was assassinated in '68, and then you know of 20:00course Bobby Kennedy, so it was just a really tumultuous time for us there. It really was; it really was that, but we did-We were able to move through it and work through it, but it was difficult.
HT: Now you've already told me where you lived on campus. Tell me somethingabout dorm life; what was that like for you?
PP: It was a fun time. We, as a-We loved to play bid whist.
HT: Did you ever learn how to play bridge?
PP: I never learned to play bridge, never. No, it was always-I was alwaysplaying the bid whist. We would gather in the parlor for social activities: ice cream parlors, and just to be together with each other; and then we had a couple of girls in the class who were excellent vocalists, and we would love too-And 21:00then there were two who were excellent music-were pianists so they would play the piano and we would listen to them sing and we would just talk about boys and guys; talk about, I guess, our social life; academics; to an extent, some of the professors; to an extent; but we made it happen. We made the enjoyment of each day happen, by just sharing among ourselves, I guess, at that time.
HT: And what about the rules and regulations. What do you recall about them?
PP: We, my freshman year-that was the time when they wanted to make sure youstudied so they had lights-out. I think lights-out was probably around seven o'clock, but they had lights out-seven or eight, I'm trying to remember the exact time-and they had what they called study hall, quiet study, and you were supposed to be in your room studying at that time. Every other activity was 22:00supposed to come to an end. You were supposed to be in your room studying. So we did that, but the university was liberal with the times we could stay out, because, I think, it was midnight. You could go on a date and not have to be in, I'm fairly sure, on the weekends. This was weekends now, not weekdays. The weekend, I'm fairly sure, was like twelve o'clock; it was midnight where in some of the other schools in the area, the girls didn't have that type of liberal time, and I know I had a friend there at UNCG whose sister was at Bennett and there was nothing like that, you know. But the rules, it was basically-That's what I remember about that, and they did try to stress. But they also had students who were on-what did they call that?-They were on the committee that if you committed a violation of the rules, then you had to meet with the students, 23:00the girls-
HT: Is that the Judicial Board?
PP: It may have been the Judicial Board, but it seems like it was somethingelse-Yes, the Judicial Board. You had to meet with them, and also, yes, no cheating, absolutely, you know. That was-You didn't even think about cheating. I mean, because you-There was no cheating. There was no cheating, plagiarism, all of that: that was just not something that was expected, and everything.
HT: About your roommates, what do you recall about them?
PP: My freshman roommate was a very nice young lady from Kinston, NorthCarolina. She was just a wonderful young lady. She had gone to a private school, a private Catholic school, and very astute, very studious, my freshman year. And then I changed roommates that year. There was a young lady that transferred from 24:00Shaw University in January '64, and she was older than I. She was a junior, but we became very good friends, so we roomed together. That was in Strong Hall. I moved from Coit to Strong and then she and I continued to be roommates what was my last year and her last year as well. We moved to Mary Foust dormitory, and then we had a three-girl room. A girl named Jeanne. Jeanne, Margaret and I, we roomed together. But they were all very studious, very nice young ladies, and we're in contact to this day. I'm not in contact with my freshman roommate that much. She and I really haven't been in contact that much, but with the others, absolutely. Jeanne and Margaret, we send each other birthday cards and- 25:00
HT: What are Jeanne and Margaret's last names?
PP: Oh, it was [Cara] Jeanne Luther [Class of 1966].
PP: Margaret Pope [Guice, Class of 1966]. And Jeanne lives here in Maryland. Shelives in College Park, Maryland. Margaret Pope went back home to Birmingham, Alabama, where she was from. She lives there. And my freshman roommate was Sherrill White [Class of 1967]. Her last name was White, from Kinston, and I'm not sure where she is. I think she moved to New York, but I'm just not [sure]. She sort of dropped out in terms of anyone really being in contact with Sherrill.
HT: Did all these ladies graduate, as far as you know?
PP: Yes, they did. Yes-
HT: Hopefully they are on our list.
PP: Yes, they are on your list. Yes, they graduated. Jeanne is a lawyer here.She's an attorney, and Margaret Pope is a retired librarian in Birmingham. Yes, they graduated. Yes, all of them did graduate from college.
HT: What about the dining hall? What do you have any recollections of dining26:00hall food, good times in the dining halls or-
PP: It wasn't bad. The food was okay; it was edible. It was okay. It wasfattening because I think all of us sort of got that freshman fifteen, I think, even though I don't know if we were calling it that then, but I think we sort of gained weight because, you know, you wanted all you wanted to eat, you know. So it was edible, and one thing that happened, and I think among the African American students, there was a tendency to want to sit together, so okay, Let's all sit together.
HT: In the dining hall.
PP: In the dining hall, and let's talk about our day. And most of the-a lot ofthe African American students would sit together and eat together. There were a few who sat anywhere they wished, but that was a tendency because there weren't many. There weren't many African Americans there, and so we would do that. That became a social hour to talk and just to reminisce about what was going on and share. Okay, I haven't seen you. What's going on? Who are you dating? Or how are 27:00things going in class?
HT: Well, talking about social activities, I've talked to several other ladies,and they've said, you know, the social activities were rather limited at Woman's College and UNCG because there were no African American men, and so they had to go to A&T. And there was sometimes a little bit of jealousy from the ladies at Bennett College. Did you run into any of that while you were there?
PP: Not really because I participated at the Elliott Hall Ball. They had theElliott Hall Ball at UNCG. And I always had a date for that; I went to that. I did go to a couple of the ROTC balls at A&T. I did do that; but I didn't sense any jealousy among the girls, you know, from Bennett or A&T or anything like that. And there were opportunities-Well, we did things off-campus. You were 28:00talking about-I guess, in particular, you were talking about the school, but then off-campus-I mean, the guy I was dating and I, we would go to the movies off-campus, and then at the school itself, see the Performing Arts Society. There was always something going on there; I would attend that, you know, go to those.
HT: A lot of concerts and that sort of thing.
PP: A lot of concerts and lectures and dance troops, and then we had theswimming team. I'd always go to their performance, and what were they called, the Dolphins? What were they called?
HT: That sounds right: the Dolphins.
PP: It was something like that. They were very good. They did synchronizedswimming, and they were excellent. And then we had the concerts at Christmastime. And one of my girls-a girl in my class, Suezette Brown Roney who you already interviewed-She was an excellent vocalist, and she always sang in the choir. She participated in choirs and she had a wonderful voice and we would always say, Oh yes, Suezette, you did a great job tonight, you know. You sang very nice tonight. So we'd do that. But there weren't a lot of social things-a 29:00lot of social, I guess, activities, but what one-which ones were there; what they did have, I would sort of-I would participate in them. I remember when the Beatles were on TV for the first time, and they did a big thing in Elliott Hall with the TVs, and everybody going over to Elliott Hall to see the Beatles sing on TV.
HT: That must have been on the Ed Sullivan Show probably.
PP: It may have been that; it may have been just that but I-you know, youremember that. And they were limited, but I think you make the most of it, and I didn't feel that limited because I was always doing something on the weekend. I was always at the movies, or like my boyfriend-We would go down to the Hot Shoppes or to Tony's Pizza for pizza, and what have you. And then his parents lived in that area so I would go to church with them on Sundays so it seemed- 30:00
HT: Sounds like you were very busy.
PP: I was busy, yes; it was okay with me, you know; that was okay.
HT: Well, were you able to get involved with any kind of extracurricularactivities on campus, like, you mentioned swimming earlier, maybe physical education-anything to do with physical education or anything like that.
PP: No, I didn't participate in any extracurricular activities.
HT: No theater, dance.
PP: No, I really didn't. No. Anything, any extracurricular activities, I didn'tparticipate in. The only thing I did-I don't know how extracurricular it was-but I did help one of the professors, who is Dr. [William E.] Knox [sociology faculty]-I think he may have been Mr. I think this was before his dissertation. I helped him with his research. I would-He had me to help him with, I guess the data collection, and that was the biggest thing I got involved in, you know. I 31:00helped him.
HT: Was that a paid job?
PP: I'm trying to think: did he pay me for that? He may have; he probably did. Ican't remember. But there was another professor, I babysat his child all the time. [unclear] That was, let's see; it was Fred Chappell [English faculty]. Fred, yes.
HT: Oh, I know-
PP: He had a son named Keith. His son is Keith Chappell. That was a paying job.He would pay me for that because he and his wife could go out and I would-I used to babysit his son, Keith, all the time.
HT: He's quite famous, you know.
PP: Yes, he was the poet laureate.
HT: He was poet laureate of North Carolina and has written tons of books, andthings like that.
PP: His son was Keith, and I would babysit for him. But in terms of the otheractivities there, no, I really didn't participate. There was nothing that really appealed to me to participate in. I didn't really swim that well. I mean I could swim. I didn't sing; I didn't really dance, and there was nothing really, no. But it was all about, you know, getting that degree and going out with your 32:00boyfriend every weekend.
HT: You did it in three years which is remarkable.
PP: And I did it in three years, yes. I graduated and when I started teaching, Iwas nineteen. The superintendent-The principal of the school even asked the superintendent, Is she too young? Can I hire her? I really want to hire her this lady. He said, Well, does she have a certificate from North Carolina, and what they call an "A" certificate, you know. They gave me. He said, "Yes, she has a teacher's certificate. She has an A certificate." He said, "We have to hire her. She's just young."
HT: Oh, my goodness. What do you recall about campus traditions like Rat Day andJacket Day and Ring Day and things like that.
PP: Jacket Day, I remember that vividly, putting on that jacket and walking downthe-ours was burgundy-and walking across campus; that was very vivid. I remember 33:00that. It was a good tradition. I didn't participate in-I can't remember Rat Day, what that was even all about.
HT: It was sort of a hazing process involving the sophomores and the freshmen,the incoming freshmen. The incoming freshmen had to wear little rat ears and do all kinds of silly things on behest of the sophomores.
PP: No, I can't remember that, no. I can't remember doing that. And Ring Day,I'm trying to remember. Did I get-I'm pretty sure it was a black-Was it the black onyx? I did get the ring, and I'm trying to remember what was significant about that. Was it just the fact that we got our rings? Did we do something with them? Did we show them? I can't really remember. Now Jacket Day; that's the good one; the other one, no.
HT: Well, what was the political atmosphere like on campus in the 1960s? Now the34:00Greensboro Sit-ins at Woolworths had taken place prior to you coming there, and, of course, there were protests a little bit later on in the late '60s, so you might have been right in between. But I think there were some protests on Tate Street in 1963, but that might have been before you got there. They were trying to integrate places like The Corner, and other restaurants.
PP: The Apple House, probably.
HT: The Apple House, and places like that on Tate Street. It might have takenplace in the spring of '63; I can't remember right now.
PP: I think it did because when we arrived, supposedly those places wereintegrated. I did have an experience of going to the Apple House one night with a friend of mine who was Caucasian, and then the waitress said, "Oh, I'm [not] going to serve her." And that was me, and the young lady said, "What?" So we walked and she said, "We're going to tell Chancellor Singletary about this." I remember she and I went to talk with Chancellor Singletary, and he said, "Well, all of my students are to be served." And I think he told them, You serve all of 35:00my students down at the Apple House. So that was still only-That was blatant discrimination I had down on The Corner in the university, but then I went back other times and it was no issue. But I just remember that particular waitress. But-And you're right. It was a little quieter because the Sit-ins had happened at A&T, and there weren't any protests that I can recall during my three years there. There were no-I can't remember any sit-ins; there was no protesting downtown. I can't recall any. We were in sort of-
HT: It was kind of a lull period in between the-
PP: It was a little lull; absolutely.
HT: You spoke about Chancellor Singletary a minute ago. So you actually met him.
PP: Yes, it was with-and I can't remember the young lady's name. She really-It36:00was in-It must have been in the fall of '63, and she was sort of an activist, and we became friendly, and she said, "Well, we're going to talk with Chancellor Singletary." Some kind of way she got us an audience with Chancellor Singletary, and she was reiterating this, what happened. Actually I'm sure it was Singletary. I'm trying to think, was it Ferguson or Singletary, but I just remember going with her to the office, and I think-I'm fairly sure it was Singletary.
HT: It probably was because I think Ferguson didn't come until a bit later than that.
PP: Yes, I'm pretty sure it was Singletary; I'm pretty sure it was he.
HT: Of course there were so many changes there because Singletary left after afairly short period of time, and went on to start the Job Corps here in Washington, DC. It was something like that, and then Chancellor Ferguson came in after him. As a matter of fact, one of the questions was what do you remember about Chancellor Singletary and Ferguson.
PP: Ferguson, no, it was Singletary.37:00
HT: Well, do you have any recollection about Vice Chancellor Mereb Mossman?
PP: I remember her, I think, at maybe one of the assemblies or something in theauditorium, but never any direct contact with her. Excuse me.
HT: And how about Dean of Students Katherine Taylor?
PP: No, I just know the name, but never direct contact with Katherine Taylor.
HT: And how about Alumni Secretary Barbara Parrish?
PP: No, I can't recall any conversation with her.
HT: Well, tell me something about your teachers. You mentioned a couple already.Did you have Fred Chappell as an instructor?
PP: I did. That's how we met. He was my English teacher. I always liked himbecause he was so laid back and so different. I just liked him. It was like 38:00everyone else with the suit and tie, and he was very casually dressed. I liked him very much. I liked his style of teaching. He was very interesting. And the other teachers that I remember were, of course Mr. Knox who I mentioned doing some of-It was like running numbers on a computer for him. Whatever I did was like-It was a computer, not the big-It was a calculator; maybe it was a calculator, but whatever. I remember running the numbers for him, and he was my sociology professor. And then a Mr. [Donald F.] Allen [sociology], and Harriet Kupferer [sociology]. I can't remember-I think it was-What was Knox's first name? Was it Richard Knox? But Knox, Allen, Kupferer, Chappell.
HT: How do you spell that?
PP: Kupferer was K-U-P-F-E-R-E-R. Kupferer. They were all sociology. These wereall three sociology people in the sociology department. Allen, Knox, Kupferer. 39:00Chappell was English. Those are the only ones I really, sort of, really remember. Now I had one professor-and the only time I experienced what I considered was-I wouldn't say blatant discrimination or someone, a professor who was not really-What can I say; I'm trying to think of the best word to use. But I was in a health class and we were talking about venereal diseases, and I was the only African American in that class-well, in all of my classes. I didn't even have another African American in my class until my last year of college. I was the only one in all of my classes. And so in this particular class, we were talking about venereal diseases, and she said, "Now venereal diseases, now you know, they are carried by your nigras." That's just what she said, in class. She said, "They are carried by your nigras." And you learned to keep a poker face. I 40:00didn't say anything; I didn't raise my-or say anything. I just sat there, you know, taking the notes and just looked, and then some other girls turned around, and looked. You know, there were looks. I guess to see how you were taking that comment. But she looked at me; I remember that. When she said it, she looked at me. And she looked at me; she didn't stay there long, but she did look at me. And I said, "Oh, okay." But that's something I'll always remember.
HT: Was her name White, by any chance?
PP: That was [A. Madeleine] McCain [health faculty].
PP: Her name was McCain, M-C-C-A-I-N. She was Dr. McCain, yes. And it's carriedby your nigras. Yes, I'm pretty sure that was McCain.
HT: And of course, you probably didn't say anything. You were-
PP: Oh no, I didn't say anything. And then we-only thing, no. And I never reallyhad the need to really say anything for some reason. The kids today would say, "Oh, I wouldn't let anybody say that to me." I would have said something, but I didn't intend to say anything. I didn't raise- and say, No, that's true. And 41:00whatever. But even what she said; it wasn't "colored," it wasn't "Negro," it was "nigras" and it was the way she-and that was what she grew up with. I'm sure it was Miss McCain, health teacher, yes. I know she's in glory now because she was older then. So she was this representative, you know, of her time.
HT: Oh, gosh. Did you ever have Randall Jarrell for any of your classes? He wasa very famous poet.
PP: Yes, he was. No, I didn't, didn't have him, no. But he was. I rememberRandall Jarrell.
HT: So you were familiar with him.
PP: Oh, I'm familiar with him. Absolutely. Absolutely. But I didn't have him fora class. I definitely remember Randall Jarrell.
HT: How about Richard Bardolph in history.
PP: I didn't have Richard, but he was notorious. We knew that name. He was onewe- I definitely know that name. Know that name but didn't have him.
HT: I've heard some negative things about him; that some people said they-of42:00African American students-said that they would try to avoid his class because he was not always fair, and then I've heard other people say just the opposite so-
PP: I never had him but I remember, yes. Yes, I remember him.
HT: I think you said that your favorite teacher was probably Fred Chappell.
PP: Fred Chappell, right. Oh, absolutely. And of course Knox and Allen wereclose ties, but Fred Chappell, I'd have to say he was my favorite. And I guess because I got to know him, too, as a babysitter for him, and he was just always so genuine to me. I mean, to me he was someone who-To me, he didn't see race; he didn't see ethnicity. He saw people. You know, he just saw you as a person, and he was just a nice gentle soul, you know.
HT: Have you read any of his material since-
PP: You know, I have not. I know he became poet laureate of North Carolina, but43:00I really haven't read a lot of his material.
HT: I haven't either.
PP: But I understand that he is quite a prolific writer, quite prolific.
HT: I think he helped start the master of fine arts and the creative writing at UNCG.
PP: Okay, yes.
HT: Because that's a very well-known program.
PP: Yes, and then some students from UNCG, they were in the paper. They designedor decorated this home here in the Washington area. They talked about the winning team was from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I read in the real estate section. Oh, go on, UNCG.
HT: Well, after you graduated from UNCG, you said you taught. How long did you teach?
PP: Actually I taught two years in North Carolina, a high school teacher atNakina High School, and during my tenure there, I was the only African American 44:00teacher at that school.
HT: And where is that?
PP: And that is in Columbus County, North Carolina. Then I married my collegesweetheart in 1968. We moved to the Washington area, to this area, and I taught elementary school. I did not have a license to teach in the elementary school, but I taught elementary school from 1968 to 1974. And then in 1974 through 1985, I taught special education. I was a special education teacher.
HT: All here in D.C.
PP: All this was in DC public schools, except for those two years in NorthCarolina. So I was a special education teacher. Then in 1985, until I retired from D.C. public schools in 1998, I became a school officer, and I did 45:00administrative. I was in administration; I was a program monitor in special ed, staff development coordinator for the system, coordinator of credentialing, so I did mostly administrative things there. But also during that time in D.C. public school, I also began working as an adjunct instructor at three universities here in the area. So I worked at Trinity University, George Mason University-that was in collaboration with a program in D.C. public schools, training bilingual special ed teachers-and then at UDC [University of the District of Columbia] so actually I began working as an adjunct in 1986, and I really did that until I retired from D.C. in 1988. Then after I retired from D.C. I went to work at 46:00Trinity College fulltime. And so I worked at Trinity College as their director of special education, and I worked as the assistant dean of the school of education, so I worked there. And then after I left Trinity College, I now work with the Maryland State Department of Education with their juvenile-what they call Juvenile Services Education, so now I'm employed with them. So I'm still working. I've been retired but rehired again.
HT: Can't keep a good person down, as they say. Well, which job did you enjoythe most?
PP: Well, all of them were just-Each of them had their own successes. I enjoyedteaching; I love working with youth. I love working with children, and I guess it's like I've come full circle because I'm doing that again. So I love working with children. To that end, I missed that when I was in administration-when I 47:00was not working with them-but then in administration, I learned a lot about the workings of a system. And the same thing at the university: I learned a lot about how universities operate and all, and that was very enlightening as well so I can't say I like one better than the other. They were equally challenging, and I guess this life-. At that point in my life, I liked what I was doing, you know. Alright, this is best; I've got to leave this for that. No. At each point, I enjoyed the moment. Let's put it that way. At each point in my life, I just said, "Enjoy this time of your life. If must be done, it must be fun." That was my mantra. So make it fun.
HT: Well, have you been involved with UNCG since you graduated?
PP: I'm a life member of the Alumni Association. I did that several years ago.48:00I've been a life member for a long time. I'm a life member; I have a brick on the graduate walk, that little walk down by-in the little park; you know the-
HT: Yes, Foust Park.
PP: Yes, I have a little brick there. I went to see it this last-not too longago, I saw my little brick. I have participated-I have attended, should I say, several activities in this area, off and on throughout the years.
HT: I think the chancellor was up in-
PP: McLean, in April.
HT: Did you ever-
PP: I met her, yes. But she was here again in April.
HT: Okay, I didn't know that.
PP: She came-she met-She was at a family's home in McLean, Virginia. I did getthe invitation but I didn't-I was unable-It was six o'clock; where I work, there's no way in the world I could get across the beltway to McLean, Virginia, at six o'clock. I just knew that was just-I couldn't do that. I could have taken a leave or something, but I said no. And it was a busy time, but I understand it was very nice. My girlfriend e-mailed me, who went, and said it was very nice. 49:00But she was here about this time last year at Fort DuPont-I mean, at DuPont Circle Hotel. And Linda [Burr] was there with her, and Kevin Williamson was there. That was a very-a very enjoyable tea. It was very nice: wine and cheese. And then she came again at Suezette's house. Suezette had a gathering at her house so we were there for that. And so I've attended various functions here in this area, and then several of us went back for our twenty-fifth reunion. See, although I graduated in '66, everyone has me down for the Class of '66; my allegiance is to the Class of '67. That's the class I had started but, or course, I'm in the Class of '66 so what would have been the twenty-fifth reunion for the Class of '67, one-half; fifty percent of the class, of the African 50:00American girls went down. And we participated in that activity, which was wonderful.
HT: So you have a big fiftieth coming up in a couple of years.
PP: My gosh. Oh, my gosh. I can't believe it; I'm just so excited, and I have myfiftieth high school reunion this month. In two weeks, I'm going down to Leland, North Carolina for that high school, so I'm really excited about that. But then we went, you know, we went down for that twenty-fifth reunion, and did that. And I've been back to campus a couple of times. I was there in October actually; I went on campus. My husband and I were really at Chapel Hill. It was during their weekend at Chapel Hill, their what-their Alumni Weekend, Homecoming, and so we drove to Greensboro for a day, and I walked around campus, met some of the students, went in Coit Hall to see how it was renovated.
HT: They did a fantastic job.
PP: They did a great job there, so I went to Coit, and, of course, went to see51:00my little brick on the Graduate Walk, and I said, Let me walk to this; let me see that. I've never seen it; they sent me a picture, but I've never seen the actual walk. I walked there, and went in the new, I guess, student center. And, of course, I'm really involved in terms of the young ladies who were there, because we have all become best friends. Although we were there-particularly the Class of 1967-we see each other all the time. So that really, I guess, is a part of that involvement. I mean two of the girls are my children's godmother. Jeanne Luther is my oldest daughter's godmother. Willene Carr is my youngest daughter's godmother. I'm godmother to Emma [Hairston] Belle's [Class of 1966] daughter, Wanda. And so all of us have kept in contact with each other. Sara-that's what I said, Sara's not there, but she was-I mean I've been in contact with her 52:00throughout the years. She was president of the Deltas in Delaware in Wilmington where she is. She invited my husband and me to all of her activities up there. I visited with her. Jackie Sparkman [Class of 1967]: I'm in contact with Jackie, and Jackie had a home on Cape May [New Jersey] and we'd go and visit Cape May and with Jackie. Suezette: went to her son's wedding, you know. And I go to her church periodically; to Suezette's church right here in Maryland. Ruth [Lawhorn, Class of 1967] belongs here to Alfred Street [Baptist Church], because I told her, hey-She met the church through me, but now she's a member here. I mean, she-I guess it, well, because I was here. So I'm really in contact because of the friendships that were established at UNCG, and not just the girls in that Class of '67, but even some of the young ladies-now there weren't that many-who 53:00were in the classes [unclear]. I mean, when Francine McAdoo [Scott, Class of 1964] was in Chicago, I visited with Francine. She was Director of the of Commerce at that time, and she and I visited with each other. Sina McGimpsey Reid [Class of 1965]: I've been in contact with her and visited her home and we've had gatherings at Sina's home. Emma Belle, you know, as I said, we're still good friends, and we see each other often so I've gained life-long friendships from being at UNCG.
HT: That's wonderful.
PP: Yes, we have maintained those friendships. I'm in contact-There's noone-I've been in contact with every girl in the class of '67. And with Margaret Pope, like I said, in Birmingham, I've visited her in Birmingham. Her birthday is this month as a matter of fact, May 20, and I have pictures of her with my 54:00children and her children. We've-I've kept in contact with a lot of them. Like I said, I was sort of like the little social butterfly. I was a friendly person. I got that from my parents. And so they would always say, Well, Poinsettia, you're the one that keeps us together because we know where people-We want to find out where somebody, we ask you, Where are they? and you would tell us.
HT: Oh, my gosh. Well, what do you want people to know about your time atWoman's College and UNCG?
PP: It was a good experience for me, I mean there were times, as I mentioned-thehealth teacher and what she said-but overall, when I think about my experience, I learned a lot. I felt the education was an excellent education at UNCG. It was an excellent education.
HT: Do you think it opened some doors for you?
PP: It did in a way. You know what, I think it-Oh, let me tell my door, too,55:00what happened, too, when I was a student there, talking about doors. I went downtown in Greensboro my freshman year, and I wanted-There were two stores, three of them, I can't remember the other one. Definitely Thalhimer's and a store named Prago-Guyes, and at that time, because I was dating I would have to get nice little things to wear, nice little outfits, and I asked for a credit card, a credit account. There wasn't any credit card then, it must have been just a charge account at the store. So I told them I wanted a-And I was young; I was only seventeen or eighteen, and I told them, I said, Yes, I go to Woman's College, and the manager said, "We're going to give you one then." I don't know if I would have gotten it if I had not been a student, if I were a student-I'm not sure. But if I were a student at A&T or Bennett, I'm not too sure, but just the fact that I was a student at Woman's College and I was black. He probably 56:00said, "Well, you know, black kids have got to be smart to go to Woman's College." I got charge accounts.
HT: That's amazing at age seventeen.
PP: I was-I got charge accounts, and what happened when I got married-Whathappened later when I got married, they put them in my husband's name. I'll never forget that. Some kind of way, I told them I was a Peterson then, and I think they came to my husband. I sure did. I had charge accounts at Thalhimers, Prago-Guyes, and there was another store. I can't remember that.
HT: Let's see, there was a Belk's downtown.
PP: It wasn't Belk's; I didn't have one at Belks.
HT: Montaldo's, which was a very, very expensive store .
PP: It may have been this store, Montaldo's, yes. I'm not sure it was [unclear]another one. But definitely Thalhimer's and Prago-Guyes; those two I remember. And then another thing that happened, too, when I went to Trinity College-It was a blurb. I still have it at home in the alumni magazine when they announced-how they announced who's coming on board at the university, and the blurb stated: 57:00And she's a graduate of a woman's college, at that. Because see, the female-The college-The undergrad is all female, and the graduate part, the graduate school, is coed. And in the blurb it mentions that, that I was a graduate of a woman's college. So I think maybe, it opened, you know, may have opened some doors, but I think primarily I think we, as a person, I just tried to always do the best that I could do with every situation, every turn, every career what-have-you, because there were some instances when I'm not sure they even asked where you were-I mean, they asked where you went to school, but I'm not sure that it meant anything to them at all. I think it did at Nakina, my first job there. When I got that job teaching, I think that-It was like, You went to UNCG. Yes. I'm sure 58:00you must be a good teacher; you're okay. So I think there, there were no questions asked. They felt that I was very competent because North Carolina knew about their young graduates, but once I left there, came to D.C. and applied for my teaching credential, I think I was just in the pool with everybody else. It didn't make any difference where you went to school.
HT: Well, by that time, you had already filled your resume out a little bit, sothat helped I am sure.
PP: That helped out, sure, but I think my first job, definitely because I wentfor an interview with the principal and he was on the phone, immediately, Oh, I want you in this school. I mean, really, I want to hire you. And so there was no hesitation about his hiring me for that and everything. But it was a good experience. It was a good-And I think just the fact that, you know, we have-I have these lifelong friends and we have the commonality of UNCG, talking about those days, and the academics, and you know. Actually, I just think that I 59:00wouldn't trade it; I would never trade it. I wouldn't trade-I can't think of any university I would say, Oh, I wish I had gone there.
HT: So, no regrets of not going to a historically black school at all.
PP: Oh, not at all. Oh, absolutely, no. No regrets at all, because then I'veheard some stories about historically black schools, you know; I mean in terms of-I've heard people who said that the times they've had, they were not good times. They were African American students, you know, at those schools. So I have absolutely no regrets. I mean, we didn't have the sororities, but I don't miss that. I don't belong to one now. It's just never been a part of me, and then to say, I need to join a sorority, no. Now they have I think the Deltas [Delta Sigma Theta sorority] and the AKAs [Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority] on campus, and a lot of-I know a lot of black folk are really into their sororities and their fraternities, but it's just something that I never-It's never really 60:00appealed to me that much. And I guess if my parents had been in sororities, and they were always invited to participate, my mother and my daddy. He used to go to smokers and they [unclear] but they were more involved in the church work than, and the community than in sororities. So it was never really a part of my life. It was just never something that I gravitated toward. Even here, at this church a lot of-. They dress up and go here and, you know, the AKAs and the Deltas and what have you, and they're very happy. A lot of friends are in sororities, but no, I don't miss it. And it was never something that you really gravitated-
HT: Well, what long-term impact do you think it had on you by attending Woman'sCollege and graduating from UNCG?
PP: Again, as I said, I think-Well, the academics, I always think that I learned61:00a lot at the school. I learned how to study-eventually. I had to really do that. How to get along with multiple people, diverse people, various races and ethnicities and being able to really look at people as people, you know. It's just like once you participate in multi-cultural activities, people are really people. You don't see races anymore. I mean, it happens, but I just think of people as people, and then the life-long friends that I have, that I met through the university there and everything. So I just think that it was a good choice; it was my only-the only school to which I applied but I think it was a very-It was a good-
HT: It was meant to be.62:00
PP: It was meant to be. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed my time there. I don't have any regrets.
HT: And you never thought about transferring to Chapel Hill after two years.
PP: No, I didn't because I graduated in three years, and that may havecomplicated my trajectory. Yes, so I never really thought about it because I did get those twelve hours that summer, and then by the, what would have been my sophomore year, by the second semester I was already a junior then, so it was like, Oh, no. Let me stay where I am and finish, stay on course so I can finish. But now I still have so many friends from Chapel Hill that I met; the guys, of course they were guys, and I'm still a part of their little thing because there weren't many black guys at Chapel Hill. I think my husband was in a class of five, four or five, African Americans. And so he's a part of that black pioneer group at Chapel Hill, and we go down every November for that event, and when 63:00they take pictures, they would say, Oh, come on Poinsettia, you're one of us. You're one of us; you were here with us.
HT: Do you by any chance know Karen Parker?
PP: Oh, absolutely. Karen-My Christmas card from her this time had some picturesof us together. Yes, I know Karen because she's active in the Black [Pioneers]-She transferred over.
HT: She did transfer, yes.
PP: And so she's active with this.
HT: I think she's the first black female to graduate from Chapel Hill.
PP: Yes, she and my husband are from the same class, class of 1965.
HT: One of my colleagues just interviewed her, I think it was last fallsometime, and she actually came to the Reunion over at the school last month, and talked at the Interactive Session that we had.
PP: Oh, good. Karen did come.
HT: She did come, and Suezette Roney and her husband came.
PP: And Jackie Sparkman.
HT: And Jackie Sparkman. I interviewed her the next day, so I met quite a few.And of course, JoAnne Smart Drane [Class of 1960] was there again. Have you ever met JoAnne Smart?
PP: No, but the irony is that JoAnne is a very good friend of my first64:00supervisor in D.C. public schools. She's from D.C., Maureen Thomas, because when I told her where I went to college, she said, Oh, do you know JoAnne Smart Drane? She said, I'm a good friend of hers. She was among the first, Peterson. I said, I never met her but I feel like I've known her because she, Maureen would visit them. She lived in Raleigh at one time. Didn't she live in Raleigh?
HT: She still does.
PP: Maureen and her husband, Charles, would visit JoAnne and her husband inRaleigh, and vice versa. But over the years I've never met her, just the fact that Maureen Thomas always talked about her being such a good friend of hers.
HT: She's a wonderful person; she really is.
PP: Yes, being a good friend of hers. Well, yes, Karen and I see each otherevery November.
HT: Well, I don't have any more formal questions. Is there anything else thatyou'd like to add to the interview that we haven't covered this afternoon. We've covered quite a bit of things.
PP: I think, yes. Because I was looking at the information that you sent and I65:00think we've covered everything. I'm just trying to-Yes, we mentioned the Elliott Hall Ball, and yes. I think we've covered just about everything that I would think of.
HT: Well, thank you so much for meeting me this afternoon. It's been wonderfultalking to you, and meeting you, and-
PP: Oh, absolutely.
HT: It's just great.
PP: Thank you, I just appreciate the opportunity to do it because I told Karen,No, I've got to do that, and I've been planning on doing it but I, and I'm just really glad that you've been here.
HT: That it's finally happened.
PP: That you've been here and it's happened and you've just been a good advocatein saying, Come on, let's get this done. Let's talk about this and everything.
HT: Okay, thanks again.66:00