Transcript Index
Search This Index
Go X

0:00 - Interview introduction

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Parrish Library of the Alumni House at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with Mrs. Alice Barnes Freeman, Class of 1968.

Segment Synopsis: Interviewer states name and location and purpose for conducting the interview

0:36 - Interviewee personal and family background

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: I'm a baby boomer. I was born November 11, 1946, in Wilson County

Segment Synopsis: Interviewee Freeman describes her childhood on the farm with her large family and her mother's insistence on education

2:21 - Location of home

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: I grew up out in the country. We were so far back in the woods,

Segment Synopsis: Freeman describes how to get to her childhood home to emphasize its location in the country

3:04 - Work in the field

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: We raised tobacco, corn, and cotton. And we worked it.

Segment Synopsis: Freeman talks about the work that she and her family used to do on the field they lived on

3:41 - Mother's career

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: My mother was a very accomplished seamstress

Segment Synopsis: Freeman describes how her mother was able to pay for her sister's college fees through her seamstress job

4:28 - Frederick Douglass High School

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: I went all twelve years at one school from grade one through grade twelve at the very same school

Segment Synopsis: Freeman lists famous people who also attended Frederick Douglass High School, the school that she graduated from before attending UNCG

5:45 - Initial interest in UNCG

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: When I was in the eighth grade, one of my sisters went to A&T State University

Segment Synopsis: Freeman recalls her first introduction to UNCG through her sister and her decision at a young age to attend the school

7:04 - Initial transition to UNCG

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: So, I came to UNCG. I think maybe it had changed the name the year before or whatever.

Segment Synopsis: Freeman remembers leaving an all black high school to attend UNCG. She recalls only twenty-one black students out of a class of 1,375 students in her year.

8:18 - Supportive family tradition and siblings' education

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: And so my folks sacrificed to try to get me in. I do remember tuition for the year was $849

Segment Synopsis: In Freeman's family there was a tradition that the sibling that had most recently graduated college would pay for the sister most recently enrolled in college.

9:53 - 4-H and dorm life

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Anyway, I did come to orientation and I was assigned a roommate

Segment Synopsis: Freeman recalls her participation in 4-H as a young woman. She remembers how roommates were assigned and changed.

12:05 - Hinshaw Hall song

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: I was in Hinshaw. I even remember the song

Segment Synopsis: Freeman sings the unofficial song of Hinshaw Residence Hall

13:20 - Language classes

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: . I was not a super student. I made C's and B’s

Segment Synopsis: Freeman talks about her troubles with classes, particularly French class and her difficulty hearing the instructor.

14:26 - Drama instructors

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: I was a drama major. I came to UNCG in 1964 as a drama major.

Segment Synopsis: Freeman briefly recalls the instructors in the drama department at UNCG. She remembers which professors she had and who she worked with for work study.

16:39 - Burlington beauty pageant

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: I developed some really good relationships, friendships with some of the drama kids.

Segment Synopsis: Freeman talks about a trip she took to Burlington with her friends that ended abruptly due to openly stated racist comments in a restaurant.

21:16 - Social life and dating at UNCG

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Social life here was pretty much non-existent here for me.

Segment Synopsis: Freeman talks about what her social life was like as a black woman on a majority white campus.

24:45 - Stereotypes in the drama department

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: One of the things, I loved theater. But I don't sing.

Segment Synopsis: Freeman tells the story of how the drama department faculty assumed that she could sing because she was black and attempted to cast her as a singing character in the department musical.

28:24 - Summer stock

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: After graduation, I went to Cape Cod and I did summer stock at Cape Cod.

Segment Synopsis: Freeman went to summer stock in Cape Cod after her graduation and left in the middle of the season to get married.

32:01 - Career changes

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: I thought that if I was going to go home I need a job

Segment Synopsis: Freeman reflects on her return to North Carolina after summer stock, getting married, and her career changes.

38:32 - Lessons from UNCG

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: And UNCG taught me a lot about life. And about adversity

Segment Synopsis: Freeman discusses how her time at UNCG has helped her deal with life as an adult.

41:40 - Student relationships with teachers

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: There were some students who had nothing to with us. But there were students who were also very, very friendly.

Segment Synopsis: Freeman talks about how she didn't really have any close relationships with her instructors.

45:59 - Summer orientation

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: I know you mentioned when you came in the summer for the orientation?

Segment Synopsis: Freeman talks about her orientation when she began university, the different residence halls, and how good the food was.

48:59 - Roommate changes

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: And, remember I had that roommate for orientation

Segment Synopsis: Freeman remembers her different roommates during her time at UNCG.

50:31 - Friendships and lasting relationships

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: And we were there. Cassandra and I were there for three years.

Segment Synopsis: Freeman describes her friends and roommates and the lasting friendships she gained from UNCG. She also talks about how she still gets together with many of the African American students.

52:35 - Fun in the dorms

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: So would ya'll, I guess when you were not studying or in class, would you, maybe would you go to each other's dorms and just play cards?

Segment Synopsis: When the students were not studying or in class, they would visit each other's rooms,play cards, and watch tv.

55:39 - Transition from high school to UNCG

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Okay, and so you came to the university. I'm going through my list of questions.

Segment Synopsis: Freeman talks about the differences between high school and college academics and her own study habits

58:15 - Initial interest in drama

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: So, I know you briefly touched on being a drama major

Segment Synopsis: A description of the academic and church activities that led Freeman to have an interest in drama.

62:24 - Theater and other extracurricular activities

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: So, as part of theater, I was reading through some of the other interviews

Segment Synopsis: Freeman responds to questions about her own play and the extra curricular activities she was involved with

65:34 - Transition from Woman's College to UNCG

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Okay. I do want to ask. So I know, your freshman year when you came

Segment Synopsis: Freeman talked about the campus without males.

70:09 - Neo-Black Society and Civil Rights Movement

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Okay, so it was mostly the African American students who came in after '67/'68

Segment Synopsis: Freeman describes the atmosphere of the campus during the Civil Rights Movement.

71:29 - Ending comments

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: I understand. We already talked about what you did after graduation

Segment Synopsis: A few final comments concluding the interview

72:37 - Interview conclusion

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Okay. Well, Mrs. Freeman thank you so very much for your time this morning

Segment Synopsis: The interviewer ends the interview and turns off the recorder.


LW: Today is Wednesday, June 3, 2015. My name is Lisa Withers and I am in the Parrish Library of the Alumni House at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with Mrs. Alice Barnes Freeman, Class of 1968. We are here today to conduct an oral history interview for the African American Institutional Memory Project. Thank you Mrs. Freeman for participating in this project and for sharing with me your experiences today. I'd like to start the interview by asking about your background, if you would be willing to share when and where you were born.

AF: I'm a baby boomer. I was born November 11, 1946, in Wilson County, North Carolina. I am the daughter of sharecroppers. My dad only got to the fifth grade and my mom only got to the ninth grade. But my mom was obsessed with education 1:00and wanting her children to go to college. I have four sisters so there were five girls. No boys in my family. Growing up on the farm that meant that we did the work as well. My dad and his brother always farmed together and my dad's brother had five girls. So there are ten of us, ten girls. No boys. And each time one had a child, the other had one within a year or so of each other. So I grew up in what I call a big family. Of the ten girls, nine of them went to 2:00college. One did not go because she was challenged and so she was not able to go to college. I grew up out in the country. We were so far back in the woods, that it was twelve o'clock before the sun could get back there. You turned off of [Highway] 301, US [Highway] 301, a major highway, even back in the forties and fifties. But it was a two lane highway at that time. You turned off of 301 onto 3:00a paved road. You turned off the paved road onto the dirt road. You turned off the dirt road onto the dirt path and then you turned off the path to get into our yard. That's how far back in the woods we were. We raised tobacco, corn, and cotton. And we worked it. And of course for the tobacco we needed to have croppers or primers in the field but for some reason with ten girls it was never ever a shortage of guys who wanted to work. So, we chopped cotton and picked cotton and chopped corn and did all of those things but they never, never made us stay out of school to do any work. My mother was a very accomplished seamstress and as such she made dresses for rich white women for $2.00 a dress. Now a suit was $4.00. I remember the ladies coming to the house and changing and 4:00trying on the dresses to make sure that they want to pin them and got them so that they fitted perfectly. And it was by her making these dresses for $2.00 a piece that she was able to send my older sister to college. And that's how we got started. I went all twelve years at one school from grade one through grade twelve at the very same school. It was called Frederick Douglass High School in Elm City, North Carolina.

LW: Was that Elm like the tree?

AF: Elm like the tree.

LW: Okay, E-l-m.

AF: E-l-m. Elm City, North Carolina. We produced some pretty famous people. 5:00Harvey Reed, the basketball coach. Willie Cooper, the first African American to play for Dean Smith [Head men's basketball coach at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina]. Charlie Scott got all the highlights but Willie was the first player. He was not a scholarship player because he decided not to accept the scholarship but choose a veteran scholarship instead because of all the uncertainties about playing ball. So that little high school has produced some pretty big folks. Not just in sports but in, a lot of folks have gone on do to PhD's and medical doctors and then just people who contributed to society by being good citizens. I graduated from 6:00there. When I was in the eighth grade, one of my sisters went to A&T State University [North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina] to get her Master's. And while she was in Greensboro, she had some connection or met some people or heard about Woman's College [The Woman's College of the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, North Carolina]. And she came home and said to me, while I was in the eighth grade, I found the perfect school for you. I just idolized her. Her name was Verona. Is Verona. Verona B. Truth who actually is an actress and was in The Great White Hope on Broadway for a year and half when it was at its height. And, so I just knew from the eighth grade that I was coming to Woman's College. I only applied to two schools: Woman's College, which was the year that they changed the name to The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and I applied to Carolina [The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina]. But Carolina did not accept women at that time unless you 7:00were a nursing student or a transfer student. So, that was a moot point. So, I came to UNCG. I think maybe it had changed the name the year before or whatever. But I think that was the first year that they let guys in. I came in from an all-black high school, an all-black high school into this university. There were, if I recall correctly, there were 1,375 kids in that first class and there were twenty-one of us, twenty-one Blacks. Almost 1,400 students and twenty-one 8:00of us were Black. You've probably heard this before but in our dorm. I came to an orientation that summer. A two or three week orientation for the summer and I needed that because, you know, I came from the sticks, an all-black school, and now I was being thrust into this and I needed a little jump. And so my folks sacrificed to try to get me in. I do remember tuition for the year was $849. And we had this thing in my family. My mom sent the first one. She, that one when she got out, she sent the next one. The next one sent the next one. And the next one sent the next one.

LW: So this was the siblings?

AF: Yes, my sisters would send the next one and then the next one would send the next one to college. And back in those days, the one who supposed. We were four or five years apart. So they were having babies a long time. It was her first 9:00year out of school. She went to Winston-Salem, when it was Winston-Salem Teacher's College [Winston-Salem State University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina]. I had two sisters go to Winston-Salem Teacher's College. One to go to St. Paul's Episcopal [St. Paul's College, Lawrenceville, Virginia]. It is no longer in existence. St. Paul's College in Lawrenceville, Virginia, closed two years ago I think. Anyways, $849 was hard to get in '64 especially for a first year teacher who was only making about $7,000. So we had to pay that in increments, in installments. Four payments I think it was. Anyway, I did come to orientation and I was assigned a roommate who was from Greensboro. As it turns 10:00out, I knew her father because I was really big in 4-H. You know how they say, the book, everything I learned I learned in kindergarten or whatever. Everything I learned, I learned in 4-H. I was a state officer in 4-H and of course the two were separate, the black 4-H and the white 4-H in that day. But we come to A&T for state conference convention. Anyway, I grew up in 4-H and it was really good for me. Got here, got a roommate assigned. We got along marvelously. But she had already had a roommate that she had been in high school with that she was going 11:00to room with for the fall. So they gave me another roommate. Mind you, many of the house matrons or house mothers put little red dots next to our names so that they could make sure to know who the black kids were. And they thought we were so stupid that we didn't know that. Or maybe they just didn't care. Or maybe they were just doing the best they could. I don't know what they were doing. But I think they must have forgotten that at some times when we sat at the desk, when visitors come in and guys would come in and want to see a particular girl, you looked on the roster. Well, you're sitting at the desk and you look at the roster and you see you have these little red dots. And they only put two or four of us in a dorm. Two or four. No more than four in any one dorm. I was in the Quad and I was in Hinshaw [Residence Hall]. But for orientation I was in South. 12:00But then for the start of the school year, the fall semester, I was in Hinshaw. I even remember the song. It's been what. Forty, forty-one years? It's been more than forty-one. What is that? Forty-six years maybe?

LW: Going on.

AF: Forty-six year ago. I'm from Hinshaw Hall so pity me. There's not a man in the vicinity. And every night at twelve they lock the door. I don't know what the hell I ever came here for. And I'm going to pack my bags, Carolina bound. I'm going to turn that damn town upside down. I'm going smoke, drink, neck-peck, what the heck. I'm a Hinshaw girl!


LW: And that was a sanctioned school song?

AF: That was our Hinshaw Hall song.

LW: Okay.

AF: That was for the girls in Hinshaw Hall. That was our fight song.

LW: Wow!

AF: Yeah, so. It's stupid that I would remember such a thing as that, anyway. I was not a super student. I made C's and B's. Oh, oh, I did fail French. Yeah, I failed French. The woman walked in. She was from France. She spoke very, very softly. I couldn't hear her. Never could hear her. She did not speak any English in the classroom. It was just totally different for me. On the placement exam, I placed into intermediate. But when I got in the classroom, I just couldn't hear. 14:00I don't think she was particularly pleased that I was there. She was from France. She was an older woman. A much older woman. And I failed French. And so I had to go to summer school and I took up Spanish. Had a better time with Spanish. I was a drama major. I came to UNCG in 1964 as a drama major. I don't know what the hell my parents were thinking of to let me do that. Who lets a black child go off to a white school in the sixties to be a drama major? What can you do with a drama major? But because my sister had been successful, and I guess she told them it was okay, they let me do it. I took the classes and I had 15:00Kathryn England. She was quite famous here. She, her voice box. She had, I guess, her larynx had been taken out or something. She had one of those speakers, I don't know what you call them, I don't remember. But it was in the early days that you talked like that. She was an instructor.

LW: In the Drama Department?

AF: In the Drama Department.

LW: Okay.

AF: Herman Middleton was the head of the Drama Department. Leslie Branham I 16:00remember was the costume man and he was someone I actually related to and got along quite well with because I also had to work. I had work study. And so I worked in the costume department. He was my boss.

LW: You said the last name was Leslie?

AF: No Leslie was his first name. Last name I think was Branham. I'm not sure. He may be in the yearbook. I don't know. But I think his last name was Branham. I developed some really good relationships, friendships with some of the drama kids. I remember my sophomore year, one of the girls, a drama major, was in the Miss Burlington beauty pageant. And, our little core of friends helped her 17:00prepare with her talent. We helped her with her costume. We just helped her with everything. And so four of us went down to Burlington the night of the pageant. One of the girls drove because I didn't have a car. We walked into the auditorium. I think it must have been at one of the high schools then. It must have held a thousand people or so. I was the only black person there.

LW: In the entire building?

AF: In the entire building. The only one. Well, I'd been somewhat used to being the only one as a drama major. But in a room of about a thousand people. Well, I was okay with that because I was with three other girls. So, after the pageant 18:00we went to the Toddle House in Burlington to get something to eat.

LW: Toddle?

AF: Yea it was called the Toddle House?

LW: Was it T-o-t-t?

AF: I think it was T-o-d-d-l-e, toddle.

LW: Okay, T-o-d-d-l-e.

AF: I think that's what it was, the Toddle House. It's kind of like the Waffle Houses now.

LW: Okay.

AF: We parked and walked in. And when we walked in, I heard things that I had never, never in my life heard. They started openly talking about going coon hunting. The people in the restaurant. They started to say things, derogatory comments, that I had never heard before. We sat down in a booth. And things go 19:00so bad, and so tense, that we got up and literally ran to the car. To get out of there. That was a bad night.

LW: This was, was this restaurant you were at, was it considered to be within the city of Burlington?

AF: Yes, it was within the city.

LW: Okay, it was within the city limits. It wasn't like off the highway.

AF: Oh no, it wasn't out in the sticks or anything. It was, it was in the city of Burlington.

LW: Do you remember about what year this may have been?

AF: [Nineteen] sixty-five or '66. Because the girl we went down for, her name was Hilary Theep.

LW: As in, do you remember her name.

AF: She was from Burlington. Hilary Theep. T-h-e-e-p, I think.

LW: Okay, and she was a student at UNCG?

AF: She was a student here. She was the one we went down for. And Hillary I think was a year behind me so it was either my sophomore or my junior year. So 20:00that was '65 [1965] or '66 [1966] that that happened. It's kinda of a blurr what happened after that, but I think, I think that the main guy who was leading that, whatever it was, was also a candidate for the Grand Dragon [title of a rank within the Ku Klux Klan]. And, I think that was how that was happening. But I can't confirm any of that. And I haven't done the research to see. Because I think there was going to be Grand Dragon election that year and that he was.


LW: And so elections like that, that would have publicly known?

AF: In their circles. I don't, anyway. I just vaguely remember some talk about that. I, but that's so vague and I just try to forget that, anyway. Social life here was pretty much non-existent here for me. I had no social life. The guys at A&T were afraid of us. The guys at Carolina had so many to choose from and they had Bennett [Bennett College, Greensboro, North Carolina] and all the other schools to choose from. And in this, in the sixties we weren't into jungle fever [chuckle]. Or, interracial or whatever.

LW: I gotcha. I understand what you mean.


AF: And so, you know if the black guys didn't ask you out, you just didn't have a date.

LW: And so you didn't go over to A&T. You know like going from UNCG over to A&T to participate in any of their activities or events?

AF: No.

LW: Or Bennett?

AF: No. No. Did not. We only had a few brave souls who would come over. But I really think that some of them may have been a little intimidated. I mean when they come on campus, all they saw were white faces mostly, for the most part. And that was a little intimating too.

LW: To come onto a majority white campus?

AF: To come onto a majority white campus like that. Not sure where you're going, you know. This kind of thing. But yeah, yeah. And then I think that there were 23:00some preconceived ideas about UNCG girls that was not true but I think a lot of them didn't stick around long enough to find out. The underclassmen, when they started to come in, they had much better success than we did. We had to rely on homeboys.

LW: What do you mean by homeboys?

AF: I went to Frederick Douglass, I had one or two classmates, guys, who graduated with me at Frederick Douglass who were at A&T.

LW: Gotcha. Oh, you mean friends from home and things like that.

AF: Friends from home. Our boys from home. They would occasionally come over to see us. And I had one from Carolina who occasionally came. But, that was about 24:00it. I think I may have, in the whole time I was here, I may have gone on five dates. In four years. But that wasn't so bad cause I had a guy back home. So, that was okay. Yea but he had another girl too, so [laughter]. Anyway. Fast forward. I married him. We've been married forty-six years.

LW: Okay

AF: So, it turned out okay. One of the things, I loved theater. But I don't sing. As you heard in the Hinshaw song, I don't sing. And, the big thing here at 25:00UNCG is that they would do a big musical every year. That was their thing. They would do maybe two other plays, three at the most, and then the big musical. And the other plays did not lend themselves to a black character. It wasn't like now a days where they can switch out the role. It may have originally been a white role but they could but a black person in it now a days. They couldn't do that then or didn't do it and they wouldn't do it. I had Kathryn England tell me to my face, "You're good, we just don't have a place for you." And that was my 26:00major. So, my senior year they decided to do, unbeknownst to me, they decided to do The King & I. Thinking this is the perfect spot for Alice. Only they didn't tell me this. They just had auditions and I guess, and I found this out later, that they really were thinking that I could sing. Well, of course, all black people can sing you know [laughter]. I could dance because I was in the dance company. I was in the UNCG dance company with Virginia Moomaw.

LW: Oh, Virginia?

AF: Virginia Moomaw.

LW: Do you know how to spell the last name?

AF: I'm not sure. I think it's M-o-o-m. Moomaw, M-o-o-m-a-u, I think.


LW: Okay.

AF: Virginia Moomaw.

LW: That's a good start. I can try and go look it up. Was she a faculty or instructor?

AF: Yes, she was an instructor here. She was Asian.

LW: Okay, alright.

AF: So I could dance. But I couldn't sing. And I think they had envisioned that I would try out and that they would probably give me the role of the King's wife, which of course, Siam you know the dark color would have been okay. And with the bright lights on stage, you know, it would have been alright. But I didn't get the part. I couldn't sing [laughter]. So, you know, so, but I was in this play. You know I was always a background person. I could be in them as a background person or you know whatever. Got to wear a pretty dress in that one 28:00as one of the wives but then I worked in that department, the costume department. And Mr. Branham made sure I had a nice dress [laughter]. So that was my experience. After graduation, I went to Cape Cod and I did summer stock at Cape Cod.

LW: Summer stock?

AF: Yes. You're not familiar with summer stock?

LW: No ma'am. Could, would you be willing to explain, and this is like Cape Cod in the New England area?

AF: Cape Cod. That's right, New England. Place called Wellfleet [Massachusetts]. They had summer theater.


LW: Fleet as in F-l-e-e-t.

AF: E-e-t.

LW: Okay.

AF: They had summer theater. It's summer theater. You know, it's for the summer. People.

LW: People are vacationing and, okay.

AF: Or they live there for summer. They come from Boston or other places. They like theater so there's a theater on the island there.

LW: Okay, and the theater was called Wellfleet?

AF: I don't remember what the theater was called. That was the little town it was in.

LW: Oh, that was the town. Okay.

AF: Yes, that was the town it was in. It was a little theater and my sister had done. You call it summer stock when you work in the summer like that. And my sister had done that and knew the people quite well and so that's how I got there. And got there and really did a good job and it was successful. They had 30:00written a play and they had already just about cast one of the days who had been there year after year in the role but after I got there and they saw my work they re-casted and I got that role. And I did that. And I guess you know you have some regrets in your life. And I regret the way that I left there. The guy back home kept writing and calling saying come home and marry me. And I think being at UNCG when that was really what a lot girls had come here for.


LW: To get married.

AF: To get married. They would marry guys from Duke, State, Carolina, Wake Forest. That's what they came here for, to get a good husband. And of course, to get a good husband you got to have an education too. And I think that mindset had subconsciously rubbed off on me and so. Yeah, I did love him. But you know now a days careers would probably take precedent over that for two or three years at least. Because, we had been dating off and on for four or five years off and on anyways, so. But, I guess I regret a little bit because in the middle of the season or I said to them I'm leaving. And I regret doing that. I don't regret coming home to get married but I regret that, you know, I did leave before the season was out. I thought that if I was going to go home I need a 32:00job. So, I called the principal at Frederick Douglass High School and I said, "I need a job." Mind you I did not have any experience. I didn't do student teaching because I was not an education major. But I said to him, "I need a job" and he said, "How soon can you be here?" And I said, "Three days." He said, "Be here, I got one for you."

LW: And that's all it took?

AF: That's what it took. Which proves, it's who you know [laughter].

LW: That is true. That's what people say. It's about who you know.

AF: It is who you know. And, so, I went home, got a job. Did not have a teaching degree, but at that time, there was a program in North Carolina whereby if you worked under the direction of a certified teacher for a year you could get certified. And so I did that. And so I taught Language Arts that year. It was a 33:00very good experience and I loved those kids. I got married. Moved to Virginia and, in essence, my husband was working in the Virginia school system and said, "You need to give my wife a job." It's who you know. And so I got a job and actually I taught theater in Portsmouth. I taught drama, and theater, and English in Portsmouth.

LW: Portsmouth, Virginia.

AF: Virginia. And, then I got out of education. The guy in Portsmouth who hired 34:00me, the personnel director for the Portsmouth City Schools told me, to my face, "I would rather have a graduate with a C-average out of a white school than have a graduate with an A-average out of a black school." He told me that. To my face. That is the reality of what was then and I ain't so sure it ain't a reality today. We really have not come very far.

LW: So did you continue teaching in Portsmouth or did you leave or do other things?


AF: I taught in Portsmouth for about three or four years, and then my husband, we moved because he went to the community college system in Virginia. And so we moved, and again, I got a job because of him but this time I had first, second, and third grades reading. And so I did that. And then I prayed every day to the Lord to let me get back to North Carolina. To Wilson County. And came back to Wilson. We built a house and moved there. And we've been in the same house now for forty years. And I couldn't get a job when I got back to Wilson so I just stayed home with the babies. And then, one day, I got a call from Betty McCain. She was, she has been Secretary of Cultural Resources for North Carolina. But we 36:00moved to town from farming. We moved to town when I was in about in eighth grade. Again, my mama saved enough money that she bought a lot and contracted with a contractor to build a house and so we did that but I continued to go to Frederick Douglass even though I moved into Wilson, the city of Wilson. But, when we, when my husband and I moved back to Wilson, I couldn't get a job so I stayed home with babies. But where I grew up in Wilson was next door to a lady who was maid, she was the maid for Betty McCain and Dr. McCain. So, I knew Betty 37:00McCain because she would come and pick up her maid, who was next door, you know every morning. And Betty McCain liked my family. And so, Betty McCain is an alumnus of Woman's College [received honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from UNCG in 2007].

LW: Okay, do you know what year?

AF: I do not know what year. But she is so prominent. You Google Betty McCain and goo goobs of stuff would come up for her. She knew that I had gone to UNCG and that I had moved back home. Back to Wilson. She called me one day and said the city of Wilson has the perfect job for you. Why don't you go down there and 38:00check it out. I went down there. I called and made an appointment. Made application and got the job. It's who you know! [Laughter]

LW: What was the job?

AF: I started out as public information officer for the City of Wilson.

LW: Okay.

AF: I retired some thirty some years later as Assistant City Manager.

LW: Assistant?

AF: Assistant City Manager.

LW: Okay, city manager. Okay.

AF: I have been retired now six and a half years.

LW: Congratulations.

AF: Thank you. And UNCG taught me a lot about life. And about adversity. And about being the only one sometimes. Because there are a lot. I went to, last 39:00night, June 2, 2015, I went to an event that was publicized in the newspaper. I had gotten an invitation because the preservation of Wilson deals with historic properties in Wilson. And, I know the person who is executive director of that and I actually am a member of the historic preservation. Or at least I pay my dues. I don't go to any of the meetings or anything. Last night they were having an event at the Visitor's Bureau in Wilson where this attorney who is a history buff was going to talk about Wilsonians, famous Wilsonians, who had an impact on the national stage that few people had ever heard or ever knew about or people 40:00who at one time lived in Wilson or Wilson County. You know, Josephus Daniels the guy who owned the News & Observer. Ava Gardner. Ava Gardner lived in Wilson County. Her mother was a teacher so she stayed at the teacherage at Rock Ridge. So they were talking about G.K. Buttterfield. You had to have had to have some national prominence but have had some connection with Wilson. There must have been 75 to 100 people there last night. I was the only black person. So that's what UNCG also taught me. How to be comfortable in my own self, my own skin even 41:00when I am not around people like me. It's happened to me and my husband throughout our entire lives. And had I not come to UNCG, I would not have been exposed to a lot of the things that I was exposed to. I think it's made me a better person. There were some students who had nothing to with us. But there were students who were also very, very friendly.


LW: So it was kind of a mixed atmosphere.

AF: Well, yeah. It's kina like the world today is what it is, and what is was [laughter]. It's the same thing. You know the world, like I said, the world hadn't changed a whole lot. You know, I wouldn't be surprised if the students weren't more accepting than the teachers.

LW: That was one of my questions I was going to ask. If, in your experience what was the relationship like between the African Americans students on campus and the faculty and administration?

AF: I didn't have any that I liked. When I say any that I liked, you know I know a lot of them that had that, I can't think of that English professor who everybody seemed to like. I didn't have him for English.

LW: Randall Jarrell.

AF: Jarrell. Everyone seemed to have liked him. I had "also rans."


LW: Ma'am?

AF: I had what I call "also rans." People who were not really in the spotlight. Who were not noted to be such good and such high profile instructors and whatever. They kind of flew under the radar I think. And I think a lot of them may have been wanna be's. You know what a wanna be is? But Kathryn England was high profile and certainly Herman Middleton was high profile. But I never really established relationships with them like I had with my high school teachers. I just didn't have that kind of relationship. I really didn't feel that comfortable in going in for a conference or asking for help. You know you do papers. You get a C. Somebody over here, you read their paper. You all, you know 44:00you had some friends, some white friends who would switch and let you see what they had written and you compare and you know that yours was as good or better. But you didn't get the grade.

LW: You think that was something that happened often with the African American students on campus?

AF: Oh yeah, yeah it happened. Yeah, it happened. But it's probably happening today too [laughter]. And it may not just be limited to black students. It happens. Because people are human. You know and you have connections with some people that you don't have with other people so it's just human. And that's one thing you have learn too. You have to learn that you cannot blame other people. 45:00I learned. I don't blame other people for what happens to me. I am responsible for what happens to me. And if I see that something's going in a way I don't want it to go then I get the hell out. And you change course. So. Leslie Branham, the guy that I worked for. I did have a nice relationship with him about talking about some things because I think he knew some of the problems that we were going through.

LW: He was a white instructor?

AF: He was a white instructor, yes he was.

LW: And you worked under him.

AF: You got questions for me? I took up all your time.

LW: No, well, I mean there are some things that if it's okay I clarify for the transcript.

AF: Okay.

LW: I know you mentioned when you came in the summer for the orientation?

AF: Yes.

LW: What kind of orientation was it? What all did they talk about? Was it for all African American students on campus?

AF: It was for those who paid their money. It was not just for African 46:00Americans. It was for all students who were going to be enrolled in the fall semester.

LW: Okay, and so it essentially was showing you around campus?

AF: Yes, it showed you around campus. I think that may have been when we did the placement testing too. It may have been during that time. I'm not sure. That two or three week orientation was really a kind of a blur. A lot of stuff that happened to me here is a blur and I think it may be that I just tried to survive 47:00and just did what I had to do to survive.

LW: Understandable.

AF: One of the nicest things that I remember about this university is that we didn't have to have meal tickets. We could go through the dining hall. We ate as much as we wanted. Went through the line or went back for seconds. It was the first time I had rib-eye steaks [chuckle].

LW: Rib-eye?

AF: Oh, rib-eye steaks, they were the best. I remember they used to have pancakes with strawberry syrup. I don't mean, I mean strawberries cooked down to a syrup so that when you poured the syrup over you had real strawberries on the pancakes.

LW: That sounds delicious.

AF: Oh, it was awesome! I remember the food. I also remember that we were on 48:00such an honor system that when a date or home boy came over or a girlfriend came over from another school or if my sister came to visit, they could come through the dining hall also. And they ate free. Oh, the good old days [chuckle].

LW: That definitely was not around when I was in school.

AF: Oh yeah.

LW: So you mentioned when you were in orientation, you were in, was it South Residence Hall?

AF: Yes.

LW: Then you were in Hinshaw Residence Hall.

AF: Yes.

LW: Did you stay in Hinshaw all four years?

AF: No, that was the quad and that was only for freshman.

LW: Okay.

AF: The next three years were spent in Mendenhall.

LW: Mendenhall Residence Hall.

AF: Yes.

LW: Okay.

AF: And, remember I had that roommate for orientation but then they gave me a roommate for freshman year. We didn't exactly see eye to eye especially. My 49:00mother made all of my clothes. I dressed. And one day, coming from the dining hall, I looked up and saw my roommate coming in one of my dresses. And that was it. We didn't room together any more after that. My orientation roommate and I got together and said, 'Hey" she was having difficulties with her roommate as well. So we got together and said hey, let's room together. We roomed together for the next three years in Mendenhall. We were joined by two other girls. Linda Scales [Class of 1968] and Martha Jo Hightower [Class of 1969]. And my roommate was Cassandra Hodges [Class of 1968]. Cassandra and I were on first floor and Martha Jo and Linda Scales were on second floor right above us. We were the only 50:00two in Mendenhall, the only four rather in Mendenhall.

LW: Okay.

AF: And they put us right at the end at the exit. So that's where we stayed for three years.

LW: So you two, you and Cassandra were at the end of one hall, and then the floor above were the other two.

AF: Yes. Right at the end so you could go out the door. And we were there. Cassandra and I were there for three years. And Martha Jo and Linda were there for three years. So. And we're still friends, we're still friends. In fact, when I leave here I may stop in Winston because Martha Jo and Linda still live in Winston. My roommate, Cassandra, died about seven or eight ago from cancer. And 51:00here I am. Finishing up chemo and radiation. Okay?

LW: I was going ask, or you mentioned you still have these friendships. I know you mentioned there was not a lot of dating as part of the social life on campus but I was going to ask with the other African American students that were on campus did ya'll get together especially since with four of you were all in the same dorm and do anything together in your free time?

AF: Well, the four of us were always together. We did lots of things together even though we had four different majors. We were still very, very close and that friendship has lasted forty-six years. We are still very close. We were friends, yeah, all of the black kids were tight. We were tight. Especially our freshman, those twenty-one one of us, we were very tight. As a matter of fact we've had a reunion. Oh yeah.

LW: Oh really!

AF: Yeah. The Groves Inn in Asheville.


LW: I'm not familiar with that one.

AF: Oh yeah. We did this a few years ago where we met. Oh yes. Had a grand, grand time. No husbands, no boyfriends. This was for us. And then several, about seven or eight of us did it again, met in Charleston.

LW: South Carolina.

AF: Yes. So, yeah. We do keep in touch and yeah.

LW: So would ya'll, I guess when you were not studying or in class, would you, maybe would you go to each other's dorms and just play cards?

AF: Play cards.

LW: A lot of people talk about playing cards.

AF: Oh yes, we played cards. Pinochle almost did me in freshman year.

LW: Pinochle?

AF: Yes.

LW: I've heard of it but I still don't understand how it's played [laughter]. I grew up in a different generation.

AF: Pinochle almost did me in. And then later, like Whist and Bid Whist.


LW: I've heard of Bid Whist.

AF: I remember one time there was one girl who did not particularly care for us.

LW: Okay.

AF: And she was a Trekkie.

LW: A Trekkie?

AF: Star Trek.

LW: As in Star Trek?

AF: Who are you?

LW: I just wanted to make sure that I am hearing everything correctly, yes ma'am.

AF: Yes, Star Trek.

LW: I'm Star Wars person personally but.

AF: Oh, okay [laughter].

LW: I know. But she was a Trekkie [laughter].

AF: Yes. And my roommate and I went down to the basement. She never would speak to us. We always spoke but she never would speak. And we went down and she was watching Star Trek one night and we walked down to the basement and said, "What's on?" And she didn't say anything. "What's, what's on?" "What's ON!!?" 54:00[laugher] She got up and high tailed it out of that room so fast [laughter].

LW: So she would rather leave the room rather than?

AF: She would rather leave the room than to talk to us and tell us what was on television, so. We had the television that night.

LW: So what was some of the shows that were on that you would watch?

AF: Well, Star Trek, we liked that too. And most any other. Flip Wilson was probably on about that time. I'm not sure if Bill Cosby was on then or not. Anyway, we. Mannix I think was probably on then?


LW: Mannix?

AF: Yeah. Not sure though, that may have been the seventies. Anyways, I can't remember. I'm old. I can't be expected to remember all that.

LW: No [laughter]. If we can find out so my generation and those younger than me will know [laugher] and we will have some knowledge.

AF: I feel so sorry for you all.

LW: Yes ma'am.

AF: [Laughter] I do. I feel so sorry. And even more sorry for those folks younger than you.

LW: Okay, and so you came to the university. I'm going through my list of questions. So it was your sister who convinced you to apply and come to UNCG. Would you be willing to tell me more about the transition from high school to college? I know in some of the other interviews alumni have indicated that the 56:00level of academics was different and I didn't know how you would describe what it was like for you to come into UNCG after your high school experience or elaborate more than what you may have already shared.

AF: In high school, I really didn't have to study. Here, I had to study. But I was not disciplined to study. And so it was a little more difficult for me. And I did not as much cramming as the other kids did. I would go to bed. And just say, you know, I'll do what I can and read what I can and whatever. But I have 57:00to sleep. And so I would sleep. I don't know that I ever pulled an all-nighter. And I know kids who pulled all-nighters. I don't think I ever pulled an all-nighter. But I got out of here in four years.

LW: Yes ma'am.

AF: And three summer schools [laughter].

LW: And did you do summer school at UNCG?

AF: No. No, I did two summers at Carolina and one at what was called Atlantic Christian College [Wilson, North Carolina]. It's now Barton College. Barton College is in Wilson.

LW: Okay, so Atlantic.

AF: It was Atlantic Christian College.

LW: And it is now?

AF: Barton. B-a-r-t-o-n.

LW: College?

AF: Yes.

LW: And this was in Wilson, North Carolina?


AF: Yes. And then two summers at Carolina. Freshman, between freshman and sophomore and between junior and senior, I spent at Carolina. That was as much for fun as it was [chuckle].

LW: My alma mater.

AF: Oh really.

LW: I am a die-hard Tar Heel.

AF: Oh yeah.

LW: So, I know you briefly touched on being a drama major. Was there anything in particular that drew you to that major to major in it? Or were you also considering other things?

AF: Where have you been for the last hour?

LW: Well, I just want to clarify.

AF: No, no, no. I mean, what am I? Am I not demonstrative [laughter]?

LW: No, I'm sorry ma'am [laughter]. This is just following good practices and clarifying.

AF: No, no, no. I've always like the theater.

LW: I didn't know if maybe there was an instance in 4-H perhaps or early exposure to that.

AF: I was in school plays.

LW: At Frederick Douglass?

AF: Yes, at Frederick Douglass. That was one of the most interesting things at Frederick Douglass. We had oratorical contests. They don't do that anymore in schools. Black schools used to do this. They used to have oratorical contests where classes competed against each other. And they brought everybody into the 59:00auditorium and you would have the contest and they would last over two or three days. And then they had plays that the ninth grade would put on a play, the tenth grade would put on a play, eleventh grade would put on a play, and the twelfth grade would. And these were held at night and there was competition. So I had been in plays in high school. I had been in public speaking in high school. And I had wonderful teachers in high school that just made it fun. I had one teacher in the seventh and eighth grade. She's ninety this week.

LW: Oh wow.

AF: And she is still living by herself, driving her big Cadillac, and doing everything and she looks like she did the day I first saw her sixty years ago. 60:00But, she used to make, we used to have to memorize. I remember now, "Abou Ben Adhem may his tribe increase, awoke one night from a deep, deep sleep."1 This was 7th grade we had to learn, memorize poems.

LW: Do you remember what poem that's from?

AF: That's called "Abou Ben Adhem."

LW: Abu?

AF: A-b-u, B-e-n, Adhem. Abou Ben Adhem.

LW: Okay.

AF: Oh wait. Or is that Invictus? Try Invictus. Poems. But we had to memorize that. But not only that at black churches, we used to have to do a recitation. Which you had to get up in front of the group, in front of the church and 61:00recite. At Easter you did it, at Christmas you did it. This was great for black kids to develop confidence. And so, growing up in the black church then having that reinforced from elementary school because we had to get up even in grade school before the class. With spelling bees. You lined up in front of the class to spell. There were ample opportunities for self-expression and to participate. And I just developed a love for that. And probably, all theater people are a bit 62:00narcissistic or whatever. They are all kind of much into themselves or whatever. I guess I'm no different [laughter].

LW: So, as part of theater, I was reading through some of the other interviews that have been done an alumni mentioned being in one your plays called "Crawling Arnold"?

AF: Oh, that was Martha Jo! I'm so embarrassed by that [laughter].

LW: Oh no, you don't have to talk about it.

AF: Oh yes, oh shucks. She did [laughter].

LW: Well, I was wondering if you would be willing to share what was "Crawling Arnold" and I know that was supposed to be a requirement you had to produce a play but what was that about?

AF: It was by Jules Pfeiffer.

LW: So Jules Pfeiffer?

AF: J-u-l-e-s and Pfeiffer. And that's spelled like Michelle Pfeiffer. 63:00P-h-e-i-f-f-r-r, I guess or i-e or whatever.

LW: Like the actress.

AF: Yeah. And I had to do a play. And so I needed a maid. And I twisted Martha Jo's arm to be the maid [laughter]. There in the sixties I got a black girl to be the maid. I'm so embarrassed! But because she was my friend she did it. I'm sorry Martha Jo! [Laughter] Anyways, that was it. It was good play. They did a good job.

LW: It met the requirements.

AF: Yeah. Marcell Rosenblatt, one of my good Jewish friends who was also a drama major.


LW: Okay. So Marcell, as in M-a-r-c-e-l?

AF: Yes.

LW: Rosenblatt?

AF: Rosenblatt. B-l-a-t-t I think.

LW: B-l-a-t-t, and she was a student?

AF: Yes, and I can't remember any of the other folks who were in it.

LW: All right. And we already talked about administration. Do you remember the first day you were on campus?

AF: No.

LW: No. Okay. Some of these we've already talked about. I know in the yearbook it mentions you were in the Masquerader's, the Drama Honor Society. You already mentioned you were in the senior dance group that you did that. Do you remember a student group called GUTS, G-U-T-S? It's my understanding it was a mentoring 65:00or tutorial thing that several?

AF: I did not do that. Was that Betty Cheek? Was she head of that? Or Yvonne Cheek?

LW: I'm not sure. I'm not 100% sure. I know the yearbook has you listed being in it your sophomore year.

AF: Oh, well I must have been in it then.

LW: I just didn't know if you could help shed some light on it.

AF: I don't remember.

LW: Okay. I do want to ask. So I know, your freshman year when you came, the university recently changed from being Woman's College to UNCG and I didn't know if you had any memories of what the university was kind of like as it was transitioning from being a women's college to a co-educational institution.

AF: The guys did not live on campus. But, not. There was so few. So few that you 66:00just saw them every now and then. As more came, you know, you got more aware of them. But you see, when I came, freshman year especially, especially on Saturdays, girls went to class in rollers. Hair rollers. Those big hair rollers.

LW: The pink and they had the little clap thing?

AF: No. What clap thing? No this was.

LW: I know the foam kind.

AF: No, not the foam. The hard rubber kind.

LW: Oh okay.

AF: That kind. And that was when hair was big. So they had those huge rollers in their hair and they would put a scarf on. They would leave their pajamas on, put a trench coat on top of it, and go to class.


LW: And you said this was during the week days?

AF: Well, they did it on Saturdays when they were going to class.

LW: Ya'll had class on Saturdays?

AF: Yeah.

LW: Oh, we didn't have class on Saturdays.

AF: Yeah [laughter]. And sometimes Fridays, they might do it if they were leaving early to go to Carolina or somewhere. But yeah, they would go to class in pajamas with a coat over it or with your hair rolled up in roller, but that was all the time. And with the more guys that came on campus, the less you saw of that. But for a year or so they didn't mind them either [laughter]. They still wore their rollers. Now you didn't see any black kids with rollers in their hair because you know we knew better. But some of the younger black girls when they came in, they were a little more, they were less black, let me put it 68:00that way. They were less black. There was one thing I did when I came. White girls shaved their legs. Black girls don't shave their legs. At least we didn't then. But, I thought I needed to start to shave my legs or, I don't know why I did that [laughter]. I just don't know why. Maybe an attempt to assimilate or whatever. I mean I shaved under arms. I've always done that. But legs, you know. I shaved my legs twice and hair has never grown back. I never had to do it again. It never grew back [laughter]. My legs were just as smooth. And before I 69:00shaved, a few girls had more hair on their arms than what I had on my legs but I was just trying to blend in or whatever. And when I think about it and went to Europe and saw how women don't shave under their arms, don't shave their legs, don't so anything, I thought oh shit, I'm not doing that any more. Okay.

LW: So was Europe during college or after college?

AF: After college.

LW: Another thing I wanted to ask, I know the Neo-Black Society was kind of just getting started during your senior year.

AF: Yeah, that was the Cheek girls.

LW: So, I didn't know if you knew anything about it or if you participated in any way.

AF: I did not participate.

LW: That was Betty and Yvonne Cheek. So they were the main ones.


AF: Yes. They were good 4-H folk. I knew them before I came here. I knew them from 4-H.

LW: Okay, so it was mostly the African American students who came in after '67/'68 who were really involved with the Neo-Black Society. So how would you describe the atmosphere on campus during the 1960s especially with what was happening because it was getting to the Civil Rights Movement and some of the social and political events of the time period. Could you shed some light?

AF: We were pretty much insulated from it. We really were. And so while I was here, I did not participate in demonstrations as such. It was, for the most part, a safe environment.


LW: A safe environment. And so do you recall the assassination of Dr. King and kind of how students reacted to that event on campus?

AF: That was a bad time. That was a bad time.

LW: Do you feel comfortable kind of explaining.

AF: That as a bad time. You just got angry with everybody. You just didn't want to be around anyone. You know. You just. Ya'll go somewhere. Just leave me alone. That was bad time.

LW: I understand. We already talked about what you did after graduation. Have you been involved with the university since you've graduated?

AF: No. I just send them a little piece of money every year. And that's the extent of it.

LW: Okay.

AF: Well, I have been to one or two alumni things in Raleigh with the Raleigh 72:00Alumni group when they had one or two little meetings and met the President who is leaving or whatever. Not the interim but the one before that.

LW: Oh, you mean the Chancellor.

AF: The Chancellor.

LW: Chancellor Brady.

AF: Chancellor Brady, I guess.

LW: Linda Brady.

AF: Yeah, when she was down in Raleigh. And I came to a jazz thing here two years ago with Linda and Martha Jo.

LW: In the Elliott University Center.

AF: No, right here.

LW: Oh, okay in the Alumni House.

AF: Yes.

LW: Okay. And the rest of my questions you've actually discussed rather in depth. So. I don't have any formal questions but is there anything else you would like to add to the interview?

AF: No.

LW: Okay. Well, Mrs. Freeman thank you so very much for your time this morning and for being willing to speak with me about your experiences at UNCG and even afterwards.

AF: I have fond memories of UNCG. Because it helped me be who I am. Perhaps less 73:00fond memories of some instructors. But that's life.

LW: Yes ma'am.

AF: That's life.

LW: Well, I'm going to turn off the recorder.

AF: Okay.