LW: My name is Lisa Withers and today is Thursday, July 16, 2015. I am in thehome of Mrs. Edwina White Thompson, Class of 1973, to conduct and oral history interview for the UNCG [The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina] African American Institutional Memory Project. Thank you, Mrs. Thompson, for participating in this project and for sharing with me your experiences.
ET: Thank you.
LW: Thank you. I'd like to start this interview by asking about your childhood,if you would please be willing to share with me when and where you were born.
ET: Well, I am originally from Greensboro, North Carolina. I am the third ofsix children. I have twin brothers that are older than me. We are all college graduates. I'm the only one that attended UNCG. Four, let's see, three of us went to A&T [North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina] for undergraduate degrees. One to High Point College [High Point University, High Point, North Carolina] and one to The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill [Chapel Hill, North Carolina]. So, I did my master's degree at A&T State University. I went to--all of us went to Catholic 1:00elementary school. We all went to Catholic for first through the eighth grade years. I later went on to Notre Dame High School, which used to be in Greensboro, my ninth grade through the eleventh year. The sisters at Notre Dame took their order out of Greensboro, so they closed the school, and my senior year. So I finished my senior year at [Walter Hines] Page High School [Greensboro, North Carolina]. I was born in-- July 29, 1951 and I didn't know exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up but the 50's and the 60's, all of the Civil rights movement and racial unrest, really had a significant impact upon my 2:00life. So, that's the reason I chose the field of study that I went into, sociology, social welfare. I just felt like there were a lot of injustices around in our country at that time. A lot of--just, just prejudices and things that just were not right and so that was the field that I went into. Basically--when the elementary school that I went to, that was all-African American students operated by the Sisters of Charity and they were like a mission school for black children in our community. But education was always something that was very important to my father and my mother and they wanted us to have a private school education. So all of us went through our elementary school years at--in a small setting, ratio--teacher ratio to student very small 3:00and, of course, my father strongly felt that that was a good education for us. It would prepare us and it would also protect us. And of course they were very strict [laughter]. The nuns were very strict and stuff but that was basically the kind of elementary life I grew up in. We belonged to St. Stephen United Church of Christ which is not too far from our home at that time. Even though we were taught at a Catholic school, we grew up in [Protestant] Christian faith. We didn't know basically where we were going to go to college. We just knew that it was their aspiration that we attend college so all of us that--when our father died last year, that was one of the--he was asked what was one of the most significant things that had ever happened to him and he felt like that he had educated all of his children. So, that's been significant for all of us so that's a value for each of us and I have a master's degree in counseling. I have an undergraduate degree in sociology and social welfare. I have one sister who 4:00also has her undergraduate degree in--I think it was political science, I think originally, and then her M.B.A. [Master's in Business Administration] from University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. We had several in education and my baby sister played basketball and sports for High Point College and was in the early women's basketball league [laughter]. Actually, was drafted by the New York Stars and played for them for a good while. So, athletics, education, all of those things have been real key in our lives and our parents were very supportive of that. So, we always felt very supported. There were four of us in college at one time, so, my twin brothers and then me and my sister, we were all--there were four of us, all attending school. Two at A&T, I was at UNCG, and my sister was at UNC-Chapel Hill. And part of the reason I chose UNCG, 5:00basically, was because I knew there was a bunch of us and being able to go to college and go right there in Greensboro, and I had, probably, a lot of influence from high school counselors, from others to make sure that we got a good education. So that was always kind of high priority in our family's life. And so, UNCG was felt to be a very good school. Hadn't long, I guess, integrated and hadn't long started taking male students because when I think male student started when I was there and started in '69. So, I worked full time and went to school full time. So, and that was to help pay for my way. My philosophy in life 6:00was that if I couldn't provide, I wouldn't take anything away from the family, so I knew we had some understanding there in the household that I would work and pay my way and my dad and I had a deals. So if I--I worked, if paid my tuition, he would buy my books or if I--bought my books, he would pay my tuitions. So we've always had a thing set and he always rewarded--rewarded that, last year when we did it. So, at the funeral service I told him that one of the things I learned early on, if you ever borrow money from dad and you tell him you will pay him back, you need to pack him back. Even if you didn't have it, even if you had to scrimp and, you know, to and figure out how you were going to pay him back because most of the time he would let you keep it and because he was trying to you a valuable lesson about promises made and credit and borrowing and stuff. Some of us our family learned it better than others and I always tried to learn that lesson well. But my parents were very influential in my life about just, 7:00you know--and my mother, who had a ninth grade education--my father went to A&T graduate. Went to the early mechanical arts program over there and he was honored, I can't remember what year it was, but it was a fifty year plus Aggie and so education and giving back to your community and all that have always been a part of our, part of our lives. So, when I finished--well, I guess if I were going to talk a little bit about my life there, I don't know whether being a town, what they used to call town students, really got you really involved in a lot of the life there. We had the Neo-Black Society and I'm not sure how long that had been in existence at the time when I was there. And they did different activities. And I did some of the stuff because my primary responsibility was 8:00to, you know, make sure I could pay for my education and stuff. I worked and did what I needed to do to and just studied and stuff. So, in a way, being a town student you were kind of a little separated from some of the activities but I had a lot of good friends who went, came--went through school with me from elementary school that were at, also at UNCG and we all still kept in contact and did things together, so, I was sometimes pulled into that, into that life because they were actually living on campus there and involved in-- a couple of played basketball and stuff so. We continued, even to this day, to be friends. But it--little different for town students, I think. I think the hardest thing was when you were--I know I had responsibilities at work so many hours. Trying to 9:00figure out how to get my schedule done and, you know, not get bumped out of classes and stuff and get there in line because you know they didn't have computerization that you have now. We had to stand, actually stand in line and try [laughter] to get in courses, drop courses, and--. I remember I had taken French in high school, and now I wished I had taken Spanish, but I'd taken French and I always had often--I guess my first couple of years we had a foreign language requirement. I'd always had an American-speaking French teacher. And then, I think, I was almost at the end of my little period of time I had to finish that class, and I had Mr. [Dr. Claude] Chauvigne. And I sat down in Mr. Chauvigne class and it was like [speaks in French]. I thought, "Oh gosh," I sat through that class, "I have got to get out of this class" [laughter]. But I 10:00should've, I should've stayed in it and made it through it but I said, "Oh no, I got to get out of here because I can't. I've always been taught by an American-speaking French teacher. I cannot do this." But anyway, so, there's things that, you know, I feel like I probably if I hadn't had to work as much I would've had better grades because I would've averaged out as an average student, because of working. I had placed out of most of my courses because I had taken all of the proper course in high school and stuff to, you know, to-- I think they used to give us a pass on some of the introductory courses and stuff. So I had--didn't have to take a lot of those but because I worked all the time and you know you had to really just kind of schedule things and I did that throughout my--even with my master's degree too, because you know, just need to be able to work. I had some scholarship money, you know, early on. I think it was from one of the sororities. But, really probably, as I've see now looking 11:00back, because I've helped students since that time, I should've been able to or we should've had more exposure to funding grants and grant aids and things that you could have gotten. Now my father did not believe in financial aid. He--well, he first of all, didn't want to give up all his personal information to the government [laughter]. Old school and he didn't want us to be strapped with student loan debt. So, I was one of the six kids that didn't have student loan debt and I think maybe one of the others of the kids in the family didn't either. My brothers and them did, you know, they went ahead and got the loans but my dad said, "No, if can--if you're gonna, we're gonna work this deal out and you don't have to borrow money to get your education." And that's kind of what happened. So I didn't have all that. I started out with a clean slate without owing all that money to go to school. And that was good and I was--I did my senior year we had a combination program with North Carolina A&T State University with their sociology social welfare program. And, I don't know--I 12:00can't remember if it was just experimental or what but Dr. Johnson, I think was the gentleman's name on A&T's campus, and we did joint field placement. So they used to work together to do our field placements for sociology social welfare. And we did go, you could do it in a school setting, and I wasn't interested in a school setting. I was interested more in community organization, department of social services, that kind of thing. So, there were three of us that would ride to Thomasville [North Carolina] several times a week during our internship and we worked with Thomasville Church Homes, which was a 221(d)(3) rent supplement project that Mr. Johnson, Dr. Johnson had been a part of and we worked with the 13:00residents there, helping them with their food stamps, medications, taking them to the Department of Social Services. And at that time, you know, they didn't have food stamps and all that stuff. They had commodities. So you had things like rice and meal and stuff and a lot of stuff had bugs in it. It was like--it was like social welfare at that time really was looked down upon and things, basic things that you would think people should have in life, you were looked down upon if you needed that and so we, in a lot of ways, served as an advocate for the tenets in the complex. Most of them were single parents with a few elderly and most of them were on some type of assistance and their rent was subsidized by the federal government based on their income. And so I did that 14:00along with these two other ladies and we still remained friends to this day as a part of our internship and we did that for a year I think as interns as a part of that project. And that, to me, I always said that I think you when--throughout school there's always coursework they expect you to learn but nothing replaces the actual time that you spend in the field figuring out what is that coursework mean as it relates to working with individuals. So, I think that, even though for me it was in passion because I felt there were a lot of injustices that were happening during that period of time, it was probably also kind of pre-destined for me to be in that because I do believe that that is one of the gifts that God has blessed me with that I will get discernment and be able to work with individuals and try and help them through whatever it is, you know, they say, "Help those who are the least of us," and that's what we all should be about. So, it's kind of always been my personal philosophy throughout all of my life 15:00and have always stayed in those areas even though after I did my field placement, I said, "Ain't no way in this world I am going to be working for the Department of Social Services" [laughter]. I thought they were horrible people because they used to come and they would go in the client's houses and look under the beds, look in the closets, and stuff to see if a man was there and stuff because they wanted to--they just did a lot of things I felt like were very inhumane. So, social services has come a long way from what it used to be to what it is now, and it's funny because even though I said I wouldn't do that, my current employment is with the Department of Health and Human Services and I work with the state Medicaid agency and work with programs that help disadvantaged, disabled, and elderly adults, helping them get assistance to stay 16:00in their homes so even though I said I wasn't [laughter], I kind of ended up--. But after I graduated in 1973, I actually was hired by Thomasville Church Homes to manage their complex so I managed at twenty-one years of age, I managed a 100 unit 221(d)(3) rent supplement project. And the reason I ended up doing that is that the--at that time, you know, at the beginning, I guess, in the --60s there were a lot of public housing. There was a lot of joint housing developments between churches and community organizations so they could have housing in distressed areas and in that particular area, Thomasville Church Homes was a 17:00joint project between the Methodist, it was Methodist church and a Baptist church with a federal government, with HUD [Housing and Urban Development], and they provided this 100-unit apartment for that area in Thomasville, North Carolina, which is not that far from Greensboro. And, they had gone into default and there was an agency out of Durham [North Carolina], black owned, African American agency call Remca, Incorporated and they actually would negotiate with the federal government and take over the management of these different housing developments across the state and they had about eleven at that time that they were managing. And, when we were doing our field placement, I met the owners of that company and they asked me, they said they had a federal grant that they were working on and that they were pretty sure that they were going to get it. They asked me if I would take a position that they had then and run that project 18:00until the federal grant came through. And it was with the Fund for the--well let's see--that one was with the NIDA, [National Institute on Drug Abuse] National Institute of Drug--I think it was drug abuse awareness I think that's what is was but it was a drug, a federal drug program. And they were instituting those drug education programs within the public housing, those housing projects that they were managing, so that was a part of their--of this managing company's focus. The biggest issue they saw with people not only being on assistance but they were also had drug addictions and stuff that helped different behaviors that cause them not to be able to be functioning as they should in our society. So they had applied for federal grant and when that grant came through, I actually did--run one of those projects and stuff to design a drug education program and a couple of their project. I did the Durham [North Carolina] and the one in Winston-Salem [North Carolina]. So, it--my life was kind of funny so each 19:00thing that I was involved in in, I guess, in my schooling kind of did help me be able to kind of figure out things. I don't know that I have, I have--had a mentor during that period of time but later, I started working at N.C. State [North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina] in 1985 and I actually designed an African American mentoring project for the black students at N.C. State University and we paired upper class black students with incoming black freshmen to help them get acclimated to that environment because most of the kids that came into N.C. State at that time, because N.C. State had about 33, 000 students and a lot of these kids came from hometowns that were not that large. And so they may come out being at the top kid in their class, in their small community, and they come to a college with a whole lot of smart kids, and 20:00a lot of kids were failing and so a lot of us that were black faculty and staff actually started looking at how we could help our students be more successful on the campus and I was in the Division of Student Affairs, and I was the grants writer for that division and I used to write proposals for seventeen departments within the division and one of them was centered around the whole mentoring. And we got several grants that helped us in in different ways to help African American students. And at that time, at State, at N.C. State, we had a strong black faculty and staff. We had about 100 of us at that time. Yes, that was in 19--I started working there in 19--what --77 through '85. And so when I finished my work with Remca, they had two successful grants back to back so when I graduated in '73, I worked one year and about a half, not quite a year and a half, as an 21:00actual project manager of that 100-unit complex. When they got the grant, I started working as a counselor with the drug education program and we started training and doing research on the different--each of the different eleven housing developments that Remca managed across the state and started working with them to design programs for drug education and stuff in those different cities. So I did that from '74 thru I guess it was the middle of '76, and then--or maybe it was almost '77--and then in '76 I went to--it was the beginning of Governor [James B.] Hunt's term as governor. And a good friend of mine had worked hard on his campaign and I was trying to move--you know, I knew my grants were ending and I needed [laughter] to get a job so they hired me to work with the State Economic Opportunity Office. He was director of it but they loaned me 22:00to the North Carolina Counseling and the Status of Women and I worked with that program helping develop training programs for minority women to go into the skilled trades. So there were--it was dollars to do that. We had a CETA Title III [Comprehensive Employment and Training Act] grant and my first--for both was actually half a million dollars to run that program and we had several sites. And we trained women who were--fit certain economic incomes and they became, we had contracts with the community college. So they became masons, heavy equipment operators, and everything, and our Anson County [North Carolina], we actually, 23:00they actually built an energy efficient home. So, that was an exciting project. I think my grant was about a half a million dollars. My second one was under that same amount. I got two hundred and fifty some odd thousand dollars to do that because, at that time, well you wouldn't remember, but Equal Rights Amendments was being--and all the battles were being waged and stuff and women's programming was at a height then, or we were getting more involved in everything. And then I think what happened, African American women were not. So, there were a group of us who were looking at just women's programming and looking at the need for a voice so we developed, at that time, back in that early time, a black women's political caucus and a part of the involvement. And some of those women are still involved in politics now. And, but we worked on Dan Blue's first campaign helping to get him elected in the House of Representatives. We--Dan and I have often talked and laughed about all of those 24:00things that we did and kind of grassroots organizations. Coming together, women coming together and we supported a lot of the candidates at that time. That's how I first met Linda Coleman who ran for Lieutenant Governor and she--during Hunt's first administration, he hired a lot of African Americans. Young, yes, males and females, and most of us, a lot of us were single and, you know, moved to the area and a lot of us are still to do this day. We still stay in contact. A lot of them are still in politics. I got out all that political stuff and [laughter]. But anyway--but a lot of what I think helped prepare me because, you know, there was just a few black students on campus at UNCG. So you either had to meet, in order to be successful, you had to have some internal drive that you were going to make it and that you were going to the best that you could and 25:00take what you, you learned and apply it out here in the real world, because, still now remember my philosophy is that you can do a whole lot of reading and developing and you can learn how to write all these nice papers, which I did. I was a grants writer and I used to do all that research and I could prove this, that, and the other. But the actual proof in the pudding is whether or not you can actually implement what it says that you designed and that it will be successful. So, it's nice to have the how to because you need to be able to explain it to get your money but the you will need to be actually be able to operationalize whatever it is that you designed. So, a lot of what I think I learned through the school of hard knocks in undergrad. Like I said, I would have loved to have better grades, probably could have had better grades, but I knew that my mission was I needed to help my parents. I needed to get through school, help them get the rest of the kids through school and stuff because that was our family-- kind of our family goal. And, so that's kind of how all that ties in but I went on after working with the grants with our program for women, 26:00minority women, with the State Economic Opportunities Office, I applied for a position at N.C. State University and they were looking for a grants writer for their division. I just had been really successful in my grants writing so I said, "Well okay, I'm going to try that," and they hired me so I was the grants--a special assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and a part of that job was to do grants writing and then I started looking at the program and stuff and got interested in minority programming and we, except for the fact that after we got together and we designed a program and I hired two graduate students to help me run that mentoring project. And then we realized that if we trained the students to actually help other students, because they've already been there, looking at the same thing of how can you help, kind of what you're doing, how can you help that next generation along based on what the things you 27:00learned in the previous generation because these students had a lot of valuable things to offer. So, we selected students in the upper classes. Who had--some had failed, miserably, but were still in there trying to get through it all and they could share their experiences. And we started looking at--you had the technical colleges, like N.C. State. There were certain courses that when kids took them together, it almost ensured their failure. So then we started looking at what courses makes sense together if you are looking at physics or you're looking at some other engineering. What, what, what is that core of courses that would help you make it through that major and then not try to fighting different philosophical concepts that are different and so we started looking at what 28:00courses were causing students to fail and working more on just professors and stuff to do that. Now remember, as the time when I was at State, a lot of professors didn't think African American students should be in engineering or any of those, those areas. So we had some very outspoken professors who really fought hard to push race relations and race relations workshops and opening the administration's eyes to what they needed to be done for African American students since they were taking their money and they were not graduating them. So, during that same time the whole UNC System was looking at--because the HEW [United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare] had brought a lawsuit against The University of North Carolina System and because students weren't doing very well and they came up with what they called a consent decree and, kind of, kind of put a stay on everything as they were--at one time talking 29:00about closing the historically black colleges and universities and stuff so. They had a lot going on at that time so they came up with an agreement with the feds [federal government] to develop programs on historically black campuses to enhance those schools and then they offered scholarships for white students to go the historically black campuses. So, now if you look at North Carolina Central University [Durham, North Carolina] you see there's a different--big ratio difference there. A lot of white students do attend there but those are some of the, I would say, results of a lot of what happened earlier and in those periods of time but, yes, a lot happened with N.C. State. I met my husband while I was at N.C. State. He was Vice President for Student Services and Special Programs with the University of North Carolina General Administrative Offices and we met and we married in 1980. So, then my life took on a whole new other 30:00different thing because he was appointed interim chancellor at North Carolina A&T State University and we were there for--he was there for one year. And, of course, I didn't move up there. I just kind of attended things and still worked at N.C. State because that was just a temporary assignment. And the in 1985 he was appointed Chancellor at Winston-Salem State [University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina], and that--in '85 my life changed to a whole new direction and we went to Winston-Salem State and we stayed there from 1985-1995. During that time, I only worked on just a couple of special projects. One was the Smart Start partnership program and the other was I went back to drug education and worked on a federal grant, Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education. They had a drug educational grant for colleges and so I had been out of the drug 31:00education field for about ten years and so the difference in those, I guess, that ten years that I was out is that originally it was, I guess, when you were looking at the drugs, you were looking at heroin addiction, kind of hardcore, you kind of looking at your hardcore drugs. And then, as, ten years later, the drug population for experimentation, the age dropped lower and then the drugs became what they called "gateway drugs." So you had marijuana to psychedelics and that whole scene changed with the drugs. In fact, it was, you had more kids, 32:00because I worked with seven private colleges, and they were part of a consortium called the Piedmont Independent College Association, and they came together and those seven private colleges were all invested in this, in this drug education project. So, I actually teamed up with UNC-Greensboro again, coming back to my--[laughter], with their center for research over there and I got a graduate student who actually helped me. We surveyed about 2,500 students on those seven campuses as to their drug use, and introduction to drugs, what influenced them, and stuff. We did--the study showed all the schools in a kind of overall analysis and then each school, individually, compared against the overall analysis, we gave them their individual report. I had to sign in blood [laughter] not to release that information because, of course, they were private schools and one 33:00of the things that I learned very quickly is that they were private schools and most the kids were kids--had affluence. They had a lot of expendable monies and so they drove better looking cars than some of the faculty members [laughter]. But they also had more resources to purchase and experiment with drugs at an earlier age. So the age of decision was creeping more down to twelve and thirteen years of age. So, but that was an interesting project and I worked on that for part of the time that I was with my husband there in Winston. And rest of the time, I was serving as First Lady doing functions up there. So, my life has been kind of, you know, kind of a hodge-podge. When we came back to Raleigh in 1995, I was diagnosed with cancer. So, for the next two years, when we came 34:00back in '95, '96, '97, I was out doing treatments and stuff for breast cancer and so I really got involved in the whole education, cancer education, breast cancer education movement, and participated in many of the Race for the Cure and stuff around that. Then I started--I applied for a position at the Department of Health and Human Services and that's where I've been ever since we got back. I've been working with the--as a consultant with the Community Alternatives Program for Disabled Adults--disabled and elderly adults. I've been doing that since 1997, so about time for me to retire [laughter]. But that's--you know, you never know how you're life, the different influences throughout your life are going to impact I guess where you are and what you do and as I look back on would I have done things differently? Probably not. I think a lot of the sign of the times, I think you were either involved in what you were doing and I 35:00honestly believe that each person is responsible for their portion of whatever they do and how they can influence their own lives and then others, the responsibility for taking care of others around you. I do believe in that so that's been kind of, I guess, has been my lifelong philosophy and that's kind of what I followed all along. So, but anyways. Is there anything else you want to me talk about?
LW: Well, I do have some follow up questions.
LW: That was a very rich and rewarding career you had.
ET: Yes, I think so [laughter].
LW: Well, yes, well I just have some follow up things--.
LW: From the beginning.
ET: Okay. LW: And going through them. I know you mentioned you went to aCatholic elementary school. Do you remember the name of the school?
ET: Yes, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal,OLMMS. We wore uniforms [laughter] most of the time, little blue uniforms and white little blouses and white shoes and brown Oxfords [laughter]. That was our 36:00uniform. But anyway, and I guess, you know, and a lot of the kids there were different socio-economic bases but because the uniform actually takes away who had and who didn't since it was a mission school you had a variation of students there. The--they closed the actual school, I don't know, years later. The church still exists, St. Mary's, still exists there in Greensboro on Lee Street. Well, you've changed Lee Street to Gateway Plaza or something. Ya'll changed the name to something or other.
LW: Gate City--Gate City Boulevard now.
ET: I'll never get used to that--. LW: [Laughter].
ET: Because that's always been Lee Street but it's right down there near theWindsor Community Center, that church sits right there on--and the old parsonage is still there and the place where the nuns and all of that is still there on the corner. It's Duke Street, Gorrell [Street], Benbow Road, and what used to be 37:00Lee on that, kind of, whole quadrant there. And they actually, they tore down the old school. They still have the, I think , where the nuns and the priest stay and the actual church, I don't--how many years did that church sit? It's an old, old church but that's still there. And they've built, I think, it's like a community center. I know because they were actually at one time actually selling the bricks and stuff they wanted all of us who had graduated to, you know, purchase and help build that new center there. So that's, that's, and that's kind of a lot of--my father, like I said, believed in education and even though it was a struggle for him to send each of us there, because we had to pay tuition and stuff because we were not Catholic and--but he felt like education was key and that if you have a good education you can do anything you wanted to 38:00do, yes.
LW: Well, I was wondering, because I know you went to a variety of differentschools growing up from the Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal to Page to UNCG and Notre Dame High School. I wondered could you speak a little bit to--compare and contrast the academic situation and also kind of like the student life at each of these institutions as a comparison?
ET: Okay. Well, of course I got--Catholic school is always very strict. Youknow, it's very regimented and stuff. The nuns actually talked my father into me going to Notre Dame High School. They, you know, felt like I had the initiative and the smarts to go. And if you remember, well you would remember, but at that time integration, you know, they had just started integrating the schools and most of the kids would have gone, if they did their undergraduate at--I mean 39:00their elementary school at Our Lady of Miraculous Medal, they either went to Lincoln Junior High School [Greensboro, North Carolina] and then on to Dudley High School [Greensboro, North Carolina] because they would have been in our community. A lot of the Catholic students went onto Notre Dame High School. And so the nuns asked my father, you know, would he make that sacrifice and it was a sacrifice with the tuition to send me there. It was great. The--I think the difference in public school and private school is that the ratio of teacher to student was smaller. You had individualized attention. We actually were just a four-room schoolhouse and we had two grades to each room. That teacher, actually that nun actually taught the, you know, the different grades and you kind of had a set regiment for, you know, you sing whatever the prayers were we had to say and the Pledge of Allegiance and then, you know, you had the religion and you 40:00had your different courses and stuff so it was very regimented. In fact, I was looking at some of the older records that my father kept at our house and I was looking at the information about our school and stuff and what was going on at that time and it even had some of our pictures in there. Daddy kept everything because he was also--he was president of the P.T.A. [Parent Teacher Association] and stuff there at school so he used to follow us up to a lot of stuff. And then I went to Notre Dame and that was--with that, we were integrating. They were accepting black students there at there because it was integrated before I got there. And--but we also had an influx of students who were not Catholic. So, then they had to try and figure out, okay, you're not making them go through religion courses and stuff because this is not something they would much use so they--we had a religion studies for non-Catholics. So the Catholic students got jealous, 41:00I remember, of us because they like the--more of what we were dealing with in terms of life issues and things that were happening. And they just--they liked that kind of focus and stuff with their studies and so but being a non-Catholic student at a Catholic institution, you know, you could see things. I think when I was in the young grades, I always questioned, because you know, Catholic faith like Jewish faith is very indoctrinating. And, so, I used to question whether or not we were going to hell because we weren't Catholic [laughter]. And, so you learn a lot about religion but, even now as I go to my Bible study classes, I can appreciate that background because there is a lot that about Catholicism as it relates to Christianity as it relates to different religions and stuff. I 42:00have a--I got a deeper breath of knowledge about that just because of the experience so. Again, we did a--I don't think we had a lot of money to do things but the creativity of the nuns to work with just a little bit of money to do experiences. Like I said, after my parents--my mother died in 2012 and my father died last year, we were just going through and they kept everything. So, I was looking at my last, our prom. And I was looking at stuff in our grade school too. Whoever the class, the graduating class, like if you were eighth grade who was graduating, the seventh grade students were responsible for doing your program. So, you got to do skits and all kind of stuff. We did a lot of creative stuff like that. And also, I was looking at my high school, because that would 43:00have been my junior year that was my last year at Notre Dame, and we were also responsible for the prom and that--and we actually met. Our theme was "A Knight in Blue," we were the blue knights. That was our team--played basketball. I played women's basketball. I played basketball in high school too. And--but we actually had a carpenter that did a lot of the repairs at Notre Dame High School and he actually helped us do a paper mache horse. And we had a knight that we had--I don't know where one of the parents got this silver cardboard metallic paper and we actually built a knight. We had a mannequin that we dressed up as a knight and we actually did a paper mache. We put the chicken wire around it and 44:00helped us learn how to do that and we covered it in cotton and everything. It looked like a real horse [laughter] and that was kind of the thing, greeted everybody at the door as they came into that so. It was "A Knight in Blue." So that was our last formal activity that we had but a lot of the things that you learned and did, I was reading stuff. I had forgotten that we had done all those things. Just, my parents held onto all of those little programs and in sociology we read a lot about what you did. So there were a lot of things that I learned, not that I had a model, but there were things that I learned throughout each of those experiences, being maybe the only black in the class or being, you know, because from the eighth grade being all-Black students to going into a school where we were a minority and then definitely a minority being a Page because I went from being a small kind of high school where people knew me to one where nobody knew me in my twelfth grade year. I mean really except for those that 45:00transferred with us. We kind of got divided up between Grimsley [Senior High School, Greensboro, North Carolina], Page and [Ben L.] Smith High School [Greensboro, North Carolina], were the three schools most of the people made a decision to go and a lot of the black students did go to Page and some of us were still, you know, in touch with each other that were at Notre Dame High School. So, kind of--I felt like a little bit, I think , my senior year a little lost there because I'd gone from more of a nurturing environment to one that was not quite, to me, as nurturing, even though I took a lot of pre-college courses so I was on the right college track to not have a problem. I probably would have done, should have done a better job in looking at schools but knew financially I needed to kind of stay close to home. So those kinds of this played in a lot in the decision making for me to, you know, that I was going to go to school there either A&T or UNCG. And my father kind of pushed, I think, he kind of pushed UNCG and because Bennett [College, Greensboro, North Carolina] like out of, out 46:00of, financially out of reach. But just doing the joint program, I think, when I was at UNCG with the A&T helped me familiarize with the A&T students so when I went back and did the my master's degree I was already familiar with some of the people at A&T and that kind of stuff.
LW: So why, I know you just mentioned, you just said your father pushed, kindof sided with UNCG more than A&T?
ET: Yes, I think it he just--they were looking at me as an individual. My fatherused to tell me sometimes, --I wished your brothers were more like you.-- In fact, because, you know I was kind of like driven. I think I was one of his children [dog bark] that was driven and I think that was--he saw maybe me in him or something I think because we really were close [laughter] and my being the oldest girl, and we were just close. I think we thought a lot alike on a lot of things and I think he just supported me. He always supported my efforts and stuff.
LW: So it seemed that UNCG would be a better fit.
ET: Yes, I think for me, yes.
LW: Okay, and so I know you mentioned that you worked while you were in school.47:00
LW: Would you mind sharing some of the jobs you had while you were in school?
ET: [Laughter] Yes, low-paying jobs. I did--I worked very briefly on campus. Ithink I worked, I don't know how short a period of time because I went and applied for, on campus, I think, I can't even remember if I worked a week in the cafeteria [laughter]. I don't even remember. It's like a blurb but I think I did do something like that. And--but I don't know how I ended up--I started working at--off of, I think it was Oberlin Road. There was a little dress shop, a fabric shop. I started--I used to make my own clothes and stuff. I liked sewing and stuff. I took sewing classes in the summertime at the community center. And I 48:00liked sewing. I made a lot of my clothes and stuff so I started--I applied for a job at a fabric shop and that's how I started my work out. Maybe that place was called Dressmaker's Fabrics. That's just--kind of lurking in my brain. But I worked there and then right around the corner from that shop was a dress shop. Both were owned by Jewish men and when they closed the fabric shop, the proprietor of the dress shop hired me part-time to work. So I worked there rest of my time throughout college at the same--. They moved to a bigger location and they helped, were training me to manage it and do some of the merchandise so I worked with them throughout the rest of my years doing--sewing clothes [laughter], and going to school so I did that, yes, during college. 49:00
LW: Okay, yes. Well, I know you mentioned when you were in college you decidedto do sociology and social work.
LW: Because of the time. I was wondering if you could elaborate or expound alittle bit more about what is was like to live during that time period and some of the things you may have saw or experienced that kind of led that being a sociology major.
ET: Well, I just think I always, you know, everything was segregated when Igrew up and, of course, you know, you still had the colored water fountains and if you went to the Carolina Theatre [Greensboro, North Carolina] down there, you sat upstairs. You know, my parents, shielded us from a lot of things but I had always just been a person who just felt strongly about just, just unequal treatment of people. I just think it's awful and I went recently, I guess it was in May. I was in a national conference and I went to the Civil Rights Museum 50:00[Birmingham Civil Rights Institute] in Birmingham, Alabama, and I tell you I, I had--you just forget even though some much is going on this past couple of years but you really do forget a little bit of all the things that happened back then, the lynchings. My parents used to be afraid for us as children and they were strict on us and we just--they just didn't let us go a lot of different places and I think sometimes now as I look at parents look at their children being afraid for their children because the climate now seems somewhat a lot like--it's in a different manner, different way even though then someone could steal you off the streets and kill you for looking at someone wrong or being in the wrong place or accuse you of different things so. I look at all the different things that have happened over the years and just the riots and--. You know, I was--and I 51:00remember, I don't know, I couldn't have been but four years old when the picture of Emmett Till was all plastered over everywhere and I just remember that picture just like it, you know, and when I looked back at that, I would have been four years old. But that picture is in my mind from that time that they were burning crosses. I remember it was a Reverend Williams there in Greensboro. They were always constantly burning crosses on his lawn and there was a group called The Youth for a United Black Society my father said, "You all cannot be in that group." They used to meet and Nelson, I think it was a Nelson. But there was a group of people who were just not wanting to stand for the injustices that were going on. So it just had a real impact upon me as a young person looking at all of those things that was going on and stuff and it just trying to 52:00understand, I guess, and give meaning to why, why people think that they are better than other people or why blacks, they feel like blacks were not equal. So it's just, it's just a combination of a lot of things. But it was turbulent times when I think about it that now and then look at children now. They're faced with a lot of things. Discrimination has just taken on a different format. You can't just go out and do those kinds of things even though you have a resurgence of [Klu Klux] Klan activity, a resurgence of all these hate groups and stuff and I don't know where all of that is going to go or end but same things. But, you know, some of the same things--. But when I was looking at that exhibit down there they even have the Selma to Alabama in the bus, you know, they had the front part of that bus cut out and you could--they had been shot at and everything in that museum. And I was just looking and they also--I would like 53:00to go back. I could not see everything I wanted to see and it's an interactive museum so you could actually hear Bull Connor calling people niggers and everything like that and actually in their own voices and stuff. They recorded all this oral history down there and it is just something when you think about everything and of course the 16th Street Baptist Church was right across, I went over there. And then the garden, they have a [Dr.] Martin Luther King, [Jr.] garden, park, and four young girls that got killed. They have a monument there but just looking back on all of those times, I said, "Gosh I can't believe I'll be 64 at the end of the summer that that was a part of my lifetime and all those things have happened during that time." So, yes, I think I've always felt very deeply about those things and even now trying to work with our own young people 54:00and helping them to understand that as much as things have changed a lot of it is still the same. You know.
LW: Well, I just wanted to ask some follow up questions more about, you know,you were telling me about-- I know you mentioned you were a town student.
LW: So you didn't really get really involved with extracurricular on campus.
LW: I didn't know if you could speak a little bit to what you remember about--.
ET: Well, they didn't have any black fraternities or sororities on campus.
ET: If you pledged--if I would've pledged a sorority I would have had to pledgethrough either A&T or UNCG and they did not like the--I mean A&T or Bennett, and they did not like the UNCG girls [laughter]. No, and so I wouldn't do that but 55:00there were several who did pledge through the other schools and stuff. And, because, you have to remember the ratio of men to women in our, you know, the community and stuff. There were a lot more women out there than probably eligible men and so that always became a rivalry among the women at the different institutions [laughter]. But, yes, if you pledge a sorority you would have had the pledge through--. I did later pledge but I was in, you know, a graduate student, I mean not graduate student but a graduate chapter of AKA [Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated], yes, in later years but not would have done that during that time. So then, they used to try to organize the town students around different issues and there things like parking, always an issue. Oh gosh, it used to--you'd have to go out there and move your car and that it would erase the chalk marks on your car so you wouldn't get a parking ticket for parking too long. And so a lot of those things and of course the campus, you 56:00could park on Spring Garden. I mean, you know, and that was all. You could park and the administration building was the main building right there. I can't remember, well it was the main building right there in the center of campus. I can't recall it right off the top of my head. It will come to me in a minute. But that's where we used to-- registration and everything was there in that administration building right off of Spring Garden. And most of my classes were--they had built the Mereb Mossman Building, Mereb Mossman. Virginia Stephens was my academic person over the area that I was in. I took courses under Mereb Mossman and I liked her as an instructor. So, you know, a lot of, I felt like, and like I said, a lot of what I did with the mentoring project at State, 57:00probably was a lot of based on some of the things that I wished someone would have helped me with acclamation into the environment when I was there at UNCG. But like I said, also did have a--I did have some goals and was pretty much sticking with my goal to graduate, you know, in four years and everything so. I didn't have a lot of extra time. I had certain days scheduled for study. Certain days scheduled for work and I was kind of pretty much on a schedule [laughter] most of my life during that time. But I do remember going to some events in Elliott Center. And I wish and I imagine that there are those that had that camaraderie. What I missed I think that I would have gotten at a historically black campus is that sense of belonging and stuff that I don't think that I had when I was at UNCG, and, like I said, you know, we weren't long integrated so 58:00you really would have had a niche or something but because I was from the Greensboro community, I had a different kind of orientation so I didn't feel way left out there but I think that the camaraderie that you feel or that my friends that went to historically black colleges have is a little different that the camaraderie that I had with those who I went to school with at UNCG. So, most of the relationships that I've continued and those have been ones that I've had before I went to UNCG and not ones that I've initially developed there and carried on afterwards, yes.
LW: Okay, I know you just mentioned--I can never say her first name right. Mossman.
ET: Mereb Mossman.
LW: Mereb, there you go. Mereb Mossman.
LW: I know that's one of the questions we ask is, you know, it seems youactually had interaction [with administration]. I was wondering if you could elaborate more on what was she like. What it like to interact with her. She had 59:00a very prominent role in the university especially in the administration.
ET: Yes. She was very caring. That's what I really like about her. She was verycaring. She was an older person even at the time that I was there I think and she as like the godmother of sociology. I mean, everybody looked up to her and so I, like I said, I did have some classes under her and I really did like her a lot. Virginia Stephens was my actual academic advisor and so and I as think back on it as I was saying, I just really--I may have taken some different direction had I had some other different type of involvement but, you know, that was what it was there at that time so. And I do think probably my interactions may have 60:00been a little differently--different if I had stayed on campus but you know, but basically I think I did what I needed to do to get through and accomplish those things [laughter] and so I've always have been kind of a--people used to say they thought that UNC was harder than UNCG but I always felt like UNCG was probably a lot harder than UNC. And I know I always use writing. I probably wasn't the strongest writer even though I made about, I think, I made a thousand or something on my SAT's at the time. And, but, my strength was in math and not in the writing portion of it. But after I did my first year of composition or whatever we had to take there, I've always felt like I could write for anybody else after that [laughter]. I struggled but I felt like after I went through that first year that I really could--I had developed strong writing skills as a 61:00result of that.
LW: Yes, I was going to follow up and ask, I know you, you took a lot ofsociology classes.
LW: Are there any other courses or any other faculty or instructors that youhappen to remember or may have--?
ET: No, I guess I was just so focused on my major. I do remember I had to haveanthropology and was a part of that whole--but I think that whole. We didn't have a, if I remember correctly and this is kind of gray. We had the sociology and then we just had the social welfare sequence, which later had developed into a whole social welfare program I think at UNCG. Now, so, we had that sequences of courses that dealt with, I guess, poverty programs and DSS's [Department of Social Services] and things you would you have to do to go through that type of public assistance and that sort of thing. But I don't remember much other than 62:00my French teacher [laughter]. But, I don't remember much other than that with instructors and stuff. Like I said, I do, I wish I could remember my, whoever had my English composition my early courses. But the writing, that person I owe a great deal to because I think being able to write grants and stuff and really focus and look at what I was writing and what it was saying. I am a very grateful person when it comes to writing and being able to look at things now. So, I think those types of things had an impact on me and my later career too.
LW: Yes, and I know you've also mentioned there was a joint program with A&T?
ET: Yes, we did a joint placement, like an internship?63:00
LW: Okay, just the placement.
ET: Joint placement. Yes. But they later, from what I understand, I think theydid do further things, like experimental, I don't know if it was experimental.
LW: I was going to ask if you could elaborate more on the structure, set up,and things like that.
ET: I just can't remember all of it. I know that. Dr. Johnson was our fieldplacement supervisor and I don't even know if he is still living. But there were three of us that and we would travel two days a week to Thomasville and we kind of shared that responsibility. We'd get over there and we'd work with the clients in this housing development. And working on social needs, what ever their physical needs in terms of applying for assistance or other programs they might need. That was kind of our field placement and we'd work with them for like a year doing that and I don't know if it was a collaboration between, I think, Virginia Stephens and Dr. Johnson. They had helped design that. So I 64:00don't--might want to look into the history. I don't remember how that all came about. But that was collaboration then between those two schools with those two programs and I think it continued a lot. And I think they may have a joint program now. I just, in later years, I think, one of the students of the joint program was talking to me about it. But that's been years later so I don't know what that looks like now.
LW: Well, I know you already shared a lot about what you did after UNCG. Ididn't know if you also kept in touch with the university with all the things you've done?
ET: I haven't really, they, when--I was trying to think when, I think it was Pat[Patricia] Sullivan was chancellor at the school, she had, she used to work, I think, at the UNC General Administrative Office and her husband, they were always telling me you need to get more involved with UNCG and I just really 65:00didn't. Our lives were taking on such different paths. I was in Winston-Salem State trying to figure out what it was to be a First Lady and what I needed to do and all the things I had to do to help my husband in that role. So, I really had thought about it, you know, doing more. And of course JoAnne Drane [JoAnne Smart Drane, Class of 1960] and I are good friends and she was always encouraging me to get more involved with the alumni, do some more things. But I have not. I know that I have seen a couple of graduates from there but I'm not even sure they either, other than JoAnne, had been, you know, really involved with the school. She's been very involved and stuff and she usually kept me posted in the past about different things. When they named the dormitory up there after them, I think it was the dormitory, one of those buildings up there 66:00after her and another student, I went up there for that dedication.
LW: Okay, so, I guess in wrapping up the interview--.
LW: A little bit, so what would you want people to know about or to--what is themessage you would want people to, after hearing this interview, walk away with about your time at UNCG and the impact it kind of had on you and your experience?
ET: Well, I think everything that you do in life that you learn from thoseactivities, whatever you are involved in. And your life, where I am today, is a combination of how my life started and my education. The experiences that I had, 67:00my experiences at UNCG, my experiences in the workforce, my involvement in the Civil rights movement, just all of that impacted who I am today. So I see bits and pieces of me throughout those experiences, I see those in me now. And I think it's just a culmination of all your life activities that bring you to a point of either you're comfortable in your own skin, which I am, and I probably, maybe if there one thing I would have changed, I probably might have gone into math. No, I'm just teasing. I would have made a little bit more money [laughter]. Social affairs, social welfare is not an area that you would go in to make money. It is--it was about social consciousness and what was going on in 68:00signs of times and my belief that I could make an impact on the things and the climate of the times based on what I was learning at that time, so. Yes, that's kind of what I would take away from all that.
LW: Okay, okay, well I don't have any more formal questions. Is there anythingelse you would like to add to the interview?
ET: No, you made me think about a lot of different things I had not thoughtabout in a long time but I thank you and I thank you for the opportunity to--.
LW: Well, thank you.
ET: Discuss my life and my life at UNCG and my current life [laughter].
LW: Well, thank you so much for sharing and I know I learned a lot and I hopeall the students who listen to this in the future will also learn just as much.
LW: Thank you so much.
ET: You are quite welcome. Thank you.
LW: Turning off the [recorder].