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Interview with Georgia Bowden (with Herman Johnson, Eva Mae Smith, and Lela Pierce Thompson) Part 2, May 25, 2005 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Georgia Bowden (with Herman Johnson, Eva Mae Smith, and Lela Pierce Thompson) Part 2, May 25, 2005
May 25, 2005
In the second part of their interview, Bowden, Johnson, Smith and Thompson further discuss Williston College and share their opinions on problems and difficulties concerning the current U.S. school system, including the issue of standardized testing and how to promote an academically and socially encouraging classroom environment.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:  Bowden, Georgia, et al. Interviewer:  Johnson, Joyce / Parnell, Jerry / Mims, LuAnn Date of Interview:  5/25/2005 Series:  Southeast North Carolina (SENC) Length  50:48


Q: This is part two of our interviews of Williston, Williston Senior High School, and Williston College. We were talking about the closing of schools. My question was if you thought that your schools could've remained open as integrated schools.

Smith: Well, I just want to say, on uh.. integration, integration, you know, is- is a wonderful thing but also it's not so wonderful because you-- Well, I feel like we've lost a lot of culture because of integration. You know, now they don't have May Day anymore. I remember when I was a little girl, we had May Day every year. And my parents would come out, everybody would come out, and it would just be an entire day of fun and dancing, and it was just so wonderful. And now, that's- that's gone.

And uhm.. the teachings- the teaching was quite different. Uhm.. I'm not going to say that there's poor teaching going on now. I'm not going to say that, but I just don't understand. Everybody could read and write, and everybody knew their multiplication tables, and there was-- I don't remember anybody in our class that couldn't read. I don't know what has happened, but something has. And then, before I retired, I was getting students in my class, in the fifth grade, who couldn't read- could not read. And I- I would sit at my desk and say, "What has happened? What is going on?" And I'm not going to say that that's- that it's because of integration that it's- that this has happened, but something has happened. I don't know the answer, but it's not like it was when I was going to school.

Bowden: I believe that uhm.. teachers are-- They- they don't-- Uh.. they don't seem to know how to handle situations that come up with the students, you know. For example, when you have uh.. integrated class, if a black student is misbehaving, let's say if it wasn't integrated and you had all black students there, you could kind of tell him off real-- You could just really tell them off. Whatever you need to say, get it out just like they would hear it if they were at home. But with integration, you could not do that because if you were to tell a black child something that he really needed to hear, then you'd have a problem because you were doing it in front of everybody and beca-- Uh.. that's what happened, that I noticed during integration. You simply could not talk to the students the same way without offending someone. And then what I had to do, you know, before I retired, if you had a problem in the classroom, you had to take that child outside the door and talk to him personally. Well, you- you'd left your class behind every time you do that. If you've got five or six kids acting up and you've got to stop every s- so- every so often and take one out to speak to him, whether he's black, white, or whoever, you're losing ground.

And that was the thing that- that I noticed, that you just- you had to handle-- Everything had to be handled differently. We just could not uhm.. you couldn't speak to the children. Uh.. you know, black kids, if you've got 'em together, you can say what you need to say to them if you are a black person. Now, a white teacher couldn't do that. You know, they had- they were just like us, in the same boat. It was like the same thing. So, in- in that sense, some things got lost. I don't think the white teachers wanted to go after the black kids too hard because then they would be charged with racism. And, you know, and then if I went- came down on my black students too hard, then they would also charge me with- with racism. So, it was like a no-win situation and that- that has just dragged the system down. It really has.

Thompson: I want to add a little something to that, too. Speaking of problems, you know, uh.. and maybe being accused of being uhm.. prejudiced or something like that. Uh.. because I can recall before I retired some situations where some of the-- I think the white teachers had uh.. problems with the black students, and they didn't really want to discipline them, you know, right in the classroom. So sometimes, they would just sit 'em outside the door and I would go there and I'd see them. I'd say, "What- what in the world are you doing out here? What're you sitting out here, missing your education like that?" And uh.. they-- "Come on in here. Get a book and read." That's what I would do, you know. But then (laughs) in- in a sense, it's kind of amusing 'cause the teacher would come out and look for the student, then I would have the student in there. But then I'd send 'em back. But I mean, there were problems for all of us. And like she said, it was hard to deal with both students because you really couldn't say all that you wanted to say because you thought someone would think that you were being uhm.. harsher to one and not the other. So, it's been a problem. I think that- that is what has happened to the system. I don't know how we're gonna really straighten it out, but I think that's one of the reasons.

Bowden: And they would actually say that to your face. They would actually say that to your face! Here you're doing the best you know how, and then you've got a kid that says, "Well, you think more of so-and-so than you do of me," you know. But yet, you're trying to help everybody. It- it gets to be--

Johnson: It's hard. But, you know, what Georgia said is so true. Because uhm.. the whole thing is we-we-- And as uh.. Eva said as well. You had respect for your teachers when you- we had segregated schools. And I won't say stu-- Well, yes, some students don't have respect for their teachers now. Because black parents would make sure that they knew students went to school, and I'm quite sure white parents did the same thing. Uh.. I can only speak from, you know, my perspective as a black person. Uh.. you'd better not go in there and disrespect a teacher because before you got home, your parents knew about it. Yes, and they took care of it. So, as a result, you were more attentive in class. You listened, and you learned. And, as Georgia was saying about when integration came about, I experienced this as I guess all the others of you did as well. You had some students who would say uh.. and parents would tell you this, too. Uh.. black parents didn't want a white teacher to put their hands on their child. And white parents vice versa, would say, "A black teacher better not put their hands on you as well." And many times, as she said, children would tell you that. And as a result, they had developed this kind of uh.. uhm.. stigma, I guess, against the teacher. And many times, you had to get beyond that before any kind of learning would take place.

And when I was at Pine Valley, I was on what was called the School Improvement Team. It was a team of teachers, and also we had a couple of parents, the principal, assistant principal. And that team was responsible for sort of making uhm.. you know, guidelines or approving uhm.. criteria for operation of the school. And uhm.. often times, I would hear-- Not only that, in faculty meetings I would hear some white teachers say, "I don't know why these black children can't learn. They come in and they have their head down. They won't look up when I'm speaking to them." And many times, some of them would say, "They just are not attentive at all." And I would tell them, you know, "A lot of times, many of these uh.. kindergarteners, these babies, first graders who have been taken from their environment, which is all black." Many times, these black children have never run into a white person at all until they get on that bus and get to school. And then, when they get into a new environment, they're going to be curious about the environment as all of us are. And they're going to be looking at your hair. That's blond, you know. They've never seen blond hair, red hair. They have their little kinky hair. So as a result, I would tell some of our teachers that you have to, a lot of times, get beyond that with a child. Because when they're in a new environment and they see these strange things they've never encountered before, much of their attention is going to be on observing what's around them.

Bowden: I'd like to add that, in most of the schools today, you- you're gonna see mostly white teachers. The school that I retired from, I think there were probably about five of us out of-- You had about 70 people in the school, and maybe five or six are black. And so in seventh grade, which I taught for over 20 years, uhm.. there were-- we were (laughs) probably the lucky group. We always had two black teachers. I was there and one other teacher. She's still there. They never moved us, and we remained in seventh grade. And I think we did a better job with seventh grade because they could see us. They saw somebody they could identify with, and I think that makes a difference. In other classes, that- they do not have any black teachers, or they might have a black aide in- in a class somewhere. Uh.. there might have been uh.. a black P.E. teacher, but they-- Black teachers are absent. They have no one that they can go to when they're feeling down and out, when they feel low. They need to have somebody. Even the counselors are white.

And uhm.. I just think, if they had somebody that they could go to just on the campus, maybe a- a person of color in every -- we call them "pods" at my school. They're divided into pods, into- each level in a pod. And- and in some of those cases, they had no one to go to. And when they start acting out, the white teachers don't always-- (laughs) They don't always understand that black behavior. Some of the thing, you know it's just really, really too wild. And they- they can get loud and, if you don't understand the culture-- They've even tried to do workshops on culture to help everybody understand, you know, what everybody is like. And so far, I don't think it's really helped that much. I- I don't know, but if they could do more of that kind of thing in the schools, just try to help. Since most of the teachers are white, if they can maybe understand a little more of how to deal with black students. I know it seems that they act out, they're loud and boisterous sometimes, but they really-- I guess, if they could be understood, they might find that they're not really bad. They're just kinda acting out or something. I don't know. I guess they need attention.

Johnson: You know, if I may piggyback on what uh.. Georgia was saying, too. It was the same thing at Pine Valley. Uhm.. there are uh.. a population of black teachers in which- in comparison with uh.. the white uh.. staff, I think there were like about three at the time. And then once I retired, I think there were like two on staff. But not only that, uhm.. I mean, there were many times I had uh.. classes where I may have just one black child in a whole classroom of 26 students, or sometimes two. There was never about four black children in a classroom. But when you put a child in an environment where they cannot identify with anyone like them, uh.. many times it takes a while for them to adjust. And I think a lot of times while they're trying to adjust, the teacher is going on with their teaching. And, by the time they adjust, they are behind. Yes, mm-hmm.

Smith: ________ somewhere, you know.

Johnson: And it's hard. You know, going back to what Georgia said, it's kind of-- Well I guess, just you have to educate people to the ways of uh.. another culture. I have been to graduations of- of black institutions and many times, you may have three or four students that graduate in teaching in the whole graduating class. Whereas when we came along, a lot of times you had a whole graduating class full of black teachers.

Thompson: Now they're not going-- They're not training to be teachers anymore.

Johnson: That's true.

Bowden: So there will be even fewer black--

Q: Do you think it's because they've had such a negative experience in high school?

Bowden: It could be. It could be.

Q: You guys all had college-level experience.

Johnson: I think- I think the main thing is uh.. the economy now. When we came along, as black people the only thing you could go to school for was a teacher.

Thompson: Or a nurse.

Johnson: Or a nurse, yeah, at that time. You know, a few of them went for doctors. That was all you could go for, so it was just-- You had uh.. you know, a wide influx of teachers. And now it's-- The dam has opened. You can be a lawyer as a black person, doctor, whatever. So therefore, when they see what a teacher's paid, you know. (laughter)

Smith: I- I was just fixing to say--

Johnson: Yeah. A- a young person doesn't want to go into that kind of _________.

Smith: Young people don't want that. T-They don't want the crime. Our salary, we thought it was great. Didn't you all think it was great?

(cross talk)

Bowden: I thought my salary was just great.

Johnson: But I think even--

Smith: I think now, looking back--

Johnson: If you go back and find your first paycheck, you may think differently. (laughter)

Smith: Well no, I would-- I really wouldn't.

Thompson: I think it's like you said, though, about having been in an integrated situation. I believe that does influence uh.. what it is that they select as a career, because I don't think they want those same kind of problems. Because uhm.. if I had seen some of the problems earlier that I saw near the end, I may have changed my major too, you know.

Bowden: I've heard young children in seventh grade say, "Oh, no! I will never be a teacher." They already know that they do not want--

Thompson: To be that.

Bowden: To be a teacher.

Smith: Well, that's sad because they--

Thompson: It is.

Bowden: They see what teachers go through. They see all the problems, and they see parents come and get after the teacher and the principal and everybody else, you know. And they- they see the children being sassy to their teachers. And uh.. when you ask, "Who wants to be a teacher?" You know, I would ask that. Once in a while, you might see one hand go up. And I mean nobody wants to be a teacher. Just a few.

Johnson: But even beyo-- even beyond that, Georgia. My last 14 years of teaching, I worked with uh.. the student teaching program for the university. You know, student teachers come to my classroom. And I had student teachers, once they finish their student- their practice teaching, say, "I don't think I want to be a teacher." And some of them were in the fellows program. And once they had finished their practice, they said, "No, I don't want to teach." And I think it goes back to what Georgia said, that discipline in the schools is a major factor that causes a lot of people to not want to go into teaching.

Smith: And to add to that, at Supply Elementary, we have had-- Uh.. I think there have been two. I don't think they even finished their practice work. They didn't even finish. They just could not put up with it.

Johnson: Yeah. A- and we had that. I won't call the name of the school.

Smith: (laughs)

Johnson: I worked-- (laughs). I still work in schools from time to time. And this young lady, she- she had been assigned to this school and she said, "I'm not coming back," and she just did not come back. She said, "I'm not gonna go into teaching."

Q: Do you feel that segregation protected African American Students from discrimination?

Johnson: Well yes, it did.

Bowden: And at school-- Yeah, at school. You know, once you go out into the world, you know, then you have to face all the problems but at school, yes. They-- Yeah, they were protected.

Johnson: But when you went out to society, you know, you faced the discrimination that uh.. all of us faced at that time.

Bowden: And so-- But everybody has to learn to live in a world of other people. So then when I look at integration and then I try to see what's- what is good about integration, you know, it-- You've got to learn to work with other people and be-- And I-- Some of my best friends are- are white people that I've worked with because I didn't-- There were very few black people, so I always got along with all the people that I worked with. I- I was very fortunate not to have any enemies, you know. I had people who really acted as though they cared for me.

Johnson: But there's a lot that's good about integration. You know, I don't want anyone to think it was not a good thing to do. But I think a lot of the problem is that they came along with this idea of integration, integrating the schools, and that's as far as society has gone, integrated schools.

Thompson: Exactly.

Johnson: But see, when these same children leave school, they go back into segregated neighborhoods. Whites live together, blacks live together. Sunday mornings, that's the most segregated time.

Thompson: Yeah. ___________

Johnson: All the whites go to their church. All the blacks go to theirs. So I think that's the problem that we're gonna have to overcome, is society. How are we going to integrate society so when we get into the schools, you don't have that problem? People can get along with one another.

Thompson: I imagine uh.. the college here are aware of that problem in their uh.. education department, or all of their departments. And I imagine they're fi- trying to find a way to uhm.. see how this problem can be solved, or if there's anything the community, you think we can do to assist in some way. (laughs)

Johnson: May- may I answer that, please?

Q: Okay.

Johnson: I think you have two choices because, you know, Lela, I think that's the problem that society has. It dumped everything on the school system to solve, and the schools can't do everything. But they want the school system to solve all the ills of society and then fix it for us, and then we turn the people out in society and live together. And uh.. to answer your question, Lela, I don't think it should be the responsibility of the school of education here to fix that problem. You know, they're going to train teachers to go out in the classroom and teach just like they did us, too. But they will probably run into the same problems that we did as teachers.

Thompson: Probably.

Johnson: Because they still have those same students coming from this society that we are all uh.. members of.

Bowden: But I think that, since most of the teachers that are going into the schools nowadays are white teachers, I think they need to have more work on cultures.

Johnson: That's a good point.

Bowden: How to deal with um.. you know.

Johnson: ____________

Bowden: Yeah, because that's who they're gonna be facing every day. They're the ones-- I mean, there are very few black people in- teachers in the schools.

Johnson: And that's a good point. That's a good point.

Thompson: I think-- Yeah. I think all- all of the teachers, black and white, need to be brought up on the culture because you have a situation with not just black, but you have Hispanic and other cultures, too.

Bowden: And Muslim.

Thompson: And so all teachers need to be aware of everybody's culture.

Johnson: That's a good point. Very good point.

Bowden: And just uh.. be, you know, so they- they'll know what to look for. If they see a type of behavior, it won't be a shock to them, you know.

Johnson: Exactly.

Bowden: They'll- they'll say, "Well, this is what we learned in that workshop," or class or whatever.

Thompson: (laughs)

Johnson: Yeah. That's taking some of what I just said. You have a very good point because uh.. that's a part of training teachers. Until they realize that, "I'm going into a uh.. world that may be different from what I'm living in today," and uhm--

Thompson: And this is where we see it so visible in the schools, you know.

Bowden: It brings back what may be-- Everybody would be much happier if they could find a way to deal with some of the problems in the school systems.

Johnson: But you know, I think maybe society, where they can maybe address this problem is in the churches because churches have always been that- just like the school, that place where you started to try to get everybody together, to integrate these churches where everybody's going- is allowed to go to the same church. I mean, we're allowed to go now but people choose not to. They want to go to churches of their choice.

Thompson: (laughs)

Johnson: Yeah, _________. So maybe we can maybe encourage more of that, at that level.

Thompson: Well, I read somewhere-- I've got to say this. I read somewhere (laughs) in a book I was reading about a return to love. And it says uh.. that-- What it is? Denying love is the problem, and embracing love is the answer. And that's all I got to say. (laughs)

Bowden: Sounds good.

Smith: I just want to say uhm.. (clears throat) one of the main goals of education was uh.. equal education, right? Do you all think it's equal?

Johnson: You know--

Bowden: In what way?

Smith: Well, I mean is every child getting the same opportunity to s- education? I mean, is it equal?

Johnson: No, it's not equal. It wasn't equal when we were segregated either, the schools, because-- Well, ev-- The opportunities were there, but whether the child decides, "I'm going to take advantage of these opportunities," you know, I guess that makes a difference because--

Thompson: And many of those-- Excuse me. And many of those problems started at home.

Johnson: Yeah, that- that's a major problem.

Thompson: And that's when we were segregated, you know. Uh.. and the parents have to kinda uh.. push the children and, you know, they have to help the schools and other uh--

Bowden: Sure. It begins at home.

Thompson: Places that are trying to teach the child. So, it- it's just not at home.

Johnson: At home, right.

Thompson: At home.

Johnson: But- but getting back to what Eva said. I think what you was sa-- I think what you were maybe uh.. leaning towards, in this-- When we were in more segregated schools, we had teachers that pushed us to get that equal education. They let you know, "You can do such and such. You can go to this school," and so forth. But I think in many of our schools today, teachers don't do a lot of that, pushing and encouraging students.

Smith: Very little. Very little.

Johnson: Yeah. So--

Q: Part of that's challenging the students.

Johnson: Right. Challenging the students. Right.

Bowden: Exactly.

Smith: Well, you can't because you'd be labeled as a very strict, controlling teacher and no teacher wants that kind of labeling, you know, so--

Bowden: And parents don't want to-- Uh.. and parents, even when it comes to homework, we gave homework four nights a week. And I believe in really giving homework for those four nights, and- and a lot of other teachers. And uh.. the parents would be just so unhappy. I mean, they would come to the principal about homework!

Johnson: They sure did.

Bowden: I mean, if you gave homework, they'd say, "My child was up until midnight doing home--" And I never gave that kind of homework. I mean, maybe some people did. But the homework that they got from me, they could've done it before, you know, in an hour or something like that if they used their time wisely. But for four nights a week, and I would say, you know, you've got-- And I said, "you'll have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights free. Just work hard during these four nights." And uhm.. so, a lot of parents are upset with homework. And then if they talk about the teacher and talk about the homework, then the child is angry when they set foot in the school. You-- So, you've got a problem right there because the child says, "Well, my parents said I don't have to do this work." You know, you have-- We have to deal-- As teachers, we have so many things to deal with, and-- You know, and then you have to try to keep the peace. How can you, you know?

Johnson: And see when we were in school, that wasn't heard of. If that teacher gave you homework, you'd better have it.

Thompson: You'd better have it.

Johnson: When you go to school, parents made sure you had that homework. If you didn't, there was a consequence on it.

Thompson: (laughs) I guess--

Johnson: Getting back to what Georgia was saying, too, about the homework. I got the same kind of r- uh.. accusations, I will say, about homework. They would go to the principal, and the principal would uphold the- the parents.

Thompson: I guess I'm the oddball. (laughs) I'm the oddball.

Johnson: I mean, at my school they had even come up with a policy where -- we were kind of departmentalized -- where maybe, as a science teacher, I would give homework on maybe Mondays and Wednesdays, the English teacher on Tuesdays and Thursdays, that kind of stuff. But I know, as a science teacher, many times I would assign a science project and I would have a parent come in the day of the project being due, very upset. "Why did you give him this project last minute?" And then I would have given them a whole list of instruction three weeks ahead of time.

Bowden: Weeks ahead of time.

Johnson: I told them when it was due, but then Johnny just told them the night before. And then, once they had found out that Johnny was the problem--

Johnson: Oh, yes. Yeah.

Thompson: I was just getting ready to say, though, in- in defense of uh.. some parents, 'cause a parent and a grandparent, and uh.. I've dealt with uh.. grandchildren coming home and honestly uh.. it seems some teachers feel like uh.. that ea- that each can give a child a hour's worth of homework. And so many of 'em do stay up 'til 10 and 12 uh.. doing it, trying to get their homework done, you know. And so there should be a happy medium somewhere. I think maybe some teachers could consult with other teachers. If they're gonna give a long assignment, find out what night that teacher is giving hers, something like that, because it's hard on the students.

Bowden: Well, we were asked to do that at my school and also, I was a-- But I set an hour for my work. I was teaching reading, writing, and social studies, three subjects there to, you know. So that-- I think that, for those three areas, it would take maybe about an hour. But then they had math and science, or social-- Uh.. math and science, rather. It probably takes two hours a night--

Smith: Some of them, more than that.

Bowden: For some of them to do it.

Smith: About four or five.

Johnson: Right. And I think a lo-- Today, in today's society, there are a lot more requirements on the students than when we came along. Because I remember Mr. William Lowe was our Government teacher and many things that he was teaching us in- as seniors, I was teaching students in the sixth grade because they're now included in the textbooks. The branches of the government, those kinds of things. And uh.. you know-- (laughter)

Bowden: And now with the "No Child Left Behind" program, it's gonna be even worse. I think maybe even more frustrations for some unless they buckle down. It could really be bad.

Q: Also the end of grade, end of course test, something that has changed the dynamic of teaching, where you couldn't ________. Instead of having a holistic approach like you were trying to do with the three subjects, now each one has to be taught individually. You were teaching during this. Did it affect the way you taught, to where you had to have this challenge met every year?

Johnson: It did.

Bowden: It was really tough to be a- a language arts teacher because we had-- I was responsible for writing score and the language score. So uhm.. that was- that was really something, and I had to really work those kids. I mean, because you can't have 'em turning up with a two in writing. And uh.. then they had to pass reading. They couldn't get a two. They had to at least get a three to pass. So, it was a lot of hard work and so much reading, and for me to do and- and to grade all that writing. And uh.. it's- it's very-- It's difficult for any uh.. teacher. I was reading about the- the lady that died at her school the other day, at Belleville. That was very sad.

Thompson: Yeah, it was.

Bowden: I can-- Reading, I think I saw-- I read where she would stay at school sometimes until midnight, but-- And I re- reminded my husband of that yesterday. He said, "Well, Georgia." He says, "You know, I've helped you at your school until 10:00 or 10:30," (laughter) at night, you know. And- 'Cause I was saying, "Well, she probably needed to get some rest."

Thompson: Some rest.

Bowden: She didn't get- take care of herself, or see a doctor maybe. And uh.. he reminded me, and I thought back, "Yeah, there have been times when he would be helping me at my school, 10:00 or 10:30 on Sunday night," or 10:00 once in a while, you know. That was when we had to be a blue ribbon school that year. (laughter) We just had to become a blue ribbon school.

Johnson: Yeah. Uh-- there's so much pressure on schools now, and from principals on teachers, and the grade tests. You know, now you have certain uh.. requirements that you must meet. And it's almost like teachers are- some teachers are like trying to teach to the test.

Thompson: Teach the test.

Johnson: Right? So they can pass the test. Because, you know, we were told by some of our principals if we don't make those scores, my job would be in jeopardy. So uh.. it's a lot more pressure.

Q: The bonuses.

Johnson: Right, the bonuses that we would get.

Q: The program that pays out.

Johnson: Yeah, that's right.

Thompson: One of the-- Uh.. if that's-- I know that that's what uh.. they're doing now, but I keep thinking back to my times, when we didn't have to have all of that. And I- I imagine we became educated. (laughs) And I'm just wondering if it's all that important, those end-of-the-grade tests. You know, you've gone a whole year and you mean uh.. your uh.. score is that important, you know, and you've gone a whole year? 'Cause if you don't pass that end-of-the-year test, then you have to go to summer school or something like that. So, I don't know.

Johnson: But see--

Thompson: I just question those kinds of things.

Johnson: Yeah, I think when all of us started teaching, we all tested. Then, it was the California Achievement test.

Thompson: Achievement, yeah. That was the name.

Johnson: Right, but it wasn't-- Uh.. I- I don't know how to say this, but we-- It was given at the end of the year, and it- it was more like an assessment test. It didn't determine whether the child was gonna-- Well, sometimes it did determine whether a child was going to be promoted or not, but it- the pressure was not there. And it's there now.

Bowden: There's a lot of pressure nowadays.

Thompson: Yes.

Johnson: So, we're glad we came through when we did, as teachers. (laughter)

Thompson: Yeah, yeah.

Smith: It was worth it, all the trials and tribulations that we had.

Johnson: And we hear that from so many teachers. "I can't wait until I get out of this uh.. thing," they would say. Yes, because it's ad-- It's more being added on- added on, demands of the teacher.

Bowden: All the time.

Thompson: Exactly.

Q: Have you visited this campus since you left?

Bowden: Uh.. some parts of it. I've been to graduations there, so in that area. And I've been here in the library.

Thompson: Yeah, I've been here, too. The library and Kenan Hall.

Bowden: Kenan Hall, yeah.

Thompson: And uh.. what's that other one? Cameron School? Yeah, I've been there for meetings and that kind of thing.

Bowden: Yeah, workshops.

Thompson: Where was it that we went that time when we went to Houston? Kind of a lecture about-- Roderick (ph?) school? I forgot the name of that one.

Bowden: Yeah, I've been there.

Thompson: But about five or six different buildings that I've been to.

Smith: I was- I was recently here to renew my certificate for five years. I don't know why. (laughter) I- I was at the School of Education. I was over there and-- Uh.. I can't remember his name now. I think he's the head of it. Uhm.. I wish I could remember- remember his name because he's a very nice man.

Q: The dean is a woman.

Smith: This is a man. Uh.. evidently he's teaching over there, or-- I thought he was head of the department, but maybe not.

Q: Was it Mr. Johnston you were talking it?

Smith: He has white hair. Tall- tall man. I w-- I just can't recall his name right now. I- I know it, but I can't say it. If somebody would say his name, I'd know it right off the bat. But anyway uh.. I got my certificate renewed for five years. (laughter) It's in the desk drawer at home.

Q: Have you had the opportunity to see the new School of Education that just opened?

Johnson: No.

Smith: No, I haven't seen that.

Q: It just opened.

Bowden: Where is that located?

Smith: I have not seen that.

Q: _________________.

Bowden: So, everybody's over there now?

Q: It's near the library.

Johnson: When we were here, uh.. the education department was basically in uh.. Hoggard Hall. Yeah, that's where the offices were of all our advisors and all of our classes were. Well, not all of them, but most of them in education. All of us here were in Dr. Besourant's (ph?) class together. (laughter) The French department, remember?

Q: I'm going to ask something about Williston College. Were there extracurricular activities at Williston College? You said something about wanting to be in bad. No? It was just straight academics?

Johnson: At the college, yes.

Q: No athletics?

Smith: No, nothing.

Johnson: That was on the high school level, I think Georgia was talking about. I think she was talking about that.

Bowden: But at the college, when we were at Williston, were there any? There was-- You all were involved-- You were like a homecoming something.

Smith: I was- I was the Homecoming Queen for Williston College.

Bowden: For Williston.

Q: Usually when there's a homecoming, there's some athletic event.

Smith: We-- Just with the high school.

Bowden: With the high school. They got to ride through on a car with the- at the high school game that night.

Johnson: At the homecoming.

Bowden: But that's the only thing I remember.

Smith: That's the only thing I remember. We were just uh.. well-- Uh.. it was homecoming for Williston, so they just wanted to include the junior college.

Johnson: But it was a wonderful uh.. cohesiveness of friendships and- and people at Williston College, yes.

Smith: It was.

Johnson: You know, we had so many friends we developed, lasting friends.

Q: Do you know of anyone else we can or should interview? You mentioned some persons from Community Hospital.

Thompson: Okay. I know you know about uh.. Florence Warren. You know about her, right? Florence Warren. She knows so much. She's the president now of the uh.. Williston Alumni Association.

Q: We've interviewed her.

Thompson: You've already interviewed her? Okay.

Bowden: Most of those nurses were from out of town, I think a lot of them.

Johnson: Well, my sister attended the first year. She didn't graduate. She went into another profession, but she did attend uh.. Community Hospital School of Nursing. Yeah uh.. had a dormitory right on the campus of the uh.. hospital at Williston.

Thompson: And I know uh.. my class president, Adolph Richard, he knows a lot about uh.. Williston. He was on the football team, and he- he reads up on that kind of thing.

Johnson: Now, are you asking about Williston now or the hospital?

Q: Williston.

Johnson: Oh, Williston.

Q: The hospital or the college. We're interested in all of that.


Thompson: Okay.

Q: We're collecting information, artifacts. I found out about Williston in the library.

Johnson: From the old handbooks.

Thompson: And Dr. Hill, too.

Q: That's the only thing we have on Williston.

Thompson: Dorothy Hill, she's our uh-- She- she does a lot of writing, so she'd have a lot of information. She's here in Wilmington.

(crew talk)

Q: Pass that down.

Smith: Have a look.

Johnson: This is our handbook.

Q: It's from the late '50s.

Thompson: They've got them all listed here, the people. What about this Constance O'Dell? Have you interviewed her?

Q: No.

Thompson: Oh, you haven't.

Q: Is she still alive? Do you think she'd be willing?

Thompson: She may be if she knew, you know, the historical thing, you know.

Johnson: She's not in Wilmington now.

Thompson: Oh, she's not?

Johnson: I think she moved down with her daughter.

Thompson: I didn't know that. And this uh.. Mr. Howie (ph?).

Johnson: Now, Mr. Walter Floyd is still in the city. He's a-- He was the head of the high school band at Williston.

Q: He's in bad health. I talked to his wife last week. He's in a long-term care facility. I did not realize that.

Johnson: Right, now she was one of the teachers there.

Q: Do you guys follow what's going on in the schools today? As educators do you feel like you still need to keep an eye on--because a year, two years ago, they proposed new districting lines that were gonna make urban black children moving into suburb-type schools. They're still proposing this. I don't know if you all pay attention to this.

Thompson: Uhm.. what we read in the newspaper. Uh.. are you speaking of that school that's assessed, that's--

Q: The one they're talking about for suspension.

Thompson: Yeah. Uh-uh. Right. Yeah. Well, I attend a few board meetings, you know.

Johnson: So do I.

Thompson: And I try to keep up with what I read in the newspaper about it, but I'm sure I don't go into the school as much as I should. And- and I'm gonna try to do something about that.

Johnson: Well, I'm still involved in education (laughs) myself. I- I taught at Belleville last year. Uhm.. I was music teacher for the uh.. second uh.. semester. The music teacher at Belleville retired during the Christmas holidays, and uh.. they asked me would I come in and uh.. finish teaching music for the second part of the school year.

Q: You were a science teacher?

Johnson: Well, I- I-- My area of concentration is elementary education, four through nine. And uhm.. I started out as a- just a general el- elementary teacher. And then at Pine Valley, we departmentalized. And then one year I had English as Georgia did, English language program, and then I took the science. That was my area. I wanted to be a biology teacher (laughs) at first, then I changed into just a regular uhm.. uh.. English, I mean uh.. elementary teacher. The reason why, when I left Wilm- Williston College, I went to uh.. Winston-Salem. It was then Teacher's College, not State University. Uh.. when I graduated from Williston College. And uhm.. I was gonna enroll there. Well, I did enroll there. I was gonna m- uh.. matriculate there, but my mother died uh.. soon as I got there so, I came back home. She died September 13th, so I just got there the first of September, so when she came-- Uh.. Once I came back for the funeral and all, I was in no mood to leave home again. So uhm.. that's when I decided to just come on out here. And when I was at Winston-Salem, I had a double major, music and uh.. education.

Q: You mentioned earlier that you wanted to play in the band at Williston College.

Johnson: Yeah, I was in the band.

Q: You kept up with your music.

Johnson: Right. Uh.. I was in the band from sixth grade through twelfth grade. And then when I went to Winston-Salem, I was in the band there. SO, that's what gave me that. (laughs) And I'm still in music. I- I'm the director of the Wilmington Community Ch- uh.. Choir in Wilmington now. Yeah, so music has always been one of my loves.

Bowden: I don't think we've ever heard you play, Herman. Have we? (laughter) Did we hear him play around here?

Smith: He gave us a few numbers.

Bowden: Goodness! Dr. Hudson would've been happy for you if you'd have given--

Johnson: Right. Dr. uh.. Lloyd Hudson, he was the head of the music department when we were here.

Thompson: Yes, he was.

Q: He wrote the school song.

Smith: Oh, he did? Wonderful.

Johnson: ________________. Was he here when you were-- Dr. Hudson?

Smith: Yeah, he taught us music.

Thompson: I didn't take music.

Johnson: Okay. Well, that was my mentor. That was what-- (laughter)

Q: Would you do it again?

Johnson: Yes, yes. I would.

Thompson: I think I would, really. 'Cause like I said, in the beginning uh.. when I first started, the first-- The first 20 years at least, I would've done it almost for nothing. It was so enlightening, and I enjoying the students. I lo- I love to see them learn, you know. And they taught me so much also.

Johnson: That's right. You learn something every day.

Thompson: I would do it again.

Johnson: I'm still teaching. I teach at Cape Fear Community College.

Q: What do you teach?

Johnson: It's in the uh.. adult education program, math and English. Yeah, so it's-- Once it gets in your blood, you can't get it-- (laughter) They'll start teaching again.

Smith: No, I don't think I'll teach- start teaching again.

Bowden: Well, I think when you teach seventh grade for over twenty-some years, I think-- You know, my mother used to say, "That is the toughest grade I ever went through, the seventh." And I couldn't understand it until I started teaching it.

Thompson: Started teaching it.

Bowden: Those young adolescents! Well, I'll tell you, when you retire from seventh grade, (laughter) I don't think you want to go back.

Thompson: You want to go back to seventh grade.

Bowden: Not to seventh. Maybe first! Maybe first.

Smith: I can imagine. No, not first either.

Johnson: So, how many years have you been in retirement?

Bowden: I just retired in 2003.

Johnson: Oh, okay.

Bowden: I'm in my second year.

Johnson: See, I- I've been out longer. My first two years, I didn't do anything. And then afterwards, I got tired, bored of doing anything. So, you will be back.

Thompson: I have- I have-- No. I haven't gotten bored yet. (laughs)

Smith: There's ho- there's hope for us yet, right?

Bowden: I haven't either.

Johnson: Uh.. Lela- Lela-- You know, when we think of teaching, it's not just always in a classroom.

Thompson: Well, that's what I'm saying.

Johnson: She is uh.. the president of the uh.. Willis Richardson Players (ph?), and she has been involved in uh.. those plays ever since she's retired, so that's teaching.

Bowden: I work at the church. I do church work.

Thompson: I'm too busy doing other things, yeah. Church, yeah.

Bowden: Yeah, the kids and church.

Q: Thank you very much.

(crew talk)

Smith: I- would like to know, though, when did this college become a university? Was it in 19--

Q: 1969.

Thompson: What date was that? You don't know the date?

Q: July 1, 1969.

Smith: So, we were one of the first.

Bowden: We were in that first--

Smith: That's right.

Q: You guys are really very rare.

Johnson: We are the first, you know, a- along with uh.. Fullwood and Sterling--

Thompson: Fullwood and Sterling.

Johnson: Uh.. African-American students only.

Thompson: Flor- Florence was out here too, wasn't it?

Johnson: Well, Florence was behind us. We were first in line to come to the college.

Thompson: Oh, she was behind us. Okay. Well, it's been nice.

Q: Were you going to say something?

Thompson: No. I was just going to say I believe it's lunchtime, isn't it? (laughs)

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