The John Novak Oral History Archive

Interviews

Yvonne Revell

Yvonne Revell

Yvonne Revell was a Bennett College student, living at home, during the sit-in demonstrations at the Woolworths lunch counter which began on Feb. 1, 1960, Greensboro, NC. The interview recounts her student days at Bennett College, the demonstrations in February 1960, how these events impacted on other events in her life, and her years as a schoolteacher in segregated schools.

  • Date Interviewed: Friday, 28 May 2004
  • Interviewer: Dr. Dena Scher
  • Marygrove Archives ARC-SP 0100 File #1

 

 


Gwendolyn Mackel Rice

Gwendolyn Mackel Rice

Gwendolyn Mackel Rice was born the fourth of five children in Natchez, Mississippi, to parents who were active in the 1940s and 1950s civil rights movement. Although her childhood was comfortable and protected, she remembers racial slurs, separate restrooms and drinking fountains, and not being able to try on clothes in department stores. In 1956, just before Ms. Rice's senior year in high school, her family moved to Chicago after being "run out of Natchez, Mississippi by the Citizen's Counsel." Ms. Rice attended Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C., where her instructors were "fiery," "dynamic," and influential in expanding her worldview. She was present when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke at Bennett, and actively participated in the demonstrations at Woolworth's and the Carolina Theater in Greensboro, N.C. After graduating, she began a career as a social worker and has worked in public welfare, community-based programs for the elderly and youth, especially black males, and college preparatory programs for underserved youth. In the interim, she earned the Master's in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago after which she served as a senior program officer for a local foundation and later, as a not-for-profit consultant for organizations in underserved communities. She is currently at Developing Communities Project, a faith-based community organizing institution that addresses youth violence and advocates for transportation and environmental equity.

  • Date Interviewed: Friday, 10 June 2011
  • Interviewer: Dr. Dena Scher
  • Marygrove Archives ARC-SP 0100 File #27

Freddie Rodriguez

Freddie Rodriguez

Marygrove College professor Dena Scher interviews Freddie Rodriguez about his experiences coming to the United States from El Salvador. Freddie came to the United States in 1995 when he was seven years old with his siblings. Rodriguez's parents came illegally to the United States a few years before. In his first years in Florida, Freddie and his brothers were set apart by their language barrier, but they eventually overcame that obstacle.

  • Date Interviewed: Wednesday, 05 March 2008
  • Interviewer: Dr. Dena Scher
  • Marygrove Archives ARC-SP 0100 File #8
 

Mahar Shakarnhah

Mr. Shakarnah was born in Bethlehem in the West Bank. He started to cook at an early age and was working as a chef in the Middle East. Mahar came to the United Stated for a visit in 1997. He traveled the country and eventually settled in Michigan to continue working as a chef.

  • Date Interviewed: Sunday, 23 March 2008
  • Interviewer: Imad Attallah
  • Marygrove Archives ARC-SP 0100 File #17

Roslyn Smith

Roslyn Smith

Roslyn Smith was born in Princeton, West Virginia, the fifth of six children. Her mother was a domestic and her father was a railroad laborer. She was raised by her mother, grandmother, and aunt, who taught her about the "place" of black people in the South, for example, never using the public library, sitting in the back of bus, using the back door of a white family's house, and addressing white people as 'miss' or 'mister.' Ms. Smith received a Merit Scholarship to attend Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C. and made the move from small town to big city in 1957. She and other Bennett women became inspired by their personal experiences and their expanding knowledge of the outside world to join the fight for civil rights. With the support of their teachers, community leaders, Dr. Willa Player (then president of Bennett), and fellow students from nearby A & T University, they targeted Woolworth's in Greensboro as the stage for the 1961 sit-ins. Looking back on her experiences now, Ms. Smith worries that Bennett women's involvement is being written out of the official history of this integral part of the civil rights movement.

  • Date Interviewed: Wednesday, 12 May 2010
  • Interviewer: Dr. Dena Scher
  • Marygrove Archives ARC-SP 0100 File #23

Earnest Stamps

Earnest Stamps

Earnest Stamps, a retired pharmacist, details his migration from Atlanta to Detroit and the opportunities presented by the move north. Stamps also speaks about his life once he arrived in Detroit. He speaks about the hard times for his family, going into foster care, and the Marcus Garvey Movement.

  • Date Interviewed: Friday, 28 April 2006
  • Interviewer: Dr. Dena Scher
  • Marygrove Archives ARC-SP 0100 File #5

Marie Teasley

Marie Teasley

Marie Teasley was born on October 1, 1926. She grew up in Hannibal, Missouri. In this interview Marie recalls memories of her mother who immigrated from St. George's, Bermuda, and her father who migrated from Hannibal to Ann Arbor, Michigan and then to the Detroit area. Marie speaks fondly of growing up in Hannibal. She recounts the story of her father owning the Hannibal Registrar, the only African American newspaper in town. Marie describes how the family transitioned the business from Hannibal to the Detroit area. At the age of 9 she was dubbed "reporter" for the Registrar by her father, inspiring a life-long career in journalism that culminated in her position as Women's Editor for the Michigan Chronicle.

  • Date Interviewed: Friday, 24 February 2012
  • Interviewer: Harriet Helena Scott
  • Marygrove Archives ARC-SP 0100 File #32

Esther Terry

Esther Terry

Esther Terry grew up the youngest of 12 children on a farm in Wise, North Carolina, and became the first in her family to attend a 4-year college. In the fall of 1957 she began classes at Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, North Carolina, where she became part of the group of men and women participating in the sit-in demonstrations at Woolworth's lunch counter in 1960. Ms. Terry recalls those days in Woolworth's, and describes some of the people who most influenced her during this time, including her parents, her closest friends, and Dr. Willa Player, the first female and the first black president of Bennett College. After graduating from Bennett, Ms. Terry earned a master's degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a PhD from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

  • Date Interviewed: Tuesday, 11 May 2010
  • Interviewer: Dr. Dena Scher
  • Marygrove Archives ARC-SP 0100 File #21

Laretta Torrence

Laretta Torrence is interviewed by Marygrove College student Stanley Keyes about her experiences growing up and going to school in Detroit. She was born in 1930 in Black Bottom where blacks and whites lived and played together in shared poverty. When her family moved to a better house in southwest Detroit in 1948 she observed white flight but not much racial tension. Laretta recalls listening to the radio, dancing at the Greystone Ballroom, and visiting Belle Isle for entertainment. She married at age 19 and had two sons who also grew up and went to school in Detroit.

  • Date Interviewed: Sunday, 13 December 2009
  • Interviewer: Stanley Keyes
  • Marygrove Archives ARC-SP 0100 File #20

 

 

Page One
Page Two

Detroit Journeys Collection

Detroit Journeys Collection

The Detroit Journeys Collection features interviews focusing on the experiences of individuals migrating within the U.S. or from outside the U.S. to Detroit, Michigan.

Experiences Collection

Experiences Collection

The Experiences Collection features two sections. The first section includes interviews with women from Bennett College who participated in the Woolworth's Lunch Counter civil rights demonstration in Greensboro, North Carolina. The second section includes interviews with migrant workers from Homestead, Florida.

Become A Marygrove Student!

Apply Now!