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.

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Civil Rights Experiences

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Marygrove Archives ARC-SP 0100 File #23

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Example of proper citation/attribution:

Scher, D. (Interviewer) & Smith, R. (Interviewee). (2010). Roslyn Smith: Civil Rights Movement [Interview transcript]. Retrieved from the Novak Archive at Marygrove College:

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.

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