E.N.


As Interviewed By Tallulah Beaty, April 16, 2017

E.N: In Her Own Words

When we moved to Austin in the Ď60s, this was the middle of the Civil Rights era. Austin was still segregated and we lived in a couple of different houses in East Austin. The schools we went to were all one race, African-American, up until I was in the third grade. Both my parents were educators. My mother wanted us to get a different type of education. She made arrangements for us to go to a school that was in northeast Austin and that school was also segregated, and everyone in that school was Caucasian. Me and my sister and about five or six other kids, we integrated that school when I was in the third grade.

After I left elementary school, I went from Blanton elementary, which was the school we integrated, to Pearce Junior High, and that school was fairly integrated as far as the population of the school, but the interaction of the students not so much. So that was really a reality shock for me because I spent all of my elementary school years being the only black person in my whole class of three classes of sixth graders, to go to Pearce where it was large numbers of all kinds of students. However, they were still quite segregated. They self-segregated. By the time I went to high school, I went to Reagan. At that point, now weíre in the Ď70s, so Civil Rights era is over with, and in my opinion we were better integrated once I got to the high school level.

But then when I went to the University of Texas, I felt like I was right back at Blanton again. The University of Texas has a very large population, 50, 60 thousand students. Maybe about, I donít even think one percent African-American, so we also self-segregated. Because of some of the ways that we grew up, both of my parents were employed in professional jobs so we were middle class. My parents made sure that me and my sisters not only got an education, but we also got a training in how to conduct yourself in society.

And so, we belonged to organizations like Jack and Jill of America, which is still functioning. Itís a national organization whose initial goal was to create opportunities for African-American families that we were not allowed to have in the larger society. So, because we were still segregated, there were places we couldnít go, there were things we couldn't do, and so my parents and their peers all got together and figured out ways we could still have those things, just in a segregated way.

I have had the opportunity to travel all over the country, even as a child. We traveled all over the country. Iíve had opportunities that I think some of the people I grew up with did not have because my parents had goals. They both grew up very poor, working in the fields and sharecropping and both of them figured out ways to educate themselves. So, my father left home when he was thirteen and made his way and put himself through college and got a Masterís degree by himself and my mother did the same. They provided those opportunities for us also, which I am very grateful for because I never wanted to work in the fields. So, my upbringing may have been a little different than my contemporaries in that regard, but anyways, thatís my life in Austin.