Phyllis Seabolt Interview One

Antioch College
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00:00:34 - Story of Seabolt's namesake, Phillis Wheatley

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Partial Transcript: ...people often have an interesting story relating to their name or why they are named what they are. Do you have a story like that?

Segment Synopsis: Phyllis Seabolt indicates that she was named after the first black woman published in the United States, Phillis Wheatley.

Keywords: Phillis Wheatley

Subjects: Wheatley, Phillis, 1753-1784

00:02:39 - Important family members; growing up in Dowagiac, Michigan in early 1930s; being called the "N" word

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Partial Transcript: Growing up...who in your family was very important to you?

Segment Synopsis: She describes important family members growing up in Dowagiac, Michigan, and relates how her father intervened in relation to schoolyard name-calling (the "N-word").

Keywords: "N" word; Dowagiac, Michigan; importance of mother and father

Subjects: African American fathers; Dowagiac (Mich.); Racism--United States--History--20th century

00:09:08 - Importance of education

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Partial Transcript: ...what other values were very important to your family when you were growing up?

Segment Synopsis: Mrs. Seabolt reflects upon important family values, especially the role of education.

Keywords: Boy Scouts; Campfire Girls; Girl Scouts; education; importance of family

Subjects: Blacks--Education; Boy Scouts; Camp Fire Girls; Girl Scouts

00:11:07 - High School incident and father's intervention

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Partial Transcript: you have another specific childhood incident that you can share with us that would...give us a sense of what it was like to grow up just outside of Dowagiac in Michigan in the 1930s?

Segment Synopsis: Seabolt relates the story of receiving a lower essay grade in high school for, according to her teacher, exaggerating about her father's reading of five newspapers.

Keywords: Cassapolis Vigilant; Chicago Defender; Detroit Tribune; Dowagiac News; Dowagiac, Michigan; High school; South Bend Tribune; father

Subjects: African American Newspapers; Black newspapers; Chicago defender; Detroit Tribune; Newspaper reading; Racism

Hyperlink: Chicago Defender
00:15:01 - Family's affiliation and history with the Baptist Church

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Partial Transcript: Can you explain to us what your family's relationship to this church was and what kind of church it was?

Segment Synopsis: She notes her affiliation with the Second Baptist Church of Dowagiac.

Keywords: Cassopolis, Michigan; Chain Lake Association; Chain Lake Baptist Church; Chain Lake District Missionary Baptist Association; Dowagiac, Michigan; Second Baptist Church

Subjects: African American churches; Baptist associations; Blacks--Religion; Dowagiac (Mich.)

00:16:15 - Relationship to Kalamazoo and enrollment at Western State Teacher's College (now Western Michigan University) in 1943

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Partial Transcript: ...what is your relationship to Kalamazoo then if you grew up in Dowagiac?

Segment Synopsis: She tells of her decision to move to Kalamazoo and begin her degree at Western State Teacher's College (now Western Michigan University).

Keywords: Kalamazoo; Western State Teacher's College

Subjects: Kalamazoo (Mich.); Western Michigan University

00:18:15 - Segregation in campus housing; working as a domestic help for room and board

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Partial Transcript: When I say we, I'm referring to minority students were not accepted on campus.

Segment Synopsis: Seabolt speaks of the segregation at her college campus and her need to live in town, doing work as a domestic for room and board.

Keywords: Segregation

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; Blacks--Segregation; Segregation; Segregation in higher education

00:21:16 - Response to reality of inequity in race relations; commitment to her education despite unjust living situation

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Partial Transcript: And so how did that--growing up and kind of understanding race relations--how did that make you feel?

Segment Synopsis: Seabolt reflects upon how she responded to racial inequities during her time at college.

Keywords: Race relations; education; racial inequity; segregation

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; Blacks--Segregation; Race relations; Racism; Racism in higher education

00:23:39 - College peers' attitudes about race and racial segregation; story of being able to live finally in campus's Home Management House

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Partial Transcript: And how did your fellow students treat you?

Segment Synopsis: Seabolt talks about her fellow college students response to issue of racial segregation, relating a particular story concerning the college's Home Management House.

Keywords: Racism; discrimination; fellow students; race and college campuses; segregation

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; Blacks--Segregation; Discrimination; Discrimination against African Americans, [Mexican Americans, etc.]; Segregation; Segregation in higher education

00:25:56 - Story of problem obtaining a teaching position

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Partial Transcript: Were there any difficult times?

Segment Synopsis: Seabolt reflects upon fighting the discouragement that came from facing discrimination in college and in seeking employment as a teacher.

Keywords: Dr. Loy Norrix; job discrimination

Subjects: Discrimination; Discrimination in employment

00:27:56 - Teaching in the Kalamazoo Public Schools, starting at South Junior High

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Partial Transcript: Oh, I taught in the junior high, at South Junior High.

Segment Synopsis: She discusses her experience as the only black teacher in Kalamazoo Public Schools.

Keywords: South Junior High; Vine School; discrimination; segregation

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; Blacks--Segregation; Discrimination; Discrimination in education; Discrimination in education--United States--History; Discrimination in employment

00:31:04 - Discussion of protests in Kalamazoo

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Partial Transcript: ...I know there were various types of protests in Kalamazoo during the Civil Rights Movement, especially the Van Avery Drug Store. Do you remember--do you have any stories from that period of time?

Segment Synopsis: Seabolt responds to question concerning protests in Kalamazoo during the civil rights period.

Keywords: President Obama; Van Avery Drugstore; black churches; civil rights movement; civil rights protests; discrimination; segregation

Subjects: Black Churches; Civil rights movement; Discrimination--United States; Segregation--United States

00:37:03 - How far the nation has come in terms of equality and what still needs to be accomplished

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Partial Transcript: And how far do you think our nation, as a whole, has come since being able to witness this change throughout your life--how far do you think we've come since the Civil Rights Movement?

Segment Synopsis: Seabolt speaks to how she sees changes since the 1950s and 60s.

Keywords: Civil rights movement; Kalamazoo College; Mayor Bobby Hopewell; President Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran; President Elson Floyd; Raymond Harvey, Directory of Kalamazoo Symphony; Western Michigan University; college presidents; social change

Subjects: African American college administrators; African American college presidents; Kalamazoo College; Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra; Western Michigan University

00:40:22 - Lessons for the current generation in relation to the civil rights era

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Partial Transcript: Then, if we still have a long way to go, what lessons do you think our generation could learn from the civil rights struggle that you were involved in, in order to advance it?

Segment Synopsis: Seabolt responds to question of what can be learned from the civil rights struggles.

Keywords: civil rights; civil rights period

Subjects: Civil rights movement

00:41:55 - Courses Seabolt taught at Western Michigan University

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Partial Transcript: And what did you teach at Western Michigan?

Segment Synopsis: She briefly discusses her time as a teacher at Western Michigan University.

Keywords: Western Michigan University; home economics

Subjects: Home Economics; Household Science; Western Michigan University

00:44:12 - Reactions to Seabolt's involvement in civil rights protests

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Partial Transcript: ...what did teachers that you worked with think of you taking part in, in the protests around, around Kalamazoo?

Segment Synopsis: Seabolt notes how she dealt with those who may not have been happy with her involvement in civil rights protests.

Keywords: Kalamazoo protests; civil rights protests

Subjects: Civil rights movements