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tv   Mary Frances Early The Quiet Trailblazer  CSPAN  April 13, 2022 6:52pm-7:53pm EDT

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welcome everyone to atlanta history centers virtual author talk series. my name is claire haley. i'm the vice president of public relations and programs here at atlanta history center is >> welcome today's very special author talk featuring mary frances early. now as i said earlier if you don't yet have your copy of her newest book her new memoir the quiet trailblazer you can get
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that from atlanta history centers museum store. you can get it on our campus or you can buy online with options for domestic us shipping or in store pickup. we're also coordinating signed copies of the book. so again, just send me an email after the program and i'll help facilitate that for you. so as we said tonight today's conversations with hank klevenoff, so i'm going to briefly introduce both mary frances early and hank and then turn it over to them to get started. mary frances early is a retired music educator and she was the first african-american student to graduate from the university of georgia in 1962. she taught at atlanta public schools morehouse college spelman college and was chair of clark atlanta university's music department. she currently lives in decatur, georgia and continues to be an advocate for education and an active member of the uga community as you'll see from her virtual background the school of education or the college of education was also recently
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named for miss early. hank clevenoff who is today's moderators a veteran journalist and both the pulitzer prize-winning author and a peabody award-winning podcast host. he is a professor of practice at emory's creative writing program. he coauthored the race beat the press and civil rights struggle and the awakening of a nation which won the 2007 pulitzer prize for history. prior to joining emory who is a long-time reporter and editor for more than 35 years, including a stint as managing editor of our hometown newspaper the atlanta journal constitution. so again, y'all are in for a treat to really wonderful speakers today as they're speaking if you have any questions that come up, you're welcome to drop those into the q&a and we'll get to as many of them as we can but hank this early. thank you so much for being here today. thank you. thank you so much claire for that introduction. mary francis is so good to see you. good to see you, too. thank i've been looking forward
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to this and and honored to be part of this. i want everybody to take one more look and if you don't if you don't have this book, please get it. it's a phenomenal and marvelous story. bye and about mary frances early. in atlanta musician music educator you've heard this but also a brave and a bold soul. with a graceful defiance and with that graceful defiance a little bit of stubbornness. became the first african-american to receive a diploma from the university of georgia. now. that was august 16th, 1962. and before we get started, i just want to give a little context what that means is that she began trying to get into the university of georgia in 1961. she was attempting at the same time that charlene hunter galt and well charlene hunter at the time and hamilton homes were
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attempting to get in his undergrads and she was attempting to get in as a grad student if you go back those 61 years. it's it's almost amazing. what the south was doing. rising up to stop people like mary frances from getting into school or james meredith over, you know in in mississippi. it happened in alabama and happened in georgia. i mean when mary francis is trying to get in the governor at the time has run on a platform of no not one. i mean and everyone knew what that meant. no, not what i will in my term. i will not allow one -- student into a state university. he ended up eating those words are i have to say and in
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mississippi the newspapers there would run actually wrote one newspaper there in jackson wrote a song you'll love this mary francis say wrote song and they showed the sheet music on the editorial page and it the the lyrics with something like never never never ever and that was all okay. i mean, that's how this that's how the state all these states just rose up. to stop a single or two or three african-americans from getting into their state universities. they're very sacred state universities. it was a dynamic time in 1961 when mary frances is finally getting admitted and may of 1961. there were the freedom rides were rolling. the buses were rolling through
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the south which was striking the fear of who knows what in white people that they might actually have to sit on a bus with a black person. and it's just everywhere you turn you saw white resistance to what was so clearly >> and it's just everywhere you turned, you saw white resistance to what was so clearly and maybe not there at the time, but the inevitable. that someone of mary france is incredible mind and skill and talent and wherewithal several affair. why? i'm so happy to be here and i just want to if i might take us back a little so that, among many reasons, or why i'm so happy to be here. and if i might, take us back a little bit in time, okay, if
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that's all right, mary frances? >> yes, yes i love that you point out in the book that you were born on a sunday, flag gay, and because you are indeed [inaudible] your father i thought was a very very interesting he worked for a company, the sudden rex paper company, for a while, very highly regarded. even had a letter of commendation from his white boss. but then later struck out on his own and opened up a restaurant on auburn avenue, 328, auburn avenue, part of a building that's still there, right? >> yes. >> the [inaudible] building. [inaudible] the tuxedo coffee shop. so, am i right in understanding that your life growing up, and i don't mean your, house but when you were going to see your father, and your mother worked there to, am i right?
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>> yes. >> she was cooking there. at the center of the old fourth ward on auburn avenue, that whole life was only steps away from ebenezer baptist, from the home of dr. king, the vice, home from the into atlanta daily what offices, the banks, that was your life, am i correct? >> you are correct. that was the center of black life and i was in the middle of it. you know, today we talk about being in a bubble, well that was my bubble. and as long as i was there, and my father's restaurants, and of course, at my father street, at the auburn branch library, which was the only library at that time for black citizens, i was one. but getting there, going on the street corner, you have to sit at the back. and all of the things that really resonated in my life that were, i guess, disturbing, came from outside of that
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bubble as it were. so, my parents did try to -- i had a brother, 18 months older -- and he and i were taught that we were as good as anybody else. they did not teach us to hate white people. they taught us to hate those dreadful laws, the jim crow laws, that they mutate are becoming full fledged citizens. and so i, i took that in. i he did them. and in my book, there is a quote, and it's from eleanor roosevelt, and it says, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. well, i never gave that consent. so. >> again, and your world that you lived in every state, you were seeing people of great accomplishment, african americans of great accomplishment. >> yes. >> coming into the coffee shop
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and -- to what extent do you think that it informs your own aspirations, you know, and give your role models, just walking in the door, having a cup of coffee? >> it did. because there were very accomplished -- and you mentioned the fact the atlanta daily world was their -- first black bank, which was actually built by a former slave, a tea howard, after whom the 80 howard high school was named, there were so many people there were nightclubs, there were banks, there were, it was a library, there was king home. all of that inspired me. and i never straight too far from that area, because when i started teaching in 1957, i was, i had just turned 21, because my birthday is in june. and i was a very young teacher, but john hope school was on the
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boulevard, which is, again, very close to the king church, ebenezer. so yes, that area nurtured me, and helped to, i guess, paved my way forward as an adult. >> and people who would be very important if your life, jesse hill, for example. >> yes, yes. >> you would get to know very well, of course dr. king and others, who would assist you. and i would imagine these were people who knew your family, and knew that you, as i say, came from good stock, you know. we're a family that took education seriously, even though your parents were not especially, did not have any higher education, and i think your father had very little lower education if, i'm right. >> right. yes. my dad only had an elementary school -- he had to work on a sharecroppers farm with his
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family. and he left there when he was 18 and went to the army, and came back to atlanta. did not go back to jackson, georgia, which was his hometown. and he started working, as you said, for the southern wax paper company. but my dad was also, he was really [inaudible] . he was a wonderful goal for, and he played a big role in the lincoln golf and country club. he also was a person who loved classical music. he was the one who got me interested in classical music. no, i think because he was in world war i, he was probably deployed somewhere in europe, and apparently was able to get he -- never talked about it -- was able to get to some concerts there. >> oh! >> he started -- john and me and my brother -- we sat around on sunday evenings and listened to the bell telephone our which
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was -- it played, of course, as radio, classical music, operates, all of that. and he started me playing piano because he saw that i was interested. and he wanted me to accompany him because he was an amateur singer. he sang at churches and at weddings and that things like that. so he was really he very [inaudible] man, although he had no high school education, and certainly no college. >> yeah, that's very, very impressive. and your mother had -- she at least had high school of education, i think. >> yes. >> that didn't stop her from becoming a teacher, right? >> no. they felt she was the top student in her high school class in the 12th grade. she did go to 12th grade. and her teacher became pregnant, and they would not allow her to continue teaching. so the teacher, i guess she recommended her to take on the classes. and that was a one room school
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house, and [inaudible] the south, and she told me how difficult it was to teach the kids because the boys, particularly, the young men, they had to stop going to school when the harvest season came around. they had to help on their families sharecroppers farms. and so she had to customize their learning and it was hard. i can't imagine teaching greats one through 12 in [inaudible] -- >> one room. >> yeah! >> i mean, given all the teaching that you did in multiple classrooms, you would know how difficult that would be. >> yes, yes. >> but they were determined that you were going to go to college and you get. you went to clark college. >> yes, i did. >> and it seems like that was just an extraordinary, liberating experience for you, even though you were [inaudible] .
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and i, if you don't mind, there's something in the book that i'd like to quote from. >> please do. >> it's from a journal entry of your own when you were 17 years old at the end of orientation at clark college. and so, i can't -- let me just read what you wrote, but i find it just so powerful. on saturday evening, a freshman orientation week, i'm used as i walked back to my dorm. thank god i am an american. an american who can go forward not as a negro, but as a true american citizen to greater heights and to the pinnacle of success. tonight, i say a fervent prayer for the freshman class of clark college and the freshman classes all over the world that they might dedicate themselves to the task of finishing this college course in four years if possible, and then turn back to
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help their people who are not as fortunate as they. molded themselves into true citizens of the united states and off america so that someday the negro race will not be called negro, and the caucasian race called white, but all will be united together in one race, the human race, having differences only in the pigment of their skin, texture off their hair, and having this in common as citizens of the united states of america. wow! that was pretty advanced thinking for a freshman on her first venture away from home! >> yes it, was. it sounds profound to be even out. and as simple, it's actually housed in the russell arbery among my papers. and it was just a little blue notebook, spiral bound notebooks, but i kept it -- well actually, my mother kept. it mom or why they're was a
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hoarder. she kept all my report cards to a college. she kept papers that i had done because she was so proud of the fact, i guess she was reliving, she had wanted to go to college, but she could not afford it. and she wanted to see this, she wanted to see me and my brother and went to [inaudible] university for a while. but they had great aspirations for us and they gave us a hope of a better future. and how i really really verbalize that in writing at the age of 17, i had just turned 17 in june, and that was september. i don't know! [laughs] >> right. i'm so glad, frankly, that your mother kept everything, okay? >> yes. >> >> that's why we have this book. >> exactly, exactly. >> [inaudible] it would be a very different book if we had to rely solely on memory on memory on those
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things. >> right, exactly. >> so jumping ahead to your decision to go to the university of georgia, what were you thinking? no one had done that when you apply it. >> no, but you know, i saw that [inaudible] . and i thought, these were [inaudible] students. i had graduated six head of hamilton and charlayne from turner hi. it was equalized high school. they try to equalize education. i come to holland high school, i've gone to washington high school, and when they opened turner, i was transferred there. i didn't [inaudible] there. but it was a great school. we had handpicked teacher, we had teachers who were dedicated, and [inaudible] most of the other schools we did too. and this was a new building, and just the beginning of a new life or education for me. i had, for the first time, you textbooks. i had never had new textbooks
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before, because in the other schools, elementary to high school, we cut the discarded books that the white students received nuance and. they were torn, they had things written in them, that we shouldn't have had to read. and they were dirty. and i had new textbooks. i couldn't believe it! so, turner was a favorite place of mine, and when i graduated, i had no idea that when i went to clark, i would be sent back there for student teaching. and it's there that i met charlayne. i had written turn high school song, and she wanted to [inaudible] me about that, because she was editor of the green light, which was turn heights newspaper. and i got to know. here i knew about hamilton because he was a star football player and is stars didn't and then five years later we, would, the three of us, would be at the university of georgia. >> yeah.
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i one thing i think i remember reading that we talked about of course was your application to go to uga kin some days after they had already applied. >> yes, yes. >> and and it may become many thought and if so is commonly thought wrongly that after they got in that the doors just opened white and that uga suddenly said, okay, wove welcome all undergo students here. and it wasn't that at all. whoever was going to come next was going to go through the same, had to jump through the same hoops, and go through the same difficult process that they had gone through, and that's exactly what you encountered, am i right? the hot -- >> you are correct. i had to go to the courthouse, i had my citizenship verified. i had to go to have an interview with reckless star
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[inaudible] because they had -- and that was a very unpleasant. they did an investigative report, supposedly done by the gbi the -- georgia bureau vest investigation -- i don't know. default me around and i had no idea that this in investigative report exist until 2009 while after i had finished at the university of georgia. they had instigated a law that said that anybody over 25 could not enter university of georgia as a graduate student, but they made provision for letting white students over 25 in. but see, my birthday didn't occur until after i was on campus, so they couldn't he was that against we. >> oh. >> and they did not want to be there. after they got my transfer to the university of the michigan, where i had studied for two summers, and they had my clock college transfer, they asked
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for my high's full hostile transcript. then i've asked graduate student for a high school transcript. well, i laughed because i had made all [inaudible] about high school always at high school. and i knew i was. better so they couldn't find any reason to keep me out, and so they turned, i guess, i'm surmising here now, they turned all of my, i guess, the report from the investigated report and the report cards and whatever, over to the state legislature. there was an article in the paper on may 10th, 1961, and it was written by margaret simon, who was a journal reporter, and it said that a high-level conference was held in the state capital, where the officials now, who would be making decisions unless it's the governor and the legislature? the officials reluctantly decided that they had to admit miss early based on her good
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teaching record and academics, or they would suffer the judge, judge bloom, admitting her and perhaps an injunction from the state. they didn't want that to happen. so, people think that when char and hank -- i call her -- that when they opened, the door entered, the doors open, the door was not open for me. but after me, it did not do any of those draconian requests of black students. they admitted them based on their qualifications. this judge boodle had ruled that all qualified negroes should be admitted, but they tried everything to keep me out. >> i tell you, that was the story through must owe [inaudible] that many of us know. the federal judges who had been appointed by a previous, particularly republican, administrations, had come to these decisions having
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understood something that was different from what many of the old undemocratic segregationists understood, which was that they did not have to adopt flexibly all of those old so you creationist and white supremacist ideas and to interpret the law in that way, and judge boodle would have been one, frank johnson, almost the entire u.s. circuit court of appeals. and so the federal judge has had a tremendous influence in bringing the south out of the, out of its horrific past. so you received your letter of admission in may of 61. that was still seven years after brown versus ford, and then because you were going as a graduate student, you weren't going for a four years that charlayne and hamilton were going, you are going for a shorter period of time, and so
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you graduated in august of 16th of 1962. i noticed at one point, i think, you said the university of georgia accepted you, but they did not welcome you. >> right. >> and the student [inaudible] the student body was a very, very chilly, i guess >> they were to you. >> hostile. >> hostile is a better word. i think he wrote, you said, the real problem that i face, i knew that charlayne hunter and hamilton holmes face daily, we did not know what to expect. there are days i felt like a pariah because of the ostracism or the racial taunts. i tried to take each day in stride into depend on god's guidance. tell me about those days. >> those days were difficult because i was a gregarious
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person. i was quiet, though but i still wanted to interact with people. a lot of things happened to let me know that i was not welcomed by the students. some students hand written a proclamation before i came saying that they would not welcome these people, these people not came to get an education but to destroy our university and we will protect it. they were not willing to welcome the students and they would not associate with white students who welcomed them. that carried on for a long time. i don't know why, but i guess, well, old habits are heard. that musical south pacific races you have to be taught early, well, many olive of them have been taught that they were superior. so in class they would sit far away from me. when i went to the agricultural
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auditorium to take the g.a.r. e, the graduate record exam, they were so busy trying to find out about my personal life that they hadn't checked to see that i have not taken it. i sat down on a roll close to the entrance and all the students on that roll got up and move to another row. i went to the library one night and had derogatory language hurled at me, and the guys who were there, well, they position themselves across the steps of the top, as though to borrow me. and i said i'm gonna need gonna be the bulldog i am supposed to be. when i got to the top step, they broke rank. but i had rocks thrown me go into the post office, because we didn't have any cell phones or computers at that time. so you had to write letters, even though atlanta was over 67 miles from athens. i was writing a letter, posting a letter to my mom and these
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young men across the street started throwing little rocks. one of them hit me right under my glasses, and i thought, they couldn't put my eye out, so i picked up the rock and threw it back. i did not hit them, but i regretted that, because i had been attending doctor king's church. today is a celebration of dr. king. he was my hero. i went to his church on the sundays when i was at home, when i was able to come home, and i confessed to him that i had not been not violent. i told him what happened. he said don't worry, francis, i would have done the same thing. i didn't believe him. but it made me feel better. he said because you are human. this was in response to thumb something i thought should not have happened, but nothing like that happened again. but there were many other things that happened that i didn't include in the book because i didn't want people to think that everything was
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negative. the music department of professors were very kind. they just wanted to be fair, and they were that. and i made good grades. my adviser told me at the end of the first summer, why don't you consider taking a leave of absence from your teaching job and coming back? we can get transfers small credits from the university of michigan and you might be able to finish if you go through the summer session. that's exactly what happened. i did not go to the university of georgia to become the first to graduate. there was no way i could have. i didn't know. but it happened. i am proud of that. i'm proud of the fact that according to dr. king a major contribution to the social justice, human rights in georgia. >> and you did it, and you are
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prepared for the academic challenges. that may have been a question in the minds of the white people at the time where maybe that was just their cover story, but in any case that was always going to be held up, we'll, is she up for this? but your musical skills put you consideration for choice assignments and opportunities, the opportunity to perform in the course of the summer consulate of the use chapel. you are selected as one of the it singers in women's sextet to saying abram's love song. you want to do and your family and friends, naturally. and they said no. you call donald halle well. like the lone ranger, he always showed up at the right time and water giant he was. i wanted to know more about people's interactions with him at the time, and i know in the end that he also worried about
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whether that was going to be safe. >> he did. he said that the school, you j.a., was taking the stance of not allowing me to invite family and friends because it was an evening concert. they could not ensure the safety of my mother or brother or friends. well, i had not thought about that. who would think about that? and so when i heard that he said he agreed. so when the concert happened, and there is a copy of the program, and i think my name is with the sextet, i don't remember, because i haven't seen it, but i was standing on the stage with the other chorus and i felt, you know, it's a small victory. but every little step is like building a house. everything that you do not let people know it's okay, it's not gonna fall in because a black
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person is on the stage. those were the kinds of things that dried me sometimes because i am human. i was human then. and i went off turn to dr. king 's church to hear him preach because his message of brotherhood and the fact that we all are equal as children of guard, i felt in my soul. it gave me the strength to go back the next week and face whatever happened. some people said, why didn't you just quit and go back to the university of michigan? i couldn't quit. there were people who were helping me. i couldn't let them down. i had chosen this plan myself, nobody asked me to go to the university of georgia. i was not solicited to go. i made that choice myself, and so i felt that i had to stick to it, no matter what. but i have a thought about
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driving back and forth. charlaine and i roomed together when i went back the spring of 62 in the summer of 62, we room together, in that same room where they had thrown rocks at her. there were two bedrooms. we often noticed when we were going back to atlanta the light blue followed us. when i got to the clark county line, it turned around and went back to athens. we found out later that that was the state patrol. they were charged with keeping us safe in that, in clark county. but outside of clark county we were on our own. sometimes this made me fearful but nothing happened. god was with us when we were doing the right thing. as dr. king once said, the time is always right to do what is right. >> i want to remind our guests that we are taking your
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questions if you put them in the chat. clare will join us again in about eight or so minutes so we can take some of those questions and present them to marry francis. i want to finish, to close the move bomb something and when you tried to invite your family to the concert of the huge ehr ball, couldn't do it, and then comes your graduation commencement uga, august 1962. like every student, you wanted family and friends. they are so dallas what happened. . >> i didn't really know, i had to wait until i got my grades at the end of the summer to know that i was really going to graduate. i didn't have time to send invitations. when i invited my family and my friends, my church. 74 people were ended their way in cars down 70 eights.
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>> 74. >> 74 people came in it's the first time i am sure that they had had that many blacks they are at their commencement but i was the only black graduating so i was truly invisible. they couldn't see. me there were 700, six or 700 undergraduates as well as graduate students. but when we got into the funny situation, it wasn't funny than, but when i looked at the beginning of the line was a man standing there with a sword. i thought, are they expecting trouble? and he's the first line of defense? i found out later that he was the admins police chief, no, sheriff, and that was a tradition that dating back to some years before, that he was always at the beginning of the line. but anyway, when we got ian and we did not go across the stage
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the way people do now, they had all the graduate students first to stand and i stood, of course, and all the other grad students, and they told us to, well, the president told us to toss our tassels. i did. that was president omer clyde aderhold. anyway, i tossed my tassel and i was so pleased because i had achieved my goal. later on i went back, after i got a second degree, because we're still to fuel. but i knew that was an important moment for uga. i knew things would never be the same. because other black students will follow. and charlayne would be the first, but then there will be others. it was tough feeling a vindication for all that had gone on. it was well worth it and i was happy because i had achieved my goal, stay the course and was
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getting a degree. there were no immediate present. it was not advertised. >> all right, it wasn't advertised, and i think the news coverage of it was very spotty. as we have discussed personally, you and i have discussed, one white newspaper didn't run it. that you had graduated. that any black had graduated from uga until week later. >> six weeks later. >> six weeks, later okay. in the and, you won. so many honors have come your way. you have a couple of full bright haze scholarships, fellowships to travel to west africa for six weeks into brazil. the georgia music educators
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association, which for years denied you membership. by 1980 was no longer segregated and the members couldn't resist what was the right thing to do when the elected you president of the georgia music educators association in your director of music for massive responsibility. you can cite music you heard exquisite music, an exquisite venues all over the. world more so don giovanni in prague and your travels to swaziland prague, mozambique. and now not only a professor ship that's named after you, but looking at the photograph behind you, an entire college has been named after you, the mary frances early college of education. and of all the buildings the
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colleges in, it's in aderhold hall, so i can't -- the man who try to keep you out, one of, them so if i might ask you, because it's such a hot topic and maybe you want to answer and maybe you don't, but that's up to you -- it is one of the names that is controversial being kept on a building despite his segregationist and maybe even go so far as white supremacist kissed attitudes, that the georgia board of regions has decided to keep on georgia buildings. what are your thoughts about your name and his name being there, locked together on that same building? and in would you suggest that his name should be removed? >> no. i think it's a great sense of vindication, as far as i'm concerned. i don't really know how he felt. i know that many presidents have to yield to the political
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climate and if they are not in accordance with what most of the politicians feel, they might not keep their jobs. i don't know how he felt. but what i do know is that it just shows that things can happen, and i'm sure that that would not have been his choice, that my name would have been above his on that building. but as long as the college of education is housed in that building, both will be there. and when this happened in 2020, when i approached that building for the first time and saw it, i was just overwhelmed. because people think that teachers -- they say, you are just a teacher. but teachers shape the nation. and i feel that what i did help to shape some of my students. >> i want to say something you won't say when you talked about
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vindication. i do notice that your name is over his. >> [laughs] . >> but i do think that there's always, maybe that is [inaudible] it should be a plaque that explains who are these two people, and i don't mean to put him down, but just to expand on that this building represents, you know, if very dynamic time in our history, and the idea that your name is on there because you broke through a barrier that, you know, in those times, he felt compelled to try to mount against what you were after. he, today were he alive, might think very different the and want to be the first to shake your hand, i don't know. you know, we like to think that. i know you have a real special keepsake, a couple of them, that's a couple of letters from
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dr. king. and would you feel comfortable if i were to read one letter he wrote you? >> oh i, would be delighted. >> this was a direct letter to you from dr. king, in his own handwriting, am i correct with that? i mean, it was it handwritten? >> oh, i don't even know. no, it was tucked. >> right. >> he signed it. >> okay. he said, i saw you at church sunday, and i had intended mentioning to the congregation that you had become the first negro graduate of the university of georgia. unfortunately however, with a crowded mind, it slipped my memory. i simply wanted to write this note to say how very proud we all are of you and your accomplishment. you have done a superb job and brought the state of georgia closer to the american dream. please note that you have my
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prayers and best wishes in the days ahead, and i hope for you, in fear if future packed with meaningful fulfillment. it is always a pleasure to have you at ebenezer. i almost look upon you as a member now, rather than a visiting guest. nice. >> that, that letter meant so much to me. because i, i went to his church so that i could hear him. i knew he was a young man, he was probably seven or eight years older than me, and he was a good conversationalist, and he had patients. and he was interested, i think, in any aspect of civil rights work. but i never dreamt that he would write a personal letter that he did. he did not get to the graduation because he was in albany at the time, working with the civil rights. >> right. >> struggle there.
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but that, that letter, because the original one is at the russell library, but it will always be mean a lot to me. >> sure, yes. >> a lot. >> yeah. not many of us have anything like that in our collection, okay! so. i think as we go to the questions, there is one i see that i wanted to go ahead and voice from day [inaudible] one of our people who's in the audience. because i love this question. michael ulmer he's asking, as you navigated the turbulence of the 1960s, did you have certain outlets like any favorite music or books that helped ease the stress of the times? >> i -- know. in absence there were no outlets in our world.
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still on campus on weekends. there was no place to go. the bars and all of the restaurants in [inaudible] [inaudible] . >> i think we are frozen. it's not me or? >> excuse me? >> go ahead. i think you are frozen there just for the second. >> i said that i went to [inaudible] restaurant which was the only black restaurant in town. that was my only outlet. but there were no other places where we could go. and nobody else invited me to go anywhere, because the students were still standing off. i had no one to eat with, no one to talk with, so i, i listened. there is a song called, stand by me. and it's, it's really a song that is about love, i guess. but i was thinking, god, standby me. and the lyrics, they fit the
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situation. but it was written, i think, in 1965. but that song resonated with me. but now, since that time, i spoke for the freedom breakfast, which can marines doctor king's life, in 2011. and it was, it was postponed because we had snow in january. and so it was changed to february. and i spoke about, i had to change my speech to a speech about love, dr. king's idea of love [inaudible] . and i was going to say the words to the song, what the world needs now, is love, we love. about a second it. it just continues. i didn't need to sing it. it just happened. but music kind if you. i did listen to music on the radio. i didn't have a television, not in my dorm room. but if you can imagine going to
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classes, going to get food cafeteria westerns get up, you sit down. going back to your dorm and just studying, i had turned 25. with my first summer. and i guess i should have been old enough to really take back that sometimes the loneliness gets to you. consequently, it was difficult. but i survived. and i got here today. i can't believe that almost 60 years have passed since my first degree. >> in books, at the time, is unknown -- i don't mean i don't know that there are popular books a time. but i don't know if you had anything that you read that brought you piece, brought to you solace over [inaudible]
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to you, i mean even the bible? >> i was about to say the global was the only book i had time to read because i was busy studying. and i did study constantly, which is why i did well. i mean, that's what students have to do today. it takes, it takes a person who has the resilience to just stick to it. because all of us have weak points in our lives, but when i got to those books, i would go to the bible. and always kept a bible with me. >> something tells me you were the only one who worried about whether you were going to get good grades. >> well, i mean, i didn't know. you know, my professor, who i didn't stay in his class, but he asked me to sit at the end of the, he stated the students alphabetically and asked me to sit at the end, the last students name was zachary, and i said, no. my name begins with an easy.
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and he said no, you sit where i tell you to sit. and i said, no, i won't sit in that seat. i went to the dean, the dean of students office, and i was assigned to a different section. but i didn't know [inaudible] stayed in that months class, i probably couldn't would've gotten an f. i had no way of knowing how well i would do. >> okay. >> i know i was a good student. >> yeah, yeah. wow. what a story. i could go on and on. i don't want to hurt the show here. i want to open this up for other people to ask questions. clare, would you like to take it from here, please? >> of course. and thank you so much, miss early and frank for being here today. just such a wonderful conversation. and so those of you who aren't [inaudible] i promise you this where that came from in the books, and don't forget to get your copy of the quiet trail later. >> please. >> there are many questions, all start with this one here from [inaudible] . we had a woman, monica, she
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said this early, i was one of your students at sam eco middle school. with ralph warren's principal [inaudible] it was such a memorable experience. i always knew you were special but i didn't realize what an icon we had in our presence. and she wants to know, how did you come to teach at collins? [inaudible] middle school and atlanta public schools when you were there? >> i was transferred -- well, i started at [inaudible] elementary, and mr. long was [inaudible] a wonderful man, a wonderful principle and wonderful supporter of the arts. that was my first job. he moved to wesley avenue elementary school and asked me to go with him. and i did. i moved from john hope to westbury. westbury was very close to the cohen middle school that was built, and so when cohen was built, and she asked me to accompany him there, and i did. so i was teaching at wesley with him, at john oak with him, and that cohen with him. >> must have been a very
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special person to follow him to all of those [inaudible] . >> he was actually a tennis player and into sports. but he was a strong supporter of the arts. i never asked him for anything that he did not [inaudible] for the students, of course. >> another question, picking up on that. britain asked, as being heavy involved in music education o'clock college, was now a senior in the local and plan to carry for decades. in what way do we see the involvement of black artists grow in georgia? >> well, my [inaudible] have always been at georgia. you know, it started back in the days of slavery, actually. but my artists, in atlanta in particular, i won't say georgia, but atlanta in particular has a strong showing. the only thing that i hope is that one point, we will have more black musicians in the atlanta symphony orchestra
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which, is one, i work with the atlanta sin 50, and they have made great strides here [inaudible] . but there is still room for improvement. but we've always had wonderful musicians. i have seen a lot of growth. we have many [inaudible] 85 years, you've seen a lot. >> and [inaudible] i imagine so. a couple of other questions coming in here and in particular about some advice you can give to current educators and some experience of by yourself as an educator so i'll start with the one from sara. and she was just curious, you know, after you started your teaching, you started your career teaching and went back to and uga restarted. it's so during that career, did you have to deal with prejudice on behalf, or from yesterday, and how did you approach that, if you did? >> i never taught in an integrated school. all of my teaching was done and all black schools. i went to all black schools. so that was not something that
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i had to deal with. but i, when i became a supervisor and then director of music, i had to work with white teachers as well as black. i had no problems at all. because i made them feel that they were part of it all. i was not their boss. i was there resource. i was there helper. and when they realized that, i had no problems. >> shaun asks if you can share an anecdote. he says, miss early, could you please tell us the story of telling your students not for just at four dixie at the fox theater. >> yes. [inaudible] in my first teaching position, i took the students in sixth and seventh graders, because at that time, elementary went through seventh grade. i took them to the atlanta symphony concert, the black white students in the morning, and the black students in the afternoon. and we went -- and i had to
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prepared my students to listen to some beautiful symphony or, second when we got there, the first thing that was happened was that there was a patriotic song that was played by the orchestra, and the students were chasing it. and they had a program, and the kids took a look at the program to read the words, they didn't know them. when we all stood, and when i heard in the beginning, the introduction and realized it was a dixie being played, i told my students, sit down. they couldn't sing. i had never taught them dixie. when they sat down, all over the auditorium, everybody sat down. and henry [inaudible] who was the conductor turned around, he was still conducting, he noticed that nobody was standing and nobody was singing. he conducted the song to the end. and subsequent consequence concerts, he must have understood why. subsequent concerts did not include dixie. we sent either the
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star-spangled banner, america, america [inaudible] . it was silent protest to something that was obnoxious because it was a rallying cry for the confederacy. >> do you remember what year that concert would have been? >> that was probably 1959. >> again, if people in the audience have any more questions, now is the time. but we do have time to get to these last couple. i'll combine two questions here because they're very similar. the question is, unfortunately racism, despite being possibly more hidden, abstract in the 21st century society, it still hugely impact our everyday real and reality. what are your recommendations for battling racism and pushing the status quo? but inside the classroom and outside of it? >> well now that the schools are integrated, i think that all teachers need to be aware of the great responsibility in leading students forward.
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and i know about the critical race theory that people are afraid off, but teaching history is not critical race theory as far as i'm concerned. i don't think that it pits one group of kids against another. i've even heard of people teaching slavery and having black kids to act as the slaves and doing. i mean all kinds of things have gone. on as far as i'm concerned, any teacher who really cares about his or her career in terms of what he has to offer or she has to offer will want to give the bear very best to this georgians, because we are preparing students go out into the world and make the world a better place. and if we can't commit to that, you shouldn't be teaching. because teachers helped to shape [inaudible] . at right now we need that it does to schools. we need it desperately. and i feel sorry for the teachers who are forced to teach in person without having a mask mandate, and i know that
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many teachers are troubled by that. but all i can say is that god has protected me for 85 years, and i'm still trying to help him by protecting myself. and i hope that they will too. >> thank you [inaudible] and [inaudible] [noise] such a hard year for teachers, a hard two years, going on three, for educators. do you have anything that you would just like to share to the educators i'm sure we have an our audience right now? >> i would say to the educators, you are in the best profession that you could ever possibly been. as i said earlier, people used to say, oh, she's just a teacher. but teachers, all of us are really teachers. some of us are prepared to teach certain areas, certain subjects. but if you are a teacher who is employed in a school, know that you are handling the most precious cargo that you could possibly have. you have you are helping students to grow. and if you can't keep that in
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mind, that i am making a contribution to my country, to my city, to my school system, then you will get that feeling that i got this morning when a student called it and said to be, she was looking for the [inaudible] because she had heard that i was speaking, and that she said that i taught her more than just music, i taught her how [inaudible] . that, to me, is what all teachers should do. and they are capable of doing it if they put their minds to it. >> thank you so much, miss early. and hank klibanoff, wonderful conversation leader as always. thank you for that, thank.
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