“Learn About” Questions
- Why did the laws prohibit African Americans from going to hotels or restaurants?
- Who is Christian Dior?
- What is Hampton Institute known for?
“Learn From” Questions
- What violence, if any, am I aware of in my hometown? How does that impact me?
- Are there places that I or my family have been prohibited from going to? Why and how do I feel about that?
- Were there things my family went without growing up? When did I become aware of them and how did that affect my dreams and aspirations?
Oh, it was segregated. During that time, everything was segregated. But again, it was what we would call now a middle class neighborhood. I think there’s a saying, and I’m not quoting directly, but you don’t miss what you don’t know. And growing up during that time, we knew what the rules were. And I guess that’s why when Ernest started Central, everybody was shocked at the reaction because Little Rock had never been a violent place. There were the black neighborhoods and there were the other neighborhoods. As I mentioned when we were coming here, there were the hotels and we couldn’t go to the hotels because the laws prohibited that, nor could we go to the restaurants. But that in no way diminished anything that we felt about ourselves, about our families or about our neighborhoods. In fact, my mother loved to entertain and would have lovely luncheons with all kinds of fancy things that she would make, and that was the way life was. I always say we probably, our families, perhaps maybe were able to save more money by not being able to go to restaurants. Growing up, it’s almost hard to articulate, that even though there were official ‘denials’, it didn’t impact who we became or what we were expected to do.
Well, I really wanted to be a dress designer. And in fact, during that time, Christian Dior was the designer par excellence. And in fact, my prom dress for my senior prom, my mother and I went to MM Coin, which was the high-end store in Little Rock, and she would examine the construction of the gown and I would sketch it and my prom dress was a copy of a Christian Dior gown. And I had decided that I wanted to go to Hampton Institute where I did go. There was a dress design major but two years before I went it was eliminated. So, with my mother being a teacher, my aunt a teacher, I had always had a huge respect for teaching and I decided if I went into early childhood, I would be able to incorporate my love of music, dance, art and that’s exactly what happened. So I never regret having gone into early childhood education.