Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Thelma Dolores McGee, August 16, 2001

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:02 - Childhood / early education

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Partial Transcript: I'm in Yazoo City, Mississippi to interview Thelma Dolores McGee.

Segment Synopsis: McGee discusses her early childhood, growing up with her sharecropping parents and siblings.

Keywords: Children; Cotton; Dunn's Plantation; Family; Parents; Sharecropping; Siblings; Stuart Ridge; Yazoo City (Miss.); Yazoo County (MIss.)

Subjects: African American citizens; African Americans; Agriculture; Cotton industry; Education; Employment; Integrated schools; Labor; Mississippi; Prejudice; Race relations; Relocation; Rural communities; Sharecroppers; Southern life

00:40:39 - Going to town / community in Yazoo City

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Partial Transcript: Well let's talk about, um, uh, going to town.

Segment Synopsis: McGee discusses life in Yazoo City and the activities that could be done there during her childhood.

Keywords: Blacks; Businesses; Church; Clothes; Main Street; Rural; Shops; Town; Yazoo City (Miss.)

Subjects: African American citizens; Baptist church; Business; Cotton industry; Economy; Housing; Preaching; Racial Discrimination; Racial profiling; Recreation; Religious services; Segregation; Sharecroppers; Shopping; Socialization

01:22:21 - Changes in industry / going north

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Partial Transcript: But when they got the cotton picker, they didn't need people to work the fields anymore.

Segment Synopsis: McGee discusses changes in technology and industry that led to many of her family members moving north and leaving home.

Keywords: Chicago (Ill.); Church; Community; Extended families; Family; Great Black Migration; Michigan; North; Relocation; Rural; Siblings; South; Travel; Yazoo City (Miss.)

Subjects: African Americans; Economy; Higher education; Labor conditions; Prejudice; Schools; Sharecropping; Social conditions

01:50:42 - Going to the city schools / social life in Yazoo City

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Partial Transcript: And I'm gonna start with Evelyn and myself.

Segment Synopsis: McGee discusses when she began to go to school in Yazoo City and the many new things she experienced there.

Keywords: "Black prejudice"; African American community; City schools; Class; Class privilege; Classism; Classrooms; Discrimination; Educational access; Educational expectations; Intraracial tension; Poor; Public school; Rural; Rural communities; Social mobility; Student body; Students; Teachers

Subjects: College; Education; Higher education; Integrated schools; Integration; Poverty; Race; Race relations

02:31:46 - High school graduation / attending Jackson State University

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Partial Transcript: So you graduated in 1963?

Segment Synopsis: McGee discusses her graduation from high school and her time at Jackson State University.

Keywords: Campus; Civil rights movement; College; Dormitories; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Illness; Jackson State Killings; Jackson State University; Lynch Street; Medical treatment; Political unrest; Protests; School; Shootings; Sisters; Social science; State violence; Teaching

Subjects: Civil rights movements--United States; Higher education; Politics; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

03:00:19 - Employment / living in Michigan / returning to school

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Partial Transcript: And, uh, so, I stayed in Michigan with my sister, Helen, and I was available for my brother's surgery.

Segment Synopsis: McGee discusses her time staying in Pontiac, Michigan as her brother's blood donor. She goes on to talk about her first job off the farm, returning to school, and beginning her teaching experience.

Keywords: Angela Davis; Black Power; Black Power Movement; Blood donors; Brothers; Department stores; Field teaching; Hiring; Jackson State University; Jobs; Madison County (Miss.); Mississippi; Part-time employment; Political consciousness; Pontiac (Mich.); Radical; Student teaching; Students; Surgery; Yankee Store

Subjects: Education; Employment; Protests; Teaching; Unemployment

03:24:38 - Finishing college / Yazoo City boycott

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Partial Transcript: Well, we had Dr. Ira Phillip and he was sort of, uh, um, oh, I guess we would call him a radical.

Segment Synopsis: McGee discusses finishing her degree at Jackson State and the boycott of white-owned businesses in Yazoo City.

Keywords: African American community; Black youth; Black-owned businesses; Boycott; Boycotting; Discriminatory hiring practices; Economic violence; Employment; Equal opportunity employment; Jackson State University; Merchants; Opportunity; Political consciousness; Political engagement; Political organizing; Political protests; Prejudice; Racial discrimination; Radical; Rudy Shields; School; White-owned businesses; Yazoo City

Subjects: African Americans--Employment.; Desegregation; Higher education; Politics; Race discrimination.

03:42:42 - Returning to Yazoo City

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Partial Transcript: So, you returned to Yazoo city as a teacher, when?

Segment Synopsis: McGee discusses her teaching in Yazoo City schools, racial demographics among the students, and becoming a mother.

Keywords: "Hemorrhaging"; Child-rearing; Childbirth; Class; County schools; Homes; Jonestown; Manchester Academy; Motherhood; Moving; Poor; Poverty; Prentice Street; Real estate, Housing; School system; Schools; Segregated communities; Sons; Student body; Student body demographics; Students; White flight; Yazoo City (Miss.)

Subjects: Education; Race; Teaching

04:04:21 - Teaching at a new school / family history and memories

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Partial Transcript: So, in '74, you're, um, hired as an instructor at the junior high school?

Segment Synopsis: McGee finishes the interview by discussing her job at a new school in the 1970s, and goes on to talk about her family history.

Keywords: American history; Brothers; Class privilege; Classism; Country; Family; Instructor; Parents; Poor; Relatives; Respect; School integration; Sisters; Social sciences; Stigma; Teaching curriculum

Subjects: Childhood; Discrimination; Family history; Genealogy; Poverty; Prejudice; Race; Race relations; Teaching