Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History & Culture Enduring Connections: Exploring Delmarva's Black History


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Interview with Laura Genevieve Jones, 13 July 2004

Audio Recording

About This Recording

In this interview, Laura Genevieve Jones describes her experiences in growing up during segregation and her education during that time. She also comments on some lessons to be learned from the experience and how those lessons relate to modern day issues.

This interview is part of the Teaching American History Project. For more information, see the Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid.


Interviewer: Melody Wilkins
Narrator: Laura Genevieve Jones
Date: July 13th, 2004
Keywords: Schoolhouses, integration, segregation, Fruitland, Salisbury High School
Transcription Notes: The audio of this interview has issues with both low voice audibility and skips in the recording. (?) following a name indicates phonetic spelling, (?) following a word indicates uncertainty, (inaudible) indicates that the word was not understandable. Clarifications, corrections, notes, and gestures are in brackets.

[Begin Transcription]
Melody Wilkins (MW): This interview is with Mrs. Laura Genevieve Jones. Today is July 13th, 2004. We're at the Fruitland Community Center. My name is Melody Wilkins. Our interview is part of a grant called Teaching American History. Mrs. Jones, what is your earliest memory at the elementary school? I hope it's a good one, but maybe not.

Laura Genevieve Jones (LGJ): My earliest memory would be of the dedicated teachers, of their patience, and the individual attention that they gave to most of—all of the students. Sitting around a potbelly stove, and discussing our classes. Probably [pauses briefly] the students in general, we were good to each other.

MW: You went to Fruitland Colored Elementary School, and do you remember how many grade levels there were here? Maybe how many students were in your classes on average?

LGJ: There were seven grades and approximately 25 to 28 students in each class. Now, it was a three-room school.

MW: (inaudible statement/question)

LGJ: I can't really remember my first-grade teacher.

MW: Did you like school when you were young, and what was your favorite thing about school? That could be a subject or recess, whatever.

LGJ: I liked my teachers, all of my teachers, and I guess you might say that I was a teacher's pet. And I liked, really, all of my subjects. Probably—I liked English, that was my favorite, favorite subject.

MW: [Wilkins asks another question, inaudible] While Mrs. Jones is thinking about that, I have to add that if you haven't looked at the information sheet yet, she had to be good at math because she became an accountant in the county schools. What did you do for fun when you were younger? When you were a little kid?

LGJ: When I was young, I used to play something they called Dodgeball, and something called Annie Over, where one group of kids would be on one side of the house, another group would be on the other side of the house, and we played with a stuffed stocking. It was like a ball, it was made into a ball, and we would throw it over to the other side. And if you caught the ball, then you would run around to the other side and see if you could hit the other person, and we played that quite a bit. We would shoot marbles a lot also, even though we were girls.

MW: (inaudible statement/question)

LGJ: In the summer, we would go to the neighbor's house or they would come over to my house, and we would just play games.

MW: You also went to Salisbury Colored High School. When you were a student did you realize how different the colored schools were from the white schools? Do you think you got less of an education because of that?

LGJ: I'm positive that we did not get the same education as the white schools. They had better books than we did, we received books that were handed down from the white schools.

MW: (inaudible statement/question)

LGJ: Oh, yes, I knew at the time that we were—it was like a second-class school. I felt that we were treated as second class students.

MW: What other ways did segregation affect you personally?

LGJ: Segregation [pauses] in a sense, in some instances, made me proud to be a Black American. Of course, I suffered a lot because of segregation, but thank God I was able to overcome through the teachings of my father, William Pollitt, who taught me that I am always as good as anybody else, regardless to what any other race thought of me. He taught me to always do the best that I can, to be the best, and that I would have to always be better than another race in order to succeed.

MW: Do you think that young people today, no matter what race or ethnicity, get the same message from their parents?

LGJ: Perhaps some of the students of today get the same message from parents who are interested in their children, some who are probably a little more educated than others. These children, these black children are a little bit more fortunate, perhaps because parents take more interest in their children than some other parents due to the fact that many black parents have to work. And perhaps some of the children do suffer, because the parents aren't able to spend the time that they should with their children that are going to school.

MW: I know so many people have to—both parents have to go out and earn a living. It's hard to raise a child today. Who was your favorite president as you've grown up over the years?

LGJ: My favorite president was John F. Kennedy because I felt that he was a fair person and I felt that he had the best interests for all people, regardless of their race or the color.

MW: Nowadays it seems like we know maybe too much about presidents and their personal lives. Do you think that the news media tells us more than we need to know about the people who are running the country?

LGJ: I think the news media has a problem with, at times, saying too much. Maybe this is their job, but I think it affects when they overkill issues. It doesn't have it doesn't have a good effect on people.

MW: If you had to choose one modern convenience as being something that you couldn't live without today that you didn't have when you were young, what might it be? I know for me it's probably—even though I had a refrigerator and a stove—My family goes camping and I'm so grateful to get home to things that you plug in and they keep your food cold.

LGJ: I like my television, not because of stories—soap operas, soaps—but I like it because of the information that it can, it provides for you, and the news sometimes, that you should be aware of, what's going on around you. [Wilkins asks a question, inaudible] Television definitely leads us down the wrong, wrong road, especially to the children, because today it seems as though nothing is censored. Everything is out in the open—[Audio tape skips]

MW: —How about what life was like in the Salisbury area when you were growing up?

LGJ: I would like for the kids to know more about, first of all, black history. I would like for them to know more about what has transpired earlier, the struggles that we have had. For instance, when I—integration started and I was one of the first black, in my field as a secretary and as an account clerk, going there for the for the first time as a black person, (inaudible) alone [recording cuts to complete silence, sound returns]. And I had to deal with [audio skips] many things that I really don't care to go into that made me so uncomfortable, and many of the jobs I would leave the job in tears [tape skips repeatedly, skipping over words, inaudible] ... we have to work hard to overcome whatever has gone on in the past [tape skips again, as Jones continues speaking, inaudible]

MW: Thank you very much [tape skips] students and visitors at the Nabb Center [tape skips] become part of the history of the Eastern Shore.
[Interview ends]

Related Records

Record #23

County Wicomico County
School Name Salisbury High School
Location Lake street, location of Charles H. Chipman Elementary School, Salisbury
Date Opened
Current Status No longer standing, however, one of the original doorways is preserved on the grounds of Charles …
State Maryland

All Fields in This Record

State Maryland
County Wicomico County
School Name Salisbury High School
Location Lake street, location of Charles H. Chipman Elementary School, Salisbury
Date Opened
Current Status No longer standing, however, one of the original doorways is preserved on the grounds of Charles H. Chipman Elementary
Additional Information
State Maryland