I interviewed my Aunt Ailine Elizabeth Harris Watterson. She is a forty-five-year-old homemaker born April 16, 1954 and raised here in Johnson City, Tennessee. I chose to interview her on the Civil Rights Movement because she had to face a lot of obstacles her late childhood and young adulthood years. Here is a series of questions on the Civil Rights Movement that I asked her and the answers that she gave me.
Q: What do you remember about the Civil Rights Movement?
"I remember a bunch of white people cussing me every time I went down the street. I remember people getting beat up and bruised. Most of all I think that I remember when I went into University School as the first black female to ever enter that school. The very first day I went in, there was this guy named Leo Frederick and his daddy was what we called the "Grand Pupa" because he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. And as I walked up in front of the school He (Leo) was leaning out of the first floor window and he harked and spit in my head. Well the whole school felt real bad about it, but what they ended up doing was they took me downstairs to wash my hair. Of course back then we used hotcombs (a.k.a. pressing combs) to press our hair. What ended up happening was I had an afro by the end of the day and I was totally embarrassed, crying. And um, I remember it was really hard because mom and dad had never raised us to be prejudiced, we had you know white friends and they came to our house. We had white people over and they ate with us and everything. You know, we didn’t know anything about being prejudice. We didn’t know anything about civil rights. We didn’t know that they. I think they (her parents) called themselves protecting...
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...in school out there like you have?
"Yes, every since the first grade actually. Every since he has been in school out there. It's been sort of an up and down yo-yo. And it's been a really hard decision to keep him there, because he is very bright and I know that the one thing that he can get from the University School is the academia. We try to work hard though he is not accepted. They want him involved in the sports but not in other things such as sleepovers. "
Q: Do you think that the fight the African Americans went through during the civil rights movement was well worth it for the things that we have today?
"I think that it is well worth it when I see students like my foster children. I wish that there was some magic that could put love in people’s hearts and take away hatred."
Watterson, Ailine. Personal Interview. November 26, 1999.
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