Jump to navigation
Andrew Young Interviewee, 1980 May 22 [Box 138, Item 5, Side 1]
Dent, Thomas C.
Topics include: Valena C. Jones Elementary School and Gilbert Academy.
00:00 – Dent interviews Andrew Young in New Orleans. They discuss Valena C. Jones Elementary School. Dent points out the extraordinary teachers for a segregated school at that time. Young did not see it that way. Young recollects principal Fannie Williams and third grade teacher Sarah [Vokeland?]. He had previously been at the Hume Center. He was six but could read and write, so was put with older children. He rode to school with W.I. Woody McCann, who they called “Mack.” He was the industrial arts teacher. He struggled to identify with the other students. 02:30 – He and a boy named Lincoln got in trouble for playing with a knife. His principal gave them the option of calling their parents or taking a spanking. He called his parents and was able to return to school. He never saw Lincoln again until he was at Howard University. He was a lifeguard at the local pool. Lincoln fell in in a “narcotic stupor.” Young pulled him out and recognized him. He had not been to school since that day in third grade. It was a reminder of how lucky he was. He also carried a resentment for Jones School ever since. Lincoln told him about the things he learned in jail. Lincoln wanted Young to write a book about the “real” New Orleans. He has not seen him since that summer of 1949. 06:35 – Lincoln was expelled because she was a maid and could not miss work to see about him in school. His memories of Jones School were about himself getting by because he was privileged. He did not have a happy time there with teachers. He remembers Ms. Evelyn [Acox?] Jones appreciating his handwriting. Aaron Dutton at Gilbert Academy taught him printing. He remembers being bored during the war. He recalls other teachers. 10:18 – Social studies teacher Ms. Nims took them to the federal courtroom to see Thurgood Marshall plead the case of equalization of teachers’ salaries. It was probably around 1942. Industrial education was important to him and he still thinks it is an important part of elementary education. Looking at developing countries, Young sees that children do not come by those skills automatically. 12:47 – Young played trumpet in the band at Jones School. The teacher’s name may have been Mr. Wilson. The lead trumpet was Alan [Tarragano?]. Young remembers not eating in the cafeteria. He would go to the stores across the street and share with other children. 14:37 – They used to run and fight in the yard at playtime. Kids would try to shake him down for money. He enjoyed sharing but resented being bullied. He did not have any trouble with bullying by the time he was at Gilbert Academy. He attributes this to learning how to cuss. He also learned how to negotiate. Valena C. Jones was more of a Creole neighborhood. Uptown was more of a protestant black neighborhood. 16:40 – He was still living on Cleveland Avenue. He would catch the Galvez Street bus when he did not ride with Mack. Sometimes he would run home. Beecher Church was in the neighborhood, where they would go to Sunday School. Creoles were an artisan class. He never felt uncomfortable in the neighborhood. 18:45 – Ms. Williams wants Young to preach her funeral when she dies. It bothers him. Young did not particularly care for Jones School, except for Mack. He preferred Gilbert. He liked Mack [Spears?] and James [Gail]. Dent says he does not think the teachers knew how to deal with them because they came from a different economic class. Young says this is where his social conscience came from. 22:00 – Gilbert Academy. Young had always looked forward to attending Gilbert. He loved it. His mother sent him in short pants. He and Dent were eleven years old going to high school. He went after a boy with a broken Coke bottle when the older boy touched his leg. It paid off because another older boy took him under his wing. He had already learned that he had to fight. He had been taking boxing lessons with professional boxer Eddie “Kid” Brown who was a patient of his father’s dental practice. Brown and his father encouraged him to stay cool and think if he was in a fight. 26:45 – Young’s athleticism. He always knew he could run. He swam and played basketball, ping pong, and pool. He knew he had ability, but was always too small to make the teams in high school. He never did anything with his ability until he was in college at Howard University. He had to borrow track shoes to get into the time trial. He set a record at his first track meet. The coach was still not supportive of him. 30:45 – Teachers at Gilbert Academy. Aaron Dutton gave him his first religious education. [Side 1 ends 31:31, continues on Side 2.]
Young, Andrew, 1932-
Childhood & youth
New Orleans (La.)
Tulane University Digital Library
Amistad Research Center
Audiocassette, mono. 16-bit
Box 138, Item 5, Side 1, Tom Dent collection, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
Physical rights are retained by the Amistad Research Center. Copyright is retained in accordance with U.S. copyright laws.