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Oralean and Joyce Davis interview, Part 1
Davis, Oralean and Joyce
Topics Include: ministerial alliance, church activism, school system & teaching
Davis begins by talking about how her brother got involved in church. He went and liked it and then became a member. The minister at the time was part of the Baptist training union and realized that Davis' brother was something special. Three months later the minister died and Davis' brother became the manager. He then became a pastor without even having finished high school. He stopped going to school to work on the farm and help his mother so that his sisters could get an education. Davis herself became a teacher in 1930 at Thomy Lafon elementary school and stayed there 5 years. She then went to [McCarly School?] and was then transferred to a new school before becoming a reading consultant for New Orleans private schools in 1949. She says that their church had 90 members but at the time of the minister's death there were 805 members. The local branch of the SCLC was born at their church in 1957. Her brother was the president of the Orleans Parish League. She describes New Orleans in the 1950s as supposed to be separate but equal. They had all black schools, and their church was all black except for one member who went for the music. She remembers a lot of tension and violence. They could not eat at restaurants. She says she herself was not openly active because she was a teacher but she tried to help her brother as much as she could, especially with Voter registration. Their church also began helping blacks to register in 52. The ministerial alliance was involved too which her brother became president of in 41. The work they did in Voter registration increased numbers by leaps and bounds. They bused people to the voting office. After Brown v Board of Education in 54 they had to find teachers willing to go to the white schools and schools willing to accept their students. She says at first there was conflict, fighting, and rock-throwing. Betty Wisdom recalled that black children were well protected and often had cab services as an organized way to always know where they are. Davis was one of the first teachers to go and work at the white school. She went to Thomas Jefferson school and noticed the conflict between white and black students. She was happy to work at that school but had to discipline students to show she meant business. 22:36 She talks about her perception of the 60s. She remembers getting phone calls and threats saying they were communists, at home and at church. But this did not stop their efforts and nothing ever came of it. They found out the caller was a member of the White Citizens' Council. She says she thought they would bring about some change otherwise she would not have been so involved. She remembers Alvin Jones being beaten to death in country town, a town she describes as die hard whites where the Civil rights movement would have a heart attack. She and her brother did not necessarily want to be acquaintances with whites but rather share the same rights like being able to go to all stores, try on clothes, and go to the theater. They mention Creoles and how they have always been separated with blacks but that family connections kept people quiet instead of protesting because of the one drop rule. In the 1930s, Davis remembers they did not to dare go anywhere other than black areas. Walter Collins was ostracized by blacks for joining the Republican party. Her brother got involved in the Consumers League because he wanted to know what was going on and then took on a leadership role which is how she got involved. Other people in the league were Robin Alexander, Alvin Jones, and Jackson A Cox. It was active for five years.
New Orleans (La.)
Amistad Research Center
Rogers.Davis 5.19.1979 Tape 1-01
Box 4, Item 8, Side 1, Kim Lacy Rogers 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.