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AfriGeneas Genealogy and History Forum

Re: Did Your Family Experience Jim Crow?

I grew up in a rural community, attended a two-room school through 8th grade. We never had new books, all of our books being hand-me-downs from the white schools.

I spent all of my school years in Arkansas, all the way through college, and all of that in segregated schools. I was in my freshman year of college when the Little Rock school situation blew up... pretty scary for a youngster living away from home for the first time.

I am thoroughly familiar with the back of the bus, separate water fountains, toilets, separate waiting rooms in the bus depot AND at the doctor's office. Separate seating in the movie theater, which was entered by a separate, and not quite equal doorway. BUT, we sat upstairs, and we didn't even know we had "loge" seating!

There were no Black doctors in town during my lifetime, but there had been one or more during my parents younger days. I came down with appendicitis when I was 10 years old. It was night when I became ill, and I was taken "to town" to the hospital. The doctor walked out to the street and examined me in the back seat of the car. I did not even know what that place was, only learned in recent years that it was a hospital, but for whites only. Other Black folks in my age group to whom I have mentioned this hospital were like me, unaware that such a hospital even existed, totally unaware as recently as last year.

I later went to a hospital in my hometown that was still under construction, the 2nd patient admitted, the first hospital I was even aware of. I eventually ended up in the state hospital/Medical School in Little Rock. I was in the "colored" children's ward, which was across the hall from the "colored" women's ward, with the "colored" men's ward somewhere down the hall.

During my time in that hospital, one of the first African Americans to graduate from the state Medical school was a student there. I remember being on display in the theater full of Med students, looking up from my gurney and seeing one Black person in the seats. It was not until years later when I saw an article in Ebony magazine about her, that I was able to put a name to that Black woman that I had not forgotten. Her husband had been on the faculty of my college while I was a student there. Small world.

My aunt had a problem birth with her 2nd child and went to a "Black" hospital 30 miles away in a larger town, Hot Springs. She probably knew about it because her sister lived there. Who knows what would have happened had that not been available.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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