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Dr. Oswell Person shares his experiences with education in African American Bryan, Texas

Dr. Oswell Person: Washington Elementary School.

Interviewer: Okay.

Dr. Oswell Person: It had become Washington after they built E. A. Kemp Junior Senior High on the West Side in 1930. It had been Bryan Public School for Color in 1885. And until they built E. A. Kemp Junior Senior High, it remained Bryan School for Color. And again, as I said, it became Washington after that, Washington Elementary School. Well, my mother worked domestic. My stepfather worked concrete and some other things, he was a carpenter and the like. He worked away from home. But I wasn't discouraged by that, because, as I said, our teachers were surrogates, good surrogates, Mr. Sadberry for one, was extremely supportive. In fact, when I graduated from undergraduate school, he asked if I'd come back and teach. So over the years, we stayed in touch and he was always supportive. In fact, I remember one year, I was in seventh grade, and my seventh grade teacher had a little stand concession, stand in the school, and he said, "Be sure to hire Oswell, because he can count." So I guess we had things that happened that made up for the most part, to some extent, the absence of strong parental participation.

Interviewer: Right, it has a stronger than some other classes? Because you come back every two years and [inaudible 00:01:38] each other.

Dr. Oswell Person: I think so. I think some classes more than others, but generally that's true. And I think it had to do with the fact that we were community, we had us, in a sense. You shared common things, and that made for the community. You couldn't do X, so you found a way to do something else together. For example, there weren't a lot of outlets, no boys and girls clubs and all of that kind of things. So we had people, teachers in some cases, who provided for us the kind of thing that would help us know how to respond and how to carry, comport.

Dr. Oswell Person: I remember one lady, I can't think of her name, but I believe she was Dr. Hammond's daughter, she was interested in helping young ladies know how to carry themselves, that kind of thing. Lula Dean was also a person who sought to help us out in that regard. We'd meet, I think it was Friday and Saturday, in a little place over here on the East Side, where the boys and girls could socialize. But we had strict rules. Your behavior had to be such that... And I didn't think it was so good then, but it had a real purpose, given the situation. And I've grown to be thankful and grateful for those experiences.