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Dr. Oswell Person and the strength of the bond that E. A. Kemp graduates share

Interviewer: Do you think that the bonds that hold the Kemp alumni together are unusual? And why do you think they're so strong?

Dr. Oswell Person: Well, I think, yes, to answer your question first, yes, the bonds are strong. I think it has a lot to do with things that happen in school. The fact that we were segregated, the fact that we had in common this one school. And the community was pretty tight, the boys and girls on the west and east side all converged at E. A. Kemp High School, E. A. Kemp Junior Senior High School. And we had our parents, our church, and our teachers as common pieces in our relationships.

Dr. Oswell Person: If you lived in Bryan from 1940s forward to the point in which the schools merged and were desegregated, you met at E. A. Kemp High at some point in your life, you had that experience. And it was then from the eighth through 12th grades. So whether you went to Washington or Carver, there was a period at which you spent at least five years, even more prior to Carver, because the kids came to Washington Elementary School then, and even before then, you only had the one school, the Bryan Public School for Colored.

Dr. Oswell Person: And that's where I think the cement took place, that we had those things in common. And there's a tendency for us to... Someone said, and I think it was Thomas Wolfe, "You can never go home again." But I find that, when you think about the experiences at E. A. Kemp High, you go home again. Whether a building is torn down and a parking lot is in its place, you remember when it was that building and what happened and so on and so forth. I think all of those things helped to draw us and keep us together.

Dr. Oswell Person: Now, there's a piece in the bylaws that talk about socialization and the like, and that's important. But the one thing that, when I think about, and I think others do the same, Bryan and growing up here, I don't think about the things that were unpleasant, so to speak, my mind is always drawn in the direction of what happened at E. A. Kemp High School. The things like the socials, where boys and girls would meet and try to dance and court and all that kind of... Sometimes it was unrequited, but nonetheless, all of those things. The football games, the basketball games, the after game events, the parades and all those things were really part of what I believe make for the great bond. Someone said to me, not long ago, that this is an atypical group of people in that they're still meeting after all these years and happily so.