Interview with Eula Alliston

April 20, 2010

                The Civil Rights era was a time of turmoil and sadness.  To understand more about this time period I interviewed my grandmother Eula Alliston.  She currently lives in Greenwood, SC but this was only a recent move.  When Civil Rights started my grandma was in her 30’s.  She was born in 1927 in a town called Eagleville located in Missouri.  She only lived here until she was about 6 years old and then her and her parents moved to Bethany, MO.  She was an only child and grew up in a fairly wealthy home.  In 1938 the schools were integrated.  She remembers having to go to school in Martinsville, MO which was the next town over.  The bus would pick her up at her driveway and drop her off there after school.  Not many people opposed integration because it was supposed to be an improvement.  When she graduated high school in Bethany she became a school teacher in a one room school house teaching many different ages of children in one room.  After only 2 years teaching she decided to attend North West Missouri State University.  When she graduated college she moved to Kansas City, MO and became a book keeper at UMB bank. 

                The Civil Rights figures such as Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks were not well known in the area my grandmother grew up in.  Her home town only had one black family.  She remembered they “kept to themselves and worked at the powerplant”.  In Kansas City there were march’s in the late 1960’s for civil rights but my grandmother never felt she had to be afraid of the violence and protesters.  She said, “they were more afraid of us than we were of them”, refering to the blacks and whites.  The bank she worked at did not hire blacks but she remembered walking home from work and seeing blacks walking in groups because they were afraid to go home from work by themselves.

                     She said the change between the hostile feelings between races took time.  The two races were not used to close interaction with one another and they did not cope easily to their new lives.  As a child herself she did not have much exposure to people of different races until she was in high school.  As blacks starting being allowed to play in professional sports my grandmother did not take much notice.  She was not a big sports fan and their influence did not matter much to her.  The only team she was aware of was the Monarchs which was an all black team in Kansas City.  The day Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered my grandmother saw it on tv when she got home from work.  It was not a big influence to her.  She said “it was a very sad day for blacks who looked up to King for inspiration”. 

                   When the Civil Rights was passed to law it did not make much of a difference.  “No one wanted to enforce the new law” my grandma said, the law was ran by whites mainly and they would not do anything to help blacks.  The laws were not enforced until later on.  In my grandma’s opinion the most progress made by blacks has been in the south.  She believes this because they were so oppressed in the south and Civil Rights helped them be able to rise above those who hated them most.  She thinks the least progress has been made in the central states because there were few blacks living there for much to be done in the area to help blacks.  My grandma believed that Civil Rights would help blacks. She said, “the only problem with blacks is they had poor education.  No one would help educate the poor people so how could they expect them to change”.  

                This interview was eye opening and very educational for me.  It let me get an inside look at what life was like in these very hard times.  It makes me wonder more about America’s history.

Katie Alliston


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