Interview with Annice Trowbridge

April 27, 2010

Interview with Annice Trowbridge

The Civil Rights era was a violent and scary time. Social integration had a huge roll in Arkansas, where my mom, Annice Trowbridge is from. Considering she grew up in Arkansas, I assumed she would be able to account for many civil right acts that went on in her own home town.  Annice Trowbridge was born in Morrilton, Arkansas in 1954. She was raised by her parents and her maid, Areal. She lived there along with four siblings. Annice told me that she had spent the majority of her life in the south. Moving from Arkansas to Mississippi, and then to Louisiana; eventually finding her way to South Carolina. Annice also shared that her education stopped in the twelfth grade due to a baby on the way.

I asked Annice if she remembered when the area schools were integrated.  Annice then told me ” I went from the first grade to the sixth grade going to an all white school. The black children attended school separate from the white children… somewhere else. When I entered Jr. High (seventh grade)… that was the first year we had integration.” Annice continued to tell me that “something that didn’t change immediately was the Reailto Theater. In this theater, blacks sat up in the balcony and whites sat closer to the movie screen in the lower seats. Also, blacks had a separate concession stand.”

I asked Annice if she could recall any memories from this time period. She said she could, and told me a story about how seventh grade was for her. She stated ” I began to become friends with some of the new black students, I enjoyed talking with them because it was something new to me. Many of my teachers got mad  at me though, especially my seventh grade English teacher. That teacher expelled me from her class for ‘cheating’, when really it was because I had been conversing with another black girl.”

I then asked Annice if she ever had a fear of racial violence. She replied “no, not really… A lot of tension, but no violence. Where I grew up, in Morrilton, I believe it was easier for us to accommodate to the changes because we were a smaller town, people were closer. The real racial violence was in Little Rock, maybe because it was a bigger city; I guess.”  I continued to ask her if she felt that change occurred rapidly or slowly. She told me “very slowly. Social occasions and things to that effect were still segregated. Blacks and whites wouldn’t mix together until about twenty years later… but I still see some separation today.”

I asked Annice if she had much exposure to people of other races as a child. She told me she did. “Our made, Areal, took care of me and my siblings. Areal read to us, and talked to us if we were sad. Also, she took me and my sisters to her families house many times to hang out and eat. She was like my second mother.” I then asked about her recollection of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death. She told me she could remember the pain Areal was going through; she said she could remember hugging her, trying to console her.

When I asked if she had seen any specific incidents of segregation in South Carolina, she said “no.” However, Annice did continue to tell me a story about a specific time she remembers in her childhood, where someone was being utterly racist. She began “Back then we could walk to school, and home during lunch. I remember one day I invited some girls to come home with me to eat. Areal would always cook lunch for us if we decided to eat at home. One of the girls that I brought home that day said ‘nigger’ in casual conversation. Since I had become so close to Areal, I stood up and told her she couldn’t say that word… especially not in front of Areal. I said Areal is like an oreo; she is black on the outside but white on the inside. Areal then yelled at me and said ‘no honey, we are all red on the inside with the same blood and heart that you have’.” Annice told me how thankful she was to Areal for saying that to her. She said she was never going to forget that moment, or what was said.

In conclusion, I would like to say that my mother has shared many experiences with me that she went through during her child hood. I don’t think that any modern day young adult can comprehend what it must have been like for the children, and the families.Although we have come a long way from this time period, I still believe we have a long way to go.

By:  Sarah Trowbridge

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