Editor's Note: This transcript was automatically transcribed, so mistakes are inevitable. You can contribute by proofreading the transcript or highlighting the mistakes. Sign up to be amongst the first contributors.
And that recording now one must not get one's knickers in a twist. I'm trying. These are the stories your granny never told anybody, loved everybody. I was raising a kinds and kids and I slipped up on some spilled on the road. And my mom like. Hey, everybody, it's your host, Nicky, of these stories your granny never told podcast, it's a monthly podcast where I interview people from a wiser generation about the unexpected stories from their youth.
This is a special month because it's the sixth episode. That means it's the six month anniversary of stories your granny never told you to celebrate. Go by some stickers or something on the website. It's also a really, really important episode because after like two months of technical difficulties, I finally was able to record and upload the sort of Black Lives Matter episode.
Obviously, it would be ideal to have a black person or a person of color or indigenous person interviewing on the podcast, and I'm going to work towards that in the future.
If you're a grandma or your grandma is BIPAC, please, just like email me.
And I would love to have them on the podcast and tell their story. I'm definitely working on that. And at the end of the episode, I'll share a list of podcasts led by black podcasters so that you can have their point of view on the whole Black Lives Matter issue. I'm not personally going to address this. I'm white girl, you know, I'm just trying to use one of these episodes with its history and bring light to the matter in the small way that I can.
You know, I'm outraged that we actually have to say that black lives matter. It should be automatic, but this is where we're at now.
So I just wanted to focus on how you can be an ally. And, you know, it seems like not much progress has been made since the 50s in terms of when integration happened. So I brought on Dr Angie Benham to share her story of how she stood up to her school for her fellow black students. And hopefully it's something that can inspire you to also be an ally. So as a little bit of a background, Jim Crow laws or segregation laws required African-American and white children to attend separate schools.
And in 1954, the Brown vs. Board of Education case was a Supreme Court ruling that ended public school segregation. But in 1957, the Little Rock High School in Arkansas decided to not follow this court ruling. And the governor called the National Guard to not allow the black students to enter the high school. Later that month, the president sent federal troops to escort these nine children that are known as the Little Rock nine back to the school. So their names are many Jean Brown, Ernest Green, Melba Pattillo, Terrence Roberts, Elizabeth Eckford, Thelma Mother Qaid, Gloria Ray and Jefferson Thomas, as well as Carlotta Walls.
And in Arkansas, schools were still not fully integrated all the way until 1972. So and she's going to tell her story of being a high school student at that time and how it felt to live and this historical moment. I'm sorry that we had to we had all these technical difficulties and we had to do another one, but at least you got to kind of have of a rehearsal.
Well, maybe we'll see what the outcome is. If you could give us your name and your age and start from where you grew up.
OK. My name is Jesse and Julian EVMs, Ben. And I currently go by Dr. Angie Evans Benim, now that I'm a psychologist and I hope people will recognize my name and I've been called Angie since the first grade. OK, it's the computer responsible for my being listed as Jesse, but that is my little first name. I grew up in Bambury in Arkansas, which is one hundred and sixty miles northwest of Little Rock. OK, it's right on the Arkansas River and it is between the river and the foothills of the Ozarks.
Plateau sounds beautiful. Well, it is. It is beautiful. When I was growing up, there were a lot of where I lived was in East Van Buren. Our house was a bungalow on a dirt road. And we had a city bus service which connected Van Buren to Fort Smith. But at that time, Camp Kathy was open. And so that meant that there were many, many, many, many soldiers in the area from all parts of the country.
And it also meant that our high school had some teachers from the north. And that was unusual because we were very insular and isolated. And even though we our borders on Oklahoma, it is only a hundred miles south of the Missouri state line. People didn't travel very much, so there were very few influences, our population was between four and six thousand, OK? And so there's always been a poor state, but especially then and we're thankful, though, for Mississippi, because it was even more poor than we were.
And it was a pretty frugal kind of society. My my dad was always trying to make more money and usually had a little corner grocery store. I got to run it in the summer of nineteen fifty eight just before the immigration crisis. Right.
So that's the the whole reason for your interview is because of in nineteen fifty eight the law got passed that there would be integration and almost segregation in public schools between black and white kids. And that started at Little Rock. And then there was all of these riots there and Little Rock decided to close down. Right. Because they didn't want to do integration. And then your school also had problems with it.
But you were a junior, right, when you were in that high school?
Yes, I was a junior that year at Van Buren High School.
Right. So how did that all go down?
Well, every two years before here in high school, I integrated and there were very many problems. There were some that nobody really knew about, some altercations and things. But what made my junior year different was that Governor Faubus had said that even though the Supreme Court had ruled that desegregation had to happen, all of us said, no, we don't have to integrate. And so he sent National Guardsmen to Little Rock Central High and those National Guardsmen kept the non African-American students from entering.
And then what happened just before my junior year was that Little Rock closed its schools as a way to not integrate. Meanwhile, the President Eisenhower sent in the hundred and first Airborne Division to make integration of the Little Rock school happen. But when they closed the school, this fueled some people and bend your desire to avoid integration.
Yeah, they decided to follow the example. Yes. Yes, it was. Little Rock was very influential. And even though it had gone pretty well the two years before, in the fall of fifty eight, if the genes were burned and there were students carrying placards that were very rude and hateful saying go home and so on. And a school board meeting was called by the so they didn't called themselves the White Citizens Council, they just called themselves the Citizens Council.
The feeling encouraged by the occupants. They demanded a meeting with school board. And that's when I and some of my friends that I invited went to the school board meeting. Meanwhile, that afternoon, just before the school board meeting, the student council had polled students at the school and asked them their thing because they wanted to know if the students really were against integration or if it was more like their parents or the locals that were employing send them influencing them.
Yes, I had learned about taking polls that summer before because as president of the student council, I went to a workshop. How useful. What was interesting, though, is that that conference, which had students from all over Arkansas in attendance in the form of student council president integration, desegregation was never mentioned in that, to my knowledge, never heard in because it was taboo. I just was not brought up, although it seems like they would have talked about that, but it was not talked about.
So how come you decided to go to this city council? Well, I think there were several factors, some of them very adolescent and some I'm still proud of. That influenced me, but I didn't want to not have a school. I loved school not just because it was a place of learning, because it all. Isn't always inspirational as far as learning. Sometimes it was, but high school was the total social realm. Yeah, that was fun.
I didn't want to miss out on that. So that was one factor. Another factor was that I was upset about what was happening to the black students. They. They were there, they're very quiet and well-mannered, but one day at Langston's drugstore, which was the closest drugstore to the high school, and it's where sometimes we would go eat lunch. I don't remember what day of the week it was, but I saw one of the black students there working.
He was a little younger, maybe a year younger than me, and he was pushing a broom. He didn't look up at me or the other students, but it was very evident that tears were rolling down his face. And that affected me because a boy that age in our culture does his very best and never cry from other people. I he was hurting. As soon as the immigration problems began with the effigies and in the meetings and the hue and cry in the boys.
And to interrupt, these were your schoolmates that were burning these effigies and like protesting and stuff in front of the school. Yes. Now, I don't know.
I still don't know who all those kids were.
Probably like 16 year olds. And yes, that one or two cars would race their motors and drive up close to the school and receive attention. And they were missing school every day.
Also, they're just doing it for the attention.
And yes, that was me and that was my belief. And, you know, to take the side of the adolescent boy, though, they we don't have a way in our culture to establish that you're a man or becoming a man. Driver's license is about sponsors again. Yeah, that's a good point. That was one way to do that. And then the boys that did know who were on strike, they called it, they had never liked school, so they didn't want to go OK.
And for some of them, I'm sure, were influenced by their parents, most of them because the little tiny kids don't really know the type.
Know they it's a learned thing to learn how to hate people that I'm sure some of them are influenced by what their parents were saying. So my stand, though, came about from several influences when I decided to attend that meeting that. I tried to get to the bottom of this, as we say around here, when an outsider said, you must have been told by somebody to go do this. And I've tried to remember and I've asked questions about the influences on that.
I have never come up with anything other than just the way I grew up in the summers. And my dad would often talk about how everybody in the United States has the right to freedom and the opportunity to seek happiness to make their lives better. He was big on the Constitution. My mother, on the other hand, also talked about how people's feelings got hurt. And so when I said, how do you think you make those Negro children feel like keeping them from school?
That was really from heart in my sense, that they have a right to be there was that both my parents respected the mall and thought we should keep the mall. And my dad liked and respected the chief of police. But I don't think he really realized and I didn't either till later that the chief of police was saying that those students had a right to strike and they didn't make the go to school if they didn't want to. So he was against integration?
Yes, he was. And his wife was at that meeting that night. How did that meeting go? Well, it was just back and forth. A lot of angry arguing on the part of the citizens group until after it seemed like a long time. I raised my hand and asked, would you like to know how the students feel? And the crowd there said, yes, yes. And there was really no one there saying we should integrate.
Now, the school board was saying, well, this is all we need to abide by, but they weren't really happy about it.
Now, a lot of them were for segregation. But when I asked that question, the citizens group said, oh, yes, yes, yes.
And so because they thought that the students would agree with them, I'm sure. Yes. So when I made the results public, they were upset with him.
And because most of the students didn't care about segregation, they wanted integration to happen.
Yes, the results, I think were eighty five, four and forty and decided then the rest of them were against it. So the crowd was upset and really said bad things. Police chiefs. I've never told the story until our previous attempt at this podcast because I didn't want the police chief's wife or her children to be hurt. But it's my belief now that she is deceased and even her child, who was a little bit younger than me, is deceased already.
So I'm not worried about that now and now. I have kind of ignored that. Her statements for so long, I'm not sure exactly what they were. But I think what she said to me was, I hope you grow up in either marry or get right to the biggest black book you've ever seen. That was her comment to me. Wow.
How can you say that to a kid who is just representing the school and as a full adult? I think that that's OK. Yes, she was I don't know the people. That's terrible. I know some people do lose their reason over this issue. They get angry because I got a lot of letters in the mail. Later, my mother told me that she had become aware that they had to hire another part time person for the post office to deliver the mail because of all the letters you got.
And that's because there were journalists at the meeting. Right. And it blew up. Yeah. Like you were in all the papers.
And I was really not aware of them because they were in the very back in the shadows world with them because of the balcony. And they were very lethargic, looking good things. And they were there because nothing was happening in Little Rock since the school was closed.
OK, so they're like, maybe something's going on here. Yes. When all the shouting began, they jumped up and recorded what happened and took pictures of the the friends, the student council members who were there. And it started with the national magazines. Right. You were in Time magazine, right? Yes. Time. And why the two page spread in life now in the book and only my grandchildren like it that I was in Seventeen magazine. OK, cool.
That is why people like her and this is an honor and also Mademoiselle magazine.
Oh yeah. They they elected you woman of the Year. Yes.
And there were still they gave me anyway the honor is there.
So you got a lot of hate mail but also positive mail. How did that.
I got yeah. It seemed to me that there was more positive mail than any other time, but I know there was hate mail because a lot of people called me communist in that day in time. That was about the worst thing.
You could call somebody right after the N-word, I guess. Yes, there was a tremendous fear of communism taking over the world, and it's all based in fear that did the duck and cover to the atomic bomb. So, oh, you had to train for those. So there was a lot of fear. So I never understood why they thought I was a communist or somebody explained in their letter that I was being used by the communists and was one because immigration would undermine the schools and make the United States weaker and therefore communism could take over.
Well, I guess they were wrong.
Yes, it's always been reaffirming to me that it started the high school to avoid integration right after that. But the the main honors and achievements have been the traditional school where most of the black students went and I guess still do on the south side is integrated to the south side, just warped their rebel flag or designate race. Right.
That's all stopping now, which is fine. I mean, it took long enough, but finally that's happening.
Yes. What kind of people sent you email? I know we talked about last time you got mail from New Zealand.
Yes. Even New Zealand from the Maori organization. And I really enjoyed that. Yeah. The one that I've got some from famous people, but the ones that I enjoyed the most were from missionaries who said this helps us talk about God's love, because people have asked us in these were people in Africa and other places, people this is why do you tell us God loves us when you treat African-Americans so terribly in the United States? Yeah, which is a pretty good question.
Yes. And I also appreciate it. A Christmas card from one of the women in Little Rock who headed up the effort to reopen the schools. And she said sometimes little children, ladies. And that's what I felt like because I was very upset. I was so young, I didn't realize that. You can do good and get in trouble, just like if you do bad, you'll get in trouble, but if you get in trouble too. But the consequences to my family were very upsetting.
And I didn't know this until years later. And I knew those former things I just mentioned almost immediately. And I was upset. But I didn't know until years later that some people think that my dad's store and some people said, we're going to do business with you, George, because we appreciate what your daughter did. But others came by and said, we're never coming in here again because of the blankety blank kind of girl your daughter is. So that was hard on my parents, but we never talked about airable.
I would say your was on the table, but we never talked about it. And even at school, there was a calm, the kind of frigid air. And many of the black students were sent to live with relatives out of state, like in California, so they could go to school because the high school was not available unless they found a way to get Fort Smith. Yeah, right.
And you said before the black community was kind of outside of town, so it wasn't much harder for them to get to school, right? Yes.
I had to find transportation across the river to Fort Smith in order to go to high school. They had to come to Van Buren and like what? Most of them could walk to the high school. They were disallowed.
How many approximately how many black students were there in your school?
I think the maximum enrollment was maybe twenty one or two and then thirteen and then down to maybe only five.
Did you ever get to speak with them about how that went down?
No, I didn't. And that's one of my regrets. I really didn't get to be friends with the black students until years later and I was ill with these. I've never been really around any black people and that was a teenager.
And so I didn't know how to ask, what happens when you have a segregated school? Yes, yes.
Years later, when I was at Georgia Tech, one of the persons who worked there talked to me one day and she was from Poughkeepsie, New York. And she she didn't know my background, but she said to me that she was so worried about her son is still a young man and is very dark and so afraid of what will happen to him on the streets of Atlanta. The Atlanta's been termed is the city to visit tonight. And a lot of that was true back then.
It was more progressive than a lot of Southern places. And a professor I head of the clinical part of my training was a black man, and he's the one who told me about the sundown cities. What does that mean? Any black person had to be out of sundown. Oh, I could drive them, but. But he told me then when I went to work, there's there are theories that high blood pressure is rampant and that among black men because of the operation, like feel all the time.
I mean, yeah, I can imagine that you'd be stressed out more often.
And it's still happening now. Right.
And they're still white friends who say, I don't know what white privilege is. Yeah. And maybe you have be in the minority to understand that. But I mean, white privilege has many facets, but one of them is not being followed when you go in a store by somebody who's going to wait and see if you're going to steal something.
Yeah, not being afraid of the police for really minor things. Yes. Yes. You know, it should be easier than that to just put yourself in someone else's shoes and think, well, if I had their life, you know, it wouldn't be great. So we should make things better for them. But I guess for some people, it's really difficult.
Well, and that was why that summer before that school board meeting was so important, because I spent that summer reading the Bible. I had made a recommitment to my faith and I read the Bible all this summer because mostly what I was doing was sowing panic in the I read the Bible and a lot of it reiterated what I learned growing up and learned primarily from my mother. One of the things she said to me was the much is given, much is required, and we were very average in income and lifestyle.
But she made me realize that I did have a lot just because I had opportunities. Yeah, that I had white privilege. I didn't know that name, but she made me understand that. And when I came to the conclusion that that summer that if it's not about love, then it's not about God. And I don't understand how Christians can look down on anybody.
Yeah, it doesn't say anywhere in the Bible to look down on black people or any people for that matter.
I assume it doesn't exist to love others and love your neighbors, whoever they are is yourself thinking about how other kids feel. A lot of that came from my mother because her dad moved in from the country so that his daughters, my mother and her sister could go to that school and my mother had to wear dresses that were not uptown. I don't know if they're might flower sacks or the. But she was made fun of in high school and so she knew how that could hurt a teen, especially when you're a teenager.
It's it's your whole world at that moment when things like that happen. Yeah.
And you yourself are the center of that world and everybody's looking in. Yeah.
And I can't imagine what it would be like being one of the only 20 black students in an extremely racist part of the country at the time.
Yes. And there was lots of ignorance. Yeah. Thank goodness for the people who showed a lot that read some of that ignorance. And there are many teachers that I'm thankful for. Our remember, our biology teacher said to us two things and she said the first one, because we want to hear because it so unusual for that. She said it ain't necessarily so. And she told a story about somebody who visited Japan and came back saying there are no biennales in Japan.
They didn't see any of the polls, so that's what relativity, though, helped us do, some critical thinking.
And her daughter was eight and her daughter is the person who offered to go with the first African-American graduate of the Indian high school. Great. During the processional. She opted to walk in their house. I think. Oh, wow. And there is of that. Yes, there springs and so on. And they moved out of state right after that. So there are a lot of people who did the right thing and suffered consequences for not really didn't suffer any consequences.
Well, you weren't treated great as a teenager. I mean, it's kind of nuts, but it's a it's a great thing that you did because you kind of started a movement or you at least helped the school not to close, which wouldn't have happened if you hadn't spoken up and haven't acted as the head of the school student council.
Yes. Well, we'll never know what happened then. But I am I am proud of it. Proud that I took that stand now. I do regret I didn't become friends with the black students. So years and years later, you met some of them later on.
Did you meet some of them later on? Like at a school reunion?
Yes, at a class reunion. The class ahead of me, a man named George Hudgins, came and attended that. And I talked with him over lunch. My husband and I met with him and he said several things that really impressed me. One was that his behavior was guided at that time just is what was normal. So it was normal for him to get on the other side of the street if a black girl was walking along and to not have any exchange with her.
Well, we know that was a wise thing to do. When we look at the story of Emmett Till, what was that? Emmett Till was allegedly said a provocative claim or was flirting with the woman he got killed for. Oh, wow. Was maybe 14 or 15 men. But then George went from being here in high school to Arkansas Tech University. And one of my cousins attended school there and said that students three formed the team. So he went through a lot.
That what I remember the most when we talked with him was that. After he had become a second lieutenant and he went on to the ranks in the military, but he was traveling with his wife and baby, the baby was crying and his wife was crying because they couldn't buy milk.
I did not they couldn't stop anywhere. Other people wouldn't serve them or it was just too scary to stop anywhere.
People would serve them, they even stopped at motels that had a restaurant with it and asked if they could buy milk out of the back door and people refused them. And he said, I was so angry. Yeah, he could adjust to many things because that's just the way it was the but something's really got to you. But I'm I'm glad to have made him and talk with them.
Do you see some parallels of what's going on today and what's happening with the Black Lives Matter movement? Yes, I think that now with all of this, we may made great progress, much brighter than it's been made in the past. In the past, laws were changed for the better, and there was a way for people to get jobs and to go to schools that they never gone been able to go to before. So that's good. But now we're getting down to the more the emotional Terai.
Yeah, maybe laws have changed, but some minds haven't. Exactly right. And now things are, I think, have a chance of improving at an emotional level.
Do you think that this experience is what brought you to become a psychologist or was not related in any way?
Well, at the time, I said I want to be a social worker because I knew I wanted to help people. Yeah, the good start of a lot of this impetus came when we lived on the Navajo reservation. And I continued with my question of what made some people want to do well with their lives and really work hard to do well with their lives versus why some people just gave up and drank or wasted their lives. So the psychology part came because I wanted the answers to that question.
And specifically, how can I help people do better in their lives?
And how come you ended up living on the Navajo reservation? We were missionaries there. And that's where I learned what it's like to be a minority, huh? Yeah, I would have I would look at myself in the mirror and be shocked because I was so white compared to lots of people died because my husband is one half Native American, OK? And his family's life was changed for so much the better because missionaries came to where they live in western Oklahoma, near where Fort Sill is.
And we went out there and I remember now the first question that Navajo people would ask, what's they decided to talk to you was how long are you going to stay?
Yeah, because you're in the well, it was also because they would get attached to people and they would leave.
Oh, yeah. That happens a lot in like Hawaii because of all the military comes there and then they leave every few years. Yes, and that happened out there, the teachers and so on, and they're so shocked myself, having such a different one day a Navaho woman about my age, that was she was talking about something and she said, well, you know, nowadays I can't remember her name because all white people look alike. So but we were out there.
Doing our best to to say God love them and. And it was not always received well because one woman who lived across the street from us is part of the bootlegger's family said, no, I want to go to hell because that's where all my family.
All right. I think she was probably biting me, but that's what she said. And a Hopi man told us about how a snake came in his hospital room after he ate a wreck and he yelled, Oh, so it was a little bit. More difficult to stick with your own ideas. Everything was upside down, as you said.
Well, that's what I would would ask. So I imagine a lot of the people in the Native American reservations still keep their Native American traditions and religions. So how did that work then, being a missionary there? I'm honestly just curious. Would you try to convince them or more generally just help them out? Or how does that go?
Well, I've got a million answers for that. Part of the answer is that the tribes have very different religions. Yeah. From each other and. A lot of them have fallen away from their original religion, the ones that are more intact, like the Hopis, yeah, people will still make trips to go back to the reservation for healing ceremonies. But many of the Native Americans have gone to school enough that they have become very scientific or secular in their beliefs.
And so they're in a deficit situation looking for something to guide them. But we have trouble getting it right. Some Christians also reject and talk about hate and and do a lot of things that are not at all what, like Christ like. Yeah. What it would be like. Now we talk about what it would be like and sometimes wish we could go to another reservation because a lot of them are in great need of good news, that's for sure.
Right now with the pandemic, they're getting hit really hard, especially the Navajo I read they still don't have running water like they should have out there, very little water and like it just like they did when we were out there.
Man When you were there, were you able to get some answers to your question of sort of the differences and in people's mentality and state of mind? Well, in the school year when I was out there, OK, but that's just what triggered it for you. Did you get an answer for yourself after school?
I'm still trying. I'm still doing that. But I was a sophomore for 13 years. OK, so that's when we had our children and we were too far away from any college. Seventy five miles from any college. But I think that. One big factor is simply physical ill, if a person is healthy physically, then they've got a platform, the basis for doing a lot of good or a lot of bad. And I think the second big influence is, of course, parents now.
Well, the parents love. Yeah. And one of the findings in psychology is that it's very difficult for a person to conceptualize God other than a replica of their own earthly father. Oh, OK. So my dad. Started some questions because it spilled the milk childhood things he would say, what made you want to do that? As if you had a choice. Yes, so I both hate and respect to that question. So this one's consciousness of.
How you fit in the universe even comes in from your parents. Another quote I remember is from a professor I had when I did get to go back to college, and it was the most wonderful educational experience I've ever had. And I've been to many schools. But it was Agnes Scott College in Decatur, which is a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, and it was a private women's liberal arts college with the faculty to student ratio, I think of seven to one back when I was there.
Wow. It's still really small classes. I read everything you write one professors can't get away with anything said.
One professor said it is very hard to be brutalized and not become brutal. Yeah, I was never brutalized. Know unless you want to count. Some of those letters I received or maybe who I did on the after school and come out of her house, call me, love her, but there was a good ending to that story. OK, good. That whole year, maybe maybe she stopped when got called. I don't remember. Years later, she was in the hospital where my mother was.
My mother broke her hip and that lady didn't know my mother, but she said to her. I need to apologize to you. And she told her what she used to do to me on my way home from school and she said the. I'm different now. I have love in my heart now, and I don't feel way anymore and I'm sorry, and I'm a Christian now, that's what you told my mother. So I don't know exactly how my mother felt because this topic would bring up lots of distress.
Yeah, in my parents, although they never talked about it, but they did come back and say, we're never trading with you again, and I can laugh about it now. And I'm glad the last time this many years away. But the director of our church youth group said Hamburger's to the boys, Stryker's while they are on strike, while everyone was against it for that that lady.
I mean, it's I guess it's good that in the end she saw the error of her ways and change. It's not always that that happens, even though it took her so long. Better than nothing. Right.
And I can't imagine the amount of abuse a black student would have if you were already getting that much hate.
Yes, I can see that's another part of white privilege. People know as black people and take things out of them just because of their color, just because they can. And I wish we could go by what Martin Luther King Jr. said is that everybody should be judged or accepted or rejected on the basis of their character and not the color of their skin. Right. Yeah. So I do hope, like you said, that things now will change going forward.
I hope that action is going to be taken. It seems slow, but hopefully. Eventually, we'll get there and it is a pandemic now. It really feels that way and it's I remember what's right there and that was horrible. But we've had some in more than even we had been. One of the things I meant to mention, if I've got time to have time for one. Oh, yeah, absolutely. OK, this is an influence on me.
In addition to my dad talking about the rights under the constitution of my mother, I remember one summer day I got out the big black pop without regard and built a fire under it. And she asked me to help her. Well, I was not real good help, but I was there at least. And she was saying, Oh, I wish I just wish I had Mr. Glass to help me today. Mr. Glass was a black lady in our town of being here.
And she she did get hired by white ladies to help with work around the house. And my mother said, I really would like more help to wash all these quilts and my kids that I wouldn't think about her some little that a lot of people pay. So I had an idea of what was just and right from from my mother. In many ways, I do have to admit that both my parents were prejudice, that it's part of growing up there.
It was part of the times, but still somehow slightly more forward thinking for the time.
Absolutely. Absolutely. And I heard many years later about my grandparents. They took the part of some black people who were who were being mistreated in another town in Arkansas and stood up to the sheriff. Oh, good.
So that's where you got it from. I also heard that my maternal grandfather was the one who came to town so his daughters could go to high school. But when a little white boy was being abused in the neighborhood by bullies white boys, he went out and put a stop to it. Good. So both sides of the family were like that. The people are not necessarily polled here in your thinking. Yeah, not necessarily. We're seeing a lot of that these days, a lot of really strange, like complete cognitive dissonance.
Yes. I've been so pleased with how many young people are out on. Showing their stance for justice and acceptance and all of those things, yeah, it's so important, um, I'm proud of everyone who is out there as well.
I mean, it's it's going to be a world changing event, I hope. And I think in the future we're going to look back and it's definitely going to establish some kind of history. Yes, I think so, too. I was going to tell you all about that none of our parents except one that knew what we were going to do that night, that the student council went to that meeting. So you snuck out? Yes. Well, so we were allowed to go to school functions.
So if we told our parents we're just going to go to school to to the meeting. That was OK. Even though we got home after dark, it was still OK.
And the next day they found out what actually happened. I guess the next day the local newspapers had the story and in a few days the magazines did. And my husband was only a friend. Then they tell his parents and his dad said to him, well, you know, there's going to be trouble with your decision.
And you think at the time, if your parents knew, they would have let you go. No, I don't think so, because they were scared for you. Yes, they would have said it's too dangerous for this. In eight, there were lynchings of black people, but white people were being killed. Yet as far as the news portrayed, so I didn't think it was dangerous, although that night when we walked home to the meeting, my cousin and I live close to each other and she had gone with me.
She was a senior in high school that year, and we walked home on the railroad tracks, which was the greatest distance to get home. But no cars would see us there either.
Yeah, a little dangerous, I guess. You're really a rebel and you were a teenager.
Not really. Well, and. Oh, you're so you and your husband were high school sweethearts then?
Well, the very last part of our senior year, we started dating before that. We were just friends, OK? But we ended up in the senior play together. And when he got to drive the car during that time and that's when we started dating in person, we can talk about differences in families.
Right, because he's half Native American. Well, and then his youngest brother, there are three boys. His youngest brother got his own car in the tenth grade. But my husband, David, didn't get to drive the family car. So the very last part, the youngest is always the little favorite anyway.
Yes, I knew you'd get younger, but yeah, I'm the oldest. So I know I know what it feels like to. And also, if you like yourself, if you let yourself. But nowadays there are more cars to go around and it's OK.
It's true. It's true. And the economy is better. And and when I was in high school, what people wanted was a television set and a car and to live in their own apartment or house.
It's not too different nowadays instead of a television, it's like an iPhone or something. But otherwise, I don't know if many of us can afford a house, but it's it's on the list.
Yeah, that works.
Well, my closing question is always if you have some advice after all of your experience for my generation.
Well. Of course, I am old, so it's time to give advice, choose what you think is important, because if you put in effort, you're going to achieve a percent of what you think is important. So make sure it's worthwhile. And I do feel that I have chosen the best part of all of your goals. Well, what's important about life? Yeah. So set a bunch of goals because you're going to end up achieving some of them anyways.
Yes, that's a really good most of the time it takes most of our energy to, you know, to achieve the one that's most important to us. That's how you know, you're doing it. Right. And that's my advice. I have many thoughts about that. And I don't know where you want to go from here. I'm still working because we didn't choose money and a good retirement. You chose just to help other people in that I think is the most worthwhile.
And my husband made less money than the dishwasher at the government facilities like hospitals and schools. My dad on the reservation. So the good thing about this, though, is that I had one of the best experiences of my life not long ago. Oh, really? Yes, I do. Psychological evaluations. And the law is, is that if a husband or wife is a US citizen or at least a legal resident, then if they're under a great hardship, the court or the judge may decide not to deport the spouse who is illegal or to help them come back sooner than they would have otherwise.
So do these evaluations to look at their mental and emotional hardships, other psychological problems. And it's not always hard. One evaluation that somebody did was a person who was paralyzed and in a wheelchair, unable to move hands or legs. And the judge said, nope, they're just not under enough hardship.
OK. Excuse me.
So what I tell clients is you better be praying for the judge that reads this because it's going to make a huge difference. Well, one woman that came in, her husband was in the detention down in the woods of Louisiana then. But if you escaped, you'd have a real hard time making your wife. Yeah, well, he was detained there because he was such a bad criminal. You had a DUI and he was an immigrant. Yeah, so he was in jail and his wife came in and she was so upset that the second time I saw I don't know how many weeks later, she didn't even look like the same person.
But when she came in, she was pretty much beside herself. And she had her little son was not quite three years of age. He was with her and she just could not really handle him. She was too upset. So she was trying to talk to me and use English because I don't understand Spanish. But her little boy kept jabbing me with, like a hard jab at my leg with it and saying something to me. And I finally got around to saying, OK, let me look at it.
And he was giving the same coffee, coffee, coffee. I looked at it and I said, no, that's not your Poppy's picture on there. That's your mom's card. But he kept insisting over and over again. And I got a statement from his babysitter who said that he is changed totally different than the child he was, that now he hits the other children that I take care of and he calls one of them Gordo. You know that or.
Yeah, OK. So I started doing some research because I'm not a specialist in children, although and it said a child who is three is able to do the kind of logic was thought about this. And I said, I think I know this is I'm going way out on a limb, but it seems to me that this little boy is saying, give us a card like Mommy has and then my party can come home. Oh, wow. So, I mean, that would be logical.
That's just like. Yeah, pretty smart for such a small kid. Yes. It so happened that a female judge read this case and that day and I heard this from the their attorney and she texted me and said, this is the best case I have ever had as far as winning. Wow. They said not only did the father get released, they even got to ride with this that night. Wow. That's so great. Because usually if they do release him, it's nice lighter and like punishments long.
It's like not only was released, it was brand residents like, wow, that's such a good success story. It is thrilled me still thrills me every time I think of it. It's been a wonderful experience too. That's a great. So it's really rewarding to still practice now for things like that. Yes, it is in the the the Bible also says the Old Testament to welcome the stranger and. Provide food for me. There you go. It's like put them in jail for what other people get a fine for.
So, yeah, I really appreciate, first of all, redoing the episode and telling your story, because I think it's important for people from my generation to hear.
I hope I hope people that are subconsciously racist listen to it, too, and maybe figure out, you know, people have feelings. I don't know. I hope. Yeah, but in any case, thanks so much for your telling your story, and I appreciate it.
You're very welcome. It upset me to think about those things for years and years and years. It was 30 years before without the picture. Somebody made me from the Life magazine. You know, some of my family still doesn't agree with me.
Family is like they are what make us right. Yes. That's a good one. We're lucky if they help us deal. But it's good to meet you. I wish you the best. You, too.
Thanks so much. Oh, man. Doctor Angie Benham has such a great story to tell, and I'm really glad I finally got to record it. The newspaper clips and photos from that famous day where she stood up to the school board are in the shonen section of the website at stories you're going to never told Dotcom. I said that I'd recommend some other podcast. If you really want to get into the history of racism in America as well as the current Black Lives Matter movement, there's so much to unpack and a lot more people can explain it way better than me.
So you should go listen to, for example, my fellow NYC podcast or Chris and his from Where I Stand podcast. He has a really heartfelt short and straight to the point episode about Black Lives Matter. Also, check out Stay in Your Lane, which is a podcast led by two strong black woman. I love it. NPR also did a black fronted series called Code Switch. If you'd rather listen to the more NPR type episodes and also give Black Girl Nation and Black Girl podcast a listen as well.
Do what you can to end racism not only in America but all around the world. Follow Ednas advice from Episode one and please go and vote. That's the most important thing we can do to have our voices heard. If you can donate to Black Lives Matter and speak up when you see racism. So as a less dark and more casual side note, I also guested on Lady Calcareous podcast to talk about my day job as a sheep biologist, and I don't really talk about myself much on here.
So if that's what you want to listen to, go ahead and check out Lady TEALS Curios podcast. If you like this episode and you want to hear more episodes launch at the 14th of each month, you can follow stories you granny never told on social media to get updates. Its stories your grandpa never told Dotcom were also on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Gmail. If you aren't really technologically minded but you still want to leave a voicemail, you can use our inbox at three, three, two, two or three to 059.
And now you can also get Mirch. Just go to the website and click on the search button. Let me know your feedback. Leever Review. I really want to hear what you think about the podcast now that we're six months in. Yeah. So see you next month and follow your grandma's advice. Bake some cookies and go and vote.