African-American history has played an integral role in the shaping of politics, economics, and culture in the United States. Growing up, how did you learn about the accomplishments and struggles of African Americans? Were you in a classroom? Reading a book? Talking with relatives or friends? How has your understanding or knowledge of African-American history changed and/or developed over time? What do you think is the most effective way to pass along this rich and growing history to future generations?

Betty Taylor-Thompson

Because my mother and aunt went to Fisk University in Nashville, TN, during the 1920s, I always heard about W.E.B. Du Bois and all their instructors at home. My mother and aunt were able to attend college because my grandfather buried silver dollars in the back yard of our family home in fourth ward Houston Harris County because African Americans could not trust banks. Additionally, he was a blacksmith and raced horses, but could not race them under his name because of his race. He had to get whites to race them under their names, so he could not claim the money he won. When the stock market crashed, his money was buried in the back yard and he could send his girls to college. I also went to Fisk and so did my cousins. I went to Fisk during the Civil Rights era, and because of the sit in movement , all of us were threatened daily; however, our parents allowed us to stay, and I proudly sent a picture of myself in the Nashville paper protesting segregation. The image of those white men holding hoses and dogs ready to kill us will forever live in my memory. That image from my Freshman year changed my life, my attitude, and my ambition. I then knew that there were people willing to kill me, a sixteen year old girl, because of my race.