Rita Wicks-Nelson and Ancella Radford Bickley
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This interview is one of series conducted concerning Oral Histories of African-American women who taught in West Virginia public schools. Willie Hise began teaching in Aracoma High School in West Virginia during the 1940s. She gives us detailed information about her family throughout the interview, including her father (who was a miner and a deacon of a Baptist church), her children (including a son who participated in ROTC), family life during childhood, as well as her husband and her marriage. She also tells us about activities (social and personal) during her childhood. Her education is also discussed in detail, and she attended West Virginia State College and Cornell University. She was a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, and discusses a protest by an African-American at Cornell. Although she considered being a nurse, she became a teacher and tells us about her career history: coming to work at Aracoma High; teaching at Holden Junior High School and Logan Junior High; the desegregation of schools; teachers she knew; changes she sees in modern students; her own teaching methods; and activities at her children's schools (such as band). World War II is an important discussion point since her husband & family served in that war and she worked in Washington notifying next of kin of servicemen who had died. Church and religion is also important (she converted to Catholicism and discusses that decision and process as well as Catholic churches). Race relations, segregation, and racism are discussed, such as the double-burden of sexism and racism faced by black women (especially with job opportunities), segregation, and a brief section on the Ku Klux Klan. She also discusses women's rights and her own independence, as well as running her household. There are numerous other topics as well, such as: social organizations in Logan and her social life there; her interested in sewing and clothing design; thoughts about her life in general; thoughts on the elderly; health problems; an incident of prejudices faced by Logan County students; and many other subjects. The interview also contains a section that defines the philosophy behind this oral history project and how the interviewers narrowed down the teachers they would interview.
Interview is included in the Marshall University Oral History Collection. The index number is OH64-798.
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Marshall University Special Collections, OH64-798, Huntington, WV.