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. Florestine Hopkins Holland began teaching in Martinsville, Virginia, in an elementary school during 1943. She gives us very detailed information about her family throughout the interview, including family history research she has done (which revealed many white relatives), her children, her son Ronando becoming the first and only black student to be president of the State and Student Council, her mother making costumes and graduation clothes for the children at school, her marriages (including her divorce and her first husband), Christmas in her family, her younger sister's interest in music and piano, childhood duties in her family, clubs and organizations she and her family were part of, the deaths of family members, and her family's home. She also tells us about her childhood, such as childhood activities, teachers she knew, prom, and seeing the Silas Green Variety Show. Her education is another subject, and she attended Genoa Senior High School and Bluefield State College and tells us about teachers she knew. Her employment history is a very important subject as well, and she discusses choosing to be a teacher, her first job, how child discipline at school has changed, teaching in Blackstone (Virginia), her teaching methods (including in special education classes), information about special education, her students, getting permission from parents to have prayer in her classroom, the desegregation of schools and how it affected black students, working in West Virginia schools, and trouble she had with other teachers. Race relations and prejudices are also discussed, and this includes segregation, how being African-American has affected her life and how it hasn't, and equal pay between blacks and whites. There are many other topics as well, such as her social activities, her self-perceptions, child discipline and how it affects schools, organizations she was a part of, her thoughts about her life and her development as a person, and numerous others.
Interview is included in the Marshall University Oral History Collection. The index number is OH64-799.
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Marshall University Special Collections, OH64-799, Huntington, WV.