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. Suzanne Slaughter was the principal of Keystone-Eckman Elementary Integrated School in Keystone, West Virginia, as well as other high schools. She gives us information about her family and her childhood, including her stepfather working in the coal mines, how her father died, an anecdote about her mother working at Calhoun Restaurant, her relationship with her mother and other family members, her family living and working with a Dr. Washington in Logan, her husband (who got black lung from working in the mines), and her adopted children. She also discusses a lethal hate crime involving a black-white relationship her cousin had. Race relations is another focus of this interview, and she describes in detail the desegregation of schools, the stigma she has faced for being black, black-white relationships, as well as a brief section on interracial dating. She also talks about the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and organizations she belonged to. Her education is another topic, and she attended Bluefield State College and New York University--she tells us about those schools and her sorority (Alpha Kappa Alpha). She also discusses her career and numerous other topics, which include: very brief sections on World War I and the Depression; the town of Keystone; her social life in Keystone; an area called Cinder Bottom; churches; being a Girl Scout leader; how she once wanted to be a nurse; her relationships with other teachers; organizations she belonged to; community leaders and numerous other people she knew; sports and athletics at her schools; many discussions based on books, articles, and photos distributed during the interview; a story about Cinder Bottom catching fire; Christmas; her views on single parents; her views on the new generation of youth; her views on her life and herself; and many other subjects.

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Library of Congress Subjects

Slaughter, Suzanne, 1906- -- Autobiography.
Bluefield State College -- Oral histories.
Girl Scouts of the United States of America -- Oral histories.
Keystone-Eckman Elementary School -- Oral histories.
Education -- Oral histories.


Interview is included in the Marshall University Oral History Collection. The index number is OH64-808.


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Oral History Interview: Suzanne Slaughter