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Clemmie Ross James, Ethel Jones


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Clemmie Ross James, Ethel Jones
Series Title:
Otis R. Anthony African Americans in Florida oral history project
Physical Description:
1 sound file (41 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;
James, Clemmie Ross
Anthony, Otis R
Black History Research Project of Tampa
University of South Florida Libraries -- Florida Studies Center. -- Oral History Program
University of South Florida -- Tampa Library
University of South Florida Tampa Library
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
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Subjects / Keywords:
African American teachers -- Interviews   ( lcsh )
African Americans -- Education -- Florida   ( lcsh )
African American schools -- Florida -- Tampa   ( lcsh )
African Americans -- Florida   ( lcsh )
African Americans -- History -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Oral history   ( local )
Online audio   ( local )
Oral history.   ( local )
Online audio.   ( local )
interview   ( marcgt )


Clemmie Ross James and Ethel Jones, both retired teachers, discuss Tampa's African American schools and the Central Avenue business district.
Interview conducted in 1978, month and day unknown.
Statement of Responsibility:
interviewed by Otis R. Anthony and members of the Black History Research Project of Tampa.
General Note:
Other interviewers for the Black History Research Project of Tampa were Fred Beaton, Joyce Dyer, Herbert Jones, and Shirley Smith.

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University of South Florida Library
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University of South Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 020800948
oclc - 436231636
usfldc doi - A31-00031
usfldc handle - a31.31
System ID:

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1 Otis R. Anthony African Americans in Florida Oral History Project Oral History Program Florida Studies Center University of South Florida, Tampa Library Digital Object Identifier: A31 00031 Interviewees: Clemmie James (CJ) and Ethel Jones (EJ) Interview er: Fred Beaton (FB) Interview date: Unknown Interview location: Unknown Transcribed by: Unknown Transcription date: Unknown Interview changes by: Mary Beth Isaacson Interview changes date: February 2, 2009 Final Edit by: Maria Kreiser Final E dit date: February 11, 2009 [Transcriber's Note: Interview begins mid sentence.] Clemmie James: Clemmie James and I taught and I'm a graduate of Florida A& M [Agricultural & Mechanical] College. And I taught at Lomax School for forty years. F red B eato n : Okay. E thel J ones : I am a graduate of Florida A& M College from which I received a master's degree. And I have taught in the public schools of Florida of Hillsborough C ounty for thirty three years. I've been teacher, dean and principal in Hillsboroug h C ounty. And, of course, I've enjoyed every minute of it. FB: Okay so we'll start out with the interview. Ms. James, as far as education is concerned, what were the conditions of teachers when you first started out? CJ: Oh, the condition was very poor. Very poor. They had very little equipment and very little material. And it was a nd during that time teaching was really in a bad shape because or when I began teachers only began teaching when some of them began as low as eighth grade, they began teaching at the eighth grade, some of them. Many of 'em taught began teaching at eighth grade when I began. FB: Go ahead. CJ: And then during that time conditions they didn't have lunch rooms or anything like that. And the budget was so short till during the sc hool year the principals mostly would have about two activities a year to pay to help buy materials for the school because the budget was usually give n out before the end o f the term. And these two money raisin' activities, they'd have them to supplement t he budget. And, too, during that time for the money raisin' activities they would have King and Queen contests and then a


2 t ea or somethin' like that or a raffle. And during the year they would have movies would frequently have movies during the year. An d at that time, the teachers had to even help it was such pitiful conditions that the teachers would have to help prepare the meals for the children to eat. They didn't have a lunch room. And they would t he teachers would have to take a little time off and come down and help prepare the meals and serve the children during that time. And they didn't have any place to eat so they would just eat out usually out on the ground. And then sometimes they'd eat in the classrooms. FB: Okay. Ms. Jones, as far as teac hers salaries were, what were the beginning salaries of black teachers, say, in the 1940s? EJ: The 1940s? They were a little bit better, had gotten to be a little bit better by then. I think they were about seventy dollars to one hundred dollars Teacher s. But it was very inadequate. You couldn't do too much with that little bit of money. FB: Okay, prior to 1940, what brought about the equalization of teachers salaries? EJ: We had one man o f course all of us were interested, but we had one man that was very, very disturbed about this. He was a principal and he spoke out, that was Mr. Davis. CJ: Edward Davis. EJ: Edward Davis. FB: Okay, now, what year was this in? EJ: That must have been CJ: I don't know. EJ: I should have looked up my years. FB: In what, about thirty nine [19 39 ] ? EJ: Could have been. FB: Because that's when the fight was, I think. CJ: Well, whenever the fight was. EJ: Well, he was the person that lost his job because he spoke out. And, of course, we had our meetin' and ev erybody got behind him and we tried to keep him from losin' salary money and so we paid into a little budget. And then we had this Hilda Turner to come and stand and to fight


3 CJ: Hilda Turner. EJ: Huh? CJ: Yes. EJ: Uh huh. CJ: She filed a suit. EJ: We put her up to file the suit and FB: Oh, so she was the plaintiff. EJ: and said that we were CJ: Yes. FB: Oh, okay. CJ: Yeah. EJ: Said that we would support her and let her get her salary as long as she stood out in the open. All of us. CJ : And Mr. Davis lost his job. And was sent from Lomax School to a very low school, Robles Park. He was sent from Lomax School to Robles Park. And that was a little two teacher school. And when he was sent from Lomax to Robles Park the Central Life Insuranc e Company offered him a job. FB: Okay. The conditions of these black schools, how was they structurally? You know CJ: Yeah, well, they were bad condition too. Now, Lomax School, they t hey were very poorly constructed. And some of them were wooden some o f the wood f or instance, Robles Park was a old wooden school a run down school. And Frederick Douglass was a wooden school. And Dobeyville out in FB: Okay. Where was Frederick Douglass located? CJ: Port Tampa. FB: Port Tampa. CJ: Port Tamp a. And Dob eyville was a old run down school in West Hyde Park.


4 FB: West Hyde Park. CJ: And Dobeyville was EJ: I was principal of Dobeyville too (inaudible). CJ: Dobeyville was named after a black man named Dobey. He owned a lot of property and he was a very inf luential man. FB: He was in Tampa then? EJ: Um h m. CJ: He's dead now. FB: Right. CJ: Uh huh. Dobeyville was named after Dobey. I think his name w as Richard Dobey. Uh huh. But, anyway, I know his last name was Dobey. FB: Okay. CJ: And that was Dobeyv ille. FB: Do you know where he owned any land at? CJ: Yeah, he owned plenty land around. EJ: He did. CJ: He was a landowner. EJ: He made a strong living. CJ: Yeah. He was a landowner that he owned land. They built all out there now. Where he owned this land now But he did (Phone rings) Pause in recording CJ: They've built all up out there now. Let me see out in West Tampa and back of West Tampa. He owned a lot of land. And FB: All


5 CJ: And then, after that, this school here was a wooden schoo l ; it's a it's not a wood school at all now but it was old West Tampa School, and it was a wooden structure. EJ: What school you talkin' about? CJ: The old West Tampa EJ: Carver? CJ: Uh. This old West Tampa School right here. I'm talking about the poor schools now. Dobey West Tampa EJ: Oh, West Tampa's no more. FB: Okay. CJ: But it's no more, but it was then. FB: Okay. CJ: It was. It was then. EJ: We bought that, West Tampa and CJ: And it was right located right there on EJ: turned it in to one of those CJ: Oregon Street. And Dobeyville was located on Dakota [Avenue] Dobeyville School was located on Dakota. FB: Okay. CJ: And this school, West Tampa, was on Oregon [Street] But they a fter they built 'round here, Dunbar, they did away with that school. FB: Okay. As relating schools, how many high schools were there in Tampa during this time? CJ: During this time wasn't any Lomax was the black high school. FB: Lomax was the only high school that blacks could attend in the whole city o f Tampa? CJ: Uh huh, in th e whole city of Tampa. Lomax. U m h m. In the whole city of Tampa.


6 EJ: When did CJ: It was the When did what? EJ: t he vocational school come in? CJ: Oh, a long time after that. EJ: Long after forty [19 40 ] ? CJ: Well, not long after forty [19 40 ], but Booker Washington t hey built Booker Washington in 1926; they built Booker Washington. FB: Okay now they built it as a high school. CJ: Yes. It was a y eah, it was a I think it was Yeah, it was a junior high. EJ: Built in 19 26? CJ: Uh huh. EJ: Booker Washington? CJ: Booker Washington was built in 1926. Um h m. FB: Okay, now EJ: That's when I got CJ: And you know what they did? EJ: That's when I got married. CJ: Booker Washington built Booker Washington then. And wha t they did, they took the elementary children came in the mornings FB: Um h m. CJ: and the high school children came in the afternoon. The high school children came in the afternoon. And then there was such a crowd till they Then they built Meacham [Ele mentary School] They built Meacham to relieve that condition. And this fellow, Anthony Major, was the principal in the morning at Booker Washington. Anthony Majo r was the principal then. And FB: Now this was in 1926.


7 CJ: Yeah, in nineteen FB: Okay. CJ: twenty six [1926] And Mr. Schutes was the principa l of the high school at 1926. Um h m. EJ: Of what high school? CJ: Of up here EJ: Booker Washington. CJ: B ooker Washington, uh huh. Booker Washington. FB: Okay. CJ: And then, after that, they built It was so overcrowded then until they built Oh, but they Before they had this other school they gave this other school to the blacks I t was Booker Washington was overcrowded and the other schools was overcrowded and Dunbar was in not Dunbar, but D obeyville was in a bad condition and they give this school over here and M acFarlane School Carver, which was McFarlan e School then. FB: Oh, okay. CJ: Old white M a cFarlan e School; it was a white school, but t hey gave that to the colored. Um h m. FB: And t his was in the same time frame? CJ: Well, it was a little late i n forty [19 40 ] They gave it to them about in forty two [19 42 ] or forty three [194 3 ] somethin' like that. FB: Okay. CJ: Uh huh. In forty two [19 42 ] or forty three [194 3 ] FB: Okay. CJ: T o relieve the conditions crowded conditions then. And then they had double sessions. And after that the Then it Middleton. When Middleton had burned a nd Middleton burned twice. Middleton burned twice. And they built Middleton, and after they built Middleto n, Middleton burned and they had to take the high school this Carver, for the high school meanwhile. Carver was the high school. EJ: Up over here


8 CJ: Huh? EJ: Carver is over this way. You're pointing back. CJ: Oh. Carver, right here. FB: Okay. CJ : Carver. Carver was the high school. FB: That's when Middleton burned down the first time, right? CJ: Yeah, Middleton burned, Carver was the high school. And then after Middleton burned they let me see now, Middleton burned and that was the Carver was the high school and after that I think they went back to Middleton, I t hink, after Middleton was built EJ : (inaudible) CJ: Rebuilt. And Um h m. Middleton was rebuilt. I think it was junior high. I think then, after that, Carver was to change to sixth gr ade I mean, elementary elementary school. EJ: And when Carver was changed to elementary school CJ: Um h m. EJ: Blake [High School] was built. CJ: Um h m. EJ: So, when was Blake built? CJ: I don't know when Blake was built. FB: Okay, now, prior to t hat time wasn't there a school named Don Thompson? CJ: Yeah, Don Thompson. Don Thompson EJ: That's the vocational school. CJ: on Morgan Street. It was a vocational school. Don Thompson was a vocational school o n Morgan Street. Um h m. FB : Now, was Do n Thompson here the same time Mi ddleton was in here?


9 CJ: Yeah EJ: Part of it. Yeah, that came later. CJ: built it, but Middleton became first FB: Uh huh. CJ: Uh huh. And then after Middleton, Don Thompson and then they had Henderson. Henderson. The re were such crowded conditions at Harlem and Harlem was in a bad condition. Because Harlem was the oldest school elementary. It was a grade I thi nk they went to about eighth, eighth or ninth grade there at Harlem School. Um hm During that time, early ye ars, they went to about eighth or ninth grade I believe. Um hm Harlem. And that's the oldest school. It was right next to St. Paul [African Methodist Episcopal] Church that old Harlem School. Um hm FB: Okay. Ms. Jones CJ: And FB: Excuse me. Go ahea d. CJ: Go on. FB: Ms. Jones, since you What were the conditions of the faculty, say, during the forties [19 40s ] or fifties [19 50s ] particularly the principals, the deans and et c etera ? EJ: Well, during the forties [19 40s ] and fifties [19 50s ] they had b ecome a litt le bit more enlightened in the N egro sections. They were requiring them to get a better education. FB: Um hm. EJ: And so they were getting off on summer most of the time all of the teachers would track off in summer school to [Bethune Cookma n College in] Daytona or (inaudible) and work those little few months vacation on some type of degree. And along about the forties [1940s] they were interested in trying to get people to personalize their training into the different fields instead of havin g a general education. And, of course, they didn't get too much money then because the blacks were paid a lower salary than the whites. And so we had to maintain the best we could. FB: And this was even after the equalization of teachers salaries? EJ: N o.


10 C J: No. FB: Oh, before. EJ: Um hm CJ: Um hm FB: Oh. I see. Okay, well What organization did black teachers have during that time? Or what organizations were black teachers a part of? CJ: Let me see, what was the name of that organization? Oh bo y, I know it well. I know the name of the organization, but I can't think of it right this minute. FB: A N egro organiz ? EJ: I'm tryin' to think of it. CJ: You know the Florida Educat n o, not Florida Education, but I can't think of it to save my life r ight now but I should have known it well because I was a member. But I can't think of the organization right this minute. I can't think of it right now. 1 FB: Okay, well, what was the main purpose of this organization? CJ: Well, it was the organization t o look out for the welfare of the black teachers and the children the students, the teachers and students. And it embraced several counties. Um hm FB: Well, what impact did it have on, say, controversial issues concerning black teachers? EJ: It tried to have more black teachers used as i n specialization; principals, deans and special teachers and so forth, like that. FB: Okay. With the coming of the Depression, did it affect education as a whole in Hillsborough C ounty? CJ: Yes. The teachers' salaries w ere cut. In the Depression the teachers' salaries were cut yes during the Depression. Um hm And then they t he children were hard pressed for food and I think they started free lunches during the Depression I think. FB: Ms. Jones? EJ: I wasn't even tea ching during the Depression. (laughs) 1 The interviewees may be referring to the Florida State Teachers Association, which was the black teachers' union. The Flo rida Education Association was whites only during this time period.


11 FB: Okay. Do you remember the WPA [Works Progress Administration] ? CJ: Yes. I remember the WPA. FB: Can you explain it, please? CJ: I don't But I don't know too much about it. But people were working on jobs They were given They were trying to find many jobs for the blacks to give them something to do wholesale jobs. And they were doing different things, like they even had a WPA band. And during the WPA the people went in during that Depression time they were in s ome of the people were in bread lines during that time. EJ: And they would gather up a lot of young men and send 'em in sections, like camps, to do work just to give 'em a chance to earn some money. And then I think during that time the CC camps 2 came alo ng. FB: CC camp? CJ: Yeah. FB: What are the CC camps? What were the CC camps? CJ: I'm gonna get that straight too. But the CC camps tried to help the families to maintain themselves and they'd take these young fellows and carry 'em off and give 'em a c ertain amount of money and they had to share with their families. And they'd plant all these trees you see growin' around Florida, these little pine tress, young pine trees. FB: Um hm CJ: They set out all of those trees all over Florida. They went to ca mps. They called 'em CC camps. That's what they called 'em c on some kind of concentration camp. But, anyhow, you can see the results of it with all these new pine trees you see in a patch like somebody set out, they did. FB: Okay. What other jobs were bla cks workin' on during this time, that you can think of? CJ: Oh, the most jobs for blacks during this time was teaching. The most jobs for teaching' and sometimes the one or two little insurances they had companies they could work in the insurance compani es, but agents for insurance and work in the offices. And that was the biggest thing that the blacks could do then. Teaching was the highest job that they could get. EJ: But most blacks worked, the ladies worked in services and do that sort. Some type of 2 Civilian Conservation Corps.


12 service, like maids or CJ: Cooks. EJ: And the men were service, men like janitors or something of that sort. And it's a strange thing to see now that most a lot of white people don't have maids because in came the S ocial S ecurity or the welfare and the y were actually given such poor salaries anyway and so when they got a chance to get into those organizations they didn't bother to go back to work. FB: Oh, I see. EJ: They still had some type of ailment or something to keep from working again. But most of the colored people were common laborers. Common laborers. FB: Okay. EJ: And you were just a few were teachers and doctors and special jobs. FB: Okay. As far as recreation, what did blacks have to h ow did they socialize? What form of recreation did th ey have? Particularly were there any beaches that blacks could go to or anything like this? CJ: U m No, it wasn't any beaches. EJ: There was one down at Port Tampa. They had a kind of a place, they made it themselves, it wasn't a beach, but people used t o go down there for picnics. And they used to go to Lake Thonotosassa was a pretty good place and they'd have picnics out there on Lake Thonotosassa, you know, church groups and schools and things like that. But Lake Thonotosassa since then has dried up or something ; it's not good for recreation. And beaches and things was off limit. CJ: Um hm For whites EJ: for blacks. FB: Okay. Were there a black beach that you know of in Jacksonville? EJ: Oh yeah. CJ: Yeah, they had EJ: Near Jacksonville they had things like Fernandina CJ: They had all those Atlantic Beach.


13 EJ: and what's that ? CJ: Atlantic Beach. EJ: Atlantic Beach. CJ: Uh huh FB: But in Tampa so it was blacks were only restricted to, say, a short portion in Port Tampa CJ: Um hm FB: and that Thonontosassa area. EJ: Yeah. Unless they want to go out there and sometime slip out, you know, and have a big time. But then if they caught them they'd officers would tell 'em they were off limits. FB: Okay. What were some of the condit ions of black businesses during, say, the forties [19 40s ] fifties [19 50s ] and sixties [19 60s ] ? And what were CJ: In forty six [19 46 ] I think the Central Life made a real showing when they built that home office. FB: Um hm CJ: That was pretty good. And, of course, the Florida Sentinel expanded and they had a pretty good place that you could point at with pride. Pr inting and all of that. And, um EJ: We used to think that CJ: They had hotels. They had the downtown, they had the business What was t hat hotel down there on Central [Avenue] for blacks? FB: You talking about the Pyramid? CJ: Yeah, the Pyramid. FB: Oh, the Pyramid Hotel was back then? CJ: Yeah. Let me see, I think the Central Hotel. I don't know about black EJ: Oh, the Palace Dru g s tore was a meetin' place for everybody. FB: Tell me about the Palace Drug s tore, I've heard a lot about that.


14 CJ: The Palace Drug s tore was a EJ: All the young girls and boys would meet over there And, of course, it was a drug store but they catered t o serving you know, sodas and ice cream and things of that sort to please the young people and they'd meet over there to just socialize with the young people. And around the corner on Sundays all on that corner you could hardly pass for young couples and young people over at the Palace Drug s tore. CJ: They EJ: That was the one good outing and then they left there and went to the theater. CJ: They had two theaters. FB: Okay. Can you tell me ? CJ: They had two theaters, the Lincoln the Central Theater and the was that the Lincoln, was it the Lincoln ? A nd I think it was the Central and the Macio. Two theaters. FB: Oh, now, these was two theaters on Central? CJ: Yeah, two theaters on Central. FB: The Macio and the Central. CJ : Yeah. Uh huh FB: Ok ay. CJ: I think it was the Central. I think it was EJ: The Central was there I know, but I'm talkin' about CJ: Well, the Macio, right on the corner of Scott [Street] and Central was the Macio, but it didn't stay long. I mean, it in the forties [19 40 s ] in the thirties [19 30s ] I think it closed down in the thirties [19 30s ] I believe the Central I mean, the Macio closed down in the thirties [19 30s ] They had restaurants on Central ; that was the business street for blacks, Central Avenue, where the bus iness they had dry cleanings, and the grocery stores and beer gardens, what have you. EJ: Watts Sa nderson was one of the big men in that day and he maintained a lot of those CJ: And this man that they named this


15 EJ: Recreation center. CJ: recreati on center Uh huh. EJ: Kid Mason. CJ: Kid Mason. FB: I want to ask you something. Okay, the Central Avenue that I know of the way it was, it wasn't like that, say, in the forties [19 40s ] or fifties [19 50s ], was it? Like, when I knowin' it knew anything about it, you know, it's a lot of drugs and stuff down there, people had stopped goin'. B ut prior to that time it was a different situation? EJ: Yeah. CJ: Yeah, uh huh A different situation. Because they had restaurants and all down there and people use d to go down there to the restaurants and EJ: Um hm CJ: 'cause they had very few amusement places to go to. FB: That's interesting. Economically, in Tampa, what were the conditions of blacks other say o kay, for the teachers l ike the common laborers, how did economics affect them? EJ: Poorly. They lived in shacks before CJ: Um hm EJ: the housing authorities decided to take over and provide housing for poor people. FB: Um hm EJ: That was in When did they build those first housing? CJ: I don't EJ: But a lot of our fellow men and people protested the way of livin' of our poor blacks and, so forth and so they wrote to the state and then the government and everything and finally later they decided to do something about it CJ: That was the six ties [19 60s ] EJ: and they built They didn't have sidewalks or even paved streets. It was a nasty muddy place. You just couldn't go through there until the weather decided to clean up.


16 CJ: And most of the black the black residents they had ditches in front of the houses and FB: They had ditches in front of the houses? CJ: Yeah. Ditches in front of the houses. EJ: So the water'd run off. CJ: And outdoor bathrooms. Um hm EJ: Toilets, not bathrooms. CJ: Well, outdoor toilets (laughs) FB: Now, this was in the city limits? CJ: Yeah, in the city limits. Yeah, you all don't know anything about that, but they had the outdoor toilets and the scavenger man would come by EJ: Down the alley. CJ: alleys and take up the scavenge at night. EJ: Um hm CJ: And they Very few people in the twenties [19 20s ] even in the twenties [19 20s ] very few people had any cars at all, blacks. Very few people had cars at all in the late twenties [19 20s ] very few. And thirties [19 30s ] too. Very few people had cars, i n the thirties [19 30s ] It was poor economic condition. EJ: And they did have some people ; the Urban League was back there tryin' to help those people who were really poor and unable to get food. And they'd have CJ: What's that lady's name? Side 1 ends ; side 2 begins EJ: It was a slow process. A slow process. During that time I think the Urban League was able to get this Cyrus Green Park out there for a playground for the blacks. Uh huh FB: Okay, excuse me. Before you go any further, who was Cyrus Gr een? CJ: He was a man h e was the director of the Urban League, I mean what do you call them?


17 FB: Executive D irector? CJ: Executive Uh huh EJ: Uh huh FB: And what was That was CJ: Cyrus Green was over the Urban League, director executive secretar y of the Urban League. Executive secretary of the Urban League. And so they named that park EJ: In honor of him after he was gone. CJ: Uh huh Um hm Cyrus Green, out there on 22 nd [Street] and Buffalo [Avenue] FB: Okay, we'll leave economics right n ow. Gettin' into politics, in the fifties [19 50s ] did black s have any type of voting maturity or were blacks concerned with politics or did they understand politics? What were the conditions? CJ: In the fifties [19 50s ], blacks weren't too concerned. (la ughs) EJ: But the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] and the Urban League were working with groups to try and enlighten them. CJ: Try to EJ: And we had a pretty good following. Maybe CJ: Um hm EJ: The NAACP was very strong then because we trying to protest the living conditions and the treatments that were given to the majority of the poor people and so a lot of blacks kinda surged forth and became members. CJ: And they were trying to get them to vote, you know re gister. Register and vote. The NAACP was trying to get them to register and vote to better their conditions. FB: Okay. Were there a poll tax or white municipal party present in Hillsborough C ounty during this time? CJ: The only parties I know about was Democrats that I've been connected with. (laughs) Democrat and Republican, of course EJ: And Independent. CJ: and Democrat, Republican and Independent that I know.


18 FB: But see what I'm sayin', were there any parties or white democratic parties out side the black community that was trying to keep blacks from voting? Number one, and were there any type of legislation, for example, the poll tax that was incorporated within the elector al system to keep blacks from voting? EJ: You know I can't remember the poll tax being exercised here CJ: You see, I'm tellin' you we so old (laughs) EJ: that I know that I've voted ever since I can remember I've been voting CJ: I've been voting too. EJ: and trying to encourage others to. FB: Okay. CJ: But one time it was somethin' about that. It was somethin' about they weren't able to vote. Uh huh It was somethin' about they weren't able to vote. Yeah. Uh huh but I can't get it together. I can't get it together, but it was something about they weren't su pposed to vote in the white primaries. Uh huh Uh huh FB: I heard somethin' about it but I haven't been able to substantiate it. CJ: Uh huh Look here. They were not supposed to vote in the white primaries, that's right. FB: Okay, now, can you think w hat year this was? CJ: Mmmm It must have been in the early forties [19 40s ] EJ: No. CJ: or late EJ: No. CJ: late EJ: I've been voting before the forties [19 40s ] CJ: Wait, I think it was EJ: But I'll tell you what it sounds like


19 CJ: It might have been i t might have been in the thirties [19 30s ] EJ: It might have been a scare CJ: It might have been in the thirties [19 30s ] EJ: that said people couldn't vote. CJ: It might have been in the thirties [19 30s ] EJ: And then they did scar e a lot of people away. Because they'd sometime s because a crowd standing around, you know FB: Um hm EJ: And you just h ad to be a brave person to walk on through and cast your vote. CJ: But it was the white primary, I remember that. The white primary and EJ: It must have been 'round there in the twenties [19 20s ] CJ: It must have been i t must have been in the late twenties [19 20s ] I guess, or I don't recollect no more the date but it was And you couldn't vote then. FB: Okay. Havin' taught school systems in forties years and thirty three thirty two years CJ: Um hm FB: Y ou taught in both in segregated and integrated systems? CJ: No, I didn't teach in an integrated system. EJ: I was dean my last years in a integrated system. FB: Okay. CJ: I taught totally in a segregated system. FB: Was there a distinct parallel between the two segregation as opposed to integration, and if there was were black teachers more conscious of the condit ions of black kids, more so than the white teachers were? EJ: Well, all along I'm the wrong person to ask because I've alway s thought that black people are more conscious of the achievements of black kids than whites. Because even so as a dean I was dean of Blake High School sometimes I would have to reprimand


20 the w hite people for their treatments to the black students. Because they seem to let a little thing happen and they'd blow it up out of proportion if it was a black student. FB: Um hm EJ: But they didn't even bother to correct that white student. Of course, you know what happened then. FB: Right. EJ: The blacks would say, W ell, such and such a person got by so And then they would bring 'em to me and sometime I would put the white teacher out of the class, and I would talk to 'em if they had more blacks in that class, I'd put her out and I'd talk to the blacks and try to explain to them the new situation we were in and how they had to study the teacher as much as the teacher had to study them if they were going to ge t along together in a good human way. CJ: Mrs. Jones, you're missin' your I bet you're missin' your time. What time is it? EJ: I better go. CJ: What time it? EJ: But u m What time you got? FB: O kay. CJ: But she works. (laughs) She works. EJ: But, u m If much, i f enough attention is given to both the black and white teachers CJ: Well, I'll tell ya EJ: it can be made to work. CJ: now EJ: And the reason why it's gonna be made to work is because they gonna provide much better things than and more things if that white child is involve d and than they would for blacks. We had that's demonstrated all the way up. CJ: Dr. Jackson and Dr. Brookins and all those were products of segregated schools. Dr. Jackson, Dr. Brookins and Dr. Dennis, all of 'em are products of segregated schools right in Tampa. FB: That's right.


21 CJ: Um hm And Dr. Sheeh y and E J : (inaudible) CJ: Oh (laughs) That's my daughter. FB: Yeah, I know. CJ: That's Terry. Yeah. Uh huh Yeah. And so I'm tellin' you I saw in the paper the other day where unsegregated I mea n, integrated A study was made and the children that were not in segregated integrated schools did better than the children in the integrated schools. FB: Yeah, I believe that. CJ: Um hm Yeah. Um hm Yeah. Um hm But I'm tellin' you it's somethin' else And I hope that it can work. But it look like that they now that they tryin' to do away the all the schools and I don't what they tryin' to do. But I just hope they gonna be conscientious. Because to my mind the children were doin' better in some instanc e, than they are now. (Phone rings) CJ: I don't know what's happenin'. I don't know what's happenin'. FB: Okay. End of interview

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James, Clemmie Ross.
Clemmie Ross James, Ethel Jones
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Otis R. Anthony and members of the Black History Research Project of Tampa.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (41 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (digital, PDF file)
Otis R. Anthony African Americans in Florida oral history project
Other interviewers for the Black History Research Project of Tampa were Fred Beaton, Joyce Dyer, Herbert Jones, and Shirley Smith.
Interview conducted in 1978, month and day unknown.
Clemmie Ross James and Ethel Jones, both retired teachers, discuss Tampa's African American schools and the Central Avenue business district.
James, Clemmie Ross.
Jones, Ethel M.
African American teachers
v Interviews.
African Americans
x Education
z Florida.
African American schools
African Americans
African Americans
7 655
Oral history.
2 local
Online audio.
Anthony, Otis R.
Black History Research Project of Tampa.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
Tampa Library.
4 856