Interviews by Topic: Race Relations

In Part 1, Elizabeth begins by talking about her high-achieving family. Educated at Harvard Dental School, her father was one of only two black dentists in Providence at that time. He was additionally active in the NAACP and a variety of community programs, pushing the same expectations he had for himself onto his daughter. Elizabeth discusses the inevitability of pursuing a PhD; her lack of choice in choosing Pembroke; and being a highly visible token among her classmates.

Anna Rena Hass, class of 1917

In the first part of the interview, Anna discusses early life on her family’s farm and the decision to attend Pembroke despite wanting to get married and become a nurse. Anna describes the courses she took in her two years at Pembroke and some of the formative people she met during that time. In the second part of the interview, Anna elucidates the Brown dress code and describes political events, life in Cuba, and her arrest. 

Beatrice Elizabeth Coleman, class of 1925

In this interview, Beatrice Coleman discusses her career as a teacher in normal schools in North Carolina and Pennsylvania; the African American communities in Providence and at Brown and Pembroke in the early twentieth century; and her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha. At the time of the interview she was 102 years old.

Bernicestine McLeod Bailey, class of 1968

This oral history features three members of the class of ‘68: Marcia Lloyd, an artist and professor of Painting at the Massachusetts College of Art; Bernicestine McLeod Bailey, an information management consultant; and Sandi Richards, a professor of African American Studies and Theatre at Northwestern University. Marcia Lloyd begins the interview discussing her work as an artist; her involvement with the Brown Corporation; her Philadelphia background; coming to Pembroke; and the school’s racial climate and the corresponding social life.

Cecile Lena Kantrowitz, class of 1930

Cecile begins the interview by explaining her Russian heritage and Jewish upbringing, her father's career as a Hebrew teacher and cantor and tracing her roots to Baal Shem Tov. She discusses her education at Classical High School; her mother’s liberated beliefs; and why she chose Pembroke. Regarding her education at Pembroke, Cecile describes her first days; joining Phi Beta Kappa; being a student of languages. She discusses founding the Debating Club and going against the grain by not doing homework and by rejecting certain dress codes.

Charlotte Nell Cook, class of 1964

In Part 1 of this interview, Charlotte Cook Morse discusses her upbringing, how she came to Pembroke with the help of scholarship aid, and her general academic experience during her college years. She then recalls an anecdote about dating, describes the dynamics between male and female students, and touches on the near-total lack of black and other minority students. She thoroughly discusses the strict parietal laws that came about during the office of Dean Pierrel. In Part 2, she finishes the section on parietal laws and discusses birth control.

Constance Worthington, class of 1968

Connie begins by talking about her family’s involvement in Brown University, and her eventual decision to transfer to Brown. She then discusses her challenging time at Brown being a student, single mother, and a widow, and what it was like raising a son later diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Connie continues on talking about her involvement the Josiah Carberry Book Fund and the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women. She also mentions her female role models at Brown during both her time as a student and professional in Providence.

Deborah Greenberg, class of 1979

In this interview Debbie discusses her early life growing up, the lack of gender discrimination at Brown, acting in New York, raising children, working on Wall Street, pursuing voiceover work, and staying in touch with the Brown community after graduating.  

Elizabeth Jackson, class of 1945

In Part 1, Elizabeth begins by talking about her high-achieving family. Educated at Harvard Dental School, her father was one of only two black dentists in Providence at that time. He was additionally active in the NAACP and a variety of community programs, pushing the same expectations he had for himself onto his daughter. Elizabeth discusses the inevitability of pursuing a PhD; her lack of choice in choosing Pembroke; and being a highly visible token among her classmates.

Ferelene Nanette "Nan" Bailey, class of 1974

Nan Bailey begins by discussing her childhood and the benefits of living overseas during her childhood, her experience applying to Brown University and her expectations. The interview spends a large amount of time discussing the various and bountiful activist groups Bailey participated in, and more broadly, the social turmoil during the seventies (Vietnam War, birth control, etc.). Towards the end, she tells of her experiences after graduation, and how she was able to take her enthusiasm for the groups she was involved in on campus and carry them out into her career.

Gail Yvonne Mitchell, class of 1973

Gail begins part 1 by discussing her sheltered upbringing in a very religious household, and her desire to attend a school where she could feel independent from that sheltered household and how that influenced her decision to attend Brown. Gail talks about working as a student assistant over the summer, and about living at Pembroke and in the dormitories there. 

Javette Damorra Pinkney, class of 1980

In this interview, Javette Pinkney Laremont begins by explaining the academic initiative and activist spirit that brought her to Brown. There, she fondly remembers a “feeling of community” and campus dating, in spite of instances of racism. She describes her involvement in a number of campus activities and social groups; spearheading the College Venture Program; why her Brown experience was unique; her work at the Black Heritage Society; the shared black experience and moral obligation to teach men to respect women.

Jeree Palmer Wade, class of 1983

Jeree Palmer Wade begins her interview by discussing her time in Providence, where she lived with her first husband.  She completed a Brown degree in Theatre Arts in two years through the Resumed Education Program (RUE).  Jeree explains how attending Brown impacted her life in theatre, particularly the production “Shades of Brown,” which led her back to the New York theatre scene.  Wade discusses various productions she has worked on in New York.

Joyce Loretta Richardson, class of 1963

Joyce begins her interview by discussing the experiences and people that led her to apply and attend Pembroke, such as going to boarding school, having a high achieving family, rejection from Radcliffe, and her fear of swimming. She contrasts her experience at boarding school with her arrival to Pembroke, discussing the stereotypical “Penny Pembrokers,” encountering racism for the first time, and being shocked into silence.

Justine Tyrrell, class of 1943

In Part 1, Justine discusses her family’s connections to the Brown community and how it affected her decision to attend; the campus-wide reactions and attitudes towards the events of World War II; her correspondences with soldiers abroad; her work with the Noyes Foundation; and her career in journalism including how she got her job at the New York Amsterdam News. In Part 2 of the interview, Justine goes on to explain her relationship with Malcolm X; discusses racism in the South; and briefly reviews what her life has been like since she has retired.

Karen Eulah McLaurin, class of 1973

In Part 1, Karen begins by discussing her decision to attend Brown, and her determination to succeed. Karen talks about a summer program she attended that was specifically for students who were deemed less likely to succeed at Brown. Karen discusses minority students at Brown and their importance to the community and the college, as well as her experiences as an African-American woman at Brown. Karen discusses the various faculty members who she knew as a student and then later again when she worked at Brown in Administration.

Katharine Pierce, class of 1962

On the occasion of her 50th Reunion, Katharine Pierce looks back on the highlights of her time at Pembroke. She begins by explaining her expectations for Pembroke and the “finishing school for Episcopal girls” that she found in its stead. Pierce talks about dorm life; her dissatisfaction with that atmosphere; her time pursuing social work as well as her work resettling refugees in Vietnam at the National Council of Churches.

Lillian Shoushan Berberian Klanian, class of 1957

This interview concentrates on Lillian's family life and her experiences as a commuter student. She explains that her parents expected her to live at home while she attended Pembroke, and she describes her days on campus  as “an outsider.” She reminisces about life-long friendships with other city girls (they had celebrated their 30th reunion together shortly before this interview).

Linda Jennifer Peters Mahdesian, class of 1982

Linda Peters Mahdesian begins this interview by talking about her family background in Chicago, Illinois; her reasons for choosing Brown; the experience of bi-racial students at Brown; and the Women's Movement on campus. In Part 2, she discusses her jobs after graduation; hiring of minority faculty; and the choices that women have to make as a result of the gains of the Women's Movement.

Lois Mae Black, class of 1953

In Part 1 of this interview, Lois Black describes coming to Pembroke College from a working class Massachusetts town; her first experiences of Pembroke; living in East House; and the differences between private and public high school students. She then discusses racism at Pembroke; the exclusion of women from the Brown Marching Band and Brown Sailing Association; and her participation in student movements for desegregation and reformation of gracious living regulations.

 

Lydia Lauretia English, class of 1985

Lydia English came to Brown in 1981 as a resumed undergraduate education student, after having worked in banking in the US Virgin Islands for eight years. English states that her initial motivation to receive a liberal arts education was her newfound interest “in how cultures interact,” gathered from her extensive work in the Caribbean. English talks extensively on the challenge of juggling an adult, professional, career life with an undergraduate education, particularly with regards to managing finances, as she supported herself throughout.

Marcia Lloyd, class of 1968

This oral history features three members of the class of ‘68: Marcia Lloyd, an artist and professor of Painting at the Massachusetts College of Art; Bernicestine McLeod Bailey, an information management consultant; and Sandi Richards, a professor of African American Studies and Theatre at Northwestern University. Marcia Lloyd begins the interview discussing her work as an artist; her involvement with the Brown Corporation; her Philadelphia background; coming to Pembroke; and the school’s racial climate and the corresponding social life.

Penelope "Penny" Anne Baskerville, class of 1968

Penelope “Penny” Baskerville begins this interview by recounting her family life and early education in New Jersey. In Part 1, she discusses the experience of being a racial minority at Pembroke (Penny was one of six African-American women in her class) as well as the general novelty of the college social experience, stressing the strength of the friendships she developed. Penny recounts her extracurricular involvement, the founding of the Afro-American Society, and the unique nature of college in the 1960s.

Rosemary Pierrel, class of 1953

Dr. Rosemary Pierrel Sorrentino describes her leadership as Dean of Pembroke from 1961 through 1972. Dr. Sorrentino, or Dean Pierrel as she was known to Pembrokers, reviews the rapidly changing societal norms, her perceptions of the demands upon Pembroke and upon her role as Dean, and the failure of leadership that led to the abrupt end of Pembroke College as an administrative unit within Brown University. She is quite candid about her opinions and her colleagues. She notes that shared values began to erode after 1966-67.

Sandra "Sandi" Richards, class of 1968

This oral history features three members of the class of ‘68: Marcia Lloyd, an artist and professor of Painting at the Massachusetts College of Art; Bernicestine McLeod Bailey, an information management consultant; and Sandi Richards, a professor of African American Studies and Theatre at Northwestern University. Marcia Lloyd begins the interview discussing her work as an artist; her involvement with the Brown Corporation; her Philadelphia background; coming to Pembroke; and the school’s racial climate and the corresponding social life.