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Interview with Anne Brightwell, December 17, 2014

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:18 - Social activism influences / Coming to Athens

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Partial Transcript: Anne, where you born?

Segment Synopsis: Brightwell talks about growing up in Missouri,
and how she knew and interacted with very few African Americans. Brigthwell describes how, during her childhood, she gained knowledge about the African American community by watching television and looking at the Life Magazine entries by the well-known photographer, Gordon Parks. Brightwell recalls her experience at Lindernwood University located in St. Louis, Missouri. Brightwell describes early integration and sit-ins at the time, which marked the civil rights era during the 1960's. Brightwell recalls her experience living in an African American community during the 60's, in which she talks about the kindness she received from the community regardless of her background. Brightwell relates stories about problems with the Ku Klux Klan including an incident where a cross was burned in her front yard. Brightwell talks about how she and her husband, Frank Brightwell came to Athens to build a united Presbyterian Church, as the Presbyterian church at the time was divided between the north and the south.

Keywords: Frank Brightwell; Gordon Parks; Ku Klux Klan; Lindenwood University; Raleigh, North Carolina; St. Charles, Missouri; St. Louis Paper; St. Louis, Missouri; Union Missouri; United Presbyterian Church; social activism

00:08:05 - Integration of Clarke Central High School

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Partial Transcript: Can you talk about your experience with social activism in the early stages in your own life?

Segment Synopsis: Brightwell talks about her involvement in the Presbyterian church before she got married. She talks about how becoming a wife with children forced her to participate less in social activism. Brightwell explains that her husband often participated in the prominent activism movements such as sit-ins and protest. Brightwell talks about how she and her young family maintained their involvement in civil rights movements by participating in events. Brightwell recounts how the integration of the later known Clarke Central High School was executed in a way that it excluded the African American historical involvement in the school's history. Brightwell relates the story of how her husband got arrested during a civil demonstration which was coordinated in response to the biased integration efforts. Brightwell talks about how her family had a newspaper called the United Free Press, which was handed around Athens, and covered a variety of civil rights issues.

Keywords: Clark Jr. High; Clarke Central High School; Nathaniel Fox; Presbyterian Church; St. Louis; United Free Press; demonstrations

00:17:04 - Teaching in Oglethorpe County

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Partial Transcript: Do you recall any parental interactions?

Segment Synopsis: Brightwell describes her relationship with the her child's teacher, Modestine Burton, who Brightwell claimed thrived in teaching and interacting with other students. Brightwell recalls working for the first time in the fall of 1974 as a teacher in Oglethorpe County, Brightwell includes she did not work in Clarke County, where she lived, due to her ex- husband's activism history. Brightwell explains how eventually obtaining a masters in teaching mathematics got her to get a job, as other fields of teaching proved to be competitive.

Keywords: Clarke County; Modestine Burton; Oglethorpe County; West Broad Elementary School; teaching

00:23:40 - Integration of Clarke Central High School

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Partial Transcript: During those years was there anything that you encountered that surprised you?

Segment Synopsis: Brigthwell talks about her experience teaching as she recalls that her favorite part was to spend time with kids. She talks about her experience working in an integrated school system and emphasizes the importance of fellow faculty as a support network. Brightwell also talks about the Clarke Central High School's efforts to prepare teachers for diversification. Brightwell states that though the school was right in acknowledging the change, the program did not make a noticeable difference in the integration process, which according to Brightwell, fell mostly on the responsibility of the teachers,.

Keywords: Clarke Central High School; advanced placement; diversification; integration

00:32:08 - Decreased diversification of Clarke Central / Disciplinary issues among students

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Partial Transcript: Were the black teachers and the white teacher mutually supportive or were they divided?

Segment Synopsis: Brightwell talks about the relationship among her and the other teachers, in which she describes that the faculty mutually supported one another. Brightwell explains how her background prevented her from making inferences about the experience of African Americans in her community, which she claims affected her in her interactions with both students and fellow teachers. Brightwell talks about how disciplining students and addressing classroom disruptions often proved difficult, and increasingly became a common occurrence later in her career. Brightwell talks about "white flight" in Clark Central High school during the 1990s, which Brightwell believes increased disparities between communities. Brightwell talks about the later lack of respect between students and teachers as the years went on, and how this led to unnecessary conflict.

Subjects: Clarke Central High School; disciplining; diversity; white flight

00:40:20 - Teaching in a majority African American school / Disciplinary issues continued

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Partial Transcript: Would you say that they were not encountering the same sort of conflict that you were?

Segment Synopsis: Brightwell talks about how her background in a primarily African American school, prevented her from disciplining the students well as she would have liked to. Brightwell describes how, nearing the end of her career, she felt that misbehaving students were often given the support of their parents regardless of their behavior. Brightwell talks about the lack of support by the school administration for students who proved to have repeat disciplinary issues. Brightwell also talks about the embarrassment she often experienced in class room disruptions, which she felt was not recognized by the school's administrative powers.

Keywords: ISS (In School Suspension); class room disruptions; disciplining

00:46:49 - Dealing with frustration

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Partial Transcript: So there was no support group particularly...

Segment Synopsis: Brightwell recounts how talking with the other teachers helped her to emotionally handle the troubles of teaching. Brightwell talks about how she would often vent with co-workers, which she explains as though "not her finest moment," proved an effective way deal with daily frustration. Brightwell talks about how she was introduced to teaching as an idealist , but has come to accept both the positives and negatives of teaching. Brightwell explains the advantage to having a diverse schools, as it prevents the accumulation of wealth in different communities.

Keywords: Clarke Central High School; disciplining; diversity; faculty

00:54:52 - Retiring from teaching / Effect of integration on Clarke Central High School

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Partial Transcript: And did you retire early?

Segment Synopsis: Brightwell talks about her retirement in relation to the other faculty, as she and her coworkers retired around the same time. Brightwell discusses her early retirement, and states that early retirement seemed a good option, as she claims she was beginning to tire of teaching. Brightwell addresses how she loved interaction among students of different backgrounds, though she claims there was increased separation in correlation to the more academically rigorous courses. Brightwell ends the interview by describing the beauty of integration, in which she reflects on the relationships between students of different backgrounds.

Keywords: Clarke Central High School; integration; retirement; sports