Partial Transcript: I'm Karen Wyomia Tyus, and I was...
Segment Synopsis: Tyus talks about her family, as her mother and father were a dry cleaner and tenant farmer, respectively. Tyus describes growing up in a farming housing establishment. Tyus explains how, as a child, she often played with white boys, as the girls were not allowed to play outside. Tyus talks about how her father taught her about nature, and encouraged her to stay active. Tyus recalls how her father encouraged equality among their siblings.
Keywords: Ben Brown; Griffin-Spalding County, Georgia; Jim Crow; nature
Partial Transcript: And for that to happen...
Segment Synopsis: Tyus shares how her community was more integrated than the surrounding area, which she sees as a result of growing up in the country. Tyus explains how her father taught the kids to deserve and give respect to others. Tyus recalls how the farm housing burned down, and she describes the conditions under which her family lived on the farm.
Keywords: Ben Brown; community; segregation
Partial Transcript: We still to the day don't know...
Segment Synopsis: Tyus shares how her father emphasized the need for an education among his children, as much of the family worked as farmers. Tyus describes the bus route and members of the community, as she attended the all black Anne-Shockley Elementary School.
Keywords: Anne-Shockley Elementary School; farming
Partial Transcript: I learned at a very early age...
Segment Synopsis: Tyus talks about hunting as a child, and the ways she was taught about gun safety. Tyus recalls how it was difficult to play at school since she was a tom-boy. Tyus explains how her father encouraged her to express herself, regardless of gender stereotypes.
Keywords: Anne-Shockley Elementary School; Fairmount High School; hunting
Partial Transcript: Now when did you meet...
Segment Synopsis: Tyus talks about joining the track team at Fairmount High School, and her P.E. teacher, Mrs. Kimbro. Tyus recalls how the girls team for Track and Field operated at her Fairmount High School. Tyus explains her experience at a track summit at Tennesee State University. Tyus talks about how her father's death spurred her interest in sports.
Keywords: Annie Shockley Elementary School; Fairmount High School; Fort Valley; Francis Dallas; Tennessee State University
Partial Transcript: When you graduate from high school...
Segment Synopsis: Tyus talks about how she was invited to join a summit for track and field at Tennessee State University. Tyus explains how the staff from Fairmount High School raised enough money for her to attend the summit. Tyus describes her experience at the summit.
Keywords: Fairmount High School; Tennessee State University; track and field
Partial Transcript: So that was it, I mean that was...
Segment Synopsis: Tyus recalls how the teaching community of Fairmount High School was incredibly supportive in students' endeavors. Tyus explains how track and field opened opportunities for her outside of Griffin, Georgia. Tyus talks about all the contributions Ed Temple bought to female black athletics.
Keywords: Ed Temple; Fairmount High School; Tennessee State University; teaching
Partial Transcript: Excuse me, I'm curious about the young lady ...
Segment Synopsis: Tyus talks about her opposition in track and field at the Tennessee State University track summit. Tyus talks about the social pressures put on women in the African American community. Tyus describes her parent's influence on her desire to attain excellence in everything she did.
Keywords: Tennessee State University; Track and Field; gender stereotypes; parents
Partial Transcript: I mean, I was always strong willed...
Segment Synopsis: Tyus continues to describe the way in which her father made sure that his children were raised without having to do the typical manual labor of African Americans at the time. Tyus talks about her decision to move to Los Angeles, California, where she worked as a teacher. Tyus continues to describe her time as a student at Tennessee State University.
Keywords: Los Angeles, California; Tennessee State University; dairy farming
Partial Transcript: I did remember Mr. Temple ...
Segment Synopsis: Tyus talks about her first semester at Tennessee State University, and the difficulties she faced as a student, especially after the death of her father. Tyus recalls how her travels helped her in understanding herself and her surroundings. Tyus talks about the black power movement and how it tied into her experience in track and field.
Keywords: Civil Rights Movement; Ed Temple; Olympics; Tennessee State University; black power movement; track and field
Partial Transcript: And that was experienced by us...
Segment Synopsis: Tyus talks about the discrimination she faced as an Olympic runner during the Tokyo Olympics. Tyus explains the methods of subtle protest against both sexual and race discrimination utilized by athletes around the world.
Keywords: Ed Temple; Tokyo Olympics; discrimination
Partial Transcript: They were called the Texas ...
Segment Synopsis: Tyus talks about how American black runners in the Olympics were for the most part ignored in the eyes of the public despite highly outperforming their white counterparts. Tyus recalls the ways in which Ed Temple helped the African American community.
Keywords: Ed Temple; Texas Bouffants; discrimination; racism
Partial Transcript: I don't really truly remember...
Segment Synopsis: Tyus describes the reaction of the Griffin, Georgia community to her success in the Olympics. Tyus shares her advise to younger generation, as she stresses the importance of an education and respect for others. Tyus talks about the rest of her family and their work to obtain an education.
Keywords: 1964 Olympics; 1968 Olympics; Ed Temple; Fairmount High School; Griffin, Georgia; education
Partial Transcript: And the stuff he said to me...
Segment Synopsis: Tyus reflects on the coaching methods of coach Ed Temples. Tyus talks about the ways in which Griffin has changed throughout the years. Tyus describes the way in which politics is present in the sports realm.
Keywords: Ed Temple; Griffin, Georgia; Tennessee State University; Wyomia Tyus Park
Partial Transcript: Well, you know, I ...
Segment Synopsis: Tyus talks about her wish for her story to inspire others, despite the fact that some Universities withheld her the opportunity to speak about her story. Tyus relates some of the other places she has spoken.
Keywords: Georgia Technical University; Griffin, Georgia; community
RICH BRAMAN:We can start any time.
JEWEL WALKER-HARPS:Ready? Today is September the 26th. We are on the campus ofthe University of Georgia in Griffin, Georgia. This is the -- our oral history project, and we have -- our guest today is Wyomia Tyus. I'm Jewel Walker-Harps of the Griffin Branch, NAACP.
ART CAIN:I'm Art Cain, director of continuing education program here on theUniversity of Georgia Griffin Campus.
ELLEN BAUSKE:I'm Ellen Bauske, program coordinator for the Center for Urban Ag.
BRAMAN:I'm Rich Braman with the Center for Urban Ag. I'm the developer.
WYOMIA TYUS:And I'm Wy--
WALKER-HARPS:-- and now our special guest, Wyomia Tyus.
TYUS:Okay, I'm Wyomia Tyus, and I was born and raised in Griffin, SpaldingCounty, Georgia. I was born on a dairy -- well, born on a dair-- 00:01:00raised on a dairy farm right outside of the little Griffin airport. My dad was a tenant farmer; my mom worked the dry cleaners, so they both worked the whole -- well for years. (laughs) They... I have three older brothers, Jackie, Jimmy Lee, and Willie. Jackie and Jimmy Lee have passed on, so have my parents, Willie and Marie Tyus, they have gone, and it's just my brother Willie. We called him Junior, so I will probably be referring to him as Junior sometimes in the report, so... So it's just the two of us that are remaining. We -- in the community or the area in which we grew up, the farm was owned by Ben Brown. He had a big farmhouse at the top of the hill, we always said, and we 00:02:00lived in the -- yeah, we lived down in the -- where the dairy was. And it was a big, huge house, like -- I'm trying to think, one, two, three -- three large bedrooms, a long hallway, kitchen, living room, and all of us lived there. We were the only black family that was living right in that area, so throughout my life, like, up until I was 14, we played with white kids. We played with white boys. We could not play with white girls because they were not allowed to play with us, so we played with white boys. So all my life, I have played with boys. I started out playing with my brothers and then when I was playing with them, it was always trying to keep up with them and also trying to run away from the fights. (laughs) And we -- I enjoyed, well, my childhood mostly. I remember from my childhood, that's always stuck with me, is that my father and my 00:03:00brother Junior and I, we used to go for walks every Saturday or either be on a Sunday because the woods... Ben Brown had a huge, huge farm, and we could -- you could walk it. He sold all that later on, but we used to walk the woods and just go... And as we'll walk in the woods, right, you know, just being with family. And my dad not so much teaching us anything or saying you need to know these things, but in his talks, it was like we would go pick -- like I said, it was in the summer, we would pick berries or something like that. He would always say, "You need to be mindful of just sticking your hands in there not just for the little stickers you can get in your finger but snakes live in there. They love to be around those berries, so you should not be there, also wasp nests and all those things," you know just teaching us the little things about nature. And that you just don't -- when you're a child, you're not thinking about that. You're out there in the woods playing, throwing dirt, throwing rocks. And I remember my brother and I used to just throw rocks and pine cones to 00:04:00see who could do that, climb trees, you know just being free. And my fath--you know, at the time I was growing up, young girls were not supposed to be that active. They were not supposed to be playing sports with boys at all. Girls did girly things, and boys did whatever boys -- boy things. And I was truly not interested in the girly things, although my mom wanted me to be. She always -- I always got a doll. (laughs) I always had a doll not that I played with it that much but -- because I was always out playing ba-- some type of sports with my brothers and all of that. But the walks (audio cut) my brother and I would have at knife, and we would whittle, and we could do all those -- and we would do all of that and just talk about living in this community, playing with the white girl out there. I can remember my -- that they didn't want... We shouldn't play with the girls. We can't -- with a girl, I don't want a girl on my 00:05:00team. And my dad used -- my brothers weren't saying that, but the other people. The other -- the white kids we were playing with, they would say -- they started out saying it, let me say it that way. And then my dad would tell my brothers, "Look, she's just as good as you guys if not better. I don't know why you don't let her play. You know she has to play. If she doesn't play with you guys, who is she going to play with?" So he made it very clear very early that I always had to be a part of whatever was going on when it came to playing outside or inside or whatever. And I can remember like one of the first times we went out playing because we played right where our farm -- with the house that we live in. We'd had all the acreage where the cows roam and all that and then they had -- like from our front yard, which was very large, to the side, there was a big field, and that was our football field, and that was our basketball field -- court, so we played right there. And the people there are whites that lived across the street, and they had kids that were, oh, the same age of 00:06:00my older brothers. And then Ben Brown had children, all the ages. He had -- well, his youngest child, the -- well, not his youngest, his youngest boy I think -- yes Lewis, that's the one we played with. He -- you know, we pu-- he would always come down, and we would come to the dairy, and we all played. And we just played ball, and once they were at -- all the kids would come play, they didn't want me to play. So my brothers would say, "Oh, just take her, you know just let her play." "No, no, we don't want her on our team," so I would have to -- I would always be on my brothers' team. And after that, they -- I think the first game we played, they realized in the first five minutes or so, they had made a bad mistake (laughs) because they realized I should -- they should have picked me. Then, it was like the next time we go to play, "We want her on the team, we want her," "No, you can't have her, no," or I would say, "Nope, you didn't choose me the first time; I won't play the second time." Now, 00:07:00you have to remember, we were growing up in the Jim Crow South. And for that to happen, for white kids and black kids to play together, that was not pretty -- I don't know. I just think it was not that much heard of and especially where they could come in our house, but we couldn't go in theirs. They could if we allowed, you know, but they could only be there if our parents were there. They couldn't just come in and sit around and all that. We -- but they -- we never did. I think my older brother -- oh, no, my younger brother may-- no, my older brother got an opportunity maybe to go in the house. If they went in the house, it's for cleaning or work in the house, so... To be in a situation like that, you didn't think about it, right? When I look at it, I didn't... You know, I knew that -- ah, I knew how -- there was ru-- there were so much rules, so to speak, but that's how the times were. Blacks could do this, blacks... And we 00:08:00lived in the country, so I was not really exposed to what was going on in the city.
CAIN:So you had a peer-to-peer relationship with the kids?
CAIN:But then you had these institutional issues out here.
TYUS:We surely did, exactly. But for us, our parents, I felt, always wanted tomake a safe haven for us. They wanted us to be safe, and they taught us, first of all, you had to respect yourself, and you don't let anybody disrespect you. That was the key, and that was how we related to the white kids in the neighborhood. Now, we never really had any trouble with Ben Brown's children or the people that lived across the street from us. But Ben Brown also had houses on his farm, and he would have -- they would be vacant, and he would rent them out, and it's usually to whites. And when -- I can remember very vividly that there was a family that moved in, and they definitely didn't want to 00:09:00play with -- well, play with us. And they wanted to call us all kinds of names, the N-word especially. And that was not going to be heard because my dad said, "You're not going to -- they can't play with you, you can't play with them if they going to -- they're going to call out your name. You have a name, they have a name, they need to use it." And that's how it was. And they came around to play, but they started saying words, the N-word, calling us the N-word, so I can remember my -- we used to do this. We used to draw a line in the sand or in the dirt and say, "Okay, that's your property; this is our property. You step across on our property and call us those names; you're going to have to pay for it." And so that's... I can remember one of the kids, one of the brothers that came across, and he's saying these words, and then he steps across the line and calls us the N-word. And then my brother says to me -- says to them, "Well, I'm not going to beat you up; I'm going to let my sister beat you up." (laughter) 00:10:00
TYUS:It didn't -- it was more like he said it, and as soon as he said it, I hithim in his stomach, and he went over and then I hit him again and then -- you know? And I think that was it. That was the only incident we've ever had. Because everybody knew that we were -- we as kids know all the other stuff that was going on, but we were respect -- we expect -- we respected each other. We talked to each other, we didn't call each other names, we might -- we got in fights, but that didn't last. It's like you're on the playground, you get in a fight, oh, you're going to forget it. And that's how it was with us. And -- but mainly from what I can remember and I can recall, that was about the only incident we had. My parents still would say to my brothers, "Especially when you go over to work in one of these white people's homes or do something 00:11:00in their yard, you go up on the porch and ring the doorbell and knock on the door, whatever you had to do and then you step off the porch. And if the husband or the man of the house is not there, you do not go in their house, and you do not stand there and stare this person in the face." Those were the kinds of things that --
CAIN:So that was --
TYUS:-- they felt --
CAIN:-- the protection?
TYUS:-- to protect you. Yes. It was not -- you know, it was more like I said.They wanted you to be safe and they -- and these are the things that they taught us. Now, for me, I didn't do any work. (laughs) I didn't have to. My dad didn't really want us doing any... He never allowed us to pick cotton; he never allowed us to work on the dairy. He said that he has worked and he will work hard enough, so we would never have to do that because he wants his kids to have better, yes.
CAIN:Okay, so what was the agreement that your family had with the Browns thatallowed you to stay there, and how far back did that go in your family? 00:12:00
BAUSKE:And a kind of related question, is your house, childhood home still standing?
TYUS:Okay. The house that -- in which we lived in burned down in '59. Was it'59? I think it was, yeah, in 1959, so it was no longer there. And the property in which we lived on, there's subdivision -- they have a big house and subdivision out there past the airport.
BAUSKE:Yeah, it's not Lake Louise. I know where there's a street called(Brown's) Acres.
TYUS:Yeah, that's also all his farm, all that land --
BAUSKE:Okay, that's his farm, okay.
TYUS:-- all that -- all those homes, all those homes, all --
BAUSKE:Yes, off Maddox --
TYUS:-- as far as you can see --
BAUSKE:Yes, up Maddox --
TYUS:-- that's all his property.
TYUS:He sold all of that, yes, so those are -- that's all his property.
BAUSKE:And those homes were probably built in the '60s I think, maybe?
TYUS:I don't know. Because when I left in '63 -- because when our house burneddown, my -- it was very traumatic for my father and all of us. But we -- he never really went back to the dairy to work every day. And he had 00:13:00some -- also some health issues, so he never did because within a year, my father died after the house burned down, so... So that and you asked another question?
CAIN:The agreement that your parents had with the Browns that allowed you-all tolive on the property. And was it something that had been intergenerational or is that something that -- where you-all the first of your family to live on that property? Just how did that work?
TYUS:I don't know if we were the first. I mean I just know that when I was born,that's where we -- and -- because my parents lived in Pomona, Georgia. I know my mom, and they lived there and then when I was born, it was at the -- you know, I was taken right to the dairy area. I know the agreement was the fact that my father worked the farm, and I -- that's all we know. And you had to also remember they didn't tell us very much. (laughter) And during that 00:14:00time, they didn't tell kids. That was not your -- that was not for you to worry about, it was for them to worry about, and it goes back to what my father would always say, "It's for you." He would always tell us, "I have to do the work, you go guys go -- your work is you need to go to school and get your lesson," which means you need to go to school and get an education. He didn't want us picking anybody's cotton or working in anybody's dairy or work -- doing really hard work. He wanted us to be able to go to school and get an education and get further than he did in school. And we still to the day -- my brother and I laugh about it. We still to the day don't know how far he got in school because he would always tell us, "I went to school one day, and the teacher wasn't there." So we don't know what type of education he had. And my mom, I know she went to eighth grade, so, but they wanted us to have a lot more, and they worked hard for us to do it like a lot of families did. They worked hard, they wanted their children to do, but there were a lot of families that they -- 00:15:00everybody in the family had to work the farm or pick cotton and all that. My grandmother, my dad's mom, that's what was happening. That's -- that -- they were sharecroppers, and they worked the farm, and they did that. But I know my dad took care of the dairy and not only with -- just him, Ben Brown also. The two of them worked the dairy.
CAIN:Was that here in Griffin where your grandparents were?
TYUS:No, my dad's family is from Jackson --
WALKER-HARPS:-- Georgia, mm-hmm. So my dad every morning at 5:00 in the morning,he had to get up and go milk the cows and all that. And I can remember being the -- before I went into elementary school, first grade or anything, I could be with my brothers. And we had to ride the bus. We rode a bus to school. The bus would pick -- we were the first to be picked up, and we were the last to be dropped off, so we had an hour ride every morning every day -- ah, two hours --
TYUS:-- hours, two hours going and two -- an hou-- one hour going, I'm sorry,and one hour coming back.
CAIN:So you were by that day's standards, sorry, not really in the00:16:00city of Griffin. You were --
TYUS:I was not.
CAIN:-- in the country. And then they had you catch a bus to get to -- was it Fairmont?
TYUS:Annie Shockley Elementary School. (laughs) Yeah.
WALKER-HARPS:In a bus with only black children?
TYUS:Yes. It wasn't -- the school's not integrated at the time. So where we hadto go was Annie Shockley Elementary, but there were other elementary schools in the city of Griffin. But this was like... And I don't know if Annie Shockley is still around, but it's over there near -- what was that street? I don't know if you guys know Griffin, but by Boyd Road and all those places. I don't know what that --
WALKER-HARPS:Annie Shockley is -- or --
CAIN:What, Anne Street?
WALKER-HARPS:Anne Street I believe now, Anne Street School.
TYUS:But, yeah, we would -- that -- so that's where we went to school, so thebus would come pick us up. Now, we -- there was a white school near us that we could've walked, but that wasn't happening. (laughs) And we went to -- you know, my brother Junior and I would get on the bus and.... Because we're 00:17:00the first, we had to -- we would always sit behind the bus driver. We knew him and uh, so we would... And it got to where we -- that was our seat there no matter what. Even at the school, we get on the bus -- if we weren't the first to get on the bus, nobody could sit there because the bus driver was always letting us sit there. So (laughs) we were going to be the first one on, and we had to ride and go pick up other students and go. And it took us an hour to pick up -- by the time we picked up everybody and got to school, it was about an hour. And then when we come home, the same thing, so we'll be the last to be dropped off. Sometimes, he might've -- a couple of times, I can remember that the bus driver dropped us off first, but usually, that was just his route, so... I don't know where would I that --
CAIN:And that started when you were in the first grade?
TYUS:First grade, yeah. And my brothers had gone before that because they wereolder. Well, my two older brothers and then -- because I know with my 00:18:00brother Jackie and Jimmy -- Jimmy Lee, they may have started school at -- up in Pomona. They had that one-room school near at the church. There's a church, Macedonia Church, that's the church we belong to. And they had a little schoolhouse, a brick... Well, let's see. What do you call those? Cinder block schoolhouse where you had just one room, and you were in grades by the seats you sat in, so... But I didn't have that; my older brothers did.
CAIN:While you're talking about the Browns and while we're still there, have youmaintained any kind of relationship with any other descendants? Do you know anything about whatever happened to them or...?
TYUS:No, because once we -- I -- my mom, when my mom was living and my mom usedto come to California on -- every year, right? And I know one -- the Lewis, the one that we always played with had moved to Santa Barbara, 00:19:00California. And I know my mom had stayed in contact with -- I don't know which Browns. And she had gotten that information, but we never got a chance to see each other because she will always say, "I'm going to get that information, and we're going." "Yeah," and I said, "Yeah, get it because Santa Barbara, a couple of hours from Los Angeles," and I said, "We could go and find him," and all of that. And I don't know if they're still living. I don't know because it was four boys and two girls. So I don't know what's going -- or what happened when that -- all that took place, all right, because I was not around. That was just not... I was -- I went Tennessee State I think when most of all that happened. Because I left Griffin in '63 to go off to college, and that's -- you know, I will come back, but there's no reconnection. I know my brother Jimmy Lee, he had a big connection with the people that -- the white boys that lived 00:20:00across the street down the road and all of that because he -- even as an adult. Because he used to go hunting with them and all of that and they keep in contact and all that. And even like when my mom was pretty sick and she was in the hospice, I was out there, and this one guy came up to me, and he says... Like I guess he -- somebody had told him my mom was there, but he had a family member that was also there. And he came up to me, and he goes, "Sister," because that's what they called me and although -- you know they all called me sister. And he said, "I'm --" and I can't -- God, which one was it? I can't think of his name, but he told me who it was, and I knew that my brother Junior was there. And he said, "Oh, yeah, you know, we..." And my brother Junior sees him now even. Yeah, I don't -- but I don't see them. But they do. You know it was alwa-- it's always been a good friendship. I know when my brother Jimmy Lee died, it was like I -- I mean the church was packed half-and-half pretty much because Jimmy Lee always kept in contact with them. And they had -- Jimmy Lee had trucks, and 00:21:00they'd go hunting and all that stuff because we grew up hunting too. That was the other thing we had. My -- I mean I learned at a very early age, maybe be seven or so about gu-- well, we... There was always a gun in the house. We had a sh-- my dad always had a shotgun in the house, but we never and ever, ever, ever touched it. We were too scared. (laughter) We were too scared about -- even we would go in the room where my dad -- in their bedroom, and if we would jump on the bed, which young kids do, and play around, we never touched the gun. It never fell or anything, but we were taught the safety of guns. We were taught the fact that the gun is only used for hunting and we did. You know we had rabbits, squirrels, and all those things, so, and that's how we used the gun. And my father taught us the safety of how to use it, when to use it, 00:22:00and never pull a gun on anybody unless -- you know that's something. Once you pull the gun, that's your issue there. You're going to have to use it, or they're going to use it on you, so, but we never did. And we never had trouble with white kids doing the same thing because their guns were the same. The way every-- everyone was just -- that was just how life was there. It's not like that now, but that's how it was then.
CAIN:Talk a little bit about your elementary school experience, and you went to Fairmont?
TYUS:Mm-hmm, I did. I went -- (laughter) I went to Annie Shockley Elementary,and school was something for me. Growing up with my brothers, I was al-- they always called me a tomboy, and I don't -- and all I felt, that I was just a person that enjoyed being outside. I enjoyed competing and then -- I mean just trying to -- not always being the best, just the fact that I could go out there and do those things, and I wanted to do it. I wanted to be the best 00:23:00person to -- I want to be the person that could climb the tree the fastest or ride my bike the fastest. I always want to do that. And when I went to -- I think going to elementary school and all that, they didn't have any -- there was no sports for girls, yeah, nothing. The biggest thing we had was May Day, which you don't do anything but sack races, (laughs) and that was it. And then like at lunchtime and stuff like that, boys could play football, and they could do all that, and I would always just be sitting and wanting to jump out there, run out and then do -- and be a part, but girls can't do that. I can remember trying to play that, and I wa-- the teachers say, "Girls play over here, the boys play there," hmm, okay. And I was a kid that wore pants to school all the time. And I can remember teachers telling my mom, "Does she have a dress?" asking her, "Does she have a dress?" And she says, "Yes," and "Well, she needs to wear dresses sometime," and I'm like, "I can't wear a dress. Well, how am I going to play and jump around and like..." (laughs) 00:24:00
BAUSKE:Can I ask?
BAUSKE:What sports were you playing?
TYUS:Well, I played -- like with my brothers, I played the football andbasketball with them and so-- and baseball. So that's that -- that's on the farm, but they let the boys play football and all that stuff and run and jump, and we did a lot of running, did a lot of bike racing in our bikes, and all those kind of things. So those are the things that I did as a child on the dairy farm. But when you went -- and then we went to elementary school and we started in school, girls have certain roles they wanted you to (play?). And I didn't want that role, jump rope and London Bridge is falling down, boring. (laughter)
BAUSKE:Jump rope is better than it used to be. (laughter)
TYUS:Yes, but I still can't jump, so I don't know. (laughter) So that... So Ican just remember the teacher saying to my mom I should wear dresses, 00:25:00and I'm -- "I don't want a dress, I don't want to wear a dress." I can remember and remember kind of to revert -- to go back. When I was six maybe or I guess when I turned six or so, it was Christmastime, and my brother Junior wanted a cowboy outfit, and I wanted a cowboy outfit, and my mother says, "No, we'll get you a cowgirl outfit." I said, "No, I want a cowboy outfit." "No, you get -- you can have a cowgirl outfit," and I'm -- "I'm not going to wear that, I don't (mumble noise) want a cowgirl outfit, I want a cowboy outfit." And my dad said to her, "You know she's so -- she's not going to wear it if you buy it, she's not going to wear it. You know how she is; she's not going to wear it." And that morning at Christmas morning, we got up, and I had a cowboy outfit. (laughs)
TYUS:And so I always said -- and both of my brother and I had the same outfitand we... People used to thought -- think we were twins, but we weren't. So my mom went and get our pictures taken in the cowboy outfit, and the 00:26:00guy says, "Oh, what a -- two cute little boys," and I went, "I'm not a boy." And my mom said, "See, this is why you need that cowgirl outfit." (laughter) So she pulled my braids out so that he could see. (laughs) But I did all -- it was... You know my -- I just admire my parents for them letting me be who I wanted to be and not put the restrictions that girls have to do that. And I think more -- my father really was the one that was behind that, and my mom was more, "Well, you need to learn how to do these things," and it... To get back to wearing a dress at the school and all that, and my mom said, "Well, she wears a dress to church," and I did. And so they kept say-- my mom kept saying, "You've got to wear a dress to school," so my dad came up with, "Well, this is how we'll just get around this. You wear your pants and put your dress over it." I 00:27:00was okay with that and that's -- but -- and then now, that's what they do all the time, and so... (laughs) So but --
CAIN:(You were twins?).
TYUS:So that's what -- you know? So Annie Shockley, well that was my memories.Annie Shockley, it was -- I mean I enjoy school there. And I think about the teachers that we had, they were -- they reminded me a lot of my parents in the sense that they really were so encouraging, and they wanted you to do more and wanted you to definitely get your lessons so to speak. And they wanted you to just really be proud of who you were. And, yeah, well, at -- again talking about the times, that was... I guess that was the time when a lot -- the teachers there, they were not all -- they weren't from Griffin. They came from different parts of different little counties or -- and not all of them but most of them came from different counties around. And they were always saying, "Well, there's so much out there for you to learn," and they were so encouraging 00:28:00trying to get us there. And at the time when I was in school, they were also -- when they could swat you, they could give you, but my dad said, "No, that's not going to happen. I don't whip my kids, so nobody else can, so..." But they could do that when we were in school, so...
WALKER-HARPS:Your teachers were mostly from someplace else over at --
WALKER-HARPS:Your teachers were mostly from someplace else over at Griffin?
TYUS:Mm-hmm. Yup, they were.
WALKER-HARPS:Now, when did you meet (Ernestine?) Kimbrough? Was that high schoolor --?
TYUS:That's high school.
WALKER-HARPS:That's high school.
TYUS:Yeah. So that's Annie Shockley. After Annie Shockley, we went to Kelseyelementary? I mean Kelsey Middle --
TYUS:-- School. It was middle school, junior high then, that's what they calledit. But, yeah, I went there, and that was... That's -- what year was that? I don't even know what year was it. You have to -- you guys do the math. (laughs)
WALKER-HARPS:Probably about '62 --
TYUS:Yeah. So I went there.
WALKER-HARPS:-- on Kelsey --
TYUS:Yeah, I went there, and I think they had -- I'm trying to think,00:29:00they had basketball for girls. Did they have track? I think they had basketball for girls and track. And that's the first time like I really came into the city, living in the city because -- or not living in the city, just coming to the city, going to school. And then once our house burned down, I think that's when I was in eighth grade and then that was Fairmont, I ended up at Fairmont. I was at Fairmont High School, and... Wow, so, what can I tell you about Fairmont? That's where I met Ms. Kimbrough who was my track coach and basketball coach, and she was the PE teacher, and all of those then, you know? Because I used to think all the time, God, that's such a tall woman.
WALKER-HARPS:Mm-hmm, she was.
TYUS:(laughs) You know and then also my other thought was, gosh, she was reallybowlegged. And I would always say, "God, if you straighten her legs out, she could be pretty tall, much taller than what she is." But (laughter) she was a woman that... I mean she had a lot of girls that were on the -- that 00:30:00played basketball and ran track. I mean that -- because that was the only two sports for wom-- or for girls in high school. I don't know what was going on in white schools. I don't know if they had a track program or not because none of us was ever -- we were still segregated, we were not integrated at the time, so I don't know if white kids had -- what kind of sports they had.
CAIN:How did she identify you as somebody who would be interested in track, goodin track, and at what level? You know maybe ninth grade or so on. And tell us a little bit about some of the competitions that got you noticed.
TYUS:I really don't know if she really identified me. There was -- you know, itwas more that if you wanted to be involved in sports when you were a young girl, you could be involved, and you had to try out. And then if you could beat someone if -- yeah, or you... Depending on how many people they're 00:31:00going to have on their team, like with the basketball team that, you know, you go out there and you play hard. You practice hard and you do -- they have tryouts, so you get -- you either make it or you don't and those that make it... I can't remember them saying, "God, you've got great potential." I think that happened after I went to that first summer at Tennessee State, which I was 15 or 6-- yeah, 15.
BAUSKE:Tell us about that. That's kind of young to be off in a college environment.
TYUS:(laughs) I -- yeah, it was. I was... After, like once I was at Fairmont,they -- then I made the basketball team and I made the track team along with several other women. And there was one woman especially on the track team, Frances Dallas, and she -- she was much better than I was. She whupped me all the time, and I got beat all the time. She could really run, and 00:32:00so... But it didn't bother me that much. I mean I was still enjoying. I was still at the state; I just enjoy this. This is really something I like to do, and my father had passed away. Our house burned down and then my father passed away, and I was just devastated by both things, more so by my father's death. And I became a person -- not that I talked a lot in the beginning, but I became a person that would -- like one-word answers, and we would not be having this interview if I had not come. (laughs) It will be yes, no, if you think so. You have to continue to ask but... You know, so at his death, I just really didn't do that. My mom kept saying, "You know you need to do something, you need to..." And I think that's the reason I really got started running and playing basketball and doing a lot, you know just really putting my heart into it. Not so -- I mean, I guess it's my aggression, just being angry and 00:33:00disappointed and depressed and all those kinds of things, I just -- that was my outlet. And I think Ms. Kimbrough saw that and all of that, so... But it just -- we would have track meets arou-- in around. It's like in Newnan and places like that and then the big thing, you had to -- we go to Fort Valley. At Fort Valley State College, we would go there, and they would have meets there. And it will be not just surrounding Griffin, but you had people from Atlanta, all the big -- and they would be there, but you were... Depending on how large your school is with classes, they had A, B, A, and all up there, so... Mr. Temple was there, yes, and I didn't know anything about that, Mr. Temple, who he was. And he -- after the meet, he came up to me and said -- he introduced himself as the coa-- "I'm Temple, the coach at Tennessee State University." And he always 00:34:00called everybody by their last names. He said, "You're Tyus, right?" I said, "Yes," and he said, "Well, I was looking at you, and you look like you got some potential there. And I would like to invite you to come for summer at a track camp. I put on a track camp every year, and I invite high school and schoolgirls up, and we train for a month. And if you do well and continue to do well in your books, and you do well on the track, you know when you graduate from high school, you could probably get a scholarship." And I was like, "Oh." He asked, "Would you be interested?" At 15, "Yeah." (laughs) That's about -- that was -- now, that was my answer because I was not talking very much, "Yeah, I would." And he said, "Well, you're going to be hearing from me. I talked to your coach, Ms. Kimbrough and --" I think it was Kimbrough there. Was it Kimbrough or was it Bonner? See, they crossed it in between with Susan Bonner and Ernestine Kimbrough. They crossed one because they did and I don't know -- I'm 00:35:00kind of foggy on that a little bit. I probably have to think about it some more, or you guys can research it for me.
WALKER-HARPS: Probably was talking about Susan.
TYUS:Yeah, mm-hmm, so... So it must have been Susan Bonner I think it wasbecause I think Ms. Kimbrough left somewhere in the begi-- in the middle of that. I don't know. But anyway, Mr. Temple said that, and he said, "Well, you'll be hearing from me," and I said, "Okay." And the next -- I didn't think too much about that. I just went, "Yeah, all right." And I think a week or so later, my mom got a letter from him saying that he was going to come to Georgia, and he wanted to meet with her, and he's (good?). And that's something he did. He met with everybody's -- every one, young lady that came to Tennessee State in the summer, he went and met with their parents or parent and told -- and laid out his program and said, "These are the -- this is what I expect of 00:36:00these -- my young ladies that come here." And he came, and he was like so strict I thought, but no more strict than what my parents were. "These are the things," he said, "there's a right way, the wrong way, and then there's my way, and if you don't do it my way, you're going to get sent -- I send them home." He said, "I make sure I will take care of your daughters. Yes, they will be on a college campus, but they'll be well protected" and all of that. And you think about it, I mean, and it was... And he was like, "So if you allow her to come, these are the things that you would need," and all that, and it was like, okay. So, yeah, he says to me, "Well, what do you think, Tyus? You think you want to come?" I said, "I think so." I was just the timid type person, you know I'm saying? And he said, "Okay," and he says to my mom, "Ms. Tyus, are you willing to let her come?" and she said, "Yes." And when he left, then I was busy 00:37:00thinking, and how am I going to go? We don't have any money because it was just my mom and my brothers and I, and it was like she don't have any money to send me anywhere. And I can remember -- so it was like I really wanted to go. I started thinking, I'll be -- okay, I'll -- I'm going to be out of Griffin for a summer, I'm going to be out of the state of Georgia, (laughs) I'm going to be going someplace so that became very interesting to me. And after that, the school Fairmont, believe it or not, raised some money for me to go to Tennessee State the first summer. They raised $23 and some-odd cents, which was a lot of money in that day and time because now it's worth -- how much is it worth now (Dave?)?
DAVE:It's about $190.
TYUS:But in this day and time that would've been $190 there. So that paid for mybus, my train ticket to and from Griffin to Nashville. It gave me a 00:38:00few dollars to have in my pocket.
CAIN:And you went by yourself.
TYUS:I did. That was the -- I think about that to this day that here it is thatthey drove -- my Uncle John Henry and my mom and I think my brother Junior, we drove up to Atlanta to the train station because the train wasn't here in Griffin and you didn't -- they weren't -- so we drove up there. They put me on the train with my little bag of food (laughs) and waved goodbye. And I rode eight hours or more to Nashville and go into the mountains, and it was like, oh my (God?), you know? And I can remember one of my mom's friends telling me, "Now, you get on that train, and you sit there, and you sit there with pride and dignity." "Okay." "And don't you talk to anybody." (laughter) They didn't have to worry about me talking to anyone, I didn't, so I didn't. And I get 00:39:00there, and he said -- and Mr. Temple had said to my mom, "Well, I'll be right there when she gets there," and he was right there. And he comes and meets me at the train station, and he has another one of the young women that's on the track team there with him, and he said -- he says, "Ah, Tyus?" I said, "Yes, Mr. Temple?" because we all called him Mr. Temple. We didn't call him Coach Temple because that's a Southern thing. You-all respect your elders by saying mister, and that's what we did. We didn't call him coach. So he says, "Meet Rudolph," and that was Wilma Rudolph. Of course, I didn't know that at the time because I didn't know anything about track and that thing. All I knew, I just ran and he saw something. And so we go into the dormitory, and we got to meet all the other women -- young girls that were my age that were coming out for the summer and then also the young -- the women that were on the team that was in college and all of that.
CAIN:How many young girls came into the camp?
TYUS:That first summer, I think it was about 20 of us, but all of us00:40:00didn't last. (laughs) A lot of people wanted -- they went home. The practices were really hard. I always used to practice then maybe once or twice a week, and I could still win or I'll get second (inaudible) defeating Frances at the meet. When Frances was at the meet, I could get second, and if she wasn't at the meet, I'll get first but... (laughs) But we would get there, and we had practice like 5:00 in the morning, 9:00 in the morning, and 1:00 in the afternoon. That -- it was very hard practice and now --
CAIN:At the summer camp?
CAIN:In the summer camp. And you're in Tennessee, you practice at 1:00 in theafternoon --
BAUSKE:It's hot. Yeah, it's hot.
TYUS:So very hot.
BAUSKE:Where was your mother, brothers, and you living in Griffin after thefarmhouse burned down?
TYUS:Once the farmhouse burned down, we moved to a little one-bedroom place. Andmy dad was -- because my dad lived about 9 months or 10 months, a year. But we all lived in a one-bedroom place over on Washington and Fourth? Was 00:41:00it Washington and Third? I can't remember. On Washington Street. It was on Washington and -- I think it was Washington and Fourth Street, yeah. And then my -- years later, my mom -- we live now on Hill Street because my mom and brothers bought a house there. Yeah. But... So what else was -- need to say? Oh, so that was it. I mean that was going just at Fairmont and then people at Fairmont to be so generous, you know? They raised money. It wasn't you would think, oh, that's not enough money, but they raised that money for me to go and -- I thought. And they evidently saw something that I didn't see in myself, and they probably saw the same thing Mr. Temple saw, I don't know. Or it goes back to what I had stated earlier that the teachers and the people, they really wanted you to do better. They wanted you to be more than what people thought you would -- or what they thought of blacks at the time. And they wanted you to 00:42:00get an education because they knew education would definitely do it for you. It will help you anyway. It will be like what Mr. Temple will always say, you know, "Sports will open the door, education will keep the door open," so... And they -- and I always was very and will always be very grateful for the fact that -- I always felt I had great teachers, and they always wanted the best for you and it's --
WALKER-HARPS:Who was the principal at Fairmont when you were there?
TYUS:Um, I don't know. (laughs) Was it Mr. --
WALKER-HARPS:C. W. Daniels?
TYUS:-- Daniels, Mr. Daniels?
WALKER-HARPS:Or Mr. Tate.
BAUSKE:He started but somebody else -- Mr. Tate was there.
WALKER-HARPS:It's probably Tate, Horace Tate.
TYUS:Yeah, between the -- yeah, because it was him and then Mr. Daniels, right.
CAIN:Well, they must have -- since they kind of got together and raised money,and you probably were the only student who had that opportunity, you must have stuck out.
TYUS:I -- when you look at it like that, yes, I did. I mean I would00:43:00-- I think the stuck out came when Mr. Temple made that offer, you know, and I think once he... And then the school knew that. Ms. Bonner -- actually, I don't know which one it was. I think it was Ms. Bonner that she let the school know that, hey -- Ms. Kimbrough I think it was. She let the school know that Mr. Temple was looking in here. And they knew more about the Olympics and all of that, so they knew the opportunity. And to go to a -- to go to college, I was never going to go to college. How was I going to go to college? And for him to say in his letter -- I have the letter that says that here, if you do these things and you -- eventually, you may get a scholarship. He never said you were definitely going to get it but -- you know? And then when you... After you get there and you see all the -- a lot of things that you could see, and for me, it was just so eye-opening in that, yeah, you meet these young women 00:44:00that were doing a whole lot of things not just running track. They were going... They had been overseas, that's all you can -- like they'd been overseas, they had been to Germany, they had been to Russia, they had been to Italy, you know, they'd had gone to all these different places, and they got a totally different education here. You had book education and you -- then you're able to travel around the world. I think you could -- I feel that you get a different kind of education. You learn about people, you learn about different cultures and how -- you know, and you learn to appreciate not only just yourself but also your culture, the other people's cultures. And I just was amazed by what was going on with that just --
CAIN:Yeah, Tennessee State was nationally and internationally known at that time.
CAIN:Wilma Rudolph was --
TYUS:And they put them on the map.
CAIN:Put them on the map.
TYUS:Well, you know even before her, although they didn't get the credit. Andstill to this day, they -- I don't feel that the Tigerbelles get the credit. That's why I wrote a book about it. But that they went on. You know 00:45:00you had -- in 1956 and they had women on the Olympic team. And if they weren't winning -- if they didn't win, the US women didn't win anything.
CAIN:Yeah, and let me just -- in terms of Coach Temple being ahead of his timesand being progressive, he was offering scholarships to young ladies in the '50s and '60s in athletics prior to Title -
CAIN:-- IX, which... (laughter) You know that's pretty incredible.
TYUS:Yeah, well, it was. You think about that Tuskegee started out doing thatfor women and then that program folded and Mr. Temple's program started to grow. But Tennessee State at the time I was in school is the only school in 00:46:00America giving any type of athletic scholarship to go to school for women -- not just black women, any woman. And at the time I was in school, it was only about -- it was only eight percent of women in the whole USA that was in college. So I'm like one of that eight percent, and Tennessee State, the women that were on the team, it was -- is anywhere from 10 to 15 women that were on the team. Now, you think about this as a historical black college doing this. I mean when I was in school with maybe 1300 students there, all black, and this little school did this, and he did this for women, which was not -- I mean in this day and time, women can go to any school they want and -- because -- if they're in sports, have some type of athletic scholarship. Our scholarship was really work aid. It wasn't really so an ath-- right out of an athletic scholarship. But 00:47:00it was a way to go to school and have a way to get an education. and I just would never -- I just don't think we can give enough to Mr. Temple or say enough about him and for the world to know. And the world do, they know what he has done in track and field. But also they don't -- the other part is what he has done for black women and black -- and not only black women but women of all color where he would always say, "I was Title I, I wasn't Title IX, I mean I started --" he started the whole thing. You know he did for women that nobody else ever dreamed or thought of wanting to do, and he stuck with it, and he put like over 40 women on the Olympic -- on different Olympic teams. And out of the 40, he won 23 medals, 13 of them gold and -- you know? And he graduated all of his girls. He has a 97 percent graduation rate. And if they didn't 00:48:00graduate from Tennessee State, they went on to graduate from another school, which is saying a lot. Because he believed in all, that we all had to have the education because that's the only way you're going to make it.
CAIN:I'm curious -- (coughs) excuse me. I'm curious about the young lady yousaid who beat you.
BAUSKE:Yes, I was wondering, what happened to Frances?
CAIN:Yeah, because he -- she should've been identified too maybe as somebody whohad a lot of potential as --
TYUS:Yeah, but may-- I'm trying to think if she ran the day that Mr. Temple wasat Fort Valley if she was -- if she even went to the meet because it's not like practices now where you have to go to all these meets. But when we -- like surrounding meets around here, and we had time trials and stuff like that, Frances always beating me and -- yeah, so you know... I -- you also have -- the person I think has to want to do it and want to be. And I wouldn't 00:49:00have ever continued to do it if Mr. Temple had not seen me and said, "Hey, you have the potential." Because to this day, I just don't understand how he could see me and say it was me. How could it be me? It could've been Frances. It could've been someone else, but he chose me. I don't know how that happened, but it was -- and then -- and not only that, there were a lot of other young women from Atlanta that went to that same program that I went to. So he was looking at a lot of people not -- I don't know. And I -- and when I think about it at this point in time, I can't remember her being there. She may have been there, but she may not. I just can't remember that. But she could have, but he didn't see that.
WALKER-HARPS:At that time at Fairmont, the focus was on boys and gir-- boys andbaseball and basketball if I remember correctly. I'm trying to think of others, and maybe you can, who were competitors with you in -- on the sports. 00:50:00We have beaucoups of trophies from that period of time at Fairmont going to early '60s. I don't remember who they were by name, but there were a lot of them. We were -- we produced a whole bunch of athletes from Fairmont during the early -- well, from the beginning of the school up until the early '60s.
TYUS:Yeah, well --
WALKER-HARPS:But I'm not sure. I don't remember... Well, this was RayfieldWright's period of time or -- I don't remember who. At my age, I don't remember who those were who were competing with the... But I do remember that we received a lot of trophies.
TYUS:Mm-hmm. Well, yeah, the -- I mean Fairmont was known for their -- with likethe men's basketball team and then the men's football team. But they had a good women's basketball team, but you never heard about it. Like I stated earlier, women were never encouraged to do that. Women were never encouraged 00:51:00to go out and be good. I think about relatives and friends saying that, you know, "You can go out and play but don't sweat, horses and cows sweat, things like that. Girls, you're just not supposed to do all these things, and you're not supposed to be good. You're supposed to -- well, girls and women are supposed to be good cooking, good cleaning the house, good --" you know? None of the things that I wanted to do, but I know how to do them because I was taught that. That was something we were all taught and not just me. My brothers could clean house better than I can, so... (laughs) So in my family, that's what we -- it was all equal in that sense. It was not what society was saying because my parents wanted us to all -- we all needed to know. These are key things for all of -- for you to survive, you know? You need to know how to cook because you may not find someone that's going to cook for you. You may not want -- 00:52:00you may not get married, so what are you going to do? (Usually, it's...?) You know it was not so much at the time we were growing up; you weren't going to no restaurants and eating.
TYUS:And so there was not that. I mean there was -- unless you were in a blackcommunity, in our black community. I don't -- like I said, I don't know very much about the inner city of Griffin because we lived on a dairy farm. We raised our own food. We had corn, and there were pear trees, there were fig trees, there were all kind of -- we had all kinds of vegetable. Ben Brown had a pond, he had dug a pond, we had fish, we go fishing all the time, and we also raised hogs. So it's like we were pretty much self-sufficient when -- and we didn't really have to come into the city to buy things. My mom worked here in the inner city.
CAIN:Something had to be infused in you because you went from being on a dairyfarm, okay, to come into Griffin had to be a little bit of a culture 00:53:00shock, to go into Tennessee State had to be a little bit of a culture shock to doing things internationally. And you had to have something in you, something that people put in you or that was just in you innately to allow you to function and survive and say, "I'm not going to give up those kinds of things." Can you talk about that?
TYUS:Well, I think the -- what was in me is what my parents raised me, how theyraised me and raised me and my brothers. I mean they raised us about -- taught us values and what was valuable to you and what was valuable to me and to them. And as I see, it was family and also not only being just family but being -- treating people right, treating people fairly, you know? That was always -- you know, they didn't sit there and talk about it like that. It's 00:54:00like if you were in an argument or I was fighting with my brothers, which we did a lot, you know, "What? Why? You-all can talk that out." Well, sometimes you could, and you just had to fight, but still, after the fight was over, you're still brothers and sisters, and you don't treat people mean. You don't be mean to people in that. And it was more -- there's enough of that in the world. Yeah, and it to me, it was just more common sense kind of things, and that's the common sense in my family, not to say that was with everybody's family.
WALKER-HARPS:And it sounds like there was inner strength in your parents andperhaps in their parents. Because even living in the -- under the conditions, which they lived, they were never submissive. They were always strong and strong-willed, and that transferred to you-all. And that's not an -- (in here?), that's not an everyday thing especially during that period of time.
TYUS:No, it's not, and I think that, you know, still going back to00:55:00the fact that they always wanted better. They wanted more for their children, and in order and do that, they felt they could sacrifice. And if they did all the hard work and we went to school and got an education, then we could do it for our kids, and you just keep passing it on. It's like you're going to call to it a tradition or whatever and just... I mean I was always strong-willed. It goes back to the whole cowboy outfit. You know I would -- (laughs) and I don't know, I can't -- I think both of my parents were strong-willed. My mom was a person that talked a lot more than the -- and my dad was not. He was a very quiet man and would say very few words but the words he did speak -- but he talked a lot to his kids. He didn't talk a lot to other people, yeah, but -- you know? And he -- and the whole fact of going out and walking in the woods, and he saying to us, "This is what we call -- this is being free," and those kinds of things. And then the fact that we would go and stay with his pa-- his 00:56:00grand-- my grandmother, my dad's mom. In the summer, we would stay a whole week, my brother and I because my dad -- we would stay a week, but my dad came every day to see us because he didn't like us to be away from home. (laughs) He didn't want us out of his eyesight and stuff like that but -- and in Jackson, Georgia. And my -- they picked cotton, but we weren't allowed to pick cotton. So we were there, but we couldn't pick cotton, so we had to do our -- we had to do all the preparation before everybody that went to pick cotton, so we had to get up and cook -- help cook breakfast. We had to do all the chores, we had to cook -- have lunch ready when they came back from the field, we had to have dinner ready. We had to do all of that, but we could never work the fields. Yeah.
WALKER-HARPS:Which means that there had to have been an understanding betweenthe Browns and your family for you-all to have been the allowed that freedom, that choice.
TYUS:Yeah, oh, that they -- oh, the Browns knew that we weren't -- we're neverallowed to milk cows and things like that. We were taught; my dad 00:57:00taught us how to milk a cow and all of that. I always tell people that when I was five years old and going to the dairy in the morning once my brothers got on the bus and go to... Because the dairy was all -- a hundred yards away, (laughs) so I would go to the dairy when my dad is finished up milking the cows and stuff and the best thing. And I always wanted to help him and do all that. He goes, "No, this is not your job, this is my job." And I -- and he would always let me hose down the cow poop. I always, "Oh, this is --" because you could play in the water, you're doing all that, and that was so much fun, but -- you know? But that's about as much as we could do. We didn't have to do anything else. (laughs)
BAUSKE:When you went to college -- the first Olympic was what year of your college?
TYUS:Nineteen sixty-four. I entered college in '63.
BAUSKE:And so you were a sophomore
BAUSKE:And then the second Olympics was when you had graduated, the year?
TYUS:Yeah. I went and graduated -- it took me five... I went to -- I00:58:00graduated in '68, August of '68.
BAUSKE:So you were -- and then after you graduated, what'd you do?
TYUS:I came to Griffin and said goodbye and went to Los Angeles, California. (laughter)
BAUSKE:The great diaspora.
TYUS:I moved to LA when I -- I think I was 15, maybe 16, I can't remember. Wehad outdoor championships for track and field in Los Angeles. And that's the first time I've been on a plane, the first time, and seeing big California and, oh, gosh, and I just thought it was so beautiful and so big and it's so clean. The streets are so wide and the palm trees. I just -- I -- "This is where I want to live." I said it then, and that's what happened. I moved to California and lived there and worked -- started out working as a teacher in -- a PE teacher in middle school, in junior high, whew. I did that for a year, and that 00:59:00was, right, the end of that. (laughter) And, yeah, I've been there ever since, and I've had several different jobs. You know although I won three gold medals and been in the Olympics and set world records, there was no -- nobody giving me --
TYUS:-- endorsements. That was not happening for black people and black womenespecially. They -- black women wouldn't -- that was not going to be so that -- so that I never got any of those kinds of thing. But it was -- you know, I still had to live. I had to work, so I -- and so I had a lot of different kinds of job. I know I worked with ABC, I mean, in -- for the Olympics in Montreal. I did... Oh, my gosh, I can't think of all those, but I've had several different jobs, and I retired about nine years ago. And before that, I worked in outdoor education with the LA school district. And what that was about is 01:00:00that they would bring fourth graders and fifth graders to a camp, and they would stay for a week. And we taught them the natural sciences, and we did it through -- everything was outdoors except sleeping. (laughs) And we hiked and we had... It was in the mountains. It was not that far from LA. It was only about a 40-minute drive to get to the mountains and where it was but... And we had creeks and streams, and they had different things, animals and frogs and things you could catch. Well, you catch them but it was more we taught them that they're here, but we don't kill them, we don't ta-- you know we are looking to observe. So you -- this is nature, this is how nature is supposed to be, and we need to learn to take care of this planet or the planet is not going to take care of us. Yeah. So that -- I did that for 17 years.
CAIN:Can I back to TSU?01:01:00
CAIN:Talk about that college experience with Mr. Temple and the other ladiesthat you had around you. As Ellen indicated, during that period of time, you went to two Olympics.
CAIN:And I'm sure within that period of time, there were other meets and otheractivities going on. Just -- if you could just give us a brief -- an overview of that experience.
TYUS:Well, my first -- my freshman year at Tennessee State was not the bestyear. My first quarter there, it was not. I was -- it was just mind-blowing for me, I mean, just and I -- going to practice and going to school and going... I made one -- the biggest mistake is taking a class after practice, which is at six o'clock in the evening, and you practiced. And it was literature, and I knew very little. And it's very difficult to stay awake or to be concentra-- to be really focused on talking about Chaucer and The Canterbury Tales 01:02:00and all. Okay, so... (laughter) So I mean, and so I can remember Mr. Temple when he got my grades, he called me in, and he said, "Uh, you're not going to be able to stay here with these grades. This is not acceptable." And he said, "You're going to--" his favorite thing that I (remember?), "I'll send you home, I'm going to send you home with that comic book and apple." And people are, "Oh, what that was all about with the comic book and apple?" Well, the apple was so you have something to eat, so you wouldn't be hungry on your way home. And the comic book was so you have something to read, so your education can continue. (laughter) So he, "This is just not going to work. I just don't --" I said, "I went to class, I'd go to cla-- I don't know." "You can't just go to class. You need to talk in class. I know you're sitting there not --" because I was still in that non-- you know, those very few words. "And you have to talk 01:03:00in class, you need to do all that." I said, "Oh," and I said, "Well, you know, I got that, I can do better, I know I can do better," and he says, "Well, you're going to have one more chance to do it better, you will have to make some real good grades." I said, "Okay," and I did. I mean that kind of broke the ice, and I realized, okay. And learned how -- now with the help also of the Tigerbelles there, the older women and how to set goals and how to reach them, how to study and how to go to the library and how to ask questions and when you don't know the answer, you know? And you know I would -- I never felt like -- I always felt I could ask the question; I just never wanted to. I just didn't -- I mean I don't know. I was -- like I said, I was -- even at that time, I was still suffering, I think, when I look back at it from my father's death. I 01:04:00just -- it would -- it really took a toll on me, and I didn't talk to anybody about it because then there was no going to no psychiatrist or anything. You've got to work that on out of your -- you know? Because we dint have the money so... And even if we did, I don't know if I would've gone because I don't talk anyway, so... But I think through the whole running and just being around other women, young ladies like myself that had had things happened to them, and they've gone. And the fact that, hey, here you are, you have an opportunity to get an education, and all you had to do is run and study, you should be able to do this, and that was it. And I still do it now. I'm a person that a lot stuff goes on in my head. I talk to myself in my head and say, you know, you should be able to do this. I said, "How could you not do this? You could do -- if you can go out there and run and practice and do all these things, you should be able to do these things." That's going on. And with the help of that and Mr. 01:05:00Temple and also being exposed to so much more, being exposed to the world when there was travel, being able to be on a plane, being able to go to another country to hear another language and try to pick up words from that, those kinds of -- you know that --
BRAMAN:When was your first international trip?
TYUS:My first trip was to Russia, yeah. My first trip was to, oh -- was it Moscow?
BRAMAN:And how old were you?
TYUS:I was 18. Mm-hmm, yeah. So that was my first trip. And so it was justcalled a growth period, I mean, right? And I still say I'm still growing. I mean I learned -- I -- that's -- if nothing else, I say to young people, "That's something you have to do. You have to go through -- you need to learn from our own experience, you know just... And try to figure out what it -- not so much what it is you want to do but to understand your surroundings, 01:06:00understand what's going on in the world." And Mr. Temple would always say to us that "It doesn't -- you go out there and you win all these medals and -- or you get all these accolades and all that, but you still need to be able to communicate with people because you never know who you're going to be sitting next to. And you need to have a conversation other than sports. You need to be able to be aware of where -- what things are, what's happening in the world, what's happening in your country, what's happening at your school, what happ-- be able to talk, be able to converse." And he said, "And, Tyus, you need to be able to do that with more than four or five words," so... (laughter) So I had to learn to do those things, and I think it started my freshman -- after my first quarter at Tennessee State, I started, but it was a slow process. I'm just getting to where I am now. (laughs)
CAIN:During that period of time, it was a period of unrest in the country.
CAIN:You have mentioned earlier about civil rights here in Griffin,01:07:00but it was happening all over the country. You went to '68, and that was a big -- that was probably the best Olympic team in history, okay, in my opinion. That -- it was an awesome Olympic team. But it also had people like John Carlos and Tommie Jones --
CAIN:Tommie Smith, excuse me, Tommie Smith who gave the Black Power's fist, andthere were a lot of stuff going on probably behind the scenes at that time. Talk about that, talk about your -- if you were involved in any kind of way, talk about any involvement in local civil rights politics.
TYUS:Yeah. Well, I was down there and involved in the local, in Griffinor anything like that. I know my mom was part of the --
WALKER-HARPS:Yeah. She was a strong supporter.
TYUS:Yeah, so --
WALKER-HARPS:I think Marie --
TYUS:-- (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)
WALKER-HARPS:-- Marie Tyus well -- did well as she could.
TYUS:See, I just know that she was relating with the NAACP and worked01:08:00really hard with that, I know, but I was away at school, so... And I was at Tennessee State, and I -- you know Mr. Temple would always -- he was always trying to prepare us and have us know what was going on. He said, "Now, you're going to go -- you go to the Olympics or you go, what, out of the country, and you will see that people in other countries definitely appreciate you more than you'll be appreciated when you go back home. And you go to the Olympics, you're winning medals or whatever, you come back, and then you're still going to be a second-class citizen. But that's something that should never let you down. You also, so, have to fight for your rights still, have to know what -- you need to be aware. That's where the education come in, so when you get out to talk about it, you could talk on it intelligently and express your way -- express how you feel and what's going on." So it was a lot of -- you know? And you also had the older Tigerbelles who had experienced a lot of that and had gone to a 01:09:00lot of things. And there's nothing like being on a trip going South, further South in -- from Nashville and having to go to the bathroom, and you can't. So we had to pull alongside the road and run into the bushes. And so we... And then that was experienced by us and it -- that was a sign of the -- that's what was going on at the time. It doesn't mean that that should have been, but that's what was going on. Sixty-- in '64 in the Olympics, going to Tokyo, the USA team were there, and when you go, they send your equipment like starting blocks for us. We had starting blocks, so they sent -- the USA team sent us, and they sent starting blocks for the team. We get to Tokyo and the male coach -- 01:10:00oh, the '64 team, Mr. Temple was our coach for the women -- would not let us use -- the women use the starting blocks. And Mr. Temple is like, "What are you talking about, we can't use the start--? These blocks are for us. They're for Americans. We are Americans, what do you mean?" "Nope, you can't use them. Your girls can't use the starting block." Now, what kind of craziness is that? Here it is, the USA team, we're all -- USA is on your chest and everything, and we're running for the USA. When they start counting the medals, the me-- our medals going to really co-- you know, they're going to count our medals as part of U-- But he said we couldn't use the blocks. And then, we go to practice one morning, and he's arguing with this coach. Look at me, he's like he didn't -- couldn't understand. We had to, "Well, you can use the Japanese starting blocks." And Bob Hayes was there, and he saw Mr. Temple and he then went up and asked him, "Well, what's going on?" And he told him, and he said, "Oh, crazy man, they 01:11:00can use my blocks any time. They're not my blocks; they could -- they should just use them. What kind of craziness is this?" So that was the kind of stuff we had. And you say was there racism, was there sexism? I say both -- (laughs)
TYUS:-- intertwined, you know? So those are the kind of -- those -- that was oneexperience and then you -- that was like '64. Sixty-eight, there was a whole lot of unrest going on in the world. It was not just in the US, you know? And then -- but when I was talking about going to the Olympic games and all on this -- the whole thing about South Africa, so athletes were... Well, it started out in San Jose with Tommie and Carlos with the whole not going to the games and protests for unfair -- on the unfair treatment of humans all over the world not just black people. It was all, you know it was human rights, it was 01:12:00the human rights project and... But we decided to go to the games and then when we get to the games, no one could decide on what, if anything, we were going to do as far as the protest is concerned. And after having meeting after meeting, it got to, okay, we don't know and then you can do whatever you want to do. That's what it came down to. I chose to wear black shorts and then Carlos and Tommie did their -- because I ran the hundred before they ran that 200 in that. So that was my protest to, what, all the -- what was going on in not just America but all over. And also, when we went to Mexico City, the slaughter of the students there, so... And then, when Tommie and Carlos did their 01:13:00big fist raising, what they did, it was so powerful, there was really not too much for anybody else to do. It said a lot, it said a lot to what was going on, and it did. And even to this day, here we are over 50 years later, and it's more powerful now than it was then because... And they are looked upon now as legends and all those things and then they were kicking them out the village, trying to kick them out of the -- out of Mexico, which they couldn't, you know, want to take their medals, which they couldn't. (laughs) But these -- this is all the propaganda that was going on at the time saying -- to try to tell people, "Oh, they -- you can't do this, you can't, this is not the place to do it. You could --" you know? It is the place to do it. It was something that the world could hear and see. And now, so the Mexico Olympics was the first time it was ever televised live, so it was -- everybody got to see what was going on. 01:14:00It was not like we can chop this up and present it the way we want it. So I have always been an advocate for human rights, and I really have been for the -- with women's rights. I mean I grew up with not having any, being told that muscles are ugly on women and no man is going to want you because who wants someone with muscle or who wants a woman that can beat them at something? (laughter) I would say that and -- but because of my parents and my brothers is that that never fazed me. I still want to be the best. I still wanted to do whatever I needed to do. And I just think that you think about what Mr. Temple has done with the Tigerbelles and if we weren't black women, how well would that be celebrated now? What would come -- you know everybody would know about it. I 01:15:00mentioned very briefly that I wrote a book, and it's called Tigerbelle: The Wyomia Tyus Story, and it's talking about what the Tigerbelles had done, what those women had done and how they changed the world, but nobody has gotten credit. And Mr. Temple -- and what Mr. Temple has done and not truly gotten the credit that he deserved -- he's dead and gone. He used to say all the time, "I want my roses while I'm alive," and that was one reason I started writing my book, but he died before I could even finish because I told him I was going to write a book. He would say, "Oh, Tyus, I can't believe you are going to write a book. You don't say no more than five words." (laughter) But I did that, so I wrote the book to get that publicized.
CAIN:You know, that ought... And I guess --
TYUS:Did you want -- did you want to say something?
BRAMAN:Well, could I have a sheet of paper?
BRAMAN:You had been (inaudible). But what I wanted to do -- did you tell meabout the girls from Texas? 01:16:00
TYUS:Oh, no, I need to tell them that too.
BRAMAN:That's only -- that's fine. I just wanted to talk about the girls fromTexas. Go ahead, keep on, keep on.
TYUS:Okay. The gi-- well, in nine-- what was it -- '60--
TYUS:Sixty-four, yeah, thank you. (laughs) In 1964, going to the Olympics, butthere was a track team out of Texas, all white girls and the coach was... She had coached the Russian team when I went the first time in '63. Now, they were called the Texas Bouffants. And they had all -- (laughs) they had all this big hair and all of this and -- oh, and they just said, oh, they were going to go to the Olympics, and they were going to win. Now, we have ran -- we ran against -- we ran against them in meets, and they never broke a tape. They only felt the tape once we broke it, and they were so far back, they cut them or 01:17:00whatever. But they got put on Sports Illustrated cover. They have never put -- yeah --
TYUS:But they've never put a black woman on Sports Illustrated at that time onthat cover. And we -- and this is -- Wilma Rudolph had won three gold medals, the first person to ever do that, and she had never been put on the cover of Sports Illustrated. But here's a man that put over 40 women on the team -- on different Olympic teams and won 23 medals, more than a lot of countries, you know, and never been put on it. And -- but they were talking about -- and in the interview, in the, oh, article, they are saying, "Well, Wyomia Tyus ran a -- say, 11.5 seconds in a hundred meters and such and such has run a 11.4." (Was she saying?) race with her? (laughs) But it was all the play -- but 01:18:00they never talked to us. They -- all the article was about them. And so that's another sign of -- what -- how racist and didn't care so much about what we as bla-- all they want to do count our medals and did that very proudly. But when we come back home, there was nothing like that. Same thing in -- another example was the fact that we were in it and we came back from the Olympics in '64 and then we came back, and Edith my best friend, she -- well, they had to... Edith went to Tennessee State, and she is from, what, Atlanta, and she went to Archer High School. And they picked her to win three gold medals like Wilma had done in '60-- in 1960, but I beat Edith in the hundred meters. I never beat Edith before, but I did that day in the hundred meters. And we come back to Georgia, they give us a parade in Atlanta, and it's only in the black section 01:19:00the day we went to Atlanta. It's only in the black section.
CAIN:So it was a parade through black Atlanta?
TYUS:Mm-hmm, like Auburn and down --
TYUS:Mm-hmm, right down the street, but they didn't take us nowhere else. Theytook us, and that was it. It was like... It's over. But they had all -- my mom and Edith's mom was there, we had our family there. But we only went into the black neighborhood, within the black area.
WALKER-HARPS:What about when you had the parade here, was that a regular paradeor route? I don't remember.
TYUS:Yeah, yeah, the parade here? Oh, yeah. There were not too many places you'dgo in Griffin. (laughter) But, yeah, the parade was downtown and all that, yes. But, yeah, so it was... But, again, it comes from like what Mr. Temple and what he was saying, you know, that, "You are doing this, so you want to 01:20:00get an education and you..." And he had then taught us well, you know that no matter how well you do it --(static interference)-- and that's not what you -- you know you are doing it because you like it, you're doing it because you get -- you want the education. That -- you know?
CAIN:The fact is the Tigerbelles and Coach Temple and TSU and that program atthe time were no less than the kinds of -- did no less than the kind of things that Jackie Robinson did. Because it was -- they were doing it for women, and they were doing it for African American women, and it was a forefront kind of program.
TYUS:Yes. You would think that even in this day and time still, and you knowlike there's so many... I mean I don't really talk about it because 01:21:00there's so many things I just think that they should've done or could've done or could've honored in the way of honoring Mr. Temple, but it did not happen. Because you think about -- you could not name, what, football coach, basketball coach, baseball coach, any coach that has done and accomplished as much as he has and in the graduation rate and in --
CAIN:Forty Olympians you said.
TYUS:Yes, 40 Olympians, any -- any -- well since but as in -- you know? And Iwill always believe this because we were women and black because those two are together --
BAUSKE:Deadly combination, yeah.
TYUS:Yeah. And you say, well, which is which? Well, it depends on who's lookingat you. They look at you because you're black or they look at you because you're a woman, right? But they both... You're looking at it at the same -- that's the same, and so... If --
BAUSKE:The Bouffants are killing me. (laughter) I mean if it's any comfort, I'veheard of you many times, I'd never heard of the Bouffants before. 01:22:00(laughter) Just --
TYUS:Well, you better not let that be the end. (laughs) No, but I just couldnot... Mr. Temple couldn't believe it, we couldn't believe it, but here it is. It was Olympic year is '64. Those gi-- I don't even know if they came to the trial, the Olympic Trials because in the Olympic Trials, you have to place one, two, or three to get on the Olympic team. And not only that, you have to hit a certain standard. Say like for the entrance, they -- you have to run a certain time in order to be in it, you know be there. Because there sometimes, like they take the last -- I think what they -- I don't know if they still do it -- whatever, the eighth place person in the hundred in the last Olympics, whatever their time was, you have to meet that time before you go to the Olympic Trials. Anyhow, so I don't even -- I can't... When I think of the 01:23:00Olympic Trials in '64, I don't remember ever -- I didn't remember seeing a white person, a white girl in that race. There could've been but I don't see behind me so... (laughter)
WALKER-HARPS:At the time, you won the your medals, how were you received inGriffin as your home particularly by -- I know we were receptive, but were you received totally by the white community?
WALKER-HARPS:Do you remember?
TYUS:-- I don't really truly remember but I... When I think about '64 and I cameback to Griffin, they did give me a parade and all of that, the city of Griffin or the county, what, or both did that. And I think after the parade, I went to Fairmont, and they had a banquet -- a little get-together there at Fairmont. That was in '64. Sixty-eight, I -- they -- there was a parade and all 01:24:00of that too, but it's -- they were... You know so -- been so long ago. I always felt very welcomed by the people, said people here in Griffin and in Spalding County. They always -- I mean for them to build a park for -- and name it in my honor, I -- that to me is welcoming. I mean I can remember when they... That was '96 so that's 1996 that they -- that... And then I can't say who it was, because I don't remember, saying to me, "We didn't do really great by you after the '64, '68 Olympics, but we all hope that this really makes up for what --" and then to me, that's something to be said, and that wasn't a black person speaking, so... And it's like --
TYUS:-- that's more than -- you know that's something to be said. And01:25:00just the fact that they would name a park after me, 168 acres, and I'm still living, so... I mean I -- you know? And it was great because Mr. Temple was still alive, and he came here for the dedication and so it's -- it was like... I mean to me, the people in Griffin have already -- they di-- it was the times and stuff, but as time went on, for them to say, "Hey, look, this is what we think of you."
WALKER-HARPS:And is there a message that you'd like to leave for young peopletoday? Is there anything special you would like to say to the youngsters coming up today that might make an impact that you would hope would make an impact on them?
TYUS:Well, the message would be education, number one. And I don't thinkeverybody has to go to school. I don't believe everybody have to go to a college or a university. Education, just make sure you're educating yourself 01:26:00in about what's going on in the world and where -- what are the issues are in the world, and that you could be able to speak on anything that you would like to speak on. And that -- just the fact that there's -- people have -- we stand on so many shoulders.
TYUS:And that's how I look when I think of the Tigerbelle. I stand on so manyshoulders. They've done so many things, and they made a lot more sacrifices. And I look at my parents, and I would always want to be standing so strong for them because I know how much they sacrificed for me. And then for young people in this day and time, you -- there are always going to be obstacles in life, and there's no way of getting around it and there's always... And you just have to be able to be strong and be positive. And sometimes when you work as 01:27:00hard as you work, it doesn't come out the way you want it to come out, but that doesn't mean you stop, and that doesn't mean you give up. That just means you just continue and you continue, and hopefully, you could... It's like, I guess, a tumbleweed or something growing bigger and get people more involved. And just being more expressive and learn ways to talk to each other and talk to people. And I think that's the most key, that we need to know how to talk to each other. Just because we're of a different race or a different view, a different ethnicity, a different culture, that doesn't have to be put down. We need to be -- and when I say we, I'm talking about the world. I'm not just only talking about here in Griffin and... Because we all -- in order for this world to continue to grow and be a better place, because it's definitely -- my 01:28:00dad said it was going to change, and I see a lot of change from what he said to now, but we still need a lot more. And that we -- yeah, the fight, you can't give up the fight. You always have to stay in the fight, right? I mean that's the big thing, you know? You always have to stay in the fight.
WALKER-HARPS:Okay. Anything else ladies, gentlemen?
BAUSKE:A quick question, your brothers, did they get to college?
TYUS:No. Just me, I'm the only one to go, yes. Mm-hmm.
BAUSKE:But your nieces and nephews have gone, right?
TYUS:Oh, yeah, yeah. I mean like I said, things change. I was the only one to gofrom my family and then my -- and my kids had gone. My grandkids, I've got two grandkids in school -- going to schools I would have never... I mean I have a grandson that's at UCLA, and I have a daughter at Cal State Seaside and they... And you know what you have -- you know? I just see the changes. And I 01:29:00was the first to go and then it's just been going from then on.
WALKER-HARPS:And your niece (Terry?) is an anchor lady at WS -- is it (WSV?) inSavannah? And that's South Georgia, and that would not have been when I came in '61. Nineteen sixty-one, it would not have been anything dreamed about, and to think that she is one of those black women who graces the evening news --
TYUS:Yeah, she's the anchor --
WALKER-HARPS:-- and the radio station.
TYUS:-- for them, mm-hmm. And Tina went to Tennessee State. She went out -- shetried out for the track team. I kept telling her don't, but she did. (laughs)
TYUS:Because I mean it's -- to me and Coach Temple, it is a -- that was -- it'shard because he was in there and --
M:He was a (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)
TYUS:-- a no-nonsense and is like it's my way, highway, if you don't come myway, you have to be at the highway type thing. And to me, it was kind 01:30:00of like my parents in a sense, but he was -- but he always wanted the best. And you have to have a certain temperament to be -- you had to have one to be under him. And for me, it worked perfect because I will not say anything to him anyway, and he was not -- and the stuff he said to me, it was kind of like if I didn't want to hear, it's like -- it was like the duck with the wet deal, would just roll right off my back, so to speak. But I always felt that he has some of those strict rules and he has some things that he could've changed, but it wouldn't have been him, and he didn't, and that's not -- you know? Like, you know, you -- he made you... I'd like to say he made you tough. He made you know that, hey, this world is not going to be kind and all to you. You need to be prepared for everything, mentally, physically, all of that, education. And for us, the education was it. That's what it was. And still it is, but I 01:31:00think with all the new things that young people can get involved in, and they can learn trades and they could -- and with technology, with technology, you don't always have to go to school. Some people just have that techie mind and -- (laughs) but you have to stick with it. It's not -- you know? You would like for it to be real easy, but it's not. Sometimes when things come easy for you, you don't -- it doesn't work out.
CAIN:One last --
WALKER-HARPS:And I know --
CAIN:-- question I have --
WALKER-HARPS:-- we have kept you longer than I said. Do we have enough time, doyou have enough time to allow Beatrice? No, okay, all right, your last question.
CAIN:I was just... You left in '63 to go to TSU. You come back today, it's -- toGriffin, what do you think about the change in Griffin from then into now?
TYUS:Well, you know, my... It's a big change because it's -- I look01:32:00at Griffin, and I come back, and I mean I'm in a store and people say, "Oh, you Wyomia Tyus? You're the one at the park over there? Is that their park, they named a park?" And then to think that when I was six years old, I couldn't go in -- couldn't even go into a white school, I couldn't go. I had to be on a bus for an hour to go to my -- to go to an all-black school, and just that it's a growth. I see a lot of growth here and I -- you know? And the fact that... I mean I'm just a lot of times still shocked and surprised by the fact that -- not just in Griffin but all over that they think I have something. You know what I have to say or what I have been through could help someone or encourage other people to do it. I mean to me that's just -- it's mind-blowing a lot of times that... I mean I was just do-- I just did what I liked doing, and I 01:33:00was one of the few that got chosen. I mean, all of us have those talents. Like I tell young kids all the time, everybody got a gold medal in them. You may not get to go to the Olympics, or the national anthem maybe not be played for you, but you have a gold medal inside of you, and you could make that gold medal work the way you want it to work. And just that Griffin has grown tremendously. And if you live here -- I don't know if all of you people lived, but you live here, you see the growth. And I know people say, "It could grow more." Of course, so can the world, so... But as I've said before, Griffin, a double honor naming the Wyomia Tyus Park is just I'm -- it's -- I'm always speechless, so... How do you -- I had to say thank you, appreciate it, and this is great, and it gives other young kids an opportunity to see what could happen to them.
CAIN:Knowing Griffin, there probably was some politics that went on01:34:00to make that happen. And so I don't know what that was. Jewel might know but --
BAUSKE:She knows, look at her face. (laughter)
WALKER-HARPS:Oh. Right --
CAIN:To get that through, well deserved not saying that -- but somebody had toinitiate it some place, and it had to get voted on some place I would guess.
TYUS:It did, that's true. And then I don't know all the politics, but anythingwe do, anything that's -- well there's going to be a park after me -- named after me or anything, (look at the?) -- oh well, we won't go to that -- what's going on. But just look at what's going on in the world, you know? Politics is -- there's like a good example like when they were talking about not going to the Olympics, and they said, "Well, you shouldn't bring politics into like -- in something -- into the Olympics. The Olympics is for this--" well, politics is they always count medals. The US is the first one when if you don't have a medal, you -- and if they're getting beat and stuff like that. Look at what happened in -- what year was it that the USA team, basketball team 01:35:00lost the gold medal?
BRAMAN:It was in Munich.
CAIN:Was it John Thompson.
BRAMAN:No, it was in Munich --
CAIN:-- you know in '72.
TYUS:Yeah, they lost --
TYUS:No, se-- okay. They lost the gold medal in the basketball team. And guesswhat, they came back here and they (started letting?) pros play basketball. So politics is everywhere, and it's not going to go anywhere. I mean from this -- yeah, this country, world was built on politics and all of that, you know? And there are good people in politics somewhere, you know?
TYUS:You know and then --
WALKER-HARPS:I have not --
BRAMAN:You have your own Jimmy Carter that canceled the whole '80 game.
BRAMAN:Yeah, the '80 game.
BAUSKE:-- in Mar-- yeah, look at that.
TYUS:Mm-hmm. Sure. And so there's always going to be politics and the cold warand all, you name it, there's going to be stuff going on. And as long as there's somebody out there who knows that there are some rights that we can 01:36:00do. And I'm just -- like I said, I've been grateful that that fact that they did the whole park and named it after me. And it gives the people of Griffin, people of color to look at this in Griffin and say, "Wow, see that can happen to her, certain things can happen for me."
WALKER-HARPS:I hope that that was stressed -- that's -- was stressed by in theschools. We did not have an opportunity -- you did not have an opportunity to get into our schools as we would like to have had. However, I'm hoping that and I had thought about it until we started talking about it a minute ago. But to get the message out particularly to the schools who are in the Fairmont -- that are in the Fairmont area that they make their children aware of the connection between the Tyus Park and you even if they have to use the Griffin Daily newspaper to deal with all or whatever. They need to make sure that they make that connection, and I will pursue that. 01:37:00
TYUS:Yeah. Well, I wanted to go to the schools when I first was asked to comehere. That was one of my first things is that in order to come, I would go... This -- I wrote a book, I feel like my book talk about struggles and obstacles and friendship and hard work and all of those kinds of things. And I feel that I would like for it to be in every school library. I like to be -- and that's what I said, "I'd like for it be in every school library, I would like for it to be in the library here in Griffin, and I would like to have an opportunity to also share my book with the public in Griffin." And these -- my -- and I will be willing to go to the schools, but the schools never got back to me. When they got back to me, it was a day before I was getting on a place to come here.
WALKER-HARPS:That was this -- by this trip?
WALKER-HARPS:Do you have any idea who you corresponded with?01:38:00
TYUS:Well, everything was sent out -- (laughter) well, you know Peter Phelps?
WALKER-HARPS:Yes, I know.
TYUS:Well, Peter sent it to everybody. He sent it to the school system. He sentit to -- who's the superintendent.
WALKER-HARPS:Okay, that's important --
TYUS:He sent --
WALKER-HARPS:-- it is important at this time because I just finished listeningto -- spent my morning listening to the school system talk about that greatness and I just finished telling them. But a segment of your community has been left out.
TYUS:Yeah, but they --
WALKER-HARPS:-- and, oh -- and he was fine. He came up to me afterwards andsaid, "Well, you make it very difficult to -- for me to get always a favorable reception when I come to EPI next week." And I said, "Well I --" he said, "But I know you do what you do." I said that "You're right. I'm Jewel, and I do what I do." So that's another issue because we were really, really wanting -- matter of fact, we thought it was going to happen.
TYUS:No, it wasn't --
WALKER-HARPS:But that was --
TYUS:They put it in the paper there as if I agreed --
WALKER-HARPS:And they --
TYUS:-- but it was ne--
WALKER-HARPS:-- really tried to that, yes.
TYUS:-- that was not. But I talked to... I met the superintendent, and I justexpressed to him and said, "Look, I won't do a little 15 minute here, 01:39:0015 minute there. I think that is wrong. I think you're cheating the students. If I'm going to talk to students, then I would like to have a platform where I go to school. Now, I'm not there for 15 minutes, got to run over here for 15 minutes, what if somebody want to ask a question? I don't have the time for that. But I am willing to come back and we -- well, we would have to talk about how we're going to do all of it. I'm willing to come back and spend a few days here in Griffin and going to the schools, and it's all for the school. But I am, but you know, I can't do -- you can't just... This has been set up, and it's been set up for two months before I got here and you knew because they were -- those were the first. This was, what, first on my list of things to do." And I have all my emails from Peter saying who he has contacted and the letters he had sent too, but it never came to fruition. 01:40:00
WALKER-HARPS:You just set my agenda for -- to me -- to all these issues thatI've had to deal with, thank you. But this is the kind of thing that I'll represent to them this morning. You want, you claim, and you say the fact that you want total community support and whatever is being done is being done for the entire community. Yet in the same voice, you backtrack and you are -- you make two lanes. But anyway, that's a story for another day --
TYUS:But, yeah, but that's --
WALKER-HARPS:-- but I'll --
TYUS:-- it could be happening any time because I was at Georgia Tech for like,what, last year, I was there.
WALKER-HARPS:Yes, I remember.
TYUS:I was up there, and I did a whole thing for them. And they did -- it was AConversation with Wyomia Tyus, and they had it open to the public -- oh well, I don't know, but -- you know?
WALKER-HARPS:One of our main problems here is motivation. There's a lack of --
TYUS:Well, we got the University of Georgia, I can do some. (laughter)
BRAMAN:Absolutely, and I'll just say that that we are open here to01:41:00bring you here to have a conversation with you if it's with schoolkids, if it was -- is it -- if it's with adults, if it's with both.
TYUS:Yeah, we could do both.
TYUS:Yeah, one at one time you know to --
BAUSKE:He's the guy who can say yes and can set it up because he's continuingeducation on the Griffin Campus.
TYUS:With that --
TYUS:-- I know.
TYUS:Well, I'm available. I'm going to give you my card.
BAUSKE:He can make that happen. (laughter)
WALKER-HARPS:Yeah, we can do that, and he can do that, and we can help you do that.
WALKER-HARPS:I can help you in many ways. And then I can get sororities (inreturn to do this?), to chip in if you have to have something else, but we could make it happen.
BRAMAN:We'll make it happen.
TYUS:Okay. I haven't signed these papers yet. No, (laughs) I'm sorry. (laughs)But I'm just saying -- but -- you know? Because like when the University of Georgia -- or not University of Georgia -- Georgia Tech contacted me, it was like, "Oh well, sure I could do that." (laughter) "I'm okay with 01:42:00that." But the -- but it was really a nice, quiet -- they did it -- where are my glasses -- on a Sunday? Was it Sun-- a Saturday? I can't remember. But you can choose when you want to. (laughs)
WALKER-HARPS:You want to --
TYUS:And, yes, we can stay in contact, okay, so --
BRAMAN:That's cool --
WALKER-HARPS:-- let's --
BRAMAN:I'll go ahead and close this.
WALKER-HARPS:Let's close out, and we'll take care of that.
WALKER-HARPS:We are so indebted and grateful to have you come, Wyomia, to -- orshare with us and to share your life story for the African American Oral History Project, which will be in the Richard B. Russell Library on the campus of Athens, University of Georgia. You did not have to share, you did not -- you could come to Griffin and not share with us, and we recognize that, and we are grateful for you. Any other comments ladies, gentlemen?
F:Thank you so much for your time. I really hate that I missed listening to you,but I will listen back to hear your story.
F:So thank you so much for coming and for your time. We appreciate it.01:43:00
TYUS:Well, thanks for asking me and thanks for letting me be a part of this. AndI am -- you know, just to be a native of Griffin and have my family and my grandkids and my distant relatives when I'm done could -- be able to see it and hear about it, great. Thank you.
BRAMAN:Thank you --
WALKER-HARPS:Thank you --
BRAMAN:-- very much.
WALKER-HARPS:-- very much. (It was just real?) --
BRAMAN:What's with this --
BAUSKE:Did you close it, Richie?
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