The Black Syracuse Project

Jessie Grace Griffin

In Oral History Interviews on March 4, 2011 at 10:30 am

Jessie Grace Griffin is interviewed here by Tasneem Grace Tewogbola on July 29th, 2010.

Yes, there was a lot of people in Syracuse from the South but it was a long time before I met anybody from Georgia.

Where were a lot of people from?

Most people I met was from always Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida.  And it was after I finally found someone from Georgia, I just felt more at home.

Before I graduated from high school, my biology teacher or science teacher was teaching us French.  And, oh, I loved it, French.  Every day I would learn a new word.  I’d go home and speak the new language to my mother and she said “Oh, get out of here!”

Bonjour!

Yes, yes.  And when the superintendent heard of him teaching us that language, they came and took the books up.  Yes.  They took the books up so that ended the French language.

Because colored kids shouldn’t be learning it?

No.  And we always had the hand-me-down books which were torn up.

But my mother was living.  My mother would tell us, which she didn’t have any more than a third or fourth grade education, what you get up here no one can take away.  So try to learn some of everything and it won’t go too hard with you.  If you know how to do things for yourself, you can make it.

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