T.D.'s Truths by Stanley and Janice Frazier
In 1962, Thereasea was one of the first black public health nurses to
integrate the white nursing community in Charlotte.
Thereasea as an Army Cadet
|At JCU's exhibit honoring the African Americans who |
integrated the medical profession in Charlotte.
Thereasea has given me hours of her time answering innumerable questions about her community growing up, what it was like going into a KKK community as a black nurse, and the challenges which Lillie and Kate (my characters in Half-Truths) could conceivably face. One day when we were talking about race she said, "None of us were the same color. 'If you’re black get back, if you're brown stick around, if you’re light and bright you’re damn near white.' This wasn't said in our home, but it was said the streets. Even though everyone was brown and knew in general what that meant – that white blood was there—the specifics wouldn’t have been shared."
Vermelle Diamond Ely
Vermelle Diamond as Miss Queen City Classic
Vermelle and I at the Second Ward High School
Alumni House, 2010
Daisy and Gerson Stroud wedding
|Outside their home|
Circa late 1950's-mid 1960's
Daisy talked about the Cherry neighborhood (where Lillie lives): "There was a lot of pride there. They were the strivers who made sure their children had the opportunity to go to college." She remembered Bishop Daddy Grace: "He had beautiful light-skinned girls fanning him when he sat on his throne. It was an honor to be one of his girls; they were attractive and had good hair. They looked more like they were a different race." Similarly, "Young women who represented Second Ward High School were light-skinned….They were the privileged ones…We accepted in our race that some were like this. Then we would try to be like them because their beauty brought them privileges."
In 1957, Dorothy Counts was one of the first black
students admitted to Harding High School in Charlotte.
She was met with jeers
|and harassment. Her parents withdrew her|
after four days.
|Photo taken at Johnson C. Smith University|
where Dorothy grew up.
I am indebted to these women--and the other experts who have shared their life stories with me. My work is a richer tapestry as a result of their honesty and forthrightness.