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Charmaine Coleman Oral History Interview

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Charmaine Coleman Oral History Interview


In this interview, Charmaine Coleman begins by discussing her family and their background, starting with her grandfather. Viewing her family background as a core part of her identity and life trajectory, she remarks on how her family affected her worldview and her approach to life as a Black woman. She goes on to discuss an incident where a local community center named after her husband was vandalized, and how that affected her. She then recounts her experiences in higher education, and particularly the racism she faced as a student at the University of Oregon, where she asserts prejudice was often hidden behind intellectualism and college elitism. In particular, she recalls how the university failed to provide her with the support they had promised her, and how she was isolated and shut out by the white students on campus. She goes on to talk about how she began her teaching career, and how she was able to go straight into student teaching thanks to the support she had from other community members.

Coleman then spends time discussing her personal life, and how class and race intersected to affect her relationships with friends and neighbors. She also talks about her faith, and how the schism between Catholics and Protestants negatively affected her ability to make friends with other Black people. She also remarks on how being educated and upper-class often acted as a barrier between her and other members of the Black community. Coleman also reflects on her heavy involvement with the Democratic Party, and on how she was not as deeply involved with the NAACP due to management issues she saw with the organization. Coleman finishes the interview by reflecting on her heavy involvement with her church, and how she brought a valuable Black perspective to her faith community.

Charmaine Coleman was born in 1936. Originally from Louisiana, her family moved several times throughout her childhood. Coleman attended the University of the Pacific for her undergraduate degree. In 1966 she moved to Eugene, Oregon with her husband, Ed, so he could obtain his Ph.D. at the University of Oregon. Several years later, in the 1970s. Coleman herself attended the University of Oregon to obtain her Master’s degree in Special Education. After getting her degree, she began a career in teaching where she dedicated herself to trying to address racism and prejudice through teaching children. Throughout her life, Coleman was involved with the NAACP and heavily involved with both her local church community and the Democratic Party.


Charmaine Coleman


Oregon Black Pioneers Oral History Collection (OH 42)


Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Oregon State University Libraries


May 14, 2018


Ruth Kornberg


Born Digital Video




Oral History



Oral History Item Type Metadata


Ruth Kornberg


Charmaine Coleman


Coleman residence, Eugene, Oregon

Original Format

Born Digital Video



OHMS Object

Interview Format


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  1. coleman.jpg