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Mattie Reynolds Oral History Interview - Session 1, 1993

Oregon State University
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SEBASTIAN BOLDEN: Mrs. Reynolds today with the African American History Project. I'm Sebastian Bolden, and I'm here with [recording skips]. How are you today Mrs. Reynolds?


SB: What black communities did you go to?

MR: What?

SB: Black communities did you go to and what were they?

MR: What black communities did I go to?

SB: Yeah. What kind of black communities were there?

MR: There wasn't none here when I first came. We finally had one up on High Street: Mill & High. That's one with black people at one time. Another time we lived out on West 12th by, over there on West 11th out there on West 12th. Our 00:01:00church is there.

STUDENT 1: Who were your allies in the white community?

SB: Who was what?

STUDENT: Your allies? Your friends in the white community?

MR: Who was the allies? I don't understand the question.

SB: Who were your friends that were in the white community?

MR: Who was our friends?

SB: Yeah. Did you have any?

MR: Oh, we had quite a few white friends in our community. We had lots of enemies, too. Now, talk up a little louder, because I'm hard of hearing.

SB: Did you do anything with them?

MR: Oh, yeah. Fellowship with them. We fellowshipped with Trinity Methodist Church at one time and we had a club called CORE. We had different nationalities 00:02:00in there. We fellowshipped.

STUDENT: Were you welcome at your children's school?

MR: Was I what?

STUDENT: Welcomed at your children's school?

MR: [Shakes head no] Kind of. Not too well.

SB: Did they want you to participate in its community?

MR: Was I welcome to do what?

SB: Did they want you to participate in the community?

MR: Yeah.

STUDENT: What is the biggest lesson that you taught your kids about life?

MR: What was the biggest lesson I taught them about life? To treat everybody right, regardless.

SB: What were your kids like?

MR: What were my kids like? They was just regular kids. They had fights and they 00:03:00played sports. They was just regular, everyday kids.

STUDENT: What do you think your kids missed most about home?

MR: What did I do what?

STUDENT: No. What do you think your kids miss most about home?

MR: What do they miss most about? [Laughs] Well, the boys miss the food. [Laughs]. I can't say what the girls miss.

SB: What was the toughest thing you had to face as a parent?

MR: It was getting used to being discriminated against. Now, why I say that: I am from the south, but in the south you knew where you stood. On the west, you didn't. You thought you was free when you came was, but you wasn't. They had 00:04:00more discrimination in Eugene than I ever faced in the south.

STUDENT: What was your biggest complaint from your kids at their young age?

MR: What was my biggest complaint for missing what?

STUDENT: What was your biggest complaint from your kids at their age? At a young age?

MR: Well, they said they wasn't treated fair. That was their biggest complaint.

SB: How did you raise your kids?

MR: How did I raise them?

SB: Yes.

MR: I raised them by the book. When they needed whippings, I whipped them. If they were disobedient and did things I didn't like they got a whipping for it. I 00:05:00think they appreciate that today because none of them have ever been in trouble.

STUDENT: What stories did you tell your kids?

MR: What stories did I tell them? Oh, "Go Away Larkin," [?] "The Sleeping Prince."

SB: How did your kids describe school?

MR: How did?

SB: How did your kids describe school?

MR: Oh, terrible. No, not really. Some of them said school was pretty good and others said they had problems. My oldest said she had problems and the boys had problems because they loved to play sports and they weren't given a fair opportunity in playing sports. They would tell one of my daughters wanted to be a lawyer, and her counselor told her well, in the first place you have three 00:06:00strikes against you already: you are black, you're a woman, and you, there was another one. I can't remember, but I know she told her she was, at that time it was color. It was color and it was a woman. She didn't encourage her to go onto further her education in being a lawyer.

STUDENT: What future did you want for your children?

MR: What do I want for what?

STUDENT: What future did you want for your children?

MR: What future did I want for my children? Oh, I wanted them to be doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs.

SB: What problems did your children have?

MR: In school?

SB: Yes.

MR: Or what?

SB: Or any?

MR: Well, they had problems like they having today: discrimination. They was discriminated against.


STUDENT: What was the hardest thing about being one of the few blacks in Eugene?

MR: What was the hardest thing? Not having enough black people here to communicate with.

SB: What kind of things did you and your family do for fun?

MR: Oh, we went fishing. We went to ball games. We went to all the school activities.

STUDENT: What kind of day was Sunday?

MR: What kind of day was my Sunday? Going to church.

SB: Did you have anything like Juneteenth?

MR: On what?

SB: Did you have anything like Juneteenth?

MR: Anything on what?

SB: On Juneteenth?


MR: Juneteenth? Now, we didn't call that June 10 in the south, we called in the 19th of June. They just now started that here on June 10th. No, we didn't have nothing here then on June 10.

STUDENT: Well, thank you for letting us interview.

MR: You're welcome sweetheart. I hope I gave you some information.

STUDENT: Yep, thanks.

MR: Thank you.

TEACHER: Before we leave, I just have a question. What was the June-you said the 19th? Is that what you called it?

MR: Back in the south you'd call it the 19th of June. We celebrated it. We had a big barbeque out in the community and a baseball game and a dance that night.

TEACHER: What was the reason for? Again, I don't know it all?

MR: That was when they said the slaves were free on the 19th of June.



MR: And the Fourth of July was when the white, that was white folks' day. That wasn't our day.

TEACHER: Okay. And you called it the-?

MR: Nineteenth of June.

TEACHER: You guys remember that. Nineteenth of June.

STUDENT: [whisper] We're recording.

MR: But I tell they say June 10th, but I had never heard of that before.

TEACHER: Okay, 19th of June.

SB: Nineteenth of June.

TEACHER: I think I like that better. We're going to include that 19th of June. Did you record it?

SB: Mm-hmm.

TEACHER: Okay, good. Good.

STUDENT: That was a good one.

TEACHER: That was a good one. Okay, Mrs. Reynolds we want to thank you and sorry for not mentioning that we would do an interview. What we like to do is just keep updating it every year. We try to make it shorter and shorter so it doesn't take a lot of your time out of your day, but we appreciate it. Sorry we didn't let you know in advance.

MR: Okay.

TEACHER: Alright. Thank you again.

MR: Uh-huh.