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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
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UF ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
STELLA HARBILAS INTERVIEWING DELPHINE JACKSON
APRIL 19, 1995
S: My name is Stella Harbilas and I am interviewing Mrs.
Delphine Jackson on Wednesday, April 19, 1995 for the University
of Florida Oral History Project. We are at 288 Holland Hall, the
College of Law publications office where I work.
Delphine, if you would say your full name into the tape
recorder and spell it for me, and tell me where and when you were
D: Delphine Errisca Nelson Jackson. I was born May 21, 1948.
S: Where were you born?
D: I was born here in Gainesville, and I grew up about 17 miles
from here out in Brooker, Florida.
S: Could you spell your full name?
D: My first name, D-e-l-p-h-i-n-e. Middle name,
E-r-r-i-s-k-a, N-e-l-s-o-n, J-a-c-k-s-o-n.
S: You mentioned your middle name is Erriska. It sounds like an
unusual name to me. Do you know the story behind it?
D: Just the story behind my first name. I don't know about my
S: Who named you?
D: My godmother is who I was told named me.
S: Was it a family name?
S: Will you give me the names and birthdates of your parents?
D: My father's name was Burt Nelson and he was born in July
1907. My mom's name was Addie Gainey Nelson. She was born December
S: Did you have sisters and brothers?
D: One brother and two sisters.
S: What are their names?
D: My oldest sister's name is Bernita Nelson Banks. My brother,
Burt Nelson Jr., and my younger sister Byris Nelson Dowdell.
S: Dowdell. That sounds like a familiar name. Is their a
professor here at UF with that name.
D: Dr. Betty Dowdell.
S: Is she related to you?
D: I don't think so.
S: And you're married, right?
D: I'm divorced.
S: How many children do you have? Their names?
D: I have three children: my oldest son is Willie Bernard
Jackson Jr., Terry Bernard Jackson, and my daughter Ashley Diana
S: How old are they?
D: Willie is 24. Terry is 19 and Ashley is 12.
S: Are your parents still living?
D: No, they are both deceased.
S: Where were they from?
D: From Brooker, Fla.
S: Where is that?
D: It is about 17 miles away from here. North of the highway
S: Did you grow up there?
S: When did you move to Gainesville?
D: I think it was after I graduated from high school and started
S: Did the whole family move?
S: You came on your own.
S: What was Brooker like? Was it a real small town?
D: It was small. According to family records, I guess my father
was bought there by the Bennetts. They owned this big tung oil
plantation. So he worked for Mr. and Mrs. Bennett for years,
actually until he passed.
S: Do you know where he was from before that?
D: If I understand some of the family history correctly, they
were living out somewhere between Jacksonville, Lake Butler area
up there. It was maybe even from Jacksonville from the Kingsley
Plantation. All of that is somehow connected. And he was bought to
live on the tung plantation with the Bennetts. They brought him
over as a chauffeur.
S: Did you say bought?
D: Well, you know.
S: I just wanted to make sure...that's what I thought I heard.
D: Yea. Yea. Uhuh, yea.
S: So, you have a long Florida history in your family. Where was
your mom from.
D: She grew up...
S: In Brooker?
D: I think they all grew up out there. Their parents were the
ones who were supposedly... they went and got them and brought
them over to work the farms, because the Bennetts owned acres and
acres of that tung product and there were cattle and all of that.
S: Who is keeping all the family history. Did you learn from
D: Yes. Basically, I am.
S: That's neat. How are you looking into it?
D: There is a professor at the University of North Florida. He
is doing some history, and Mrs. Bennett was the step-grandmother
of Joan Kennedy. She told the story and got it all started. And I
guess I have to come along now and fill in the pieces. That's how
I know about the Kingsley Plantation in Jacksonville around that
S: Are you writing it all down?
D: He is. He traced it back to some part of Africa.
S: That's really exciting. I love family histories.
What was it like growing up in Brooker. I understand that
integration didn't happen until the late '60s. So, was the town
pretty much a black population?
D: It was mixed. But we went to school up in Alachua at that
time and it was an all black school, and I graduated from an all
black school.A.L. Mebane High School which is now a middle school
that is integrated. I think they integrated it in 1967 and I
graduated from high school in 1965. But, growing up out there, up
until about 12 years old, we lived next door to Mrs. Bennett. So
my life was pretty sheltered in terms of experiencing a lot of
things that kids today experience. My first real experience of
what integration was all about was when I started junior college.
S: What were your experiences then when you started? Are you
saying just meeting kids of other races?
D: [Yes] because I went to an all black school. At junior
college it was different, black and white.
S: As a little kid, were you aware of white kids.
D: Yea, because where we lived, there were white people that
lived there also. We played with their children. We would hear
things, but to us it was like something happening to people in
another world. Because I grew up with white kids and played with
S: So you got along. That's great. Little kids luckily often
times are not aware of politics and tensions.
Did you work during high school?
S: What did you do for fun? Were you involved with school
D: Because we had to travel so far, in school activities, I was
involved in some. After school, I always went home. It was kind of
a sheltered life. Mrs. Bennett always had things going on. She
would have these big garden parties we were involved in. We would
have to serve and she would have these big dinners, and we had to
serve the dinners and help with those things.
S: She lived right next door? Your parents were working for her
at that time?
D: My father was.
S: You said as a child, the children got along well. I'm just
wondering as a teenager, were you aware of civil rights leaders
like Martin Luther King. Did you ever hear him speak?
D: Yes, I would hear him on the radio and the t.v.
S: How did that affect you as a young person, just hearing him?
D: It was like, "in the world" these kinds of things were
happening. It wasn't like...I could relate to it, but then it
wasn't a part of my experience. I know it was over there
happening. I knew that people were involved in the marches and all
of this. I'll never forget the day when President Kennedy was
killed. We were told about that. You would have to know Mrs.
Bennett to appreciate...she sat us down. She was an English
teacher at Gainesville High School. She sat us down and told us
what was going on. And when Dr. King got killed, she sat us down
and explained it to us. I think as I look back on it. Maybe when
she told it to us it was safe.
S: Did you feel anything when she was telling you or was it just
somebody kind of talking about some far off person.
D: She was explaining what was going on out there in the world.
S: Did the Vietnam War affect your family at all?
D: I had a classmate that was killed in the Vietnam War.
S: You said you went to junior college ...
D: at Santa Fe ...
S: ... Santa Fe. How long were you there?
D: I was there when it was right down on University Avenue in
the old Bucholtz Building. I went there for two years.
S: What year did you start?
D: '66 '68.
S: Did you earn a degree there?
D: My AA degree.
S: You decided to go to UF. Why UF? obviously it was close.
D: Because it was close to home and I was kind of a homebody.
S: Were you commuting from home?
D: No, I moved over, but still I was within 30 minutes to my mom
and my dad.
S: Did you have other relatives living in the area?
D: Here in Gainesville? Yes.
S: Who was here?
D: I had a great uncle and aunt that lived here, and I lived
S: Is that who you lived with through college?
D: Through part of junior college. Then as I met other students
in school, we went and got an apartment. In fact, we moved to the
S: Is it still the same as when you were there?
D: It's changing. Back in those days, the way it was then, it
wasn't run down. I think a lot of the houses that are currently
run down or that they tore down were houses that people had moved
out and were renting to students.
S: Do you mean nice family homes that people had kept up?
D: Yea, uhuh. And over the years, the wear and tear, they ran it
S: What was it like to move away? Was the family pleased about
it or did they try to talk you into staying home?
D: No, my mom insisted that I leave.
D: Because she felt that it would be good for me and that I
needed to grow up. Because one day I would be on my own, and I
needed to experience that.
S: Were you the first person to go to college in your family?
D: [Yes] In my immediate family. I had distant cousins who went
to college, but I was the first in my immediate family.
S: Who guided your education or encouraged you?
D: My mom and dad. They said if it was something that I wanted
to do, they would be there to support me. And they did.
S: It sounds like you were self driven as well.
D: I think so.
S: What motivated you to go to college.
D: I had goals. I originally wanted to be a nurse, and I guess
the person that influenced me was Mrs. Bennett. I wanted to be a
nurse. She wanted me to be an English teacher. I just think her
influence along with my enthusiasm and my desire to go to
school...her influence and her push enhanced the drive for me to
go and finish school.
S: Did she have kids too?
S: Did she kind of treat you like her own children?
S: Did you consider going to any other colleges?
D: I originally had a scholarship to Bethune Cookman. But I
visited the school and it was a long ways from home and I couldn't
imagine being that far away from my mom. So, I didn't go. I didn't
take the scholarship. I went to Santa Fe instead. In fact, I may
have worked some before I actually went to school.
S: Were you saving up to go to school?
S: When did you enroll, then, in UF?
D: Fall of '68.
S: Do you remember what it cost to attend school then?
S: Did you have any financial help or scholarships?
D: I had financial aid. I guess the grants and I remember having
a loan, and I worked.
S: What did you finally decide to choose as a major? you
mentioned nursing and English.
D: I have a bachelor's in secondary English, and I changed my
major after I did my internship at Sarasota High School. I decided
I didn't want to teach.
S: How long were you there doing your internship?
D: I think it was maybe a semester that I did an internship?
S: Was that during the degree program or right after?
S: So that didn't turn you on huh?
S: But, you stayed in education.
D: I knew that I wanted to work with people, I just didn't know
at the time in what capacity. I said the next thing is maybe I'll
get a master's and maybe I'll teach at a junior college. And I
didn't like that because I don't think I was ready to...I was
probably younger than some of the people who would be my students,
so that wasn't too appealing. Then I went in to counselor ed.
S: Was that a master's?
D: A specialist program.
S: So you got a bachelor's and then a master's. What years were
D: My bachelor's was in '71 and I got my master's in '73 and
then my specialist in '76.
S: You said you lived in the student ghetto, the whole time you
were in college?
D: No, probably, until I got my bachelor's degree and then I got
married and I moved to married housing.
S: When did you get married?
D: In '71.
S: And your husband was Willie Jackson. How did you guys meet?
D: Walking through campus. Willie was the first black football
player that they had, and I was walking through campus one day,
and I had on these really dorkey glasses. He and his roommate
decided to stop me and talk to me and tease me about my glasses.
We just kind of hit it off.
S: Did you meet other black students on campus?
S: Do you remember how many there were?
D: It was about 38 at the time.
S: It was a small population of black students. Did it affect
your experiences at college?
D: We were a small group, but we were very close and we kind of
looked out for each other. We knew...it was the early '70s and
fresh out of integration and the whole thing about black students
being admitted to the University of Florida in large numbers. We
knew there were problems and probably [factions] that didn not
want us at UF. But, that was ok.
I think it was probably easier for me as compared to Willie.
Being an athlete, there was more pressure on him to succeed than
there was on me. I knew I wanted to go to school, and I was here
because I wanted to go. He was here because he was on scholarship
and was playing ball.
S: So, he had something to pay back, because somebody was paying
for his education.
D: There were good times and bad times, but, I think because we
were small, we turned the bad times into times that we look back
on and cherish. Of the 38, of the ones I can still remember, I
don't think any of them have bitter feelings about being a student
S: You still keep in touch with a lot of them?
S: Are they in the area?
D: Some of them are in the area. Some of them are gone.
S: That's a really close group. Did you interact with other kids
on campus much. I can ask you about your experience and also in
general, did black students interact with white students and
D: It was the strangest thing, because, I had friends both black
and white. It's kind of like...
S: Is it something you didn't really think about much?
D: When it was brought to my attention. If an issue came up,
then it was a big deal. A couple of classes, I had some problems
in, being the only black student. But, again, I never forgot why I
was here. I was here for a reason. I had a purpose, and that was
important. I felt that with any good purpose there are going to be
S: Is that the driving force that kept you in school.
D: Yea. So it didn't bother me.
S: Were there any specific instances that you would want to
mention of racial tensions or problems in class?
D: It's funny, because the kinds of things are typical for the
times. For example, being in a class and being the only black
student and having the professor say "I never had a black student
or I never taught a black student. I don't know if you are going
to pass my class." My attitude was I just need the chance.
S: Just relax professor.
D: A lot of times in situations like this, I may have felt
nervous because, gee I was the only black kid in a class of 460
kids. But, after a while it was ok. I think that was because of my
early upbringing. It wasn't like I grew up totally with all black
folks. I had been exposed to living around white people, so it
really didn't bother me.
S: Did your parents talk about that at all?
D: Their attitude was like...it was an attitude that most people
from that day and time would have. There were boundaries and you
had to stay within the boundaries. If they felt you were doing
something that normally black folks don't do, they would give the
S: So it was an education for the professors to, going back to
your being in school. It seems so funny that somebody would
actually say something like that. Today, hopefully you wouldn't
D: Well, I hope not. But, it happens.
S: Do you remember how many black faculty or administrators
there were that you came in contact with?
D: I know Dr. Shaw was here. Harry Shaw. When I was an undergrad
I remember him. Dr. Bissent. Haddie Bissent. I was in grad school
when I met her. It wasn't that many. I think I came in contact
with more blacks as a graduate student then as an undergrad.
S: There were more at the school by then?
S: How many of those faculty or administrators were women?
D: There was Dr. Taylor, Joyce Taylor. She was in student
affairs at the time. Those are the only two I can think of.
S: Did they have any affect on you or the other students? Were
they there as a support mechanism?
S: Did that affect your life on campus at all either way?
D: I think so, because... with Dr. Bissent, for example, she was
responsible for one of the assistantships that I had when I was in
grad school. And, I did a practicum with Joyce Taylor over in
Tigert Hall. So, they did have a direct effect on my life.
S: Where did you and your friends like to hang out, if you did
have time between studying and going to school?
D: We would go to each other's house or dorm, and then on
Saturday it was the football games.
S: Did you go pretty regularly?
S: Was there much interracial dating on campus?
D: They hung out together. It was happening, but everybody was
very discrete with it. Now days, nobody is descrete about
anything. Back there during those times, they were very discrete.
But, yea, it happened.
S: Were you here during the sit-in at President O'Connell's
office? Were you involved in that at all?
D: I guess on the periphery. I supported the cause. I supported
everything that...the reason why they were doing it. I was not one
of the students who withdrew. I was too close to graduation.
S: What were you doing in "71? Were you a year away or closer?
D: I got my bachelor's in June '71.
S: So, it was within a couple of months. I understand a lot of
people did withdraw.
D: [Yes]. Whereever the action was, I was there. But, I didn't
S: How did you first hear about it? Were you hearing about the
planning of this or did it just come about?
D: I think I was a member of the Black Student Union at the
time, so I knew what was going on. Some of the kids that were
really involved were good friends.
S: What were the issues of the day?
D: More black faculty. I think that was the key then. More black
students, and just more opportunities for blacks in general.
S: So, the [Black] Student Union existed by then. When did that
come about? I guess I thought that was one of the things they were
looking to have, some kind of a... or maybe it was a cultural
center. I'm not sure.
D: Well the Institute I think opened up either early "72 or late
'72. That was a result of some of the things that took place in
the late 60s and early '71.
S: So, was that part of this whole sit-in?
D: I think the Institute came as a result of, if I remember
S: Did things seem to change much after the sit-in? You
graduated, but then you came back that fall right? Did you notice
D: Of course, you begin to see an increase in the number of the
black faculty coming to campus. An increase in the number of black
students. So, yea. I think it had a positive effect.
S: Was it sort of a gradual thing?
D: It was a gradual thing.
S: But you were there long enough to see some changes.
S: Were there very many other black football players there in
D: Willie was the first black football player. His roommate came
right after he did, so that was two. Then each year they would get
two, three. By '74 it had increased.
S: I understand that while maybe 100 or so students withdrew,
the football players felt like...yea
D: They didn't...
S: Do you remember what is was like for them to be sort of
caught in the middle of it?
D: Well, again, it was a pressurized situation. They felt it was
something they couldn't risk. You know, if you were going to
withdraw from school, you were going to lose your scholarship.
They had to use their heads. Which doesn't say now that they
didn't support the cause. They were there at the sit-ins and
everything, but they couldn't take that step and say "I'm going to
withdraw from school," because it meant losing scholarships.
S: Were there other protests at the time on campus, or was that
kind of a main event?
D: There was something else going on. I don't remember what the
issue was. It was a month or a couple of months later; a group of
white students were protesting. I don't remember now what it was
all about. Yea, there was always something going on.
S: Were there white students and faculty involved in the
D: I think so. I don't know if the guy is still here, but one
person I can think of who that was very supportive of black
students was Grant Shankman. I don't know if he is still around. I
haven't seen him in some time.
S: It's kind of neat how a lot of people end up staying in
Gainesville. And, like you said, there are still a lot of your
friends around. Were you involved in any other student
S: So, the Black Student Union was the only one. Did you hold
any offices in that...
D: I think in grad school one time, I was the president. But I
can't remember. My age is showing.
S: Not outwardly. You look very young. It's also toward the end
of your work day.
Was the Black Student Union already in place when you
came...I feel like I'm grilling you.
D: That's OK. I think so, because some of my friends were very,
very involved in that. I can remember the day of...Mitch Dasher
and David Horn. I can't think of the other guy's name. They were
very much involved in different issues before I got there.
S: They were some of the founders of it?
S: Do you know what some of the challenges were to even get it
up and running? I know that was kind of before your time.
D: Getting someone to...I think you had to have that faculty
representative. Finding that person and just fighting to exist.
You have a small group of students here. And back in those days.
These guys I'm talking about were your quote unquote militant
S: Oh really?
D: So, you can imagine some of the obstacles they had to face.
S: Unfortunately I can only imagine it without experiencing it.
I'm interested in knowing more. My college was so calm. Nothing
much going on in the '80s. So, they were the ones to really break
some ground then.
Do you know remember who the faculty advisor was when you
D: Probably, it was Roy Mitchell, because he was there somewhere
in financial aid.
S: What about the activities you were involved with as
president? Anything that sticks in your mind.
D: I can't remember much.
S: You have obviously a couple of kids who...Terry is still in
college, I just read about him in the paper, and Willie graduated.
Just in talking to them, do you see a lot of differences in the
campus now vs. when you were a student?
D: Of course. I'm still very involved. I'm on the board of
directors of the National Alumni Association. So, still, very much
involved. And also involved with the Association of Black alumni.
Just being involved with Willie over the past five years at
UF. There have definitely been changes.
S: How are the students different? Would you say they have
pretty much the same concerns as they did back then?
D: No, I think now they are concerned, but not with the same
intensity. We paved the way for them and got some of the rubbish
out of the way, and probably I would imagine some of them take it
S: Do you mean the history of blacks in college or just all of
the things people were protesting.
D: I think some of them take for granted...I guess what I'm
trying say is when you look at the number of black students who
actually graduate and go on or go on to grad school or whatever.
The failure rate. I see that as the kids being lax and not taking
it seriously. Not realizing that there was somebody here who had
to really fight for some of the things that they are experiencing
now. I wonder if they really know the kind of pressure some of us
were under then.
S: I've talked to other black students now who say the
university isn't doing enough to keep those kids in school. Do you
think it kind of works both ways?
D: I think it works both ways. My position is that if I'm given
the opportunity, I need to make sure I do everything that I'm
supposed to do to flourish in that opportunity, not blow it. Not
complain, well you didn't do this for me, you didn't do that for
me. To do whatever it is. Because I think, if I'm doing what I'm
supposed to do, some of these other things that I want are going
to be the reward of me getting in there and doing what I'm
supposed to do.
I think it works boths ways. It's the kind of thing where
somebody could say, somebody's not doing enough. How do you know
when enough is enough.
S: I guess other people will overcome that and not let any
obstacles get in their way. How's Gainesville different now,
you've obviously seen a lot of changes here in the city.
D: I think it's busier. It's busy. During those early
days...crime is up because we have more students and more people.
It's just busy. There are more cultural activities for everybody,
not just black folks, but overall.
S: It seems like a pretty diverse community when you see all the
different cultures. I'm of Greek decent.
Any of your classmates become famous? Any of them rise to
stardom in any way? politically or whatever.
D: They probably think they rose to stardom. I think I would
prefer to say, many of them are successful. Particularly the ones
who had a purpose, who had goals and wanted to do somethings.
S: What are some of them doing? Did a lot of them go into
D: For example. Joel Buchanan was here. Joel has been relatively
successful in doing things. Gwen Francis was here. She is now
working in, somewhere in Georgia as a financial aid director. She
is at the same place where Jim Scott left here and went.
If they wanted to be a teacher, they are doing that. The guy
who was Willie's roommate, Leonard George, he is practicing law in
Atlanta, Georgia. So, yea, they are successful. We don't
have...when you say stardom...on the big billboard. But, I think
they have been successful because of their experience at UF and
the degree they earned from UF. At least they are out there
working and they are doing something.
S: It sounds like they were a good bunch of kids.
D: It was. And, interesting.
S: Did they all come from a lot of different backgrounds or were
most of them local?
D: A lot of different backgrounds.
S: What did you do after graduation, the last time? Did you work
D: I worked through graduate school.
S: I guess, when did your career start is what I am trying to
D: In '76 right after I got my specialist.
S: What was your first job?
D: A psychometrician with the mental health center. A
psychometrician is someone who does psychological tests, then
passes it on to the psychologist. The clinical psychologist will
write it up. I just did the testing and they went back and...I did
that. Immediately after that I was hired as an alcohol and drug
S: Where were these jobs?
D: With the community mental health center here.
S: How long were you a counselor there?
D: I worked here in mental health for about six years and in the
S: Do you remember what your first salary was?
D: As a psychometrician, it was a part-time job, I think it was
something like twenty bucks an hour.
D: It wasn't bad.
S: It's not bad for Gainesville.
D: For what we were doing.
S: How about your full-time job?
D: If I remember correctly, I think my salary was something like
S: Really? Oh, gosh. I know this is a silly question, but, did
that seem pretty low at the time? Did it pay for anything here? I
know Gainesville's cost of living is pretty low.
D: It was a means to an end.
S: A stepping stone kind of job?
S: What was the job market like in the '70s? Did you think about
what the challenges were for women, for black women or was it
just, you had your goals and were going for it?
D: I've always felt that I could get a job.
S: Why did you feel that way?
D: Because the windows of opportunity for black females. I feel,
when I look back, I may not make a million dollars a year or have
all of this great wealth, but I think I have been successful in
the jobs that I selected. Although it was not what I set out to
do, because when I was working on my specialist, my goal was to
work in a university setting, so I went the higher ed route. I
ended up in mental health. I didn't go to the mental health track.
Then after four, five, six years I went into a middle school.
S: That's not Eastside. Eastside is a high school, right?
D: A high school. But I went to Howard Bishop middle school as a
counselor. I did that for ten years.
S: When did you leave there?
D: In "91 and went to Eastside.
S: So you've been there just about four years.
You pretty much seem like a very directed person. Have you
seen changes in the job market since the '70s to the '90s?
D: In terms of education, in terms of people preparing or going
to school to go into a teaching profession at a high school or
public school setting, there are still people out there doing
that, but I don't see a large number of black students doing that.
One of the changes I see is they are going into professions that
are more lucrative in terms of salary.
S: Isn't that true for students in general?
S: I don't know what the statistics are, but I know teaching is
a tough field. Unfortunately we need good teachers.
D: I think today though, a lot of kids don't know what they want
to do. In working with some of the seniors, some of the things
they say they're going to do when they graduate. I have parents
say "will you please tell them that they can't earn a living and
they need to do something where they are going to one day earn a
S: What are some of the ideas they have that would not earn them
D: There is this one student who loves to draw and mom is saying
she's got to be really, really good to go out and land a job with
some big company doing all of their artwork and things like this.
I just think she needs to be more realistic about what she wants
I have one student majoring in international studies.
S: In high school?
D: Well they know that's what they want to do.
S: Is that your role, do you kind of set them straight? Is there
a way to encourage, for example, that student who is talented in
art to keep doing it and maybe, make a living doing something
D: What's wrong with majoring in secondary art. You may have to
teach two years to see what's out there, or at least have a minor
in something that, well, "I have this to fall back on."
S: So, are you a career counselor or all kinds of counseling?
D: We do college counseling, career counseling, personal, the
whole nine yards.
S: How do you like your job?
D: I love it. I enjoy it. It's interesting.
S: What do you like about it?
D: To actually see a kid come into high school in ninth grade
not knowing nothing, and maturing and by the time they become a
senior, you see this person who has developed into somewhat of an
adult who is going to go out into the world and do something.
That's exciting. And to look at the ones that you know you've made
an impact on their lives. And to have them come back and say "Ms.
Jackson you know. I'm glad I listened to you. I thank you for
setting me straight."
S: That's great. I think that's great success right there. A lot
of satisfaction. [tape turn]
We were just talking about your job at Eastside High. So,
you've been there for four years. Have you been around kids alot?
Did you always know you wanted to work with them?
D: Well I knew I wanted to work with people. Whether it was
little people, big people, it didn't matter. When I was in mental
health, I worked with both adults and children. And I liked that
too. It's just extremely difficult when you are working with
adults, particularly ones who have something dysfunctional about
them. It's hard.
S: What were some of the challenges...you were obviously working
and raising a family at the same time. How did you juggle all of
D: It was something I knew I had to do. It was important for me
to do what I wanted to do and be happy. Yet, it was important that
I give them the nuturing and support that I felt that they need.
S: Did you have other people helping out? Relatives or others or
were you kind of out their on your own.
D: Well my mom, she would come around and she would help, but,
if I was in school, the boys were in nursery school. They were in
school, then they became involved in their sports. I kept them
busy, because I figured if they had goals and some direction about
what they wanted to do, it would be easier for them to make a
decision. And college, being successful in school would not be a
question. They started out real early just being disciplined to do
S: Were you a single mom for most of the time?
S: When did you get divorced?
D: It was in 1980.
S: What are your plans for the future?
D: I don't know. That's a good question. I keep asking myself.
It's getting about that time now. I feel I'm at that crossroad and
I'm checking it out about what I want to do. I've always wanted to
finish my doctorate, and I think if I do anything...whatever the
change would be within the next year, it would be to finish my
S: In what?
D: Probably higher ed.
S: Do you have career aspirations to go into...
D: I still would like to work in a university setting. A
counseling center at a university setting. I did an internship
here at UF, so I know what that setting is like and I like that. I
S: What do you like about college campuses?
D: It's just a different level. I don't think people on the
college level work quite as hard as we do at the secondary level.
I know that there are problems at all levels. But, I just think it
would be exciting to actually have that experience in my pocket
S: What keeps you working so hard at the high school level?
D: Because I don't like to be idle. I enjoy working and I enjoy
helping people. This is a challenge, because you have so many
people out there who don't want to be helped, who are not
appreciative of the help you are trying to give them. So, this is
challenging every day.
S: Are the teen years...does that contribute to it being more
challenging the fact that you're dealing with teenagers and their
D: I think what makes it such a challenge is the number of
societal problems that young people are faced with today. Young
people today do things and say things and are into things that
when I was a teenager you didn't dream of doing.
S: Things were different.
S: Do you see a lot of violence at school, guns, that kind of
D: Not really. I know in some places you see where the kid
brought the gun and the gun went off or they fired the gun. You
hear a lot of that, but, to actually have the experience. I
probably see more fights than I see anything else.
S: Just fist fights between kids?
D: [Yes] And probably sometimes...most times they're girls.
S: What's the most challenging part of dealing with the
D: I guess when you have a kid who's disruptive and comes from a
dysfunctional family, trying to get them to realize that there is
a light at the tunnel. There is a better way to do things. And I
guess the extremely hard part, you know we have a lot of young
people who are literally living on their own. Being able to keep
hope [in every sense].
S: How do you do that?
D: You have to be positive and continue to encourage them. I
find myself saying to them, "if you don't want to do it and if
you're not going to do it for yourself, who is going to do it for
you?" You have choices and you may have to struggle to meet that
challenge, but at least in the end, you can stand up and say "i
S: Do you see the light going no for some of these students?
D: Particularly, this year for example, I guess I'm tootin' my
horn a little bit. But, I see, particularly in the major program,
kids in the lower echelon in terms of socio-economics, in terms of
grade point average, in terms of chances of even getting into
college, to see more and more kids who are going to school than
when I first went to Eastide, for example.
S: You mean that are going on to college?
D: [Yes] Whether it be junior college, whether they are going
into the military or whatever. But, they are going to do
something. They've got a goal; they've got a plan. They're going
to do something.
S: So are you out there instilling that in them as well?
S: What about dealing with the parents. Are you all usually on
the same team or do you have conflicts?
D: Both. There are parents who are a wits end, don't know what
to do. You have parents who are afraid of their children. It is
unreal, what I could tell you that happened in the run of a day.
S: Are you a religious person?
D: I'm not a fanatic. But, I consider myself a christian.
S: Does that impact your...I don't know, you seem like such a
positive person, I was wondering...
D: I think it does. I think it has an impact.
S: You have a grandson now, what is his name.
S: Sir? How do you spell that?
S: Really? How old is he?
D: 5 months.
S: What do you see for his generation in terms of your hopes,
fears, problems, strengths that you see for kids his age and
growing up in the states.
D: It's going to be devastating without a good support system.
S: Where does that support come from?
D: It's going to have to come from families. I think one of the
things that you see happening more today than we did 10 years
ago...20 years ago the extended family was something to be
appreciated, then it just kind of like disappeared. I kind of see
that coming back and I think that's what is going to save a lot
of, for example, my grandson's generation.
S: Do you have advice for him in the future or again, for that
D: I guess the thing that I'll probably say to him when he is
old enough to understand is that education has always been the key
for me and it opens doors for you that are not normally opened.
It's important. You could go a long ways in life. You could have a
happy life as compared to someone who does not have a good
S: It seems to be becoming more and more important that people
get it. Even almost a bachelor's degree these days isn't the
Who are Sir's parents?
D: Willie. Willie is his father.
S: What is his mom's name?
D: His mom's name is Anyana.
S: I think that's about all I have to ask you today.
S: Anything else you'd like to throw in? What we're going to do
is...[End of Interview.]