Student Blog: An Eagle's Life
by: Reid Jacobs, Overbrook fifth-grader
Lucinda Williams Adams was born in Bloomingdale, Georgia. She is a friend of my grandparents. She participated in the 1960 Olympics and won a gold medal. She also earned three gold medals in the 1959 Pan American Games. She is an amazing woman.
The following is Reid’s interview with Ms. Adams.
Q: What was life like growing up black in America?
A: “It was really segregated. I knew places we couldn’t go and things we couldn’t do, but it didn’t let ‘them’ interfere with our goals and objectives. We knew things would get better. I am Baptist and I believe in God and put Him first in my life.
Q: Where did you grow up, and were there many other blacks in your neighborhood?
A: “I grew up in a small town outside of Savannah, Georgia, called Bloomingdale. Bowl Weevil Hill was the name of the black neighborhood that I lived in. There is a sign dedicated to me, off of Cherry Street there.”
Q: What was school like? Were black and white students separated?
A: “It was separated. I went to Bloomingdale School. It was a 3 or 4 room school house. After that, I went to Tompkins High School. It was in Savannah and where blacks could go. I had to ride the bus to get there, but had to ride in the back.”
Q: Where you ever made to feel different from mainstream society?
A: “I certainly was made to feel different all of my childhood. I was not allowed to go near whites. I would sit in the back of trains or buses. I would have to go in the back steps of a movie theater. I was in a Girl Scout Troop, but we couldn’t even go to Juliette Gordon Low’s house that was in Savannah. She was the founder of the Girl Scouts. We were not allowed to participate in Girl Scout activities, but we never let it interfere. Our parents told us what we could be and what we could do.”
Q: How did you deal with racism?
A: “We met it head on. I went to Tennessee State. I was a freshman in college in the early 1960’s. This is when sit-ins started. We couldn’t go downtown to sit-ins or to strike because we would lose our scholarships. I couldn’t afford to lose the scholarship, so I didn’t participate.”
Q: Are there things you are able to do now that you were not permitted to do in the past?
A: “I can do everything now and thank God for that. We (the track team) were called ‘Trail Blazers’ at Tennessee State because we contributed to society.”
Q: To what extent did race impact choices in your life regarding education, career, relationship , or how you raised your children?
A: “My life story is about believing in God and my faith. I tell everyone these things:
- Make sure your child gets a good education.
- Give them a belief system/believe in God.
- Teach them respect and don’t take anything for granted.”
Q: Do you believe there is room for improvement in race relations in this country? And, if so, how do you think my generation can help?
A: “Everyone is striving. There are still individuals that don’t want people to move forward and have an equal playing field. Everyone is equal in the eyes of God. ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ Respect gender, race and everything and people will respect you. Don’t turn to violence. It won’t accomplish anything.”
Q: Was there any music that helped you during this time?
A: “I liked old gospel, soft easy listening, opera, and country/western. I liked, ‘God is Always Near.’ There was a negro/black anthem called, ‘We know God is on our side.’ We liked to listen to the words.”
Q: Was church a safe place for you?
A: “Church was a safe place. I went to Piney Grove Baptist Church. Church life is important to me.” I would also go to Mass with my Catholic friends in Nashville when I was in college too.”
Q: What was it like eating in a restaurant?
A: “We had to go to restaurants that served blacks. Never could I eat in downtown Savannah or Nashville. I was taught not to cause trouble and to have faith because things would get better.”
Q: What was it like training in the Olympics?
A: “It was hard, but fun. We had to practice 3 times a day at 5:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. We had to work out separately from whites. We didn’t have an all-weather track. We practiced on dirt and cinder. We were allowed to go to Vanderbilt on Fridays to practice, but had to go through the back gate.”
Q: Did you ever go on a strike?
A: “No, I never did. I was also a school administrator and wasn’t allowed. I really didn’t believe in strikes.”
Q: Did you have to go in different bathrooms?
A: “Yes. There was colored and white bathrooms. Same with water fountains. If we were traveling and had to use the restroom, we couldn’t stop. Coaches would pull over and tell us to, ‘hit the bushes,’ until we found a town that offered a place where colored people could go. It was the same thing growing up.”
Q: How were you treated in sports?
A: “We were treated well at Tennessee State. We were treated well because people knew us. But, growing up in Savannah, it was different because there were separate schools for us. There was Woodville, Beach, and Tompkins.”
Reid’s Note: I learned a lot from Lucinda Williams Adams. It must have been a rough time for her during this time. I’m happy that all African-American people have equal rights today.
By Ava Thienel, rising seventh-grader
We all have role models, maybe even more than one, but given the chance to meet one in real life can be a once-in-a lifetime opportunity. It happened to me. On May 14th, I got the chance to meet Buzz Aldrin, the second man ever to walk on the moon. Only 12 astronauts have ever walked the moon’s surface. Buzz Aldrin was here in town, signing his new book “No Dream is Too High.” It’s a spectacular book of life lessons and stories told by Buzz. I waited three hours before the book signing started. I would have had to wait a while longer ( I was about 320th in line out of 800+ people waiting) when I stepped out of line just to get a peek of the legendary astronaut. While peeking, I caught the eye of an official near Buzz Aldrin (most likely because I was wearing my NASA space suit that I received from my times of Space Camp in Huntsville, AL). They gave me entrance to see him, talk to him, and get my book signed by him right then and there! No waiting in line! I eagerly had pictures taken with him and introduced myself. I ran with this opportunity of a lifetime and asked him if he had any advice for me, an aspiring astronaut. He replied, “Keep a widespread of options to your eye. It is okay if you find something more interesting than space because it will always have a special place in your heart.” I also told him that I aspired to go to the moon or to Mars and he said, “Your generation will probably go to Venus!”
When I left with my signed books, good advice, and memories of meeting a hero of the space traveling generation, I had the biggest smile on my face. I will never forget that moment of talking to my role model. I will be eternally grateful. Thank you Buzz Aldrin for making a dream come true and for being an inspiration to all.
Choose groups to clone to: