Dr. Dena Scher
May 12, 2010
Roslyn Smith was born in Princeton, West Virginia, the fifth of six children. Her mother was a domestic and her father was a railroad laborer. She was raised by her mother, grandmother, and aunt, who taught her about the "place" of black people in the South, for example, never using the public library, sitting in the back of bus, using the back door of a white family's house, and addressing white people as 'miss' or 'mister.' Ms. Smith received a Merit Scholarship to attend Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C. and made the move from small town to big city in 1957. She and other Bennett women became inspired by their personal experiences and their expanding knowledge of the outside world to join the fight for civil rights. With the support of their teachers, community leaders, Dr. Willa Player (then president of Bennett), and fellow students from nearby A & T University, they targeted Woolworth's in Greensboro as the stage for the 1961 sit-ins. Looking back on her experiences now, Ms. Smith worries that Bennett women's involvement is being written out of the official history of this integral part of the civil rights movement.
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Scher, D. (Interviewer) & Smith, R. (Interviewee). (2010). Roslyn Smith: Civil Rights Movement [Interview transcript]. Retrieved from The John Novak Digital Interview Collection of the Marygrove College Library Web site: http://research.marygrove.edu/novakinterviews/index.html.