- Goldmine: Root
- Oral History Collections
- Student Project on the Charlotte African American Community
- Marty Johnson Saunders oral history interview 1, 2006 November 28
Marty Johnson Saunders oral history interview 1, 2006 November 28
Charlotte native Marty Saunders talks about her life, family, and career as a teacher. She recounts growing up in the Biddleville neighborhood, and how her family emphasized the importance of education. Mrs. Saunders describes attending West Charlotte High School, where her father was a teacher, and Johnson C. Smith University, before working as a teacher at segregated Charlotte elementary and middle schools in the 1950s. After integration, she taught at the formerly all-white J.M. Alexander Junior High School. Mrs. Saunders discusses at length her experiences at the newly integrated school, including stories of racial tension among teachers, parents, and students. She characterizes the majority of white students at her school as being from working-class families and the black students were from professional families, and noted that students from different racial backgrounds often got along better than the teachers. Mrs. Saunders recalls holding meetings at her home where the black teachers discussed their experiences with racism in the school. The group then brought their complaints to administration, which led to the school instituting workshops to improve race relations and cultural awareness. As the interview concludes, Mrs. Saunders shares her thoughts on topics, including negative changes in society by the time of interview and urban renewal in Charlotte's African American communities.