Freda Andrews - On education, teaching, and the Freedom Movement

Interviewed by Beryl Bortey and Caroline Englert on October 10, 2018
Freda Andrews is a daughter of the Northside. Notably, her primary and secondary school education transformed her life immeasurably. Her teachers, especially at Northside Elementary, created a classroom setting that directed individual attention to each student. Fostered by these nurturing teachers, she attributes their dynamic pedagogical methods to her desire to pursue a career in education. She reflects on how her involvement in the Freedom Movement shed light on the potency of change. She references poems and freedom songs that echo this fervent desire to evoke change. She recounts how she incorporated these poems into her teaching curriculum. She expresses that this unconventional style of teaching black history countered the negative stereotypes that were ascribed to her African-American students. She shared that one of her ultimate goals was to instill self-worth in her students. Additionally, she discusses her diverse teaching experiences and her challenges catering to the needs of her students. She states that her resilience was inspired by her key figures in her life like Hilliard Caldwell, Floyd McKissick, and her grandfather. She reflects on their instrumental roles in shaping her character and values. In the interview’s conclusion, she circulates back to her insights on education. Her career exposed the flaws of the education system to her, and she shares her ideal vision for classrooms. She notes that a paradigm shift in how individuals approach teaching their students will reform the school system.

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Title

Freda Andrews - On education, teaching, and the Freedom Movement

Description

Freda Andrews is a daughter of the Northside. Notably, her primary and secondary school education transformed her life immeasurably. Her teachers, especially at Northside Elementary, created a classroom setting that directed individual attention to each student. Fostered by these nurturing teachers, she attributes their dynamic pedagogical methods to her desire to pursue a career in education. She reflects on how her involvement in the Freedom Movement shed light on the potency of change. She references poems and freedom songs that echo this fervent desire to evoke change. She recounts how she incorporated these poems into her teaching curriculum. She expresses that this unconventional style of teaching black history countered the negative stereotypes that were ascribed to her African-American students. She shared that one of her ultimate goals was to instill self-worth in her students. Additionally, she discusses her diverse teaching experiences and her challenges catering to the needs of her students. She states that her resilience was inspired by her key figures in her life like Hilliard Caldwell, Floyd McKissick, and her grandfather. She reflects on their instrumental roles in shaping her character and values. In the interview’s conclusion, she circulates back to her insights on education. Her career exposed the flaws of the education system to her, and she shares her ideal vision for classrooms. She notes that a paradigm shift in how individuals approach teaching their students will reform the school system.

Subject

Andrews, Freda

Type

Oral History

Creator

Marian Cheek Jackson Center

Publisher

Marian Cheek Jackson Center

Date

2018-10-10

Contributor

Bortey, Beryl
Englert, Caroline

Rights

Open for research.

Format

MP3 (192000 bitrate)

Language

English

Identifier

LH_0186

Coverage

Chapel Hill, NC

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Interviewer

Bortey, Beryl
Englert, Caroline

Interviewee

Andrews, Freda

Interview Processor

Bortey, Beryl
Englert, Caroline

Interview Date

2018-10-10

Location

St. Joseph CME Church, Chapel Hill, NC

Tape Log

0:00 Introduction
1:09 Andrews’ childhood including the environment of her youth; babysitting her
younger brother; walking to Northside Elementary and “my older siblings were
always there to help me”
3:21 Relationships with classmates and description of early education; “we grew up as
a family”; Principal McDougle’s interactions with student and lives outside of
school; “our parents had such good values” and strong discipline; family
involvement in the church
7:53 Involved teachers’ impact on Andrews’ development and passions; “I thought
teachers could do no wrong”
9:24 Andrews’ and friends’ participation in Civil Rights Movement; “I wish that all of
them could be around to see the progress we’ve made, however, we still have a
long ways to go”; intense sense of community without problems some
neighborhoods now have; value of positivity
11:14 Specific interactions during the movement; frustration with Big John’s; “we
decided we were going to change things”; peaceful emphasis of movement; “hear
the need for change”; instances supporting and against old Chapel Hill’s liberal
stereotype
15:07 Lack of realization of the extent of movement’s full importance as a youth;
compares the struggle to normal teenage rebellion
16:03 Ability of song to empower freedom marchers to feel “just like warriors who go
into battle”
17:50 Andrews’ use of poetry to teach history and instill pride and self-worth in black
students; “used to be black history, but it’s history”; misrepresentation of African
American culture in art and museums
22:54 Experience teaching children with few goals at rural school
24:52 Personal reasoning for not attending an integrated school; frustrating reality of
present day self-segregation
26:14 “Teaching has been my calling”; changing ‘Hey Black Child’ to ‘Hey Child’ to
include all her students; transition to inner-city schools, and adapting teaching
style; Andrews felt “too white to be black”; developed caring relationships to
better wrangle unruly students
34:42 Specific experiences with white children, parents, and administrators in newly
integrated schools; “you’ve got to look beyond color”; did not ‘convert’ students,
but made an impact
39:32 Andrews’ role models: Harriet Tubman, Mr. Hillard Caldwell
42:30 Community’s reaction to youth activists; experience going to jail for the second
time; represented in court by Floyd McKissick; “community celebrated us”;
contrast between youths’ freedom and adults’ restrictions; Andrews’ step-father’s
deceitful firing
48:58 Andrews’ reverent relationship with grandparents; grandfather was “treated less
than a human” for illiteracy; regrets not interviewing grandparents before passing
52:10 As remediator in schools, witnesses break down in education, community ties,
and familial values; “we got children raising children”; new pressures current
students experience
58:10 Conclusion; education system should focus on children’s entirety; nourishment
before instruction; teachers must continue efforts; “‘for the first two years of a
child’s life, we teach them how to stand and how to talk, but for the rest of their
lives we teach them to sit down and shut up’… we gotta change it”

Transcription

I’m Black, and I’m Proud!
When I would do this poem with my students,
They loved it!
Because that’s how I taught
History
To my children.
It used to be
Black history,
But it’s history.
And I used to utilize these poems to
Help instill proudness in our children.
Because when we grew up—
You gotta realize—
That things were not the same
As they are now.
Black folk didn’t feel like they were worthy of anything
Or worthy to have the same advantages as others.
So, when I had them to learn “Hey, Black Child”
This was our Civil Rights Movement.
I wanted my children to feel like they were
Somebody.
That’s why the music like James Brown
Hey! I’m black, and I’m proud.
You see,
We needed to know those things.
Because we would go to museums
And they would display us as
Ugly dolls and creatures that always had the
Slavery mentality
And they didn’t show the beauty of us
That’s the kind of thing I wanted the children that
I touched
To have those moments.
Hey! I don’t have to look like
Somebody else.
I can be who I am and still be
Great.


We Gotta Change It
I just want our educational system
To focus on the child.
I’m so deterred by testing
And all of these things that mean
Nothing
To the human race
When they get to a certain point in life.
I want them to cultivate
And nourish the children
First.
Before we try to put all this information
And knowledge into them.
Right now, kindergarteners are coming to school
Having to do what first and second graders
Used to do
Or, are doing.
I think we’re taking too much from the home
And putting it into school.
I want educators to look at
The whole child
And to realize that all children
Can learn.
But, we have to work on a system
That will nurture that little boy
Who can’t sit down.
Or, especially our little
Black boys
Who they feel like they are a
Threat
To many of the educators
Because of their robust voice
Or their big bodies.
They are still
Human.
I just want educators to realize that
If you lead us,
We will follow.
I know how difficult it is
For our teachers
Today.
Many areas where I’ve substituted
I go into a classroom
And they have no respect
For the adult.
But, I think you can’t give up
Because even though that these
Children that we deal with
Are having such issues,
We still as educators
Have to still give them our best.
We can’t dress like them.
We can’t walk in and
Do all the things that they do.
Because we don’t need to come down to their
Level.
We need to bring them up,
And we can walk hand in hand.
But, if we don’t realize
That every black child
And every black boy is not
A threat.
That little Johnny over there
Can learn just like little Sally and little Sue.
But it takes a committed person.
A conviction.
And I applaud my fellow coworkers—
White and black—
Who nurture our children.
Something that’s becoming a
Lost art
For a lot of places.
And when children don’t feel that they’re cared about
Love is not displayed
They don’t get it at the
School
They don’t get it when they go
Home
They grow up
Rebellious.
My last quote is
I remember someone saying that
For the first two years of a child’s life,
We teach them how to stand
And how to talk.
But for the rest of their lives
We teach ‘em to sit down and
Shut up.
We gotta change it.

Duration

01:01:55

Collection

Citation

Marian Cheek Jackson Center, “Freda Andrews - On education, teaching, and the Freedom Movement,” Marian Cheek Jackson Center Oral History Trust, accessed September 22, 2020, https://archives.jacksoncenter.info/LH/LH_0186.

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