We are interested in doing life history interviews with members of Unity Baptist Church. Our
goal is to document social changes in Central Arkansas. Iâ€™d like to ask you questions about
how you got involved in Unity Baptist Church, your school experience, and the jobs you have
worked. I will type up the interview and, with your permission; it will be published on the
internet so other people can learn about your life experiences. The interview information will be
published anonymously; in other words, your name will not appear on the internet. I will give
you a copy of the interview before it is published on the internet. You can have any part of the
interview transcript removed before it is published. You do not have to answer any question you
do not feel comfortable answering. You can end the interview at any time. With your
permission, I would like to record the interview. Do you have any questions about any of this?
Are you ready to begin this taped session questionnaire? Yes, I am.
TD--How did you get involved with Unity Baptist Church?
CM--I became involved in Unity Missionary Baptist Church when the two churches (St. John
and Sweet Home) united in April 2006.
TD--Why did you choose this church over others in the community?
CM--After about a year of prayer and fasting, the Lord revealed to me to become a member of
St. Johnâ€™s after being at Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church for 43 years. I was a
member of a non-denominational church for a year. I was a member of Warriors for Christ from
June 2003-June 2004.
TD--Have you noticed any differences in the church services?
CM-- The differences in the church services are the women were more involved and the gifts of
the Holy Spirit were more evident. The gift of prophecy was a part of the services as well as the
gift of speaking in tongues. The women were licensed ministers and conducted the services
most of the time. If they didnâ€™t conduct the services, they were involved in the service in
TD--Why did you choose this denomination/religion?
CM--My parents were Baptists and I joined the Baptist Church at the age of nine.
TD--Does your family also attend UBC?
CM--My husband, James, and my daughter attend Unity.
TD--Have you noticed any changes in the church over the years?
CM--The change in the services I have noticed is the service are livelier. The members appear
to want be there rather than being there out of obligation or feeling like itâ€™s something on
their list of things to do.
TD--Any changes in way services are structured?
CM--I havenâ€™t noticed a change in size of church membership.
TD--Do women and men have different roles in church services or church activities?
CM--Men and women have different roles in church services. The men (deacons) conduct
praise service every Sunday and take up the offering also. Women sing in the choir, teach
Sunday school, and usher. There is a male teacher for the adult Sunday school class. There is
also a young adult male who is a member of the Usher Board.
TD--Do younger generations participate in church services and activities in the same way
as older generations?
CM--The younger generation participates in the choir and ushers. I would like to see the youth
conduct praise service two Sundays out of each month.
TD--What is your opinion of these changes?
CM--I would like for the youth to have a choir of their own (a choir for the children, ages from 3
â€œCan I ask some questions about your family life, and how you came to this area?â€�
TD--How long have you lived in this area?
CM--I was born in an area called â€œThe Bottomsâ€�. I grew up in an area about 14 miles
southeast of Dardanelle.
TD--How large is your family in this area?
CM--My family in this area is my mom, sister, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, brothers-in-law,
nieces, nephews, and cousins.
TD--Are you married?
CM--I have been very happily married to James for 38 years.
TD--Do you have any children?
CM--We have three wonderful children together. Twins, (Boy, Girl), and another girl.
â€œAre you willing to answer some questions about your education and schooling
TD--Where did you attend school?
CM--I attended Elementary school in Dardanelle. I attended school through the eighth grade
until integration in 1964. I attended high school in Ola.
TD--What are some of your early memories of school?
CM--A lady named Ms. Kerr would come to our school and teach us about Bible stories. We
would have assemblies every Friday. We would sing and recite different poems. If we were
going to perform a play, the assembly would be our practice.
TD--What was school like for you?
CM--Before integration, the building was cold, and they did not have any air conditioning or
even an electric fan. Our lunch was brought to us on the back of a truck, (I think it was an old
army truck that was covered with a green tarp). We didnâ€™t have enough books for each child
to have their own books. We had two teachers, one for students in grades 1 through 4, and one
for students in grades 5 through 8. After the eighth grade students were sent to Morrilton to
complete high school.
TD--What subjects did you study?
CM--In elementary school we learned the basics reading, spelling, and math. We wrote
sentences and learned some grammar. We learned some social studies.
TD--What were your teachers like?
CM--The teachers were strict but also kind. They cared about us. They wanted us to get the
best education possible and be well behaved.
TD--Do you feel you were treated equally to other students?
CM--I feel as though I was treated the same as other students throughout my school years: even
during high school after integration.
TD--Were you affected by desegregation?
CM--The affect desegregation had on me was that it made me more determined to get an
education and try to have things better for my family. My parents were always encouraging my
sisters and me to do our best and hope we would have a better (easier) life than they did.
TD--Do you notice any differences between your school experiences and your
childrenâ€™s school experience (a/or grand children)?
CM--I believe I was treated more fairly (equally) than our children. Not anything specific but
there was just a difference in the way some of the teachers treated them. Maybe not quite as
helpful. The teachers (some of them) that my children had were not as helpful.
TD--Are you actively involved in the school system, such as the PTA or other school
CM--I am a teacher in the school system. I have taught in this system since August 1994. I
worked as an aide before that.
TD--In your opinion, are there problems with the school system today?
CM--Children today go into the schools with a multitude of problems and concerns. I donâ€™t
think some teachers are as concerned about the children as they used to be. Some of the teachers
seem less compassionate to the students needs.
â€œMay I begin to ask more questions pertaining to your past and current employment
TD--What was your first place of employment?
CM--My first job was chopping cotton and soybeans. I earned $4.00 a day.
TD--What kind of career did you want for yourself?
CM--My first choice was to be a Home Economics teacher. However, after considering the
attitudes my classmates and I had as teenagers, I changed my mind.
TD--What made you decide to change jobs?
CM--I decided that I would be a better elementary teacher or rather be able to handle the
younger children and their concerns better.
TD--Where are you employed now?
CM--I have worked in the education field all my life. After 1964, a few blacks worked at the
plant now called and known as Tyson. I worked there two summers. I worked at the nursing
home for 12 1/5 years. I washed wheelchairs, combs, brushes, bedside tables and did the hob of
a nursing assistant sometimes. I am employed as a teacher in the Dardanelle Public school.
TD--How would you describe cultural diversity of the different places you have worked?
CM--All the places I have worked have been culturally diverse. Whites worked side by side.
In this area there were not a lot of job opportunities for either race.
TD--Have you ever had any difficulties in finding work in this area? (If so, what kinds of
CM--When I graduated from Tech, I could not find a teaching job. After substituting in the
school district for four years, I was offered a teaching job. One of the deacons of the church
(Deacon James Woods) was a member of the school board at that time. He was instrumental in
me being hired by the school district.
TD--Are the current economic problems in the country affecting you? (How so?)
CM--My husbandâ€™s hours has been cut. He is currently working 32 hours a week. He may
go back to 40 hours soon. So far, I have not been told about any cuts in the school district.
â€œNow I would like to ask you some questions about politics.â€�
TD--Are you interested in politics? (Why/why not?)
CM--I am not really interested in politics. Politicians do not always tell the truth.
TD--Do you vote?
CM--Yes, I voteâ€¦.
TD--What was your opinion of the recent presidential election?
CM--I am happy that President Obama won!! I am hoping and praying that he will make a
TD--Do you feel that African American politicians are portrayed fairly in the media?
CM--I believe that African-American politicians are portrayed fairly in the media.
TD--Have you noticed changes in the way that African American politicians are portrayed
in the media?
CM--If there is any change, it would be that, we know that there are more African Americans in
politics than I thought.
TD--Do you feel that having an African American president will change opportunities for
African Americans? (Why / why not?)
CM--No, having an African American President will not change opportunities for African
Americans. I believe that those who are determined will make opportunities for themselves.
Community lifeâ€”The population with the Hispanics has tripled here in this same town of
Dardanelle. I have Hispanics families on both sides of me where I live, and we just donâ€™t
take the time to talk to each other.
Law enforcementâ€”We only have one black police officer on the Dardanelle Police
Department and that should tell you a lot.
TD--How does community life in this area differ from other areas youâ€™ve lived in or
CMâ€”They are basically the same as anywhere else. Like when I visited my brother in
TD--To whom in the community do you turn to for help in times of need?
CMâ€”It would be my husband James Earl first, then my mother, sister, and of course, my friend
TD--What are the major events have you witnessed in your lifetime?
CM--Integration. African American President, Becoming a Christian at an early age, and
becoming a licensed Minister, and many advances in the medical field.
TD--Have you seen changes in race relations?
CM--Some changes in race relations have taken place in the last four or five years that are not
very good. I have noticed more prejudice in people.
Is there anything else about your life experiences that you would like to add? No, not really.
Do you have any questions about out research project? No, you have explained it clearly.
Would it be okay if I followed up later to ask you a little more about what we discussed today?
Yes, it would.