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Elmer Dean Oral History
Collection Title: Jackson Purchase Oral History Project – Schools and Education
Series Number: OH246
Interviewee: Dean, Elmer Joule
Interviewer: Peyton, William
Date interviewed: June 15, 1979
Processed by: O’Daniel, Hannah
Date processed: February 19, 2014
Description: 1 sound disc (58 minutes)
Abstract: Elmer Dean discusses segregation in education in Southern Illinois from the perspective of a student and as a teacher. He also discusses his education at West Kentucky Industrial College in Paducah, Kentucky during the Great Depression. He further describes President D. H. Anderson’s role in maintaining West Kentucky Industrial College in the face of local opposition. He details experiences with racial discrimination in the work force and discriminatory hiring processes used prior to the 1950s. He mentions instances of discrimination while at a Coca Cola factory, the school system of DuQuoin, Illinois, the United States Army during World War II and when he applied for positions as a university professor. He concludes by offering advice to African Americans on how they can rise above discrimination and prejudice and become successful.
Biographical / Historical note: Elmer Joule Dean was born on July 21, 1913 in Du Quoin, Perry County, Illinois. He was the only child of Perry and Lena Dean. He attended the all black Lincoln Elementary School in Du Quoin and graduated from the integrated Township High School. He started at West Kentucky Industrial College in February of 1934 on a basketball scholarship. He received a two year provisional certificate upon graduation and he applied for a job in the school system of his hometown of Du Quoin. When he was refused a job, Dean helped to organize a movement to prevent the reelection of the racist superintendent the next school year and was successful. In 1937, he obtained a job as a fifth grade teacher at the Lincoln School in Du Quoin and later became Principal of the school. He worked at the Lincoln School until 1943. He served in the United States Army for three years during World War II but was never deployed overseas. Annoyed with the prejudice towards African Americans in the military, he left the army and established a dry cleaning business in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He attended Columbia University in New York for a Masters and Doctoral degree and taught at Georgia Industrial College in Savannah for thirty years and retiring as the Chairman of the Department of Social Sciences.
General information: No user access to original recordings. Use audio user copies, digital derivatives, transcripts, and/or tape indexes. This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code). Permission for reproduction must be requested from Murray State University.