Collection Title: Jackson Purchase Oral History Project – Schools and Education
Series Number: OH253
Interviewee: Jackson, Verna Wade
Interviewer: Peyton, Bill
Date interviewed: June 28, 1979
Processed by: O'Daniel, Hannah
Date processed: February 28, 2014
Description: 1 sound disc (33 minutes)
Abstract: Verna Wade Jackson began the interview with her parents' background and how she was raised by her grandmother in Mayfield, Kentucky. She goes on to discuss her memories of Dunbar School in Mayfield, including the physical conditions of the building, some of her favorite teachers and her interest in music at the school. She recounts some of the professors at West Kentucky Industrial College in Paducah, Kentucky and how she was able to afford the expenses by serving as the college's pianist. She describes some of the buildings present during the 1930s when she attend West Kentucky Industrial College, including the administration building, auditorium, two dormitories, gymnasium, and a house in which the students practice teaching. She relates her first teaching job out of college at Milton Elementary School in Fulton County, Kentucky, where she stayed for thirty-seven years until she retired. She acknowledges the inequalities in the education of African Americans in Mayfield and Fulton County while she was a teacher, citing the differences in curriculum and books as one example. She recounts how residents of the city of Mayfield and Fulton County offered shelter to refugees from Paducah during the Flood of 1937, both in terms of owners opening their private homes and using schools to house the refugees. Lastly, she discusses her original life aspiration to become a concert pianist and the realization in college that it was not a field that she could enter easily, especially as an African American.
Biographical / Historical note: Verna Wade Jackson was born on June 18, 1914 in Mayfield, Graves County, Kentucky. She was an only child and her parents died before she was five years old. She and a cousin were raised by her widowed maternal grandmother. She attended the all-African American Dunbar School in Mayfield, which contained grades first through the twelfth. She started taking piano lessons at ten years old, which her grandmother paid for by doing the washing for the piano teacher. After one year of lessons, she played for the morning service of her church, St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church in Mayfield. She graduated from Dunbar High School in 1933 and attended West Kentucky Industrial College from 1933 to 1935. She obtained a position as pianist for the College for two years to cover her education expenses. After West Kentucky, she taught for thirty-seven years in Milton Elementary School, Fulton County, Kentucky. In 1943, she married Principal Hugh C. Jackson. Jackson passed away on December 9, 2009 at the age of 95.
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.
Subject Headings / Descriptors:
Jackson, Verna Wade, 1914-2009.
Dunbar High School (Mayfield, Ky.)
West Kentucky Industrial College (McCracken County, Ky.)