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African American Oral History Resources: Stillwater's African American Heritage Collection

About the Collection

The Stillwater’s African American Heritage Collection is a series of interviews focused on the Black community of Stillwater, Oklahoma, and in particular former students of Washington School. You can view the materials for the collection here.

Topics covered

Barbers, Childhood, Civic leaders, Community development, Cultural differences, Education, Evangelistic work, Family ties, Floods, Food service, Integrated sports, Occupations, School integration, Schools, Social life and customs, Teaching, Urban renewal, Washington School

Select interviews from the Stillwater's African American Heritage Collection

  • Cleo McGlory - Cleo McGlory, born in 1943, recalls his youth in the African American community of Stillwater, Oklahoma, and attending Washington School. He talks about his experiences as a high school and college wrestler, earning a math degree, and having a long teaching career in Oklahoma schools. McGlory discusses changes he has seen as well as some of his work in retirement as a minister.
  • Elnora Sanders - Elnora Linzy Sanders, born in 1939, recalls attending Washington School and growing up in the African American community of Stillwater, Oklahoma. She talks about raising her five children in the community and working various jobs. Sanders mentions teachers and friends and describes businesses, eateries, social gathering places, and churches in the neighborhood during her youth. She also discusses the impact of urban renewal and racial attitudes.
  • Erma Anderson - Erma Anderson, born in 1936, was part of the last graduating class from Washington School in the African American community of Stillwater, Oklahoma. Anderson shares memories of attending the school and describes the community during her youth. She recalls doing office work for Oklahoma State University for over forty years and talks about changes she has seen in in Stillwater and surrounding area.
  • Gloria Thomas Bailey - Gloria Thomas Bailey, born in 1938, recalls her childhood in and around Washington School before school integration. She describes the African American neighborhood where she lived, and continues to live, and race relations with the town of Stillwater, Oklahoma, during her youth. She talks about her family and her work with the Head Start program and her involvement with the Mt. Zion church community.
  • Kenneth Murray - Kenneth Murray, born in 1938, talks about his fifty-plus year as a barber in the Oklahoma State University Student Union barbershop. He shares memories of attending Washington School, a former African American school in Stillwater, and his community surrounding the school. Murray recalls his youth during segregation and walking home at lunch to enjoy listening to country music with his mother. He also discusses his path to barber school, what it has been like to be a barber on a college campus, and changing hairstyles.
  • Mary Lois Wiley - Mary (Lois) Wiley, born in 1927, recalls her youth living in various locations in Oklahoma. She talks about marrying and moving to the Washington School neighborhood in Stillwater, Oklahoma, in 1956. Wiley describes the Black community, her involvement with the Lawson Temple Church of God in Christ, and shares her early memories of the town of Stillwater. She also discusses her long career as a cook for Oklahoma State University sorority houses.
  • Pearl Reese - Pearl Reese, a 1949 graduate of Washington School and daughter of Principal Ward, recalls her youth in the African-American community of Stillwater, Oklahoma. She discusses her experiences with religious and academic communities in Stillwater, attending Lincoln University, and teaching in Oklahoma public schools.
  • Raymond and Dorothy Shinault - Raymond and Dorothy Shinault, married in 1959, talk about being lifelong members of the African American community in Stillwater, Oklahoma. They recall attending Washington School and experiencing integration. Dorothy shares that she was one of the first Black students to attend Stillwater High School. They also discuss some of the religious and racial changes they have observed through the years.

Interviews featured in a podcast

In this episode of Amplified Oklahoma, we’ highlight the legacy of Washington School and its impact on the African American community in Stillwater. We hear excerpts from interviews with former students as they share their memories of the school. Later, we talk with Stacy DeLano, director of the Stillwater Public Library, as she discusses the importance of documenting this community history.

From the late 19th century to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case, a number of territorial, state, and federal laws authorized the segregation of schools in Oklahoma and across the South. In Stillwater, Oklahoma, these laws would result in the creation of Booker T. Washington School, which served the African American community in Stillwater for decades. The school played an integral role in the surrounding African American community and continues to have a special bond with former students, parents, and community members.