African American Oral History Resources: Vinita's Attucks School
About the Collection
The Vinita’s Attucks School Collection is a series of 8 interviews with former students of the school that served the African American community of Vinita, Oklahoma, until desegregation. You can view the materials for the collection here.
Attucks School, Childhood, Community development, Community involvement, Education, Family ties, Glass House Restaurant, Local government, Occupations, Race relations, School desegregation, Schools, Segregation in education, Small cities, Small churches
Select interviews from the Vinita's Attucks School Collection
- Arlene Kirkendoll - Arlene Kirkendoll attended Attucks School in Vinita, Oklahoma, grades one through eight prior to the integration of Vinita schools. She talks about her childhood and growing up in the Black community. She describes Attucks School and her experiences while she was there in comparison to her time at Vinita High School after integration. She recalls the process of integration and the community’s response. She comments on the community and the continued interest in school reunions. She also describes her career in health care and going to nursing school at an adult.
- Charles Kirkendoll - Charles Kirkendoll is a 1956 graduate of Attucks School in Vinita, Oklahoma. He talks about his childhood and growing up in Vinita. He describes the Attucks School, which served as the segregated African American school in the community. He discusses what it was like to grow up in Vinita and how the school really brought the Black community together. He mentions some of the specific teachers and leaders that had a great impact on him. He comments on the changes integration brought and the status of the school today. He explains what he has done since graduating from Attucks and why he decided to serve in local government.
- Diana Willis Hubbard - Diane Willis Hubbard, born in 1947, attended Attucks School in Vinita, Oklahoma, through 1956 at which time school integration occurred in Vinita. She talks about her childhood and describes what it was like to go to Attucks School. She discusses what the town of Vinita was like during segregation and then how things changed when the schools integrated. She explains her career path after high school and her work at Eastern State Hospital, a psychiatric facility. She comments on the strong community in Vinita tied to Attucks School and the hospital. She also mentions some of the specific people in these communities.
- Frances Ramsey - Frances Ramsey, born in Vinita, Oklahoma, in 1930, talks about Attucks School; where she attended from first to the eighth grade. She explains the importance of her family; having seven siblings as well as eight biological and two adopted children. Frances worked at Eastern State Mental Hospital and retired from there after twenty-seven years of dedicated service. Frances plans on staying in Vinita for the rest of her life.
- Lois Hunt West - Lois Hunt West is a 1952 graduate of Attucks School in Vinita, Oklahoma. She describes the school and the teachers who had a great impact on her. She details many memories from her experiences there, such as marrying before graduating and keeping it a secret. She explains how close-knit the community was and how everyone knew everyone. She discusses working at Eastern State Hospital as a psychiatric aide and shares stories from her career. She mentions many of the people who are still a part of the Attucks community today and how it lives on through the school reunions.
- Mary Crawford - Mary Crawford, born in 1932, attended Attucks School in Vinita, Oklahoma, 1937 through 1949. She recalls her childhood and talks about what it was like to grow up in the African American community near the school. She describes the school and the many teachers she had there that were influential. Crawford discusses the activities she participated in at the school and how important the school was to the community. She explains her involvement with getting the school on the National Register of Historic Places and comments on the changes she has seen in the community over the years and at school reunions.
- Okla Hicks - Okla Hicks, born in 1935, is a 1953 graduate of Attucks School in Vinita, Oklahoma. She describes her childhood, her house, her family, and the school in detail. She recalls some of the influential teachers and leaders in the school. She discusses working while going to school and having a strong connection to this community. She explains her career path and family after and comments on the process of setting up the school reunions
- Robert Ramsey, Jr. - Robert Ramsey, Jr, attended Attucks School in Vinita, Oklahoma, during his elementary years before the integration of Vinita public schools. He talks about his childhood and recalls what it was like to grow up in a segregated community. He describes Attucks School and his experiences there before integration. He discusses the process of integration and the community’s response. He explains his career after graduation and his decision to become a minister. He mentions his church and congregation and how he is trying to serve the people of this community through his ministry.
Interviews featured in a podcast
In this episode, we look back on the history of Attucks School in Craig County. Built in 1916, Attucks served African American students in Vinita, a city located in northeastern Oklahoma, through the mid-1950s. Deeply rooted in the African American community, the school and its teachers provided students and their families with support in many different ways. Even today, its impact can be seen in the memories of alumni near and far, with many returning for the school’s biennial reunions. In this episode, we’ll hear excerpts from the Oklahoma Oral History Research Program’s archives featuring Attucks alums Arlene Kirkendoll, Charles Kirkendoll, Lois Hunt West, Robert Ramsey Jr, Okla Hicks, and Mary Crawford. Later, we’ll sit down with Kathleen Duchamp, the director of the Eastern Trails Museum in Vinita to learn more about the history and importance of Attucks School.