Oral History Project: Elizabeth Watkins(S. Beattie)


During this interview me and my godmother, Elizabeth Watkins discussed various topics. The interview was mainly about how she viewed racism and how it has effect today’s time and back in the days time. We also talked about the recent violence that has been going on and how it is affecting the society that we all have to live in. She also talked about her life growing up in New Jersey and how racism did not have a direct effect on her. In closing that is what the interview is mostly about.


During my research I found a lot of answers. For instance, my godmother stated that she didn’t have any run ins when it came to racism in New Jersey. My research infers otherwise, now She may have not have had an encounter with racism, but New Jersey was one of the most racist states. I also stated that my godmother talked about how she viewed racism. Some students from a university stated, “African Americans face a high percentage of discrimination. As you stated earlier in class they are running a close second after Hispanics.  Also, African Americans are citizens of the US whereas some/most Hispanics are not, so there is more evidence there of discrimination.”. Last but not least, my godmother talked about how today’s violence is affecting our society. I found a blog that talked about violence is corrupting our society because it rubs off on our next generation. In the end, this is what I researched and the answers that I concluded.






SB:My name is Salina Beattie, this is for my history project, today's date is May 12 2015 and the time is 7:51(pm). Okay so my first question is,  what is your concept of race?

E.W: Of what?

SB: Of race


SB: Uhm


SB: what is your conception of, well not concept but conception?

EW:(pause) Well (pause) I, As a Christian, were all one race, were all God's children were all one race.

SB: Okay,uhm, how is your conception changed and if not then why?

EW:It hasn't changed, because that's my belief.

SB: Okay, How do you see the role of race in society

EW:It's really unequal

SB: And why do you say that?

EW:Just listening to the news and that's all. Like I said, it's unequal. Well because... a lot of opportunities don't come to everyone equally.

SB:uhm, okay next question, do you think African Americans play victim more so now or back then?

EW: Victim of racism?

SB: Like victim in the sense of anything. Like if a situation happened and like do you think, Do you think we have like ugh. Do you think like African Americans like play victim more  now then like back in the day?

EW: I think more in the past. I think we have come along way. We have certainly improved in relationships and equality. We are probably not there yet but I think we have definitely  improved from what we went through years and years ago. Just take for instance, Selma. that's a perfect example of what happen and how we have come through it.

SB: Okay, next question, Do you remember the Civil rights movement?

EW: Yes

SB: What do you remember about it?

EW:(pause) I remember Dr. King. I remember him sorta leading, leading us through the trials and tribulations that blacks were going through at the time. And I remember him being assassinated.

SB: Uhm okay, Uhm What were your educational experiences back then? Like did you, did segregation= and race interfere  with your educational development?

EW: Not really,uhm well to me it was I guess less minor because I had, instead of being a librarian, and then of course being in Philadelphia, there was no black librarians. So I quickly decided to go another direction.

SB: Why is that, Like why didn't you , u know do what you wanted to be?

EW: Well I wasn't the pioneer type. I wasn't tryna push through.

SB: Okay, uhm, Do you think the world would be different (good/bad) if discrimination did not happen?

EW: I think it certainly would have been better if discrimination hadn't happen. I think it would have been better for all.

SB: Right, not just for blacks

EW: No not just for blacks, everybody

SB: Okay, With all the killings of particularly black men today by white police officers, do you think it's worse today or back then?

EW: Uhm I believe it was worse back then, and this is just police or whites in general?

SB: I mean you can expand it to whites in general.

EW:Well a lot of things were just kept quiet back then. Where as it's out in the open now.

SB: If you had a choice, would you want to be born in today’s society or back then society?

EW: Heck no! I didn't wanna use anything stronger than that.

SB: Okay, right Just elaborate a little bit on that. What do you think was better back then than it is now that gives you the mindset, like I don't wanna be born in this society.

EW: Well, We had on thing. We were more family orientated. Even though most people, well I'll say even though we were poor. Family, loving family and as children we didn't realize how the parents had to struggle to do and to get what they  managed to get.  But it was just , I think it was, is the closeness of family that kept us from knowing or feeling different or unwanted or what ever.

SB: Okay, last question, Did you or any if your family play a role in the Civil rights movement in any kind of way?

EW: No, just to pray and that's the main thing, pray and let God take over.

SB: Okay well thank you!

EW: You're welcome!

My history project