Quincy woman recounts her life during the Civil Rights Movement
Tue, 18 Feb 2014 00:42:38 GMT —
The Teen Reach after school program invited Viola Majors, a Quincy resident, to talk about her experiences in a time when black people didn't have many rights.
Majors was born in 1939 in LaGrange, Missouri.
She says it was very common for people to stop going to school by the eighth grade because that was all that was offered at the time. If you wanted to further your education, you had to do it elsewhere.
She says she remembers waking up at 5:30 in the morning to attend school a hour away.
Majors and five other black students were bused all four years she attended school.
She remembers a lot. For example, the senior class trip to Florida. The black students fundraised for two years to go on that trip. However, they were told right before the trip that they could not go. The reasoning ... black people were not accepted in Florida.
After high school, Majors had jobs, but one in particular stands out.
"I'm a electronic assembler which you have to know all of the parts that go into the making. Harris was the first to make the first TV unit to be carried around," Majors said.
But Majors didn't go to school for electronics.
"I built the first pc board for those due to the three white women who taught me at night to learn schematics how it flows through a pc board," Majors said.
Majors says because of the kindness of those women, she was able to teach others.
"I advanced as far as any class that they had there, I participated in, so that I could get my card saying that I am qualified as a teacher," Majors said.
She was also able to teach someone in her family.
"I taught my son electronics by having him to build a radio at night, at home," Majors recounted.
Majors says the skills she was taught helped her family.
Majors and her husband were some of the first black people to be hired by local factories. Her husband worked at Knapheide.
They often told each other about their days. About people calling them all kinds of names and refusing to sit next them in the lunch room.
But they endured so their family could have better.
They endured because times were changing.
Majors told her story because she wants kids to know not to waste the opportunities they have.
Do you know Viola or someone like her that has a story to tell? We'd love to hear from you in the comments section below or on our Facebook page here.