January 19, 2018
is your name?
Syble Avery Graham
and where were you born?
Bremen Georgia, April 29, 1947. I was born at home because we didn’t have a
hospital that served colored people.
would you say is our family heritage?
Well, I’m not completely curtained, but what I do know, is that my father’s estranged father was white, every other family
member I know of was black.
do you mean by estranged?
My paternal grandmother, was the only slave to a
poor family. They had a small patch of land in Bremen, Ga. My grandmother had
to do both house work as well as field work. When she turned up pregnant
unexpectedly, the Mistress of the House knew the only male for miles around was
her husband. When my father was born, the Mistress suspicions were confirmed. A
baby with fare complexion, and sandy red hair was more than she could bare. My
grandmother and the baby were shipped of to a relative’s plantation in exchange
for livestock. Estranged, meaning, my father’s father never acknowledge him as
you know of any social contributions our family has made to the community?
Of course, you come from a long line of educators. We chose this profession on
because our family values are grounded in, all of us being productive member of
society. We always thought we could best serve the community through education.
you recall any interesting stories regarding your birth?
My mother was 43 with 6 children when she discovered she was pregnant with me.
Because she was so ashamed to be pregnant again at her age she told everyone
she had the flu for the entire nine months. When I was born, my mother’s
comment was, I feel better now.
is your earliest memory?
My father was a sharecropper, so my earliest memory is long days in the fields
playing while my family picked cotton and a host of other crops.
was the most influential person to you as a child?
I would have to say my mother, she was very kind but she was very demanding.
She set very high standards and I was expected to uphold each and everyone.
adjectives would you use to describe your childhood? Why?
Happy, I grew up in a house full of love, we didn’t have a lot but we didn’t
need it. We had each other and looking back on it that was more than enough.
would your parent(s) describe you as a child? Why?
I was the youngest of 7, and though by today’s standards I was not spoiled. My
family considered me spoiled because by the time I was 5 My father got a job
with Lockheed and we moved from Bremen, Georgia to Marietta, Georgia, so I
never had to pick cotton.
you have any pets as a child? What kind?
Yes I had a White Rabbit named Cotton Tail. We kept him in the chicken coup. I
had him for 5 years. He died from a bite from a rat.
you work as a child? What was your occupation?
Yes, but not for money. I spent my summers at the church taking music lessons.
My mother worked out a deal with the minister for the church to pay for lessons
for me, and I had to play piano for the church every service.
was your nickname growing up?
Blue Flue! For obvious reasons.
was the name of your elementary school?
Lemon Street Elementary. It was segregated. We used the hand me down text books
from The White school across the street. My family was so happy to get out of
the country, we never seemed to mind the segregation in the city.
you attend high school? How did you like it?
Yes, I attended high school in the neighboring county of Kennesaw. By the time
I made it to high school there were so few colored students able to attend, the
we had to travel 30 miles by bus to get to school
you attend college?
Yes, I attended Morris Brown College along with 3 of my sisters.
you go to Graduate School?
Yes, I was excepted to Harvard and The University of Southern California (USC).
I preferred Harvard, but chose USC because I had just married your grandfather
and did not want to spend 2 years away from him, he was from Los Angeles so I
figured USC was a better choice for me at the time.
any of your siblings go to Graduate School?
Yes, as a matter of fact they all did, well, all 5 of us that attended college
did you like attending USC?
I attended USC in the 70’s just after Jim Crow was abolished. While California
did not have the Civil Rights issues the south had, they did have race related
problems, and USC was definitely effected by this. I attended while OJ Simpson
was there playing football, he was the only person of color I saw, treated
decently. Those were difficult years.
did you decide to remain in California after Graduate school?
Well, your grandfather was from Los Angeles, and he found it easier to make a
living here than in the South, so begrudgingly, I stayed. It would not have
been my choice but if I wanted your grandfather here is where I would have to
be, and so it’s been just shy of 50 years.
Grandma, this is the most important question. Can you help me explain how we as
a family got me to the delta?
Yes child, that’s simple. Your mother, father, aunt, grandfather, and I, all
attended Morris Brown, and assumed the next generation would follow.
Unfortunately, Morris Brown has had some trying times, and while we still whole
heartedly support our dear old Alma Matta, we would not risk having you and
your siblings attending there and the Institution could not serve you as it had
the family members that came before you. So we began looking for a school that
had the same heart and spirit that our beloved Morris Brown has, and when your
aunt found Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) in the Delta, we knew you
would start a new tradition, one that your sisters and brothers could follow.
last question is more for me than you, it’s what do I intend to do with your
education from MVSU?
on it’s about time for you to talk and me to listen, make me proud, answer the
question with all the intelligence God gave you.
Well I guess I would have to say, the most important thing to me is to make a
positive impact on the world. I want to leave the planet in a better state than
when I was born. To be quite honest I’m not certain how I will achieve this
goal. But I wanted to select a field that would challenge me, so I am majoring
in Biology. I love the fact that I attend a University where the instructors,
care that I have these ambitions and are helping me fine tune my goals and
aspirations in to what I know will be an awesome career that will benefit not
only me but mankind.
That means we as a family, made the right decision sending you there, Dear Heart.