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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Ellen Black Winston, December 2, 1974. Interview G-0064. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Mother serves as strong female role model

Winston describes the strong influence her mother exerted in terms of establishing a "liberal, democratic attitude" that shaped her later involvement in social welfare issues. According to Winston, her mother was actively involved in various community organizations and was forward-thinking in terms of social issues. Her comments demonstrate the centrality of having a strong female role model in her upbringing.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Ellen Black Winston, December 2, 1974. Interview G-0064. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

ANNETTE SMITH:
Your mother, I know that she was active in library work later on. What other kinds of things did she do?
ELLEN WINSTON:
My mother was really quite a remarkable woman. She was a great reader all of her life. She particularly liked biographies, biographies of people of achievement. She was a devoted wife and mother and never let her outside activities impinge on those responsibilities. But she was the founder of the PTA in our community, she started the woman's club, she was very active in church work. And then, when she had more leisure, she founded the Marianna Black Library and gave a great deal of time to that throughout the rest of her life. I really think that my parents, in many ways, were ahead of their time, certainly ahead of the community in which they lived, although they were both expert in adapting to the overall environment in which they lived. They were both almost without prejudice, I would say. My mother even more so than my father. Mother was always very concerned about any group which had criteria that barred people from becoming members if they wished to do so. She had many very interesting small charities. I remember one year when I had to take an apple to school every day because there was some poor child that Mother was helping and trying to persuade to remain in school and the apple was the reward, you see, for coming to school each day. I think that perhaps I told you about Mother's efforts to see that the little Negro school, because those were the days of separate schools, had play equipment for the children and had books for the children, so that they would not be too discriminated against in these areas. So, it was indeed a very liberal, democratic attitude which prevailed in our home. And always, the children were encouraged to do everything that they could. We were expected to have good grades in school. We were expected to be concerned about less fortunate people. That sort of thing. And of course this does have a tremendous influence on one as you move along in the later years.