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Oral History Interview with Lillian Taylor Lyons, September 11, 1994. Interview Q-0094. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Lillian Taylor Lyons was born and raised in Oxford, North Carolina, in the early twentieth century. Lyons begins her interview by describing her family history, reaching back to her parents' experiences in Virginia and North Carolina. Her father was born enslaved in 1850 and accompanied his master with the Confederate army during the Civil War, while her mother was born just on the cusp of the Civil War and, according to Lyons, was not enslaved. After briefly explaining her father's work as an expert carpenter, Lyons shifts to a discussion of her mother's education in a school for African American children in Granville County, North Carolina, which was run by white Canadians following the Civil War. Education was important in Lyons' family, and she describes in some detail how she and her siblings all went to the Mary Potter school in Oxford. Following her own graduation in 1919, Lyons attended college and became a school teacher. In addition to describing her family history, her education, and her work as a teacher, Lyons devotes considerable attention to a discussion of race relations, particularly as it related to skin tone, in Oxford. Oxford was especially "forward-looking" in its views on race relations, as evidenced by the high value placed on African American education, according to Lyons. Researchers interested in the local history of Granville County will find the final third of the interview particularly useful for Lyons' extensive comments on Granville County families and their interactions.
    Excerpts
  • Family history and parents' experiences before and after the Civil War
  • Describing the African American community in Oxford, North Carolina
  • Importance of African American education to Oxford's racial progress
  • Lighter skin tones in Oxford result of coercive interracial relations between whites and slaves
  • Comparing skin tone among African Americans in Oxford, North Carolina, and Florida
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  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.