Title: Oral History Interview with Lillian Taylor Lyons, September 11, 1994. Interview Q-0094.
Interviewer: McCoy, Eddie
Interviewee: Lyons, Lillian Taylor
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.