Home | Contents | Next
Student Reflections

_____What I will always remember about my interview with Independence Heights resident, Mrs. Vivian Seals, is the lesson I learned about valuing family members and friends. She probably does not know it, but in her stories she made me understand that friends and family will not always be here, so we need to enjoy the time we have with them.

_____Mrs. Seals was a serious, but kind person when she talked to me. Sometimes she laughed or seemed to not take things seriously, but she opened a door to herself and her thoughts and let me in. At first she told me about playing with homemade toys and explained how the neighborhood kids would gather to play baseball or kickball. But, then I asked if she still talked to her old friends and family. That’s when she said that she “can’t see them anymore” because most of them are not alive now. At that moment, she went from cheerful to gloomy. She was closing the door to her memories when I found a window back in. It opened with my tears. I suddenly realized that I will not have everyone I know with me always and that they will not always have me. Millions of thoughts were spinning through my head, but I had to continue with the interview. I realized that Mrs. Seals was happy because she was working to save her family and neighborhood histories. Now, I am thinking about doing the same thing. My aunt started a book on my family, the Zambrano family, and I want to continue it.

_____In our interview, Mrs. Seals taught me that you cannot depend on a person forever, but to not worry about it because you always can remember them. I will never forget Mrs. Seals for this special lesson she taught me.

_____I never thought that interviewing people older than me would change my opinions about things, but my interview with Mrs. Vivian Seals made me see that I should appreciate the things I have more than I do.

_____One story from Mrs. Seals’ interview that I will always remember is when two white men knocked on her parents’ door and asked Mr. Hubbard, her father, to use the telephone. The men asked very rudely and made it obvious that they were not from around the neighborhood. Mrs. Seals remembers thinking that the men were mad because “a lot of good things were happening” around Independence Heights for African American people. The white men were jealous because they thought that they were better than African Americans and were jealous of the nice, peaceful neighborhood. When Mr. Hubbard grabbed a weapon and the two men heard it click, they decided that they really did not need to use the phone and left.

_____It all started on a busy, cloudy morning. While my classmates and I were waiting for our bus, I could not even imagine what was waiting for me later that day when we would interview people from Independence Heights. People were practicing their questions. Others were talking and laughing. We all were prepared for an unforgettable day and sure that we were going to learn something new.

_____My classmates and I began by unloading our equipment, and I took a very deep breath. One of the first interviewees was Mrs. Vivian Seals. She had very interesting stories about the actions of white people toward blacks during segregation. Mrs. Seals described how on the streetcar blacks had to sit in the back and would get smoke and soot in their faces from the windows. She told us how blacks would have to use different sinks than whites and that the sinks for blacks did not have towels or soap like the ones for whites did. Mrs. Seals also told us that her dad was once the mayor of Independence Heights.

_____I had a fabulous experience doing my job during the interviews. I was sort of like a director for all of the teams and made sure that everything was fine. I set up schedules for people to go to lunch, and I made sure that all of the Independence Heights people were interviewed before a certain amount of time.

_____My friends and I were all impressed with how well we had done. We were happy that we left knowing more of the history of Independence Heights and that we had improved our school’s reputation.

_____Last May our art class worked on a project. We learned all about Independence Heights and that it was once its own city. The people who lived there made the city and Burrus was the first school. Before we drew our pictures we researched John Biggers’ art. We looked at videos and prints of John Biggers’ work to get ideas. We also talked about how Independence Heights was back then, the mayor and what he did. The school was named after a man named James Dallas Burrus who was once a slave, but he had two degrees and was rich. He left his fortune to Fisk University when he died.

Home | Contents | Back to Top