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  Martinsville High School Alumni
Class of 1972 Reply  |   Post Message  |   Message List
Race Relations at Mavahi in '70, '71 & '72 - 2
09/26/06     Anne (Dunn) Causey  (1972)      Adcinsc@aol.com
Hi Guys -

As you can see by the title, I need some input. I am on a message board that deals with Race Relations, Improving Race Relations and Avoiding Stereotypes - Share Positive Solutions for Resolution. Needless to say, there are many on there from all walks of life, all ages, all races, and a lot of racial slurs, bigotry, etc. which pretty much defeats the whole point of the board. DUH! After posting on there for almost 4 years, I've been pretty much told that "my view" of my growing up years, more specifically, integration and how our classes and educators handled it, is either a downright lie, or I lived in a bubble.

WITH THAT SAID, I'll offer my memories, and would ask that others, from all races, offer theirs. If I lived in a bubble, or am definitely a "true blonde", then please, I need your input.

What I remember most about the Fall of '68, was things changed for all of us and a lot of compromise. The old MHS kept the football/basketball team name, and the new Mavahi changed the school colors to Albert Harris'. At the Cleveland MHS, we could have a JV Football & Basketball team, but were told there would be no cheerleaders. I remember Paula Seagraves, Ann Shank, Kay Helms and quite a few others talking with Mr. Cumberledge and wanting to know why. We were told that a lot of changing was going on, and they didn't want to upset the apple cart anymore than necessary (a nicer way of saying that if too many white girls got on the squad, the black girls would get mad, and vice versa). Although these weren't the exact words, but the educators were told "Give us a chance, and we'll prove you wrong." They did, and we did! I remember we were allowed a Homecoming Court, but NO Homecoming Queen - same reasons. If I'm not mistaken, it wasn't until the Class of '72 that we finally had our first Homecoming Queens. It seems we were always so busy fighting the "system" (i.e. educators, school board, etc.), that it formed a bond of sorts between the races - we had a common goal.

In all my years at Mavahi, I never recall a fight between a black guy and a white guy. I remember one almost happened outside of the library in '72, and Mr. Finley walked between the two guys and said, "This isn't going happen, now get to class.", and we all scattered like mice. LOL That's not to say that one couldn't have started in the boys locker room - but I wouldn't have been privy to that. I don't ever remember people calling each other racial slurs.

NOW, all these years later, racism and bigotry seems to be more alive than ever (at least on that board I referred to), and I'm sitting here scratching my head wondering what in the world happened . . . or was I simply very naive. So I'm back to - what were your memories or recollections during those years? I really would like different perspectives. I'm posting this same question on the Class of '70, '71 and '72 message boards, inasmuch as we all were there around the same time. Thanks ahead of time.
10/10/06     Robin Meyer Frye  (1972)      robin@operandi.com
Re: Race Relations at Mavahi in '70, '71 & '72
Hi Anne,
I agree with you. My memories are thin regarding our 9th grade year. Since we started in that old 8th grade building, it was already daunting enough that we were in the main building for our freshman year. I more clearly remember specific activities that we had when we moved over to the new high school that were geared toward improving race relations. I especially think the Mr. Vickers was extremely important in working on building bridges. If my recollection is right, we had something called Project Understanding (sounds corny now, but it was effective). We met, attended each others churches, talked. It was great. I also remember Joe Starr (a GREAT Physics teacher), Mary Jane Powell, and others who cared enough and kept us on track. I think the fact that our class song was "Theme from Shaft" speaks for itself. I think that the current trend is to see everything as either black or white (no pun intended), left or right, etc. Certainly the current Administration likes to frame things that way. What we were lucky enough to have were teachers and administrators and fellow students who were willing to see middle ground. And we all benefited.
10/17/06     Anne Causey  (1972)      Adcinsc@aol.com
Re: Race Relations at Mavahi in '70, '71 & '72
Thanks Robin for your input. I loved Mr. Vickers . . . why he ever passed me, I'll never know (I could really slice and dice that stinky ol' worm and then have to start on a new one . . . can we say massacre???? LOL). Anyway, I definitely agree - the Vickers, Starrs, MJ Powell (a very unforgetable lady . . . I still use her saying "PROSCRASTINATION IS THE THIEF OF TIME".) and let's not forget Mr. Finley and Mr. Cumberledge - great authority figures.

WOW . . . we were a lucky class, weren't we? To have had so many great minds working with the youth of tomorrow.

I also give credit to our parents. Morality, decency and showing respect to others was embedded in all of us.

I'm trying to write a paper on race relations today, versus race relations in the late 60's, early 70's. Things have changed so much . . . but I need others input, even if they don't see it the way I do - I need a broader picture than my little mind. LOL

Take care . . . and thanks again.
11/01/06     Former Student Martinsville High     
Re: Race Relations at Mavahi in '70, '71 & '72
Ann,Ann,Ann don't fool yourself there was racial tension's in the Martinsville school system then and there is still today.You must remember some of Martinsville Va. history to set the stage for what the school systems have been like since Black students and white students merged into one system.Racial divide and tension has been present in Martinsville since the slave days when Sam Lion of the Hairston Plantation was murdered by one of the plantation's payed hands and then in 1951 when Martinsville Va.was home to the largest exicution of young black men anywhere in the nation "The Martinsville Seven"
Racial tensions were high at Martinsville High School and Martinsville Jr. High but the exploding point was kept just under the surface buy a group of Admin.and teachers.The men who should be credited with this are first off Clyde Williams Sr.Joe Finnely,Bill Smith,Lawerance Ivey,Bill Vickers,Bob Johnson,Bill Stultz,Bill Via these men stand out in my mind of what I remember.
11/01/06     Anne Dunn Causey  (1972)      Adcinsc@aol.com
Re: Race Relations at Mavahi in '70, '71 & '72
Hey "Former Student at Mavahi" . . . who are you??????
11/09/06     Mavahi Student     
Re: Race Relations at Mavahi in '70, '71 & '72
Ann I would rather not give my name only that I was a student at Martinsville High School and Martinsville Jr. High.I will say I lived close to you and Robert when you all lived over on Corn Tassel Trail ?? I wish you well on your paper.
11/09/06     Anne (Dunn) Causey  (1972)      Adcinsc@aol.com
Re: Race Relations at Mavahi in '70, '71 & '72
TO: Mavahi Student

I'm just trying to figure out why I didn't know about these things, Guess I did grow up in a bubble or saw things through rose-colored glasses.
Grew up new Rob and I, huh? So, did we hang out? I don't know anyone from my Corn Tassel Trail days that calls my brother Robert . . . they all called him "Rob" - except within the past 10 years or so, he has all of a sudden become "Robert". Where did that come from???? LOL
11/10/06     Former Mavahi Student     
Re: Race Relations at Mavahi in '70, '71 & '72
No Ann we never hung out together you were a few grades ahead of me .Your brother Robert did deliver our Roanoke Times Newspaper though. Ann it's not like you lived in a bubble don't get me wrong there were a lot of good times also at Martinsville High and Martinsville Jr. High. Everyday wasn't filled with racial tension but it was always within one wrong statement made one wrong name called .It was a very fine line walked by both white students and black students and things could have become very ugly very fast.Hope you and your family are doing well .
11/10/06     Anne  (1972)      Adcinsc@aol.com
Re: Race Relations at Mavahi in '70, '71 & '72
He delivered your paper, huh? Well dang - that really narrows it down. LOL His paper route was ALL of Corn Tassel (which was one loooooooooong road), Hazelwood, Valiant Lane, Clark Road . . . and maybe some others. The reason I know this is because occasionally . . . notice I said "occasionally" LOL, I would go with him in the summertime, and I would need a nap after that hike on our bikes. Plus, he put everyone's newspaper in different areas - exactly where they wanted them. One man even wanted his put in the front seat of his car, 'cause he read the paper at work. LOL
ANYWAYS . . from different responses I've received in emails, apparently I never saw what others saw. I just never saw it . . . except for the incident in '72 - and Mr. Finley broke that up dang quick!

Anyway, hope you and yours are doing okay (whoever you and yours are). LOL

Thanks for your response.
11/13/06     John Wells  (1972)      johnnywells@earthlink.net
Re: Race Relations at Mavahi in '70, '71 & '72
Hello, Anne. I don't think that you're out to lunch. I have pretty much the same vision of the race relations of those years that you do. I will add a number of comments to those that have already been left:

-- There was conflict at Mavahi, of course, but in my experience it was mostly affluent vs. not-affluent; children of blue collar vs. children of white collar; haves vs. have-nots; Druid Hills vs. Joseph Martin. And, of course, Bulldogs vs. River-Rats. Athletics gave us all a valid outlet for teenage angst.

-- I never saw a fight between white and black kids. I heard a second-hand report of one encounter in 1970, during which a knife was produced; but I did not see it and cannot verify it. And I cannot be certain that race had anything to do with that encounter.

-- Among the excellent teachers who helped control the school, I will add the name of Vernon Butler. I am glad, also, to see Lawrence Charles Ivey identified as a fine counselor.

-- We also had many student leaders (Big Dogs, etc.) who, by their maturity, set the standards for behavior. I remember Anthony Hairston ('72) as one such leader.

-- I cannot vouch for situations at other schools; I understand that George Washington of Danville had a much rougher passage of integration. But, I was not there.

-- You'll note that I attach my real name to this message. (Another Corn Tassel Trail resident.)
11/14/06     Anne (Dunn) Causey  (1973)      Adcinsc@aol.com
Re: Race Relations at Mavahi in '70, '71 & '72
Hey Johnny (you know you'll always be "Johnny" . . . not JOHN, right? LOL)

I have to agree regarding the "haves" versus the "have nots". That is one thing I really didn't like about Martinsville. I saw that long before integration began. I was a Druid Hills kid up until the 7th grade, when my parents felt like the teachers were not as experienced (with the exception of Mrs. Craighead, Ms. Wallace, etc.) - so they made me go to Patrick Henry Elem. Coming from a school of the "haves" . . . PH was a culture shock for me. I don't mean to offend anyone (and if I have, I apologize), but I couldn't comprehend that there were kids who only had one or two different outfits per week - not all, but one more than I have ever seen. I remember, as a young girl, being excited about wearing my new Fall or Spring clothes, because I had outgrown my others. BUT, when I went to PH, I was . . . I guess I felt guilty that I had so much, so I'd find myself wearing the same outfit two or three times a week just to be accepted. Like I said, PH was a real eye opener.

I have come to realize that, in a way, I was somewhat sheltered from the ugliness of the world (i.e. Martinsville Seven) - maybe because my Dad knew something like that would upset me terribly. Let's face it, I'd start crying in history class when they showed documentaries of the Holocaust. I simply couldn't comprehend such hatred. Since I have done research on Martinsville's history, I have found myself scratching my head wondering where in the world was I????

I agree with your assessment of GW in Danville. That was my parents (as well as yours) Alma Mater . . . and I do remember at one point police had to be stationed at the school.

I believe Robin was right when she said the new high school was a great plan, as it immediately became "ours" (black and white), versus the white HS or the black HS.

Thanks for your input. One thing I have realized is, the white kids (now adults) saw it differently than the black kids (now adults). Funny thing about perspective.

Hope things are good in your neck of the woods.
12/11/06     Henry Cybulski      henryc@ctc.net
Re: Race Relations at Mavahi in '70, '71 & '72
Hi Anne. My name is Henry Cybulski. I lived at 706 Corn Tassle Trail from 1969 to 1976. Four houses up from yours and across the sreet from the Fluvogs(sic).
I attended Druid Hills and then Albert Harris Jr. High before finally moving to NC where I know live. My older sister's name is Mary. I was best friends with Jonathan for the last several years we lived there. I spent quite a bit of time at your house. I loved Lilly. She was a great woman and had a big impact on my life. I miss her and I miss Jonathan. My love for vintage VW's came from sitting in your green Karman Ghia with Jonathan! Dreaming of the day we would once drive. My love for tennis came from Ms. Wells(across the street) giving us tennis balls to play with! I'm sure they got tired of us knocking on their door!!I miss those days.
Looking back please take into account my age at the time. I am 43 now. In my household as a child no unkind word was used to describe someones race. In my circle of friends I don't recall anyone talking badly about anyone because of the color of their skin. I had friends with white skin and black skin. My black friends were always very nice to me and never treated me unfairly. No incident seems to stand out because the color of ones skin. Maybe it was because of our age. We hadn't learned how to hate yet.
It wasn't until I moved to NC that I started to see hatred between the races. Mostly High School. I didn't quite understand it. I grew up in the Catholic Church and that I can remember we always had black priests. Even more to this day. So to this day I still hold the same principals as I was raised. To judge a person on the content of their character and not the color of their skin. For the past 20 years I have worked the streets in black communities. I have tried to see life through their eyes. Even if it is only for 8 hours a day.
I'm not sure if this helps out any. I was surfing the web and saw your name and had to say hello. But I think living in Martinville in the years I did helped form who I would become later in life. Although we are but one race we all come from different cultures. I have attempted to learn from and live with people who come from different cultures. Even if they live across the street.

Hope all is well with you and your family.

God Bless

Henry Cybulski
12/12/06     Anne (Dunn) Causey  (1972)      Adcinsc@aol.com
Re: Race Relations at Mavahi in '70, '71 & '72
Hey Henry -

My goodness - 43?????? You grew up too, huh? LOL All the younger kids (with the exception of Cathy & Jackie) seem to forever stay young in my minds' eye. I knew I got older - I just didn't think you guys did.

I still have the picture (that was taken by the Martinsville Bulletin) of you and Jonathan playing basketball on unicyles! You guys were a hoot! I truly miss him - but one day I will see him again. Until then, God blessed us all with wonderful memories to ease the emptiness.

Thanks for your input . . . everyone has been great about being open and honest, which is what I really wanted.

So you're in NC, huh? I'm in SC (upstate SC). Small world. Take care, and I'll let the family know we talked.
12/12/06     Henry Cybulski      henryc@ctc.net
Re: Race Relations at Mavahi in '70, '71 & '72

I also have that picture. Actually my mother has it framed at her house.

I work in Charlotte. Married 20 years. My oldest son is 18, my daughter is 16 and my youngest son is 14.

Great talking with you.


12/12/06     Jeff Belcher  (1976)      jrb@lee-mcshane.com
Re: Race Relations at Mavahi in '70, '71 & '72
To give you my two cents worth on race relations. Segregation was a big thing, although when you are in the majority, I don't think it affects you like it does the minority. But it was there, no doubt about it. I remember when I was in the 7th Grade, we were getting bussed to Albert Harris. I heard some adults, (thank god not mine)scared to death and saying bad things (be careful, those kids will beat you up, you better carry a stick or something. I swear, it was pathetic and almost laughable). When it happened, it was a great transition with a lot of leadership around every corner to help you. I enjoyed it immensely and developed many friendships with people from (the other sides of town). With that being said, there still was a separateness, you never went to their house, they never came to yours, there was no dating, etc., (at least in public). So, yes segragation was there, black and white/sides of town, in big fashion and I think it probably still is to some extent. I personally never had any problems at all, with anyone, black, white, rich, poor, etc. I am not the spokesperson for all, just for me.

With this being said, I am a firm believer that Martinsville was the most segrated place as far as sections of town I have ever seen. There were four or five different areas and you pretty much stayed in your section for the most part.

1. Fayette Street Section
2. Southside
3. Northside
4. Druid Hills
5. East Side

My family lived on the southside of town, which was probably not the most desirable place, but my parents just chose to live there. I can say without a doubt, I loved growing up there and learned a lot that has helped me throughout my life. With no formal education after High School, my life lessons on the Southside and growing up in M'Ville have helped me in many ways. Growing up with/fighting and playing endless hours of ball with Roy and Wally Clark, the "Custer" brothers, Glen Campbell, Henry Ramsey, Ricky Richards, Mike Griffin, Skip Jones, Ed Gowers, Mike Cochran, Randy and Ray Washington, Robert Amos, Roger Jones, Buzz Duff, and a hundred more guys was unbelieveable. Going to the Joseph Martin basement in the summers and Southside Pool was not a bad way to grow up. We saw a lot and learned a lot growing up on the "southside." You ask any of these guys and I will 'guarantee' they are proud of the southside, as I am sure everyone else from "their side of town" was as well. Most of these kids folks grew up there as well, and/or lived there at some time in their life. My dad was born in 1919 an went to Joseph Martin Elementary School, the same school I did. I must have spent 10 years playing ball on that asphalt playground. I loved it. I will admit, it pains me to no end when I go back there now. Drugs have had a big influence on that side of town these days. My mother moved away from there at age 79 because it did not seem safe anymore.

When I got in high school, I had friends from all over and found that the "have versus have nots" was not necessarily a money thing, but a side of town issue and the segregation in this regard was sometimes a "self-inflicted wound."

With everything being said, I have lived away from Martinsville now for over 30 years. When I retire, I could move back in a minute. I know things are tough there now, but I am a firm believer that Martinsville will be better off in the years to come and that the haves v. have not situation will meld into a bigger pot when the mills and other factories cease to exist and different jobs and industries, not locally owned, take over.

Excuse my ramblings.

12/12/06     Anne (Dunn) Causey  (1972)      Adcinsc@aol.com
Re: Race Relations at Mavahi in '70, '71 & '72
Actually Jeff, I enjoyed your ramblings. I've always said that when I retired, I would probably retire to Martinsville. Yet, while growing up . . . I couldn't wait to get away. When I go home to see my family, I never see anyone that I knew (which the exception of the one time I ran into Mr. Finley at WalMart) . . . and fortunately, Sheriff Draper hasn't caught me speeding through town yet. LOL

Thanks again for everyone's input . . . the views I have gotten seem to be based on race, as well as which side of town one grew up on. Very enlightening.
12/15/06     FORMER MAVAHI STUDENT     
Re: Race Relations at Mavahi in '70, '71 & '72
Hello there agian Anne.I 'm glad you got several good responses from your post .I hope your paper did well.Whats your next topic for your next paper ?? LOL
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