Corlis Turner Anderson headshot

Corlis Turner Anderson

Jefferson Elementary, Venable Elementary, Burnley-Moran Elementary, Walker Elementary, and Lane High School

Corlis Turner Anderson: Now, there’s been families that sent their kids from the very first day one of first grade to Venable. And so there were some Blacks there. But they had us very neatly separated. So like in my fifth grade year, there was four classrooms of fifth graders. And there was one Black in each classroom. 

Phyllis Leffler: Why do you think it was done that way? 

Corlis Turner Anderson: I’m not quite sure. I didn’t like it. I hated it. I hated it, to be perfectly honest. I felt myself being sick a lot, just feeling, because I just felt like I wasn’t accepted. And that was the first time...  I did make a couple of friends. And that was my first time that I was called the N-word, in that negative...  And it was like, this friend of mine had clay. We were making clay models. And I said, well let me keep this, and I’ll finish mine. We were playing with it. And I’ll give it to you after the school. I didn’t see her, but I saw her brother. And I said, will you please give this to your sister? And he said, I’m not gonna take anything from a nigger. So it was a shock. But I never told my mother. It was something I felt like, it was my burden at that age to carry, to know that yes, I am different. And yes, people were not quite as accepting as I would have liked it to have been.