Corlis Turner Anderson headshot

Corlis Turner Anderson

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

We were taught Virginia history. We were taught the respect of the flag and everything. So we went to Spotswood as cheerleader. This was an away game. And when we got there, we were rushing in because we were late getting there. I sat down and put my things down, and never realized that the national anthem was being played. And I got stuck right there. And what do I do? Do I remain seated politely? Or do I jump up real quickly? Because it was like a standstill moment. So the misunderstanding, and this caused quite a lot of confusion among the students, that I refused to stand. It’s not that I refused to stand. I was in a situation that I didn’t know what to do. But I took it as, I refused to stand, because that’s the way it was presented to me. And so of course what happened was the sponsor called me up and said, what happened? I explained that I didn’t refuse, not to stand and everything. And so I was suspended from the squad. That’s the time my mother, and I don’t think I told you all of this. My mother finally showed up at Lane High School. And I hate to say this, but she did say that the principal at that time turned every shade of a Christmas tree when she got finished. But my mother was a religious woman. And she said, I pay my taxes. And she went on. But she put her foot down at that point in time. But I did have somebody on the counselor stop and say, well, was it because they had the Confederate flag on their uniforms? No. It was just an incident that happened. But it started, once again, another can of worms, where that and I felt like no one listened to me, with the suspension and everything. So it was horrible to go to a game. And I went to a game, because I was going to go. It was during basketball season, and I was going to go whether I was on that squad or not. Every time a Black person made a goal, the crowd went crazy. Every time a white person made a goal, the Blacks said nothing. 

Phyllis Leffler: Because of the tension. 

Corlis Turner Anderson: Because of the tension, and I was suspended from the cheering squad. And I felt so bad for the lone Black cheerleader, who chose to cheer. Because she was trying her best to get the crowd rowdy and stuff like that. And I can just remember seeing her just sit down and cry. Because they, once again, was she an Uncle Tom or not? No, I don’t think so. She stood up for her rights. She believed that what she was doing, to be on that cheering squad, and that’s what she wanted to do. I didn’t have the choice. I had the support. So once again, when I said when we came together, we were still a village. It’s just how we did it, still that.