21 September 2018
Dorothy Smalls. An 89-year-old women born in 1929. She was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina along with three other siblings. The grew up in a small neighborhood called West Greenville, where most of my family members live now. Out of the four of them she is the second oldest. The youngest child, who is my great grandmother, is her sister and somehow that makes her my great, great aunt.
Growing up, she lived most her life during the 20th century. During this segregation was still in action. As in African American during this time you were limited to freedom due to Jim Crow laws that didn’t allow African Americans and Whites to use the same restroom, schools, or vote. Whites had 1 high school, a junior high, and 14 grammar schools. On the other hand, African Americans only had 1 high school and 4 grammar schools. Dorothy attended West Greenville School kindergarten up to 7th grade. She then went to Sterling High school but couldn’t finish. According to her they didn’t have textbooks which made getting an education really difficult. She attended that school all the way up till 10th grade.
In Greenville cotton was a primary crop. The county had 32 textile mills employing over 14,500 people. Actually, according to Greenville news, the city was the only county in the nation where cotton was grown, ginned, spun, woven, dyed, finished, and sewn into garments. By the age of 13 she had obtained her first job working at one of the mills with her parents. It was rare for an African American to get a job inside the mill so the fact that they did they were either a janitor or a sweeper. On the other hand, that job was generally for women. Her father probably worked outside in the yards cleaning and lifting bales of cotton. Just to make enough money she worked more than anything and barely went to school. At the most each of them were paid between $10-15 dollars a month putting them somewhere in the middle-class range. Sometimes to save money they would make their own clothes. Because they worked so hard and used their money wisely they didn’t really struggle and had enough money for the things they needed. Growing up this ...