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Hidden History: Breaking down barriers at Evansville schools

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SHELLEY– AS WE CONTINUTE TO CELEBRATE BLACK HISTORY MONTH– A STORY NOW ABOUT THE LOCAL WOMAN WHO WAS THE FIRST BLACK TEACHER AT AN ALL WHITE SCHOOL IN EVANSVILLE — AND WHO CHANGED THE PERSPECTIVE FOR MANY– EVEN BEYOND HER CLASSROOM EYEWITNESS NEWS MIRANDA MEISTER SAT DOWN WITH 87 YEAR OLD MATTIE MILLER TO HEAR HER STORY

IN 19-59– JUST TWO YEARS INTO HER TEACHING CAREER– 21 YEAR OLD MATTIE MILLER WALKED THE HALLS OF HARPER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL SHE WAS THE FIRST EVER BLACK TEACHER TO TEACH IN THE ALL WHITE SCHOOL MATTIE MILLER- RETIRED EVSC TEACHER 06:06:32:26 "I was a little afraid of going to Harper Elementary because I didn't even know where it was to be honest" MATTIE MILLER- RETIRED EVSC TEACHER 06:07:56:27 "I was a little afraid of going to an elementary school that I knew nothing about, on the east side of Evansville" KNOWING SHE WASN'T WELCOMED- SHE SET HER FEARS ASIDE– TO TAKE ON HER NEW ROLE MATTIE MILLER- RETIRED EVSC TEACHER 06:10:08:15 "Many of the parents didn't want me there

" PROTESTING HER ARRIVAL– SOMETHING MILLER DIDN'T KNOW FOR YEARS IT TOOK A LONG TIME FOR THE EVANSVILLE VANDERBURGH SCHOOL CORPORATION TO BRING ANOTHER BLACK TEACHER TO HARPER MATTIE MILLER- RETIRED EVSC TEACHER 06:25:31:15 "I think it was 12 years I was there a long time before any other teachers were selected But they did transfer some black students into my room" UNDOING A SEGREGATION RULE THAT WAS SET DECADES PRIOR

MILLER SAYS WHEN SHE WAS ASKED TO MOVE FROM THE ALL BLACK LINCOLN SCHOOL– TO THE ALL WHITE HARPER– THE EVSC PUT A BIG RESPONSABILITY ON HER SHOULDERS MATTIE MILLER- RETIRED EVSC TEACHER 06:22:44:26 "They told me that if I failed when they sent me there that they would never hire another black teacher and I thought I'm only 21 years old" STAND UP: MILLER TELL'S ME– DURING HER TIME HERE SHE ENCOUNTERED prejudice SPECIFICALLY- ONE TIME WHEN A STUDENT WROTE A RACIAL SLUR ON HER CLASSROOM WINDOW

MATTIE MILLER- RETIRED EVSC TEACHER 06:18:09:19 "And I said, 'you know what? I want you to do something for me' he said 'what?' I said 'I want you to get the word out of your system so you will never do this again And I said 'now what I want you to do is start saying the word it really was * and I thought, I said 'you start at a whisper and then just raise your voice and keep saying it and scream it as loud as you can I said I think this will help you get it out of your system' And I sat behind the desk and he started of, very softly, and I said' now get louder, louder, louder

' I said, 'as loud as you want to' There was no one there but the two of us and he sat there and started doing this and he started crying and I started crying because I thought maybe this is a mean thing to do to this student but maybe he will get it out of his system" MILLER SAYS- DOUBTS FROM CO- WORKERS OR PARENTS NEVER GOT TO HER BECAUSE SHE KNEW WHAT SHE WAS THERE TO DO MATTIE MILLER- RETIRED EVSC TEACHER 06:21:38:26 " I just wanted to teach and it really didn't matter with me that they were white

I just wanted to teach" SHELLEY– MILLER SAYS SHE WAS MOST PROUD OF THE STUDENTS THAT CAME THROUGH HER CLASSROOM- AND THE RELATIONSHIPS SHE FORMED WITH THEM SHELLEY– COMING UP ON FIRST AT FOUR THE PRESIDENT'S TRIP TO INDIA INCLUDES A HUGE,

Source: Youtube

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