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Sheyann Webb Christburg Interviewed on January 29, 1998

Sheyann Webb Christburg Interviewed on January 29, 1998

BCRI Oral History Collection
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00:00:03 - Beginning of Interview

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Partial Transcript: This is an interview with Mrs. Sheyann Webb Christburg for the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s Oral History Project.

Subjects: African American history; Civil rights movement

GPS: Birmingham Civil Rights Insitutute
Map Coordinates: 33.516200, -86.813870
Hyperlink: BCRI website
00:00:42 - Family Background

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Partial Transcript: Welcome to Birmingham. I just want to start by asking you some general questions about your family.

Segment Synopsis: She was born and raised in Selma in a large family that in now spread across the south.

Subjects: African American families; African American history; Selma (Ala.)

00:04:45 - Education Background

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Partial Transcript: When you were growing up, your mother and your father were working.

Segment Synopsis: As a child in school, she was very involved and not afraid to talk to her teachers and adults, which led to her awareness of the Civil Rights Movement.

Subjects: African American children; African American teachers and the community; Civil rights movement

00:09:50 - Influences Growing Up

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Partial Transcript: Even prior to getting involved in the movement, you sound as if you were outgoing and didn’t meet any strangers and you were one of those children who would demand in a child’s way that things would happen the way that you would want them to happen.

Segment Synopsis: She was influenced by her teachers as well as from Dr. King.

Subjects: African American children; African American children--Education; African American teachers and the community; Civil rights movement; King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968

00:13:01 - Consciousness of Segregation

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Partial Transcript: You had mentioned as a young child you didn’t understand what was going on.

Segment Synopsis: She recognized and questioned segregation as a child.

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions; United States--Race relations

00:15:21 - Events Leading to Civil Rights Involvement

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Partial Transcript: What are the events that stand out in your mind, more than any other, that relates to your involvement?

Segment Synopsis: She was in the middle of the Bloody Sunday march that traumatized her but catalyzed her involvement.

Subjects: Civil rights movement; Selma (Ala.); Selma to Montgomery Rights March (1965 : Selma, Ala.)

00:20:59 - Experience of the Bloody Sunday March

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Partial Transcript: What was that day like for a seven year old?

Segment Synopsis: She recounts details of the traumatic experiences at the Bloody Sunday march.

Subjects: African American churches; Civil rights demonstrations--Alabama; Civil rights movement; Police brutality--United States; Selma (Ala.); Selma to Montgomery Rights March (1965 : Selma, Ala.)

00:25:56 - Involvement of Youth

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Partial Transcript: Would you allow your children to be involved in the movement, if there was a movement going on of that nature today?

Segment Synopsis: Since she was involved as a child, she would let her children participate in a similar movement and sees importance in youth involvement.

Subjects: African American children; African Americans--Civil rights; Civil rights movement

00:28:12 - Relation to Dr. Martin Luther King

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Partial Transcript: The book Selma, Lord, Selma suggests that there was rather an intimate relationship between yourself, Rachel, and Dr. King.

Segment Synopsis: Meeting and talking to Dr. King as a child had a huge influence on her life.

Subjects: African American children; African American churches; African Americans--Civil rights--History; Civil rights movement; King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968; Selma (Ala.)

00:34:27 - Growing Up near Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church

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Partial Transcript: How far was your home from the church?

Segment Synopsis: Growing up near Brown's Chapel allowed her to attend it frequently and hear Dr. King speak.

Subjects: African American children; African American churches; African Americans--Civil rights--Songs and music; Civil rights movement; King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968; Selma (Ala.)

00:37:10 - Memories of Dr. King

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Partial Transcript: How many times do you remember seeing Dr. King or being in his presence?

Segment Synopsis: She recalls going to Brown's Chapel and hearing Dr. King's speeches.

Keywords: Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Subjects: African American churches; African Americans--Education; Civil rights movement; King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968; Selma (Ala.)

00:38:40 - Involvement without her Parents

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Partial Transcript: Did you ever question why your parents were not involved?

Segment Synopsis: She became involved in the Movement despite her parent's not being involved.

Subjects: African American children; African American families; Civil rights movement

00:39:45 - Dr. King's Assassination

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Partial Transcript: You were nine or ten when Dr. King was assassinated.

Segment Synopsis: She remembers when Dr. King was murdered and how she came to terms with the event and his lose.

Subjects: African Americans--Civil rights--History--20th century; Civil rights movement; King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968; Political assassination

00:43:59 - Activities after 1968

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Partial Transcript: After Dr. King was killed you keep saying you grew up, you were growing up in the movement.

Segment Synopsis: After Dr. King's murdered she started to focus on school desegregation.

Subjects: African American youth; African Americans--Segregation; Civil rights movement; Segregation in education--United States

00:45:32 - Attending a White High School

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Partial Transcript: Were you one of the first to go into the White high school?

Segment Synopsis: She was one of the first to desegregate one of the white high schools and was able to participate in extracurricular activities.

Subjects: African American youth; Civil rights movement; Racism--United States--History--20th century; Segregation in education--United States; Selma (Ala.); United States--Race relations

00:47:46 - School Activities during Integration

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Partial Transcript: What was the process of becoming a cheerleader?

Segment Synopsis: She persisted at the white high school despite the racism and challenges she faced.

Subjects: African American high school students; African American youth; African Americans--Civil rights; High school students--Political activity; Racism in education--United States; Segregation in education--United States; Selma (Ala.); United States--Race relations

00:53:52 - Attending Tuskegee University

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Partial Transcript: After high school, why didn’t you decide to go to Alabama or Auburn?

Segment Synopsis: She appreciated attending Tuskegee, where she finally decided to go into social work.

Subjects: African American college students; America's historically Black colleges and universities; College student government; Tuskegee University

00:57:44 - Working with Youth after College

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Partial Transcript: As I completed my college education I decided that I would return home with the possibility of still having some interest in politics.

Segment Synopsis: She started a program for helping youth, which was self-sufficiently funded.

Subjects: African American social workers; African American women civic leaders; African American youth; Montgomery (Ala.)

01:02:51 - Employment at Alabama State University

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Partial Transcript: Now what do you do at Alabama State?

Segment Synopsis: She is now a student activities coordinator, where, among other places, she has spoken about her experiences in the Civil Rights Movement.

Subjects: African American women authors; African American women college administrators; African Americans--Civil rights--History; Alabama State University; College students; Montgomery (Ala.)