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AACHM Oral History Excerpt: Audrey Lucas

When: September 13, 2016 at Downtown Library

Audrey Lucas was born in 1934 and raised in Ann Arbor where she fondly recalls her school days at Jones School. She talks about activities at the Dunbar Center where she had the pleasure of singing at various city events, and some of Ann Arbor's black neighborhoods and businesses. Ms. Lucas worked for the University of Michigan Health System for 47 years, the last 35 before her retirement as a human resources consultant.

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View Audrey Lucas's complete oral history.



  • [00:00:17:20] INTERVIEWER: So you said you graduated from high school. Did you attend high school and middle school and elementary, or high school and middle school here in Ann Arbor?
  • [00:00:26:10] AUDREY LUCAS: All of it except the first grade.
  • [00:00:31:02] INTERVIEWER: All right, so tell me what schools.
  • [00:00:32:18] AUDREY LUCAS: I went to Jones School, and then, of course, at that time Jones School went through the ninth grade. And then we went to Ann Arbor High School, 10 through 12.
  • [00:00:44:16] INTERVIEWER: All right.
  • [00:00:45:02] AUDREY LUCAS: Yes, and, of course, as you know Jones School was primarily a black school, because African-Americans attended because that's the way the neighborhood was. That's where they allowed us to live: 5th Avenue, 4th Avenue, Beakes Street. And so, consequently, we went to Jones school, and we walked. Fortunately for me, I only lived-- always just a few blocks away from the school when I went to Jones school, so it was very easy for me to go to school, because I didn't have a long distance to go to-- from.
  • [00:01:20:09] And we came through the time where we-- it was segregation, because we were only allowed to live certain places. But as a young person I never felt like I was being discriminated against. I guess I just-- sometimes you just don't know what you don't know. That's what you know. And we lived in a neighborhood with Greeks and Mexicans, and that was just our-- who our friends were.
  • [00:01:56:28] I remember when I went to Jones School, the teacher said, oh, we have a new girl in class, and Fran, I'm giving her to you. She was a Greek girl that lived down the street from where I lived, and she and I were friends forever. And I'd always tell her you have to take care of me remember? I was given to you to take care of so.
  • [00:02:23:25] INTERVIEWER: So in terms of teachers at that school, were they African-Americans or?
  • [00:02:28:06] AUDREY LUCAS: No.
  • [00:02:29:12] INTERVIEWER: OK.
  • [00:02:29:26] AUDREY LUCAS: No, we had no African-American teachers.
  • [00:02:32:29] INTERVIEWER: But it was predominantly minorities at that school?
  • [00:02:36:20] AUDREY LUCAS: At that time, yes. And as I said, that was just the way of life, and that's what we experienced, and didn't think anything about it, because you, sort of, felt like this was the way life is at this point in time and you just accepted it.
  • [00:02:55:02] INTERVIEWER: Sometimes you don't know what you don't know.
  • [00:02:56:16] AUDREY LUCAS: That's exactly right. I will say that the teachers were always very nice. The only thing I think some of them did not really encourage you to work to your fullest benefit, to really stretch, and think about college courses or things that were going to help you after you got out of school. So I think that's one of the things that I regret. Even though we lived in a university town, it was like you they had expectations that you would probably go and work in a kitchen someplace or mop floors or do that janitorial kind of work, as opposed to having you stretch your imagination to really feel that you could do other things.
  • [00:03:50:15] INTERVIEWER: Even now as a former educator that conversation would come up about not having those high expectation for African-American students, so that continues to be a concern.
  • [00:04:03:08] AUDREY LUCAS: Yes.
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September 13, 2016 at Downtown Library

Length: 00:04:08

Copyright: Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)

Rights Held by: Ann Arbor District Library


Jones Elementary School
Local History
Oral Histories
Race & Ethnicity
AACHM Living Oral History
Audrey Lucas