Helena Abdullah: So that’s the only reason that she was able to leave home to go to school. Interviewer: So, there’s also a legacy of resistance? Helena Abdullah: Quiet defiance. Yes, indeed. Interviewer: Resistance and determination. Helena Abdullah: Yes, because only by getting an education could you better your predicament. My dad’s stepfather, because my dad’s father died when he was about six up at Texas College where he was a professor. When his dad died, and my grandmother left Texas College, she went to Prairie View and when she was at Prairie View she met my step grandfather who was an educator. He was raised in St. Augustine. I also have a letter that he wrote to the Board of Education to get his teaching certificate. I think he was about 16 or 17 years old. But he’d gone through school. At that time, if you’d gone to school three or four years, you were pretty much well educated. Like I said, he grew up on a farm in St. Augustine and that was his way of coming above his circumstances. Not that he was ashamed of being off a farm, he never was ashamed of that. Oh, there are so many stories I could tell about him because I never knew my real grandfather, but he was my grandfather. But he did so many things that were so astonishing. I’ll tell you this and then we can move on. I remember when I was a young girl, I was no older than ten or twelve years old. My grandfather was principal over the high school here, his name was W.E. Jones. In the kitchen, I was always dining at my grandparents because they didn’t live very far from us. He said “Joanie, go in there and check in that pot. See how my meat is doing.” I said “OK, daddy Wade.” I went in there and took that lid off that pot. Doggone hog’s head looking up at me. I screamed! He got the best kick out of that. That tickled him so much. It scared me to death. I never envisioned him having a hog’s head and those beady eyes were looking dead up at me. He and my grandmother both got a real kick out of that. That just shows you, he never came from his roots because he was making hog head’s cheese. He had a garden in his back yard. He had a garden every year. He never forgot his roots, but he also instilled education in his children and everyone that was around him. He wanted excellence and he demanded that out of the school students. He knew blacks were going to have a hard time as it was. Education was our only key to getting better and being better and to change the world or your community. If you don’t feel like you got to change the world, at least, your community.
|Interview||Interview with Helena Abdullah|
|Family › Childhood Experiences|
|Family › Parents|
|Prairie View A&M University|
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|Interview source||CRBB Summer 2016|
|Citation||"Family History, Part Two," from Helena Abdullah oral history interview with Jasmin Howard, June 30, 2016, Nacogdoches, TX, Civil Rights in Black and Brown Interview Database, https://crbb.tcu.edu/clips/2299/family-history-part-2, accessed September 29, 2020|