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Littleton / Childhood Memories and Family, Part One

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Childhood Memories and Family, Part One Interviewer: To start off with, I’d like to ask you when and where you were born and what your parents did and what your childhood was like wherever you grew up? Littleton: I was born in Odessa, TX, December 9, 1957. We lived in Crane, TX, but by Crane being a small town of probably three thousand people, my mother gave birth to me here in Odessa at Medical Center Hospital. I attended school in Crane, TX. The majority of my family is from Crane. I graduated from Crane High School in 1976. I had a very unique childhood. My stepfather was born with one kidney and he became very ill and my mom was always with him. During my junior—yeah, I was a junior—in junior high school, my dad’s only kidney collapsed, and my mother was by his side. Well, with Crane being a small city, everybody was your family. The preachers, the teachers were one big family. Plus, my grandparents lived there and when I was in the seventh grade, I had to step up and really be the mother and father to my brothers and sisters. Along with being the mother and father, I had to continue my schoolwork. It was a big challenge. It really was. My grandmother was there. My aunts were there, but I just had to step up and take over. Every two or three weeks, my mom would come home and kind of make sure everything was okay, but I had a lot of my—I was really pushed into a leadership role. I’m from a family of strong people, especially women, so it was in me. It just had to be on display a lot earlier than what I anticipated. My father was a deacon, so it was on Sundays, you go to church. From sun up to sun down, you’re in church. On Tuesdays, you’re in church. On Wednesdays, you’re in church. Which was a good thing because our foundation was based—a Christ-based foundation. So that was really good. In high school I was an athlete. Ran track, played basketball, played volleyball. So, if I wasn’t studying my books, I was involved in sports. My freshman year in high school, I got nominated to play with the varsity volleyball team. So, I kind of dropped all the other sports and played volleyball. I love volleyball. Growing up in Crane, TX was very special. As I reflect back on my childhood in Crane, I appreciate it because like any little small town, Crane had its problems, but people were people in Crane. You didn’t see black people. You didn’t see brown people. You didn’t see white people. You saw people. In my class, there was seventy-six of us and there were two—there were four blacks out of seventy-six people. Four blacks in my graduating class. Two African-American girls and two African-American men. So, people were people. Any given day, you would come to my house and there may be ten or fifteen little white boys just playing. In high school, mainly besides the volleyball team, all of my friends were white boys. I didn’t look at them as white boys. They were my friends. We were friends and that’s how I grew up. People, regardless of their color, they’re my friends and we were one big family. When I did get to high school, I’ve never been a person that—you know the cliché that everybody says is “Stay in your place.” I don’t know my place. I mean, what’s my place? I have the drum major instinct, so if I’m involved, I’m going to run it. People say when I grow up I want to be a teacher. A teacher? I don’t want to be a schoolteacher, I want to be the superintendent. My parents instilled that in my and growing up in Crane, that was instilled in me. Lead the team. Don’t just be the team player. Lead the team. When I got to high school, the student council, I’m looking around and you have all these yuppie Anglo kids on the student council and I’m like hold up. The student council is just not made up of—you got to understand growing up in Crane, all of the white kids and families—Crane is a little, rich oil town, if I might say that. So, everybody—if you’re rich, everybody’s rich. So, I’m like, “Oh, so y’all think just because y’all are rich and y’all have it going on, I can’t be on the student council.”

Interview Interview with Joann Littleton
Subjects Family
Family › Childhood Experiences
Religion › Churches
Race Relations
Race Relations › Black-White Race Relations
Education › Secondary Education
Education › Education and Integration
Family › Parents
Family › Siblings
Education › Extracurricular Activities › Sports
Tags Crane High School
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Interview date 2016-07-06
Interview source CRBB Summer 2016
Interviewees Littleton, Joann
Duration 00:07:08
Citation "Childhood Memories and Family, Part One," from Joann Littleton oral history interview with ,  July 06, 2016, Odessa, TX, Civil Rights in Black and Brown Interview Database,, accessed December 15, 2019