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Calyen / High School Experiences

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Interviewer: So, you mentioned high school. When did you start high school? Calyen: In 1965. Interviewer: Did you have any notable experiences in high school? Calyen: At that time, segregation that we had in the schools, we could go to Conroe High or either we could stay at Washington. My mom had a trick question for me, she said, “You don’t think you can handle the Conroe High School?” I said, “Well, I know I can handle it.” She said, “Why don’t you go?” (doorbell rings and video pauses) Interviewer: So, I think where we left off was when you first started high school and what year was that again? Calyen: Nineteen sixty-six, I enrolled in Conroe High School. Interviewer: As a freshman? Calyen: No, I was a junior. Interviewer: You were a junior. So, freshman year you started at Booker T. Washington in 1965? Sixty-three? Sixty-four? Calyen: Sixty-four. Interviewer: In terms of—you started at Conroe in 1966. So, what were the differences between? Calyen: Well, we were new there so things that we didn’t know and things that we weren’t familiar with. I don’t know how many it was, but things were a lot different because we were the strangers in town and we were black, and they were white. They were the majority and we were the minority. Interviewer: Less than ten? Calyen: It was more than ten. Interviewer: Less than thirty? Calyen: Less than thirty. Interviewer: So, this would be voluntary integration? Calyen: Some grades were mandatory, and others were voluntary. Interviewer: You were a voluntary? Calyen: Yeah, I was a voluntary. Interviewer: So, you were earlier speaking about why you made the decision to go to Conroe. Can you tell me more about that? Calyen: My mom asked me in a roundabout way, “Do you think that you can meet the challenge?” I said, “Oh mom, I’m just as smart as anybody else!” She said, “Well, why don’t you prove it?” So, I said, “Okay, I’m going to do it.” So, I moved to Conroe High. Interviewer: Why do you think your mom kind of encouraged you to go to Conroe? Calyen: I guess she wanted me to—parents back in those days, parents had fulfilled dreams for you that they wanted you to do. After I got to high school, I kind of changed my concept. I found myself still being a good student, working hard. The Vietnam War was going on and started. Some of my friends that had gone over—I think, at that time, one of my cousins, James Washington, he had got killed and other young men from the school from Washington were going over. It was on the news all over. Every time you looked up there was a story about Vietnam. I found myself there a year later, two years later.

Interview Interview with Henry Calyen
Subjects Family
Discrimination or Segregation
Education › Secondary Education
Education › Education and Integration
Military › Vietnam War
Family › Parents
Tags Conroe High School, Conroe, TX
Washington, James
Booker T. Washington Junior High School, Conroe, TX
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Interview date 2016-07-06
Interview source CRBB Summer 2016
Interviewees Calyen, Henry
Locations Conroe, TX
Duration 00:03:36
Citation "High School Experiences," from Henry Calyen oral history interview with ,  July 06, 2016, Conroe, TX, Civil Rights in Black and Brown Interview Database,, accessed September 19, 2019