image: University of Chicago Magazine - logo

link to: featureslink to: class news, books, deathslink to: chicago journal, college reportlink to: investigationslink to: editor's notes, letters, chicagophile, course work
link to: back issueslink to: contact forms, address updateslink to: staff info, ad rates, subscriptions

  Interviews by
  Charlotte Snow

  Photography by
  Dan Dry


  > > Coming of age
  > > Positively medieval
  > > Elements of style

  > > Gift trapped

Ten Chicagoans master the art of growing older

image: "Coming of Age" headlineMadeline Stratton Morris, 93  New condominiums are going up across the street from the Hyde Park flat where Madeline Stratton Morris, X'42, has lived for 46 years. A retired teacher, she's credited with introducing the study of African--American history to the Chicago public--schools curriculum. In her solarium warmed by the afternoon sun, she sets Louis Armstrong's Hello, Dolly LP spinning on her Magnavox turntable.

image: Madeline Stratton Morris, 93"The issue of race has encompassed my life and that of other black people. It narrowed the kinds of experiences we could have and even our right to be a human being. Certain things were just expected. When we moved into this apartment, there was what was called a 'colored price' and a 'white price.' That was expected. But we were friends with a white couple who bought the whole building at the better price and then sold our place to us at a fair price. When something decent like that happened, it was a surprise.

"Teaching was one of the few things a black woman could do. I taught at Emerson School on West Walnut for about 15 years, and later at A. O. Sexton School on South Langley for another 17. Teachers were trained better when I came along, and children weren't as unruly as they are now. Parents were more involved with the school and taught their children to be polite. My father expected all six of us children to be sitting at the table at dinnertime--and to be early at the table on Sundays. The expectations of parents are different today. Social promotion is bad, too, for children, because they aren't encouraged to feel that they have accomplished something.

"I wrote two textbooks--Strides Forward: Afro--American Biographies and Negroes Who Helped Build America--because, as a group, black people would never be accepted if no one had ever seen us or heard about us. One of the important reasons for writing these books was so that young black children could know some information and take pride in themselves.

"When I give advice, I emphasize education. It's how much education you have and what schools you attend that matters. Go to the best school you can afford and study, study, study--because that's the entrée to whatever you want to do. Enjoy the challenges; there must be some joy in it all. And have some feeling about God--a belief in some force beyond ourselves."

link to: Ferdinand Kramer link to: top of the page link to: "Coming of Age" link to: Wallace Rusterholtz


  > > Volume 92, Number 2

  > > Class News

  > > Books
  > > Deaths

  > > Chicago Journal

  > > College Report

  > > Investigations

  > > Editor's Notes

  > > Letters
  > > Coursework
  > > Chicagophile



uchicago® ©2000 The University of Chicago® Magazine 1313 E. 60th St., Chicago, IL 60637
phone: 773/702-2163 fax: 773/702-2166