Chicagoans master the art of growing older
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
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.
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
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.
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."