Bronx Senior Storytellers - D Lee Ezell - part 2 of 4
Edryan: So any major influences in your life? Like you know, how impactful was your mom, your parents, you had a big family you know, things like that, how were they important to you?
D Lee Ezell: Well my mother… Actually I’m sorry you asked me that question because my mother was a major influence in my life, all of my life until two years ago when she died at the age of 90.
Edryan: Oh wow.
D Lee Ezell: 90 and she had no, you know illnesses, and I'm suffering from a full page single spaced full of illnesses, but even after I decided to stay here which again, was against her will *laughs* she wanted me to return to Georgia and I understand that after I became a mother I want my children close to me so she she um she wanted, well... but we talked on the phone every single day, and I think a lot of my political perspectives come from her... A great deal also of who I am, a part of that is me building myself, but a great deal of it came from her, she was very strong woman, she was very committed to those things she believed in strongly, um and I got that from her, and I’m proud of that and I miss her very much.
Edryan: So you mentioned having a church if I’m not mistaken, do you have a church or did you just attend it?
D Lee Ezell: Well sctually I was talking about my upbringing in the church.
Edryan: Oh like during your childhood.
D Lee Ezell: Right, in more recent years I'm not as diligent as I should be in terms of my participation in church, but I think, as a priest said to me once that, it was fine if I miss church on Sunday because I stayed up all night Saturday night writing a proposal that if we receive the funding would help people, so he excused me.
Edryan: He said it's fine, don't worry about it.
D Lee Ezell: *Laughs* he excused me. And I’ve been excusing myself ever since!
Edryan: Um so your childhood, what was your happy happiest childhood moment in Georgia?
D Lee Ezell: You know I was very competitive as a student, and I was involved in many extra curricular activities, um I was in the band.
Edryan: You played sports?
D Lee Ezell: I played no sports no. But I represented my schools in oratorical contests and I enjoyed that.
Edryan: What is that?
D Lee Ezell: Making speeches.
Edryan: Oh oh like speaking verbally.
D Lee Ezell: What is called orations, orations.
D Lee Ezell: Yeah uh huh on different issues, subjects.
Edryan: So like you started thinking about you know personal problems at a young age?
D Lee Ezell: Yes mm hm yes.
Edryan: And how was school like in Georgia?
D Lee Ezell: Well for me, it was a segregated system.
D Lee Ezell: Which had its difficulties as you can imagine, I was telling one of my grandsons recently that um I was so proud that all of them, I have four grandchildren, and all of them are great readers, you know as a family we are readers, and I think that comes from, as I was growing up I could not enter the public library in my hometown. I never entered that library until I became an adult and went back to visit and it was during the time when you know a great deal of segregation was being suspended and I went. I mean I went just to say I went.
Edryan: That's crazy.
D Lee Ezell: And I’ve lived in libraries including my own upstairs, since.
Edryan: So how are things different from now? Or how different things now from then before like technology, you know anything personal, things like that?
D Lee Ezell: Um well it’s quite different because of progress, technological progress, I mean many instruments and tools that you have available to you as students today.
Edryan: You didn’t have them back then.
D Lee Ezell: They hadn’t been thought of, they hadn’t been thought of when we were growing up. We were hands on, no calculators, you had had to compute, you know yourself, um..... which is the reason I guess I’m just mind boggled by the fact that a lot of young people, you know don’t choose to attend school and work hard at it.
Edryan: So do you feel that education is very important? Like you know does education make you more successful than someone who doesn’t have an education?
D Lee Ezell: Well first of all I believe that education makes you more successful as a human being, as a human being, because it teaches you so much about others, and it teaches differences, but also how to manage and live with those differences. And forget you know the technical aspects of it. I don’t believe we can become full human beings without an education, now what do I mean by that? I don't mean that everybody has to go to college, although you know I think it’s good experience. By the way, I went back to college when I was almost 30 to get my master’s degree in public administration. That’s how important it was to me, I had become a mother and I was still pounding away, you know until I achieved what I had set out to do.
Edryan: Since education is so important and you mentioned that it talks about cultural differences, differences in general, do you think that’s due to history? Because history has taught us a specific way of doing things, you think history is important to you in any way?
D Lee Ezell : Well history is important in its context. If for instance, in learning the facts of history, we can take take what we can learn from those and apply it to present day, it’s a good thing and very beneficial, very beneficial.
Mid-Bronx Senior Citizens Council, Grand Concourse