Annette Rowell-Thomas

By Meaghan Dorsey

Annette Rowell-Thomas remembers the segregation of schools in her hometown in Arkansas.  There were two schools--one for blacks and one for whites.  Education Officials decided to choose the smartest students from the black school and sent them on a bus to the white school for one class, she said.  Then, once the class ended they would have to take the bus back.

"One hot day I stopped with two of my friends to get a soda from the machine that we passed on our way back to the bus," Rowel-Thomas said.  "The bus driver saw us from the bus and left without us and we weren't sure why."

 They later found out that the school system was trying to have them expelled.

"The white superintendent said I was being expelled because I held a sit in demonstration on the bus," Rowell-Thomas said.  "They know that I had visited up north and said that I was trying to bring it back down south with me." 

Eventually, Annette Rowell-Thomas moved up to Massachusetts from Hughes, Arkansas after graduation from high school.  She said she wanted to do something new with her life so she joined her sister who was living in Brockton, Massachusetts.

 "I was sad to leave friends and family, but I came for a better job," Rowell-Thomas said. Rowell-Thomas worked in the banks for many years as an office manager.  She retired on March 31, 2014 as an inventory management specialist.

 "I didn't find any difference from the south in terms of race," Rowell-Thomas said.  "There was a lot of mistreatment on the job in both locations. Some experiences from the south were not geographically contained-- I think it's the institutional system."

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