Vignette from interview with Magdalene Jackson Cox, conducted by Betty Thomas in November, 1982. (Edited by O.H.I.O. volunteer Sara Carter Balogh, June 1994.)

Magdalene Jackson Cox was born in 1907 on a farm on Quarry Road. She attended the "little red school house" in District #7 in Pittsfield, and graduated from high school in Oberlin in 1925 in the first class from the new building on North Main Street. She attended the Oberlin Business College for a year studying accounting. She married Lafayette Cox, a graduate of the Oberlin Seminary, in 1928 and moved with him to several locations where he served as a pastor. In 1937 they settled in Schenectady, New York, where she was the second black woman to be employed by the public library system of the city. She worked there for 27 years; 18 as head of the circulation desk. Her husband served as a chaplain in World War II and retired as a major. She is especially proud of her two grandsons; one of whom is a second year student at Harvard Law School, and the other a trouble shooter for the Xerox Corporation.

Taped in November, 1982 in Schenectady, New York, by Betty Thomas of Oberlin who was the first black teacher appointed in the Oberlin public school system in 1940.

"At the little red school house we had some very good teachers. My first grade teacher, Miss Anderson, was a wonderful teacher. It was a custom that different parents would invite the teacher home to spend the night. I remember how nice it was to have Miss Anderson stay with us. As I think back on it now I am surprised at the way the racial situation was then. All the teachers seemed to be glad to come to our house. Looking back now I think they were very liberal for that day.

When I started high school in Oberlin, my mother and sister and I rented an upstairs apartment on West Lorain Street because the roads in winter were terrible and we couldn't get back to the farm. At that time my brother was janitor in Lord Cottage. We enjoyed many college activities, especially the Wednesday night recitals. They took place in Finney Chapel and I heard Roland Hayes, the famous tenor who was just marvelous. Then there was Gerald Tyler, a pianist who lived in Oberlin. He was a man of great courage and tenacity who had a stroke and was able to use just his left hand. He gave a beautiful recital with just his left hand. Langston Hughes's mother lived in Oberlin and he visited her frequently. Howard Thurman was our pastor at Mt. Zion. He was a very dramatic preacher. I just loved to hear him; he was marvelous. He was very famous and lectured all over the United States. In the summer Chatauqua would come to Oberlin. We looked forward to it the whole year because they came with a very varied program. It was something that appealed to everyone; children and older people and middle-aged people. Everything was always top rate."

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