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Berdyne Scott Interview

Date: November 24, 1991

Level of Description: Item

Material Type: Audiotape, Voice

Call Number: Unavailable

Unit ID: 514615

Space Required/Quantity: Four compact cassette audiotape. Ampex brand C-60.

Title (Main title): Berdyne Scott Interview

Part of: Brown v. Topeka Board of Education Oral History Collection at the Kansas State Historical Society.


Biog. Sketch (Full): Berdyne Scott

Berdyne Scott was born on July 5, 1918, in Topeka, Kansas. Her parents were Beatrice (Thompson) and Victor Anderson. Beatrice Anderson was born in Del Rio, Texas, because her father was a telegrapher working in Mexico and Del Rio was the nearest American town; he could not get a job with Santa Fe since he was African American. Mrs. Anderson died in 1989 and is buried at Mt. Hope Cemetery. Victor Anderson was born in Topeka; he also died in 1989 and is buried in Washington, D.C. Berdyne is one of four children the Andersons had.

As a young child, Mrs. Scott lived in the area of Topeka referred to as Sand Town. She went to McKinley Elementary School, which was an hour’s walk from her home. Next, she attended Curtis Junior High; this was before the Graham case in 1941 that ended segregation at the junior high level. In 1935, Berdyne Scott graduated from Topeka High School. While in high school, she worked in the law office of her future father-in-law, Elisha Scott. After graduating, she went to Chanute Junior College (now Neosho County Community College) in Chanute, Kansas; while in Chanute, she worked in a doctor’s office. Later, she moved to Washington, D.C.; she worked in the Government Printing Office, attended Howard University, and met and married her first husband. She graduated from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, in 1951.

Berdyne Scott’s first husband was Alfonza W. Davis. He was born in Florida in 1919 and primarily grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. They met while he was a member of the 9th Cavalry (Buffalo Soldiers) at Fort Riley. She married Mr. Davis in 1941 in Washington, D.C. After Mr. Davis died, she married John J. Scott in St. John’s AME Church in Topeka in 1947. In 1955 the couple moved to Washington, D.C.; Mrs. Scott taught in area schools including Charles Young. She took early retirement after five years. After a time, the Scotts returned to Topeka where Mrs. Scott gave workshops on the importance and meaning of the Brown case without the help of outside funding. Mrs. Scott passed away on February 6, 2000.

Scope and Content

Scope and content: Index
Mrs. Berdyne Scott

Page: Topics
01: BG, BP, DOB, Mother: Beatrice Thompson Anderson, Father: Victor Anderson, grandfather was telegrapher, Siblings: William Anderson

02: Charlotte and Anna Valentine (stepsisters), Spouses: Alfonza W. Davis, John J. Scott, St. John’s Church, McClelland, Murfreesboro, TN, Ethnicity: Black, Indian

03: Educational experiences: McKinley, Sand Town, Jordan Town, Graham case, Curtis Junior High

04: Curtis Junior High, Washburn, Chanute Junior College, the Depression, Job at government printing office, Washington, DC, Howard University, John Scott, WW2, Work experiences: doctor’s office, government printing office

05: Elisha Scott (allowed girls to work there to practice office skills), Experience with racism, experiences in Washington, DC

06: Telephone company, experiences at government printing office, experiences as teacher, Charles Young School, Religious affiliation: Baptist, Asbury Methodist

07: St. John’s AME, Eladius Turner-Stevenson, Monroe School, walking to McKinley School, Andy Henderson

08: Organizations: Delta Sigma Theta, The La Senoritas, Brown case workshops, teaching experiences

09: Teaching experiences, curriculum, childhood experiences, National Youth Association

10: Vocational guidance test, Sand Town Community, Russians and Santa Fe Railroad, Santa Fe shops, childhood experiences

11: Garfield Park, mixed neighborhood, Russian community, Topeka Packing Company

12: childhood experiences, attitudes toward Mexicans, segregated public facilities, signs: niggers and Mexicans served in sacks only, McKinley School, teachers

13: Curtis Junior High, Jay S. Honeycutt (principal), interaction with other black schools, Washington School, Buchanan School

14: Buchanan School, Depression, Fourth Street black business area, Elisha Scott

15: Quincy School, McKinley, Grant School, Efforts to get transportation

16: Efforts to get transportation, Ms. Haley, Scott family had privileges, Experiences with racism, experiences at Curtis Jr. High

17: Experiences at Curtis Jr. High, Topeka High School, Social activities, Beatrice Thompson Anderson

18: Social Clubs: La Senoritas (Ava and Alabelle Ackerman, Maxine Thompson, Nadine B. Lewis, Eladius Turner-Stevenson, ¬¬¬¬¬¬_________ James), Beau Brummels (Vernon Cain, Johnnie Jordan, Marion Nicholson, Jules Moss), Victor Anderson

19: Victor Anderson, John Scott, Washington, DC, experiences at Topeka High School (second floor),curriculum

20: Experiences at Topeka High, Nadine Lewis, Mrs. Van Dyke (principal), Second Floor, Phyllis Wheatley Club, Mary McLeod Bethune, Eladius Turner, NYA

21: Phyllis Wheatley Club, skin color, Topeka High, John Scott

22: Skin color, interracial dating, segregated extracurricular activities

23: Ramblers, experiences at Topeka High, protests at Topeka High School, John Slaughter (first black Chancellor at Maryland University)

24: John Slaughter, Topeka High School, Topeka High School Hall of Fame, Samuel Jackson, Brown v. Board of Education

25: Samuel Jackson, Brown v. Board of Education, John Slaughter, Elisha Scott, Charles Scott

26: Charles Scott, Dick Patterson, Topeka High School Hall of Fame, John Scott, Brown case,

27: Working in Elisha Scott’s office, segregated dances at Topeka High, Varsity, experiences in Washington, DC
28: Eladius Turner, experiences in Washington, DC

29: Alfonza W. Davis, 9th Calvary, Tuskegee, Mr. Ridley, Royal Carter, Selvidge Field, Gulf of Trieste

30: Air Corps, Alfonza W. Davis, experiences in Washington, D.C., Howard University, differences between Topeka and Washington, D.C.

31: Experiences in Washington, D.C., caste, class and color, racial attitudes of blacks, Washburn University, black liberal

32: John Scott, Washburn Law School, Charles, Elisha, Jr., Scott law firm, Topeka after WW2, efforts to desegregate schools, Phil Burton, clients

33: Elmer Jackson lynching, Elisha Scott, Sr.

34: Caste and class, St. John’s, blue vein, Bottoms, John Scott, Charles Houston

35: Bottoms, Sand Town, German Town, Kansas City, Nat King Cole, Kappas, Brown case, Ada Sipewell

36: Ada Sipewell, Oklahoma, graduate school, McKinley Burnett, Charles Bledsoe, NAACP, Elisha Scott, Sr., Esther Brown,

37: Esther Brown, Wichita, KS, Topeka, KS, reaction of community toward Scotts, Black teachers, Harrison Caldwell, Deltas

38: Harrison Caldwell, loss of teaching jobs, workshops, Linda Brown

39: McKniley Burnett, Oliver Brown, Brown case, Legal Defense Fund, Jack Greenberg, Robert Carter

40: Brown case, opposition to Brown, black teachers

41: Black teachers, Role of National NAACP, Howard University, Loren Miller, Elisha Scott, Brown case

42: Brown case, Oliver Brown, Linda Brown, Charles Mundy

43: Significance of Brown case, Strom Thurman, Southern Manifesto, Plessy v. Ferguson, Linda Brown, Monroe School, reaction from community

44: John Scott and the Interior Department, Bob Willis, Washington, D.C., Lincoln School

45: Brown Foundation

46: Art Fletcher, John Scott

47: Racism, Santa Fe Shops, Impact of Brown

48: Impact of Brown

49: Impact of Brown on social and economic conditions

50: Monroe monument, Cheryl Brown

51: Brown decision


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