Athens Oral History Project, AOHP 006 Anne Brightwell interviewed by Betsy BeanAthens Oral History Project, AOHP 006 Anne Brightwell interviewed by Betsy Bean

Athens Oral History Project, AOHP 006 Anne Brightwell interviewed by Betsy Bean

Descriptive Summary

Title: Athens Oral History Project, AOHP 006 Anne Brightwell interviewed by Betsy Bean
Creator: Bean, Betsy
Creator: Brightwell, Anne
Dates: 2014 December 17
Extent: 1.0 interview
Collection Number: RBRL/361/AOHP
Repository: Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies
Abstract: Anne Brightwell grew up in the small town of Union, Missouri, outside of St. Louis. She graduated from Lindenwood College, and was involved in social activism relating to race and integration alongside her husband Frank. After moving to Athens, Georgia, they became involved in activism there, including printing the newspaper United Free Press, from their home. In this interview, Brightwell discusses her experiences as a teacher in Clarke Central High School in Athens-Clarke County. She talks about administrational support, school diversity, white flight, the connection between poverty and education, and the positive influence of the school’s athletic program on developing interracial understanding.

Collection Description

Biographical note

Anne Brightwell was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1942, and grew up in the small town of Union, Missouri, thirty minutes outside of St. Louis. Brightwell earned her bachelor’s degree from the historically female college, Lindenwood College in St. Charles, Missouri, where she met her husband Frank Brightwell, a social activist and United Presbyterian preacher. Brigthwell and her husband worked in inner-city St. Louis through their church, before moving to Raleigh, North Carolina in 1968. After briefly living in Akron, Ohio, they moved to Athens, Georgia where her husband had been hired to lead a new church development. Brightwell work alongside her husband’s social activism through the church, and aided in printing a newspaper, The United Free Press, out of their house. After her divorce, Brightwell worked as a reading specialist in Oconee County, on the staff of the Athens Observer, and as a teacher at Clarke Central High School for twenty-two years.

Scope and Content

Anne Brightwell talks about her childhood in Union, Missouri, and her awareness of race relations in her home and community. She talks about her family’s involvement in the United Presbyterian Church, and the church’s socially minded message during years of integration during the 1950s. Brightwell recalls attending Lindenwood College, meeting her husband Frank, and marrying after her graduation in 1963. She recounts her experience of being married to an activist preacher, the extent of her participation in activism, and their family’s relocation to different cities, including Raleigh, North Carolina, Akron, Ohio, and finally Athens, Georgia. Brightwell discusses reacting to threats from white extremists, and her husband’s arrest for demonstrating. She describes the political and social climate in Athens in the years following integration, especially on the issue of representation of African-American history and the restructuring of the public school system. Brightwell talks about her divorce, finding her first job, and becoming a teacher at Clarke Central High School. She discusses the extent of administrational support on issues relating to integration in the classroom, the push for diversity training, and effect of white flight on decreased diversity at the high school level. She highlights the impact of decreased social services spending on education and the connection between poverty and education. Brightwell observes the impact of race in teaching and discipline in the classroom, and her frustration at being disrespected by students. She reflects on her idealism, her personal growth through teaching, and her retirement framed within the larger generational retirement of teachers. Brigthwell makes observations of resegregation in the classroom, and the athletic programs’ ability to build interracial relationships between athletes and coaches.

Administrative Information and Restrictions

Custodial History note

The Athens Oral History Project was initiated in 2014 to document modern Athens history, roughly from the mid-twentieth century to the present. Interviews cover topics such as neighborhoods and communities in Athens, civil rights demonstrations, African American history, as well as personal histories of narrators.

Preferred citation

Athens Oral History Project, AOHP 006, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia, 30602-1641.

Copyright Information

Resources may be used under the guidelines described by the U.S. Copyright Office in Section 107, Title 17, United States Code (Fair use). Parties interested in production or commercial use of the resources should contact the Russell Library for a fee schedule.

Finding Aid Publication

Finding aid prepared by Russell staff, 2016.

Related Materials

Access Points

Oral histories.

Related Collections in this Repository

Athens Oral History Project

Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

AOHP 006 Anne Brightwell audio, 2014 December 17 (Extent: 61.0 minutes ) Access Online