Chapter 1: Childhood and Family
10:56:41:24 - 10:58:13:12
Lisa: I just wanted to introduce our interview by saying we're here with Ms. Lizzie Richardson at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in April of 2012. Also present is our videographer, Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz. And Ms. Richardson, do we have your permission to start the interview?
Lizzie: Yes, you do.
Lisa: Thank you very much. Ms. Richardson, I wanted to ask you when and where you were born.
Lizzie: Oh, I was born in Smithfield, North Carolina.
Lisa: And when were you born?
Lisa: And would you share with us the year you were born?
Lizzie: April 22, 1937.
Lisa: Can you tell me some of your earliest memories, Ms. Richardson, of growing up in North Carolina?
Lizzie: Oh, well I grew up in North Carolina. My father died when I was a baby. My mother had six children, she raised the six of us, and she raised us to be tough - toughness, survival, determination, and whatever you set out to do, you got to do it, and you just have to do what you need to do, and roll with the punches, and that's the way that I grew up.
And we also -- granted we had to respect our neighbors, our family members, and we always would help out, you know, like [real] peoples and we would just help each other at all times, and that's the way that I grew up.
10:58:13:12 - 10:59:01:29
Lisa: How would you describe your childhood?
Lizzie: Our childhood was good, because, you know, the goals our mother set for me, she was very strict with me, and that created survivors that you could endure, and disappointment you will survive, and you will be all right, and that's the way that I grew up. You had to do -- you had to respect everybody. Neighbors -- they could tell you what to do and everything. You go to the classroom, you had to respect the teacher.
Nobody be going, running back in school for you. You go and do what you need to do, and that's -- and we went to church, and we just shared things and we learned to treat everybody with respect, you know, and all that and respect everybody. And that's the way I grew up.
10:59:01:29 - 10:59:49:25
Lisa: When you were growing up, when you were a young girl, or even a teenager, what were your hopes and dreams for your own future?
Lizzie: Young girl. When I was a teenager? Oh we had to be home before it got dark and all that stuff. They said don't let the sun down and we'd be running home, the sun would be falling our back, and we would get in the door just before the sun to actually fell, and we was okay, because we know we -- you had to do what you was told.
We worked. We had to work and we had to help out at home and we didn't mind doing that. And the mother collect your money. Your parents collect your money, and then they would give you money. You go to work on Saturday, that was your movie money and your spending money, and we accepted that, and we didn't have any problem with whatever.
Lisa: What kind of work did you do, Ms. Richardson?
Lizzie: Oh we worked -- we picked cotton, to be honest because I am from the South. We worked in tobacco and we did all that. We did real work.
Lisa: And what did you imagine your future would be? What were your hopes for your own future as an adult?
Lizzie: My own future was like when I finished high school, I went to barber college, and I have a master's degree in that.
And I wanted to, and once I got to Raleigh, North Carolina, I was going to school with a group of boys, young men, and I learned so much from them about life in particular.
You know, we would sit around the table and they would talk to me, and respect what I thought and what I felt. And I learned a lot from them. And it was just so good, because they were like brothers. They was all like brothers to me, you know, and they would teach you, long as you don't do this, this how the guys be and all that stuff, and that really helped me grow to be, you know, like -- and even working in the barber shop with the fellas -- a long time before I could work with women, because I was so used to working with men, and the women's talking about each other, I just couldn't deal with that, you know. But I learned how to work with ladies. You know, it was just a good experience for me, you know, and all everything. And I enjoyed my life. I mean, I can look back over the years and all the hardness and stuff we went through. It just made us a better person, and even when I had Darryl, they would give you therapy to accept the child. When I looked at my child, he's not in a wheelchair. He's not having to tube feeding, and I look at so much that we have, and I'd be so thankful that he's good as he is, but I also sympathize with parents that children's not as good as he is, and always try to support the parents. I don't mind talking to them. In fact, sometimes they call me late at night, and I know when anytime somebody calls you late at night, the problems they're going through is heavy and they don't have no other way of where to turn to. So I don't mind talking to them, you know, just talking in general. Talk to me. I'm going to give you facts.
I'm not going to sugar coat anything for you, but I'm going to give you facts, and one thing I've always tell a parent, you have to have a mental toughness, and that's the shield around you that protects you from ever being hurt.
11:02:20:15 - 11:04:39:26
Lisa: Ms. Richardson, you mentioned that you have a son, Darryl, and I want to ask you more about your own family. Can you tell me if you married?
Lizzie: Okay, I married, but my husband passed. I'm a widow.
Lisa: And can you tell me about your children?
Lizzie: Well, I had two children. I had Audrey and Darryl. Darryl was the oldest, Audrey was the youngest, and after the years went on, she was great at school and everything, but she had a liver disease. And she had to have a liver transplant. It lasts 12 years, and she passed away in 2001, but in that short time, 34 years old, she finished college, she worked, she did a lot of good advocate work. She used to -- we just helped put things together. After she passed away I started working with young peoples. That sort of helped me get through that. You know, work with young ladies at the - at the um - at our agent and I work with them and help them with - we would have the FDSS program. It started up new program, started program I knew from the ground floor, so we had coordinators and different thing you work with there and I helped them with that program. I can think back that we had one coordinator.
You know she wasn't -- she didn't know the child well enough to do it, and the day we went to the table they was going to let her go. And so I was the last one that spoke that day, and I looked up at her and I saw her with small children, and if she'd lose this job, where would she go? So I was the last one that would finish up, you know, and I said -- I looked up, I said, well we all make mistakes. I said, first of all, we all make mistakes.
I'm not going to sit here and tell you that the program is not messed up. It is, but Michelle, I will help you get this program together, and by June -- June 30, this program will be on top of the world. And I did, and she survived it. At this time now she is a support coordinator... Cause I saved her job. I refused to take it.
Lisa: You sound like a nurturer.
More Interview Chapters
About Lizzie Richardson
Born: 1937, Smithfield, North Carolina
Parent, Advocate, Board Member North Central Services
Mentoring, Parents, Services, Waiting List