Posted By: Annette Sanders, BSW on March 15, 2011 |
Jocelyn Elders was born Minnie Jones on August 13, 1933, in the farming community of Schaal, Arkansas. She took the name Jocelyn in college. Living in a poor, segregated (separated based on race) area, she and her seven siblings worked in the cotton fields and attended an all-black school thirteen miles from home. Home itself was a three-room cabin that lacked an indoor toilet and electricity.
One of Elders's earliest memories was of being taught to read by her mother, who had an eighth grade education, which was quite remarkable for an African American woman at that time. By the time Elders neared graduation from high school, she had earned a scholarship to the all-black Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas. Initially college looked doubtful for Elders because her father did not want to let her go. However, her grandmother persuaded Elders's father to let her attend. Elders's family picked extra cotton to earn the $3.43 for her bus fare to Little Rock, and she became the first in her family to attend college.
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