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Lula Cole Dawson

Lula Cole Dawson was born on April 15, 1931, in Jonesboro, Louisiana. After graduating from high school, Dawson earned an A.B. degree in sociology and counseling in 1952 from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She then interned at Andover Newton Seminary in Andover, Massachusetts. In the fall of 1952 she began graduate studies in sociology at Boston University, where she earned her master’s degree in 1953.

Dawson began her career in 1954 working as the director of student activities at the student center of Southern University. In 1958, Dawson was hired as an interviewer with the Employment Security Commission in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she worked until 1960. Between 1960 and 1972, Dawson traveled with her husband, diplomat Horace Dawson, and was involved in a number of volunteer projects throughout Africa. She sponsored galas to benefit orphanages and organized a craft shop for young girls in Nigeria. She partnered with Victoria Tolbert, wife of the president of Liberia, to build a hostel for young women and organized a self-help program for mothers of children at Mulago Hospital in Uganda.

Dawson returned to the United States with her husband in 1972, and was hired as a field coordinator by the Tennessee State University Training Coordination Center to help identify and train teachers who had been displaced by the desegregation of Tennessee schools. Two years later, she was hired as a consultant to the D.C. Citizens for Better Public Education, where she focused her efforts on providing better educational opportunities for the disadvantaged. Returning overseas with her husband, Dawson served as chairman of the organizing committee of the Friends of the Cultural Center of the Philippines from 1977 to 1979. After her husband’s appointment by President Jimmy Carter as the ambassador to Botswana, Dawson became honorary chairperson of the Child-to-Child Foundation of Botswana and chairperson of the First Lady’s Charity Ball in Botswana.

After returning from Africa, Dawson worked as a consultant for the Washington, D.C. Public School System, the Department of Health and Human Services, St. Augustine’s College International Studies and Foreign Language Learning program and the State Department’s Agency for International Development. She served on the board of the Friends of the Museum of African Art and was presented with the Republic of Botswana Award for Outstanding Public Service. Dawson passed away on January 14, 2004 at the age of 72.

Accession Number

A2003.123

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/6/2003

Last Name

Dawson

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Cole

Organizations
First Name

Lula

Birth City, State, Country

Jonesboro

HM ID

DAW01

Favorite Season

None

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

This Too Shall Pass.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

4/15/1931

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Death Date

1/14/2004

Short Description

Education consultant and government consultant Lula Cole Dawson (1931 - 2004 ) , wife of ambassador Horace G. Dawson, Jr., was involved in a number of volunteer projects throughout Africa and became honorary chairperson of the Child-to-Child Foundation of Botswana. She later worked as a consultant in the Washington D.C. area until her death in 2004.

Employment

Southern University

Employment Security Commission

Tennessee State University

D.C. Citizens for Better Public Education

Favorite Color

Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lula Cole Dawson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lula Cole Dawson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lula Cole Dawson describes her paternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lula Cole Dawson describes her maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lula Cole Dawson remembers Huey Long visiting her family reunions

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lula Cole Dawson describes her father, Jerry Cole

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lula Cole Dawson describes her love of reading as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lula Cole Dawson talks about Professor Hawk and Jonesboro Colored School

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lula Cole Dawson shares her memories of attending Jonesboro Public School and growing up with racism

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Lula Cole Dawson recalls her favorite teachers at Jonesboro Public School

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lula Cole Dawson remembers listening to the radio in the 1930s

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lula Cole Dawson remembers when her father sold land to the government

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lula Cole Dawson recalls the night the KKK came to her house to confront her parents

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lula Cole Dawson describes attending Browngrove Baptist Church

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lula Cole Dawson describes her father's generosity

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lula Cole Dawson describes her decision to attend Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lula Cole Dawson describes attending Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lula Cole Dawson describes her activities at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lula Cole Dawson talks about race at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lula Cole Dawson talks about white men who had secret black families, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lula Cole Dawson talks about white men who had secret black families, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lula Cole Dawson describes attending Boston University for graduate school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lula Cole Dawson talks about why she decided not to become a social worker

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lula Cole Dawson describes her professors at Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lula Cole Dawson talks about meeting Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Boston University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lula Cole Dawson describes how she met her husband, HistoryMaker Horace Dawson

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lula Cole Dawson talks about marrying her husband and moving to North Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lula Cole Dawson recalls Doug E. Moore's move to Africa

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lula Cole Dawson describes meeting Edward R. Murrow, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lula Cole Dawson describes meeting Edward R. Murrow, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lula Cole Dawson talks about the difficulty of finding suitable housing in Washington, D.C. in 1960

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lula Cole Dawson talks about living in Uganda in 1961

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lula Cole Dawson talks about being a diplomat's wife in Uganda in the early 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lula Cole Dawson talks about Ugandans' reaction to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Lula Cole Dawson talks about challenging white Americans in Uganda

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lula Cole Dawson describes her role as a foreign diplomat's wife

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lula Cole Dawson describes African political leaders in the 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lula Cole Dawson talks about issues faced by Nigeria

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lula Cole Dawson recalls attending an event with Cecil Dennis in Liberia

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lula Cole Dawson talks about Liberian Presidents William Tubman and William Tolbert

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lula Cole Dawson describes serving in the Philippines

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Lula Cole Dawson describes President Seretse and Ruth Williams Khama in Botswana

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Lula Cole Dawson talks about getting to know the Botswanan people

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Lula Cole Dawson talks about helping First Lady of Botswana, Gladys Molefi Olebile

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Lula Cole Dawson describes organizing the First Lady's Charity Ball in Botswana

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Lula Cole Dawson describes her legacy in Africa

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Lula Cole Dawson describes her activities after returning to the United States

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Lula Cole Dawson describes her hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Lula Cole Dawson reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Lula Cole Dawson describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Lula Cole Dawson narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

7$5

DATitle
Lula Cole Dawson talks about Ugandans' reaction to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963
Lula Cole Dawson talks about Liberian Presidents William Tubman and William Tolbert
Transcript
But Africans, I mean Americans--let me tell you this story in Uganda--when those four little girls were killed, that hurt me.$$That's in '63 [1963]?$$That was '63 [1963]. That really got me and that's when I really went in to think what am I doing-what is my life going to be. We had an excellent ambassador and his wife was one of those rich gals and we were very best of friends, she was just marvelous and she didn't stay in the country much. So the ambassador was sensible enough to use me in a lot of the areas when she wasn't there because the Ugandans really did like me and respect me. So when this happened--the ambassador used to have for the wives, for the senior wives a meeting at least once a month so that meant about twenty women went to his office and he would sit and tell you what the policy of the government had been for that month, the kinds of things they had and then he would start with each of you to say what kind of problems that had you had and let's talk about them which was a good thing really. Of course, we were all spouses, we weren't working for the government but he brought us in like that. At that time, it was, you did that. This day about two or three weeks after the four little girls in Birmingham had been killed he went around and I happened to be near the end. So he asked each of us what had we faced, did we need help with it and all that kind of stuff. So when he got to me he said Lula I know you really have a story to tell, tell us what has happened. I told them about what had happened during this time. And what happened was the Ugandans acted as if these four little girls were my family, our family and in Africa, that part of Africa-in Uganda people would come to you and they'd sit around, they'd stay there three or four hours, they'd come and go. We had hundreds of people come and sit and we had put a book out there and they signed their names. But it's part of their culture which they wouldn't do for the whites but they did for us. In fact, it became such a burden until the ambassador heard about it and sent drinks and food and stuff you know for us to have around which is their tradition and he helped us with it. It was shocking to me because he had never faced anything like that before. But anyway we were very pleased and everything. So we got through that then near the end of the week we went to the British High Commissioner for a cocktail party. Going through a receiving line he, the High Commissioner stopped me and my husband right there with me, Oh Lula we are just so, so sad, we are just--those Americans are just awful killing those four little girls. Those Americans, you know, My husband became very upset, I became very upset, we are Americans. I knew what he meant but just the idea and how you are going to face this. So I told him and my husband was being more diplomatic than I did, he dealt with it better. But we both were very upset because that's insulting us and my country. But how can you, you know. He's trying to be kind. What can you do, how are you going to do with this?$So after the, after this giving thing, gift giving and all that the president [William Tubman] sent for me. So here is the president sitting on this big chair and they've got two chairs on the side, I'm sitting in this chair and the president used to call me Louisiana girl, "Okay Louisiana girl I saw you laughing at my men." "No Mr. President, you know I would not"--(laughter). He went on and he found it you know sort of funny. So he got serious and he said, "Let me tell you something, your country is trying to convince me to take some of these young guys and come to the United States to be trained for a proper army." He said, "Now let me tell you something, I'm not going to do that at all until these boys have something to lose other than their lives." He was serious and it made sense and we talked about it. So he said, "You can go back and tell your husband that they can stop talking to me about sending some of our boys to the states, they are not ready, and this country isn't ready." I went home and I told my husband what he said and all that kind of stuff and we laughed about it then we came home in another year, he died. See, Tubman never killed anybody, he would put you in jail for life but you never went to the electric chair or hanging or anything under Tubman. Then the other guy was president, what is his name?$$Tolbert.$$Tolbert became president. The first order of business for Tolbert was to take some of those guys off of death row and electrocute them. The second act that Tolbert did was gather up a lot of boys including Doe and sends them to the states for training as an army. Need I say more? He did not understand his people.$$He set the stage for--(simultaneous) (unclear).$$He set the stage for what's happening now.$$That's something.$$Yeah, see you don't read about that kind of stuff. All you read about is Tubman they say he is the father of his country having all these outside children. Sure that's true, he did have a lot of outside children. I have been in Tubman's company. When he, every Thursday he would have an open house and anybody in that country could go there and he had this big chair with his (unclear) with a footlocker with nothing but hundred dollar crisp new bills. A footlocker--I've seen this myself. You go there and when your time comes you go in and you give him your problem. If he agreed to that, he would tell them to give him a thousand dollars--American dollars--give him whatever. Want to go and say my child is in Birmingham, Alabama for schooling, we need money--give him x. My wife needs an operation--he'd listen to it. He heard all stories. I went there twice, one time with the vice president's wife. We were having what you would call a--I found ways to make money all the time. We had what we called a calendar tea and that was for your birthday--your birth month you gave you know whatever for that. So we had this calendar tea and raised about five thousand dollars which was a heck of a lot of money for them and bring to him and told him about what we were doing and what money we were building hostels for women, students--college students because there were a lot of girls who didn't have a place to stay for school and all that kind of stuff. So we built these places and he gave us a thousand dollars--two thousand dollars cash money, hundred dollar bills. You don't read about that kind of thing, he did a lot of good. Sure he was whatever but he did a lot of good, people respected him, people liked him and in his way he was dealing with the situation that they had. Tolbert changed all of that and you see what Liberia is today.$$Yeah it's really a lawless--(simultaneous) (unclear).$$Completely now I am hoping that eventually the right kind of people will go in there and bring it back together but it is awful now. All my friends--all Americo Liberians I knew over here--suffering.