The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

city

Lilliette M. Council

Civic volunteer Lilliette M. Council was born on October 18, 1902 in Laurens, South Carolina. Her father, John Henry Dial, was a brick mason for T. C. Windham, the wealthy black contractor who built Birmingham, Alabama’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Council sang in the church choir after her father moved the family to Birmingham in 1907. Council’s mother, Mary Lou "Tensacola" Young Dial, was part Native American and a homemaker. Starting at Birmingham’s Industrial High School, then attending Spelman High School in Atlanta, Georgia, Council eventually returned to Birmingham where she graduated from Brooks Academy in 1921.

In 1921, Council married and moved with her husband, William Hewlett, to Cleveland, Ohio. Council separated from her husband in 1931 and moved to New York City. Employed in the garment industry, Council joined the Union of Furriers Joint Council.

Council joined the American War Mothers during World War II and volunteered more than 5,000 hours at V.A. hospitals in the New York area until she was 92 years old. She has been an active member of the Brooks Memorial United Methodist Church where she was twice awarded Mother of the Year. She is a member of the Order of Cyrenes and the Euclid Chapter Number 48 of the Order of the Eastern Star, Prince Hall Affiliation.

Widowed twice, Council has seven grandchildren and lives in Jamaica Queens, New York.

Council passed away on September 19, 2011 at the age of 108.

Lilliette Council was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 3, 2004.

Accession Number

A2004.247

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/3/2004

Last Name

Council

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Middle Name

M.

Occupation
Schools

Brooks Academy

Spelman High School

First Name

Lilliette

Birth City, State, Country

Laurens

HM ID

COU02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

When You and I Were Young, Maggie (song)

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

10/18/1902

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Kentucky Fried Chicken

Death Date

9/15/2011

Short Description

Civic volunteer Lilliette M. Council (1902 - 2011 ) worked as a finisher in the fur industry in the 1930s, and served as the Secretary for the Women's Society for Service and Vice-President of United Methodist Women. In addition, she has volunteered over 5,000 hours at a veterans' hospital.

Employment

Isadore Dover

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:1824,31:2244,38:5604,103:6360,115:7116,126:7872,137:8460,147:19690,241:20306,249:20768,257:21307,267:22000,279:22693,290:23386,301:35942,398:44741,537:45252,546:52930,592:57712,695:69878,822:70346,829:71828,864:94160,1052:109580,1189:119154,1285:119458,1290:120066,1302:125842,1425:126298,1432:131618,1588:134658,1714:143200,1819:151574,1938:165530,2107:168866,2152:173650,2257:186964,2360:189316,2405:201269,2553:233050,2899:233394,2905:240880,2999:249920,3102:254680,3156:255040,3161:259860,3238:265440,3269:265876,3274:269550,3299:272817,3347:273411,3375:285118,3453:285629,3462:286140,3473:287235,3494:287527,3499:292558,3590:302494,3739:312890,3808$250,0:1741,33:3658,70:4226,80:20831,336:33274,529:40484,633:44348,694:57796,812:58795,824:71452,947:72100,982:72505,1035:75564,1045:78828,1095:101229,1412:103565,1488:114164,1591:116377,1609:130252,1777:137067,1842:137463,1847:144680,1917:145390,1937:145745,1944:146313,1953:157740,2059
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lilliette M. Council's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lilliette M. Council lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lilliette M. Council describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lilliette M. Council describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lilliette M. Council recalls her father's career as a bricklayer and butcher in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lilliette M. Council remembers attending Industrial High School and Brooks Academy in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lilliette M. Council remembers the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lilliette M. Council describes her childhood neighborhood in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lilliette M. Council recalls her early childhood in Greenwood, South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Lilliette M. Council recalls attending Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lilliette M. Council describes her high school experience at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lilliette M. Council talks about her first marriage, moving to Cleveland, Ohio, and participating in Freemason organizations with her husband

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lilliette M. Council describes the end of her first marriage, and her move to New York City, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lilliette M. Council describes the end of her first marriage, and her move to New York City, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lilliette M. Council remembers when a plane crashed into New York City's Empire State Building in 1945

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lilliette M. Council describes her participation in the Council for Negro Women and Brooks Memorial United Methodist Church in Jamaica, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lilliette M. Council talks about her second and third marriages

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lilliette M. Council describes her volunteer work with American War Mothers and her recreational pastimes

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lilliette M. Council reflects upon her life and what she would do differently

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lilliette M. Council talks about her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lilliette M. Council talks about her parents move to Jamaica, New York in the 1950s

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lilliette M. Council reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lilliette M. Council describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lilliette M. Council narrates her photographs with her son, William Maynard Hewlett

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$2

DAStory

7$8

DATitle
Lilliette M. Council remembers the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up
Lilliette M. Council describes her volunteer work with American War Mothers and her recreational pastimes
Transcript
Can you think back to when you were a little kid, to when you were a little girl and tell me what were some of the sights and sounds and smells of growing up?$$Say that again?$$Yes, could you reflect back to when you were a little girl, and give an idea of what were some of the sights and sounds and smells of growing up?$$All I can tell you that I loved to sing, and I sang in the--growing up, I sang in the, in the church choir. I went to Sunday school at 16th Street Baptist Church [Birmingham, Alabama], the same church I told you that was bombed [1963]. And I went to Sunday school. That was one of the "must" that my mother [Mary Lou Young] and father [John Henry Dial] insisted on my sister [Marie Dial] and I attending Sunday school. And I always tried to be (laughter)--I don't know. I was secretary of the Sunday school in growing up. I've always wanted to, I guess, be a secretary. Even when I learned the fur industry, I worked for a man and became the secretary in his, on his job. I don't--all I know that I was a, it was a must that we would--my sister and I would go to, go to Sunday school [phone ringing] and stay for church. My life is not, is not so, so much that was going on, I guess, because my parents were very strict (chuckle).$$Okay, well, give us some idea. Now, this is a historical interview, you know. And so what we're trying to, you know, you're 102 years old now.$$Yes.$$And the things that happened to you when you were a little girl are not happening to little girls and boys now, not the--some of the same things are. But it looked a lot different in Birmingham than it does in New York [New York City, New York]. It smelled a lot different and probably is a lot different. So, if you can tell us what the difference is, that would be instructive.$$The difference is that the children didn't run around on the streets as they do here in New York. They were very strict. You had to be home at a certain time. When you went to school--well, my parents would tell me, when she would send me some place, "Don't stop for nobody. You come straight home." I have a scar in my head now. She had sent my sister and I on an errand. This is in Birmingham. And there were, you know, they were prejudiced. And this Negro girl--of course, you know, they didn't call 'em Negroes, they called 'em black, was playing with these white people. And we called them white trash. So we didn't pick up the ball. They started throwing rocks, and one of them hit me the back of my head. And, of course, the doctors said had it been a little bit lower, it would have broken my neck. Now, that's one of the incidents. As I said before, when my mother sent us a place, we dare not stop. Come straight home, and I remember one of the (chuckle), one of the things--I didn't know no better. I was in school. I believe I was in high school. And one of the girls says, come on, we're going to the show. I'd never been to the show in my life. And I did not know that it was going to be dark when we came out. And when we came out of the show, it was dark. And my mother was working. "Where have you been?" I didn't know anything to say but I was kept in school. My father was working in Texas at that time. And when my father came home, my mother told him that. And they called the teacher and she told them she did not keep me in school. And I remember the only beating that I ever got from my father on my neck and back, is I said to them now, if that happened now, my parents would have been arrested because you are not allowed to beat your children. But that's one of the incidents, and I never, I never--I'm very careful about how, what I say because I didn't wanna lie about anything. That was--that taught me a lesson. I try to be as truthful as I can.$Tell me about your work with the veterans--$$With the what?$$With the veterans, with the--what kind of things would you do to volunteer to help the veterans [with American War Mothers]?$$Volunteer work?$$Yes, ma'am.$$Really, it actually would be anything that they asked me to do, the nurses would ask me to do. I fed patients. I saw that they had ice water beside their beds, and you write letters. And at one time I was down in, in--I don't know what called, a room, making--you see them--when the doctors get ready for the operation, you have those big pants on them with all the things that they to work with, wrapped. I did that. That's when--one of the rooms that they did work like that. But on the ward, that's what I did was, I fed the patients, saw that they had water, maybe take them to, for a walk up and down the hall, whatever they asked me to do, that's what I would do.$$Okay, so you did a lot of volunteer work. I see you have some awards from the City and some awards from the church and--(simultaneous)--$$I have five thousand hours of volunteer work in the veterans' hospital. It's really over five thousand. I was trying her to bring the pin to show you. I don't (unclear), they--I don't know where she is, but I told her to get it so you could see it.$$Well, that's all right. We can see afterwards. But, now, tell me, now, you did all this volunteer work, what did you do for recreation? What did you do for fun? What did you like to do?$$What did I like to do?$$Yes, ma'am.$$I joined the bowlers after I moved in over here [Jamaica, New York], from my house. I sold my house and I came to this apartment. And I joined the bowlers. You see some of my trophies up there.$$Yes, right, yeah.$$I was an old bowler. But I loved it. It was something. And another thing that I loved, I said before, I--at that time, I had a voice. I loved to sing, but I don't have a voice now.$$Well, what--did you have a favorite song?$$Favorite song?$$Um-hum.$$"If I can help somebody as I pass through, my living will not be in vain."