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Irma Daniels

Educator Irma Daniels was born Irma Dean Hall on April 21, 1949 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Levester Powell Hall and Daisy Lee Hortman Hall. Raised in the Brewer’s Hill section of Milwaukee, Daniels’ family were members of the Bethesda Church of God in Christ. She attended Palmer Elementary School, Twelfth Street School, Robert Fulton Junior High School and graduated as an honor student from North Division High School in 1966. Attending Oshkosh State University, Daniels graduated in 1971 with her B.S. degree in education.

After teaching for a year in Fondulac, Wisconsin, Daniels married John W. Daniels, Jr. in 1972 and accompanied him to Boston, Massachusetts. There, she taught health and coached a championship girls basketball team. In 1974, Daniels returned to Milwaukee and worked in City Hall for a short time. In 1975, she was hired by Milwaukee Public Schools where she taught elementary and middle school. In 1978, Daniels joined Lady Pitts School Age Parent Center which was founded on January 25, 1966, through the efforts of forty black women known as the “Our Concern Committee.” They were concerned about the school policy of requiring pregnant students to drop out of school. The first school was above the Shiloh Tabernacle and was a privately run school with MPS support services, similar to the present-day partnership schools. Lady Pitts became part of MPS in the early 1970s. The school provides comprehensive services to 200 pregnant students, grades six through twelve and a special completion program with job training for forty-five parenting students with twelve or more credits. At Lady Pitts, Daniels taught prenatal health until her retirement.

Daniels is a member of Holy Redeemer Church of God in Chritst, where she is actively involved in the youth ministry. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Links and the Bethesda Senior Citizens Board. She and her husband, John, have a son and a daughter.

Daniels was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 26, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.329

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/26/2007

Last Name

Daniels

Maker Category
Schools

North Division High School

Palmer Elementary School

Twelfth Street School

Robert Fulton Junior High School

University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

First Name

Irma

Birth City, State, Country

Milwaukee

HM ID

DAN03

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Wisconsin

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France, New York City

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Wisconsin

Birth Date

4/21/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Milwaukee

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cake (Red Velvet)

Short Description

High school health teacher Irma Daniels (1949 - ) taught in Milwaukee Public Schools and Lady Pitts School Age Parent Center.

Employment

North Division High School

Clarence R. Edwards Junior High School

Milwaukee City Council

Lady Pitts School

Favorite Color

Blue, Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Irma Daniels' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Irma Daniels lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Irma Daniels describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Irma Daniels describes the Smith Settlement in Gibsland, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Irma Daniels talks about the history of African American dispossession, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Irma Daniels talks about the history of African American dispossession, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Irma Daniels talks about her mother's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Irma Daniels describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Irma Daniels describes her father's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Irma Daniels remembers her father's personality

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Irma Daniels describes her mother's personality

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Irma Daniels describes how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Irma Daniels remembers her relationship with her father

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Irma Daniels describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Irma Daniels recalls her neighborhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Irma Daniels describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Irma Daniels recalls her experiences in the Church of God in Christ

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Irma Daniels recalls the entertainment of her youth

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Irma Daniels lists her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Irma Daniels remembers her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Irma Daniels describes her success as a student

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Irma Daniels talks about her extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Irma Daniels recalls her decision to attend Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Irma Daniels remembers segregation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Irma Daniels recalls the racial demographics of Milwaukee's high schools

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Irma Daniels remembers her college aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Irma Daniels describes her experiences of discrimination at Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Irma Daniels remembers occupying the president's office at Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Irma Daniels recalls her temporary expulsion from Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Irma Daniels remembers the support for the Oshkosh 94

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Irma Daniels reflects upon her experiences at Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Irma Daniels recalls her parents' support for her activism

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Irma Daniels remembers teaching in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Irma Daniels remembers the desegregation of the Boston Public Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Irma Daniels recalls coaching basketball at Clarence R. Edwards Junior High School in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Irma Daniels remembers meeting her husband

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Irma Daniels recalls her role at the Lady Pitts School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Irma Daniels describes her philosophy of education

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Irma Daniels describes her experiences as a teacher at the Lady Pitts School

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Irma Daniels talks about teenage pregnancy, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Irma Daniels talks about teenage pregnancy, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Irma Daniels reflects upon the parenting practices in the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Irma Daniels recalls her students at the Lady Pitts School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Irma Daniels describes the prenatal training at the Lady Pitts School

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Irma Daniels talks about the perceptions of teenage pregnancy

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Irma Daniels describes her organizational involvement

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Irma Daniels describes her concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Irma Daniels reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Irma Daniels reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Irma Daniels talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Irma Daniels describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Irma Daniels narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

4$7

DATitle
Irma Daniels describes her experiences of discrimination at Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh
Irma Daniels describes her experiences as a teacher at the Lady Pitts School
Transcript
So I was seventeen going away to college [Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh; University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Oshkosh, Wisconsin] so I guess that was a good thing that I was close to home. And Oshkosh [Wisconsin] was a whole new awakening though because I had never been away from home like that and then to go to a community that was all white and some of the people were not very welcoming so it was like the first time where you would be called out of your name--$$Oh.$$--walking down the streets so.$$So people would, would call you the N word?$$Yes.$$(Unclear) (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) So that to me was a whole new, a whole new awakening. And so Oshkosh took a lot of adjusting for me. It was not a, a friendly place. There were some people who were friendly but--$$In retrospect when you look back, back at it--$$Um-hm.$$--and you, you said your brothers [Daniels' older brothers, Samuel Hall and James Hall] had a good experience there.$$My brothers' friends.$$Your brothers' friends.$$Um-hm.$$All right.$$Yeah, so my brothers did not go to college, they started out at MATC [Milwaukee Area Technical College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin] but the pull of A.O. Smith [A.O. Smith Corporation, Milwaukee, Wisconsin] and working they decided to take the money and work the jobs so that's what they were doing. And so fellows who had played on the football team with them, who were good friends of theirs were at Oshkosh. And, and again when you're on the football team maybe you have a different experience so maybe they were more welcomed and didn't have to endure much of that but--$$What would you guess, I know you don't know exactly but what was the percentage of black students there would you say roughly?$$At Oshkosh--$$Or how many say--$$--the population was like ten thousand and I think, I can actually tell you that we had maybe about, and it was the record number of blacks at Oshkosh the year that I attended, I think there were ninety-six.$$Okay. Out of ten thousand?$$Um-hm.$$Okay.$$And so that was the highest number of blacks they'd ever had there. And so I think it was an eye-opener and a lot of kids were from rural Wisconsin and so had never even gone to school with blacks, some had never been up close with blacks so we would have girls who would come in the room, we would sit around and talk and they would just out of curiosity want to know things, if you're doing your hair they would just come and sit and (laughter) look at you like okay, "Let me see how you do that." So it was a learning experience. I can remember having a roommate my sophomore year because my freshmen year my, my good friend from high school [North Division High School, Milwaukee, Wisconsin] we roomed together, my sophomore year though a girl from Illinois and they put us together as roommates and I had an early morning class and I can remember coming back and she was telling other girls I was a great roommate if only she could bleach me (laughter). I thought, what (laughter)? So that was the end of us rooming together so after I confronted her on that 'cause I walked in on her saying that, I said, "What do you mean, if only you could bleach me, what does that mean that you wouldn't mind me being your roommate if I was white, I mean, you wanna bleach me?" So she went down and asked to be moved, and I was glad so I got to have a room to myself for the rest of the semester but I just thought that showed her, the way she was thinking coming from Chicago [Illinois] area I would have thought she wouldn't have had those views but I guess prejudice was just there. So there were girls like that and there were other girls who I think just genuinely wanted to know more about me because they just had not been around blacks and so their questions and concerns were just genuine so I just tried to take it for that, to think not everyone was prejudiced but there were definitely some who were.$So you taught physical education at Lady Pitts [Lady Pitts School; Lady Pitts School Age Parent Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin] too?$$Well, at Lady Pitts we had prenatal health classes so I taught the prenatal health class and it's a very small school. At one time we may have had an enrollment up to 200 but I think, a 125 may have been the enrollment when I left. So a very small school, very small staff. We have a day care, we have a full-time nurse, full-time social workers, and teaching classes that they would have in a regular school along with parenting and prenatal health classes. And so I enjoyed working with that population. It was a group that you could see changes taking place. Girls who had very poor attendance, girls who very low reading scores but to see them improve. So I think that's one of my fondest teaching experiences would have been at Lady Pitts.$$Okay. And do you have any stories from Lady Pitts you can tell us?$$Oh, lots of stories--but I think how girls were just so naive about things, my girls, because for some of them this was a pattern in their life, their mothers were teen mothers, their grandmothers were teen mothers, so to have that cycle broken was something that I really preached you might say (laughter) that you don't have to continue in this cycle. And, and so having the opportunity to tell them that and to point things out to them. One girl came in one day just upset because a lady on the bus stop was looking at her and asked why she was so young and pregnant and, "It's none of her business." And I said well, you know, "She probably is concerned because it is a little bit of her business because the tax dollars have to pay for people who have babies without insurance and are you in that category?" She said, "Yes. But I don't see why people always throw it up at me because you get your money back anyway." I said, "We do what?" "You get your money back." "What money?" "Your tax money." I said, "How can you say that?" "Well, my sister she got all her money back." I said, "Okay, where did your sister work 'cause I wanna go (laughter) and get all my money back." Well, her sister had a, the first one to have a job in the family really at like a McDonald's so because she made so little--$$She got income tax returned?$$--she got all of her, all of her income tax money back so she thought all of us got all of our money back that she didn't see why we were complaining about our taxes. So I had to give her a lesson that no, people, we don't all get our tax money back, that this is the case with her sister because of the low amount she made just working part time but for most people a lot of us pay more taxes at the end of the year and she just couldn't even believe that. She just thought I was making this up, that it was not true but she had never had anyone in her family who worked and paid taxes, so she had no idea how that whole system worked so we had to actually show her a tax return that said you owe money because she wouldn't have believed me if I hadn't brought it in to say okay, people get tax bills sometimes thousands of dollars, so then she could understand why the lady going to work on the bus stop was upset looking at all of them standing there pregnant. So, so we would talk about issues like that to get them to understand that it wasn't just being nosy or people not liking teenage pregnancy just because they thought it was wrong morally or something but it was also something that was tied to the tax dollar and people were concerned about that also.