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LaVerne Sci

Historic Site Manager LaVerne Cecile Kenon Sci was born on January 3, 1940 in Jacksonville, Florida to Thelma Olivia Moore, a teacher, and Reuben R. Kenon, a high school principal. As a child, Sci attended segregated schools of Kings Welcome, College Park Elementary, Richardson Elementary and Richardson High School. As a youth, Sci desired to become a dancer, and her mother would drive sixty miles for her to take dance lessons.

In 1956, Sci entered Hampton University where she pursued her B.S. degree in health, physical education, recreation and biology. She led a very active life at Hampton University. She was the head majorette, a member of the dance group, worked on the school newspaper and was a member of the historic Phyllis Wheatley Society. After completing her degree at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, she went on to teach in Fayetteville, North Carolina and then Farragut High School in Chicago, Illinois from 1960 until 1962. Sci then entered the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she pursued a combined M.A./Ph.D. program in History and Philosophy of Education.

After Sci’s mother lost her job helping to integrate the public schools of Columbia County, Florida, Sci dropped out of the University of Illinois in 1965 and worked as a teacher in the Unit Four Public School District to help support her mother’s legal struggle. In 1968, she met and married Frank Sci, a serviceman in the United States Air Force. Together, they relocated to Naha, Okinawa, Japan, there they became parents to two daughters, LaFrae and LaTania. The family then relocated to Montana, and they moved in 1972 to Dayton, Ohio where Frank was stationed as a Lieutenant Colonel. In Dayton, their son, Kenon Travis, was born. Parental responsibilities led Sci into community activism. In 1989, Sci was hired as Historic Site Manager of the Paul Laurence Dunbar House Museum in Dayton, Ohio.

Sci was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 24, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.027

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/25/2008

Last Name

Sci

Maker Category
Middle Name

Cecile Kenon

Organizations
Schools

Richardson High School

Kings Welcome

College Park Elementary School

Richardson Elementary School

Hampton University

Northwestern University

First Name

LaVerne

Birth City, State, Country

Jacksonville

HM ID

SCI01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bangkok, Thailand

Favorite Quote

Seize The Day.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Birth Date

1/3/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Dayton

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Historic site manager LaVerne Sci (1940 - ) was the historic site manager of the Paul Laurence Dunbar House in Dayton, Ohio. She was also an educator in North Carolina and Illinois.

Employment

Paul Laurence Dunbar House

Chicago Public Schools

Champaign Unit 4 Schools

Favorite Color

Purple, Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of LaVerne Sci's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - LaVerne Sci lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - LaVerne Sci describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - LaVerne Sci describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - LaVerne Sci talks about her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - LaVerne Sci recalls a lesson from her maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - LaVerne Sci describes her father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - LaVerne Sci describes her father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Laverne Sci describes her father's friendship with Lasalle D. Leffall, Sr.

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Laverne Sci recalls how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Laverne Sci describes her maternal grandfather's friendship with Howard Thurman

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Laverne Sci talks about her parents move to Lake City, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Laverne Sci describes her earliest childhood memory

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

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Laverne Sci remembers the Kings Welcome School in Columbia County, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Laverne Sci talks about Florida's wildlife

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Laverne Sci recalls her father's death

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Laverne Sci remembers her dance training

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Laverne Sci talks about her interest in dance

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Laverne Sci recalls Champaign Junior High School in Champaign, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Laverne Sci remembers being barred from a Girl Scout troop in Champaign, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Laverne Sci talks about her early experiences of religion

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Laverne Sci talks about the death of her father's student during a football game

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Laverne Sci remembers Richardson High School in Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Laverne Sci remembers an influential teacher

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Laverne Sci describes her introduction to the works of Paul Laurence Dunbar

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Laverne Sci describes her social life at Richardson High School

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - LaVerne Sci describes the lack of resources at Richardson High School in Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - LaVerne Sci remembers the Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - LaVerne Sci describes her professors at the Hampton Institute

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - LaVerne Sci recalls her decision to leave the Hampton Institute

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - LaVerne Sci recalls transferring to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - LaVerne Sci remembers teaching at Farragut High School in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - LaVerne Sci remembers teaching at Farragut High School in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - LaVerne Sci recalls enrolling in a doctoral program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - LaVerne Sci recalls her mother's role in school integration in Columbia County, Florida, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - LaVerne Sci recalls her mother's role in school integration in Columbia County, Florida, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - LaVerne Sci remembers the library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - LaVerne Sci talks about her marriage

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - LaVerne Sci remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - LaVerne Sci describes her husband's career in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - LaVerne Sci talks about her children's educational experiences, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - LaVerne Sci talks about her children's educational experiences, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - LaVerne Sci recalls petitioning to remove a racist mural from her children's school, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - LaVerne Sci recalls petitioning to remove a racist mural from her children's school, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - LaVerne Sci recalls her start at the Paul Laurence Dunbar House in Dayton, Ohio

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - LaVerne Sci describes the history of the Paul Laurence Dunbar House, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - LaVerne Sci describes the history of the Paul Laurence Dunbar House, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - LaVerne Sci talks about the restoration of the Paul Laurence Dunbar House

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - LaVerne Sci describes her initiatives at the Paul Laurence Dunbar House

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - LaVerne Sci talks about the life of Paul Laurence Dunbar

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - LaVerne Sci talks about her experiences as a dance teacher in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - LaVerne Sci talks about the predecessors of Paul Laurence Dunbar

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - LaVerne Sci talks about the reburial of Paul Laurence Dunbar's remains

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - LaVerne Sci describes her role in the commemoration of Martin Delany's gravesite

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - LaVerne Sci reflects upon her interest in Paul Laurence Dunbar, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - LaVerne Sci talks about Paul Laurence Dunbar's sister

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - LaVerne Sci reflects upon her interest in Paul Laurence Dunbar, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - LaVerne Sci describes her hopes for Paul Laurence Dunbar's legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - LaVerne Sci describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - LaVerne Sci reflects upon her life

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - LaVerne Sci reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - LaVerne Sci recites Paul Laurence Dunbar's poem, 'We Wear the Mask'

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - LaVerne Sci talks about her family

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - LaVerne Sci describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$4

DAStory

6$3

DATitle
LaVerne Sci describes her initiatives at the Paul Laurence Dunbar House
LaVerne Sci describes her professors at the Hampton Institute
Transcript
We have, we're now developing a library in the corner house of the Mundis House. That library will be a Paul Laurence Dunbar resource library. I hope one day it will link with Schomburg [Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, New York] and other Dunbar resources so that any student or scholar will be able to come here, or parent, or person, and sit down and research Dunbar and be able to connect with the best resources of Dunbar in the United States, Hampton Institute library [Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia], places where there are significant Dunbar materials archived. Then, the center house, the upstairs in the corner house from being the library downstairs, actually houses staff; all staff offices are upstairs in the corner house or the Mundis House. The center house, now restored fully, is used as an annex downstairs with volunteer space upstairs for storage and meetings and various activities that volunteers would have. The Dunbar House [Paul Laurence Dunbar House, Dayton, Ohio] is pristine, it's, it just greets the visitor as a pristine museum, and it looks like Dunbar [Paul Laurence Dunbar] might have just walked right out of the back door before you came in.$$Now, yes, it's been fully restored, right--$$Yes.$$--to, to its 1906--$$Yes.$$--condition.$$Including the lighting, the other lighting that was added, has been taken down to the lighting that was probably there when Dunbar was in the Dunbar House, living there. The urban barn has been restored, and it's very, very functional. We like to use it in the summertime; it's not insulated for winter activities. We like to use it for storytelling and children's activities, birthday parties and, of course, we have long needed this visitor center which gives us a room for assembly, for more than seventy-five people. We have a maximum count in terms of fire safety of 100 people in this room and if chairs are very close together, we can get that many in but a comfortable count is anywhere between sixty and seventy-five, and we have a gift shop now here in this visitor center. We have little connecting breezeways connecting the visitor center to the two houses that you see from the front. The Dunbar House is not connected at all, because we found that to connect it in any way would mean some kind of deviation from the original and with that happening, it could come off the National Register [National Register of Historic Places] and it was one of the first properties to go on the National Register when it was established. So, the Dunbar House has long been on the National Register. We don't want to upset that registration in any way or bring it into violation, so we leave it as it is, and, of course, the Urban Barn is the fifth property and totally the space that is involved here, is approximately two acres.$Who were some of the teachers and mentors at Hampton [Hampton Institute; Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia] that you remember and, well, other, other students as well? Who were some of the personalities there?$$Well, I was very impressed with Dr. J. Saunders Redding who was a Dunbar [Paul Laurence Dunbar] scholar from Delaware, Ohio--Delaware, Wilmington, Delaware, whose father had been a part of black history. And we had a English teacher, a Mr. Kearney [ph.], who registered with students in a way that he came across with love, understanding and comfort about whatever the situation was. He never got excited, but Mr. Kearney was really a dynamic person. I had a biology teacher, her name eludes me right now. She had a Ph.D. and she wrote her thesis at a time when she discovered that the human embryo was bilaterally symmetrical in shape and therefore she saw a place in the development of the human being which was much like that of the fish. I found, I came to love her. I, I came to love her very much, and she had a mother with her and I visited her home several times. Of course, Dr. Bodine [ph.], who was the campus minister and his wife, was one who gave us an opportunity to grow. At Hampton, learning was formal and informal, and the nice thing at the time was most of our faculty lived right around the dorms. The--and as a result, a faculty member would say, "Lets discuss such and such book over at my house; my wife will bake cookies." And we'd go sit on the rug and discuss a book. We did that with the Bodines when 'The Prophet' by Gibran [Kahlil Gibran] came out. Oh, we would go back and see what he said about children and then we would go and discuss Gibran from other perspectives and vantage points and that was just such marvelous growth and that was the--$$It sounds like Howard University [Washington, D.C.], where Howard Thurman would do the same thing with students, bring them to his house and--$$That was the uniqueness of Hampton. We had an opportunity to interface with our professors and there was a Dr. Brichter [ph.] there from Hungary who was a refugee, and who was just so brilliant and so different and he brought about change that we certainly enjoyed. There were times when he would give an oral examination, and he didn't want to sit down in a stuffy classroom and give an oral examination either. So he'll, he would say, "Well walk with me over to the library steps. Let's sit on the library steps and look at the birds in the trees while I give you this oral examination." Can you imagine? It was just effective and impressive for us, quite so. I enjoyed my four years at Hampton very much, my, my four years there at my home by the sea, I can say probably did more to encourage my growth as an individual, because at Hampton I got a chance to sample my abilities, got a chance to try a little bit of everything and I came to feel secure in the things that I could do well.$$Okay.$$And I left there knowing who I was pretty much and when I went from there to graduate school at primarily white universities, I had no difficulty at all. I had a very sufficient background to compete with.