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Charlestine Fairley

Academic administrator and social activist Charlestine Romelle Dawson Hickson Fairley was born on July 24, 1938 in Greenville, Mississippi to Ida Harris Dawson and Kemp Dawson. She was educated in Gulfport, Mississippi, where she graduated from 33rd Avenue High School in 1956. She briefly attended Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi before transferring to Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. During a summer break she met William F. Hickson, Jr. a dental student at Meharry Medical College. After a year of courtship, Fairley dropped out of college to move to Nashville, Tennessee to marry Hickson. After the birth of the couple's three children--Nina, Franklin, and Oneal-- Fairley returned to college, completing her B.A. degree in sociology at Delaware State College in 1963. Following her graduation, Fairley worked for the Burlington County, New Jersey Welfare Department as a case worker. Fairley returned to school, earning her M.Ed. degree in counseling from South Carolina State College in 1969 and her Ph.D. degree in education from the University of South Carolina in 1990.

Fairley taught and worked as a special services counselor at Claflin College from 1968 to 1973, when she became coordinator of its Upward Bound and Special Services program. Fairley then directed Claflin's Special Programs for Disadvantaged Students until leaving in 1986 to direct the Upward Bound program at the University of South Carolina. Because Fairley shared the same disadvantaged background as her students, she was especially effective in connecting with them. Her programmatic innovations with Upward Bound's TRIO Achievers were incorporated into the program at the national level. Fairley married Richard L. Fairley in 1989, the same year that she was appointed as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Education Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE). Fairley then shifted her career focus to the administration of government substance abuse prevention services, joining the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 1990 as a program officer in the Office of Substance Abuse Prevention. Two years later, Fairley and her husband moved to Annapolis, Maryland, where she directed Prevention Services for the Anne Arundel County Department of Health until 1997. She coordinated the Anne Arundel County Executive's Criminal Justice Drug Intervention Program from 1998 to 1999. She worked concurrently as a trainer for Maryland's Office of Education and Training for Addiction Services. During this time, she was also an adjunct professor at Nova University and Bowie State University's College of Business, and part-time coordinator of the Annapolis campus of Sojourner-Douglass College. Fairley has served as the full-time director of the Sojourner-Douglass College, Annapolis Campus since 1993.

Fairley is a life member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the National Council of Negro Women, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Association of University Women. She is also a member of The Links, Inc., Annapolis Chapter and the 21st Century Club of Annapolis. Fairley belongs to the First Presbyterian Church of Annapolis.

Charlestine Fairley was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 25, 2007.

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Interview Date


Last Name


Maker Category
Marital Status



Gaston Point Elementary School

33rd Avenue High School

Tougaloo College

Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College

Delaware State University

South Carolina State University

University of South Carolina

First Name


Birth City, State, Country




Favorite Season




Favorite Vacation Destination

Hilton Head, South Carolina

Favorite Quote

Everybody Can Be Great Because Everybody Can Serve.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State


Interview Description
Birth Date


Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City




Favorite Food

Seafood, Vegetables

Short Description

Academic administrator Charlestine Fairley (1938 - ) dedicated her career to improving education, substance abuse prevention, and counseling services to the disadvantaged.


Sojourner Douglass College

Bowie State University

Anne Arundel County (Md.)

Maryland. Addiction Services Administration

Nova University

United States Department of Health and Human Services

United States Department of Education

Upward Bound Program (U.S.)

Claflin College (Orangeburg, S.C.)

Burlington County Welfare Department

Favorite Color


Timing Pairs

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Charlestine Fairley's interview</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Charlestine Fairley lists her favorites</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Charlestine Fairley describes her mother's family background</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Charlestine Fairley describes her mother's personality and how she takes after her</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Charlestine Fairley recalls her family's slave history</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Charlestine Fairley describes her father's family background</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Charlestine Fairley talks about her father's education and occupation</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Charlestine Fairley recalls being raised by her paternal grandparents</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Charlestine Fairley describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Charlestine Fairley describes her earliest childhood memory</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Charlestine Fairley remembers her paternal grandmother, Rosie Farmer Dawson</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Charlestine Fairley recalls moving to Gulfport, Mississippi with her paternal grandparents</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Charlestine Fairley describes her community in Gulfport, Mississippi</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Charlestine Fairley recalls the influence of Little Rock Baptist Church in Gulfport, Mississippi</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Charlestine Fairley talks about her early education</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Charlestine Fairley recalls attending 33rd Avenue High School in Gulfport, Mississippi</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Charlestine Fairley describes holiday celebrations with her family</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Charlestine Fairley remembers her childhood friends</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Charlestine Fairley recalls her early influences</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Charlestine Fairley remembers the librarian at 33rd Avenue High School</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Charlestine Fairley describes her college aspirations</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Charlestine Fairley recalls attending Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Charlestine Fairley recalls segregation in Gulfport, Mississippi</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Charlestine Fairley describes segregation in Baton Rouge, Louisiana</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Charlestine Fairley remembers meeting her first husband, William F. Hickson, Jr.</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Charlestine Fairley recalls attending Delaware State College in Dover, Delaware</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Charlestine Fairley remembers her position with the welfare department in Burlington County, New Jersey</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Charlestine Fairley describes her teaching position at Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Charlestine Fairley talks about the TRiO programs</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Charlestine Fairley recalls her experiences at Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Charlestine Fairly recalls working at Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Charlestine Fairly describes her role with the Special Services for Disadvantaged Students program</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Charlestine Fairly talks about the TRiO Achievers program</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Charlestine Fairly recalls working at the University of South Carolina in Orangeburg, South Carolina</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Charlestine Fairly describes the TRiO programs at the University of South Carolina</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Charlestine Fairly recalls meeting her second husband, Richard Fairley</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Charlestine Fairly describes her educational consultant work at FIPSE</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Charlestine Fairly recalls her work with the substance abuse prevention program in Anne Arundel County, Maryland</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Charlestine Fairley describes Sojourner-Douglass College in Edgewater, Maryland, pt. 1</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Charlestine Fairley describes Sojourner-Douglass College in Edgewater, Maryland, pt. 2</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Charlestine Fairley remembers the challenges she faced at Sojourner-Douglass College</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Charlestine Fairley describes her civic involvement</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Charlestine Fairley talks about her family</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Charlestine Fairley reflects upon her trip to Africa</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Charlestine Fairley describes her consulting firm, CRF and Associates, Inc.</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Charlestine Fairley reflects upon her life</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Charlestine Fairley shares her advice for future generations</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Charlestine Fairley describes how she would like to be remembered</a>







Charlestine Fairley recalls segregation in Gulfport, Mississippi
Charlestine Fairley remembers the challenges she faced at Sojourner-Douglass College
Growing up in a segregated society had to be a little difficult. Did you--would you speak to that?$$At the time, it didn't seem all that difficult because there were boundaries and parameters in there in order to protect us, us meaning children, that our parents had us to know what we could and could not do, and they set, although the state had these restrictions, our parents also set boundaries so as to protect us from these restrictions. We knew, for instance, if after going to the movies that we would go separately, that Negroes or colored people went upstairs. You bought your ticket, you went upstairs. White people bought their tickets, they went downstairs. Now, I will say, and that was just one, that was just one movie house where, where black people went. There was the Paramount Theatre [Gulfport, Mississippi] on another street that seemed to have all of the best movies that just didn't allow black people to, to, to buy a ticket to go in. So, it was kind of you knew that you weren't supposed to do that, first of all, you weren't supposed to do what your parents told you not to do. There were, we were aware of slights, when you went to the shops to shop, there were some shops where we could go and try on clothes, and then there were some of the most exclusive shops that you couldn't. You just stood out and you could see what they had. I'm not even sure that they sold merchandise to black people. I can remember, it was, if you were going to the movie, you made sure that you went to the bathroom, going downtown to shop, you did all of those things because you knew that there was nowhere that you could go except maybe to the train station, to the rest room in the colored side, and of course that was not--the station was not always clean, so you tried to not have to go but if you had to go, that was the place during the time, and I left home around, I guess, after high school graduation [from 33rd Avenue High School, Gulfport, Mississippi]. During that time, we were just accepting. Leading up to '56 [1956], we were just accepting things the way they were and we were not questioning our parents' instruction about how we should behave and what we should or should not do, and living in the segregated community, we didn't have that much contact with white people. I will say that it's almost like in the back of where we live that it was not a street, but almost like an alley. There were some little houses there where some white people lived, but, of course, they were poor white folk. But although they were poor, we still did not mix. We would sometimes look over the fence and we'd see them there, but it never occurred to me to walk over there or to even to try to play with those children. It was just a kind of understanding that you had and your parents and community people went out of the way to protect you, to instruct you in terms of what you could and could not do.$Now you mentioned some people did not want you to be here. Was, was this the people in the community? What people didn't want to have a higher education, institution (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Well, this is the--that's hard to imagine, isn't it? But, South River Colony [Edgewater, Maryland] is a planned community with multimillion dollar houses on one side of us and then some other very expensive places on the other side. Now, one of the property owners in South River Colony decided that it wasn't a good idea. He attempted to get his community association to join in a suit against us. They refused, so what he did, he went across the community, across Mayo Road, and he was able to solicit the London Towne Association [London Towne Property Owners Association, Edgewater, Maryland] to file suit against us, and their position was that we had not fulfilled the covenant for this property. Our position was that we had, and it's my thinking that they really did underestimate us to think that we would embark upon such a project without understanding what our rights were; but, nevertheless, it did cause trouble for us and I think that they thought perhaps we would give up. Many people in the community on both sides believe that it was racial. Now, many reporters have attempted to get me to say that it was. I refused, and I refused on the basis of these things. People, both black and white, had helped us acquire this land and to build this building. Tom Schubert is white. We are an African American institution [Sojourner-Douglass College, Edgewater, Maryland]. I did not want to say racism, because the moment you say that then you divide the community. You just divide it, that's, and you know. And then the other thing is that I'd say to them, well you know I'm from Mississippi, and I am accustomed to working in racist situations, and it never stopped me and I don't intend this to stop me and I don't intend to spend the time to address whether or not it's racism. We know that we did the right thing. We know that there's no reason for us not being here, and so we continued to work. We continued to do what we needed to do. We continued to recruit and have classes. They even, at one point, wanted to have us torn down. That was to be the remedy. And, of course, all of this was a distraction and, but we continued and we prevailed and we feel good about being here.