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C. T. King-Miller

Researcher and activist Carolyn (Tasmiya) King-Miller was born in 1947 and is a native of Birmingham, Alabama. Her father, Floyd King Sr. was a reverend at a Baptist church in Birmingham. King-Miller attended Wenonah High School for three years and then transferred to Jones Valley High School where she graduated in 1965. King-Miller attended Miles College in 1965 and later transferred to Brooklyn College.

King-Miller was the first African American to integrate and graduate from Jones Valley High School in 1965. Her parents successfully petitioned the school board to admit her at the all white school. While there, she suffered from harassment from both her classmates and teachers. The dance was held at a secret location to intentionally exclude her from participating. After high school, she attended Miles College, an all African American school known for its work in civil rights activities, for two years. Later, she transferred to Brooklyn College in New York and studied communications. In New York, she married and had two children. From 1980 to 1989, King-Miller worked as a supervisor at Dean Witter in San Francisco. From 1989 to 1991, King-Miller worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco as a supervisor. She worked at Charles Schwab Company, from 1994 to 1999, as a researcher. In 1999, King-Miller worked at Creative Genealogy Services and Research as a researcher. King-Miller’s interest in genealogy extends to her own family, having conducted extensive research on both sides of her family. In 2000, King-Miller worked at Each One Teach One, an employment recruitment service for high school students. She also published, Mama, I was the only one there!, about her experience as a student in 1964.

King-Miller has continued her activism with her involvement at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, where she has participated in many events and programming, including a conciliatory forum that coincided with her first-ever appearance at the Jones Valley High School reunion for alumni from 1961-1969. The forum provided a space for the community to address past events. King-Miller was given the key to the City of Birmingham and honored with a street dedication for her role in desegregation. Her achievements have been recognized by President Bill Clinton, The St. John Missionary Baptist Church and many others. Her oral history is included in institutions such as the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Birmingham Black Radio, and the Smithsonian Institute.

King-Miller was interviewed by Larry Crowe on March 7, 2011.

Accession Number

A2011.009

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/8/2011

Last Name

King-Miller

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Schools

Powderly Elementary School

Wenonah High School

Jones Valley Kinderg-Eighth Grade

Miles College

Brooklyn College

First Name

Carolyn-Tasmiya

Birth City, State, Country

Birmingham

HM ID

KIN16

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Birmingham, Alabama

Favorite Quote

People So Seldom Say I Love You, But When They Do, It Doesn’t Mean I Don’t Want You To Go, I Wish You Wouldn’t Have To.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

7/7/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/San Francisco

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon Croquettes

Short Description

Archivist and cultural activist C. T. King-Miller (1947 - ) is best known for integrating Jones Valley High School in 1964.

Employment

Creative Genealogy

Chas Schwak Co.

Federal Reserve Bank

Morgan Stanley

Favorite Color

Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of C.T. King-Miller's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - C.T. King-Miller lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - C.T. King-Miller describes her mother's family background, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - C.T. King-Miller describes her mother's family background, pt.2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - C.T. King-Miller describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - C.T. King-Miller talks about her father's service in World War II, his work in the coal mines, and how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - C.T. King-Miller describes her similarities to her parents

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - C.T. King-Miller talks about her father's work at Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - C.T. King-Miller lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - C.T. King-Miller describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - C.T. King-Miller recalls childhood memories of watching baseball and football

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - C.T. King-Miller describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - C.T. King-Miller describes her grade school years at Powderly Elementary School in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - C.T. King-Miller talks about her mother's work as a maid

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - C.T. King-Miller talks about segregated busing in Birmingham, Alabama and the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - C.T. King-Miller describes the protective measures her brothers were taught to observe outside of the black community

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - C.T. King-Miller recalls her father's gospel singing group, the McMillan Gospel Singers

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - C.T. King-Miller describes her childhood memories of music

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - C.T. King-Miller describes her experience at Wenonah High School in Birmingham, Alabama and her personality as a youth

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - C.T. King-Miller describes her experience with racial discrimination in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - C.T. King-Miller reflects on her father's involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - C.T. King-Miller describes her father's friendship with HistoryMaker Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - C.T. King-Miller recounts the beginning of her involvement in the Birmingham youth movement

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - C.T. King-Miller talks about preparing for the 1963 Birmingham Children's Crusade, pt.1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - C.T. King-Miller talks about preparing for the 1963 Birmingham Children's Crusade, pt.2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - C.T. King-Miller recalls being arrested as a teenager during Birmingham's Children's Crusade in 1963

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - C.T. King-Miller describes participating in the 1963 March on Washington, pt.1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - C.T. King-Miller describes participating in the 1963 March on Washington, pt.2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - C.T. King-Miller remembers the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church and President John F. Kennedy's assassination

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - C.T. King-Miller recalls the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - C.T. King-Miller talks about the impact of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - C.T. King-Miller describes her integration of Jones Valley High School in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - C.T. King-Miller recounts registering for school at Jones Valley High School in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - C.T. King-Miller describes the absence of white people in Birmingham, Alabama's black community

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - C.T. King-Miller describes her experience integrating Jones Valley High School in Birmingham, Alabama pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - C.T. King-Miller describes her experience integrating Jones Valley High School in Birmingham, Alabama pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - C.T. King-Miller describes the support she received from her church and mixed reactions from the black community after integrating Jones Valley High School

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - C.T. King-Miller recalls experiences of racial discrimination

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - C.T. King-Miller recalls losing all of her black friends after integrating Jones Valley High School in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - C.T. King-Miller describes her graduation from Jones Valley High School in Birmingham, Alabama in 1964

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - C.T. King-Miller remembers preparing for the prom

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - C.T. King-Miller talks about being excluded from the prom

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - C.T. King-Miller talks about dearth of stories from the African American community on school integration

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - C.T. King-Miller describes apologies from her classmates at Jones Valley High School in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - C.T. King-Miller describes her experience at Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - C.T. King-Miller describes moving to Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - C.T. King-Miller explains her name change

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - C.T. King-Miller describes her career path

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - C.T. King-Miller describes attending her 35th high school reunion, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - C.T. King-Miller describes attending her 35th high school reunion, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - C.T. King-Miller talks about her business, Creative Genealogist Services

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - C.T. King-Miller talks about the lasting effects of her work injury

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - C.T. King-Miller reflects upon being honored in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - C.T. King-Miller talks about her father's radio show, American Trailblazers, and her other family members

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - C.T. King-Miller describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - C.T. King-Miller describes what she would have done differently in her life

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - C.T. King-Miller reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - C.T. King-Miller talks about how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

7$2

DATitle
C.T. King-Miller describes her experience integrating Jones Valley High School in Birmingham, Alabama pt. 2
C.T. King-Miller describes attending her 35th high school reunion, pt. 2
Transcript
Okay.$$Okay.$$Now what about--$$I was told that at lunchtime I could not go outside. I had to stay within the cafeteria. I think I was told not to go in the bathrooms, but I don't remember that. I just remember that I was told where I could go. Now, all the people in the cafeteria who served the food, except for one supervisor, were black. And I remember going through the line for my food, and I remember they used to pile all this food on, like fried chicken, mashed potatoes, vegetables. I mean, nothing like any school I'd gone to. Even at Wenonah, we took our own lunch. But they had that, and I would go through there and--chocolate milk, I didn't get chocolate milk on a regular basis. I mean, that's when I had my first chocolate milk, and I enjoyed it. And I used to have to, my father [Floyd King, Sr.] said always try to sit closest to where adults were, because you would be more safe, you'd be safe and more secure around other adults. Even in the classroom, he said you'll be secure in the classroom because the teacher's there. They cannot let anything happen to you. I didn't realize later when he kept on saying nothing would happen to me, is that the most that could happen, I could have been killed. I didn't think about them being concerned with that. I felt like I had a right. I was exercising the right, and I know he used to teach us the 14th Amendment and the 15th Amendment and used to read it to us and help us understand it, me and my siblings. And I used to remember him saying, "This is our right that's guaranteed to us. And the civil rights bill that Kennedy thought of and Johnson signed, this is your right. You're doing this for the black community." And I did begin to feel like I had the whole black community on my shoulder. I had to make sure I dressed right, I spoke right--and I was naturally a smart person, so, you know, that wasn't a problem, and I had nothing else to do. But, I would go in the cafeteria almost everyday, and they had fixed this beautiful food and I would sit at this tray and I'd sit there and I'd look at all those black women that my father said that I could not talk to, or I would get them fired. And the white kids would come by and spit, hark and spit in my food. So, I seldom ate lunch at school. And I went through a pattern of this, and I would just drink my chocolate milk and go on to class. And they would see it, I'd see tears were coming down their eyes, you know, and things like that. But it was nothing they could do. And he basically said that they would get fired, and that I was doing the right thing. And I could not react.$$Even with a principal that seemed like he was sympathetic?$$The principal wasn't there.$$Okay. He thought--$$But he knew what was happening, because I told my father, and my father told him.$$Okay. So, did you have a locker?$$No. I didn't have a locker. However, from going from class to class, passing classes, they would let me leave the classroom first. But if other classes were changing classes also, I didn't walk down the hall by myself. As I walked by, they would jump against the lockers, you know, and call me names. They would--it was never any physical violence, I should say that. But one of the things they did do, especially during--I guess it was some type of gun crap in school, they would have water guns, where they would run behind me and they would spray me with this water gun. And I remember one time a guy just came, a man, a boy, came right up in front of me and I had glasses on, and just sprayed that water gun right in my face and my glasses. And I remember one time that I used to have wear the type of clothes that dry fast, you know, to school. And they'd shoot it in my hair and my hair would curl up and stuff like that. And I'd get to the class and I'd have to dry off or go back to the office to the principal's wife and she would take me in the bathroom where I had to dry myself off. And I just didn't talk, you know.$And what they did once it was in the news, I was there and I was going to black and white radio stations in Birmingham [Alabama], telling my story and everything. Well, I guess people found out where I was living, and the night before the prom, the hotel I was staying at started getting what I would call now, terrorist telephone calls. I meant, it became so bad that the manager came up and said that you guys are getting these calls--and we'd gotten two up to the room--they told them to hold those calls. So, we went back to the church I grew up in, St. John Missionary Baptist Church, and told the pastor. And it was an FBI guy and a policeman, a Birmingham [Alabama] policeman, that goes to the church. And they provided security, not only from the FBI, but also from the Birmingham [Alabama] police department. They came up and they talked to us, and you know, told us to be careful, that we'll be here. And when we left going from the hotel, they put security around the hotel so nothing would happen there, because they were scared, and they wanted to put us out. So, what they did was they provided escorts to the prom. And with that, I took along with me as my guest the newslady reporter named Vicky Howell, who had written the story that appeared on the first page. She had called out here and I'd given her everything--a beautiful article that captured everything, including the prom. When she got there--and she just wanted to keep knowing about my feelings, my feeling. I didn't have no feeling. First of all, when I asked people who did come around that were in my class at the time, and I didn't know anybody from my class--I had met Ken Battles--and when I got to the prom, I met the committee and they told me who they were and what role they played during that time. But I didn't know them from Adam or Eve. Of course, they all apologized and told me things. "Well, you know, I own a car dealership. If you're ever here and you need a car, call me." And the other one was a real estate agent, "If you ever need a house, call me." That sort of thing. And, so they all wanted to know what's my feeling, what's my feeling, you know? I'll say out of the maybe 500 or 600 people there, maybe about 50 came up and said I'm sorry. And out of the class I graduated out of, it was 107 of us. And for that class picture maybe it was about, I'd say it's about 80 or 90. These are all adults now. And I re-created that picture by standing in the middle, and I'll share it with you after this, and they all stood this time by me. And all of them said they were sorry. Everybody wanted to hug me. When I asked them point blank, "Why didn't you do anything?" And that's when they said that they were afraid that something would happen to them, that they would be teased. When I asked them about the prom, they said, "We thought you were going to bring the whole black community to our prom, and we were scared." When I asked them about meeting with the mayor during Senior Week, and this was 35 years ago, they said, "We didn't think you wanted to go, because you didn't come to school." I said, "But the principal told me not to come." They said, "Well, we know." So, all those were lame excuses, and I told them I didn't buy it, and please don't tell me nothing like that anymore. For those who said--the taunting things they did to me--it looked like all the boys were in the gun club at the school. During that time, gun clubs in school was popular. And as far as I'm concerned, they all sprayed me, shot me with those little plastic water guns. And they said, "I don't remember doing that, I don't remember doing that." But they all were there, and when they--I looked at a picture of them during that time, in the yearbook. I said, "Yes, you were, this is you right?" They said "Right, yeah, yeah, I'm sorry. Can you forgive me?" And I told them what my father said, "I forgave you at that time." I was raised that you had to forgive at that time if you were going to go ahead, and that's what has gotten me this far. You have to let go, you have to let go.