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Frances T. Matlock

Honored teacher and advisor, Frances Matlock was born in Chicago on January 6, 1907. She attended Proviso East High School, where she was the only black student in her 1924 graduating class. While a student, several exceptional teachers inspired Matlock to pursue a career in education. She earned an associate's degree from Chicago Normal College (now Chicago State University) and a bachelor's degree in Education from Northwestern University in 1928.

Matlock's prolific career has included work in elementary education as well as civic and community activism. She taught Social Studies for the Chicago Public School system at Hayes Elementary School and Forestville Elementary School from 1933-1972, and served on the Chicago Public School's Board of Education. She acted as an advisor to the NAACP's Youth Leadership Council from 1935-1941, overseeing the early efforts of such notables as Dr. Margaret Burroughs, founder of the African American Museum of Black History; Gwendolyn Brooks, Pulitzer Prize winning poet; and John Johnson, publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines. The council fostered the growth of these future leaders by participating in marches and demonstrations in protest of lynching. Shortly thereafter, Matlock put her public relations talents to work to help raise the funds to establish the Southside Community Art Center, which was dedicated by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1941. Matlock worked on a national level as a public relations and publicity assistant for the original March-On-Washington, in which demonstrators demanded that President Roosevelt provide jobs for Blacks in the World War II defense plants. From 1953-1993 she served as publicity chairman and archivist for the Chicago Chapter of The Links, Inc., an organization that provides financial support to college-bound youth.

Her interests and activities are international in scope. For her years of support and dedication to the Jamaican community, Matlock received Special Recognition from the Consul of Jamaica. In addition, Matlock was granted a Golden Alumnus Award from Chicago State University in 1999. The following year, Operation Uplift honored her with their Golden Heritage Award. In acknowledgment of her role as a teacher and mentor, and her unyielding work for her community, Matlock has been inducted into the Chicago Senior Citizen's Hall of Fame.

Accession Number

A2002.083

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/3/2002

Last Name

Matlock

Maker Category
Middle Name

T.

Schools

Emerson Elem School

Proviso East High School

Washington Elem School

Chicago State University

Northwestern University

First Name

Frances

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

MAT01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

1/6/1907

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken, Chocolate, Steak, Ice Cream

Death Date

11/21/2002

Short Description

Elementary school teacher Frances T. Matlock (1907 - 2002 ) taught in Chicago Public Schools for three decades, and served as an adviser to the NAACP's Youth Leadership Council. She served as a public relations and publicity assistant for the 1932 March on Washington, and from 1953 to 1993 acted as publicity chairman and archivist for the Chicago Chapter of The Links, Inc.

Employment

Chicago Public Schools

Favorite Color

Turquoise

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Frances T. Matlock's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Frances T. Matlock lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Frances T. Matlock talks about her family

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Frances T. Matlock talks about her father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Frances T. Matlock describes her grandmother, Lydia Baird Bundy

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Frances T. Matlock describes moving from Chicago, Illinois to Maywood in 1912

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Frances T. Matlock describes her childhood in Maywood, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Frances T. Matlock describes her mother's civic involvement

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Frances T. Matlock describes visiting the wreckage of the SS Eastland in 1915

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Frances T. Matlock remembers meeting a stranger at the Decoration Day parade in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Frances T. Matlock remembers meeting a doctor on a streetcar near Mary Thompson Hospital in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Frances T. Matlock remembers her childhood experience at Mary Thompson Hospital in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Frances T. Matlock describes seeing the bandleader James Reese Europe perform in a parade

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Frances T. Matlock describes her relationship with her father

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Frances T. Matlock describes her experience working while attending college

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Frances T. Matlock describes her experience at Proviso High School

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Frances T. Matlock describes a teacher who helped her

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Frances T. Matlock remembers being asked by a classmate when she had no dance partner at Proviso High School

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Frances T. Matlock describes a racist comment made by a high school classmate

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Frances T. Matlock describes her experiences with discrimination at Proviso High School

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Frances T. Matlock describes her experience at Chicago Normal School and Northwestern University, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Frances T. Matlock describes her experience at Chicago Normal School and Northwestern University, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Frances T. Matlock describes her early experiences as a teacher, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Frances T. Matlock describes her early experiences as a teacher, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Frances T. Matlock describes her experience with the NAACP Youth Council, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Frances T. Matlock describes her experience with the NAACP Youth Council, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Frances T. Matlock describes planning a dance for the NAACP Youth Council

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Frances T. Matlock describes supervising the selection of social studies textbooks for Chicago Public Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Frances T. Matlock talks about the historical subjects that she thought important to to black students

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Frances T. Matlock talks about buying books from black historian Frederick H. Hammurabi Robb

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Frances T. Matlock talks about mentoring Gwendolyn Brooks and HistoryMakers John H. Johnson and Dr. Margaret Burroughs as youth in the NAACP Youth Council

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Frances T. Matlock describes the fundraising activities of her friend Gloria Wailes

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Frances T. Matlock describes her experience with the Children's Theatre Group of Chicago

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Frances T. Matlock describes her experience training hostesses at Servicemen's Center Number Three during World War II

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Frances T. Matlock describes the founding of the South Side Community Art Center

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Frances T. Matlock talks about her travels to Trinidad and Jamaica

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Frances T. Matlock talks about her two marriages

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Frances T. Matlock talks about some of the royalty that she met from Jamaica and Trinidad

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Frances T. Matlock talks about Haiti

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Frances T. Matlock talks about her experience teaching at Forestville Elementary School

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Frances T. Matlock reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Frances T. Matlock describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Frances T. Matlock reflects upon her parents

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Frances T. Matlock talks about the younger people who treat her like a mother

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Frances T. Matlock describes her concerns for youth facing addiction

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Frances T. Matlock shares her opinion about The HistoryMakers

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Frances T. Matlock narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Frances T. Matlock narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

7$1

DATitle
Frances T. Matlock remembers being asked by a classmate when she had no dance partner at Proviso High School
Frances T. Matlock describes her experience with the NAACP Youth Council, pt. 2
Transcript
Oh, the worst situation of all was a boy who lived right across the street from school and his sister, Caroline, Caroline Smith, was the most popular girl in the school. She was, she was blond and blue-eyed and everybody loved her. Everybody just admired her and the day that she came in to school to register as a freshman, all the kids-"Oh, here comes Caroline, here comes Caroline. Caroline was this and Caroline was that." Everybody loved her and I heard about her but she didn't come until about the third day and I wanted to see who she was. Well, anyway, when I saw her, I could see everybody did love her but when we went to gym, I was in the gym class with her, and we took up dancing, we volunteered, we didn't have to, but we volunteered to learn dancing. And we did our little one, two three, one, two, three, one, two, three, and then about the third day, it was time to change to get partners and dance together. Well, you know what happened to me? I had nobody to dance with and I surely wasn't going to ask anybody to be my partner and they weren't going to ask me to be their partner. So there I stood. The other girls all had partners, standing there, waiting to start the dance and I stood there without a partner. My arms were empty and I was just agonized just--at that age, you know, you're sensitive to anything that goes wrong and I didn't know what to do. I hadn't thought about having to get a partner. That didn't dawn on me. All I thought about was learning how to dance but learning how to dance meant you had to have a white--a partner and it could not be a white person, of course, not in those days. So, I just stood there but suddenly, who came to my rescue? Beautiful, blue-eyed, blond, Caroline Smith. Caroline dropped her friend's hands and walked across the gym to me and asked me to be her partner. Now that child--the teacher didn't do it. The teacher should have done it. Should have saved my agonizing embarrassment but the teacher--but the teacher just stood there and--but Caroline came to the rescue and "would you be my partner?" She was so sweet and the incident was over, okay. The music went on and we all, from then on, all of Caroline's friends came to--one by one--she set the pattern and her friends came to me, one by one, and saw to it that I was involved in every dance, I had a partner, so that I didn't have to worry about that agonizing embarrassment any more.$There were several that I was very proud that we could get people on that caliber to come in and teach our kids how to do their committee work. If they're on the publicity committee, show them how to do publicity. If they're on this committee, show them how to do that. Show them--give them your professional experience to do the job. So that's how we made such success of what they were doing 'cause they took it seriously and they did pay attention and they did develop leadership but I thought it was for the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People], for the future of the branch. I thought they were going to turn around and help the NAACP but never. I haven't seen anybody. I know [HM] John [H. Johnson] --I've never heard of John being on the board or [HM Dr.] Margaret [Burroughs] being on the board or Gwendolyn [Brooks]. I haven't heard of any of them being on the board.$$But you were talking about--we're rolling again, I just wanted to let you know the camera's rolling again. You were talking about the--your "training trek," you know--$$Yeah.$$--those you train, just so whoever's, you know, when we mention this tape in the future, they'll understand what we're talking about here.$$Yeah.$$So you have something called the "training trek" and you bring in people to train--$$Yeah, we call it the "training trek."$$Okay.$$And we'd start out with Friday night and we'd have a dinner, a nice big dinner Saturday night and it was the weekend and everyone--every October we had this training for future leadership. That's what I called it, for future leadership. But--$$For NAACP?$$But then--for leadership for themselves but not for the NAACP. Margaret led--sure she put the museum [DuSable Museum of African American History] there but once it got--the NAACP had nothing to do with it. See it--Margaret didn't build and it isn't Margaret's fault, it's the leadership. They knew what I was trying to do. I was training them for future leadership and back in those days they had the lynching down in Sikeston, Missouri, the lynching, and they would--we had--we'd march around the streets at night, holding up flags and whatnot and signs, "stop lynching," stop this, stop that, you know. These young kids, these high school kids, marchin' around the neighborhood, protesting against lynching. Now that was NAACP work. That's the kind of work the NAACP should fight against lynching. We met--our kid met Walter [Francis] White, all the other big ones, Roy Wilkins, all those great guys from the--my kids met all of them.$$Just for the record, who's Walter White and Roy Wilkins?$$Who is Walter White?$$Just for the record here.$$Walter White was the Mr. One, Mr. NAACP. He was a little short, blue-eyed, blond hair, you didn't know he was colored. He went--he attended and sat in on a lot of those lynchings. He was in the audience watching them hang that black man, this white-skinned fella, Walter White. He was a great guy. He was the head of the NAACP. When I came in, then there was A. C.--$$Wait a minute, now. He would watch the lynching and then what would he do?$$Yeah, he'd be in the audience.$$Then what would he do?$$And he would testify in court against them. He could do that, see, he was there to observe. If he'd been brown skinned, he would have been killed and he wouldn't have dared be in that audience but see, since he was fair, he could just stand there, just watch them, hang that black man. He couldn't stop them so he might as well watch them and be there as a--to testify--to be there to testify against and see who did it. I saw, he was there, she was there, you know, he could testify.$$So--$$And so I--that's what I thought I was training him to be angry and to be mad and to--to be, you know, head up and work about--against civil rights--against, what is it, the lynching.