She Was One of the First Black Teachers at Her School, but, “There’s no color when you’re learning to read.”
Eunice Wiley was brought on as one of the first Black teachers at a predominantly white Florida elementary school in 1970. From the start, it was clear her job would be an uphill battle.
Her room had no supplies. The principal didn’t want her to be there. And her class of 20 white first graders had spent little time around Black people.
But she persevered, starting a career in education that lasted until she retired as a principal in 2005.
Wiley came to StoryCorps in 2017 with her friend and fellow teacher, Martha Bireda, to remember how these experiences came to define her as a teacher.
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Originally aired February 24, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Top Photo: Eunice Wiley and Martha Bireda at their StoryCorps interview in Punta Gorda, Florida on January 23, 2017. By Vero Ordaz for StoryCorps.