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.
This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
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.
Announcing the 2017 StoryCorps MobileBooth Tour
With the new year, we are on a new journey across the United States. In 2017, StoryCorps’ MobileBooth will travel more than 4,000 miles from the Gulf Coast of Florida to Michigan’s Great Lakes, then down the Mississippi River finishing the year in Southern Texas along the Gulf of Mexico.
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StoryCorps MobileBooth Tour 2017
We are excited to work with the following NPR affiliated radio stations to bring the iconic Airstream trailer to their communities…
January 5 – February 3, Fort Myers, FL, in partnership with WGCU
February 9 – March 10, Mobile, AL, in partnership with Alabama Public Radio
March 16 – April 14, Lexington, KY, in partnership with WUKY
April 20 – May 19, Cincinnati, OH, in partnership with Cincinnati Public Radio
May 25 – June 23, Bloomington, IN, in partnership with WFIU
June 29 – July 28, Detroit, MI, in partnership with WDET
August 3 – September 1, Des Moines, IA, in partnership with Iowa Public Radio
September 7 – October 6, Minneapolis–Saint Paul, MN, in partnership with Minnesota Public Radio
October 12 – November 10, Shreveport, LA, in partnership with Red River Radio
November 16 – December 20, Corpus Christi, TX, in partnership with KEDT
Along the way, our iconic Airstream trailer and a crew of facilitators will stop in 10 cities for a month at a time each, recording meaningful conversations and preserving them in the StoryCorps archive in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
Since 2005, the StoryCorps MobileBooth Tour has visited more than 200 cities and traveled nearly 100,000 miles. In each city StoryCorps works with station partners, cultural institutions, and community based organizations to help spread the word, and encourage people to record a conversation with someone they love to be preserved for future generations.
As StoryCorps works to become an enduring institution that touches the lives of every American, the MobileBooth Tour continues to provide an authentic StoryCorps experience to individuals across the country who may not otherwise have access to one of our permanent StoryBooths in Chicago and Atlanta.
StoryCorps’ MobileBooth Tour is made possible, in part, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.