Emily Banks - On her family, immigration, and faithInterviewed by Hudson Vaughan and Maggie West on February 17, 2011
This interview is part of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center’s Life History Series. Emily Banks, a current member and leader of St. Joseph CME Church, was born in 1946 in New York and migrated south to North Carolina in 1970. She has spent the last few decades in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She reflects on her pride in her family history, the immigration stories of her parents and their families, life lessons she has learned, her views of the Civil Rights Movement, the importance of education and faith, and her dedication to her four children through many tribulations. Also discusses her family history, especially her father’s service as a Tuskegee Airman. She shares the important lessons that her parents taught her, such as the significance of receiving a good education. She recounts being in an abusive marriage and how she got the courage to leave. She also remembers migrating to North Carolina and finding a job at East Chapel Hill High School. The interview includes discussion of the foundation of her faith. She has another anecdote of her romantic life, such as leaving her second husband for fear that he would soon get physically abusive, like the first. She shares memories in New York with her family, meeting Malcolm X, and facing prejudice from her own race. Furthermore, she recounts experiencing racial issues in America for the first time. The interview concludes with discussion of traveling to Europe, the importance of faith, monumental events in history that she has witnessed, hitting rock bottom, her children and their accomplishments.
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