Oral History: Daisy Rios (Epifanio Rios)

Abstract: In this Interview, the interviewee, Mrs. Rios, tells us about her childhood during the time of the Civil Rights Movement. She recounts many events she remembers from her childhood and gives us insight on how her life was during this time. Mrs. Rios also shares with the interviewer, her son, a memory she has of the death of president Kennedy. Then further into the interview she begins to tell us about her views on what life has become know and how the world has changed so much since the 60’s. This interview talks more about the interviewee’s life during her time as a child and some of her experiences growing up during the Civil Rights era.

Research: In 1954, in the Brown vs. Board of Education case, the supreme court had outlawed the existence of legal segregation within public schools. This then led to the integration of African Americans and whites into the same schools. This was a pivotal point in the integration of races in the United States. In 1963, the 35th president of the United States, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. He was the youngest president to be elected and the youngest to be assassinated. Before his death the Civil Rights Act was created but not passed due to his death. In 1964, while in the hands of Lyndon B. Johnson, it is passed in honor of JFK. My mother, the interviewee, life had begun after the Supreme Court choice in the Brown vs. Board of Education trial. She went to school when schools were being integrated and according to her memory her school was not entirely integrated. She also remembers the death of JFK and realizes the profound impact it had on people.


http://www.colorlines.com/articles/may-17-1954-supreme-court-rules-racial-segregation-schools-unconstitutional , https://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/johnfkennedy , http://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/JFK-in-History/Civil-Rights-Movement.aspx?p=3 ,

In Bold - Interviewer

In Italics - Interviewee

So who are you and when were you born?

My Name is Daisy Nilda Rios, born in Mercer County, Trenton, New Jersey


May 11th, 1958

So, where did you grow up?

I grew up in a city called Trenton, New Jersey.

Describe it for me.

Trenton, New Jersey in the area where I was born and raised, was considered, mostly, the majority, 99% was black.

Did you know allot of white people around there?

Just a few at school.

But, No where else?

Where my dad and mom use to work at, at the hospital.

Where those the only interactions you’ve ever had with white people?


So there wasn’t a lot of mixing or… ?

99% were black and hispanic.

Tell me what was school like for you.

School For me?


It was go to school, come back home, home, back to school, school, back home.

Did you guys, was there any racial barriers that kind of came between your school?

Well also my school was the majority, were a lot of black people, I can’t recall any memories of my childhood, going to school.

Did your parents ever let you guys interact with any other races?

As a (incomprehensible) we were raised, well we were not allowed to be outside, like the generation now a days it’s mostly, “Mom can I go outside.”, Which in reality, when I was growing up we were not allowed to interact outside the home. It was always going to school and coming back home and never going outside and playtime. My parents were really strict on this.

So did your parents let you play, well if they did let you play, did they ever let you play with the black kids?

Yes we had a few kids that we were, the little bit of time we had outside was the black play (incomprehensible), we liked the double dutch thing, it was very popular then. And jump rope, but we did get a chance to play.

In all your time growing up can you name any of them?

Remember names? No

Do you remember how they were like?

They were all about my age as we were growing up, ten, eleven, twelves, mostly girls. We weren’t allowed to play with any boys, and recall names? I don’t remember.

Would you have considered yourself, kind of segregated from everyone else?

I wouldn’t say segregated, it was just the way were raised,

Like accustomed too?

Accustomed too, it was just a habit that we all grew into, the same custom you know.

Did you know anyone who was in support of the Civil rights movement at the time?

I guess my parents were.
Your parents?
My parents.

Tell me about your parents and their relationships, considering race.

Everyone got along with each other, you know back then there were no problems, like discrimination and bullying and stuff like that it was always like that you go to school and come straight home and if you were working, you go to work, and come straight home.

When you were younger how did you see the Civil rights movement, how did you understand it?

I didn’t really understand it.
Like what was going on?

What was going on, and all I know is when Kennedy got shot, I saw my mother got really upset, like someone really close to her really died, and it was like on the news, it was like you know like, it was very crazy, at that point.

When kennedy died you like five years old, correct?

Five or six years old. I just remember my mom seeing the news on the TV and she went ballistic, she was like really, they were really, back in that time, really heart broken when that happened.

Do you know why?


Since then do you think your views on race have changed?

My views, on race? No, we have the blacks, we have the hispanics, we have the orientals, we have a few whites, No problems, I think that I can interact with whatever nationality you might be.

So I guess that will conclude this interview.

I was going to say that my biggest trip was to go the state fair, that was our pleasure and fun that we had every year.

Ok, so before we end this, How was the state fair?

The state fair was like a big concert going, that was our only family outgoing trip that we always do, it was a long walk, we always had to walk, but the state fair was like wow, it is like a carnival to us here now a days, but over there when we were raised the state fair was like a big thing to us, you know seeing all of the animals and stuff like that, what you guys consider know to be a carnival now it’s just a carnival.

Yeah, It is just like no big deal.  

It’s no big deal.

I will ask my final question, did you witness any discrimination or experience any discrimination?

My father getting beat up, would that be considered? The only thing that I can say, that I saw with my own eyes, was when my dad was coming home from work one night and it was like four guys beat him up.

Do you know why?

Well I guess, they were trying to rob him. And steal his money and he was just coming home from work.

Do you know what race the people who were trying to rob him were?

I wanna say black. It was four black guys. But other than that, I say that we don't have the advantages that the race and childhood have now. You know, you can go outside, you can go with friends and stuff, we didn’t have that pleasure at home, we couldn’t even watch TV, we had one hour on a friday to watch Television, but other than that we weren't allowed to watch TV.

Do you have anything else you wanna add?

Like back in the day, like when I was being raised we didn’t know what bullying is, what it is now. Discrimination what their calling discrimination now. We didn’t know those big words at the time we were being raised. So, my point now is like everything has a name to it now. Back in the day we didn’t have a name for it. You know, being bullied.

You kind of just saw it as it is?

Yea we just, Oh they’re having a fight cuz before you were able to fight one on one. Not now, it’s a whole gang coming to beat you up or stuff like that but as naming, we didn’t know bullying and discrimination or having problems with races and stuff like that. It all has a name now. It didn’t have a name back then, or didn’t know the names of it. Yea you know you fight and it was always one on one, a couple days late you made up. It’s like, not now they want to shoot you or kill you and stuff like that all with violence and stuff, it wasn’t like that before. So my conclusion is, people need to communicate with each other and trying to avoid and be truthful if you are being bullied say you’re being bullied.

So just paybacking off of that, do you think there’s more I guess kind of racial violence between now and back then?

Now, there is a lot. A lot more than back then.

Its worse or?

Its worse now. Like I said we never had a name, when you was getting beat up or when the kids were picking on you at school because we called it just picking on you but it was never like bullying and getting beat up and stuff like that. It was just a normal fight. We going to fight, one on one. It’s not like now with knives and guns and stuff like that. Its way different now.

I guess we’re done here.

Thank you so much.

Thank you for letting me have this opportunity mother. (Laughter)