The Historian

A clip from her 2011 interview about the Bristol Bus Boycott and her journeys into history. Dr Madge Dresser in discussion with Mary Ingoldby and Rob Mitchell. Camera, Daniel Antelo.

“I am the grandchild of immigrants and I heard some really interesting stories from my grandparents. And then also I went to school and I read American History; there was nothing much about people like me. I always went to the index to see where the Jews were. When I went to the University of California, Los Angeles UCLA, I had some really inspirational teachers. I did one of the Black Studies courses in California and that was pretty inspirational looking at history which hadn’t been covered before.”

“I was at UCLA in the 1960s, so from 1966 to ’70. It wasn’t Berkeley but it was pretty close. We felt we were on the cusp of history and it was very exciting. It was the first time that Black and White students were actually talking to each other, not always amicably.
I had Angela Davis as a tutor and she used to come with her head bandaged and the Jackson brothers accompanying her. That was an interesting experience but there was also a Black Studies course that we went to and I remember that some to the African American girls would come with their hair in afro instead of being conked or straightened, to the applause of the audience. So every few weeks more girls would come with their hair done natural so it was a time we learnt as much outside the classroom as we learnt inside, with these very intense discussions with these people from different backgrounds who really had grown up in quite a segregated Los Angeles.”

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