Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Richard Bowman, July 8, 1998. Interview K-0513. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Bowman attended Tuskegee College by working and receiving financial support from family

Bowman used his savings to attend Tuskegee College. Though his father wanted him to wait and save money for another year, his family sacrificed to send him money throughout his college years. The president of Tuskegee also helped him find enough jobs to remain there.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Richard Bowman, July 8, 1998. Interview K-0513. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
Where did you work?
RICHARD BOWMAN:
Different yards in Kenilworth. I would-I'd do housework-wash woodwork, wax floors, rake leaves, and uh, work in the-do yard work-prune, weed the flower beds, and whatnot and wash windows.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
How much would you get paid to do that kind of work?
RICHARD BOWMAN:
Usually 25 cents an hour, yeah. And then I finally got up to 35 cents and hour.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
And this was all throughout high school?
RICHARD BOWMAN:
It was all throughout high school. And then I helped my dad, too. I'd go around and help him on Saturday and Sunday. Fill up the stokers-that's the thing that you put coal in- and it would feed into the furnace and then take down the trash, cut grass, at the different places and hedges and whatnot.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
Did you get to save your money for yourself? Or was this for the family or-
RICHARD BOWMAN:
No, no this was-I got to save this. It was my money. So, I got a chance to save it. I fact, what I did sometimes I would stop on the way home downtown and spend about everything I made because I would be hungry out here-get doughnuts and whatnot and take em home for the rest of the family. But, mom and dad never asked me for money. No, anything [we?] made-I'd use it to buy clothes and whatnot and school supplies and save for college. In fact, had I not, I would never have been able to go to college, because when I finished high school and wanted to go to college my dad said no and told me I had to work a year. And I told him that uh, I didn't want to work a year-that uh, I had saved enough money to get there and I had already registered and that I was going and I was going to stay until my money ran out.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
And that's what you did?
RICHARD BOWMAN:
And that's what I did. And I told my dean about it when I got there so he told me don't worry-no one has ever been put out of Tuskeegee because of lack of money.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
Hmmm . . .
RICHARD BOWMAN:
He helped me get a job on campus-to work in the evenings and whatnot and my dad- I don't know how he did it, but I had a sister at Xavier and then of course I was at Tuskeegee, but he found money somewhere and sent it to me.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
Hmmhmm. So he ended up supporting your decision-
RICHARD BOWMAN:
He supported it-right.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
That's good. So, tell me when did you know that you wanted to go to college?
RICHARD BOWMAN:
Oh, when I was in high school. My brother-Nathaniel, that lives here-he wanted to go and uh my father couldn't afford to send him. He had sent for a book-a bulletin from Tuskeegee and had it on the dresser. And I used to read through it-the different courses and I'd ask the teachers about it. And that's what really got me interested. Had he not ordered the book I probably never would have even thought about college.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
Really? So, did your brother ever get to go?
RICHARD BOWMAN:
Unh. Unh
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
He never went?
RICHARD BOWMAN:
But, he did extremely well. He worked-went into the service got out worked at the VA Hospital until he retired.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
Was he also a Stephens-Lee graduate?
RICHARD BOWMAN:
He's a Stephens-Lee graduate? And he sent me money while I was in college. It almost brings tears to my eyes [his voice has become choked with emotion] I remember one letter he wrote me and he said uh- I won this money (Here, Mr. Bowman begins to cry)--bettin on the World Series-he said, it might help you with college. [brief pause]