Lowell Toliver Interviewed by Avery Chandler and Owen Longacre, 2023
This oral history is an interview with Lowell Toliver conducted by Avery Chandler and Owen Longacre for the Lucy F. Simms School Oral History Project. Avery was a student in Owen Longacre’s African American history course at Spotswood High School. The interview was conducted virtually on February 16, 2023, using Google Voice.
Lowell Toliver attended the Simms school from 1941 to 1952. In this oral history, he describes his experience at the school, his teachers, and the curriculum. He recalls the close-knit community and an environment where neighbors looked out for each other. Mr. Toliver was a part of the school's basketball team and enjoyed participating in operettas and May Day celebrations. After graduating in 1952, he joined the military and fought in the Korean War.
Mr. Toliver describes his military service and the challenges he faced during integration. He also shares his memories of the Simms school community and how its closure and the subsequent redevelopment of the neighborhood affected the Black community. Lowell emphasizes the importance of education and positive change for future generations.
Interview and Transcript
Click here to download a copy of the transcript.
The transcript presented here has undergone a rigorous review and editing process undertaken by Ruth Toliver, Kevin Hegg, Mariam Ismail, and Kirsten Mlodynia to ensure its accuracy and authenticity. After the completion of the oral history interview, we provided Mr. Toliver with the opportunity to review the initial transcript and offer feedback, corrections, and additional insights. This collaborative effort between Mr. Toliver and our team at James Madison University has resulted in a final version that faithfully reflects the participant's own words and recollections.