Mattie Tinsley, 1983

At age 76 Mattie Tinsley enrolled in the teacher's aide program at Parkland College. A month later she turned 77 and a year later, when she was 78, she graduated from the program. She then went to work in the public school system. She recalls vividly how difficult it was, throughout her life, to get jobs. "I'd walk and walk, but at the stores they used to look at me as if they didn't know what I was." For most of her life she did light domestic cleaning. Her afternoons off she says, "I'd treat myself to a movie, but at the local theatres, we had to sit upstairs ." Mrs. Tinsley came to Champaign in 1898 when she was four years old. She is especially proud, after her many years in the community, to have earned her teacher's aide degree from Parkland.

Source: Raymond Bial's In All My Years: Portraits of Older Blacks In Champaign-Urbana, Champaign County Historical Museum, 1983.