My paternal grandmother, Gladys Denson Mays was born on June 11, 1913 in Newport, Arkansas. She was the oldest of her siblings. She decided at a young age that her education was important, and she wanted to become a teacher. She moved to Little Rock, Arkansas at the age of 14 to complete grades 10-12 at Dunbar High School graduating in 1934 with her teachers certificate. She went on to Philander Smith College to earn a Bachelor’s in Education and the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville earning a Master’s in Education. She pursued her education and career goals all while raising a family with her husband, Booker Mays. She was a teacher and counselor for the Newport School District for 50 years.
My memories of my Granny are the longest and strongest because she was the grandparent I had the longest. My love of history, especially Black history, comes from my Granny. She also gave me my first look into family history when we read Alex Haley’s, Roots together when I was in junior high school. My Granny was the most nurturing person I knew. She was always taking care of family members and people in the community. Her house was always open for anyone that needed anything. Growing up I never knew about all of her trail blazing accomplishments as a Black woman. It wasn’t until I started my family history research that I learned of all that she had done in her lifetime. My Granny has always been and will always be the woman I most admire.