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Mary Perkins-Williams
Executive Director

My parents were not allowed an education, but my mother Mary Melissa Blount Perkins could read.  My father, the Reverend Jasper Perkins was an African Methodist Episcopal Zion church pastor.  I was born near the end of World War II in and around the Mayo Crossroad, began my education in Meadowbrook.  The Meadowbrook Community is located just north of the Tar River in Greenville, North Carolina.  Meadowbrook Elementary School was managed by Mrs. Fannie Jackson who allowed me to enter school at the age of five so that her nephew, Arthur Earl Daniels would have company to walk with him to school.  Because of school boundaries changes, Mary Lawrence was placed at Sally Branch Elementary School.  Mrs. Mattie Strong King was the principal.  Some of my teachers at Sally Branch were, Mrs. Josephine Daniels, Mrs. Mosley, Mr. Eddie Smith (basketball coach) and of course Mrs. Mary Dupree Tyson.  One memorable grade at Sally Branch was Grade 5.  Even though I mastered the grade level materials, Mrs. Tyson felt that I was too young to be promoted to the next grade due to “social reasons.”  So I was forced to repeat the fifth grade when repeated I earned “all A’s” for every subject for that year.  I graduated from Sally Branch during the school year nineteen fifty-eight and fifty-nine.  The graduation was held at Holly Hill Free Will Baptist Church because Sally  Branch did not have facilities for a graduation. 


I entered Bethel High the fifty-nine and sixty school term.  While at Bethel the school name changed to Bethel Union because the Bethel post office could distinguish between the mail to be delivered to the “white” and the “black” school’s mail and materials.  Bethel High School for colored children became Bethel Union School.  During our four years we challenged the school officials.  We would not accept the “hand-me-down” books from the “white” school and Superintendent Ott Alford sent us new books.  During a home-room meeting, the girls decided that the boys should take Homes Economics.  The boys argued that the girls should take Industrial Arts.  We were allowed to do so but the boys dropped out of Home Economics because it was “too sissy” for them.   The girls remained in Industrial Arts that year.  We requested that we be taught Trigonometry, Calculus, and Physics as seniors to prepare us for college even though most of us only needed two units to graduate.  The school administrators supplied the teachers to teach us.  Although placed in the top classes while in high school at Bethel Union, I placed at the twelfth ranking of the one hundred and five graduating seniors members for the Class of 1963. 


Today, I am a proud graduate of North Carolina Central University with double certification in Business and Library Science.  My post graduate degree is from the University of South Carolina at Columbia where I earned my Master in Librarianship.  Elected to the Pitt County Board of Education around 1986 and served for six years.  I am an unsuccessful candidate (by thirty-three votes) for the North Carolina House of Representatives.  I have given many public service hours to the community through political efforts.  And now I am about to enter my second term as the first elected Black female to the Pitt County Board of Commissioners.


The school years of 1965 and 1966 my parents did not have enough funds for college so I was hired by the Pitt County School System.  On July 1, 1970, I was hired at the James Yadkin Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, N.C. as its first “Black” professional librarian by Mr. Wendell Smiley.  I worked at Joyner as a faculty member until retirement in December, 1998. 

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