Dee Armstrong and Martha Jones

Recorded October 24, 2021 Archived October 24, 2021 36:45 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: mby021173


Best friends Dee Armstrong [no age given] and Martha Jones [no age given] talk about Martha's career as a teacher, Dee's career as a news anchor, and what makes the two of them such great friends. They also discuss the challenges that Dee has faced, as well as the faith in God that keeps them both grounded.

Subject Log / Time Code

MJ talks about how she developed her passion for teaching.
MJ tells the story of how she began teaching her abstinence program.
MJ shares some stories from students who were touched by her abstinence program.
DA shares her first memory of MJ.
DA reflects on both her strengths and regrets in her career as a news anchor.
DA explains how she became the youngest African American news anchor in the United States.
DA shares the story behind the time she went to jail.
DA and MJ discuss what it was like growing up in low income communities.
MJ expresses to DA how she cherishes their friendship and reflects on what keeps them grounded as friends.


  • Dee Armstrong
  • Martha Jones

Recording Location

Mildred L. Terry Public Library



StoryCorps uses Google Cloud Speech-to-Text and Natural Language API to provide machine-generated transcripts. Transcripts have not been checked for accuracy and may contain errors. Learn more about our FAQs through our Help Center or do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

00:02 Hello, I'm Dee Armstrong. And this is Sunday, October 24th, 2021 already. We're in Columbus, Georgia. I'm with the famous, my friend, Martha Jones. One of my best friends in the world.

00:17 Good morning. I am Martha Jones. And it's Sunday October 24th. 2021 Columbus, Georgia and I am here with my best best friend Dee Armstrong and she is my friend. I love her so much.

00:34 I've always wanted to ask you this internet, never just came up. Martha is such an unusual person. She's has a gift for a teaching young people and I would just ask you. When did you know that you had that ability to teach children that the rest of the school system said couldn't be talked.

00:58 You know now that you just asked me that question. I'm just going to take a quick.

01:05 Recording back. And I might, I remember my first job at Muscogee County School District. And with all these children in his classroom, and they had, it had a name for them. They call me some kind of special education classes.

01:20 And they kept saying, they're slow Learners and they could learn. So

01:24 I realized like everybody can learn, so that was my challenge. I went about my business to make sure that

01:32 I paid attention to everything. They said they couldn't do. My goal was approved of that thing could do it. So that has been my passion.

01:42 When I was a teenager, probably, you know, I always loved teaching.

01:47 Just been fun, fun fun, to watch kids, grow into their natural potential cuz they're there all the time. And how are you able to turn your frustrations into something that made you smile? Because you called me and said, guess what happened to me? And it could be the worst thing in the world, but you felt like I can reach this child. If I will just do this. You didn't let it and you didn't give into the system. This said you're black. You got three strikes against you. You'll never be anything, which is kind of the unwritten thing, but you didn't let that get you down.

02:19 I think that goes way back in my childhood growing up in rural South Georgia with my mother watching her build community with people that

02:31 Probably someone wouldn't pay attention to and, and with my going to Columbus college and been exposed to racism, and, and a whole lot of other stuff. And definitely building our relationship with none other than Jesus Christ. I focus on his, his, his goals. You know, what he said, we could do and it what I could do. So, I think growing spiritually, really put me in a position to walk out on faith and just go, go, go, go, go. So, you can do this, you can do this. So, I have to give it to my inner. Peace, and my personal issue was Jesus Christ, is at Travis during your teaching.

03:15 You know, I asked you this and you may not want to say these things. But but you know, you will say these things because you reach kids that you teach abstinence abstinence. I've been asked to teach it to talk to kids with asking is I didn't feel I reach them at all. But you say the wildest Things to them, make them understand and then they really truly make decisions that I'm not going to be this loosey-goosey. I'm going to be more discreet and I'm not, I'm not going to just give myself away where you get those things that you say, like, don't let your vagina be a playground this business about asking it was just an opportunity when I retired from Muscogee County School District, and I went to South Georgia, Randolph County.

04:09 And I met this friend of mine. Her name is Sabrina, man, and Prince, and I went to the accident teaching class. So, maybe it'll be at the after graduation to ask me, what I start teaching after the class in Tarrant County.

04:24 I'd like to have some sex. Not me. I was just like how in the world. Can you teach after to some 9th graders?

04:35 I pray hard. I wouldn't use the saying the word in a penis and vagina, but I got to say it. I got a teacher, you know, so immediately.

04:49 I don't know what I'm going to do with no ringing to say. So the fur, I can remember the first day. I was there. I had to introduce the word abstinence. No sex.

05:01 The kids say, what are you talking about? We have sex look like

05:07 Ninth grade ninth grade.

05:10 But something happened.

05:14 I, I just went into prayer. I went into prayer, the Lord, you know, you this opportunity is here. So show me what to say, how to say it.

05:27 It was a journey that I will forever cherish even now because they knew nothing about their body, you know that they were

05:37 They had choices lives in control and in and they just really thought sex was a part of everyday living.

05:45 So just to teach them that was very precious in the body was precious, what's his stuff for the precious gift. So God gave me a unique way to teach this business. And so I'm still in the business and not only did it or did I take it to students that the students wanted me to teach it to the parents and students. Would you tell my mama this? And I can tell you one situation to half an hour. I do a lot of role play in it. So I asked this guy, that's what convinced, this girl to be your friend. Not your sex partner.

06:24 He looked at me cuz he was a cool guy. You know, I always want to try to get her to have sex.

06:33 So he could so he went up in Africa, looking for now.

06:38 And he said, he didn't know what to say. Isn't that? So, I didn't know how to approach her as a friend. He does know how to approach her body. You don't know if you got big boobs. Girl. You got it going on on your buttocks, bigger.

06:52 So finally he said what horse your name and where you from and what's your favorite? You know, you had give me a look at the roof was all over with. He looked me straight in my face. So you know what? McDonald's got to put, it felt strange, but right.

07:10 The road is closed down and we had an accident program. He never forgot it. Even now, when I see him. He said I'm still asking the first person to be my friend, not my sex partner. So you know, it just

07:23 I know they had a celebration dog. Has some. I've had so many or who and it's after the program until it just, it just, it just unreal, you know, this really. I thought it was interesting to that you wanted to teach it in Muscogee County. This is going to get us. A no, no, no, no, no, please, go bowling. Anybody coming from the County Commission is going to talk about sex and say the word. He said whatever you need to sew the whole County. Now has his really accept. The fact that you know these girls and boys can can the action. They really want to know about this thing called sex because it's devastating when they don't know, but they if you teach them about their body,

08:23 Boys and Girls Together. It is amazing. What can happen because even now that I'm still down in Tarrant County, they'll come up with a girlfriend or boyfriend. Take the chance we can talk about anything had been invited, time is Santa so it's just amazing. How education is the key and you cannot be afraid to talk to Children about nothing. Six relationships Perinton because you're so hungry for, they're so hungry for and of the challenge is today, teach teach teach teach the boy.

09:12 Can you remember it? One student that sticks with you? Maybe a girl that was disappointed because she's been too felt. She had been used or maybe a guy that was disappointed because he use the girl. I wish she had to let me know the one that's when this girl she

09:32 She was a virgin at the time but this guy was really trying to convince her, you know, to

09:37 Come on, you know, if you love me, you'll do this if you do this, but I told her I said, once you do it.

09:44 He's not going to respect and he's going to look at you different.

09:48 She did it.

09:51 Did you came back the next day? Cuz he will not even. Look at her at school. He was not. Attention or she cried hurts so bad. I see. But you got to get over, you know, because you made a choice and I knew was going to happen.

10:06 So that's what you got. A ride him, a letter. You got to tell him that. You know, you really hurt my feelings and I can, but you have to understand you made a choice. You made a choice. Not to remember we talked about relationship. Sex can come first and then you get a relationship and then 6, but she got through it, but she learned something valuable that she had choice choice choice. So you couldn't blame him. He asked you did, you know, so you have to do, you know, give it up and start all over again. I say, will you not a virgin? But you can start all over again. I think, I think that is probably very powerful than I can. Remember another young man because I talked I talked about their families to this boy. This young man has cried together.

11:06 He grew up knowing that this man was his daddy, but as he continued to grow.

11:15 The man who he fell off. His dad. Will who the mother was married to the dad to realize that was true or not his son. So finally,

11:23 He came to school when Monday. He said I got something to tell you and he was crying so hard. What's wrong?

11:32 He said my daddy is not my daddy.

11:37 He's what you told me so much about forgiveness and love, you know, I'll call ya, he's too. But my daddy had my mama to tell me you did it. So you tell him who is Daddy, isn't it? I'm not today, but I'm driving, but I feel loved it. And he said that if I had not told him about how to forgive.

11:58 That it would have been just a big mess with his family. He told his mother, he forgave her, but the daddy, the man that was his dad. He said, I will always love you, and you will always be my son because we had talked about relationship, and forgiveness, and love, and kindness. He was able to embrace.

12:17 His mama and in a goal.

12:29 Got a question for me. Yeah. Course, what is your first?

12:37 Remember Tammy.

12:39 This is this interesting because there used to be this wonderful store. How I forgot the name of it was the name of that store that used to be at the hoity-toity store. When you said you had to have some extra money in your pocket, man, super me and all my kids. So I would have my kids and my sister's kids. So they're always five or six of them and then sometimes their friends and I we had sent the kids to Vacation Bible School because I always wanted to cuz I had a lot of opportunity to leave. That's when you leave Columbus, but I always felt I'm going to leave with my feel like my kids have a good foundation as I wanted to have a foundation in Jesus, answered if you get Foundation, you can get through anything. So I sent them to Vacation Bible School and who was their teacher?

13:39 Martha Jones. Mr. Jones said this about me. Miss Jones said this about me, and she's going to go get a limousine, and she's going to take us somewhere. Oh my goodness. For some reason. I don't know. I probably dropped them off at the legend that meet and then we were at mansor, just like. So, that's how we met. And we just fell in love with each other and we just stayed in touch. Is it?

14:28 That you managed to to maintain composure.

14:35 When you own the fit cuz I'm constantly watching you was it I mean I watch you, you know, so, you know, I'll call you up and say hey, what's the colors?

14:51 How how, how is it that? You know, I never seen you like you about to lose it. You always compose and you get through it, even though you're not trying to do, you not know something? Might be going to watch to see how you can manage and just hang in there. Just get through your our news or whatever. How do you, what are you thinking? Always been this is that as a news anchor, many times the stories are written for us and we may read through the stories, but I always not only read the story. And I'm not sure where this came from. Maybe my mom cuz she was an educator in her own, right, but she wasn't educated but she was very much into educating us. I would always read the content of the story and if I had a question, I would look it up. And so when I'm out there girl, I know what I'm talkin about it because I've read it.

15:51 To me. I see that. And some co-workers if they have not really read the story. They're just reading with someone put in front of them. You don't feel comfortable. So if something happens, I can pull back some information that I thought, you know, that I read something that goes with it. They may say stretch or they may say rap, and I think that's what it is Martha. And for our profession. I just just going to give kudos to those who also do that and then it's to those who don't we're not just as would not just data processors. You give me the information. I read it. You didn't know if we really need to understand what we're eating so that if we need to make Corrections or we understand that's only in this world today politics there, maybe a phrase that comes down and it's catching on and I'll tell them no. No, we're not going to put that in in here because that really is an opinion unless we balance this. We're not going to put it in here.

16:51 So we have to have that anchors who want to know more about what's going on and not just to be cute snow in in popular something. But someone who is truly interested in getting information out on both sides regardless of whose feelings might be hurt. Which it, we're just purveyors of information so that that's kind of going away. But but from the beginning, that's that's what the way I always looked at. I need to understand what I'm talking about and not just repeat something. Somebody told me to say that stuff excited. So if you

17:32 If you had to turn back the clock.

17:36 What would be your most challenging moment that you've had to deal with in this business that you really feel?

17:44 It in the business world, the most challenging thing in the business. Wow. I think I would have

17:54 May be sought out awards for something cuz I did great work, but I would never submit it for a wart. And I would, I would see somebody put in the war, not go shooting. But but to me the business was I did wasn't in the business for awards. But now I wish I had done it. And I kept my one of those bhs's yet. And I have not had them turned into digital yet and I'm like, I wonder if they even still on the tapes. You know, I think I would have kept more of my history, more of who I was because I was one of the youngest, you know, end in the youngest black, females in the country at the time. You know, how old I am? Perfect Martha.

18:44 Remember, getting this Magazine from Jet Magazine.

18:49 I know, but you don't they know they're not making is the youngest African-American anchor in the country. And I said, no, she's not. Cuz I am. So I know because because they hired me right out of high school because there were no Afro-American negro black people because they were looking for people that they could train. So, I told him, I said, I had already been admitted to college, Columbus, you and I both went to college at the time. So I was already enrolled at Columbus college and one of my teachers had

19:39 Heard that Michael was looking for. Nope. Nope. I'm getting that wrong. What a, what a my teachers recommended me for radio. And then my radio news director recommended me for television for that. That's how it happened. So that they found me so young. I had to doing radio news high school. And then the radio people understood that the local television station where they were really interested in getting blacks on TV, but blacks more in journalism School in big numbers why? Cuz you were not going to get a job. So they were finding us in different places. So I actually started right before I turn 19.

20:25 Tell somebody send her over here. Let me see what she can do. And I have been doing radio news. So I kind of understood the Timbre of the voice in the the presents a little bit. And so he sent me out on the story and it was one of those old schools. One of the first black schools and Columbus downtown somewhere. I remember standing on the steps so that doing a stand-up and we sent it back to him and he said, okay and I'll tell you what the flip side of this is everybody in that office. They were white. They were Caucasian and many of them had

20:59 Excellent backgrounds, they were award-winning journalist. And here comes this little black girl with no background just wide eyes and they were so kind to me. So can they trained me? They were so kind to me so good. They treated me like an equal and I was not educational and I'm still friends with but that's that's good. Yeah, every day so I can be inspired by you as you are.

21:39 You know, we've had, we've been friends for so long just to be inspired by you, how you just, I just keep going, you know, no matter what happened, you know, and I know you've had some trials and tribulation, but you keep going. So I just want to thank you for inspiring me to do. You feel like Jobe in the Bible so I can go through one more tragedy spending, a lot of times the things we've gone through.

22:14 People are watching and it helps them. I've had so many people come back and say I cannot believe you should get yourself off. And next thing. I know you right back at work. I have watch you just curled you don't go through so many hurdles. Yeah, I'll call you or text girl. You better get up and get going and what make of such good friends. What are you thinking? Our friendship has last because I respect you so much and you know, we talked and talked and we don't have to see each other. Call me. I could come over here. What you think? That's subsidence.

23:04 Cheapest, most other, you know, this is what I say. And then I'll listen to, I don't want to hear what you have to say. I think it's because we all want someone who will accept us. Because, you know, the things have happened to me, you know, this is the storycorp, they don't know. But I went to jail for some stupid stuff separate on that had an adult son. Yes. And perhaps I was wrong. I don't know. Maybe I wasn't, I'm not sure, but he grew up in a Christian household and wasn't living a certain way and I did. What once you get 18, you do what you want to do, but you can't do it here, right? And that continued. And so he smarted off at me and I did Papa Apopka which is a southern thing and and then I called the police and I said, you know, he's a grown man.

24:04 In his twenties. I just want you to help him pack his stuff so he can leave because he has somewhere to go, you know, and so, once they said what happened, and I said, well, it's 3 in the morning and in our way of living, that's disrespectful. You don't come in the house at 3 in the morning and, you know, your mom has to get up and go to work. I don't know where you are or what you've been doing and I love him. I said, but I have to hold my certain standards and he has a place to live, you know, he has a place to live. You can't just come here when you don't want to do, whatever you have to do over there. And they said, what, what happened? I said, well, I said this, and he said that. And I popped him. And they said you popped him. I said, yeah, they said that's assault.

24:46 I said my son is 6 ft 1 and he's an MMA kickbox fighter, do something like that. Just to kind of shake him up and say, hey, wait a minute. You don't talk to me that way, you know, and that and they put the handcuffs on me completely and I said, this is ridiculous. What are you doing? He has a right not to be not to be touched. And I said, will you ask him if I heard him? And I am his mother. Nobody loves him more than I do. I said, these are standard, I have the needs of Standards. I want him to have for his household. You don't just come in and out of the house, any kind of way you want to. And that may not be the rules you have, but that's the rules for my house. They did it. Anyway, stood over me.

25:36 Gosh, cuz I want this story to come up to me and I have alopecia, I don't grow hair. So they like it. And you go take that wig off. I'm like, oh my God. I said I said, I've never gone bald in public and I really don't want to. I said, why do I have to take him? You got to take that wig off for this for mugshot and we found out later. If you go through there, this year's series of my, I mean, everybody in this got wigs on but they have the discretion whether or not to ask you to take it off or two to keep it on. And then when I was putting in holding putting holding two girls next to me, you know, anybody can look up the records. He didn't sitting there with all this hair. She bought, but I did and it was terrible. It was said, I said, I'm not going to take it off. I can. I said, I'm not ready for that. That's something that I said, I said, I eventually I want to do it like that. But let me do it on my own terms, and he said it in the guy, still missing one white guy with his

26:36 What is hands on you? And I said, what are you going to do? Slap me down and, and he said, you got one minute to make your decision to make a decision. A sister sister. Are we sisters going to know? We're not in a she's standing over me. I said, you know, that you don't have to do this. The may I speak to your Lieutenant on duty. He said, yeah, when all of this is over so I took it off and before I could get out of there cuz my daughter came in almost immediately. Before I can get out of there. It was all over the world. Literally Columbus, Georgia and comments in like an hour or something and oh gosh, but

27:28 I never saw a negative. One of my daughters told me, it might have been one or two in there. But everybody was like, you ought to see this is as hard on me as it is getting my son, you know, and I'm not going to blame him. Yeah, but maybe I shouldn't Apopka. I don't know, you know, but I called the police thinking. They were my friend, right? I called him thinking. Hey, man, in and they know me cuz I'm on television. Do you know? They know me, I said I said, you'd help me and so they're looking around the house. I said, there is nothing out of place here. There was no tussle is, there was no fighting. I'm not drunk. He's not drunk. I said, I really thought you would come. I wanted to impress upon him. That he needs to respect his mother, and if I ask him to leave, he needs to leave, you know, and that's a. Yes. Yes. So that's with Martha Stewart.

28:28 I'm really praying that. You know, cuz I sent you know, I call you about to Haydee Shake It Off. I was going to happen. So one of the attorneys that don't even worry about it. You don't even have to pay for this. I'm going to get you out of this and so went when it went to one of the first levels, of course, he said they're probably just go to dismiss. They made me do 40 hours of community service.

28:57 And sent me this nasty note that said, if you weren't such a, a religious zealot, this would not have happened. So you cannot go to a religious counselor. I had to go to counseling to all. Wow, you know, I'm just going to do exactly what they asked me to do. So I'm sitting in the class with a bunch of Knuckleheads beating up their girlfriend drunk driver. Let's get this. But I did meet some wonderful friends at I ended up going behind the scenes at the Salvation Army for the hours is a long two hours. So you going over there? 20 times and

29:54 The donations come in. So I know all about the Sorting of. We are the Goodwill Queens. Yes, the GW Boutique know, how they sort now. Because I was a sorter, stop and say you did your 40 hours. I said, no. No. No, I said that would never hit me. And they were like, what can we do? What can we do?

30:43 I would like if, if this is ever used on MPR for people to hear that, being poor does not mean.

30:52 You have to be, I have a criminal mentality. You have to be under educated and you have to live in the on the system. Remember a growing up in in in the area. We had less than a lot of people do now but our grades. So I was at all those fools don't even exist anymore. That I want to 30th Avenue, Southern Junior, High School teachers. They were Superior Educators and they said listen here. They say you going to get your lesson child and if we didn't make it called your parents, what is this come from now? That's you know that they could there on the South Side so their grades are lower. We were on the Southside in our Graves matched. Every it matched. Columbus High, the elementary schools with our reading skills. The band was better.

31:52 Because you start out poor than someone else does not mean that you have to be under educated and you did it does not mean that you have to commit crimes and it doesn't mean that anybody owes you a doggone thing, get out and get it for yourself. The right way, the word I have learned of the word. Poor didn't have anything to do with your potential that you've given. Your potential is a gift, and if that pretentious this nurse, you know, you don't think you can just do whatever you want to do. Because I remember being in school, early grade school and high school teacher said, you're so smart. I don't even know what the word meant, but the Warped Tour and lost social economic environment. It's it's all about money.

32:48 In community for parents are not taught him to be better. If the community does not get better. I don't care what you put in front of students. They're not going to get them. Yes. It starts in the home in the community a must be hella time is not money and I got married. We're going to give them $300 per child for six months and they got five kids and I have $13,000 and we got lifted out of poverty. Know you're not with $13,000 in his pocket. Money has is not anytime you go away from the principles of the Holy Bible, the foundation, this past Thursday. So I was able to introduce the Holy Spirit to a group of guys and why do you seek and after what does travel look like Dad?

33:47 What does good times look like fun, you know just to sit there and watch them and I could see those guys sitting there. What is someone that just wondering? Because it said if someone had to stop me, when I was like 5 years old, 6 years old, I wouldn't be here. So they require discipline, but we've day that is so away from doing the right thing, until it has to come to Norm. Do the wrong thing. I have some apartments in low-income area and them Dope Boys will try to take over and so at least twice, maybe three out of there. One time and two times dope boys. And do you know what if you approach them, right? I don't know if it was God. Or what. Do you know what you guys have to leave? Yes, ma'am.

34:35 Yep. I'm just a single mom. I'm just trying to say I'm not making a whole bunch of money, but you guys are going to bring the man down on me. And this can't go on. Yes, ma'am. Yes, ma'am, and they left.

34:52 Even the guy I forget his name, but we say he smoke the reefer early in the morning. We come over on your business out of here and he left his Mojo. I did a poem that you were supposed to put music to call. I still have music. Nature has to learn. That friendship is something that you can cherish. I I will always cherish you because we've had so so many

35:36 I'll for discussion in as it would call a breakthrough, you know, and we see the world how we want God to see us. I think that's what bonded together because we know that without a shadow of a doubt that heaven and earth going to be gone. But you know, just to know that we are in this race to build God's kingdom. I think that's what keeps us grounded. You know, I keep trusting and keep working with this business of teaching, the youth and even seniors, you know, it's just amazing how you can

36:12 You wake up one morning, you go to. I did that yesterday, but love to see the coming up and it's been about two years. But if you plan to seize I don't care what happened. They will there come a come up. So I think if when you play the ship like you it keeps getting better and better and better. So same here. Let's go baby girl.