Elizabeth Duke and T. McClain

Recorded February 25, 2021 Archived February 24, 2021 54:45 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: ddv000506


One Small Step conversation partners Elizabeth "Lani" Duke (74) and T. "Davina" McClain (56) share their political beliefs, memories and the ways they view change in the community.

Subject Log / Time Code

ED recalls her life story.
DM recalls her life story.
DM recalls the shooting of Ronald Regan.
ED talks about her conservation upbringing.
ED discusses experiencing kindness after moving to Louisiana.
ED discusses an education program for youth she is working on.
DM discusses the difficulties living in Louisiana.
ED describes hearing stories about Kristal Nacht as a child from her parents.
DM discusses parenting with ED.


  • Elizabeth Duke
  • T. McClain

Recording Location

Virtual Recording

Partnership Type




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00:01 McClain the P stands for trouble. I am 56 today is Thursday, February 25th, 2021. I am in nacotish, Louisiana. My conversation partner is Elizabeth and my relationship to my conversation partner is OSS.

00:22 Thank you, Dina. Elizabeth you and your first and last name, please.

00:27 My name is Elizabeth Duke and I go by Lonnie most of the time.

00:37 I am not very far from you because I am merely in Shreveport.

00:45 You might give it to your age.

00:48 I'm 74. Okay, and can you say today's date for us?

00:56 I could if I knew it Thursday, February 25th 2021 got your location and who are you recording here with today?

01:11 Sabrina McClain

01:17 Okay, and then you know your relationship to Davina.

01:23 Alexis partner, yes. Perfect. Thank you so much. All right, so I'm going to have you go ahead and read Elizabeth file for us. Okay?

01:37 I lived in rural Ohio a Colorado small town and a small village in Germany Shreveport is the first place without snow. I'm a mom and a stepmom to adults a writer and history research.

01:54 Thank you, and I'm going to go ahead and read your bio. That's a bit. I mean sorry, I teach Latin and Greek and all about the ancient world while that may seem pointless the more my students learn about human behavior in different times and places the more open their minds become to the value of different. I am pro-choice not anti-gun. But without what with back background check I recognize white privilege and I believe that Healthcare and a certain level of Education are right not just for the wealthy. I trust experts but I also read a variety of sources. I love a good conversation.

02:33 All right. Well, thank you both for submitting that information over to us. We're going to start with Elizabeth for this first question and then was Elizabeth is done Divina. You will pick it up and go Elizabeth. You're going to take 5 minutes, which I will time you on to tell Davina your life story.

02:56 But I thought you just got it. And now it's your turn to go ahead and reinterpreted. So, like I said, I'll let you know. How much time you have with it. Okay?

03:13 Thought I was born in East Cleveland.

03:19 Ohio Northern in Ohio State

03:24 Littleton, Colorado to Denver

03:35 In western Colorado is well.

03:40 In between

03:46 I like I did I did get that two years in Germany. I got 11 years in Vermont.

03:55 Shreveport less than 10 years, but I'm not sure how much the

04:02 Widowed

04:04 My son likes my step daughter lives here in Shreveport. My son is in South Carolina his three children.

04:20 You want to stop there?

04:22 I can okay. Alright, thanks for sharing. All right to be in the Europe five minutes life story.

04:31 Life story I grew up in a very small town in Texas called Shady Shores when we moved there we had there is about 350 people the same lovely woman was mayor for 37 years.

04:47 It was great place to grow up because it was out in the country. My parents had actually chosen to move out of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex because they wanted me and my sister to grow out of the country with places to play. I went to public high school. I went to college in San Antonio. I got my PhD at Indiana University.

05:13 My field is Latin and Greek. I love everything about the ancient world.

05:19 There there's so much to learn from them just amazing literature and so much to see that's not changed at all about human beings.

05:31 I knew beginning in the 3rd grade that I wanted to be a teacher and I love teaching because I love being able to

05:41 Introduce students to new things and show them how they can accomplish things and do things that they never expected. They would be able to do so, that's one of the things that's really

05:55 Cool for me. I love to travel into foreign countries. My favorite place on the planet is turkey or or the island of Cyprus. They're both just absolutely beautiful as simple as a gorgeous City people are fantastic. I like to travel alone. I like to go and just talk with people just go in and have conversations and find out about their lives and get beyond what

06:26 The news says about places is also very interesting to watch the news and foreign countries about the United States and see what they pick up on. I think that external view of our own country is is important and and

06:44 Interesting to see what is emphasized there as opposed to what is emphasized here. I am Mom to two dogs divorced and happy to have four-legged babies around to entertain me.

07:07 Going to get there. So what is your earliest memory of politics and there's no time limit on this.

07:27 You know, that's interesting because that I immediately go back to the day that Ronald Reagan was shot because I was in high school and I remember being horrified.

07:42 That the present somebody tried to shoot the president and remembering my

07:48 One of my teachers and her daughter.

07:53 Being happy not caring that. The president has been shot because of their political beliefs and I just thought that was wrong.

08:04 So that's probably the really first.

08:11 But the first thing that I remember though, I do remember in seventh grade when I had.

08:17 There were teachers in school wearing black armbands cuz they did not like who have been elected governor and I can't remember if they didn't like Bill Clements or they didn't like Mark white, but it was one of those. Those are my memories intends to come more from from people's reactions in my academic and space than been really at home Expressions a child has a lot of adults for sure. All right. Thank you Elizabeth. You have the floor for the same question. What is your earliest memory of politics?

08:54 Oh my parents like my dad was a farmer and

09:03 They were incredibly conservative.

09:11 But I when I went to college.

09:15 Switch toys food and

09:20 Supported McGovern number of SDS for a while and then once I became a mother

09:37 Movie games like conservative credentials

09:42 Because I did not know I am a registered Republican.

09:59 What inspired the laughter there but I was already.

10:16 When I was in high school was when Kennedy was shot.

10:26 Fans feelings about this whole thing.

10:36 It's kind of a little bit of Dirk irony the same situation happening to do two different Frozen with a representative in our history. So well since you went last year going to go first Elizabeth the question is, can you tell me and Davina about someone who has been the kindest to you and your life?

11:06 Is going to work to me but kind is to you and your life. Who's that person?

11:17 Michael Sunday school class if I can say that

11:23 Mind when I when I left and might my son's family there and I came with nothing.

11:35 I had given away.

11:40 Everything that I thought I had two different people. I'm on my way there. And so I was just I live for

11:53 6 years I think of my stepdaughter.

11:58 Sharing a bedroom with her and her two daughters.

12:02 Am I got to a point that I just

12:08 Maybe she was moving to a smaller house and she just started moving out and gave me.

12:29 I'm not meant that you bring up home.

12:46 I was stunned.

12:51 That's amazing. Absolutely.

12:55 I know a wonderful act of kindness for my community. You know, I'm sometimes the expected kind of one-on-one this beautiful to see people to come together and kindness to support someone. So I'm glad that you had that.

13:13 Davina can you tell Elizabeth and I about someone who's been the kindest to you and your life.

13:23 Is it ghetto that's it's hard and it really does go back to teachers.

13:30 I think the

13:34 My undergraduate advisor

13:38 Dr. James Pearce, who is a very quiet man.

13:44 And very gentle

13:46 Was

13:49 He dedicated a lot of time to me, which is something I have understood more and more as I'm now on the other side being the teacher and and giving time to Stew and dance.

14:03 An amazing gift because he's hot extra classes because of me and

14:11 Really spent time thinking in guiding me and then my dissertation director was an amazing woman who?

14:21 Not only through her teaching but as a mentor and a friend later in life.

14:29 She

14:33 She was always there when I needed to talk and ask questions about how to navigate things.

14:40 And was always looking for opportunities for me.

14:48 In terms of jobs or Publications or just people I should meet really throughout my college career and and as a faculty member and

15:01 I think Ellie her name is Eleanor Leach. I think Ellie was was really incredibly kind because this is dedicating your life to people who aren't your family, your family and

15:17 I think I'm especially grateful for the time that these two these two teachers gave to me.

15:26 That's really great that you get an opportunity to kind of pay back some of that kindness in your role. That's with my mind everyday everyday exactly Bowl.

15:41 All right, I'll pose this question and then whoever wants to go first go for it. This is the last of the kind of 4i I put I post a kind of get it started. I'll still be here and if I noticed that there's any kind of rockiness or if you all seem to kind of need some assistance. I can definitely jump in but after this question, you are free to kind of post questions to each other posted on top of each other to explore and do those things that way so the question is, like I said, whoever wants to go first go first. Why did you want to do this interview today?

16:31 Okay, I

16:35 I wanted to do this because

16:38 The phone of

16:42 Exchange between people of different beliefs

16:48 Has gotten

16:50 It's become noise. It's become loud and and hateful and not respectful.

17:00 And I think it's very important that not that everybody believes the same thing.

17:06 But that we treat each other with respect and that we listen to each other.

17:14 And take time to consider the other person's views. You don't just get with my way or the highway. It's here's why I think this I want to understand why you think that

17:29 And where is the Common Grounds because they're they're always Kenzie. And so I think that

17:37 Find me a part of changing. The tone was very important to me.

17:43 Thank you, Davina.

17:45 Elizabeth why did you want to do this interview today?

17:58 Getting a sip of water and it didn't want to go down there.

18:08 Adidas human race

18:12 More complex than

18:16 Conservative or liberal or

18:29 Kinetic vs. Static

18:35 Action versus contemplation

18:43 Spectrum's different aspects of our lives and it's very interesting to see how

18:54 Four different people are and how we got there.

19:02 Absolutely, absolutely.

19:06 All right. Like I said, I'm going to take just a small step back. I think it's the kind of keep things moving forward what you said about kind of finding out about people and how they got to where they're at is something that you all can kind of move through and work through to kind of get started As You Are

19:28 I would like to connect to a project I am working on right now.

19:39 It's called the American Millennium Project.

19:43 But it started here in Shreveport. That's only

19:48 This is how it started about 20 years ago and Blossoms a little bit and then we have not 911 and then

20:02 Chief instigator

20:16 Organizing a MP American Millennium Project Club where I am different the high schools and colleges in the Middle School in our area.

20:33 And then getting young people involved in these.

20:39 Cultural and historical tours fall semester in one in the string for each

20:51 Beach Club is about 25 students and they will go to

21:03 Different cultural sites are different sites right in your own parish and learn more about what makes that unique and in doing so hopefully develop more of a sense of in the place where they blue.

21:29 Is it able to send that have a studio platform?

21:44 So I thought it was something that you might you talk about Greek and Roman history that this is all so we see that everywhere.

21:58 I think that project sounds really interesting. I I hope that

22:05 Deep learning about the history includes all of the history. I mean we've we've got some very hot history in terms of slavery in terms of lynching. I went to the the center for equality in Jersey called and Justice Institute in Mississippi and could track down the names of the men who were lynched here in Natchitoches Parish, but many students don't know about the coal sack.

22:39 Slaughter in Colfax of of black men and women the burning of businesses and things like that.

22:47 I think I think it's great for students to get our people to understand the history in this place. But I also think that they've got to go away one of the challenges. I found with students in Louisiana, but not just in Louisiana so locked into a single place and don't have the experience of the world mean you've lived in Germany. That's amazing.

23:20 Some students when I was teaching in in New Orleans hadn't the people on the Westbank didn't want to cross over into downtown because it was too scary, you know to me that's that's surprising an unfortunate. Why did you want those living there during Katrina and property in this state and a poverty in that city was

23:54 So visible because the people who had no way to save themselves and the

24:04 Failure of leadership to understand the depths of the poverty because New Orleans is Mardi Gras. It's it's all about that. It's not about this culture that is built on.

24:22 Built on a lot of poor people barely making it and

24:31 That's that's one of the things that I find very difficult about living in Louisiana is seeing the amount of racism and the amount of poverty and really not seeing enough people wanting to do anything about it.

24:51 What do you think is doing something about it?

24:57 For me it's education. It's training and to me. Those are two different things you train for a job education is something that's for otter.

25:08 It's

25:10 Spending money going in in and helping clean up neighborhoods, you know using Community block grants not to build a nice new heart, but to you know create houses that are actually able to be inhabited itself. There are some neighborhoods that I didn't know existed until earlier this year when I was helping somebody run for a judge position and we were canvassing all over the place and I saw some of these houses that I couldn't it was hard to contemplate living in them yet. These are people's homes.

25:53 And

25:55 So I think

25:57 I think bringing some of the education I do think raising. The minimum wage is an important thing to do.

26:04 Because one should be able to live. I'm not sure I think that's $15 everywhere, but I think raising it to some extent because people shouldn't

26:17 Shouldn't not be able to pay rent.

26:21 On a minimum wage job and unfortunately dirt, we have a lot of minimum wage jobs.

26:28 So in certain places that's going to be the majority of the the employment.

26:34 I think doing something is is.

26:39 Reaching out on a lot of different levels and and providing a lot of genuine encouragement.

26:52 In your experience in the places you've lived. What what did you like most about them and what if you dislike most about someplace?

27:04 I usually don't see.

27:13 I don't see much racism. But when I leave the local fixture is I certainly do I've been

27:25 Researching newspapers and to build stories on

27:32 Can I come across that are interesting and haven't been published in a local community monthly?

27:43 Which is called the best of times it's really a senior publication look so I could

27:51 For example, one of the stories I found was a man who was pretty much under do well and he was quiet. He was walking down the street. Nobody knows exactly what he ended up killing a young black man.

28:24 When he was arrested and then he was tried.

28:35 I was supposed.

28:45 How does that make you look at some of the things that have happened more recently?

29:00 I have a number of friends who are black here in Shreveport and I are in my heart. I don't see much differently, but I see my wife.

29:20 But I do.

29:25 If I am if I walk downtown Shreveport and I hear

29:34 People yelling in a group.

29:38 I get ready to take cover.

29:47 I don't know. I absolutely understand that. I mean people in a group it is it's

29:55 There's a lack of

29:59 Respect and restraint

30:02 In Behavior towards individuals and towards strangers is widespread and very troubling regardless of the the skin color.

30:18 But I guess you don't when you don't you tell me that story about the the man in Shreveport. I think I've of George Floyd and I'm at Arbury and

30:32 Does the people who get the black people especially black men look like women to who have been killed?

30:42 By police or by

30:46 By citizens

30:49 And

30:52 There doesn't seem they they keep getting acquitted or not even charged and I'd I find that.

31:00 Problematic because there doesn't seem like

31:06 There is justice.

31:09 For killing someone

31:12 Who is who we can all see with the videos wasn't threatening. Anybody wasn't trying to hurt anybody but ends up being killed by police or by 50 Cents and

31:28 I guess I get concerned that there's not that the justice system isn't isn't fair and isn't right.

31:38 Cancel look at it a bit from the other side in there when I was a child. I was just south of East Cleveland.

31:56 Nicholson phone

31:58 Oh, my my mother's family was from Bohemia. We had a large Jewish contingent and I grew up hearing about kristallnacht.

32:21 Mob Behavior

32:30 Wondering quotes

32:36 What I could do to

32:40 My phone's

32:47 Life vest contribution was to raise a son when he went to Air Force basic training.

33:01 CM Punk makes two. Roommates was a young black man.

33:10 I'm so when they started getting to know each other they found they had identical smoke shirts and their wardrobes.

33:21 Name the two of them went out one night after having identical sunglasses and wore those twin shirts and told people they were twins.

33:40 I love them.

33:43 I love that I had a student here who?

33:49 Had the same name as my same. Last name is my ex-husband. She's African-American. And so I always refer to each other as cousins all the time because we just we just thought that was cool. I think that's lovely and obviously you have been

34:07 A fabulous mom and having the

34:14 Having the experience of living different places and and having a son who is so open to the people that he's he's working with and fighting with and is just awesome. That's that's what I hope for my students is that some of them come from very small places and haven't had a lot of experience with the world and I are teaching and a teacher Northwestern State. I teach within the Honors College, but we we get a very

34:50 Big mix of views and encouraging

34:56 When you see those kids that you know, thanks, very differently going out to lunch together or hanging out and studying and things like that. It's it's really wonderful. It's it's it's it's what it should be. We we recognize the human being this in each other and we can have differences but that's not what's ultimately important. It's that I I see you for who you are and value you and and hopefully you see the same in me.

35:29 You said you heard a lot about kristallnacht?

35:33 Is this why you became interested in history?

35:40 Field trips that I remember was the Western Reserve.

35:55 Those are plans in the area of Northeastern Ohio that were given to men do that truck.

36:05 Is it in the War of 1812?

36:12 Then we went to houses that they build.

36:18 Very often built with a bow. Wow.

36:34 So you just haven't been exposed to that sort of thing.

36:40 This is when your voice gives you a whole lot of.

36:51 Yeah, that's amazing. That's really cool.

36:59 Yeah, I've always liked history and I'm not sure why I just I just have

37:09 Is there

37:12 I'll go ahead.

37:14 I'm also really interested in how people survive how they came from England or Germany or Italy in the Dell on the east coast and what the West Woods them use.

37:47 I spend I sent to hunt camp season as a camp cook for people who are known to Western Colorado to shoot deer and Elk.

38:03 Cooking

38:07 I cooked for a crew of 21 Men.

38:12 Using two common girls and a sheepherder stone

38:25 Supper in the evening, but you always one pot meal and then come out with bag lunches when they were in a deer stand somewhere.

38:42 But you speak a lot when you're living in the scan and turn it up. Turn it up for dishwashing. It sucks you think a lot.

39:06 That's funny. I spent my childhood art. Our family and friends vacation was going out to New Mexico and camping for 10 days to two weeks. And there would be 20-something of my parents friends. And as I got older my jobs, my my sister's job was to do the cooking and the especially in the morning and helping with the dishes and all of that. So we mostly cooked over the campfire. My mom can make a heck of a cake on a campfire which was really interested. Yeah. Yeah, it's whatever it's still one of my favorite things. It was this dump cakes that she would make and she could do this in a dutch oven and let it bake in the campfire. She was she was amazing at these things associated cooking.

40:06 Especially recently certainly with power going out and water going out and you think about at least these experiences with the Hurricanes that we've had and then with this latest ice storm. I've actually thought about how

40:23 How dependent we are on.

40:27 Too many things outside us that we can't control like electricity and and the water coming in and that it is

40:37 That makes me want to feel more independent. My sister actually lives out in, North Carolina.

40:53 She was the North Carolina. She just bought 12 acres and she's really creating a farm and working on being self-sufficient.

41:01 Which which I kind of Envy a little bit. I think it's awesome. And if I let me I'm going to retire in a tiny house on her property.

41:14 Do you you said? Okay, so you were raised conservative and so was I and then you became more liberal and then you come back and you come back to being conservative.

41:30 Can you talk about why?

41:35 What what brought you more to the conservative side of things that I guess how do you define that?

41:42 Call

41:46 When I was dating and when I'm considering involvement.

41:54 I thought it was I thought it was okay to have a child.

42:00 Until I got around to

42:04 Having a baby

42:06 When I started out I wanted to do that even though I knew that extra.

42:24 Framework stuff

42:27 The wedding ring the home.

42:33 The change of name the approval of society to give more stability to my son.

42:42 Okay.

42:46 Do I understand that especially, you know, we see a lot and we received the effect of the absence of fathers on Sons.

42:58 And the absence of a of a husband and a household that is is built around husband and wife and children.

43:08 So that's you know, that's beautiful. That's about stability. It's about making sure you do the best for your child and

43:23 I can see that I mean, I'm not sure most conservatives would necessarily stick just to that but I think that that's

43:33 An important part. I mean I had great parents. I'd absolutely great parents. But the more I've taught.

43:43 The more I've seen people who don't have great parents and I see the negative effects or don't have parents

43:50 Or the more I see the negative effects on.

43:55 Children of parents Sue

44:00 Either don't care don't understand what they're doing to their kids.

44:07 Or their children are really there for their own.

44:11 Are the parents on?

44:14 Glory or something like that and I in my hometown when I was in school. There was a children's home.

44:24 And I became friends with a lot of the kids who lived in those in that Children's Home who had been thrown away by their parents.

44:33 That literally turned away by their parents.

44:36 And I think at that point I decided I never wanted to have children.

44:41 Because I knew that there were always children out there who needed love and support.

44:47 And I could be the love and support for them.

44:52 That their parents obviously weren't going to be so let me do that maybe more than I just wanted to.

45:07 My son was always bringing home children and animals that needed Mommy.

45:27 Yeah, so it sounds like it sounds like both of us kind of collected strays.

45:34 Yeah, and I think that's what that's a beautiful thing. That's an absolutely wonderful thing.

45:43 So do you ever feel like

45:49 Do you feel like

45:52 Are you bothered by some of the ways that that people who call themselves conservatives Express their beliefs and

46:06 Unbothered sometimes by almost everybody.

46:13 When did absolutely while I am a registered Democrat? I?

46:26 I think

46:29 No party has the has cornered the market on doing.

46:36 Stupid things inappropriate things treating people inappropriately.

46:44 Do twins. I just want to walk up to Absolute strangers and say to them.

46:51 Why are you so effing rude? Yes. Yes. Don't be rude. There's no reason to be rude, but look at themselves. Yeah, it's not respectful. Especially the way that you see people treated in stores or or restaurants or things like that. You know, this person is here to help you thank them for that don't yell at them because you didn't get your lunch served as quickly as you wanted. You don't know what else is going on in the kitchen and it's probably not this person doing I think I think probably our water and our people have heard a lot of complaints.

47:44 Recently when it's they can't control what the weather did too.

47:50 Systems that have needed repairs for years Norton our leaders immediately fix them.

48:02 Lost the ability to have

48:08 Is 2 okay, if I don't take care of this know what could happen?

48:14 But we don't want to pay for it and that's part of the

48:21 That's one of the biggest problems I think is we've got to invest in things.

48:28 Indian people

48:30 And yes expect

48:33 Nothing. I'm on Social Security Now.

48:37 I do not have a car.

48:43 Cook most of my meals myself.

48:51 I'm pretty independent.

48:55 But I'm doing okay.

49:01 I'm not living high on the hog, but but I am definitely not on the bottom of your right.

49:15 I know how to be careful. I don't think I need diamonds. I don't think I need to go to Disneyland.

49:28 I think I'll expectations.

49:32 LOL, maybe even because of our wonderful technology is it exposes install these great thing. We don't connect expectations reality writing about 5 more minutes. Okay, but yeah, I'm I'm like you I I did just get a newer car, but the one I trade it in was 14 years old and had 218,000 miles on it.

50:06 Yeah, I have my parents 1987 Toyota pickup and it's only got $171,000 on it, but I'm not Trading.

50:18 Does Need for bling and fame and things like that?

50:24 Let your life be a good person. You don't need the newest or the duster you need.

50:31 Good enough, you know maybe a little extra to make you happy sometimes little Treats, but it out but making sure that people have enough.

50:45 Is important Social Security is is something that keeps being attacked and my grandparents lived on it and did just fine because no they weren't flashy and they didn't my grandfather had been a traveling minister with the Church of Christ his entire life and my mom lived all over the United States because they they traveled and so it was about learning how to make do with what you had and

51:19 I mean, yeah, I like stuff but I'm not attached to it. If I don't have a lot of the things then that's fine. And there's a lot of things by Justin Flack. Don't need so I don't worry about it. But yeah, they're people who don't have enough and those that's the place where I feel like as a society we need to do better in a we need to help them be able to have enough on their own but that takes that takes some help.

51:57 Explain that

52:00 But that's good enough is good enough to someone.

52:08 Thanks it somehow or another they're entitled to a great deal more.

52:14 Yeah, and I think that's where your point about technology and and yeah, we're bombarded with all of these fancy things we should have but no we don't need those all of that is

52:30 Is not not what's really important and I think

52:38 That's part of the problem. Is that weird? We're not we don't value the things that are the basic home food clothing. None of it needs to be fancy.

52:51 But you need to have enough in order to be able to.

52:56 You're a hungry child can't can't focus as well as a child who's got no support at home in terms of doing homework or things like that.

53:08 Doesn't see a role model that is is going to really help move them. So ghetto making sure that people have basic.

53:26 Yeah, what is been sick?

53:29 Because some things one place and I can pick up.

53:45 608 maybe if I'm really lucky for ten bucks.

53:55 But I can go to.

53:59 A shop especially the shop right now. That makes no sense to me.

54:15 Exactly exactly. We've become focused on the brand name or the fancy instead of me. Let's deal with the stuff that needs taking care of and then you can work on your wants but keep the needs taken care of first.

54:37 I think that's enough that we're going to have to end on okay.

54:41 Elizabeth has been wonderful. Thank you.