Gina Tillis and Sheri Neely

Recorded May 18, 2023 Archived May 18, 2023 57:19 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: ddc002603


Dr. Gina Tillis (42) speaks with her friend Sheri Neely (48) about her experience as a young woman with Black, Mexican, and Choctaw heritage who moved from California to Texas as a teenager. Gina speaks fondly of Edwards High, an all Black school in Texas that her family helped found, and discusses the ways that education can be used as a tool for freedom.

Subject Log / Time Code

Gina (G) speaks about her family’s relationship to education.
G talks about how her early education in California did not reflect the diverse student body she was a part of.
G discusses being raised by a Latina mother and Black, Southern father, stating “we didn’t cross the border the border crossed us.”
G recalls being placed in a dual language learning class and regrets not staying in it longer.
G speaks about wanting to become a history teacher at a young age and the education projects she has been involved in.
G brings up Edwards High, an all Black school started by Gina’s family in Gonzalez, TX and considered an “anchor institution” for the community.
G remembers Edwards shutting down and how that caused many Black community members to lose their jobs.
G explains the continued fight for equitable and inclusive education, emphasizing it did not start and end with Thurgood Marshall.
G emphasizes the lesser-known narrative of the positive role models in all Black schools that were lost during desegregation.
G recalls moving from an urban area in California to a rural area in Texas and witnessing the stark racial divide in the South for the first time.
G describes feeling educational freedom for the first time when attending an HBCU. She equated it to her family’s experience at Edwards High.
G goes into more detail about Edwards High, remembering her cousin’s wedding that took place there and describing it as “the heart of the hill.”


  • Gina Tillis
  • Sheri Neely

Recording Locations

Nashville Public Television

Venue / Recording Kit

Partnership Type

Fee for Service