Marta Pearson and DeAnna Hadley

Recorded January 19, 2022 Archived January 19, 2022 23:45 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: mby021387


Marta Pearson (72) talks with her friend DeAnna Hadley (52) about sympathy, empathy, racism, the pain it causes and the need for African-American stories to be shared. She describes seeing a raw cotton field for the first time, being denied entry into an amusement park because of the color of her skin, almost having an award revoked for the same reason and the talk she's had to have with her black son.

Subject Log / Time Code

DeAnna (D) asks Marta (M) why does she want to tell her story. M talks about sympathy being something that people do when they recognize in a person something that they also went through. She gives an example of when someone dies. She adds that empathy is different and when you empathize you’re able to feel for a person who is experiencing something one might not have experienced. She relates this to race and feels we are going backwards. She says she wants others who have not experienced racism to empathize.
M talks about working for the 2020 Census in Georgia. She mentions that she was working in a rural area then describes the farm land and seeing raw cotton for the first time. She had to pull over when she was driving because it was an overwhelming feeling in the pit of her stomach.
M talks about her great great grandmother living until she was 105 and knew her parents were slaves but she doesn’t know the details. She then talks about realizing what was happening to her when she felt the overwhelming feeling. She shares that had she been born during a different time that would have been her life owned and had the Civil War went a different way that still would have been her life.
M talks about looking around later at a restaurant and had a thought that there was a time they wouldn’t have wanted me in here then she talks about a hotel and jacuzzi, feeling the same way. Then she adds the thought do they want me in here now. M mentions that the civil rights happened and voting rights happened but it lapsed. She then talks about racism hurting her in a way that she can’t explain.
M talks about wanting children to know and other black people to share their stories. M adds that black people need to share their story, share their present day pains and experiences so that people can as she describes get a clue.
D asks if there are any examples that she can give. M shares a memory of when she was 12 years old in junior high school in Hammond, Indiana when she was pulled aside as graduation was approaching her teachers told her that she was nominated by the school for an award from the American Legion but that the organization refused to accept her and asked her school to withdraw it. She then talks about the school refusing to withdraw her name and it was the first time they had 3 award winners instead of 2. M then talks about it diminishing the experience and made her feel not good enough.
M talks about privilege and adds that there isn’t a white person who would trade their life for hers. M talks about her grandfather and a conversation they had about her grandfather wanting to take her to an amusement park when she was 3 years old. They were not allowed into an amusement park because they were colored. She talks about him being an adult male, and elderly man and he couldn’t fulfill a wish for his grand daughter.
M speaks with D about the talk with her son when he was of age to drive. She then describes the talk as a discussion with her son making sure he knew how to get home safe and shares that this is a whole separate level when you're a black child, a black young man. M then describes a meme from social media of a black child where it reads at what age do I become a menace.
M tells D that she feels like she has been losing hope the last five years and that she hasn't seen it as bad as it is now with video camera and cell phone then D adds you see it all now. M then mentions that you would think people would act better being on camera D adds in that they don't care. M talks about how people think white privilege will save them and then adds that it does too often but that some at least are being held accountable. D says that people are people are paying more attention.
M thanks D for being a friend and D tells M she loves her. D shares that M has given her more insight.


  • Marta Pearson
  • DeAnna Hadley

Recording Location

Center For Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation