Gemma Heaslip


As Interviewed by Evelyn Constant, March 28, 2019
"My siblings - we never said ‘they’re blacks’ or ‘we can’t do this or that’ -- it was such a different world back then."
Gemma Heaslip

Introductory Profile: About Gemma Heaslip

Gemma Heaslip is my grandmother. She is informative and good at recalling past experiences. She grew up in New Orleans, which was one of the most segregated cities in the United States. Originally, I was going to interview my grandfather, but Gemma was more available and happy to answer my questions. My grandparents flew in from Louisiana for my mother’s birthday, so I decided I would interview her then.

I interviewed her in our family’s office, making sure the door was shut so no noise from the kitchen would interfere with the recording. Getting started was a bit slow, but it picked up when I asked her about her experiences in school and how her family reacted to segregation. She explained in-depth what school was like, even the school bus. When she talked about her and her family’s opinion on segregation. It became clear that she was not a supporter of segregation. Gemma often talked about how she disagreed with segregation, but felt helpless.

The interview went pretty smoothly, and I got through all of my questions with no trouble. Gemma talked about her experiences at school and at work, her opinion on segregation, and what she thought about the presidents during the 50s through 70s. I was able to use a lot of the interview in my podcast thanks to her generous elaboration on certain topics.