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Bobbie Coles interview, 2017-04-22

Identifier: dcpl_220_001_01.mp3

Scope and Contents

From the Collection:

Mapping Segregation in Washington DC: School and Neighborhood Desegregation in Ward 4 documents the transformation of Ward 4 neighborhoods and schools during the 1950s and early 1960s. Ward 4 was predominantly white in the early 1940s, but saw a shift in demographics as white families fled after the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bolling v. Sharpe, in which public school segregation was deemed unconstitutional in the District of Columbia. This project primarily consists of interviews with longtime or former Ward 4 residents.


  • Other: 2017-04-22


Conditions Governing Access

The external hard drive DIG_BACKUP is for staff use only and contains preservation copies of this collection. This external hard drive is not publically accessible. Please see the digital collection in Dig DC for access to this collection.

Biographical / Historical

Bobbie Coles was born in 1945 in Birmingham, Alabama, and moved to Washington, D.C. when she was in the second grade. Her family first lived at the Parklands apartment complex on Alabama Avenue and Stanton Road SE, where they attended Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church and Coles was a student at the church’s school. Coles’ family moved to 1230 Van Buren Street in 1957. She attended Paul Junior High, a mostly white middle school, where she was placed in a lower track for non-college bound students. At Coolidge High School, she was tracked for college prep. Coles graduated from Howard University and worked for ATandT. Her family sold the house on Van Buren Street in 1999.


From the Collection: 6.25 Gigabytes

From the Collection: 50 Files

Language of Materials



In this interview, Kyle-Coles discusses her move to Washington D.C.; the harassment and threat of violence directed at her family as one of the first Black households in their neighborhood; her experiences in the D.C. public schools before and after legal desegregation; working in D.C.; and other topics related to her family’s experiences in D.C. and in Alabama.

Repository Details

Part of the The People's Archive, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library Repository

901 G Street NW
4th Floor East
Washington DC 20001