The Slave Narrative Collection
An OKGenWeb Special Project
J. L. Pugh
J. L. Pugh, Negro, school teacher, and Baptist minister of the Gospel, was born April 12, 1876 in Mississippi, immigrating from that state to Oklahoma Territory in 1906. In that same year he was employed to teach a country school in Oklahoma Territory. He then went to Colorado where he taught in several country schools coming back to Oklahoma in 1810, finishing his education in 1915 at Langston University.
J. L. Pugh bears a cultured mien despite the fact that, at twenty years of age he had not finished the fifth elementary school grade.
In relating some of the events incidental to his struggle for a higher education he says:
" I stole my knowledge of common fractions from a young Negro boy. This boy was in my class, I didn't know how to find the least common denominator, so I said to him, Julius lets go out on the campus and study. He said, "All right" We went out and Julius began an addition of fractions in computing the common denominator. I studiously ask him, "How, Julius, have you got that right?" He said, "Yes sir, vecause all of these numerators will go into the denominator without a remainder." Thus I learned common fractions without his knowing that he was teaching me."
One of my class mates, E. J. Money who being in a little better financial condition than I, helped me all he could, At one time he gave me a pair of trousers that were so warn that if I stooped over carelessly when I wore them they would burst across the seat or knees, which keep me busy a goodly part of the time patching them.
I retrospect, he remarked, "It isn't the heights to which I have ascended, that counts most, but the depths from which I came"
Another reflective remark was: "One must die before he can live. I died twice, physically, also mentally in the acquisition of an education. The consequence is that the struggle for such is seen in my child. She finished her college work while scarcely twenty years of age; would have finished two years earlier if I'd had the money in 1936 to keep her in school. Whatever is thoroughly worked out in the parent is an inheritance to the child."
J. L. Pugh is not employed as a teacher in a WPA education project at Orchard Park school.
Contributed by M. Dawson, 05/06/03