Eleanor Dawkins Daughter of Rufus Lewis Oral Interview

Mrs. Eleanor Dawkins daughter of Rufus Lewis, March 30, 2006, at her business in Montgomery, Alabama. The interview was conducted by Tasha Garrett, an Alabama State University student, Dr. Howard Robinson, and Shirley Jordan, an ASU faculty member.

Bio: Eleanor Dawkins was Mr. Rufus Lewis’ only child and daughter. She was raised in Montgomery, Alabama during a time when most citizens in Montgomery had not accepted the vision of a more equal city for all of its citizens. Her mother died in 1958 and she grew up having a close relationship with her father. She attended the Alabama State College Laboratory School and attended Fisk University, while she was still in tenth grade, as a early entrant after receiving a Ford Foundation Scholarship.

Eleanor experienced the kind of upbringing that places a person in a pivotal point of a local community transition that became national and international–the voting rights struggle and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. She grew up in a home that was active with people learning how to read and registered to vote both precipitated by her father. He was one of the most important men during that time because of the work in which he engaged that encourage Black citizens to vote and become active in their futures and communities. Eleanor stated that most Black voters came through her father, Rufus Lewis.

Eleanor currently owns and operates a Montogmery funeral home.

Here in this oral history interview, Mrs. Dawkins talks about her father’s motivation to fight for Black people the right to vote.