Interview, Audrey Frazier
udrey Frazier (1928-1991) is the daughter of Louise Ferrel Bell and the Reverend Archie C. Bell, former pastor of Rochester’s Memorial AME Zion church. She was born in Newcastle, Pennsylvania, and lived in Ohio and Virginia before coming to Rochester with her parents in 1949. She attended Virginia State University from 1945-1949, graduating as the valedictorian of her class. Late in 1949, Frazier took a teaching and librarian position in Leesburg, Virginia. She returned to Rochester in 1953 and was hired as a children’s librarian at the Rochester Public Library. In 1954, Frazier completed her library training at Syracuse University. She had close ties to Rochester’s AME Zion Church, where Frederick Douglass first printed his antislavery newspaper, the North Star. She was married to Charles Frazier and they had two sons together. At the time of this interview, Frazier was still working as a librarian in Rochester. She passed away in 1991.
In this interview, Frazier talks about conditions for African Americans in Rochester in the 1950s and the importance of education in her life. Frazier recalls that housing in Rochester was still segregated in the 1950s and that white neighborhoods resisted integration. She recalls that there were few professional opportunities for blacks, but that by the end of the 1950s, hiring practices were beginning to change and the local Urban League and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had succeeded in opening more neighborhoods to black residents. Frazier emphasizes the importance of education as the key to her successful career as a librarian. She recalls that when she was first hired at the Rochester Public Library, she was assured she was hired because of her qualifications and not as a “token” of her race. Frazier notes that she continues to be involved in promoting education in the community.