Beaches, Benches and Boycotts Story: Eula Mae Mitchell Perry
Sara M. McDonald, Special Projects Coordinator
When Eula Mae Mitchell Perry started working here at The Florida Holocaust Museum in October 2016, she had no idea what her new job would have in store for her. She started out working on the Visitor’s Welcome Team, but quickly became an integral part of The FHM family and became a docent in 2017.
“I became a docent because I wanted to be more knowledgeable about the Holocaust and I wanted to be more helpful to the guest who came into the Museum. I wanted to be a part of guiding the school children, and I wanted them to see a different kind of person giving them the history of the Holocaust.”
Eula also has ties to World War II with her father serving with the famed Red Ball Express Company that carried approximately 12,500 tons of supplies to Allied soldiers a day. “I was so excited to be working at The Florida Holocaust Museum that when I went to visit him and knew about the express company I said to him, let me tell you about the rescues in Germany, he said “I was there, you don’t need to tell me about it.” Eula was taken aback by this new knowledge: “It amazed me, my step mother and my sister, because he never told anyone about what he experienced during the war.” But serving in the armed forces isn’t where his fighting stopped. “After giving his service to the country in another country, when he returned to America, he had to fight another battle of racism and discrimination.” His daughter would follow in his footsteps.
Born in 1947 and delivered by midwife Sally Givens, at 629 Prescott street south in St. Petersburg, Florida, Eula grew up in a strong tight knit community in St. Petersburg called “The Quarters”. This community loved her and protected her from the ugliness of segregation and hatred.
“I think because everything was loving and warm and sheltered [in the community] that once we went into the outside world that’s when I experienced that [racism].” Eula was 13 years old when she experienced her first overt racism while shopping at Webb City with her little sister, which was outside of that protective and loving community. “We were so close knit; we didn’t know about that ugliness on the outside until we had to venture into it.”
Eula later went on to be a part of one of the first graduating classes after integration at Gibbs High School. When Eula thinks back to her community, she describes it as “Loving, accepting, and vibrant.”
Eula’s interview is currently on display here at The Florida Holocaust Museum within our Beaches, Benches, and Boycotts exhibition. This exhibition illuminates our region’s struggle with racial equality and shines a light on the local leaders who changed our cities.
Eula is also a docent for the Beaches, Benches, and Boycotts exhibition. “I became a docent for Beaches, Benches and Boycotts to tell about my experiences, to honor my father, and to shed light on a community that made much out of little.”
The exhibition is on display at The Florida Holocaust Museum through March 1, 2020.
You can be apart of Eula’s tour on:
Tuesday, November 5 at 12:30 pm
Friday, November 15 at 2:00 pm
Tuesday, November 19 at 1:00 pm