Bridges Digital Archive: Audio and Video Recordings

Document Type

Oral History

Publication Date



Frances Grice discusses her move to San Bernardino in 1961 to join her aunt Valerie Pope, and how her hopes for the California dream were challenged as she encountered housing and schools that were more segregated than in her hometown of Detroit. She described the tight community network that she forged, and how this community helped her raise her kids as a single-working mother and community activist. She describes how the League of Community Mothers began initially out of frustration with cuts to busing that impacted black and Mexican kids on the westside more than white kids, and how she drew on her experience with the civil rights movement in Detroit to inform her campaign to desegregate the public schools in San Bernardino. Frances Grice provides important details about how the League of Community Mothers and their allies organized to put pressure on the school board, through protest and lobbying state and federal leaders for support. She describes collaborations with CORE, NAACP and the Precinct Reporter, as well as tensions over political strategy within the Black community and white racist responses to Black civil rights protests in San Bernardino. Frances Grice explains how she built Operation Second Chance, worked with the Community Action Groups during the War on Poverty, and collaborated closely with Mayor Holcomb and other city leaders to get San Bernardino declared an All-American City in 1977. She shares her losses dealing with the death of her children as well as her hope on the election of President Barack Obama.


Interview conducted by Carolyn Tillman.

NOTE: The video of this interview has been lost and all that remains is this transcript.