Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Frances Dixon. Retired Medical Aide. Black Panther Mom

Mrs. Frances Dixon worked in the medical field, was married to Elmer Dixon Sr of the Model Cities project and was mother to sons and daughters who were Seattle's Black Panther leadership

Frances Dixon in Chicago, 1940. Collection: Frances Dixon

You and your husband moved here from Chicago?

We moved here in 1957 with four children from Champaigne, Illinois.

What was your first impression coming here from Illinois?

I just knew it had lots of hills. It was completely different from being in Chicago, or Champaigne. Completely. Here it was very country-like, we used to leave our doors unlocked back then. There was nothing very strange in the news. It was just plain old daily news, you never heard about any robberies or anything like that. I couldn’t believe it. Nothing seemed to happen here. Well, until later, of course.

The rest of this interview is now available in the book, We Lived Here, published by Chin Music Press: https://chinmusicpress.bigcartel.com/product/we-lived-here-stories-from-seattle-s-central-area

Frances Dixon as a babe in arms with her parents. Collection: Frances Dixon

Elmer Dixon, Frances' husband. Collection: Frances Dixon 

Elmer Dixon, Frances' husband with his buddies. Collection: Frances Dixon

Frances Dixon in Chicago, 1949. Collection: Frances Dixon

Aaron Dixon, Frances' son. Black Panther Captain
Seattle Magazine

Frances Dixon at work as a Medical Assistant. Collection: Frances Dixon

Frances Dixon at 4 years old above. Her children: Michael, Elmer and Aaron in IL
Collection: Frances Dixon

Frances Dixon in 1949. Collection: Frances Dixon

I guess I’m just pretty quiet and don’t make too much over anything.

If I make up my mind; yes. I grew up pretty tough, in pretty tough circumstances. Well, my great-grandmother helped raised me. That was because my mother worked all the time. But my son Michael he says, “Mommy, you know, you’re a survivor.” I said, “I guess so.”

Frances Dixon with her cousins. Collection: Frances Dixon

 Frances' Great-Grandmother (far left) and her siblings. Collection: Frances Dixon

Frances' Uncle Emmett and Aunt Jody. Collection: Frances Dixon

Frances Dixon's mother.
Collection: Frances Dixon

Cyrus Sledge, Blacksmith. Collection: Frances Dixon

Frances' Great-Aunt with a friend. Collection: Frances Dixon

Frances & Elmer with friends. 1970s. Collection: Frances Dixon

Pearl 3 row right; Peggy 2nd row right; Dell Castle 5 row next to Elmer, Frances 4th row, middle
Collection: Frances Dixon

Aaron, Elmer, Joanne in IL. Collection: Frances Dixon 

Frances with her mother as an infant. Collection: Frances Dixon

Elmer teaching Art Class for Model Cities. Collection: Frances Dixon

Frances' father, Roy Sledge in his backyard, Chicago. Collection: Frances Dixon

Frances' father as a young man. Collection: Frances Dixon

Frances Dixon at 4 years old above. Her children: Michael, Elmer and Aaron in IL
Collection: Frances Dixon

Elmer Dixon, Frances' husband at Model Cities.
Collection: Frances Dixon

Black Panther Demonstration. Seattle.
Photo: Eugene Tagawa

Jumping ahead to the Panthers, Aaron told me because of the situation with the (hostile) police that they very quickly were keeping guns.

Oh yeah, and how did that affect me? Well, I got pretty used to it. I didn’t like them, but I did not see them. I knew they were in here somewhere but it didn’t really bother me because I used to get very nasty phone calls on the phone people threatening, “I’m going to kill your children.” I got a lot of nasty stuff like that. Then the police they had ways of hearing what you were saying even. I could spot them. I got so I could spot them over in the park pretending like they were playing tennis. Yeah, they were watching the house all the time and so I got used to it. I thought it was kind of funny.

Still the phone calls… Well, you are a cool customer if the phone calls didn’t
scare you.

I said, “Try it.” [laughs] Yeah, it didn’t bother me, nuh-uh, because we all got pretty tough, I guess. Though, we didn’t let Michael join. We learned from WWII, don’t put all your sons on the same ship. Although later we knew all the kids were involved. 

Frances and Elmer vacation in Hawai'i in 1980.
Collection: Frances Dixon

There were a lot of people who didn’t want anything to do with me, us.

She said that the people in the black community who were more philosophically aligned with Martin Luther King that after Dr. King was killed wouldn’t have shown up at the marches and were not overtly supportive…

I think they were afraid to. A lot of them were afraid to.

Photo: Collection Aaron Dixon

Frances Dixon on Michigan Ave, Chicago, 1949. (Wearing a dress she loved given to her by her husband Photographed by a professional photographer who asked to take her photo. Collection: Frances Dixon

Frances & Elmer with other friends. Collection: Frances Dixon

Anti-War Demonstration with the Black Panthers in attendance.
Collection: Aaron Dixon

Frances' Great-Grandmother; her Grandmother and her Great Aunt. Collection: Frances Dixon

Elmer Dixon. Model Cities. Collection: Frances Dixon

Elmer Dixon, Sr. Model Cities. Collection: Frances Dixon

Elmer & Frances, shortly after he'd become ill. Collection: Frances Dixon

Frances' Mother. Collection: Frances Dixon

Frances' Great-Grandmother with her siblings. Collection: Frances Dixon

Frances' grandmother in later years in Chicago. Collection: Frances Dixon

Frances Dixon. Portrait. Madeline Crowley ©

Black Panther Headquarters. 34th Ave, Madrona. Seattle.
Collection: Aaron Dixon

A million thanks to the wonderful Julia Eckels who did a thorough and accurate job of transcribing this long interview. 

©  Madeline Crowley People of the Central Area 2016   All material is covered by copyright. Express written permission must be given for any copyrighted material on this page. Email to request permission to copy or paste materials


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About Me

Seattle, WA, United States
I am not a professional photographer nor a trained journalist. At community meetings, it became clear that many of us don’t know each other. We haven’t heard each other’s stories and don't know each other’s circumstances. This is my attempt to give a few people the chance to tell their story, to talk about our community, to say their piece in peace. As such, comments have been disabled. The views and opinions expressed here are those of each narrator and do not necessarily reflect the position of views of the CentralAreaComm.blogspot blog site itself. The CentralAreaComm.blogspot.com is not responsible for the accuracy of any information supplied by narrators of this project. All interviews have been edited and in places condensed.

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