Dr. Joyce Boykin was the first African American student to attend the Anna Head School for Girls (Head-Royce School) in Oakland, California. She attended the school for 12 years, from 1st through graduation from high school in 1968.
As the first person of color she found the school's 10:30 a.m. snack to be innovative for the time, and was impressed with the exposure to foreign languages, such as Latin and French. Another of the many positive aspects of Boykin's education at Anna Head helped her develop an appreciation for classical music with weekly trips into San Francisco for the Friday matinee performances of the San Francisco Symphony. 2
But Dr. Boykin encountered some students who were "racially intolerant." In an article for the Mercury News Dr. Boykin recalls a classmate telling her "'Sorry, I can't invite you to my birthday party because my mother does not want any colored people in the house.' I guess this did not apply to their maids."
Transitioning between Oakland's white privileged culture and the working class African American culture "was a unique experience" what with attending Anna Head during the week and visiting her godmother in West Oakland on the weekends, where she attended the African Methodist Episcopal Church. "I remember the officers in the church were all held in high esteem. However, during the week I would see some of them waiting for the bus to go to work in homes as maids ... in some cases as maids in the homes of my schoolmates. That was always a heartfelt reality." 1
Dr. Boykin earned her Bachelor's at USC, a Master's in Public Health from UCLA and her Doctorate from Tufts Medical School in Boston. She worked as a medical doctor for 30 years in Southern California, and was one of a “group of doctors who opened the Internal Medicine Department for Kaiser Permanente in Riverside.” Dr. Boykin notes that “When we started, of the four people in our group, I was the only female and the only African American in the department.”
Since her retirement, Dr. Joyce Boykin now lives with her daughter and grandson.
Links and References
- Boykin was pioneer at Oakland's Anna Head Mercury News
Alumni Profile: Joyce Boykin '68 :: Caring for Her Community Head~Royce School