“Still I rise,” says 79-year-old Roxy Wright, glancing down and caressing each scar she’s accrued over a long and rich life. Indeed, resilience is a key word in Roxy’s story. When she moved to New Orleans in the ‘60s to work for the Chrysler Corporation Space Division, she was one of eight black employees on a staff of nearly 20,000. “All I saw was a sea of white men in either blue or black or pants. I’m going, ‘God? Is this my future?’” Roxy seized moments like these, where she worried the crushing weight of society’s expectations on women of color might force her to conform, as a catalyst to be more confidently herself. She stopped using relaxer and cut her hair after seeing singer Abbey Lincoln’s natural look on TV in 1964, even though her husband scoffed and other black women refused to sit with her on the bus. At one point while working for Chrysler, Roxy received a parcel containing a bone, a feather, and a note telling to her “Go back where you came from.” But Roxy never cowered. “Go back where I came from?” Roxy proclaims proudly, “I come from here. I come from New Orleans!” Now, late in her 70s, she sports a deep purple do. “A lot of people tell me, ‘you sure are brave to do that with your hair,’” Roxy explains. “I don’t feel brave, I just feel secure. I love the way it compliments by beautiful brown skin.” These days, Roxy is using her wealth of experience, her passion for unity and her indomitable spirit to give back to New Orleans as a community organizer. “I am on a quest for world peace,” Roxy asserts, “and I don’t want anybody in my space who is not trying to bring people together.”
Roxy's episode was edited by Kirsten Johnson
What's Underneath is produced by Elisa, Lily, & Mona
Thank you to Ace Hotel New Orleans for providing us with a location to film Roxy’s episode!