Oral History with Madieth Malone and Isabelle (Thomas) LeSane (W'72)

Dublin Core


Oral History with Madieth Malone and Isabelle (Thomas) LeSane (W'72)


In this oral history interview, Madieth Malone (W’72) and Isabelle (Thomas) LeSane (W’72) sat down with Jacob Roberson (’19) and Ayele d’Almeida (’20) on March 5, 2019 in the Westhampton College Deanery Living Room. In this one hour and forty-five minute interview, Malone and LeSane share about their experiences as two of the first Black women to attend Westhampton College. Malone and LeSane recount their childhoods growing up in Richmond, how they decided to attend the University of Richmond, reflect on finding out later in life that their time at the university is considered historic, their careers as educators in Richmond Public Schools, being commuter students at Westhampton College, traveling with the glee club, theater group, and Russian classes, Malone’s theater experience as a University Player, Malone’s experienced being one of the first students to integrated Binford Middle School and how that prepared her for her time at UR, the swimming requirement at Westhampton College, reflect on how the university has changed in the last 50 years, give advice to current Black students at the university, and more.

Born and raised in what was called the “West End” of the city of Richmond, Madieth P. Malone attended Richmond Public Schools near the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. In 1962, she was one of eleven black students chosen to integrate Binford Junior High School. Two years later, she attended Thomas Jefferson High School, continuing the push to desegregate schools in the city. Madieth developed many friendships and many interests while attending TJ, and when Westhampton College was presented as a possible choice, she found it to be a good fit. Several of her high school friends were attending, and it was a convenient commute from home. The goal at Westhampton was to get the best liberal arts education possible. While there, she pursued a wide variety of interests, but was most involved with the theater department. In 1972, she graduated with a degree in Speech and Theater Arts. After graduation, Madieth worked as a teacher for Richmond Public Schools. It was the perfect job, because she could travel during the summer and be involved with theater – performing in community and dinner theaters, summer theater at Dogwood Dell, TV commercials, industrial films, and as a film extra. She also worked several years as a per diem reading consultant for SRA-McGraw-Hill. Today, Madieth spends her retirement doing whatever she wants and enjoying every minute of it.

Isabelle LeSane was born and raised in Richmond, VA and educated in the Richmond Public School System. She had no experience with interracial schooling until she came to Westhampton. But she was raised in a family of entrepreneurs and that gave her plenty of practice in dealing with many nationalities. Like her father, Isabelle never met a stranger, so enrolling in an all white school was not a challenge for her. 

At the University of Richmond, Isabelle majored in Russian with the intention of becoming an interpreter at the UN. But life intervened and she got married and had children instead and didn’t want to leave Richmond. Because she had earned a teacher’s certificate while at the university, Isabelle applied for and was hired by RPS. Although she was hired as a German teacher, she was given the opportunity to teach Russian once it was known that she had that expertise. Isabelle is now retired and spends her days doing fun things with her grandkids and with friends who are in the same boat-being intentionally lazy and unapologetic!


This oral history is available for academic purposes--including but not limited to research by students, faculty, and staff--by permission from the interviewees (Madieth Malone and Isabelle LeSane). The interviewees maintains the copyright, and must be contacted via the Race & Racism Project (urraceproject@gmail.com) for permissions for use outside of academic purposes.







Richmond (Va.)

Oral History Item Type Metadata


Madieth Malone
Isabelle (Thomas) LeSane


Westhampton College Living Room
University of Richmond
410 Westhampton Way
Richmond, VA 23173



Date of Interview

March 5, 2019



“Oral History with Madieth Malone and Isabelle (Thomas) LeSane (W'72),” University of Richmond Race & Racism Project, accessed June 19, 2024, https://memory.richmond.edu/items/show/3074.