Shirley Carr Clowney was born in Maryville, in Blount County, Tennessee in 1936. Clowney is a historian of Blount County and spends a significant part of this interview describing the history of African Americans in the area. She reflects on having to walk to the black school in Alcoa because there was no bus to take her there. She discusses being one of six students to desegregate Maryville College. Clowney finished her education at Tennessee State University, where she met her husband. They lived in Nashville during the 1960s when students from Tennessee State were active in the civil rights movement. In 1963 Clowney moved to New Jersey and worked as a teacher.