Silent Generation (born 1926 to 1942)
Pazetta B. Mallette was born in Boyce, LA, the youngest of ten children. Her father, Zachary Berryman, the second of seven children, was born in Natchitoches, LA. Being of mixed-race white and Native American, he grew up in Texas and Oklahoma. He trained and traded race horses, served as a teacher and later became a successful farmer. Her mother, Olivia Washington Berryman, an African American, was born on a farm in Natchitoches, LA, the youngest of ten children. As an adult, she worked in domestic service and as a seamstress.
Pazetta spent her early years on the farm in Boyce, LA, and attended the Boyce Rosenwald Elementary School. Built by Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington, it was the first school in Boyce for African Americans. When Pazetta was ten years old, her family moved to Marshall, TX, where she graduated from Dunbar Elementary and Pemberton High School. She won the gold medal for public speaking in the AAA division in the state of Texas, a first for Pemberton High School. Pazetta graduated number 8 of 115, and the high school faculty voted her the Best All-Around Girl.
Pazetta received a scholarship to attend Wiley College where she was a member of Beta Kappa Chi Honor Society, Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities. She was voted Most Beautiful Girl, Kappa Alpha Psi Sweetheart, Miss Wiley, and graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics.
While her husband worked on his doctorate in biology, Pazetta worked at Pennsylvania State University as a physics research assistant where she analyzed Teflon for Dupont de Nemours, Inc. After moving to Nashville, she taught mathematics and computer science at Tennessee State University for five years. After the birth of her third child, she became a homemaker and a substitute elementary teacher. She has two daughters, one son, and one grandson. Her husband died in 1995, three days after they celebrated their thirty-sixth wedding anniversary.
Pazetta served on several school boards at the elementary and high school levels. She volunteered at the Nashville Veterans Administration Medical Center for ten years. Pazetta raised money for several organizations including her church, the Nashville Ballet, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Wiley College, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Currently, she gives speeches on the contributions of African and Native Americans.
In addition to enabling her children to achieve their dreams, Pazetta considers her most significant accomplishments to include being the first in her family to graduate from college, serving as a delegate to the White House Conference on Handicapped Individuals in 1977, serving as a member of the National Society Sons and Daughters of the Pilgrims and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and working against the siting of undesirable facilities in her neighborhood; in one case, the site became a popular walking trail.
Pazetta is an active senior who exercises five days a week. Her routine includes weightlifting, lunges, sit-ups, aerobics, squats, and yoga. She enjoys preparing nutritious meals, spending time with her family, and worshipping. In addition to the bible, she appreciates reading about history and genealogy.
Mallette, Pazetta B.
Oral History Summary
Mathematician, Native American History Orator, Best All-Around.
Pazetta shares oral history about growing up in Boyce, Louisiana on a former plantation, living in the caretaker’s home with slave cabins on the property; her Choctaw Indian great grandmother Milly being traded by an Indian chief, possibly her father, for a horse as a child; her great grandfather, Revolutionary War patriot descendant Captain Henry Newton Berryman, and his first wife, Helena, a white woman, raising Milly then, him having an affair with her, resulting in a child, Many, neither being slaves; her grandfather Many's warm relationship with Helena; Capt. Henry also having children with an enslaved woman, graduating from West Point in 1817, protecting a black boy from being lynched, giving his enslaved blacks his Natchitoches, Louisiana plantation; Helena protecting slaves; her Choctaw Indian and white father and black mother both from Natchitoches; her father and his brothers marrying black since it was unacceptable for a white woman to marry a mixed race man but his sisters marrying white; her father selling high value paper shell pecans as a farmer; WWII soldiers on family farm for maneuvers, having a lonely soldier at the table every night wanting to talk; attending a four room schoolhouse; being the darkest in family; her father accepted in Creole community as "the old Indian"; being bullied in Marshall, Texas because black kids were jealous she had hair to her waist; relation to Sir Isaac Newton; earning a gold medal in the Texas AAA division public speaking contest and graduating in the top ten in high school, voted Best All-Around Girl by faculty; attending Wiley College, majoring in mathematics, voted Most Beautiful, a Kappa Alpha Psi Sweetheart, joining Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, selected as Miss Junior, Homecoming Queen, graduating Cum Laude; her Creole mother in-law wearing a black dress to wedding in mourning because her son was with a chocolate girl; sister in-law being bothered by her being accepted into the DAR; deciding to identify as black; keeping her Native American heritage a secret; working as a research assistant at Penn State Physics Dept; working at Tennessee State University teaching math and in the Computer Center; her daughter born with club feet, placing them in casts, enrolling her in ballet, resulting in her studying at the School of American Ballet and dancing with Dance Theater of Harlem all over the world; giving talks about the effect of nutrition on disabilities; hunters gathering wild deer, rabbits, squirrel and turkeys for her daughter's dietary needs; giving talks about the contributions and culture of Native Americans; lifting weights five times a week; her maternal ancestors enslaved on George Washington's plantation; feeling a sense of pride discovering her Revolutionary War patriot William Berryman serving in Virginia; for those who suggest we go back to Africa "my lineage was here before you arrived and we fought for the freedom of this country"; father saying to maintain the race, marry someone darker skinned so the descendants can have an identity and be accepted by blacks; tracing oral history by writing a sheriff in Texas who delivered her letter to a white cousin who in turn recommended she join the DAR, then her children's pediatrician's wife, also a DAR member, suggesting she join; giving DAR a try despite the society's history of racism, joining to be a part of what she was entitled to; serving as chapter regent in Nashville, Tennessee, a couple of members transferring out because she was black but the rest embracing her; seeing more blacks in the society and members used to seeing them; "Blacks, Whites and Native Americans, we are all a part of this and we have to work together if we want to make a difference".
Pazetta Mallette's oral history was recorded on November 15, 2020
Membership State: Tennessee
DAR Patriot Ancestor(s)
Berryman, William: Virginia
European Descent Male