Black History – Mrs. Janet Peterson Interview – Part 2

Ms. Janet Peterson

Mrs. Janet Peterson Is married to Dr. William Jacques Peterson, Ph.d. She grew up in Prairie View, Texas, attended Bennett College in Greensboro, NC graduating with a B.A. in Sociology/Psychology, in 1958, and received an M.S. Vocational Education/Ed. Psych., as an EPDA Fellow from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Presently she lives in Los Angeles, California.

After graduation, Peterson worked at the YWCA as Teenage Program Director, in Knoxville, Tennessee. Among the many activities and innovative programs that were instituted by Peterson, she was concerned that the black children in Knoxville did not have any performing arts structured programs that included ballet, tap or modern dance. To fill this void, Janet formed a dance group that met twice weekly in Austin Homes, a housing project.

Additionally, she volunteered at the Tennessee School for the Deaf, teaching dance to the hearing challenged students. All of this eventually led to the opening and operation of Janet’s School of Dance for 5 years. Peterson’s students performed in Knoxville area events, including fashion shows, fundraisers and church events. Most of the student’s parents could not afford the lessons, however, they were never excluded from participation.

Peterson, often volunteered, at the Community Action Committee teaching Charm & Etiquette for the development of employability skills for those under-employed Blacks competing to enter the job market, after the passage of the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s.
This three-year program was geared to schools in low-income areas of Knoxville.
As an eight-year volunteer member for Knoxville Planned Parent Hood Board of Directors, Peterson would meet with small parent groups, and or with, teenage discussion groups. about Sensitive Sex Education topics.

Peterson dedicated ten years as a Sunday School Teacher, 12 yrs as Summer Vacation Bible School teacher and was a Volunteer Special fundraiser, for churches, sororities plus fashion show coordinator/commentator.
Peterson has served in a number of capacities including Vocational Counselor, Vocational Training Manager, Staff trainer, and classroom teacher at the Los Angeles Job Corps Center, during her thirty years tenure.
Peterson served six years on the Board of Directors for Eureka the California Computerized Information System. She volunteered at the New Horizon Thrift Store for Down Syndrome fundraising.
Peterson continues to help people, horning their job search skills, restructuring resumes, and having mock interviews. Janet is a motivational speaker and employability skills expert.
Peterson is a member of Parks Chapel Church in San Fernando, CA., a member of The Kindred Spirit Book Club, and Bennett College Southern California Alumnae Chapter. Peterson’s high energy level, creative abilities, and eagerness to mentor and encourage young people make her a valuable asset to the community.


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