Margaret Walker Alexander Research Center,
Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi
Interviewee: Percy Chapman
Interviewer: Jan Hillegas
July 29, 1998
H: July 29, 1998, and I'm here with Percy Chapman and you know that I'm
Jan Hillegas and I'm working with the Jackson State University Margaret
Walker Alexander National Research Center Project to help document the
places and people and events of the Civil Rights movement in Jackson.
And, of course, I'm talking to you because I know that you know a lot
about those types of things. And at the end I'll ask you to sign a
statement and say that it's okay to use the interview as part of this
project to let other people know about what happened back in the day.
Anytime really up through the very early 70's is basically what we're
trying to cover. So as far back as your experiences might go. Let me
just start out just saying just a little bit about where you were born
and your family and then work up to your life.
C: As you know my name is Percy Chapman and I was born in Yazoo County
and I came to Jackson in 1958 to teach high school. I did attend
Campbell College for two
years and left the state in '68 and went to the University of Penn for
two years and returned back here. I'm not sure you know because I
worked with University Hospital first.
H: Just go back.
C: When I first came to Jackson I worked at the University Hospital and
I did that for 7 or 8 years and at that time I was at Campbell College.
And I started at Campbell College in '64 and I got in the movement in
'63. I was working as a Youth Counselor for the NAACP and I did have
the privilege to meet Medgar Evers in just a little way 'cause I was
just getting involved in '63 and, as you know, June of '63 he was
assassinated. I lived at that time about 4 or 6 blocks from Medgar
Evers. I lived on Parkway Avenue and Medgar was on Guynes at the time.
I worked diligently. First, I enjoyed working with the organization.
And then with the state I served as state youth advisor for the NAACP.
And I had the privilege then to go in other counties of the state,
across the state. I did enjoy working and at that time I thought, and
still hold to, if it was something I could do to help, or bettering this
whole system, I was willing to do that. And by helping myself I always
had the impression it would help other people. If I could help other
people then it would in turn help me as well. And those are the things
I've charged and some of the things I hang on to.
H: For instance, why did you decide exactly in 1963 to get involved in
the movement? What had you seen of the movement or what got you
C: First I had been going to some meetings at the churches. And at that
time the only thing I did want to do was I said if I could do anything
to make a difference, and I was speaking of Jackson specifically at that
time, I would like to be one of the persons, to be one of these people,
involved in that kind of situation. Now, as you know at that time we
weren't having mass meetings diligently in the city. And then if we
were, we were having them in selected churches because we couldn't go to
our churches at that time.
H: Which churches do you remember going to in the early stages?
C: I do remember going to Pearl Street AME Methodist and New Mount Zion
Missionary Baptist Church.
H: What street is that on?
C: It is on Macon Street. And that is my church as well. It was that
church, and we went to Cade Chapel on Ridgeway. Those were the main
churches at that time that we were able to meet in, plus the Masonic
H: Was this before '63?
C: That was in '63 and from then on, that's when that was.
H: And what were those meetings like?
C: Well in '63, the main thing they were talking about, and I guess I
was listening to the most, was that's the word now to make
indifference. Some of the things were voting rights and trying to get
people to become registered voters and things of that sort. That was
the real heat of the battle in the early '60's. And I do remember
before Mr. Evers was assassinated, he was working voter
registration/voter education and trying to get people to register to
vote. I guess in the early stages people, were somewhat reluctant or
had become so complacent, that first you had to almost preach or try to
show them that their vote would be counted. And that was some of the
things I think it was dealing with first. Because the greatest thing I
saw they were trying to do is to say that we had a right to register and
vote and I didn't see anything indifferent in that. But when you get
out and call yourself beginning to have meetings and things of that
sort, people were sometimes reluctant to respond to us.
H: When did you first register to vote?
C: I registered to vote in '65.
H: In '65.
C: That's right.
H: In Jackson?
C: Here in Jackson. And they were giving out poll -- what do you call
these things? Poll, ah poll taxes? I hate to say but I can't remember
the word it was. But I had a list of a hundred questions to answer.
And when I first went down there the man just said, "You didn't pass
it." Didn't even check.
H: You did try to register before that?
H: When did you first try to register?
C: '64 was when I first went down. And then it was so indifferent and
it was so unbelievable. You could sit there almost an hour trying to
answer the questions and the gentleman would just ball the paper up and
throw it away and say you didn't pass. And those things are almost like
unbelievable but they're very much believable. And it made a difference
too because I wasn't the smartest person there and I knew that in the
beginning but I always strived and aimed to do what was right first and
then I thought if I was taking a test or something then you should judge
me on what I've done and not just throw it away and say you didn't pass
the test. But that was the way it was then. And when I first got
registered I started trying to take people back down there. And then it
became that I was harassing people or if I went to the courthouse I was
being watched or followed. And I guess at this day and time people
would say that is not true and that is not real. And it hasn't been
that long ago; but it has made a difference and it means a lot to
people. Because to get all of the -- not just saying Black people
because all other people had rights and privileges -- but to get Black
people registered to vote it means a whole lot. And I hope we don't
waste the vote or I hope we don't destroy ourselves with the vote.
H: You were working at the University Hospital you said exactly?
H: At that time?
C: At that time.
H: Were you also on the staff of the NAACP then at some point?
C: Not at that time I was not. And then when I started working with
NAACP I was working as a Youth Counselor, working with the Youth
H: And that was a paying job?
C: That was not. No. I was not. I was not paid at all for none of
that. No indeed. All of my work was done directly volunteer. If I
left the state or went across the state sometimes they would give a
stipend or something of that sort. But no, I was not on the paid staff
for the NAACP.
H: Not at any time.
C: No. Not at any time. Not at any time until recent years I was paid
part or portion for working with the security department with the
National. But all of my work was directly volunteer and I guess it was
one of the words I was grateful that I had a little and my family helped
support some of my ideas and things of that sort and that made me happy.
H: Your family was here in Jackson at that time?
H: How did they support you?
C: My mother was deceased when I was two or three. But my father
supported me and he always said if I think or if I could make a
difference he would stand with that and he would support anything I
wanted to do. He was an elderly man but he had a brilliant mind.
H: What kind of work did he do?
C: He was a contractor, a carpenter; that was his number one life was
carpentry and contracting. And he was a farmer. We had a farm when I
was living down in Magnolia. We had a farm there.
H: I should have asked you,too, what kind of work did you do at
C: I was a porter in the housekeeping department. And I left out of
housekeeping department then I worked in neurosurgery. And that was the
time when I worked with animal surgery and things of that sort, tests.
That was when I was at the University Hospital. I was in housekeeping
and then I was in neurosurgery.
H: Back in '63 you said that you knew Medgar Evers for a while before he
H: What do you remember about him as a person?
C: I guess he stood out in my mind all the time because he always seemed
to be very busy but he seemed to be always, I guess the word is
aggressive, to make a difference. Now I remember him very busy working
and talking about voter registration and voter education. And I
remember this city when they were, well I didn't know at that time, but
that he was getting so many obstacles for just talking about voting and
registering to vote. And I didn't know Mr. Evers that well then but I
would go by the office, I'd see him, that he would seem to be so
concerned about registering and we were beginning to hold mass meetings
across the city. And some of the things were making a difference. We
used to be at the Masonic Temple all the time. But the night of the
assassination the meeting was off of Mill Street and everybody had gone
home. And did I get a call about 12:00, 12:30? And at that time I was
told that Mr. Evers had been shot. And I guess about 2 or 3 I got
another call and they said he was at the hospital. I didn't get a call
that he had passed until the next morning. That's when I got the call
that he had passed. And I did go by his house in the neighborhood that
he lived and things of that sort and from there I went to the Masonic
H: You went to?
C: Masonic Temple on Lynch Street. That was the next morning.
H: What do you remember about the funeral?
C: I do remember it was, I guess you would say just lots of people from
everywhere they all were and some of our leaders and what not, Smith,
Richmond, other ministers here in this city and Rev. Jones, but he was
from Campbell College, and I remember Dr. Horn, he was there too, and he
was affiliated very much because the places we used to meet the most was
at Campbell College--and that was a part of Jackson State by the way--at
the (phone rings). I was saying we were meeting at that time at
Campbell College and Tougaloo.
H: Where exactly was Campbell College in relation to where Jackson State
C: By the student union building, that Jacob Reddix Building, that whole
side was Campbell College. And the building right from the student
union building, I believe one of Campbell College buildings still stands
and they're using it. But where the boys dorm and all that on Prentiss
Street, all of that was Campbell College. And that's where we would
meet and had a location down on that campus and then at Tougaloo at that
H: What other recollections do you have from say '63 or '64? Were you
in some of the sit-ins?
C: Yes I was in some of the sit-ins and in the demonstration for
Woolworth's, no it wasn't Woolworth's it was Walgreens.
C: On Capitol Street.
H: On Capitol.
C: Yes. And it might have been Woolworth's, too, because we had two
stores down there and I believe it was both of them. And I did sit-ins
across the state and met some of the youth chapters across the state in
the demonstrations across the state as well. I guess I would say I was
just about in every demonstration there was across the state as well but
we're going to stay within the city of Jackson.
H: Well, go ahead and just mention some of the places you remember
working across the state.
C: Okay, I remember on the Coast, Biloxi, where Dr. Gibbon Mason had a
sit-in, and I remember there we went to Natchez, Mississippi, where we
had a whole lot of work done in Natchez and Hattiesburg where Dr. Smith
was president at that time.
H: Dr. Smith was president of?
C: Of the NAACP at that time, yes indeed.
H: Which Smith?
C: C. P. Smith. Dr. C. P. Smith.
H: Was the state president?
C: No. He was the president of Hattiesburg Branch, Hattiesburg Chapter
of the NAACP. It was another part of the state, but I'm not going to
try to remember them all. I wish I had put it on paper. But I went to
most all of them and for demonstrations and sit-ins across this state
but I remember down south like Natchez, Hattiesburg, and McComb.
H: What period of time was that that you were traveling?
C: That was '64 and '65 and '66.
H: Are you going to say anything about other people that you met that
stand out in your mind in the civil rights movement in that general
C: Yes. I met a lot of people first in the latter era. I met the
Boziques and Jacksons in Hattiesburg and then I met Smith and their
H: That's okay. Of course, I should be mainly asking you about Jackson
C: Okay, well back to Jackson. We had the Rev. B. B. Rushing and he was
the pastor of New Mt. Zion and he was my pastor. And we had people like
the Mayberry brothers--Ken, Walter.
H: Who were they?
C: They were people who lived in this community that were in the
movement. There was work with them. They were contractors, roofing.
And Milton Cooper was one of the persons who we worked with or he worked
with us in doing demonstrations across this city. Many others
H: Did you work with the school integration efforts at all?
C: No, as attending?
H: Well, no, just in any kind of way.
C: I worked with them when they were first desegregating down on
Galloway. Yes, Galloway School. I was there working with them on
desegregation and things of that sort in the school, yes.
H: What do you remember about that experience with the children?
C: I guess it was about 4 or 5 families at that time in the beginning.
And I can remember they were, and that had to be the Cooper family and
the Whites, and I'm not going to try to call them because I'm going to
miss somebody and I'll be guilty of not giving them all the names. And
then they had the cross guards over here when they first started putting
black cross guards there after the kids started going to school there
where they had the first cross black guards. And that was what I
remember about Galloway School and then they started.
H: Later on did you do some other work with the NAACP later in the '60's
C: Yes. Later in the '60's I guess that was '65 or '67 or something I
was elected state youth president and I served in that position I guess
about 8 years or longer. Being state president I did travel the state a
lot and went out of the state to most regional and national
conventions. And I guess I need to back up a little to say in '63 we
chartered two buses to leave here to go to the March on Washington in
'63. In '65 I believe we chartered two buses and I was in charge of
that but Mr. Alex Waites was acting executive director of the NAACP at
the time. And we got two buses and took to Washington. And that was
trying to demonstrate the age limit down to 18. And we took two buses
from here to go there at the Capitol and we had just some people there.
H: What did you have?
C: Just some people there when they challenged that to try to get the
age limit to 18 to register to vote.
H: In Washington?
H: What was your experience with the summer project in '64?
C: Most of all what I experienced was going across the state most of all
to try to inform people about registering to vote. And that was I guess
my biggest objective and that's what I was supposed to be doing, talking
and going, and talk about registering to vote, and registering, and
trying to get young people involved, and informing senior citizens, us,
and deaf people concerning the need for registering and voting. That
was I guess our main objective at that time. And right after Medgar
Evers was assassinated, I worked very closely and diligently with Mr.
Charles Evers when he came in and picked up. I worked with him a whole
lot here in the city and across the state.
H: What are your recollections of him in that period?
C: To me he was very great. He came in and picked up and he was there
more, I don't know if I want to use the word more, but people were more
alert to get involved after Mr. Medgar Evers' assassination about
registering and voting. Now Mr. Evers went across this state and he
made the difference, he and Aaron Henry, to getting people involved in
registering to vote.
H: Medgar Evers or Charles?
C: Charles Evers.
H: With Aaron Henry?
C: With Aaron Henry across this state. Charles Evers and Dr. Aaron
Henry, those kind of people working and changing and making a difference
about voter registration. Now we went to every little town across this
state getting people involved in registering.
H: Now, later you worked on Charles Evers' campaign did you not?
C: Yes I did. I worked with him when he was running for Governor. And
I worked with him when he ran for Congress. Well I was just in the
office and I guess I was more like working in the office and managing
the office and I did go out with him for speaking engagements. I would
be with him and take him and things of that sort.
H: You would drive?
C: Yes, I would drive along.
H: When you think back to the very starting point when you started to
get involved, '63 and up into the '70's, how did you see the movement as
changing or the peoples' response or what was different between '63 and
the early '70's say?
C: In '63 I guess getting people involved and then the '70's the
momentum was building for, I guess the word is, change and the people
were just about ready to make a stand to make a difference. And to make
the difference and the whole objective was they would just become
registered voters and first-class citizens. And that was the most
important thing. And that was their objective. And I don't know what
made it so much more than it seems it could have done. It was, you
know, just changing transactions. But people look like were so
rebellious and I'm not saying they didn't want to give them nothing,
they just wanted to hold as is and that was where Medgar did make a
difference. Because from the time, I guess it was the time when the
people started changing and making a difference, and I was grateful.
But I thought it was that we were just getting rights and privileges as
everybody else. And that was, I believe, the whole objective. And
people did do a tremendous job. And I worked and headed voter
registration from the National Office and then from Washington, DC, I
was head of the voter registration for Jackson, Mississippi, and for the
state. And I worked within those capacities. And I always liked that
because I thought all people were created equal and everybody should
have the right to just go register to vote without being intimidated or
without being brutalized.
H: Do you remember about when it was that people didn't have too much of
a problem registering to vote anymore?
C: I believe it had to be somewhere like in the late '60's and early
'70's. I believe that's it, I want to be exactly right. But it was
somewhere within that time period and was special for here and across
the state, too, because I did go across the state working in most of the
counties getting people to register to vote.
H: What about the other civil rights groups that were doing one thing or
another in Jackson, especially in the '60's? Say did you work at all
with people from SNCC?
C: Yes, I worked with a cross section of people including SNCC, but my
main job was with the NAACP.
H: What do you remember about other organizations?
C: They would come in and I and others would make every effort to work
with them and them with us. SCLC came in later years and worked.
H: Who are the people say in SCLC that you worked with some?
C: Andrew Young and Jesse Jackson and ...
END OF SIDE 1 OF TAPE 1
H: I don't know if we missed this on the tape. You said Jesse Jackson
and Julian Bond.
C: And Andrew.
H: Andrew Young. What do you remember about the activities that you
C: When they came into this city I worked with them and we were going
like for mass meetings and if we were meeting out on the street
somewhere or either at Masonic Temple and places. I remember them
coming to the mass meetings and to the regional meetings.
H: Did Dr. Martin Luther King come to Jackson?
C: Exactly and I worked with Dr. Martin Luther King many times here.
And just before his assassination he was here for the Poor People's
March when he left here going to Memphis.
H: Oh he had been to Jackson?
H: What people from SNCC do you remember working with?
C: Well I had a list of them.
H: Did you work with Jesse Morris?
C: Jesse Morris. Yes. Jesse Morris was one of them. I was trying to
think of some of the rest of them. But, yes, Jesse Morris was one of
them. Sure was.
H: What about anybody from CORE? I guess they weren't so much in
C: Not so much. But they were here and I do remember some of the people
from CORE. But the names, I sure don't have them. But I do remember
some of the people from CORE were here.
H: What about the Urban League and the other organizations?
C: Yes, the Urban League and I worked with the Urban League, there were
some other organizations. Actually I worked at the Urban League with I
think McQuaiter. I believe there's a McQuaiter's son. McQuaiter. I
think he was once active with the Urban League.
H: So as far as the movement in Jackson then, you said it was kind of
hard at first to get people to be active and get ready to go to register
C: I think that was a fair assessment. And the people weren't doing
very much here. There were a few things going on in the early '60's but
very little. But after the assassination of Medgar and then that's when
the people began to get involved and really support a movement--the
whole movement of the city.
H: You think that was kind of a turning point then?
C: Well it was. I would have to say it was a turning point. Because he
had been doing a lot of work on civil rights and maybe didn't get it as
he wanted. But after his assassination it was a turning point. It
began to happen.
H: You said you came to Jackson in 1958? Is that right?
C: That's right.
H: So you were actually here in '58, '59?
H: Early '60's? Did you go to any meetings during that time before '63
C: Yes. They weren't having a whole lot of them. I did go to some
meetings. And at that time most all the meetings were at the Masonic
Temple. And after then we started having them in the community and at
the churches. But before that time we weren't having them all over the
city and across the state.
H: Did you get arrested in any of the sit-ins or other activities?
C: Yes, I was. I don't think I was held long, but here in Jackson I was
taken down at the Fairground, and kept there. I was down there twice.
Then they took me to the Post Office twice but they didn't hold me.
H: They took you to the Post Office?
C: Yes. At the main Post Office on Capitol Street then. They took a
lot of us there but then they disbursed us and let us go.
H: Was it some kind of a jail?
C: Yes. That's what they were putting, you know, holding. I think they
used the word holding.
H: Oh I didn't know that. Where in the building was that?
C: I guess that was down in the
C: In the basement part.
H: How long did you stay in that room?
C: Well I didn't stay there very long because they really got me out of
there very quick. And no time in jail that I actually spent a lot of
time there. Again, it was in Natchez, they stopped me but they didn't
take me to jail. They were taking a lot of us to the post office here.
I guess to the city jail too. But where they were really keeping
everybody down under the hill.
H: I specifically remember the report on channel 3.
H: But I didn't know about the post office.
H: So they just kept people at the post office for a few hours did they?
H: Overnight and all?
C: No. We didn't stay. Not overnight. But I know for a few hours or
either they were as appearing.
H: You know the people saw the judge there in that post office though?
C: Yes. I'm saying they did see a judge. Yes.
H: And were you in jail? You were at the Fairgrounds a couple of times
C: Yes, I was at the Fairgrounds I guess two times or more. But each
time I was at the Fairgrounds they let me go. Now for what reason, I
don't know at that time. But every time that I got there then they
would just push me on through, let me go. And I did do that. Now I
don't know why. But I didn't stay down there not a night overnight.
And I went back down there two times to check on some people and they
didn't keep me then.
H: And you were a few years older than most of the people who were held
on the Fairgrounds, is that right or not?
C: No. Some of them I would think I may have been older than a lot of
them but there were some there right in my category. Yes, because there
were some people there from around Cade's Chapel Church and they were up
in my age limit or may have been older. But we were up there together.
But the others were, a whole lot of them were, younger than me when they
would come out to great big mass meetings.
H: Did you say that you don't know why they let you go specifically?
C: I really do not. Once, I heard them back there saying, "Is he the
leader or is he this or that?" And I was not directly no leader or
nothing at that time, but they would be saying those kind of things and
then they'd say well, I know one time they said, "Let's take him out."
And I thought they were going to really do something to me because they
took me out and I didn't know what they were going to do to me. And I
just was hollering and yelling and I had nieces and nephews and they
were yelling and hollering. But I guess the point was I'm almost to
think they were trying to get the people out of there who they thought
may have been a little older or was able to think that they wanted to
get them away from the rest of them or something. That's just my
assumption on that. But I think it was something to that. Because if
they thought you were or find out you were about to say something they
would like to try to get you by yourself.
H: What did you do to get sent to the Fairgrounds?
C: Well, nothing but, just, I would be demonstrating on the streets or
C: Or just marching. And that would be in earnest. I never did
anything else, well nothing else surely, but I would be marching. And I
never did directly lead the march because I would be with the ministers
and things though. Now with the youth people I usually would try to
help organize them to keep them together. And we didn't really carry on
or nothing like that, start throwing bottles and all those kinds, just
marching and demonstrations. And they would just (SMACK sound) hit you,
just pick you up, just pick you up if you were on the street corner
marching or anything like that. And I remember we tried to get down
Farish Street twice one time but they stopped us both times. And right
after Medgar's funeral, we were marching down there again and they
stopped us, just there at the funeral.
H: Did they arrest people at the funeral?
C: No, not at the funeral.
H: People marching.
C: Marching. Yes. When the funeral was over there was some of the
procession back to the funeral up there. When we got to Farish Street
that's where it got to be like a demonstration. The police had kind of
broke up the march and things of that sort. And that was what made the
difference. If they had just let you walk straight on up the street it
wouldn't have been any difference because they were marching from the
Masonic Temple back to Collins Funeral Home on Farish Street. And when
we got to Farish Street that's when they would almost like make you
disburse. They didn't want you to walk up Farish Street.
H: Do you remember when you marched and got arrested and sent to the
Fairgrounds? Do you remember where you were marching from and where you
were trying to go to?
C: I think I was on Capitol Street. And we were marching through
Capitol Street toward Sears and Roebuck. And they were arresting people
first at Sears and Roebuck.
H: That's where the Eudora Welty Library is now?
C: Exactly. Exactly. That's where it is. And we were marching around
that place and then they would really get you quick if you were going to
be back there. But we did continue -- they were arresting people a lot
-- but we were continuing to march and demonstrate at Sears and Roebuck.
H: Did you know Ben Brown?
C: I knew him?
H: Do you know Ben Brown?
C: Ben Brown was in the demonstrations and in the marches and I knew him
very well. And the night -- I don't know exactly the night -- he was
assassinated, I had been to the Masonic Temple. They left there and
then they went up the street right up from the Masonic Temple at -- I
can't think of the name of the little old place we got arrested that
C: Contikki. Exactly right. And that's nowhere from here, see. And
when I left the Masonic Temple, I stopped at Contikki for just a minute,
but then I went on. I thought everything was just nice. When I say
nice, everything was pretty good. I really did. And then I finally got
home and then I got the call. And who was the first somebody called
me? But they said Ben had been shot. I said, "Ben?" And I had seen
him. I said, "No." They said, "He's been shot."
H: You had seen him where?
C: I had seen him that evening and that night. Did I leave him at
Contikki? I don't believe so; I'm not sure. But I know I had seen him
that day or that evening. When somebody called and said he had gotten
shot I said, "Why?" Because I was stunned to know that it was up there
on Lynch Street, somewhere right in there. I was shocked to think of
that. And then they said, "Yes." And then, now was Milton Cooper came
down and, I was going to go out to the Masonic Temple then. But when I
went out, nobody was there when I got there you see. And so then they
said they had taken Ben to the hospital. Now, I first was told that he
got shot at the Contikki. But then later I was told he was leaving
Contikki, walking up the street, Lynch Street, and that's where it was.
Because the Cooper's were the one's who had Contikki at the time. They
were the people who owned it, well ran the Contikki.
H: Milton Cooper and who?
C: No. What is the Cooper's were out there on Lynch Street?
H: Bonnie and Robert Cooper? Bonnie and something. I just saw that
C: It was three or four brothers of them and they were the ones and I
can't think of any of those people's names.
H: You had been in the Contikki that night. Do you remember if it was
before dark or after dark that you went by the Contikki that night?
C: About first night, or 7:00 or 8:00, something like that.
H: Were the police out on the street at that time?
C: No. Were no police out on the street at that time. Not at that
H: Were there either students or anybody in the streets?
C: Well, no. That's why I was so shocked. There wasn't a demonstration
or nothing at all at that time. I couldn't see why they were there.
Well I guess I don't make you see why they were there. Well nothing was
going on any different, let me say it that way. Because it seems to me
that Ben was by himself. And I don't know what he could have been doing
to get shot like that or arrested. I never have been able to understand
why that happened like that. I don't know what happened, I really
don't. And he was a nice guy. Ben Brown was a nice guy. Now he would
demonstrate and do these kind of things, but overall he was a very nice
person. And he wasn't a rowdy where he would be cutting up and carrying
on, and I couldn't see why he was shot. I really couldn't. I really
H: You have any other particular memories about Ben's activities or any
discussions you might have had with him?
C: No. He and I talked a couple of times. We were talking and he was
talking about voter registration/voter education. Now he was doing a
lot of work for voter registration/voter education. We would talk about
that and he would be involved with it, but I guess that was almost the
height of it with him.
H: You guess that was?
C: The height of it with him. He worked with voter registration and
H: Did you work at all with Nolan Tate back in the '60's?
C: Mr. Tate? Yes. I remember Mr. Tate. Yes. I didn't work directly,
but indirectly I worked with him. Yes, I knew Mr. Tate very well.
H: What did you work with him on?
C: Well, no more than if it was community meetings or mass meetings or
something of that sort, that he was there. But other than that --
H: What about Rudy Shields?
C: Yes, I remember Rudy Shields very well, and he and I worked across
the state together. We worked on voter registration together. I
remember Rudy Shields very well just before he left and went to Yazoo
H: He worked in Jackson?
C: He did. He worked in Jackson.
H: You mentioned Alex Waites?
C: Yes. Mr. Waites came in here -- I don't know if it was '65 or '64 or
somewhere in there -- but he came in here right at that time and he was
acting as executive director for the NAACP. First he was coming in
working with the director of voter registration and I think the relief
fund, I believe that's what the money that came with voter
registration. But I worked with Mr. Waites very closely, and diligently
with him, across the whole state.
H: What do you remember about him as a person?
C: That he was a very nice person and he kept almost like a low tone,
but he was very objective and to the point. But he didn't get rowdy and
all like that. But he was a fire kind of person that he would get the
job done. And he was very very direct and to the point.
H: Did you work with Carsie Hall or Jack Young?
C: I worked with both of them. I served as vice president of the
Jackson Branch under Carsie Hall and Jack Young. And I think of both of
those, Carsie Hall was president first and I was his vice president.
And I worked with him. Both of those were some wonderful men, diligent
and directly to the point. And either one of those men didn't make a
great big to do, but they would do a job for you. And I enjoyed working
with both of them very much. They were very wonderful. And I learned a
lot from them, too. And I learned a lot through Civil Rights and things
of that sort. Jack Young was the state legal counselor for the NAACP.
And Carsie also was president under two consecutive terms of war.
H: President of what?
C: Of the Jackson Branch of NAACP.
H: What about Jess Brown?
C: I worked with him also. I remember Jess Brown very well too. And I
enjoyed him as well. Jess Brown was another person that you would say
was to the point -- and get emotional too sometimes. But he was a
wonderful person too, very much so.
H: And Al Rhodes was active here in Jackson?
C: Al Rhodes. Yes he was. Al Rhodes was active. Al Rhodes was in later
years. He was active here in Jackson.
H: What did he do?
C: Did Al Rhodes do voter registration with them or was he involved in
some voter canvassing? He was more like, seemed like to me he was a
C: Yes. Don't hold me directly to that but I think he was more like a
canvasser in the city. But he was involved here in the city. I knew Al
H: Did you work with William Miller?
C: Yes. I worked with William Miller here in the city. Yes indeed.
William Miller was here and with his father and brother. But William
Miller was involved more like in the movement at that time. And then
his brother was not here in the early years of the movement. I mean
C: Coleman came back in later years. But I remember William.
H: And Reuben Anderson was an attorney here or was it Fred Banks?
C: No. There was not an attorney at that time. Now I remember both of
them during the height of the movement. They were away at school.
H: So did you work with Reuben Anderson and Fred Banks?
C: I worked with them and I served as vice president under Fred Banks
for the Jackson Branch, NAACP. And I worked with Reuben Anderson also.
H: Are there other names of people that you worked especially close with
and I might not have asked about?
C: Yes. People like Sam Bailey and he was great. I guess you would
fall in love with him and I enjoyed it very much. And some of the
ladies with the Jackson Branch I worked with; for instance, persons like
Ms. Essie Ramsey, Mary Cox. They were secretaries for the Jackson
Branch. And persons like Mr. John Dixon, he was a person I enjoyed very
H: Did you work with Rev. R.L.T. Smith?
C: Oh yes. Oh yes. And he was just a pioneer. And he was there to
lift us and carry us along. And Rev. Smith talked to me two or three
times in some of the later years. And when he passed, he was working on
putting a book together.
H: I heard that.
C: And I had been with him twice concerning it. And he was putting it
together. And I really don't know exactly what happened to it. But if
we had been able to keep that, or put it together, it would have been a
milestone here in the city of Jackson. And it would have even gotten
people that maybe I have forgotten and all of these things. Because
sometimes if you don't put it on something, you'll lose it or forget
it. But he really was working on that. And I do hate we didn't get
H: You don't know if somebody's carrying through with that?
C: I sure don't know. I managed to check with Robert Smith twice but
I've never been able to find out if he knows anything about it or where
it is. I don't know what happened to it. I really don't. But I know I
went to him once or twice when he was working on it. What happened to
it I don't know.
H: Did you have any involvement in the situation with WLBT? You know
there was a lawsuit?
C: Oh no. It was. I did not have any direct involvement with that.
When that came along there were people like Dr. Aaron Henry, Charles
Evers, Charles Young, and I don't know who else, because I don't want to
leave out nobody, but I know they were the ones that I knew that were
dealing with WLBT.
H: You were working, most of the time that you did Civil Rights work,
you were working in the structure of the NAACP?
H: Either in the state office or the Jackson Branch.
C: That's right.
H: When the poverty programs came in, Headstart and CAP programs and
other things like that, did you help? How did you relate to those?
C: I did not work directly with those. I knew about those. The people
who were really the persons putting those programs together and dealing
with that were Dr. Henry, Charles Evers, and it was some more, Charles
Young, something of that sort. But I didn't work directly with those
program. But I do know I worked with Dr. Henry then. They were the
ones putting it together. They were the ones going to Washington and
they were the ones coming back here and getting it together, because the
state wouldn't touch it at that time. I guess they thought they were
making it worse for all of us. But they wouldn't touch it and you
couldn't get nothing from them. And if it had not been, praising them
and all, but if it hadn't been for people like Dr. Henry and Charles
Evers, using their own sometimes to make a difference with all the
people in this state, I don't know where we would have been, I'm telling
you. I really have to and I do have respect for those men. But they
still protest that kind of stuff. And I see the programs and what not
now and people are so bourgeoisie, a word I'm going to use on you. But
it makes me wonder sometimes because I wasn't there that much, but I was
there when people were making a change for real. And it made a
difference. And it hurts me to see some of us come along and think I
owe you this and you owe me that. It's not that way. People have put a
lot out there. And people gave up a lot. Because they didn't have to
do. And people like Dr. Henry were making a very comfortable life and
his wife was a school teacher, and that meant a lot at that time. But
then, when he stayed out there in it and what not, then they fired her.
They fired her!
C: And then she didn't have a job or nothing. And that made a
difference for Dr. Henry. Then he was using all he was probably getting
to get the Federal programs and things in and all like that. I don't
know but it was talked about. And sometimes people talk and I just
look. He went when they did this and he worked, and he didn't have to
do it, but he wanted to make a difference and I'm grateful for it.
H: What did you mean to say about the effects that the poverty programs
coming in once they did come in and people started getting jobs? Did
you mean to say that they had certain effects on the community or maybe
just some individuals in the community? How did you see that? I wasn't
entirely sure of the connection. You used the word bourgeoisie. Did
you mean that in connection with some of the people who worked in the
poverty programs or not? Just the question of the headstarts and the
community action programs are some. What effect did you see them having
on your work for the NAACP or the community in general?
END OF SIDE 2 OF TAPE 1
H: I was wondering about what are the effects you might have noticed
that the Headstart or the CAP programs had on Civil Rights activities or
anything else? Did they bring in a lot of money to families that really
needed it and so it was a good effect overall or did people work more in
the movement or less in the movement as the poverty programs came in or
did you notice anything in particular about that?
C: I think in the poverty programs, yes, the people worked good when
they first came out. They worked good when they first came out with the
poverty program. They did do the work there then though.
H: Did you work some with R. L. Bolden?
C: Yes. Yes. Exactly. I worked some with him. Yes indeed. I was
working with voter registration and met R. L. Bolden. Yes, R. L. Bolden.
H: What do you remember about him?
C: When I remembered him he was working with us with Dr. Aaron Henry and
R. L. Bolden was with the NAACP. I do remember him working with us.
H: Are you familiar with what's been brought out about him more
H: Well in the past few years about his activities?
H: Because some of the people that I asked you about and I got the names
from the Sovereignty Commission files? Have you seen your file?
H: Well they got a file on you down there, of course, and thousands of
other people, of course; but yours is one. If you haven't heard it I'll
tell you just a little bit because this is important to all of our
history I think. Some of the reports apparently that mention you and
your activities were conversations that you had with people, with
somebody that you trusted, or who just stopped by and chatted with you.
Senator Kirksey actually was the first person that I know of that
brought this out some years ago. But R. L. Bolden has been working for
many years with Rep. Mike Parker.
H: And it was during, well until recently, but it was several years ago
that Senator Kirksey brought out that Bolden, Senator Kirksey was
convinced even at that point, that Bolden was one of the people who was
giving reports to the Sovereignty Commission. And it's apparent to me
from looking at the files that have your name in them that somebody was
dropping by and assuming to be your friend and you were telling them
things that were going on just like you would anybody who seemed to be
interested in the movement and played some kind of a roll. But Bolden
was, I would say clearly to me, that person who wrote a number of those
reports as having stopped by and they're kind of grouped together in the
files down there. He was called Agent X in the file.
C: I've heard the word Agent X but I never was able to know who that
H: Oh, is that right? Well, R. L. Bolden is the person that, there are
several indications that really point to nobody but him.
C: But R. L. Bolden.
H: Yes. And there have been two television programs wrote about it.
Actually you may have missed those. But they have one that was done
actually first in England and then brought over here on A&E cable
network and Dateline NBC did about a 15- to 20-minute piece on it.
These were both around three, four, five years ago now.
C: Well I sure don't know. Who was it asked me about who was Agent X or
something? And I never have been able to know who it was. Now somebody
mentioned R. L. to me twice and they said one time that they were
questioning was he the person. But I never did get exactly that Agent
R. L. was the one it was.
H: I don't think that there's any way that it could be anybody else,
because this person reported on so many different organizations, is
obviously Black, and obviously knew a lot of people to just walk up to
and talk. Now can you tell me though -- I perhaps should have asked you
a little before I said that to you -- but do you remember him coming in
and just chatting about one thing or another, asking you what was
C: Now I do remember that and he would show up at some of the meetings
when it's almost over with, or over with, and he would ask questions or
something sometimes. I do remember that, very much so.
H: But just trying to keep up on all the current things?
C: Yes. Yes. I would think that's what it was. And then maybe I was
ignorant to think he was just concerned.
C: And that he was out there working or did what he could for us and
then carrying it here or there.
H: Yes. He was carrying it back. I don't know if he typed up things
himself but obviously he reported great volumes. But they are typed up
as pages and pages for years and years. Are there any other things that
you think of knowing that about his contacts? I guess he would come by
the office, the Masonic Temple office.
C: Yes he used to come by there a whole lot at the Masonic Temple and
things of that sort. And I guess the people would, I say the people who
worked there, would just assume he was coming by. I'm sure they didn't
have nothing else to think that it wasn't good faith or nothing at all
at that time. Sometimes they said that the Sovereignty Commission --
what did I hear about that? That R. L., one time I heard -- did I hear
that? That was this year or something? Who was it that told me that?
Said that he was reporting to the Sovereignty Commission. Yes. That's
what I heard. And I said, "R. L.?" And they said, "That's right." And
I said, "What?" But now I surely did. At first I didn't want to pay it
very much attention, but then I heard it again. I don't know who told
me that he was leading or he was talking to the Sovereignty Commission.
I really was a little bit floored to know that about that. I was really
floored and they said, "Well, he'll do anything." And I really was
shocked of that because I felt that was a little bit indifferent of
that. I didn't think he would just do anything. I thought he was with
some moral standards and principles. When I was told that this
Sovereignty Commission -- I don't know what he got out of it -- but if
you got anything, if you didn't, why would you do it? That was my
H: Well he was certainly paid.
H: Do you remember the Barq Boycott at all?
C: Yes. I remember Barq. Yes I was down there when we did the Barq
H: What do you remember about that?
C: When we were boycotting it, and I do remember the police department.
Well when we were boycotting it, the policemen were down there, then
they were getting the Barq's drinks giving them to some people and
things of that sort. Now I don't remember. I really don't know was
that R. L. in that group when they were giving out those pops and
things. I really don't remember that now. But I was down there. I was
there pitching the boxes. And I do know on Lynch Street one time that
we were picketing the Barqs Drink Company and that's when they were
going to give the people the drinks and they wouldn't accept it. I do
remember that. But I guess it's been sometimes and some of the things
you would think you wouldn't mean nothing, it has a lot of meaning to it
also. But now I don't really know if R. L. was agent X.
H: Well, if you remember, he became the first Black employee.
C: That is true, since you said it.
H: Of Barq's.
C: Of Barq's Bottling Company. He sure Lord did. That is true. And
that does put some things together. Because they were standing so far
along at that time and to say that you were going to be, whatever it
was, it didn't exist at that time. Now I agreed with that
H: Of course it was jobs that the boycott was started.
C: Exactly right. That's exactly what it was.
H: So he was a sales representative or something like that?
C: That's right. That was what he was, sales representative. And I
know we used to drink Barq's and we used to like them. But I don't know
whether we ever had another Barq's drink. We simply stuck with that.
H: You did what?
C: We simply stuck with that and put them out of business almost.
Because in the majority view, now like you said Mr. Bolden I don't know
how he got to be the salesman for them or what not, because they really
were just like folded up for a long time. They were just like folded up
I'm telling you. I guess they were just recently getting everything
they could and touching to see what would work and what wouldn't work.
But I do know that the masses and the majority didn't touch it.
H: Even after the boycott?
C: Exactly. After the boycott they didn't touch it.
H: Well of course looking back at it it seems to me that probably the
Sovereignty Commission and the Barq's people kind of got this together
so he'd have a job.
C: A job.
H: Can't say that for sure.
H: But it was obvious
C: Yes indeed.
H: That he would be the one because he had been working for it for some
time by that point. Can you think of any other situations in which you
talked with him or he might have been involved in? I know he was an
officer in the FDP so I don't know if he was an officer particularly in
the NAACP. Do you know?
C: No he wasn't an officer for the NAACP.
H: But he did drop by.
C: Yes. He would come. Very often he would come by. Very often.
H: One thing that I didn't mention I was going to ask you about
particularly. It was something in your file that as I said that in 1969
you were the coordinator or the chair or both of the NAACP National
Convention. Was that here in Jackson in 1969?
C: It was. '69. Yes. That's right.
H: What do you remember about that?
C: That Convention, it was here. There was tremendous work in that. We
had people here. And that was the first time the Convention had been
this far south and the first time it ever was in Jackson. And I thought
it was great and tremendous. But it was so many people and the city was
not ready. You couldn't hardly stand it period. And then our
headquarters was at the Masonic Temple. And it was July same time, hot
as it is now almost, and it was difficult. But it was great and, first
of all, people didn't think all the people were coming and then they
said they would come because of the assassination and what not I
remember at that time. But they were here like never before.
H: A big convention.
C: It was. It really was. I guess it was the first time the National
had ever been here. I don't think our city was ready for it because it
didn't have the accommodations and things of that sort at that time.
H: What did you do?
C: That's right we did manage though because at that time, once we did
then like we used to do in the regional convention and things, housed a
lot of people.
H: Private homes?
C: Homes. Exactly right. And we did that in '69. A lot of people were
in homes. And that's what helped a whole lot of the times.
H: I guess I should ask this one since you were working with young
people too. In 1970 were you around the campus or in any way connected
with, well not on campus the night, but of the killings of the two young
people on the Jackson State campus in 1970? Had you been working with
C: Well around and about, yes. That night I went and Mr. Waites called
me, I'd say, and I went and got him and we went over on campus.
H: What were you to do?
C: We didn't do anything hardly. It was just like an army when we got
there and the way they had shot up the dorm and what not. But first we
were told they weren't going to let us on campus. Mr. Waites said,
"We're going." He and I, we went up there together and they did let us
on campus and then we went on down there. And it was almost
unbelievable the way they had shot that building up and nothing but kids
there, plus nobody had no guns to fire back in the first place. Now
that was really almost unbelievable to me. Mr. Waites did make a
statement that night and the next morning he gave a press conference
there. The night when we wanted to know what happened, then they first
said they shot at the policemen and then they said they had set a fire
on Lynch Street further down, right off the campus or someplace there.
I know Mr. Waites did ask, I think, "If they set a fire, why did you all
come to the campus and shoot up the place?" I don't know what was the
answer to that, actually what it was. But I know they had highway
patrolmen there and everything just like people had assassinated the
president of the United States. I couldn't believe and I still don't
know why they did that. I really don't. But I was there.
H: Did you attend the hearings that they had later on about that?
C: I did attend it one time. I did attend a hearing. Yes indeed. I'm
trying to think of this policeman's name that was supposed to have been
saying that they were shooting at him. I'm trying to think of his
name. It looked like he just recently retired too.
H: Are you talking about Lloyd Jones who got shot down in Simpson
C: I believe he was one of them.
H: Lloyd Jones was with the highway patrol at that time.
C: At that time. Okay. Well that's him. I believe Black was in
position when Ben Brown got shot.
H: Black is the one who apparently shot Ben Brown.
C: Thank you. Okay. I'm getting them confused a little bit, but that's
H: He might have been there too.
C: I'm almost for sure to say I think they say he was there at Jackson
State College. But Jones did work with the Highway department at that
time. And you know they had highway patrolmen out there just like I
don't know what on that campus.
H: One person I don't want to forget to ask you about is James Pittman.
Particularly do you remember working with him?
H: James Pittman. He was I suppose just a little bit younger than you
were but worked with the NAACP and I've seen him some time in fairly
recent years. But I was hoping you'd know how to get in touch with him.
C: James Pittman?
H: James Pittman, yes. Short.
C: Short. And he lived here? He lived here?
H: In Jackson, yes, and, as I said, I have run into him. At the time I
didn't have any particular reason to get back with him and now I kind of
wish I could because of talking to you. You don't recall him?
C: I surely don't. But I'm going to check that name out and I'm going
to ask about him. And he was here in Mississippi?
H: Yes. He was here. I knew him. I was here briefly in '63 and I kind
of think I knew him starting back that long.
H: It might have been as late as '65 though when I came back.
C: James Pittman.
H: I should ask you about John Frazier too.
C: Oh yes. Ooh, now yes, John Frazier. Yes. He was, Johnny Frazier,
went to Campbell College. Yes, I remember Johnny Frazier very well.
Yes indeed, I do remember him. He was very active. Now you said James
H: James Pittman. He may be my height but a little bit shorter. Kind
of dark. I know he was active. He may not have been around the NAACP
as such that I remember. Then of course there were hundreds of people.
C: That's true too. Exactly.
H: It may be that I got to talking to him more than other people for one
reason or another. I don't know anything really about where he went to
C: Johnny Frazier was at Campbell College. Yes he was. Johnny Frazier
is in Louisiana now.
H: Do you know where?
C: He was at a school there the last I heard. I surely don't know
H: Teaching at a college?
C: At a college. That's right.
H: Do you have any idea what part of the state? I might be able to get
his number off the Internet.
C: I surely don't and I don't know nobody who possibly would. If I find
somebody that knows Johnny Frazier, if you check with me, I'll be able
to find out where he is or what he is. You can feel free to check with
me in that case.
H: Do you know what he teaches?
C: I surely don't.
H: Even in general was he in natural sciences or political science?
C: Political science or something of that sort but I'm not sure.
H: What do you remember about him from the '60's?
C: He was directly in the movement and like almost a leader in the
demonstrations and things of that sort. Now he was a student at
Campbell College and Dean Jones was the teacher there. Dean Jones and
him were not directly together but they were working something like that
together. But Johnny Frazier was something like, I must use the word,
like a coordinator, putting together student activities at the Campbell
H: Were the NAACP among Campbell College students?
C: Yes. Campbell College students. Okay. The NAACP, now he was the
leader with NAACP or for NAACP. But like I said NAACP was meeting on
Campbell College campus and at Tougaloo College. That's where we would
H: This is the Jackson Branch or the state?
C: That was the Jackson Branch and the state office was right there in
the Masonic Temple building and that was headquarters. But Jackson
Branch was always separate or different from the state office but we
worked together in there. Johnny Frazier worked right in there with the
state office as well.
H: Now he applied to one of the White universities? Did you know?
C: Yes he did. He surely did to go to school. Yes he did. Yes he did
now. I don't know which one it was to save my life. I am going to
check with Ms. Lewis to see if she has the records to that.
C: Ms. Lewis.
H: Oh yes. I wanted to ask you about her too because she was right in
the middle of the movement.
C: Oh she was.
H: She is still living?
H: Here in Jackson?
C: She's in Jackson.
H: I should try to talk with her too. Do you know how to reach her?
H: Lillian Lewis, isn't it?
C: Lillian Lewis, that's right.
H: Is she listed just like that in the book do you know?
C: I don't know if she's listed or not. I'm going to tell you the
truth, but if it is it's going to be listed just like that. Now her
phone number is XXX-XXXX.
C: Yes. And I'm going to tell her I gave you her number.
H: Okay, sure. Yes. I do need to call her. I thought about her and I'm
glad you mentioned her. You mentioned Dean Jones at Campbell College.
Is he still here?
C: That I don't know. I don't know was he from Minnesota or Baltimore.
I don't know exactly and I should remember and I really don't. But I
should have known. But I know he was from out of the state. But he was
still working at Campbell College.
H: You haven't seen him in recent years?
C: Oh no, I have not.
H: Who else can you tell me about? I told you I was going to ask you
who else that you do know is still around that was active in those days
that we might talk to?
C: I mentioned Ms. Lewis.
H: I've seen another man whose size I almost half get confused with Mr.
Bailey, but not quite, was a tall man who stood outside the Masonic
Temple building a lot.
C: Mr. Gibbs.
H: Mr. Gibbs?
C: Mr. Gibbs.
H: Is he living?
C: He is. He's still at the Masonic Temple. He was the custodian of
the Masonic Temple and he's still there.
H: So you think I'd still find him around there?
H: What's his first name?
C: I'm telling you the truth when I said Mr. Gibbs and I was trying to
think. I don't remember what Mr. Gibbs' first name was, I'm going to
tell you the truth.
H: But if he's around and you see him you will know.
C: Yes. Yes. And I surely should know him because he was there all of
my lifetime and I ain't never known nothing but Mr. Gibbs. But he is
still there. He surely is.
H: You mentioned a couple of women earlier.
C: Mrs. Essie Randle and Mrs. Mary Cox. They were secretaries for the
H: Are they still around?
C: No. No. They've gone on. Mrs. Randle was secretary at one time for
the state but Mary Cox was for the city of Jackson. Both of them are
elderly women. I can't think of anybody else, but I know those two were
H: Were there any other people that you recall who were secretaries or
officers either in the state office or the Jackson Branch, of course,
that'll know more?
C: Mr. Sam Bailey was president of the Jackson Branch some years ago,
but that was before I came along. I can't think of nobody else right
H: Now Mr. Bailey died.
C: That's right. Mrs. Noel was right in there with Mrs. Mary Cox then,
but she didn't hold a position but she worked with them all the time.
Now Mrs. Noel--what was her full name?
H: Are you talking about Gladys Noel Bates?
C: Gladys Noel Bates.
H: What do you remember about her? You mentioned her sometimes.
C: She was a person like you know to assist and put up and keep and
those kind of things.
H: Keep people in homes.
C: Exactly. That was one of the things about her. Now Gladys Noel
Bates and her mother were the ones that were from Pearl Street
teachers. Mrs. Noel.
C: Noel, that's right, now she was there too but Mrs. Bates was her
daughter. But Mrs. Noel was the person that would keep people together
and things of that sort and also Mrs. Sanders, Thelma Sanders.
H: Thelma Sanders.
C: Yes. She was right in there with them too. She lived in a house
H: Pearl Street?
C: Pearl Street.
H: Is she living?
C: No she's not.
H: Was Mrs. Gregory active?
C: Yes. Mrs. Myrtis Gregory. That's right. I saw her all the time.
She wasn't I think you used the word directly involved in the NAACP but
she was what you would call a strong supporter and always there in
support and things of that sort. Now she was there. She was more like
a supporter. I think she was a beautician.
END OF SIDE 3 OF TAPE 2
H: When you said supporter, what kind of activities do you mean?
C: Well when I said supporter she would work with the programs or come
to the meetings and things of that sort or ever what she could do she
would do. That's what I mean.
H: There were probably a number of people who gave places to stay or
made food for meetings?
C: Oh yes indeed. It was. You could have a list from them. The people
how they would meet people they just met and put them up and keep them
and things of that sort but it was so precious at the time. And the
people were so grateful for it. But the hospitality was good. They
would reach out and how they would take care of people and things of
that sort. And it was almost to say all people here did those kind of
things but did what they could.
H: Was Mrs. Pittman along with them?
C: Pittman. Okay she came along a little later. But right then and
there she was not in that group. But she did come along. That's
right. But she was not there at the first beginning.
H: What about Grace Sweet? I talked to her. She's a school teacher.
C: Grace Sweet? Okay. Grace Sweet.
H: I don't know exactly what she did in the movement.
C: Okay. Grace. Now there is another person, Katherine Stalling.
H: I don't remember a Katherine.
C: She was a Katherine Warner when we first met her but she got married,
but Katherine Stalling. Now she was one of the persons way out there in
it. She was a school teacher.
H: Is she living?
C: She is. Yes.
H: Katherine Warner Stalling.
C: That's right.
H: I've heard that name for years.
C: I surely don't know her phone number. But I know she lives out there
by the Westland Plaza out in that area on Greenwood or something I don't
know what it is.
H: And what about Johnetta Jordan?
C: Yes I knew her. That was later years for her. Johnetta Jordan.
Yes. I knew her. But Pearl Drain, Mrs. Pearl Drain, she no longer lives
here, but she was involved.
H: But you think she is living though?
C: Yes she is. She is out of state. I don't know what state she is
in. But they tell me she is a professor a doctor is what I'm trying to
say. I don't know what school.
H: Do you know what subject/field?
C: Do not know that either.
H: Who would know? Who would know?
C: I don't know about her. She had some family here at one time. I
don't know. I don't know maybe Liz would know that or not. But I
surely do not know. I don't know if Mrs. Dora Smith knows.
H: Someone talked with her.
C: Oh someone has talked with her?
C: Well she came in some of the later years.
H: I saw her name in the Sovereignty Commission files.
C: Because I've had plenty some people to tell me that we said we were
going to go down to look at them and I haven't been there yet. Now I
had planned to go once this year and something happened and I didn't get
a chance to go. But I am going to get down there to it though. Mrs.
Juanita Jefferson was involved in the NAACP, Juanita Jefferson.
H: And where did she?
C: She lived here. She used to live on Pearl Street and I tell you she
moved and I lost touch. But she used to live on Pearl Street; I do
remember that though.
H: When you said she was active in later years you mean later '60's or
something or even later than that?
C: Later. Yes. A little later than that. Probably the early '70's or
H: Anybody else come to mind that you know is still living or around
here we might talk to?
C: I mentioned Milton Cooper a couple of times.
H: Yes. Yes. Where is he now?
C: He's here. Now I think he is on Macon Street. I don't know the exact
address but I think 77something. I don't know but I know it's Macon
H: Anybody else.
C: I don't think so. I can't think of anybody else at the moment. I
might make a list when you leave but I sure can't think of anybody else.
H: You said you went away to school in Pennsylvania.
H: What did you study?
H: You said later years you had been working at the University Hospital
and then where have you worked at since you came back from Pennsylvania?
C: When I came back from Pennsylvania, when I first came back, I set up
this program known as OIC, Opportunity Industrialization Center. I set
that program up and then I worked with that. When I left that I went to
the State Library Commission and then I went to the State Department of
Health and I stayed there for 20 years.
H: And you just retired from there?
C: Yes. Exactly.
H: What did you do there?
C: I was manager of central supply, all sheets, things that are used for
hospitals and patients. I disbursed them and sent them across the state
H: Over the years have you continued to be a member of the NAACP?
C: Yes. I'm still a member of the NAACP. And I was at the national
convention the first of this month in Atlanta, Georgia. And hopefully I
will be able to attend next year. It's going to be in New York.
H: Are you active in the Jackson Branch?
C: Yes. I am. I am active in the Jackson Branch. I don't attend all
the meetings but I try to get to most of them. But I keep telling the
people here that we've got to get more involved, because the Jackson
Branch is not what I want. And I don't want to be critical of it. I'll
leave it at that. But we have a lot of work to do and are not doing it
and that disturbs me. We've almost gotten complacent. It's good to get
the people involved but if you can it's better not to put people in
office. You don't just go in the office to have use of the name of an
office because it's a lot of work out there still to do. Now you can
think it ain't, but it's a lot of work out there still to do. And if
we're not going to do it we ought to give it to somebody that's going to
H: What do you think is the main work that needs to be done at this
C: The main thing I think is making an agenda or program dealing with
the community and what the community is doing and what some of you all
objectively think that the community should be doing and keeping them
aware of what's going on and alert them and keeping them abreast. And
let this be both ways. It can be something like speaking terms for
them. Let them know what can be done or what needs to be done and then
you would aim to do that.
H: What are the particular things you'd like to see changed then or
C: I don't know about particular changes but I would like to see
motivation and making programs, if you want to say agenda, and involving
the community and make programs available and have people in there
making them involved where they can know what the organization is doing
or what it should be doing. I don't want to use a word like complacent
again, I don't really want to use that, but you need to be letting
people know what you are doing and what you are about. For that you
have to be involved. You have to keep the people abreast of what this
community here is doing, what this city is doing, or what we can do to
help or what we can do to see that it continues to carry on.
H: I guess one of the main times I've seen you in recent years has been
when you were working at a polling place such as the Jackson Mall.
C: Yes. That's right.
H: And possibly other places but I don't remember--one time out at the
Jackson Mall. Did you work at the polls a lot?
C: Yes. When? Do you mean back?
C: Recent years I have been working at the polls a lot. That's right.
H Is that in connection with any christened organization in any way?
C: Some years ago I was one of the first, and I use the word Black, to
organize a precinct and precinct captain. I was one of the precinct
captains and Jimmie Harrelson from out in Shady Oaks was a precinct
captain. I guess the word is we were one or two of the first Blacks in
precinct captains. I used to be from precinct 27 and then I went to
precinct 31 I believe and now I am at precinct 11.
H: So you've worked in precinct organizations?
H: I know a lot of places in Jackson don't have any kind of precinct.
C: Oh my goodness. It used to be we had a big one when I was in 27.
Mr. Harrelson and I would run and we used to go there to the courthouse
meeting. We went there when we first were not actually even found. But
we went there when we were trying to learn about the precinct and
holding the meetings and things of that sort. It has been very
helpful. The people in our community and in the precinct responded
H: Was that in the '70's or the '80's?
C: That was in the '70's then in the precincts. That was in the '70's.
H: These are Democratic Party organizations in the precincts?
C: Well the Democratic Party is alone from the precincts. Now if the
people in the precinct are Democrats then it does affect the Democratic
Party. But the first thing they do is precinct and then from that if
you are Democrat or Republican or whatever you are that's what it is.
But first thing you organize a structure, the precinct, and then you
would say it's either Democrat or Republican.
H: So was the precinct organization moved up with other precinct
C: Yes. All precincts have their own meetings and etc. But where they
have what we call the city-wide precinct and you could meet together and
that's when we have a cross section of all precincts and things of that
H: And that's through the NAACP?
C: No that's not through the NAACP. That is strictly state and county
level, the precincts and things of that sort. Now the NAACP may would
support or sometimes instruct some of their people to attend these
meetings and be abreast of what's going on.
H: Is there an organization though that those precincts would come under
then if it's not the NAACP?
C: Yes. Well yes. If the city of Jackson would have, if you wanted to
say, precinct 27 meeting from Jackson or for Jackson and it would be
precinct 27 and it would be for the city of Jackson.
H: Okay. Well, I guess what I should ask you at this point is, I guess
I've got you thinking about various things in answering my questions,
are there other things that you've thought of now that I haven't asked
you about as far as your own activities and things that you remember
observing, places you remember having meetings, or any things of that
sort in the '60's especially?
C: Oh my. I don't know if I can remember. All the meetings I do
remember we were having them in the later '60's is in churches and at
the Masonic Temple that's where we had all of them. Across the state I
went to other locations but here in the city all of our meetings were at
a few churches and at the Masonic Temple.
H: Is there anything else that I should have asked you that I didn't ask
you, especially as far as getting at your own experiences?
C: I can't think of it now.
H: You think we've pretty well covered it?
C: I think so. I think so. And if a direct or specific question comes
to your mind you can check or call me.
H: Or if you think of some old area that you didn't think of today feel
free to contact me and we can get back together or we can talk on the
C: I'll be happy to.
H: Well, I thank you for talking to me. It's been real interesting.
C: Thank you.