MFP 002 Interviewee: Greg McCoy Interviewer: Stacy Nelson Date of Interview: September 12, 2008 N: All right. Will you state your name, please? M: County Freedom Project. N: Cool. And what does the Sunflower County Freedom Project do? M: Well, basically, we use the legacy and the hi story of the c ivil rights m ovement to inspire, educate, and develop youth leaders who will be and the legacy of the c ivil rights m ovement one of the ways we express oral histories and our legacy through the c ivil rights m ovement. N: Very cool. Is there anything besides plays that you do? I mean M: Yeah, we do plays and we do video ; w e do video production. So those are two expressions, but primarily So, the majority of the time, we focus on the idea that education is the seed of freedom, and if we want our students to be free, we need to make sur doing plays ; N: Very cool. Can you describe how your students change? When they come in as opposed to when they leave. M: Well, the bigg est impact of our program is providing students the opportunity to exist in a corps of fellow students who have similar goals
MFP 00 2 ; McCoy ; Page 2 s o, kind of utilizing the idea of positive peer pressure. And if a student comes into our program as a seventh grader, the most v aluable aspect of college and says, hey, seventh grader, you can do this because I did it. of success and how they can d developing appreciation through oral histories, through our plays and c ivil rights studies of people like Charles McLaurin and other c ivil rights veterans so why they can do what they have done. Because i peo ple before them who have done it, but people who will come after. N: Okay, very cool. Do you have any personal conne ctions, through family or anybody that went through the c ivil rights m ovement ? M: plant here. N: Oh, okay. M: through our program and through our documentaries that they produce through oral participated in a number of ways. One particular student who played Charles McLaurin, his name is Shaquille Lafleur When we did a documentary, he was able to do research and found out that his grandmot her, Annie Ma e Strong King, would house c ivil rights veterans c ivil rights like Charles McLaurin, in her home, and cook meals. So that
MFP 00 2 ; McCoy ; Page 3 is to find out more about our students and where their legacies lie. N: Oka M: Well I was born in New York and I stayed there till I was fourteen. Then I went to North Carolina for high school and college, and I came here right after college in 2004. So e for about four years. N: And what brought you here to the area? M: Well, I did an internship with the program I work for now, the Freedom Project, so I was hooked pretty much the second week, third week I was down here. So I just came back immediately to work with the Freedom Project and, basically, jus t to figure out what could I do? What could I add to the program to make it sustainable, make it the type of program that, when our students participate, t hey have this sense of family. T hey want to come back and work with us, so we have a lot of our students who graduate high school, go to college, and then come back during the Anything more than anything I can do as a person from Nort h Carolina or New York, they can do t en times more as residents of Sunflower County, most powerful. N: Very cool. So, what does the Freedom Project plan to do in the future? M: Well, th e next step of our program is to develop our alumni association.
MFP 00 2 ; McCoy ; Page 4 started in 99; we went year round in 2002. So, basically, we have our oldest students who graduated and are going to college are now want to make sure that we have at least one fellowship available so they can come back and actually work full time in our organization. To us, ext step. Ultimately, we want to continue our mission of graduating students, having kids go to schools all over the country. B ut the next step, particularly, is to figure out how they can come back and be permanent citizens in the area or least temporari ly. Because one of the biggest ch allenges in the area like this Sunflower C ounty, any area of poverty So if what the ultimate go al is. N: And then the financial, maybe, all of the alumni M: what they can come back and contribute. We have plenty of people that donate money and different things like that. We could always use more, whoever hears this. But yeah, more importantly, is definitely they can have a face ; yeah, if that answers your question. N: think. If today, can you still . how does the c ivil rights struggle still affect how things are today?
MFP 00 2 ; McCoy ; Page 5 M: th e Mississippi Delta, but also around the country, between public schools because of tax bases, so I think that really getting a sense of equality, having that same opportunity I can give you a specific example. One of my students goes to a school, a high school in the area, and they cannot e xam, they would, at the most, make a fifty unless they studied on their own. 50%, right? So, if you study American history from 1865 or up to 1865 given the same educational opportunities. So out how to compensate for that o r, eventually, eliminate that gap. So I far as education goes. N: M: tha t gets all straightened out, then we do what we can, you know? N: Yeah. Those were pretty good closing words, but do you have anything else that you want to say?
MFP 00 2 ; McCoy ; Page 6 M: No. I just do want to encourage any people that hear this to, like we said earlier in our program, to figure out a way they can personally contribute to e to do it. In the words of SNCC, if not you, then who? If not now, then when? N: Very nice. Okay, thank you very much. M: T hank you, and good lu ck with your project. [End of interview] Transcribed by: Diana Dombrowski, August 15, 2013 Audit edited by: Sarah Blanc August 28, 2013 Final edited by: Diana Dombrowski, November 4, 2013