Tommy Farmer


Material Information

Tommy Farmer
Physical Description:
Oral history interview
Tommy Farmer ( Interviewee )
Marna Weston ( Interviewer )
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Oral history
Civil rights movement--Mississippi--History--20th century
Temporal Coverage:
1960 - 2008
Spatial Coverage:
United States of America -- Mississippi


People mentioned include Fannie Lou Hamer, James Farmer and Miss Buelah B. Curtis. Locations include Cleveland, Greenwood, Greenvillle and Jackson, Mississippi.

Record Information

Source Institution:
UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Holding Location:
UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Rights Management:
All rights reserved by the submitter.
Resource Identifier:
spohp - MFP 087
System ID:

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Full Text


The Foundation for The Gator Nation An Equal Opportunity Institution Samuel Proctor Oral History Program College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Program Director : Dr. Paul Ortiz 241 Pugh Hall Technology Coordinator : Deborah Hendrix PO Box 115215 Gainesville, FL 32611 352 392 7168 352 846 1983 Fax The Samuel Proctor O ral History Program (SPOHP) was founded by Dr. Samuel Proctor at the University of Florida in 1967. Its original projects were collections centered around Florida history with the purpose of preserving eyewitness accounts of economic, social, political, re ligious and intellectual life in Florida and the South. In the 45 years since its inception, SPOHP has collected over 5,000 interviews in its archives. Transcribed interviews are available through SPOHP for use by research scholars, students, journalists and other interested groups. Material is frequently used for theses, dissertations, articles, books, documentaries, museum displays, and a variety of other public uses. As standard oral history practice dictates, SPOHP recommends that researchers refer t o both the transcript and audio of an interview when conducting their work. A selection of interviews are available online here through the UF Digital Collections and the UF Smathers Library system. Oral history interview t ranscripts available on the UF D igital Collections may be in draft or final format. SPOHP transcribers create interview transcripts by listen ing to the ori ginal oral history interview recording and typing a verbatim d ocument of it. The transcript is written with careful attention to refl ect original grammar and word choice of each interviewee; s ubjective or editorial changes are not made to their speech. The draft trans cript can also later undergo a later final edit to ensure accuracy in spelling and format I nterviewees can also provide their own spelli ng corrections SPOHP transcribers refer to the Merriam program specific transcribing style guide, accessible For more information about SPOHP, visit http://oral.histor or call the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program office at 352 392 7168. October 2013


MFP 0 8 7 Interviewee: Tommy Farmer Interviewer: Marna Weston Date: September 2 1 2011 F: My name is Tommy Farmer. I used to be right down there. Between them two that house there. I used to be Mr. Moore's neighbor back in [19]63, [19]64, and this young lady know. All the Hanna May Fannie Ha mer, and all the guys fr om Greenwood, Greenville, Jackson, used to come here and stay, back in the days. Stayed up til l [19]69, I think. He used to carry me all around, back in the days. He was on the service station, used to be a service station he used to own across the highway, but I'm glad they made this inn, and Mama and me you know, but he was a good man back in the day, he was trying to help all of us. That's why I'm saying what I said about it. W : What does it mean to you to see the house like this and to see this F: I wis h that they'd bring it do something about it, make a bookstore out of it, or whatever they gonna make out of it, because this here house go way back. I'm talking about when when I first moved here. I stayed right there. And that used to be a drug store, rig ht across there. I wish they' d make a bookstore out of this, or do something about it, because it'd really mean a whole lot to us down this end. But really, we ain't been really taking care of it. Most people come and throw paper and stuff down in the yard they don't even recognize it no more. You know what I'm saying? W : How long have you lived in Cleveland? F: All my life. I'm sixty four years old, and most people say I don't look lik e it, but I'm sixty four. But I wish they'd do something about it. Bring it back up to code, make a bookstore out of it, a museum or something, so we'll still have something to


MFP 08 7 ; Farmer ; Page 2 come by and look at. And have something to say about it. I know they still bringing things on, but I still know two or three people around here, s till come by and look at it, from over on what highway oh rural, some people still come over here and stand out here and look at it and get back in their car and leave. But I wish they'd do something about it. That's all I can say about it. W: When you loo k around, do you think that if it was improved, turned into a bookstore, do you think it would change the character of the neighborhood, or provide some more opportunities? F: Well it would change a whole lot of things, because our young people, our kids coming up today, they need to have something to remember what we went through with, in that time. We were fighting to get our freedom. And I wish they'd kids would have somethi ng to come to here, go in there and pick u p a book or something, instead of study about it And that'd be a whole lot of help to it. And for one thing, it would have a whole lot of people coming through it then. Right now, it just sitting there, it ain't doing nothing. C ause when we leave, who gonna tell them? Won't be no young people around to say what we went through in our lifetime. They won't have nothing to say about it. W: When you talk about fighting for your freedom, what kind of things were you doing when you were younger that showed you were fighting for your freedom? F: Going to marches, going to meetings, going to getting locked up, and all this and, we been through hell in them days. W: Did you get locked up more than once?


MFP 08 7 ; Farmer ; Page 3 F: More than once in Greenville, down in Jackson, different places, trying to make it go on. But we still here, some of us still here. W: The struggle continues, do you think that the sacrifices are still continuing, or is it different today? F: It's different today. We still in learning. We'll never get through learning, all the time. All the time, it's just like, where we going we're going back a little bit. Where we're trying to go forward, but we started going back a little bit. We still ain't got it like we want it. If we get it like we want it, we'll be al l right, but all of us gotta come together. Can't be no one, two. All of us have to come together, black, white, Creole, everybody. You can't do it by yourself, because it won't work. And we just did break in that barrier. You know that. W: What kind of things can we do to bring it together? What can we do? F: We need probably get more people, like now we getting houses, we getting places we gonna go to, and everything, but we need more jobs, we need more freedom. We need probably get Cleveland back up on the map. That's the main thing. We've fallen in all kinds of categories, see. School, jobs, opportunities, trying to get open businesses up, we've fallen. We ain't coming farther. So that's the main thing. That's w hat we were fighting back in the time trying to get jobs, trying to get people back up on their feet, especially ones in the low brackets. We got more kids dropping out of school now in little bits, what we doing trying to get them back in school, that's what we need. W: Why do you think they're dropping out of school?


MFP 08 7 ; Farmer ; Page 4 F: They ain't got nothing else to do. If they had more of something to do, i nstead of running these streets and getting babies and all this stuff be something different. But we ain't got th em on our mind no more. We want to sell, we wanna do this, we wanna do that, but we can't. They think they're out here doing something big and we ain't doing nothing big no more. Know what I'm saying? W: Mh mm. Do you think it's because of the leadership? D o we need new leadership? Better leadership? Is it a leadership issue? F: It's both. It's both. You can't put down you put it's both. W: What's your definition of leadership? What is a leader? F: A person who comes in and tries to show us what we gonna do for our community. That's the main thing. Show what we gonna do for our community, cause we falling out of the community. You know what I'm saying? We need probably bring it back up. We have more children now in little beds where we're leaving we didn't k now nothing about it. People robbing, people stealing, people doing everything now. And we ain't used to have that. What we used to do we might fight a little bit, but we ain't have all this and what we got going on now. W: Could you tell me your full name from birth? F: Tommy Farmer. W: Could you spell that please? F: T o m m y F a r m e r. W: Do you have a middle name? F: Lee. Fourth month twentieth day of [19]48 W: Where were you born?


MFP 08 7 ; Farmer ; Page 5 F: Out here on a hog farm, used to be a hog farm out here out there on the railroad tracks. W: And who were your m om and d ad? F: Well all my people deceased James Farmer, Miss Buela h B. Curtis, Miss Kemp, all I ain't got nobody here no more. Ain't nobody but me, and I stay right there. W: If you could give a message to everybody everywhere about how to change things around, either here in Cleveland, or wherever they are, what would it be? F: I'd tell them, keep your pride, keep your kids in school. Try to get them some education, give them something they can go by, b ecause they way things is now, we losing on every ground. We is. We ain't got nothing to go to now hardly. W e need probably to get Cleveland back up on the map. That's all I can say. W: And last thing is, for the next presidential election, who do you think is gonna win, and why? F: Well it's hard to say because one thing, the way things going now, I don't know who gonna win and who gonna lose because it's up in there, but I hope we keep our same president. Even if we don't, we'll get somebody else to step in and do better, I don't know. Nobody don't know. And the one man that know that, that's God. That's all I'm saying that's all I can say about it. W: Thank you very much for speaking to me sir. F: All right. Take care. [End of Interview] Transcribed by: Anna Armitage January 24, 2014


MFP 08 7 ; Farmer ; Page 6 Audit edited by: Sarah Blanc, January 30, 2014 Final edited by: Diana Dombrowski, February 23, 2014