Tommie Novick Lunsford

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Material Information

Title:
Tommie Novick Lunsford
Physical Description:
Oral history interview
Language:
English
Creator:
Tommie Novick Lunsford ( Interviewee )
Candice Ellis and Danielle Navarrete ( Interviewer )
Publication Date:

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Oral history
Civil rights movement—Mississippi—History—20th century
Temporal Coverage:
1940 - 2009
Spatial Coverage:
United States of America -- Mississippi -- Sunflower County

Notes

Summary:
Reverend Tommie Lunsford tells of her family history in Sunflower County, and race relations as a child. Lunsford became involved in the Civil Rights Movement after becoming frustrated at the lack of sickle cell anemia testing being done for black children, and continues to be an activist educating black women and working for economic equity. People mentioned in the interview include: Reverend Cooper, Fannie Lou Hamer, David Novick, Peggy Quinn, June Johnson, Johnnie Colemon and Howard Fuller. Organizations include: the Ku Klux Klan, White Citizens’ Council, COFO, Delta Health Alliance, Johnnie Colemon Institute, Community Relations Social Development Commission of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the Universal Foundation for Better Living. Locations include: Marquette and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Chicago, Illinois and Inverness, Indianola, Greenville 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 043
System ID:
AA00020249:00001


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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 y.ufl.edu or call the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program office at 352 392 7168. October 2013

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MFP 0 43 Interviewee: Tommie Novick Lundsford Interviewer: Candice Ellis and Danielle Navarrete Date: August 22, 2009 N: This is Danielle Navar ret e, and I'm here with Reverend Tommie Lundsford and Candice Ellis. We are in Indianola, Mississippi on August 22, 2009. We're here to talk with Reverend Tommie. Is that what you'd like us to refer to you as? L: It's okay Most people call me Reverend Lundsford. N: Reverend Lundsford, okay. L: They don't even use the Novick. It's too long. N: Okay. I guess we should say Reverend Tommie Novick Lundsford, okay. L: Mm hm. N: So, Reverend Lundsford, can you tell us when and where you were born? L: I was born in Inverness Mississippi, which is about seven miles south of Indianola. I was born in 1940, April 23. N: Can you tell us anything about your parents? L: Well, my mother was from Inverne ss. My father was from around Itta Bena, Mississippi, and they lived on a plantation in Inverness. My grandmother and my grandfather, Reverend and Mrs. Cooper, were from the hills, from Louisville, Mississippi. They moved down to the Delta, which is what w e're we're the Delta, and they're the hills, so they moved down to the Delta so that they could have some way to have a livelihood, you know. Because, in the Delta, there was cotton to be picked and they could make money, whereas in the hills, there were probably not that

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 2 many industries where they could have worked. So, that's how we got from the hills to the Delta. N: Can you relate any stories that your parents might have told you about their lives or their parents' lives? L: Well, there are lots of s tories. My grandmother, I can tell you that my grandmother was part Indian, and they lived in Louisville. So, my grandmother's grandmother was a slave. So, she used to tell me these stories, you know, about her mother and her father, and her father was an Indian, so he would leave home lots of time and be gone for days and days. They had to feed the family. My grandmother became a fisherperson. She started fishing when she was five, and she fished until she was probably about ninety eight, and she died when she was about ninety nine, so she fished all that time and really was a professional fisherperson. I say fisherperson because I don't say fisherman, because she wasn't a man. That was her name to fame, is fishing. When she came down to the Delta, she cont inued to do that, and they moved onto this plantation. They chopped and picked cotton and my grandfather became a minister, and they finally were able to buy a little house in town. The house, because my grandfather was a carpenter and my grandfather built some of the first churches that people had in the country, in Inverness, and did it for lunch didn't really charge people. My grandmother is very practical. She's saying, now, Reverend Cooper, where are you building these houses for people for no money? You know we need this money.

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 3 So, she says, well, my grandfather knew that people needed places to live. It didn't cost him a lot because he would tear down old buildings and take every nail, every nail out of the building and put it in cans. I learned the difference between a large head nail and a small headed nail and a quarter nail because I was the oldest grandchild who lived in the Delta. So, I learned those things from my grandmother, how they got down here; how she worked in the fields and how they di d fishing, you know, fishing was her hobby, but also it fed the family. Then, from my mother and my father, I learned that my father's parents were very poor and they separated early so that my grandfather on my father's side lived in Yazoo County and my g randmother on my father's side, they lived in Leflore County for a while and then gravitated to Sunflower County and lived out on Woodburn Plantation. My father was saying that he went to about the thi r d grade, but he became a very famous bricklayer and bu ilt many of the structures that you see around here in Indianol a with a third grade education But he worked to learn how to lay bricks, so those were some of the things that I learned from them. I remember my father saying that his shoes sometimes had so many holes in them that he didn't know how to he couldn't hardly walk to school, so he just quit. Then, my grandmother on my father's side would tell me stories about when she was married to his father, and stories about the plantation and working in Indi anola in some of the different hotels for white people, and those kind of stories.

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 4 N: What was it like for you growing up in this area? L: Well, I was kind of a rebel, so it was probably not as hard for me as it might have been for other people, because I realized very early what's right and what's not right. I remember when we were about third grade and we were downtown, we got into some real trouble. Well, we were in more than third grade, must have been about fifth or sixth grade, because we had what we called the Music Box downtown in Indianola, and I think that a group of us were downtown saying we were going to the white folks' school. We got in some real serious trouble, but we didn't really think that was anything wrong because we were just kind o f walking around the streets and singing We would go to the music box and listen to the music, but we couldn't go in when the white children were there. So I learned very early that white kids and black kids didn't really mix; we lived on the first street in Indianola that had a mixture of black and white people, but we lived on what we called the Bayou Side and there were no people across the street from us. The white people lived on the other side of the Bayou, so we had no neighbors across the street, a nd the white people who lived on our street lived up one step it was just one step, one step up, and that separated us. So, we weren't allowed to play. We played with the white kids until we got a certain age, and then, of course, they started to separate us. N: What age was that?

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 5 L: Probably about eleven. Nine, eleven, twelve, that kind of way. Sometimes we'd go up the streets and some of the kids, I guess when they got a little bit older, their parents had already told them that they weren't suppos ed to play with us, so they would stand back in the yard and sometimes they'd laugh at us or they'd sneer and different things. N: After you'd been friends? L: After we'd been friends. Well, I don't know if we were ever friends; we just didn't know, you know. I don't know if we called it friends, we were just children. As children do, children play together, with each other. N: What were the beginnings, or how do you remember the beginnings of the civil rights movement here? L: Well, I wasn't here during the beginning of the civil rights movement here, but I had gone away to Greenville, Mississippi. I was probably about eleventh grade and I had a child. One of the things that happened was that my neighbor had been working for this white lady, and sh e had a child who lived, like, two doors from me, and she had a child. She asked me if I would take her place as the maid for this white lady, and I did. I went to her house. She was very young, probably about your age. She had two or three children, maybe she was a little bit older than you; she had two or three children. I took Ruth's place this is the lady's name, her name was Ruth and I washed the dishes, cleaned the house, cooked the food, took care of the children, scrubbed the floors, and did everyth ing for her for about two and a half weeks or three weeks. When Ruth was able to go

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 6 back to work, she sent me a check for one dollar and fifty cents, and I said, no. I walked to her house, which was pretty far away and it's probably good that she wasn't ho me, because I probably would have been in more trouble, but I knocked on the back door, because you weren't permitted to go to the front door. So, I knocked on the back door and I said to her husband, I asked if she was there and he said no wel l, the car w asn't there either, and he said, no. I said, well, give her this check and tell her I'd rather work for her for free than to accept this dollar and fifty cents for the work that I did. I'd been working for white people before. In fact, I had been babysitti ng for a lady from Germany whose husband had been in the service, and I'd been babysitting for her. She was kind of different from that, but I remember working across the street, and this woman who lived across the street would bring her d te boots over there to polish, to make sure that I knew she was different from the woman that I was working for. So I had a lot of experience with white women, and by the time I left Indianola, I hated white women. So I had to work on myself for years, you know, with that. I remember going to the welfare department and trying to receive some support for me and the child, and they said, they wouldn't give me a quarter because they wanted to teach my sisters not to have a child. That there was cotton in the f ields that needed to be scraped so this was, like, December, I think, somewhere around December, and the cotton needed to be scrapped off the ground and shook the dirt and mud of, and you can do that, because I

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 7 won't give you any money. You know? So, I lef t Indianola and I went to Greenville. I c Bann o n High School, and I worked in Greenville at a clinic, and I learned in the clinic to be a clinical nurse, because I had gone to South Sunflower County Hospital, which is here in Indi anola for a nurse's aid class, you know, for a while. So, when I went to Greenville, I st arted working for Dr. Yelldale who was a black doctor, and Dr. Ceasin who was also a black doctor, and Dr. Br itton who was a black dentist. There was one clinic. We used to serve moms who were pregnant who lived on plantations, and they come in and have their baby and we would do the postnatal care for a couple of days and then they'd go home. So it would be that kind of turnover all the time; people would come into the clin i c, have the baby and go h ome Well, eventually what happened was that the sickle cell anemia that African American children were suffering, the white doctors would not go out and test the children. So, we went out and tested the children for the sickle cell anemia trait. That's how I really started to become involved in the civil rights movement, when I realized that this was something that people actually refused to do, you know, is to go out and test black children. With my mother, I had also go ne with her as a very young child, from as far as I can remember. She was one of the women who knew how to drive in our town, and she used to take people to the doctor. We would sit all day long in the car in the back of the doctor's office, waiting for th e white people to finish their treatment and everything, and then the doctor would see the

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 8 black people. We would stay there all day some days, and sit in the hot sun outside and wait, you know, for this to happen; for the doctors to finish. Sometimes, the doctor would come out and we'd be talking to the family, and he'd just be talking so loud about what was happening with the person. I thought, Lord, this isn't right. There's something kind of wrong with this. So, it was very early that I was introduced t o all of these things that were going on, in the Delta not just in Indianola, but the whole Delta. N: How old were you when you when you started going into the community to help the children with sickle cell anemia? L: Probably eighteen. Eighteen, nineteen, mm hm. N: Okay, so that would have been, like, late [19]50s or [19]60? L: [19]60s. N: Did you get involved in any kind of the organizing activists? L: I did. I worked in Greenville and I worked with voter registration with Mrs. Hamer. In fact I wore my shirt today N: You did work with Mrs. Hamer? L: I did work with Mrs. Hamer, and we worked at the Woolworth. We had a Woolworth's stor e in Greenville. See, Greenville was different from here. Greenville was a city, and we had big streets and all kinds of stuff in Greenville. They had lots of businesses, so we did things like helping to integrate th e lunch counter in Greenville. We did voter registration in Greenville. We took a Klansman to court, you know? For un American activity across the street from us. We did a lot of things and we had a lot

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 9 of problems because you have to be real careful if you were in the civil rights movement. But I married a guy who was a civil rights worker. N: What was his name? L: His name was David Novick S o, I worked in the civil rights movement until, I think, probably 1966. Then we left and went to Wisconsin. N: Do you remember any specific incidents or could you tell us what the meetings were like or what canvassing was like? L: Well, one of the things tha t we did was to go door to door and talk to people about registering to vote. Sometimes, we'd get very positive responses, and sometimes we didn't get very positive responses because people had not voted. So, voting at that particular time was not somethin g that they felt free to engage in, so we had to really convince people that it was their right to vote and that they could register to vote. We would walk people down to the polls if they wanted to go; tell them what they had to do. At that time, they had to know how to they had to read certain things and they had to know the preamble, or they'd have to do something in order to be able to vote. We just kept going house to house, door to door bring people into the office and really work with them, help th em to feel comfortable with it. In our meetings, we'd sing Freedom Songs; we'd talk about future things, for people and how, if you voted, what could happen, all of this. A lot of times, we did canvassing, where we would be in a park or we would be in fron t of a business that we felt was segregated and, well, they were all really segregated and one that we felt that people

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 10 publicly used more than they did other places. We would stand outside of it and sing Freedom Songs and try to get this business to chan ge. Then, I remember when the hour and wage law came to Mississippi, and the cotton pickers, the people who had been picking cotton and picking cotton was really something that was, to me, it was devastating, because I couldn't ever really pick cotton. I n ever really I picked cotton, but I wasn't one of those persons who could ever pick two hundred pounds of cotton. If you wanted to make money, you had to be able to pick cotton and you had to be able to have two or three hundred pounds, because you only got five dollars, you know, if you got two hundred pounds. So I always went home with a dollar or a little bit more than a dollar, because I probably picked seventy five or a hundred pounds, and my friend would pick two hundred pounds. I always wondered how s he could do that and I couldn't do it. My father used to say, well, you're going to have to learn how to do something else, because you sure don't know how to pick any cotton. But chopping cotton was different. To me, it was real devastating, because the e conomy in Mississippi, and especially in small towns I can't say Greenville so much, but I'm almost sure depended upon the cotton, you know? So, people picked cotton, they had money. If they had money, they could buy things. So, the economy would flourish, because people thousands of people were going to the cotton fields every day, and very few white people went to the fields. I saw white people in the fields, but this was probably a group of people that lived on a plantation,

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 11 that was the straw boss's peo ple and that was probably his cotton. But, when cotton was king, we were slaves. That's what I say: when cotton was king, we were slaves. We may not have been in the same condition that our forefathers and mothers were, but we were doing the same thing. We were picking cotton and we were getting up at two or three o'clock in the morning, catching trucks to go out to the cotton fields. We were standing out there on cotton rows and it was a hundred and twenty degrees in the heat when we were chopping cotton, st and in the cold weather, it was very cold. We were outside; pick cotton inside So, this was quite an experience for African American people, but this was economy, this is what they were able to do. Some people worked on the plantation as people who plow ed the fields and worked that way, but most of the people picked cotton and chopped cotton for a living. There were some professional people, but probably not as many as now. N: When people were going to the voting places, were they having trouble there o nce they got there? I mean, you canvassed to get them out, but what happened once they got to the polls? L: Well, sometimes they would pass the test and sometimes they wouldn't. But I think just people saying yes, that they would register to vote, was a r eally big thing. But we really had a lot of trouble with being attacked; people attacking us verbally and sometimes physically, trying to keep people out of the polls to vote. Because voting meant that there was change, you know? Going to happen, and that was the power that people

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 12 had, was to vote. So, naturally, people want to keep people from having the power; or, to be free. If you're free, then that means that you're equal to other people and that you have the same rights as other people have. So, it wa s difficult. We would, you know, like in some of the demonstrations, sometimes the police we would have to deal with police brutality and all kinds of stuff. N: Do you have any thoughts about the White Citizens Council s? What it did, or its activity in t his area? L: Well, what do you mean White Citizens Council ? N: Well, we were learning about the White Citizens Council s kind of being maybe the equivalent of the Klan; the Klan, maybe more further s outh, but the White Citizens Council s really being power ful white interests trying to N: Well, now, the White Citizens Council were the people that you saw every day; people who were merchants, preachers, and all kinds of people. The Klan would be henchmen. See, you have to understand the difference. Th e difference is that, some of the people that you saw every day may have been in the Klan, but most of the people weren't. The Klan was their employees. They were the ones who did that work of making sure that people were fearful and that they didn't step over the boundaries that they had set for them. But the Council were the people who gave orders to the Klan. See, we have to understand that there was a real difference. Not everyone in the Klan was a councilman, you see? But the Klansmen could

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 13 be a counci lman. You see, there's a real difference, to me, that those people who ran certain businesses were not the people on those horses and with their heads covered up. Some of them maybe have been, but most of them were not. They were the people that you see ev ery day, smiling at you in the particular businesses. You may be paying your rent to them, you may be buying your cars from them, you may be buying your groceries from them, you see? There's a difference. The Klansmen were those that actually went and did the business of making people frightened so that they didn't step out of those boundaries that they councilmen had for them. N: So, did you feel like any white person that you saw was part of this? L: That everybody that I saw that was white was a part of it? N: Well, because you said, these were all the people that you saw in the street. Is that the perception, or was it the reality? L: I think that was the reality. I think that it was an ideology, and so the ideology is that you're inferior and that we keep you inferior because you're not so you're not equal to us as white people. So that, if I, then, support that ideology by any means, then I am in belief of that same old thing. If I am white and I support it, I can be very confused about you because I don't know who you are. You know? You can smile at me in the daytime, and at night, you can terrorize my family. So, I don't know you. I think that part of the neuroses with black people has to do with, they don't know you. They don't know who you are. S o, they had to act in a way that

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 14 kept them safe, that they felt safe, because they don't know who you are, you know? Just because you're white doesn't necessarily mean that you're the same, but because you are white, you could be. So, the neuroses is that, I have to be who I am in the black community, and when I'm with white people, I have to be this, because I don't know if I'm talking to somebody that could come or go and tell somebody, or I can't say certain things that may seem disrespectful, because at nighttime, these people turn into somebody different. You know? N: That's really powerful. What about the Freedom Schools? Did you participate in the Freedom Schools at all? L: I did, but I didn't participate in Freedom Schools here. I participated in F reedom Schools in Milwaukee, because during the time that court order to integrate the schools came, we had left Greenville and had gone to we went to Chicago first, and during the march in Soldier Field in Chicago, we were there. Then stayed in Chicago f or a while and then went on to Milwaukee. We were sponsored by CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality, and the people who were CORE people. We were also sponsored by the League of Women Voters in Waukesha County, which is in Wisconsin, because one of the pe rsons who was a college student and who was also one of the civil rights workers was also from that area, Shaw. She married a black guy and they moved to Shaw, so the League of Women Voters sponsored them, and then sponsored us to Wisconsin. We started wor king with CORE as soon as we got there, you know? So, I

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 15 worked in the civil rights movement and I'm still working in the civil rights movement. I've never stopped. What I mean by never stopped is that I say to students at Mississippi Valley State Universit y and other places that, I'm here, and I'm back in Mississippi because I'm still alive. Most of the people who worked with me are dead. Including my husband. So, we have to carry on this whole idea of equality, that all of us are equal and there's no inequ ality in God. If we allow ourselves to continue to feel or act inferior, then we're allowing the inequality that doesn't really exist, to exist. So, I continue, but I don't do it in terms of protesting or anything like that. I work on the school board here to hopefully make sure that our kids are receiving equal education. I've worked in a lot of the Title I programs to work with parents and students. I've done parenting classes; I've done motivation classes for students. I worked in Inverness and Sunflower schools, to work with parents and with students in their merging. I worked in Mississippi Valley for the College Assistance for Migrants program, which brings some of the students who are farmers, whose parents never got a chance to go to college, and get their freshman year paid for. So, I worked in that program. I'm now working with Health Disparities, trying to make sure that the health disparities in Mississippi, that those gaps are closed, that those gaps are closed between our white kids and our blac k kids in education. All of those things are important, and if we allow them to happen, the gaps just get bigger and bigger and bigger. Lots of our kids

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 16 are in jail; there's just so much stuff that's going on since the civil rights movement. It's just anot her form of the same thing, you know. N: So you see wide disparities today? L: I see wide disparities, and that's what we have to work to do, is to keep closing those. Then we have to help people change their own thinking, because if you're always been t aught that you're inferior, at some point, that becomes subconscious. Then, as it becomes subconscious, it plays itself out in everything that you do. It's what I know to be internalized oppression, you know? It goes from child to child to generation to ge neration, until it just is very widespread, mm hm. Unless we get it out of us, you know, you have to work on yourself. I'm saying to people all the time, you have to work on you, because you pass this on to people. I had to work on myself to stop hating wh ite women, and I'm very serious about it. I have a friend in the civil rights movement, her name was Peggy Quinn. She moved to Jackson, Mississippi. Peggy and I were very good friends. She was from Wisconsin. I was in the civil rights movement too, in Gree nville, and she became my very best friend while we were in the civil rights movement. I began to realize that, like, all white women aren't alike. When I moved to Wisconsin, I went to Marquette University, and I went to school with all white classes somet imes. Sometimes I was the only black person in the whole class, but by the time I got there, I was all right with me. I remember when we used to read things, like in American literature, and the dialect of people and how the professor, who was a white

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 17 prof essor, sometimes would not want to read Huckleberry Finn because they would call the word nigger. I would say, well, that's the literature. You know, you don't have to not say that, because I understand it. So, I had a lot to learn. I had a lot to let go o f. I had a lot of loving me to really do, and to move to a whole different level in my own thinking. Now I really try to work with people to help them move to a different level in their own thinking, because that internalized oppression helps us to oppress ourselves and to keep oppressing each other until we don't realize that it's not the freedom that somebody else can give us; that we're already free, and we have to live a whole new life of being free people, and we have to live like free people and we ha ve to act like free people. We have to talk like free people, you know? We can't be two people anymore. We can't have this neuroses that we've had, to say, well, I don't know if I can trust you, so I have to act like this, this way. Then, when I get over h ere, my personality has to be different, and I have to be very confused all the time to do that, to be trying to pick you out from somebody else. So, I just have to be who I am, and you either accept me or you don't. If you don't, it's all right. I want pe ople to come to that so we can really love ourselves. Unless we love ourselves, we can't really love each other u nless we let go of all the stuff, because slavery was devastating to people, you know? People don't realize that, and it's devastating right n ow to people, because we got so much hate; so much fear. So much love, so much unawareness still going on. Don't have any money, you know? Our kids don't have any

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 18 money. They're selling drugs and everything 'cause they ain't got no money. They don't have a ny jobs. We don't have jobs for kids, and sometimes we don't have jobs for adults. We have people who are in positions now that are African American people, but not a whole lot, you know? So, we still have a lot to do with ourselves, and I say that this is important to black folks and white folks. I went through a lot of sensitivity training; lots of nurturing programs and all sorts of different things, but it was also helping me. When we had what we called cultural diversity, where white people and black p eople work together, I don't know if that ever happens here. I remember being on a cultural diversity program when I first came back to Mississippi, and all the people who were there were black women; black women, maybe one white guy no, maybe one man, an d maybe one other white person, and everybody else in the whole thing were black women and this white woman was teaching it, you see? So, we have to be real if we have to change the things that are happening and if we are really going to be true to the peo ple who have given their life. You can't give nothing but your life. You know? I mean, this is blood stuff. You give your blood for this. I say to my students and I'm not teaching at Valley, I was counseling and I will say to students, when they would go and say, oh, this ain't civil rights movement and not about anything, black people this and black people that, I have to have a lesson with them. I have to say, wait a minute, now. You're here at this university because somebody gave their life and that's all they had to give. That's all

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 19 we have to give is our whole life, and that's what we've been doing, giving our whole life so people can be free to live this life that God has created for them to live. Another question. N: Can you spea k about the role o f religion in the movement? L: Well, most of the churches were places where people met, you know. One of the things that I learned from Fannie Lou Hamer and I always call her Mrs. Hamer. People say Fannie Lou, but I say Mrs. Hamer. She was one of the role models for me. I've had great women role models, and guys, you know. I'm not saying men haven't been good role models, but these women have stood the test of time. They have stood where I think what happens, a lot of times, is that maybe the men were more vulnerable, you know? Maybe they would be the ones to be killed as an example and everything. So I guess that, rather than put them out front so that could happen to them, that the women would start to come forth and do this. But Mrs. Hamer was a very str ong spiritual woman. That's what I got from her, more than anything, is that she was rooted and grounded in God; rooted and grounded in spirit, rooted and grounded in her religion, and she believed more than anything t h at this was right, that this was God' s will for His people and we say His, but I know God is neither male nor female, but we keep trying to use the terminology. But there was a song that we used to sing that she would sing, and I hear it all the time in my soul. I'm going to do what the spiri t say do. And that was, to me, when she would say, I'm going to do what the spirit say do, I'll go to jail if the

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 20 spirit say go, I'll go to hell if the spirit say go see, this was commitment. That was commitment to me, and I learned that song. That has bee n my commitment, is that I do what the spirit say do. So, because she taught me so well, simply by being who she was I was now a protg and she taught me line by line. But, what she taught me is how she carried herself. She taught me about what she stood for. She taught me about the fact that she was not afraid to be who she was and she was not afraid to say what she had to say. It cost a lot. I know it cost a lot. It cost her her life, in fact. This is why I think that those of us who are left, we have a job to do. We can't just have a nice house and a car and a job. Our job has to be our work, and our work is what we do for the fulfillment of this ideal; our work is what we do for the fulfillment of God's promise to his people, you know? It's not just ha ving a career. I keep going to training, I keep going to this. In fact, I brought some of my stuff to and this I was going to show you; this is a plaque that I have that I love, and it just simply says, thanks. This is from Milwaukee, and this is from a gr oup of moms who are on welfare. Their children have been taken out to their home, and I was their parent and teacher, and the first coordinator that they ever had for a family resource center in Wisconsin, and became the associate executive director of one of the largest children, family, and community serving agencies in Wisconsin. But that came right from Indianola. It came right from our community; right from our neighborhood. Right from the civil rights movement, right from what I had learned from Mrs. Hamer, and

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 21 right from what I had learned from people all around me, the way we lived and the way people cared about each other, and the love that I saw happening in our community and our neighborhood. So, I was able to share that. But you can't give what y ou don't have. So, this is how this group of women, I would say to our directors, and they would complain about these moms, these mothers, all the time; that they take the children out of the home because there were drugs or there was this, this, this. Wha t I would say to them is, they can't get what they don't have, so you've got to help them get it, and when they get it they can give it, and then things will be better. So I developed this program and I would talk to parents well, we had a parenting curric ulum, but my curriculum had to do with caring about them and helping them to care about each other. One of the things that I would do to do that would be to give every mother a birthday party. You know? People who had never had a birthday party, and to say everybody in this group is going to give you a card, but not something that they buy. We would make a page for a book, and then we would all say all the great things that we thought about that individual. Then we would bind that book and we would give it to that person. Then, every day we would come in support. I would say to moms, if you get a dollar from your welfare check, buy you some Careborn. Now, you know what Careborn is, right? E: Yeah, the bubble bath? L: The bubble bath, right.

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 22 N: Like Careb orn, take me away? [Laughter] L: Right, like Careborn, take me away. So, you buy you some Careborn with a dollar, and when the children go to sleep, sit in the Careborn. Nurture yourself. Love yourself. We would bring little things, like maybe a pair of e arrings or a book or something like that, but we would be present, and then we'd support each other and stuff like this. That's how things began to change, and that's how things change when people care about each other and they really love and I'm doing th e very same thing right now at Valley. You know? I'm at the bottom of the totem pole. I've come from the top of my field to the bottom of the totem pole, but what I'm doing is nurturing moms and talking to them, and every day, talking to them on the teleph one so we can stop the infant mortality; stop our children from dying. So, that has to come from inside. But, if you can't feel it if you're just so alienated from yourself, you can't feel that, and it's about uniting and bringing all that back together an d being able to let it come forth from you, for that nurturing, for that care, and to really stop our atrocities toward each other. So, it's a lot to do, and it all comes from what we've learned and what we've done in the civil rights movement; from our nu rturing each other and from our caring, and from what I've gained and garnered from the people around me who are willing to give their life, who are willing to go extra miles for each other and for other people. So, things change when we change. There's no change out there. We keep on doing it. Next year, it jumps up as something else. Last year was teen pregnancy. Now,

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 23 it's unemployment, and now it's healthcare, but it's all us. It's all stu f f that's happening inside of us that we can't get rid of, because we sometimes don't even know it's there, it's such a part of us. You know? It has become such a part of us that we don't even know. Sometimes, we don't even know our prejudices, you know? So, if you're not aware of you, you're not aware of those things th at you have internalized that automatically play out. They just automatically happen. So, I've gone to I'm a minister in the Universal Foundation for Better Living, and better living is my business. That's what I do, because I know that life is for living, and there's no poverty in God at all, and it's not so we are all the same, we've just got different ways of being in the world, and we all bring in. It's comes, your mom tells you this, your dad tells you this, your culture tells you this; my culture tell s me this, somebody else's culture tells them that, and we all meet up somewhere in the world. So I say the new world, America, being a conglomeration of all the other worlds, has brought us together so we learn one thing: that's how to love. N: That's ve ry inspirational. L: Just how to love. That's the one thing; if we learn that for real I'm not talking about talking about it, I'm not talking about different groups singing about it. I'm talking about, until we can really, sure enough feel that for one a nother, feel it deep, so deep inside that we won't permit ourselves; that we can get rid of the hate, that we can get rid of the fear, which is more damaging, sometimes, than hate, because fear causes hate. So, we

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 24 really have to work on ourselves, and each individual has to give up stuff that keeps them anchored in atrocities, you know, towards anyone. Forgiveness is a big thing. Black folks can't forgive white folks, and white folks can't forgive black folks, and we try to smile at each other when we see e ach other, and then, soon as we turn our back, we go you know, there's that white guy. There's that white woman. I know this is true, because I really had to work on myself. I'm grateful for the people who were around me, that really helped me to beg in to understand that. It's not like I haven't had any problems, because I have; we all do. It's not like I don't think, sometimes, even being back in Mississippi, I don't think sometimes that I need to get out of here, but I stay. I've gone back to Wiscon sin, and the Holy Spirit said, you've got to go back. I said, I'm not moving back anymore, because I don't want to pack up all this stuff. I move, I do this, I want to stand here and I want to be who I am and I want to let this happen; that I have to do. N ow, you have something to do and you have something to do, and every student has something to do, but the greatest thing that we have to do is to change within our own selves. N: I want to get back to something you said earlier, mentioned earlier, about t he women, with the role of women and maybe they took a leadership role because they were less threatened, or they were maybe not as you know, maybe they were safer, that the men were getting more retaliation or whatever. But, reading some of the history and kind of a newcomer to this history but I was reading about when June Johnson

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 25 protested and she got beat up, and her mother protested that, and she was in jail with some people L: She was in jail with Fannie Lou. N: there were a lot of, and yes L: She was a child. N: Yes, and Fannie Lou was in there and she was beat up, too. So, there was that threat of violence towards women, too. Could you explain any other reason why women might have been taking all of these leadership roles? Why they might have been connecting people? Do you have any other because it seems like there was that threat for them, too. L: Oh, yeah. I'm not saying that they weren't threatened, but not the degree. N: Not to the degree. L: Not to the degree that men were, becaus e I think that and there were women who, just like men, who were hung also, during slavery and all of that. I'm not saying that none of that happened, but I am saying that I think that just the fact that their feelings for the kinds of things that were goi ng on and the availability, too because a lot of times, the men were working and doing other things, but there were men who were in the movement, and even before this movement started, remember, a lot of the abolitionists were men, you k now? I'm not saying saying that the women were an attraction for me, because I was a girl. So, we were with the women all the time and we felt our safety and everything with them, because the men kind of stayed together and the women and

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 26 the girls were t ogether. I think that, because I was with the women, I saw their strengths, and I saw their willingness. I'm sure that it happened with men right here in Indianola. I was not here in Indianola, as I said. I had gone to Greenville, and I met Mrs. Hamer in G reenville. I didn't meet her here in Indianola, but I met her there. I remember how, when we were having a meeting at one of the churches in Greenville, and the Ku Klux Klan was having a rally on the highway in Greenville. They had said to us not to go to the COFO office we were with COFO and they told us not to go to the COFO office, because of the threat of the Ku Klux Klan being in town. We were getting ready for the rally in the evening. So, I had gone ad said not go to the COFO office. I was walking down the street and these two guys, these two white guys with rifles on the back of their truck, started to follow me. You know, one of the things is that you can go up on somebody's porch and pretend that y ou're going in the house and that would deter them, so that's what I did. I went and put my hand on the knob and pretended I was going in the house, but the door was locked, so I couldn't open the door. I stayed there and they went around the corner and I ran around the back of the house, but I went on to the COFO office, and I went inside. There wasn't anybody there. So, I decided that I was just going to sit there, and somebody came and said, you're not supposed to be here, because the Klan is in town. Yo u have to get out of the office. Now, I'm not even afraid; I'm trying to take a nap, you know? So, we went to the church and it's

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 27 the same evening and in the church, we had started the rally. Mrs. Hamer was to be the speaker, and that's one of the things I will always remember about her; well, one of the things, among all of the thousands of things. And the lights went off in the church and the people were standing all outside and everything and the police came, because they thought that this was going to be a time when the Klan may have cut the wires and everything, and that we were in immediate danger. So, the police and everybody came and surrounded the place. The men in the church, I remember, got up to struggle what they used to do is put a copper penn y behind the fuse, because they're fuse boxes at that time, and they were going to see if they could do something with the fuse box, but Mrs. Hamer stood up. She had not started to speak. She stood up and she began to sing, this little light of m ine, I'm g oing to let it shine and the people who were fearful started to sing quietly for a while, but then, after a while, it was just blasting all outside, all everywhere, you know? So I'm saying just to take leadership to bring encouragement, to bring hope whe n there's fear, and all kinds of things, so I'm just saying that I paid attention to those things. Those things, for me, came from women. Whereas, my spiritual leader is a woman also, the Reverend Doctor Johnnie Colemon So, spirit to spirit, that's how I have always dealt with people, is spirit to spirit. Because I was with my mom when a lot of these things happened, with the health disparities and all kinds of things, and the women were the ones who were at home most of the time. The men

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 28 were the ones who were doing the work, you know? Like my father and the people in our neighborhood; they dug the holes for the bathrooms together, they did all the outside work, they'd kill the hogs together and stuff like that, but the immediate nurturing was right there with the women. They were quilting and they were talking, or they were talking about something, and so that's where I was, was in the center of that. I'm saying that I received that from women, you know? So, Mrs. Hamer was one of those women that I receive d that from, and I think that the women were very prolific in the movement. Not that men were any less prolific, but it's who I really bonded with and that's where I received my nurturing from; it was very spiritual. I could feel spirit more with them. N: I guess what I was wondering is that, do you think that that, what you were just describing, is something that was really helpful to the movement, in getting people organized and involved? L: I do, I do. The nurturing, the spirit of it all; yes, I do. I remember being at Valley, and a woman was asking a question. She said, does everyone in the movement have to know how to sing? It was just so funny, and I said to myself, no, everybody doesn't have to know how to sing, but everybody got to feel it, you kno w? There's something about feeling it, because it supersedes being fearful; doubtful. It gives you a forward look. It opens up a receptivity that isn't there when you're just kind of being, let me see, not involved. I think singing involved everybody. I th ink that was a very big part of our movement together, is that we felt that we were one with each

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 29 other. We worked with each other and we kept each other really safe and close, as much as we could, you know. That doesn't mean that people didn't get hurt, a nd it doesn't mean that people didn't get killed or anything, but we were able, somehow, to stay above the quitting, you know? We kept going, even though there were people who were falling by the wayside; we kept going, because the goal then was freedom. F reedom is not just a word, it's a lifestyle. It's a livingness. So, it was alive and moving toward that, but we didn't start it. This was started years and years and years ago. We were just the people who moved it to this level, to that level, and I just f elt that a lot of the women who didn't have to go to work during the day and everything, and support their families, because a lot of the women didn't work. They were home. That's one of the things that people can't hardly understand, is that a lot of wome n worked and they still did it, but a lot of the women were home during the day with their children, at home taking care of them. But I'm very, I can feel deeply, and so I could feel that from the women that I was working with. It's not that I didn't feel some things from the men, but not at the depth level, and perhaps it's because I am a woman, that I was able to feel it deeper. Also, because I believe in spiritual things, and that's how I operate, all the time. So, that was important for me. It was impor tant for me to have had that in my life as I was growing up, so that I can do what I'm doing right now.

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 30 N: Do you feel that people are aware of all of the things that happened? Do you think people know history very well? Do you think it's presented in sch ools? L: No, I don't. One of the things about history, and especially African American history, it happened during the [19]60s, but it doesn't happen now. [19]60s and [19]70s and part of the [19]80s, but in the [19]90s it wasn't as popular, because I thin k that we were looking at something totally different; trying to make sure that people had different jobs and all this, and people hardly ever talk about African American history anymore. You know, I would like for people to know, and if you have ever look ed at the black social thought, you know anything about black social thought? N: I don't know. I don't think so. [Laughter] L: Oh, that would be something good for your university. In fact, at Marquette, I took black social thought. It had been taught by one of the priests, who was a white priest. Then, by the time I got into a social work program, the man who taught it had been in the civil rights movement, and his name was Dr. Howard Fuller. Part of our social work course included black social thought, and the Third World Press you can it online, Third World Press, if you go and look at Third World Press it begins even from when the slaves were brought from Africa, all the way through the civil rights movement, all the way through all the things that a re happening, even up until probably the [19]90s, and it's by Third World Press and it's called Afro American Studies I would like for everybody to really begin to

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 31 understand why people do what they do and how they do what they do to survive, you know? Bu t I know, as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ and that's what I say is that it is not enough to survive. That's not it. Surviving is not living. I mean, it's preserving life, but it's not living, and so we need to live, not just survive. So, surv ival is how we're still doing this thing, you know? That's where the fear sets in, it's because people are still trying to just survive, just survive. You have to step out of your little box, and you have to get from behind the chalk line. You have to step out into something deeper and greater in order to live, and if you allow people to keep you back there, and if you allow people to keep you in that frame of m ind, that little box, then you're never going to live, you know? But you've got to be willing to do like other people. They risked their life, you know? In order for other people to be able to live. So, it's not a risk, and there's no real risk in living; to really live life. But, if you're only trying to survive and that's what we're doing righ t now. I'm working with parents all the time; in fact, I was walking to another minister just Thursday night, and I was talking to him about a house for a family, and he was looking at me like, Reverend Lundsford, why are you always trying to bother people ? So I was saying to him, I said, you know this family that I'm visiting and I do home visiting sometimes I get out there and it' s way out there, in Slaughter. I'm driving all the time out there, and I get out there, this young woman is doing well. She rem inds me of myself, right? She's got these kids and she's in this house and she's in a trailer, and when I go out there

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 32 and it rains, I can't get to the house because the trailer is in water. Now, I've been in a situation like that. So, I'm saying all the t ime, all the time this comes to my mind: I'm going to get her a house. How am I going to do this? So, my question to her one day was, would you like to move? [Laughter] I mean, it's simple, isn't it? She said, no. I said, well, listen, let me ask you anoth er question. How are you going to fix up your place? You know you've got five children. You've got four children, you're going to have another baby, so how are you going to do this? How are you going to fix up the place? Well, she would get started on this but then she'd get to feeling bad. But one thing about it is this: she was an excellent, excellent, excellent mom. I mean, she'd get those kids up every day at 5:30, and she sends one child out at about six o'clock on the bus, and she said, ooh, I be try ing to take me a nap, and then I get back up and I make breakfast or the other kids, and then I send them out. Then she had another little baby, and she'd be there. Then she said, then, I've got to take care of this, and then I got to get dinner done and t his, this, this, and I love her. We are talking all the time. So I say, well, you know, now let me ask you this and all I'm doing right now is trying to get her to change her mind. I'm just asking questions to get her to change her mind, to know that she c an live better. She can have a better house. She doesn't have to settle for this. You know? But right now, that's where she is. So, I don't want to try to make her feel that it's not good, and I say, well, you get up every morning and you I don't get up ev ery morning and cook breakfast

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 33 at my house, you know? But every day my granddaughter lives with me and my granddaughter doesn't want to eat at home; she wants to eat with all the kids at school, so every day I give her money so she can eat with the kids, b ecause if I fix her food, she's going to have to eat it, but when she's with the kids, she'll eat. But this mom gets up every, every morning, 5:00. 5:30, she's got breakfast ready. Now, she doesn't have an income. Have you ever lived without an income? Jus t tell the truth. No. Have you? No. Absolutely not. She has no income, like money that you put in your hand. No income. But she gets food stamps and she has a medical card for the kids. I asked her one day; I sad, have you ever thought about going to TANF? And TANF is the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. I say, have you ever thought about going to TANF and everything? She said, I thought about it, but they said I had to work at the catfish farm, and I will not work at the catfish farm, because it's devastating work. It's just like the cotton field. You see? She's made some decisions about this. So, what she does, is her mama gives her money, her sister gives her money and stuff like this, but she doesn't have any income. She don't have no money, see. I'm telling you that this stuff goes down from generation to generation to generation, and it has to stop with me. It has to stop with you. It has to stop with her. So, I'm working with moms all the time, saying, do you want to go back to school? What do you want to do? This, this, this. It's hard to go to school with children. I went to school, I went back to school when my youngest son who's now

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 34 forty years old was getting in first grade all day. I went to Marquette University. But I wouldn't have been a ble to go if it hadn't been for educational opportunity programs. I wouldn't have been able to pay Marquette University, because it's very expensive. I still owe them money, you see? So, I'm saying that we've got to start to say, this ain't living. This is just trying to survive. I know it was trying to survive, because I would come from schools some days because I couldn't work and go to school at that particular time and I would come from school some days and try to look up at my house, see if my lights w ere still on. I'm telling you: see, I know this is not just survival. I am not kidding. Would look up to see if my lights were still on. Then, if they weren't, I would have to spend time down at the electric comp any before I went to Marquette which was dow n the street from Marquette trying to get my lights back on. Then, I used to be able to study while I was sitting there, waiting for the people. Then they start doing muzak, and I couldn't study. So, there's all kinds of things, all kinds of stuff that peo ple don't know that people really go through. So, I've been trying to get I'm going to get her a house. [Laughter] I'm going to get her a house. But she's living in this trailer, and let me tell you how people change, though. I was going out there, and it so much trash and grass and everything all around it and everything, that when I would get out of my car and it had been raining, I'd have to push my leg way over like this and kind of get out so I wouldn't step down in the water. The mud was kind of soft. So, I would go up under you know, there's a big truck

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 35 out there that doesn't run, and the lumber was laying over this way, so I jump under there, and then they had, the steps were about this far apart because she's trying to have a step at her house. I wo uld get on the bricks, the big brick things that they had laying up there with some wood on top of them, and sometime the wood would be broken, so I step over this way and step over that way, but I'll go in that house. When I would get in there, we'd talk. But listen. One day I went out there, and this man said I was it was her brother or her cousin, or maybe even her boyfriend, and they had gotten so used to me coming and talking and everything to her and then bringing things for the baby and everything. S o, one day I went out there, they had put some gravel so that I didn't have to walk in mud. See? So I thought, oh, thank you, that's really good. This is what I'm talking about. I didn't stop going. I haven't been out there now in about two or three weeks, and I need to be there. I mean, I need to go, because I don't want her to think that I have abandoned her. So, this is the work that we do at the university. Don't nobody know at the university we doing this. They just know on some piece of paper somewher e that they got some names of some people. They don't know how people living, you know? They don't know that there are twenty five people living in this little trailer, and when you walk not this one, but another one and when you walk on the floor, the flo or kind of shakes like that. You know? People don't know these things. They don't know this.

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 36 N: Yeah, that's kind of a question that I have in my mind, how do you get different groups of people to see each other? Because there's always so much fighting ac ross the issues, and there's different sides. How do you get people to see each other, to see that this is happening? L: Well, I'm not real sure that you well, we're trying to do something in Indianola now through the Delta Health Alliance, and ther e was a meeting on Thursday night. I did attend that meeting. It does sound like what you're saying is that there's so much territorialism that my little program and my little this and my little that. But what we did in Milwaukee is have coalitions. You kn ow? I think collaboration and coalitions are the ways that you can come together and talk to people across the aisle as they say in D.C. across the aisle, and help them to see that this is really not about you and your little old small, in your end, though this is about the life of people. See, when you go to lunch, you may pay $125 dollars for a plate and throw half of it away, and somebody would be happy, excuse me, just to have something to eat. Doesn't mean that people don't have enough to eat, because most of our families do, and where I'm working, they have food stamps and stuff. But, a lot of times, I used to teach people how to do shopping; nutrition and stuff like that. Well, this has always been my work. And to keep people from not having food at the end of the month and stuff like this, it's to start teaching them how to do certain kinds of things. But, every agency has what I call a mandate, and they have to serve people. They don't always have enough people to serve, so you go

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 37 to them and you co llaborate with them, and you say, look, I got these families over here. If you do this for me, this is what I'll do for you. That's what I do, and that's what I've been doing for a long time, saying to somebody, okay, you don't have this at your place, but I got this over there and if you do th is for me this is what I'll do for you. If you let me kids come and you teach them aquatics, I'll let your kids come and they can do computer. This is how we do it. But you have to respect what everybody is else is doing and know that that's their field, and then invite them to come in and do some of the things. I don't believe in infighting, and I'm not passive. I just watch the scenario and say, now, that's over, what can you do? See, that's what we have to do. Thi s freedom that is all of ours is about all of us. Not just your little family and my little family; it's about all of us. You are not any more free than I am. Let me tell you why: because, if certain people don't have things, they don't respect what you ha ve. Look at all of the world. Why are we at war? Because some stuff they don't have they think they ought to have, or some ways of being they think you ought to be. We haven't learned that very one thing, and that's that love which sees good. Whatever you' re doing is good, whatever this person is doing is good, and then bring all of that together. It's enough for all of us. We got enough to go around for everybody. We have enough in this United States for everybody to have more than they need, and that real ly is the truth. We have so much stuff. How many pairs of shoes do you have?

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 38 N: [Laughter] Oh L: Do you know how many pairs you have? N: A lot. I don't know exactly. L: A lot. You don't know exactly how many you have, but you ain't got but two f eet. Somebody else could be wearing twelve pairs of those shoes, do you see? But I'm saying that we just kind of get this tunnel vision and stuff, and we've got so much more than we need. Every Saturday today is Saturday I bet you if I drove down one of these streets, everybody'd be having a rummage sale. They can't sell it if don't nobody buy it. But somebody needs it, so somebody's over there giving it; and they don't want it, so they want to get some money for it so they can go buy some more stuff, you know what I'm saying? So, I'm just saying, it's for us to be more conscious, you know, and to have a different level of consciousness; a different level of awareness, and where you are bringing people to that level, rather than go to that level. Talk to y our friends, people. I say to people, they say, oh, I hate her. I say, well, why? You got two legs. She got two legs. Isn't that nice? She dresses differently from you, so what difference does it make? She's doing what she's doing, you're doing what you're doing. So, that's so important. I think that this is what the civil rights movement was all about. We just didn't have the same rights that other people had, and because we didn't, we had to die for this. I tell these kids, this cost, this cost. It cost t he ultimate. All you have is your life, and that's what it cost, so you can live and not just try to struggle every day. You've

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 39 got to come on, you know? You've got to come on and live now. So, we got to work, you know? We have to work with everybody, for everybody's sake. Now that I'm finished preaching N: No, right. You touched on so many things, as I'm you touched on some of these larger questions; I think you've already addressed them. You've been wonderful. Do you have any ? E: No, that was great. N: Any questions. I mean, I think you've already even answered this, how did being in the movement impact your life? L: Well, it is my life. I mean, it has impacted my whole life. It really has. But it's not just the movement. I went int o the movement on a prayer, and that was, God, show me y ourself. Show me how I know the things that y ou have shown me as a child. Teach me how to understand them. Teach me of y ourself, and then I will come back to Mississippi and I will teach y our people. But I was ten years old, and I didn't even know I was going out of Mississippi. I was just trying to get religion. But my whole life changed at that moment, when I was ten. So, this has just been a journey of moving. Then, you know, when you're kids, you d on't know what you're saying, but it became so clear to me that I wasn't the one who was saying it; it was the spirit in my saying it, through me. As I went through the civil rights movement, and so many things, I said, now, if I had known that this is wha t it was going to be, I probably wouldn't ask God to do this, you know? I'm serious. But, because I was open and receptive to really learning,

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 40 because as children we were taught that God was in the sky and going to really get us and stuff like this. When w e were getting ready to, what we call in the Baptist church, get religion, we have to be on the mourner's bench for ten days. So, for ten days, you couldn't play or anything; you had to pray, and you had to, you know, get ready for the religion. So, people were coming back to church in the evening and they were saying they saw their hands turn white and I never did see that. I was saying to myself, now, what is all this that they're seeing? You have to have evidence for people that you had religion. So, you had to say something had changed about you, you know. That's what I was listening to. So, my friends who are my age we were all ten, probably nine and ten and eleven and we were supposed to, by the end of those two weeks, confess that we had religion and soul. I'm trying to make sure that I know, I don't want to just say something, because I really wanted to do that. I really wanted religion. They would be saying they saw the sun dance, and I was saying, well, I got to try to see that. [Laughter] I would be standing, and I remember standing my mom's yard and she was out there washing one day, and she had this big pot and fire under the pot. She was boiling the sheets and all of that stuff is what they used to do; well, we don't do that any more. So, I'm lo oking up at the sun and I'm trying to see thi s ; I got to see this sun dance, because if I don't see a dance, I'm not going to have religion. I wanted to go back in the evening to tell them that I had religion, because I wanted to start playing. I didn't wa nt to keep on sitting

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 41 on the bench. So I looked up at the sun and I kept saying, well, how they see the sun dance? All of the sudden, the sun just turned into a big black ball, right? With this light around it. I thought, now, oh, oh. What has happened? Wh at has happened is, my eyes could no longer look straight at the sun, and not in Mississippi, where it's a hundred and forty degrees, you know, right where I'm standing. It just came to me, that the sun didn't dance, and my eyes just couldn't look at the s un anymore. So, then I went to church, and the people were still getting up around me, saying what they had seen. I thought, uh oh. So, I went back; somebody said that they saw the wheel in the middle of the wheel, so I knew that had to be at night, right? I'm out there at night, trying to look up in the stars and see the wheel in the middle. Oh, I did some crazy things because I wanted it so badly. But, by the end of the two weeks, I had not seen any of that. I was praying and I was singing, and they said, go into your closet and shut the door and pray. That's in the Book of Matthew. When you go into the closet, well, you know we lived in a shotgun house. We didn't have not a closet in that house. So, my mom used to hang a wire across the corner and hang th e clothes out there and put a sheet over them so the gas heat wouldn't fade the sheets. So, we didn't have any closets, so we had outside bathroom, outside toilet, and it wasn't a bathroom; it was just a toilet. So, I would go out there, and my grandmother lived behind us, and so the toilet was between our house and her house, because we used the same toilet. I would be praying and singing. My grandmother came out

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 42 there, she said, baby, what's the matter? I said, well, Big Mama, I'm trying to get religion. I said, I have to have religion. She said, baby, you need to go somewhere else and pray. You don't need to be out in the outside outhouse, praying and singing. So, I had to leave there, you know, so I started. So I left there, from out in the toilet singin g, and I would go around the house and I'd sing and I'd pray until the last day. The last day, everybody had gotten up off the mourner's bench. I was sitting, 4:00 in the morning, waiting to go to the cotton field. My friends were standing on the corner. I t was summertime, just before school started. I sat on the back steps and I said, Lord, I guess I'm not getting religion this year. I said, you know I tried to see everything everybody saw, and I didn't see any of that. I said, but if you show me yourself, if you teach me of yourself, if you show me yourself, I will come back to Mississippi and I will teach your people. Now, you know, I was ten years old, but I spoke those words and here I am. But it took forty years. It took forty years for that to happen. But, look. I went back to the church and I didn't say any of the things that they said. I just got up and they did not want to baptize me, but the Holy Spirit moved in a mighty way that night, that morning, 4:00 in the morning when I said to God, show my yourself; teach me of yourself, and I will come and teach your people. Then, it's like the whole everything around me just swerved into me. I was swerving, and everything was one, and then I really got scared. I thought, oh, Lord, now maybe I shouldn't hav e said. But the dew on the ground at 4:00 in the morning was, like, standing straight up like

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 43 this; just splashing and I was part of the fig tree and the peach tree and the cucumbers and everything that was in the garden. We had a big pine tree and everyt hing was just whirling. I was thinking, Lord, now I've done something really wrong now. But I couldn't tell the people at the church. I just wouldn't say it. I couldn't say it, because I didn't know. I didn't understand. But I said but I just stood up, an d they didn't want to baptize me because I didn't say what other people said, you know? So, they had a controversy about whether to baptize me or not. My grandmother said, now, look, this child has religion. If anybody has it, she has it. If she said that, if she said she did, she does. So, they did baptize me. We were standing in the water in the Sunflower River, right here in Indianola, and the minister had been talking about the Holy Spirit, see, the key is teaching. I had said, I wanted to know it, but I didn't realize that's what it was. It was the anointing of the Holy Spirit that happened, and I didn't know how to say it; I didn't know how to tell the people, and I was scared to tell them, you know? Because if they didn't want to baptize me, how was I going to tell them about something like the Holy Spirit? So, I got baptized, was standing in the water and you know you stand in the water in the river, where all the snakes and everything are. The preacher said, Lord, send us a cool breeze, because it wa s hot. Just about the time he said that, the trees started to bend like that, and I was, I said, see, I know that what I felt was real. You know? I got baptized. But, in the evening, we had what we call the right hand of fellowship. So, in the evening, the y was

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 44 shaking everybody's hand; glad that they had joined the church, but they were just doing light in my hand, like that. I thought, now, what is this? But, by the last one shook my hand, the Spirit spoke me and said, it's not between you and them. It's just between you and me. That's how I've lived my life, all my life, which is why I was attracted to Mrs. Hamer and why I was attracted to things that were spiritual things and that were going. So I've been doing this for fifty years, and just being reject ed. Even now I get rejected. They don't let me in their pulpits and stuff like that, but I teach. Sometimes, I only have but one student, but I teach. I teach them what God has given me to teach them, and I have one person at Bible class on Wednesday night The churches are full, but I have one person, and we are looking at metaphysics: the metaphysical understanding above the physical, and I continue to do it, because part of that journey was to go to the Johnnie Colemo n Institute in Chicago, when I was ge tting ready to get a master's degree in social work. My friend was at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, and she said, you need to come to the PEER Program, because you can get the money you need to get your master's degree. At that time, the Holy S pirit spoke to me and say, now, where you going? I answer, say, I'm going to the University of Wisconsin to get a social work degree; a master's in social work. The Spirit spoke to me like I'm talking to you and said, have you noticed that, no matter how m any PhDs we have, no matter how many MDs, no matter how this, it doesn't solve human problems? This is a job for the spirit, for the Holy Spirit. We

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 45 say Holy Spirit because it's a movement. I stopped, with all the papers that I was about to fill out. I was going to either that place or I was going to the MATC, which was the Milwaukee Area Technical College. They were the school that certified people for the license for counseling for alcohol abuse and alcohol treatment and stuff, and I've worked in preventi on and intervention in drug abuse in the Milwaukee public schools. So, all of these things come together, you know? So, I didn't go to get a master's. Upon the same unction of the Holy Spirit, I went to ministerial school instead. For five years, almost, w e drove from Milwaukee to Chicago in the sleet, the rain, the snow, the ice, everything, to do that. You know? And sitting on an L. Waiting for the L to pass. Taking the bus, you know? All kinds of things. Even the last day, when I went to get my ministeri al license, I almost didn't make it. Five minutes and I wouldn't have made it before the license and ordination committee board. I was sitting somewhere on the L in Chicago, in the middle of the city; couldn't move, you know. When I got ready to do my firs t dissertation, or the speech, that they called it, for the license, sitting in the middle of coming all the way from Milwaukee; 4:00 in the morning, sitting in the middle of the city for the L. Five minutes I got there; five minutes in time to do that. So I'm saying that nothing really is an accident, so just coming back to Mississippi is part of that journey and it's part of that journey. I've come back and I see a lot of different kinds of things that have changed, but I see a lot of things that have no t changed. I see a need I don't see no

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 46 need. I see, because in spirit, there is no real need. There's no need at all. So, I don't see a need. I see us changing, coming into a new awareness; coming to a level of understanding where none of us can make it un less all of us do. That's hard to tell people and it's hard to say to people when you've got everything you need and somebody doesn't have what he or she needs. I don't mean need, but when you can make a difference you know in that. All of this came throug h the civil rights movement, for a time, and then, through wok that I was doing through the Community Relations Social Development Commission in Milwaukee, and through Marquette University and then through the Johnnie Colemon Institute and then through thi s and then back to Mississippi and all of that. It all started, like, right here in Indianola. People say, how did you get to Indianola to Nassau, week before last? At a conference on panorama of truth, getting truth into areas where people can really begi n to understand this. I said, well, it all started in Indianola, Mississippi, sitting on the back steps at 4:00 in the morning, just simply saying to God, show me yourself. You know, please, and I will come back and teach your people. Yet, sometimes I thin k I probably shouldn't have made that kind of declaration, because it's hard. It's not easy, because even your own family doesn't understand sometimes. Your own best friend doesn't really understand that the people who have come before us left a legacy and opportunity, but they also left us with a commitment to get this done, or to let God get it done through us. We can't do it. We haven't done it yet.

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 47 N: What do you mean, your own family? Do you have people saying, oh, that's over with, or ? L: No, they don't say the words over with, but because I'm different, and my sister tells me, she says, well, I am my sister's a principal at one of these schools here; I have five sisters, I'm the first sister and so they don't they are a different relig ion. They are Baptist, and they've always been Baptist. When I talk about Universal Foundation for Better Living, when I talk about it is God's will that everybody live a healthy, happy and prosperous life; that's the intent for us being here, that's not i n the tenants of their religion, so they don't quite get it. They don't understand how you, or how I can leave Milwaukee and come back to Mississippi, when I was at the top of my field I was the associate executive director and how I can just leave that an d come back to Mississippi. Sometimes I wasn't working. Even now, I'm not making the kind of money that I made when I was there in Milwaukee. My husband says sometimes, see, if we had staye d in Milwaukee, there's no telling where we would be, you know? So family people just saying, wow, you know, we could really have this great big house or we could have remodeled that hous e in Milwaukee, and here we are; we're in Mississippi and the people don't want you here. Sometimes my husband says, people don't even w ant you in Indianola. I said, well, that's all right. I'm here. This way. I have a right to be here, because I'm from Indianola. It's not that I don't try to impose things on people, because this is a mighty work. You really have to be committed to

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 48 it, be cause you can't just do it. It's a mighty work. Therefore, I don't try to impose things on people. I do what I need to do, where I am, and I do what the spirit say do, as Fannie Lou said. I just do what the spirit say do. Sometimes I don't what the spirit say do because I be scared of the people. I say, no, I better not say that. [Laughter] So, sometimes I don't say what I need to say because I know that people have to be in a different frame of mind in order to get it, and so you don't want to alienate peo ple. I don't say things; I just try to let it N: What were these documents that you brought with you? L: Oh, this is just some things that now, I was trying to do a master's degree in Biblical Studies, and that's my real thing, is teaching Bible, to teach people how to understand the Bible. So these are just some of the things that I had to present to get to be in the school, so I just had a collection. Now, that's me. E: Oh. N: Oh. How old were you there? L: This is when I graduated from colleg e. I was about thirty, mm hm; thirty something. Of course you can see, I was in all the African American stuff, and I was in African American Studies and all kinds of stuff. For fifteen years, I wore African geles and everything, so that's why my sister al ways be saying, Lord, have mercy; now she got on the African gele. [Laughter] So, this is just, now, this is my ordination stuff, and this is when I was ordained in 1987. So, I had to present this to them. Then, this is my letter

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 49 of introduction, and I tal ked about the civil rights movement in this. So, this was my life experience, and what I was telling you guys right here. So, it's not different. N: Wow. L: Mm hm. When I came back, I was the chaplain of the Seyah H ospice in Inverness, but I realized th at our people are not unhappy because they're sick; they're sick because they're unhappy. We have a lot of sick people, you know, and they're sick because they're not living life. They're just kind of trying to survive. So, this was my introduction to that N: So, what year did you come back to Mississippi? L: I came back in [19]93, and that's where this plaque that I showed you was from: [19]93 is when I was leaving them, so they just gave me a thank you. I left in [19]93, and I came here, and then this plaque I'm trying to think, now, what is this plaque? This is oh, this is when I was working in Inverness as a volunteer, and I volunteered to be their chairperson for the Crossroad Prayer Project, and so I taught their parents and also worked with them and those kids, were the highest in the state, from the parents and all of us working together. This is GED program at Mississippi Valley State University, where we had the this is HELP, HELP is for the High School Equivalency Program Graduation, so I spoke to them. I was also there to volunteer to help them learn how to work with non traditional students and also to help them do staff training. From the volunteering, that's how I got the job that I have now. So, it's just been milestones, just

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 50 working and helping with stuff. So, these are just a few of the things. Now, that 's my ordination, that's my license; I was Novick at that particular time. This is from the Universal Foundation for Better Living, and the Reverend Doctor Johnnie Colemon, who is m y other spiritual mother, signed it here. That's just a copy of that picture that I had to send to them. This is a ministerial license that we have to have all the time and this was in 2002, when I went for my master's. I didn't get it, though, because I took my granddaughter she's not fourteen, thinks she's thirty five but I brought her here from Wisconsin, and so she's in school here, giving me a real hard time. You know a fourteen year old? So, this is our principles of truth; this would be, like, our e thics. This is minister seminar, liabilities. They have to teach us a lot of stuff, because you know ministers get into trouble. This is the center that I developed here, so I have a Better Living center. N: The Christ Delta Center? L: Chris t Delta Cente r for Better Living and a study group. Now we're incorporated, and it's here, at 462 East Street, so I have a classroom there, and about thousand and thousands of books, so I have a reading room. You know, people want to come in and read and do things, lea rn more. But, see, they're now allowed to do that, and I can't say they're not allowed to do it, but when you are talking about spiritual principles and living by spiritual principles, it's more than reading one scripture in the Bible. It's really understa nding the whole Bible. So a lot of times people

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 51 and I read it to open their minds to more than that because I keep telling people; in fact, I was telling somebody the other day, you all have to let God up out of your Bible because God is right here now, today, helping us do everything that we need to do and in heaven and everywhere else. So we are endowed with great things, and we need to be doing those things right. Well, that's not very popular; you can't tell people that from other places, because the n they go back and they say that, and then they say, well, you know, she's a cult over there; y'all can't be going over there. [Laughter] This is our first organizing meeting, meaning that we had to organize, and our foundation principle is, there's only o ne presence and one intelligence in the universe, and that is God, the good, omnipotent, the everywhere present spirit of absolute good, so absolute good is for all of us. Then this is what we do on Sunday; your hour of towering power. So, we're getting re ady to do a radio program from that. This is spiritual counseling contracts that we do, spiritual counseling with people These are just some of our bulletins things that I do at our center. We used to have some members, but they moved out of Mississippi and left me here. This is most of them. Then these are codes of ethics of the ministry and news articles and events conducted by our church. This is me when I joined the school board here in Indianola. N: What work do you do with the school board? I mean, you're a member of the school board, but is L: Member of the school board, mm hm.

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 52 N: But what are the main issues today with the schools? L: Well, our main issue is that we are trying to make sure that our kids are bridging the gap between where other kids are in the state and where our kids are, so, we're doing that; we're trying to work toward it. I was the president for one year, one year, and then, workshops that I've done. I did this, creating a winning attitude, and I created this workshop and I did it with people. This is important, to create the winning attitude with people. I did this one in Jackson, I think. This was one done in Jackson. Then I try to do this one here on a special Saturday. Now, look how long that's been; this is 2000, this is 2009. It was just bringing everybody together, and it says, men, teachers, laity community leaders, women, parents, administrators, human service people, to bring everybody together so that they could begin to understand the connecting of the whole person You know? Nobody cared. They didn't come. N: You tried to do it recently? You tried to do it this year? L: No, I haven't done it anymore. N: That was when you tried to L: But I'm going to try to do it again, but and by here, spirit, mind, and body but I did do it at Mississippi Valley State for their social work conference. They asked me to do it because there is I want you all to get from the Children's Defense Fund, The Rain Don't Fall to the Ground Down Here Have y'all ever heard of it? You ha ven't ever heard of it? I should have brought you a copy of that, and that's a study of the Delta, and it's also a

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 53 study of Delta in Alabama and Louisiana about how the people are doing, you know? N: The Rain Don't Fall L: The Rain Don't Fall to the Gro und Here That's from the Children's Defense Fund, and you know Marion Wright Edelman, she works the she developed the Children's Defense Fund. So these are just worksho ps and differen t things that I have done. This is dynamic laws of prosperity, try ing to teach people that it's God's will for them to be prosperous; for them to have everything that they want, need, or desire, and to teach them those laws. We live by laws every day, and to teach them those things. So, I just said they are to live the g ood life now, because we're waiting for heaven So these are just some of the things that I just brought to share with you, because this is part of my journey, because I've been out of Mississippi and back two times. I can't go back nowhere else no more. I t just takes too much, and this is and speaking engagements and different things, panel appreciation, and one article that I wrote for the wellness center. And National Association of Social Workers. I've done workshops with them. This is when I was the di rector at Boys and Girls Club in Milwaukee. This is just all of the things that I accomplished for the club. This is the Johnnie Colemon Institute where I attended in Chicago. This is a continuing education now. We have to go for continuing education, and I'm so far behind on my credits. Then I also attend all of the different trainings here. This was a overcoming the challenge of a

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M FP 04 3 ; Lundsford ; Page 54 changing society at Delta State University. Then, doing work with other this is the University of Wisconsin but now, doing wit h other people, that's what you were asking me. All of this is doing collaboration work with other people who are doing the same work, but in a different way. You know, they're doing what you're doing. So, we have sexual violence, so I've taken all the cre dits for that; working and doing counseling with people, domestic violence, trying to stop domestic violence. Then, went to I don't know if you know Dr. Robert S c hul ler ? N: I've heard of him. L: Yeah, so we've got training there at his institute in Anahe im, California. I directed the prevention and intervention program for the state of Mississippi and Mandala Ministries in Greenwood, so this was, that's what that's from. So we are constantly working on these things. N: Great. L: You all are students no w? What are you going to do? N: Mm hm. Well, maybe we should just thank you for the interview before we start talking about ourselves and go ahead. Thank you so much. [End of interview] Transcribed by: Diana Dombrowski, October 16, 2013 Audit e dited by : Sarah Blanc, January 10, 2014 Final edited by: Diana Dombrowski, March 6, 2014



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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 y.ufl.edu or call the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program office at 352 392 7168. October 2013

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MFP 0 43 Interviewee: Tommie Novick Lun sford Interviewer: Candice Ellis and Danielle Navarrete Date: August 22, 2009 N: This is Danielle Navar ret e, and I'm here with Reverend Tommie Lunsford and Candice Ellis. We are in Indianola, Mississippi on August 22, 2009. We're here to talk with Reverend Tommie. Is that what you'd like us to refer to you as? L: It's okay Most people call me Reverend Lunsford N: Reverend Lunsford okay. L: They don't even use the Novick. It's too long. N: Okay. I guess we should say Reverend Tommie Novick Lunsford okay. L: Mm hm. N: So, Reverend Lunsford can you tell us when and where you were born? L: I was born in Inverness Mississippi, which is about seven miles south of Indianola. I was born in 1940, April 23. N: Can you tell us anything about your parents? L: Well, my mother was from Inverne ss. My father was from around Itta Bena, Mississippi, and they lived on a plantation in Inverness. My grandmother and my grandfather, Reverend and Mrs. Cooper, were from the hills, from Louisville, Mississippi. They moved down to the Delta, which is what w e're we're the Delta, and they're the hills, so they moved down to the Delta so that they could have some way to have a livelihood, you know. Because, in the Delta, there was cotton to be picked and they could make money, whereas in the hills, there were p robably not that many

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 2 industries where they could have worked. So, that's how we got from the hills to the Delta. N: Can you relate any stories that your parents might have told you about their lives or their parents' lives? L: Well, there are lots of st ories. My grandmother, I can tell you that my grandmother was part Indian, and they lived in Louisville. So, my grandmother's grandmother was a slave. So, she used to tell me these stories, you know, about her mother and her father, and her father was an I ndian, so he would leave home lots of time and be gone for days and days. They had to feed the family. My grandmother became a fisherperson. She started fishing when she was five, and she fished until she was probably about ninety eight, and she died when she was about ninety nine, so she fished all that time and really was a professional fisherperson. I say fisherperson because I don't say fisherman, because she wasn't a man. That was her name to fame, is fishing. When she came down to the Delta, she conti nued to do that, and they moved onto this plantation. They chopped and picked cotton and my grandfather became a minister, and they finally were able to buy a little house in town. The house, because my grandfather was a carpenter and my grandfather built some of the first churches that people had in the country, in Inverness, and did it for lunch didn't really charge people. My grandmother is very practical. She's saying, now, Reverend Cooper, where are you building these houses for people for no money? Yo u know we need this money.

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 3 So, she says, well, my grandfather knew that people needed places to live. It didn't cost him a lot because he would tear down old buildings and take every nail, every nail out of the building and put it in cans. I learned the di fference between a large head nail and a small headed nail and a quarter nail because I was the oldest grandchild who lived in the Delta. So, I learned those things from my grandmother, how they got down here; how she worked in the fields and how they did fishing, you know, fishing was her hobby, but also it fed the family. Then, from my mother and my father, I learned that my father's parents were very poor and they separated early so that my grandfather on my father's side lived in Yazoo County and my gra ndmother on my father's side, they lived in Leflore County for a while and then gravitated to Sunflower County and lived out on Woodburn Plantation. My father was saying that he went to about the thi r d grade, but he became a very famous bricklayer and buil t many of the structures that you see around here in Indianol a with a third grade education But he worked to learn how to lay bricks, so those were some of the things that I learned from them. I remember my father saying that his shoes sometimes had so ma ny holes in them that he didn't know how to he couldn't hardly walk to school, so he just quit. Then, my grandmother on my father's side would tell me stories about when she was married to his father, and stories about the plantation and working in Indiano la in some of the different hotels for white people, and those kind of stories.

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 4 N: What was it like for you growing up in this area? L: Well, I was kind of a rebel, so it was probably not as hard for me as it might have been for other people, because I r ealized very early what's right and what's not right. I remember when we were about third grade and we were downtown, we got into some real trouble. Well, we were in more than third grade, must have been about fifth or sixth grade, because we had what we c alled the Music Box downtown in Indianola, and I think that a group of us were downtown saying we were going to the white folks' school. We got in some real serious trouble, but we didn't really think that was anything wrong because we were just kind of wa lking around the streets and singing We would go to the music box and listen to the music, but we couldn't go in when the white children were there. So I learned very early that white kids and black kids didn't really mix; we lived on the first street in Indianola that had a mixture of black and white people, but we lived on what we called the Bayou Side and there were no people across the street from us. The white people lived on the other side of the Bayou, so we had no neighbors across the street, and t he white people who lived on our street lived up one step it was just one step, one step up, and that separated us. So, we weren't allowed to play. We played with the white kids until we got a certain age, and then, of course, they started to separate us. N: What age was that?

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 5 L: Probably about eleven. Nine, eleven, twelve, that kind of way. Sometimes we'd go up the streets and some of the kids, I guess when they got a little bit older, their parents had already told them that they weren't supposed t o play with us, so they would stand back in the yard and sometimes they'd laugh at us or they'd sneer and different things. N: After you'd been friends? L: After we'd been friends. Well, I don't know if we were ever friends; we just didn't know, you know. I don't know if we called it friends, we were just children. As children do, children play together, with each other. N: What were the beginnings, or how do you remember the beginnings of the civil rights movement here? L: Well, I wasn't here duri ng the beginning of the civil rights movement here, but I had gone away to Greenville, Mississippi. I was probably about eleventh grade and I had a child. One of the things that happened was that my neighbor had been working for this white lady, and she ha d a child who lived, like, two doors from me, and she had a child. She asked me if I would take her place as the maid for this white lady, and I did. I went to her house. She was very young, probably about your age. She had two or three children, maybe she was a little bit older than you; she had two or three children. I took Ruth's place this is the lady's name, her name was Ruth and I washed the dishes, cleaned the house, cooked the food, took care of the children, scrubbed the floors, and did everything for her for about two and a half weeks or three weeks. When Ruth was able to go

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 6 back to work, she sent me a check for one dollar and fifty cents, and I said, no. I walked to her house, which was pretty far away and it's probably good that she wasn't home, because I probably would have been in more trouble, but I knocked on the back door, because you weren't permitted to go to the front door. So, I knocked on the back door and I said to her husband, I asked if she was there and he said no wel l, the car wasn' t there either, and he said, no. I said, well, give her this check and tell her I'd rather work for her for free than to accept this dollar and fifty cents for the work that I did. I'd been working for white people before. In fact, I had been babysitting f or a lady from Germany whose husband had been in the service, and I'd been babysitting for her. She was kind of different from that, but I remember working across the street, and this woman who lived across the street would bring her d aughter's majorette b oots over there to polish, to make sure that I knew she was different from the woman that I was working for. So I had a lot of experience with white women, and by the time I left Indianola, I hated white women. So I had to work on myself for years, you kno w, with that. I remember going to the welfare department and trying to receive some support for me and the child, and they said, they wouldn't give me a quarter because they wanted to teach my sisters not to have a child. That there was cotton in the field s that needed to be scraped so this was, like, December, I think, somewhere around December, and the cotton needed to be scrapped off the ground and shook the dirt and mud of, and you can do that, because I

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 7 won't give you any money. You know? So, I left In dianola and I went to Greenville. I c ompleted high school at O' Bann o n High School, and I worked in Greenville at a clinic, and I learned in the clinic to be a clinical nurse, because I had gone to South Sunflower County Hospital, which is here in Indianola for a nurse's aid class, you know, for a while. So, when I went to Greenville, I st arted working for Dr. Yelldale who was a black doctor, and Dr. Ceasin who was also a black doctor, and Dr. Br itton who was a black dentist. There was one clinic. We used to serve moms who were pregnant who lived on plantations, and they come in and have their baby and we would do the postnatal care for a couple of days and then they'd go home. So it would be that kind of turnover all the time; people would come into the c lin i c, have the baby and go h ome Well, eventually what happened was that the sickle cell anemia that African American children were suffering, the white doctors would not go out and test the children. So, we went out and tested the children for the sickl e cell anemia trait. That's how I really started to become involved in the civil rights movement, when I realized that this was something that people actually refused to do, you know, is to go out and test black children. With my mother, I had also gone wi th her as a very young child, from as far as I can remember. She was one of the women who knew how to drive in our town, and she used to take people to the doctor. We would sit all day long in the car in the back of the doctor's office, waiting for the whi te people to finish their treatment and everything, and then the doctor would see the

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 8 black people. We would stay there all day some days, and sit in the hot sun outside and wait, you know, for this to happen; for the doctors to finish. Sometimes, the doct or would come out and we'd be talking to the family, and he'd just be talking so loud about what was happening with the person. I thought, Lord, this isn't right. There's something kind of wrong with this. So, it was very early that I was introduced to all of these things that were going on, in the Delta not just in Indianola, but the whole Delta. N: How old were you when you when you started going into the community to help the children with sickle cell anemia? L: Probably eighteen. Eighteen, ninete en, mm hm. N: Okay, so that would have been, like, late [19]50s or [19]60? L: [19]60s. N: Did you get involved in any kind of the organizing activists? L: I did. I worked in Greenville and I worked with voter registration with Mrs. Hamer. In fact, I wo re my shirt today N: You did work with Mrs. Hamer? L: I did work with Mrs. Hamer, and we worked at the Woolworth. We had a Woolworth's stor e in Greenville. See, Greenville was different from here. Greenville was a city, and we had big streets and all ki nds of stuff in Greenville. They had lots of businesses, so we did things like helping to integrate th e lunch counter in Greenville. We did voter registration in Greenville. We took a Klansman to court, you know? For un American activity across the street from us. We did a lot of things and we had a lot of

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 9 problems because you have to be real careful if you were in the civil rights movement. But I married a guy who was a civil rights worker. N: What was his name? L: His name was David Novick S o, I worke d in the civil rights movement until, I think, probably 1966. Then we left and went to Wisconsin. N: Do you remember any specific incidents or could you tell us what the meetings were like or what canvassing was like? L: Well, one of the things that we d id was to go door to door and talk to people about registering to vote. Sometimes, we'd get very positive responses, and sometimes we didn't get very positive responses because people had not voted. So, voting at that particular time was not something that they felt free to engage in, so we had to really convince people that it was their right to vote and that they could register to vote. We would walk people down to the polls if they wanted to go; tell them what they had to do. At that time, they had to kn ow how to they had to read certain things and they had to know the preamble, or they'd have to do something in order to be able to vote. We just kept going house to house, door to door bring people into the office and really work with them, help them to f eel comfortable with it. In our meetings, we'd sing Freedom Songs; we'd talk about future things, for people and how, if you voted, what could happen, all of this. A lot of times, we did canvassing, where we would be in a park or we would be in front of a business that we felt was segregated and, well, they were all really segregated and one that we felt that people

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 10 publicly used more than they did other places. We would stand outside of it and sing Freedom Songs and try to get this business to change. Then I remember when the hour and wage law came to Mississippi, and the cotton pickers, the people who had been picking cotton and picking cotton was really something that was, to me, it was devastating, because I couldn't ever really pick cotton. I never rea lly I picked cotton, but I wasn't one of those persons who could ever pick two hundred pounds of cotton. If you wanted to make money, you had to be able to pick cotton and you had to be able to have two or three hundred pounds, because you only got five do llars, you know, if you got two hundred pounds. So I always went home with a dollar or a little bit more than a dollar, because I probably picked seventy five or a hundred pounds, and my friend would pick two hundred pounds. I always wondered how she could do that and I couldn't do it. My father used to say, well, you're going to have to learn how to do something else, because you sure don't know how to pick any cotton. But chopping cotton was different. To me, it was real devastating, because the economy i n Mississippi, and especially in small towns I can't say Greenville so much, but I'm almost sure depended upon the cotton, you know? So, people picked cotton, they had money. If they had money, they could buy things. So, the economy would flourish, because people thousands of people were going to the cotton fields every day, and very few white people went to the fields. I saw white people in the fields, but this was probably a group of people that lived on a plantation, that was the straw

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 11 boss's people and that was probably his cotton. But, when cotton was king, we were slaves. That's what I say: when cotton was king, we were slaves. We may not have been in the same condition that our forefathers and mothers were, but we were doing the same thing. We were pi cking cotton and we were getting up at two or three o'clock in the morning, catching trucks to go out to the cotton fields. We were standing out there on cotton rows and it was a hundred and twenty degrees in the heat when we were chopping cotton, st and in the cold weather, it was very cold. We were outside; pick cotton inside So, this was quite an experience for African American people, but this was economy, this is what they were able to do. Some people worked on the plantation as people who plowed the f ields and worked that way, but most of the people picked cotton and chopped cotton for a living. There were some professional people, but probably not as many as now. N: When people were going to the voting places, were they having trouble there once they got there? I mean, you canvassed to get them out, but what happened once they got to the polls? L: Well, sometimes they would pass the test and sometimes they wouldn't. But I think just people saying yes, that they would register to vote, was a really bi g thing. But we really had a lot of trouble with being attacked; people attacking us verbally and sometimes physically, trying to keep people out of the polls to vote. Because voting meant that there was change, you know? Going to happen, and that was the power that people

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 12 had, was to vote. So, naturally, people want to keep people from having the power; or, to be free. If you're free, then that means that you're equal to other people and that you have the same rights as other people have. So, it was diffic ult. We would, you know, like in some of the demonstrations, sometimes the police we would have to deal with police brutality and all kinds of stuff. N: Do you have any thoughts about the White Citizens' Council s? What it did, or its activity in this area ? L: Well, what do you mean White Citizens' Council ? N: Well, we were learning about the White Citizens' Council s kind of being maybe the equivalent of the Klan; the Klan, maybe more further s outh, but the White Citizens' Council s really being powerful w hite interests trying to . N: Well, now, the White Citizens' Council were the people that you saw every day; people who were merchants, preachers, and all kinds of people. The Klan would be henchmen. See, you have to understand the difference. The di fference is that, some of the people that you saw every day may have been in the Klan, but most of the people weren't. The Klan was their employees. They were the ones who did that work of making sure that people were fearful and that they didn't step over the boundaries that they had set for them. But the Council were the people who gave orders to the Klan. See, we have to understand that there was a real difference. Not everyone in the Klan was a councilman, you see? But the Klansmen could

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 13 be a councilman You see, there's a real difference, to me, that those people who ran certain businesses were not the people on those horses and with their heads covered up. Some of them maybe have been, but most of them were not. They were the people that you see every day, smiling at you in the particular businesses. You may be paying your rent to them, you may be buying your cars from them, you may be buying your groceries from them, you see? There's a difference. The Klansmen were those that actually went and did the business of making people frightened so that they didn't step out of those boundaries that they councilmen had for them. N: So, did you feel like any white person that you saw was part of this? L: That everybody that I saw that was white was a part of i t? N: Well, because you said, these were all the people that you saw in the street. Is that the perception, or was it the reality? L: I think that was the reality. I think that it was an ideology, and so the ideology is that you're inferior and that we k eep you inferior because you're not so you're not equal to us as white people. So that, if I, then, support that ideology by any means, then I am in belief of that same old thing. If I am white and I support it, I can be very confused about you because I d on't know who you are. You know? You can smile at me in the daytime, and at night, you can terrorize my family. So, I don't know you. I think that part of the neuroses with black people has to do with, they don't know you. They don't know who you are. So, they had to act in a way that

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 14 kept them safe, that they felt safe, because they don't know who you are, you know? Just because you're white doesn't necessarily mean that you're the same, but because you are white, you could be. So, the neuroses is that, I have to be who I am in the black community, and when I'm with white people, I have to be this, because I don't know if I'm talking to somebody that could come or go and tell somebody, or I can't say certain things that may seem disrespectful, because at ni ghttime, these people turn into somebody different. You know? N: That's really powerful. What about the Freedom Schools? Did you participate in the Freedom Schools at all? L: I did, but I didn't participate in Freedom Schools here. I participated in Free dom Schools in Milwaukee, because during the time that court order to integrate the schools came, we had left Greenville and had gone to we went to Chicago first, and during the march in Soldier Field in Chicago, we were there. Then stayed in Chicago for a while and then went on to Milwaukee. We were sponsored by CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality, and the people who were CORE people. We were also sponsored by the League of Women Voters in Waukesha County, which is in Wisconsin, because one of the person s who was a college student and who was also one of the civil rights workers was also from that area, Shaw. She married a black guy and they moved to Shaw, so the League of Women Voters sponsored them, and then sponsored us to Wisconsin. We started working with CORE as soon as we got there, you know? So, I

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 15 worked in the civil rights movement and I'm still working in the civil rights movement. I've never stopped. What I mean by never stopped is that I say to students at Mississippi Valley State University an d other places that, I'm here, and I'm back in Mississippi because I'm still alive. Most of the people who worked with me are dead. Including my husband. So, we have to carry on this whole idea of equality, that all of us are equal and there's no inequalit y in God. If we allow ourselves to continue to feel or act inferior, then we're allowing the inequality that doesn't really exist, to exist. So, I continue, but I don't do it in terms of protesting or anything like that. I work on the school board here to hopefully make sure that our kids are receiving equal education. I've worked in a lot of the Title I programs to work with parents and students. I've done parenting classes; I've done motivation classes for students. I worked in Inverness and Sunflower sch ools, to work with parents and with students in their merging. I worked in Mississippi Valley for the College Assistance for Migrants program, which brings some of the students who are farmers, whose parents never got a chance to go to college, and get the ir freshman year paid for. So, I worked in that program. I'm now working with Health Disparities, trying to make sure that the health disparities in Mississippi, that those gaps are closed, that those gaps are closed between our white kids and our black ki ds in education. All of those things are important, and if we allow them to happen, the gaps just get bigger and bigger and bigger. Lots of our kids

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 16 are in jail; there's just so much stuff that's going on since the civil rights movement. It's just another form of the same thing, you know. N: So you see wide disparities today? L: I see wide disparities, and that's what we have to work to do, is to keep closing those. Then we have to help people change their own thinking, because if you're always been taugh t that you're inferior, at some point, that becomes subconscious. Then, as it becomes subconscious, it plays itself out in everything that you do. It's what I know to be internalized oppression, you know? It goes from child to child to generation to genera tion, until it just is very widespread, mm hm. Unless we get it out of us, you know, you have to work on yourself. I'm saying to people all the time, you have to work on you, because you pass this on to people. I had to work on myself to stop hating white women, and I'm very serious about it. I have a friend in the civil rights movement, her name was Peggy Quinn. She moved to Jackson, Mississippi. Peggy and I were very good friends. She was from Wisconsin. I was in the civil rights movement too, in Greenvil le, and she became my very best friend while we were in the civil rights movement. I began to realize that, like, all white women aren't alike. When I moved to Wisconsin, I went to Marquette University, and I went to school with all white classes sometimes Sometimes I was the only black person in the whole class, but by the time I got there, I was all right with me. I remember when we used to read things, like in American literature, and the dialect of people and how the professor, who was a white

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 17 professo r, sometimes would not want to read Huckleberry Finn because they would call the word nigger. I would say, well, that's the literature. You know, you don't have to not say that, because I understand it. So, I had a lot to learn. I had a lot to let go of. I had a lot of loving me to really do, and to move to a whole different level in my own thinking. Now I really try to work with people to help them move to a different level in their own thinking, because that internalized oppression helps us to oppress our selves and to keep oppressing each other until we don't realize that it's not the freedom that somebody else can give us; that we're already free, and we have to live a whole new life of being free people, and we have to live like free people and we have t o act like free people. We have to talk like free people, you know? We can't be two people anymore. We can't have this neuroses that we've had, to say, well, I don't know if I can trust you, so I have to act like this, this way. Then, when I get over here, my personality has to be different, and I have to be very confused all the time to do that, to be trying to pick you out from somebody else. So, I just have to be who I am, and you either accept me or you don't. If you don't, it's all right. I want people to come to that so we can really love ourselves. Unless we love ourselves, we can't really love each other u nless we let go of all the stuff, because slavery was devastating to people, you know? People don't realize that, and it's devastating right now to people, because we got so much hate; so much fear. So much love, so much unawareness still going on. Don't have any money, you know? Our kids don't have any

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 18 money. They're selling drugs and everything 'cause they ain't got no money. They don't have any jo bs. We don't have jobs for kids, and sometimes we don't have jobs for adults. We have people who are in positions now that are African American people, but not a whole lot, you know? So, we still have a lot to do with ourselves, and I say that this is impo rtant to black folks and white folks. I went through a lot of sensitivity training; lots of nurturing programs and all sorts of different things, but it was also helping me. When we had what we called cultural diversity, where white people and black people work together, I don't know if that ever happens here. I remember being on a cultural diversity program when I first came back to Mississippi, and all the people who were there were black women; black women, maybe one white guy no, maybe one man, and mayb e one other white person, and everybody else in the whole thing were black women and this white woman was teaching it, you see? So, we have to be real if we have to change the things that are happening and if we are really going to be true to the people wh o have given their life. You can't give nothing but your life. You know? I mean, this is blood stuff. You give your blood for this. I say to my students and I'm not teaching at Valley, I was counseling and I will say to students, when they would go and say oh, this ain't civil rights movement and not about anything, black people this and black people that, I have to have a lesson with them. I have to say, wait a minute, now. You're here at this university because somebody gave their life and that's all the y had to give. That's all we have

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 19 to give is our whole life, and that's what we've been doing, giving our whole life so people can be free to live this life that God has created for them to live. Another question. N: Can you spea k about the role of religi on in the movement? L: Well, most of the churches were places where people met, you know. One of the things that I learned from Fannie Lou Hamer and I always call her Mrs. Hamer. People say Fannie Lou, but I say Mrs. Hamer. She was one of the role models for me. I've had great women role models, and guys, you know. I'm not saying men haven't been good role models, but these women have stood the test of time. They have stood where I think what happens, a lot of times, is that maybe the men were more vulnera ble, you know? Maybe they would be the ones to be killed as an example and everything. So I guess that, rather than put them out front so that could happen to them, that the women would start to come forth and do this. But Mrs. Hamer was a very strong spir itual woman. That's what I got from her, more than anything, is that she was rooted and grounded in God; rooted and grounded in spirit, rooted and grounded in her religion, and she believed more than anything t h at this was right, that this was God's will f or His people and we say His, but I know God is neither male nor female, but we keep trying to use the terminology. But there was a song that we used to sing that she would sing, and I hear it all the time in my soul. I'm going to do what the spirit say do And that was, to me, when she would say, I'm going to do what the spirit say do, I'll go to jail if the spirit say go,

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 20 I'll go to hell if the spirit say go see, this was commitment. That was commitment to me, and I learned that song. That has been my com mitment, is that I do what the spirit say do. So, because she taught me so well, simply by being who she was I was now a protŽgŽ and she taught me line by line. But, what she taught me is how she carried herself. She taught me about what she stood for. Sh e taught me about the fact that she was not afraid to be who she was and she was not afraid to say what she had to say. It cost a lot. I know it cost a lot. It cost her her life, in fact. This is why I think that those of us who are left, we have a job to do. We can't just have a nice house and a car and a job. Our job has to be our work, and our work is what we do for the fulfillment of this ideal; our work is what we do for the fulfillment of God's promise to his people, you know? It's not just having a c areer. I keep going to training, I keep going to this. In fact, I brought some of my stuff to and this I was going to show you; this is a plaque that I have that I love, and it just simply says, thanks. This is from Milwaukee, and this is from a group of m oms who are on welfare. Their children have been taken out to their home, and I was their parent and teacher, and the first coordinator that they ever had for a family resource center in Wisconsin, and became the associate executive director of one of the largest children, family, and community serving agencies in Wisconsin. But that came right from Indianola. It came right from our community; right from our neighborhood. Right from the civil rights movement, right from what I had learned from Mrs. Hamer, a nd right

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 21 from what I had learned from people all around me, the way we lived and the way people cared about each other, and the love that I saw happening in our community and our neighborhood. So, I was able to share that. But you can't give what you don't have. So, this is how this group of women, I would say to our directors, and they would complain about these moms, these mothers, all the time; that they take the children out of the home because there were drugs or there was this, this, this. What I woul d say to them is, they can't get what they don't have, so you've got to help them get it, and when they get it they can give it, and then things will be better. So I developed this program and I would talk to parents well, we had a parenting curriculum, bu t my curriculum had to do with caring about them and helping them to care about each other. One of the things that I would do to do that would be to give every mother a birthday party. You know? People who had never had a birthday party, and to say, everyb ody in this group is going to give you a card, but not something that they buy. We would make a page for a book, and then we would all say all the great things that we thought about that individual. Then we would bind that book and we would give it to that person. Then, every day we would come in support. I would say to moms, if you get a dollar from your welfare check, buy you some Careborn. Now, you know what Careborn is, right? E: Yeah, the bubble bath? L: The bubble bath, right. N: Like Careborn, take me away? [Laughter]

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 22 L: Right, like Careborn, take me away. So, you buy you some Careborn with a dollar, and when the children go to sleep, sit in the Careborn. Nurture yourself. Love yourself. We would bring little things, like maybe a pair of earrings o r a book or something like that, but we would be present, and then we'd support each other and stuff like this. That's how things began to change, and that's how things change when people care about each other and they really love and I'm doing the very sa me thing right now at Valley. You know? I'm at the bottom of the totem pole. I've come from the top of my field to the bottom of the totem pole, but what I'm doing is nurturing moms and talking to them, and every day, talking to them on the telephone so we can stop the infant mortality; stop our children from dying. So, that has to come from inside. But, if you can't feel it if you're just so alienated from yourself, you can't feel that, and it's about uniting and bringing all that back together and being a ble to let it come forth from you, for that nurturing, for that care, and to really stop our atrocities toward each other. So, it's a lot to do, and it all comes from what we've learned and what we've done in the civil rights movement; from our nurturing e ach other and from our caring, and from what I've gained and garnered from the people around me who are willing to give their life, who are willing to go extra miles for each other and for other people. So, things change when we change. There's no change o ut there. We keep on doing it. Next year, it jumps up as something else. Last year was teen pregnancy. Now, it's unemployment, and now it's healthcare, but it's all us. It's all stu f f that's

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 23 happening inside of us that we can't get rid of, because we somet imes don't even know it's there, it's such a part of us. You know? It has become such a part of us that we don't even know. Sometimes, we don't even know our prejudices, you know? So, if you're not aware of you, you're not aware of those things that you ha ve internalized that automatically play out. They just automatically happen. So, I've gone to I'm a minister in the Universal Foundation for Better Living, and better living is my business. That's what I do, because I know that life is for living, and ther e's no poverty in God at all, and it's not so we are all the same, we've just got different ways of being in the world, and we all bring in. It's comes, your mom tells you this, your dad tells you this, your culture tells you this; my culture tells me this somebody else's culture tells them that, and we all meet up somewhere in the world. So I say the new world, America, being a conglomeration of all the other worlds, has brought us together so we learn one thing: that's how to love. N: That's very inspir ational. L: Just how to love. That's the one thing; if we learn that for real I'm not talking about talking about it, I'm not talking about different groups singing about it. I'm talking about, until we can really, sure enough feel that for one another, f eel it deep, so deep inside that we won't permit ourselves; that we can get rid of the hate, that we can get rid of the fear, which is more damaging, sometimes, than hate, because fear causes hate. So, we really have to work on ourselves, and each individu al has to give up stuff that

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 24 keeps them anchored in atrocities, you know, towards anyone. Forgiveness is a big thing. Black folks can't forgive white folks, and white folks can't forgive black folks, and we try to smile at each other when we see each other and then, soon as we turn our back, we go . you know, there's that white guy. There's that white woman. I know this is true, because I really had to work on myself. I'm grateful for the people who were around me, that really helped me to begin to und erstand that. It's not like I haven't had any problems, because I have; we all do. It's not like I don't think, sometimes, even being back in Mississippi, I don't think sometimes that I need to get out of here, but I stay. I've gone back to Wisconsin, and the Holy Spirit said, you've got to go back. I said, I'm not moving back anymore, because I don't want to pack up all this stuff. I move, I do this, I want to stand here and I want to be who I am and I want to let this happen; that I have to do. Now, you h ave something to do and you have something to do, and every student has something to do, but the greatest thing that we have to do is to change within our own selves. N: I want to get back to something you said earlier, mentioned earlier, about the women, with the role of women and maybe they took a leadership role because they were less threatened, or they were maybe not as you know, maybe they were safer, that the men were getting more retaliation or whatever. But, reading some of the history and I'm kin d of a newcomer to this history but I was reading about when June Johnson

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 25 protested and she got beat up, and her mother protested that, and she was in jail with some people L: She was in jail with Fannie Lou. N: there were a lot of, and yes L: She wa s a child. N: Yes, and Fannie Lou was in there and she was beat up, too. So, there was that threat of violence towards women, too. Could you explain any other reason why women might have been taking all of these leadership roles? Why they might have been connecting people? Do you have any other because it seems like there was that threat for them, too. L: Oh, yeah. I'm not saying that they weren't threatened, but not the degree. N: Not to the degree. L: Not to the degree that men were, because I think that and there were women who, just like men, who were hung also, during slavery and all of that. I'm not saying that none of that happened, but I am saying that I think that just the fact that their feelings for the kinds of things that were going on and the availability, too because a lot of times, the men were working and doing other things, but there were men who were in the movement, and even before this movement started, remember, a lot of the abolitionists were men, you k now? I'm not saying that just women, I'm saying that the women were an attraction for me, because I was a girl. So, we were with the women all the time and we felt our safety and everything with them, because the men kind of stayed together and the women and

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 26 the girls were together. I think that, because I was with the women, I saw their strengths, and I saw their willingness. I'm sure that it happened with men right here in Indianola. I was not here in Indianola, as I said. I had gone to Greenville, and I met Mrs. Hamer in Greenville. I didn't meet her here in Indianola, but I met her there. I remember how, when we were having a meeting at one of the churches in Greenville, and the Ku Klux Klan was having a rally on the highway in Greenville. They had said to us not to go to the COFO o ffice we were with COFO and they told us not to go to the COFO office, because of the threat of the Ku Klux Klan being in town. We were getting ready for the rally in the evening. So, I had gone to my friend's house, and I didn't know that they had said no t go to the COFO office. I was walking down the street and these two guys, these two white guys with rifles on the back of their truck, started to follow me. You know, one of the things is that you can go up on somebody's porch and pretend that you're goin g in the house and that would deter them, so that's what I did. I went and put my hand on the knob and pretended I was going in the house, but the door was locked, so I couldn't open the door. I stayed there and they went around the corner and I ran around the back of the house, but I went on to the COFO office, and I went inside. There wasn't anybody there. So, I decided that I was just going to sit there, and somebody came and said, you're not supposed to be here, because the Klan is in town. You have to get out of the office. Now, I'm not even afraid; I'm trying to take a nap, you know? So, we went to the church and it's

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 27 the same evening and in the church, we had started the rally. Mrs. Hamer was to be the speaker, and that's one of the things I will alwa ys remember about her; well, one of the things, among all of the thousands of things. And the lights went off in the church and the people were standing all outside and everything and the police came, because they thought that this was going to be a time w hen the Klan may have cut the wires and everything, and that we were in immediate danger. So, the police and everybody came and surrounded the place. The men in the church, I remember, got up to struggle what they used to do is put a copper penny behind th e fuse, because they're fuse boxes at that time, and they were going to see if they could do something with the fuse box, but Mrs. Hamer stood up. She had not started to speak. She stood up and she began to sing, this little light of m ine, I'm going to let it shine and the people who were fearful started to sing quietly for a while, but then, after a while, it was just blasting all outside, all everywhere, you know? So I'm saying just to take leadership to bring encouragement, to bring hope when there's f ear, and all kinds of things, so I'm just saying that I paid attention to those things. Those things, for me, came from women. Whereas, my spiritual leader is a woman also, the Reverend Doctor Johnnie Colemon So, spirit to spirit, that's how I have always dealt with people, is spirit to spirit. Because I was with my mom when a lot of these things happened, with the health disparities and all kinds of things, and the women were the ones who were at home most of the time. The men were the ones who

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 28 were doing the work, you know? Like my father and the people in our neighborhood; they dug the holes for the bathrooms together, they did all the outside work, they'd kill the hogs together and stuff like that, but the immediate nurturing was right there with the wo men. They were quilting and they were talking, or they were talking about something, and so that's where I was, was in the center of that. I'm saying that I received that from women, you know? So, Mrs. Hamer was one of those women that I received that from and I think that the women were very prolific in the movement. Not that men were any less prolific, but it's who I really bonded with and that's where I received my nurturing from; it was very spiritual. I could feel spirit more with them. N: I guess wh at I was wondering is that, do you think that that, what you were just describing, is something that was really helpful to the movement, in getting people organized and involved? L: I do, I do. The nurturing, the spirit of it all; yes, I do. I remember be ing at Valley, and a woman was asking a question. She said, does everyone in the movement have to know how to sing? It was just so funny, and I said to myself, no, everybody doesn't have to know how to sing, but everybody got to feel it, you know? There's something about feeling it, because it supersedes being fearful; doubtful. It gives you a forward look. It opens up a receptivity that isn't there when you're just kind of being, let me see, not involved. I think singing involved everybody. I think that wa s a very big part of our movement together, is that we felt that we were one with each

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 29 other. We worked with each other and we kept each other really safe and close, as much as we could, you know. That doesn't mean that people didn't get hurt, and it doesn 't mean that people didn't get killed or anything, but we were able, somehow, to stay above the quitting, you know? We kept going, even though there were people who were falling by the wayside; we kept going, because the goal then was freedom. Freedom is n ot just a word, it's a lifestyle. It's a livingness. So, it was alive and moving toward that, but we didn't start it. This was started years and years and years ago. We were just the people who moved it to this level, to that level, and I just felt that a lot of the women who didn't have to go to work during the day and everything, and support their families, because a lot of the women didn't work. They were home. That's one of the things that people can't hardly understand, is that a lot of women worked an d they still did it, but a lot of the women were home during the day with their children, at home taking care of them. But I'm very, I can feel deeply, and so I could feel that from the women that I was working with. It's not that I didn't feel some things from the men, but not at the depth level, and perhaps it's because I am a woman, that I was able to feel it deeper. Also, because I believe in spiritual things, and that's how I operate, all the time. So, that was important for me. It was important for me to have had that in my life as I was growing up, so that I can do what I'm doing right now.

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 30 N: Do you feel that people are aware of all of the things that happened? Do you think people know history very well? Do you think it's presented in schools? L: N o, I don't. One of the things about history, and especially African American history, it happened during the [19]60s, but it doesn't happen now. [19]60s and [19]70s and part of the [19]80s, but in the [19]90s it wasn't as popular, because I think that we w ere looking at something totally different; trying to make sure that people had different jobs and all this, and people hardly ever talk about African American history anymore. You know, I would like for people to know, and if you have ever looked at the b lack social thought, you know anything about black social thought? N: I don't know. I don't think so. [Laughter] L: Oh, that would be something good for your university. In fact, at Marquette, I took black social thought. It had been taught by one of the priests, who was a white priest. Then, by the time I got into a social work program, the man who taught it had been in the civil rights movement, and his name was Dr. Howard Fuller. Part of our social work course included black social thought, and the Thi rd World Press you can it online, Third World Press, if you go and look at Third World Press it begins even from when the slaves were brought from Africa, all the way through the civil rights movement, all the way through all the things that are happening, even up until probably the [19]90s, and it's by Third World Press and it's called Afro American Studies I would like for everybody to really begin to

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 31 understand why people do what they do and how they do what they do to survive, you know? But I know, as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ and that's what I say is that it is not enough to survive. That's not it. Surviving is not living. I mean, it's preserving life, but it's not living, and so we need to live, not just survive. So, survival is how we' re still doing this thing, you know? That's where the fear sets in, it's because people are still trying to just survive, just survive. You have to step out of your little box, and you have to get from behind the chalk line. You have to step out into somet hing deeper and greater in order to live, and if you allow people to keep you back there, and if you allow people to keep you in that frame of m ind, that little box, then you're never going to live, you know? But you've got to be willing to do like other p eople. They risked their life, you know? In order for other people to be able to live. So, it's not a risk, and there's no real risk in living; to really live life. But, if you're only trying to survive . and that's what we're doing right now. I'm work ing with parents all the time; in fact, I was walking to another minister just Thursday night, and I was talking to him about a house for a family, and he was looking at me like, Reverend Lunsford why are you always trying to bother people? So I was sayi ng to him, I said, you know this family that I'm visiting and I do home visiting sometimes I get out there and it' s way out there, in Slaughter. I'm driving all the time out there, and I get out there, this young woman is doing well. She reminds me of myse lf, right? She's got these kids and she's in this house and she's in a trailer, and when I go out there

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 32 and it rains, I can't get to the house because the trailer is in water. Now, I've been in a situation like that. So, I'm saying all the time, all the ti me this comes to my mind: I'm going to get her a house. How am I going to do this? So, my question to her one day was, would you like to move? [Laughter] I mean, it's simple, isn't it? She said, no. I said, well, listen, let me ask you another question. Ho w are you going to fix up your place? You know you've got five children. You've got four children, you're going to have another baby, so how are you going to do this? How are you going to fix up the place? Well, she would get started on this, but then she' d get to feeling bad. But one thing about it is this: she was an excellent, excellent, excellent mom. I mean, she'd get those kids up every day at 5:30, and she sends one child out at about six o'clock on the bus, and she said, ooh, I be trying to take me a nap, and then I get back up and I make breakfast or the other kids, and then I send them out. Then she had another little baby, and she'd be there. Then she said, then, I've got to take care of this, and then I got to get dinner done and this, this, this and I love her. We are talking all the time. So I say, well, you know, now let me ask you this and all I'm doing right now is trying to get her to change her mind. I'm just asking questions to get her to change her mind, to know that she can live better. She can have a better house. She doesn't have to settle for this. You know? But right now, that's where she is. So, I don't want to try to make her feel that it's not good, and I say, well, you get up every morning and you I don't get up every morning and cook breakfast at my house,

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 33 you know? But every day my granddaughter lives with me and my granddaughter doesn't want to eat at home; she wants to eat with all the kids at school, so every day I give her money so she can eat with the kids, because if I fix her food, she's going to have to eat it, but when she's with the kids, she'll eat. But this mom gets up every, every morning, 5:00. 5:30, she's got breakfast ready. Now, she doesn't have an income. Have you ever lived without an income? Just tell the trut h. No. Have you? No. Absolutely not. She has no income, like money that you put in your hand. No income. But she gets food stamps and she has a medical card for the kids. I asked her one day; I sad, have you ever thought about going to TANF? And TANF is th e Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. I say, have you ever thought about going to TANF and everything? She said, I thought about it, but they said I had to work at the catfish farm, and I will not work at the catfish farm, because it's devastating wor k. It's just like the cotton field. You see? She's made some decisions about this. So, what she does, is her mama gives her money, her sister gives her money and stuff like this, but she doesn't have any income. She don't have no money, see. I'm telling yo u that this stuff goes down from generation to generation to generation, and it has to stop with me. It has to stop with you. It has to stop with her. So, I'm working with moms all the time, saying, do you want to go back to school? What do you want to do? This, this, this. It's hard to go to school with children. I went to school, I went back to school when my youngest son who's now forty years old was getting in first grade all

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 34 day. I went to Marquette University. But I wouldn't have been able to go if it hadn't been for educational opportunity programs. I wouldn't have been able to pay Marquette University, because it's very expensive. I still owe them money, you see? So, I'm saying that we've got to start to say, this ain't living. This is just trying to survive. I know it was trying to survive, because I would come from schools some days because I couldn't work and go to school at that particular time and I would come from school some days and try to look up at my house, see if my lights were still on. I 'm telling you: see, I know this is not just survival. I am not kidding. Would look up to see if my lights were still on. Then, if they weren't, I would have to spend time down at the electric comp any before I went to Marquette which was down the street fr om Marquette trying to get my lights back on. Then, I used to be able to study while I was sitting there, waiting for the people. Then they start doing muzak, and I couldn't study. So, there's all kinds of things, all kinds of stuff that people don't know that people really go through. So, I've been trying to get I'm going to get her a house. [Laughter] I'm going to get her a house. But she's living in this trailer, and let me tell you how people change, though. I was going out there, and it so much trash a nd grass and everything all around it and everything, that when I would get out of my car and it had been raining, I'd have to push my leg way over like this and kind of get out so I wouldn't step down in the water. The mud was kind of soft. So, I would go up under you know, there's a big truck out there that doesn't run, and the lumber was laying

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 35 over this way, so I jump under there, and then they had, the steps were about this far apart because she's trying to have a step at her house. I would get on the bricks, the big brick things that they had laying up there with some wood on top of them, and sometime the wood would be broken, so I step over this way and step over that way, but I'll go in that house. When I would get in there, we'd talk. But listen. On e day I went out there, and this man said I was it was her brother or her cousin, or maybe even her boyfriend, and they had gotten so used to me coming and talking and everything to her and then bringing things for the baby and everything. So, one day I went out there, they had put some gravel so that I didn't have to walk in mud. See? So I thought, oh, thank you, that's really good. This is what I'm talking about. I didn't stop going. I haven't been out there now in about two or three weeks, and I need t o be there. I mean, I need to go, because I don't want her to think that I have abandoned her. So, this is the work that we do at the university. Don't nobody know at the university we doing this. They just know on some piece of paper somewhere that they g ot some names of some people. They don't know how people living, you know? They don't know that there are twenty five people living in this little trailer, and when you walk not this one, but another one and when you walk on the floor, the floor kind of sh akes like that. You know? People don't know these things. They don't know this. N: Yeah, that's kind of a question that I have in my mind, how do you get different groups of people to see each other? Because there's always so

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 36 much fighting across the issu es, and there's different sides. How do you get people to see each other, to see that this is happening? L: Well, I'm not real sure that you . well, we're trying to do something in Indianola now through the Delta Health Alliance, and there was a meeti ng on Thursday night. I did attend that meeting. It does sound like what you're saying is that there's so much territorialism that my little program and my little this and my little that. But what we did in Milwaukee is have coalitions. You know? I think c ollaboration and coalitions are the ways that you can come together and talk to people across the aisle as they say in D.C. across the aisle, and help them to see that this is really not about you and your little old small, in your end, though, this is abo ut the life of people. See, when you go to lunch, you may pay $125 dollars for a plate and throw half of it away, and somebody would be happy, excuse me, just to have something to eat. Doesn't mean that people don't have enough to eat, because most of our families do, and where I'm working, they have food stamps and stuff. But, a lot of times, I used to teach people how to do shopping; nutrition and stuff like that. Well, this has always been my work. And to keep people from not having food at the end of th e month and stuff like this, it's to start teaching them how to do certain kinds of things. But, every agency has what I call a mandate, and they have to serve people. They don't always have enough people to serve, so you go to them and you collaborate wit h them, and you say, look, I got these families over here. If you do this for me, this is what I'll do for you. That's what I do, and

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 37 that's what I've been doing for a long time, saying to somebody, okay, you don't have this at your place, but I got this o ver there and if you do this for me this is what I'll do for you. If you let me kids come and you teach them aquatics, I'll let your kids come and they can do computer. This is how we do it. But you have to respect what everybody is else is doing and kn ow that that's their field, and then invite them to come in and do some of the things. I don't believe in infighting, and I'm not passive. I just watch the scenario and say, now, that's over, what can you do? See, that's what we have to do. This freedom th at is all of ours is about all of us. Not just your little family and my little family; it's about all of us. You are not any more free than I am. Let me tell you why: because, if certain people don't have things, they don't respect what you have. Look at all of the world. Why are we at war? Because some stuff they don't have they think they ought to have, or some ways of being they think you ought to be. We haven't learned that very one thing, and that's that love which sees good. Whatever you're doing is good, whatever this person is doing is good, and then bring all of that together. It's enough for all of us. We got enough to go around for everybody. We have enough in this United States for everybody to have more than they need, and that really is the tr uth. We have so much stuff. How many pairs of shoes do you have? N: [Laughter] Oh . L: Do you know how many pairs you have? N: A lot. I don't know exactly.

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 38 L: A lot. You don't know exactly how many you have, but you ain't got but two feet. Somebod y else could be wearing twelve pairs of those shoes, do you see? But I'm saying that we just kind of get this tunnel vision and stuff, and we've got so much more than we need. Every Saturday today is Saturday I bet you if I drove down one of these streets, everybody'd be having a rummage sale. They can't sell it if don't nobody buy it. But somebody needs it, so somebody's over there giving it; and they don't want it, so they want to get some money for it so they can go buy some more stuff, you know what I'm saying? So, I'm just saying, it's for us to be more conscious, you know, and to have a different level of consciousness; a different level of awareness, and where you are bringing people to that level, rather than go to that level. Talk to your friends, p eople. I say to people, they say, oh, I hate her. I say, well, why? You got two legs. She got two legs. Isn't that nice? She dresses differently from you, so what difference does it make? She's doing what she's doing, you're doing what you're doing. So, th at's so important. I think that this is what the civil rights movement was all about. We just didn't have the same rights that other people had, and because we didn't, we had to die for this. I tell these kids, this cost, this cost. It cost the ultimate. A ll you have is your life, and that's what it cost, so you can live and not just try to struggle every day. You've got to come on, you know? You've got to come on and live now. So, we got to work, you know? We have to work with everybody, for everybody's sa ke. Now that I'm finished preaching .

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 39 N: No, right. You touched on so many things, as I'm . you touched on some of these larger questions; I think you've already addressed them. You've been wonderful. Do you have any . ? E: No, that was grea t. N: Any questions. I mean, I think you've already even answered this, how did being in the movement impact your life? L: Well, it is my life. I mean, it has impacted my whole life. It really has. But it's not just the movement. I went into the movement on a prayer, and that was, God, show me yourself. Show me how I know the things that you have shown me as a child. Teach me how to understand them. Teach me of yourself, and then I will come back to Mississippi and I will teach your people. But I was ten years old, and I didn't even know I was going out of Mississippi. I was just trying to get religion. But my whole life changed at that moment, when I was ten. So, this has just been a journey of moving. Then, you know, when you're kids, you don't know what you're saying, but it became so clear to me that I wasn't the one who was saying it; it was the spirit in my saying it, through me. As I went through the civil rights movement, and so many things, I said, now, if I had known that this is what it was going to be, I probably wouldn't ask God to do this, you know? I'm serious. But, because I was open and receptive to really learning, because as children we were taught that God was in the sky and going to really get us and stuff like this. When we were getting ready to, what we call in the Baptist church, get religion, we have to be on the mourner's

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 40 bench for ten days. So, for ten days, you couldn't play or anything; you had to pray, and you had to, you know, get ready for the religion. So, people were coming b ack to church in the evening and they were saying they saw their hands turn white and I never did see that. I was saying to myself, now, what is all this that they're seeing? You have to have evidence for people that you had religion. So, you had to say so mething had changed about you, you know. That's what I was listening to. So, my friends who are my age we were all ten, probably nine and ten and eleven and we were supposed to, by the end of those two weeks, confess that we had religion and soul. I'm tryi ng to make sure that I know, I don't want to just say something, because I really wanted to do that. I really wanted religion. They would be saying they saw the sun dance, and I was saying, well, I got to try to see that. [Laughter] I would be standing, an d I remember standing my mom's yard and she was out there washing one day, and she had this big pot and fire under the pot. She was boiling the sheets and all of that stuff is what they used to do; well, we don't do that any more. So, I'm looking up at the sun and I'm trying to see thi s ; I got to see this sun dance, because if I don't see a dance, I'm not going to have religion. I wanted to go back in the evening to tell them that I had religion, because I wanted to start playing. I didn't want to keep on s itting on the bench. So I looked up at the sun and I kept saying, well, how they see the sun dance? All of the sudden, the sun just turned into a big black ball, right? With this light around it. I thought, now, oh, oh. What has

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 41 happened? What has happened is, my eyes could no longer look straight at the sun, and not in Mississippi, where it's a hundred and forty degrees, you know, right where I'm standing. It just came to me, that the sun didn't dance, and my eyes just couldn't look at the sun anymore. So, then I went to church, and the people were still getting up around me, saying what they had seen. I thought, uh oh. So, I went back; somebody said that they saw the wheel in the middle of the wheel, so I knew that had to be at night, right? I'm out there at night, trying to look up in the stars and see the wheel in the middle. Oh, I did some crazy things because I wanted it so badly. But, by the end of the two weeks, I had not seen any of that. I was praying and I was singing, and they said, go into your c loset and shut the door and pray. That's in the Book of Matthew. When you go into the closet, well, you know we lived in a shotgun house. We didn't have not a closet in that house. So, my mom used to hang a wire across the corner and hang the clothes out t here and put a sheet over them so the gas heat wouldn't fade the sheets. So, we didn't have any closets, so we had outside bathroom, outside toilet, and it wasn't a bathroom; it was just a toilet. So, I would go out there, and my grandmother lived behind u s, and so the toilet was between our house and her house, because we used the same toilet. I would be praying and singing. My grandmother came out there, she said, baby, what's the matter? I said, well, Big Mama, I'm trying to get religion. I said, I have to have religion. She said, baby, you need to go somewhere else and pray. You don't need to be out in the outside

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 42 outhouse, praying and singing. So, I had to leave there, you know, so I started. So I left there, from out in the toilet singing, and I would go around the house and I'd sing and I'd pray until the last day. The last day, everybody had gotten up off the mourner's bench. I was sitting, 4:00 in the morning, waiting to go to the cotton field. My friends were standing on the corner. It was summertim e, just before school started. I sat on the back steps and I said, Lord, I guess I'm not getting religion this year. I said, you know I tried to see everything everybody saw, and I didn't see any of that. I said, but if you show me yourself, if you teach m e of yourself, if you show me yourself, I will come back to Mississippi and I will teach your people. Now, you know, I was ten years old, but I spoke those words and here I am. But it took forty years. It took forty years for that to happen. But, look. I w ent back to the church and I didn't say any of the things that they said. I just got up and they did not want to baptize me, but the Holy Spirit moved in a mighty way that night, that morning, 4:00 in the morning when I said to God, show my yourself; teach me of yourself, and I will come and teach your people. Then, it's like the whole everything around me just swerved into me. I was swerving, and everything was one, and then I really got scared. I thought, oh, Lord, now maybe I shouldn't have said. But the dew on the ground at 4:00 in the morning was, like, standing straight up like this; just splashing and I was part of the fig tree and the peach tree and the cucumbers and everything that was in the garden. We had a big pine tree and everything was just w hirling. I was thinking, Lord, now I've done

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 43 something really wrong now. But I couldn't tell the people at the church. I just wouldn't say it. I couldn't say it, because I didn't know. I didn't understand. But I said but I just stood up, and they didn't wa nt to baptize me because I didn't say what other people said, you know? So, they had a controversy about whether to baptize me or not. My grandmother said, now, look, this child has religion. If anybody has it, she has it. If she said that, if she said she did, she does. So, they did baptize me. We were standing in the water in the Sunflower River, right here in Indianola, and the minister had been talking about the Holy Spirit, see, the key is teaching. I had said, I wanted to know it, but I didn't realize that's what it was. It was the anointing of the Holy Spirit that happened, and I didn't know how to say it; I didn't know how to tell the people, and I was scared to tell them, you know? Because if they didn't want to baptize me, how was I going to tell t hem about something like the Holy Spirit? So, I got baptized, was standing in the water and you know you stand in the water in the river, where all the snakes and everything are. The preacher said, Lord, send us a cool breeze, because it was hot. Just abou t the time he said that, the trees started to bend like that, and I was, I said, see, I know that what I felt was real. You know? I got baptized. But, in the evening, we had what we call the right hand of fellowship. So, in the evening, they was shaking ev erybody's hand; glad that they had joined the church, but they were just doing light in my hand, like that. I thought, now, what is this? But, by the last one shook my hand, the Spirit spoke me and said, it's not

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 44 between you and them. It's just between you and me. That's how I've lived my life, all my life, which is why I was attracted to Mrs. Hamer and why I was attracted to things that were spiritual things and that were going. So I've been doing this for fifty years, and just being rejected. Even now I g et rejected. They don't let me in their pulpits and stuff like that, but I teach. Sometimes, I only have but one student, but I teach. I teach them what God has given me to teach them, and I have one person at Bible class on Wednesday night. The churches a re full, but I have one person, and we are looking at metaphysics: the metaphysical understanding above the physical, and I continue to do it, because part of that journey was to go to the Johnnie Colemo n Institute in Chicago, when I was getting ready to g et a master's degree in social work. My friend was at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, and she said, you need to come to the PEER Program, because you can get the money you need to get your master's degree. At that time, the Holy Spirit spoke to m e and say, now, where you going? I answer, say, I'm going to the University of Wisconsin to get a social work degree; a master's in social work. The Spirit spoke to me like I'm talking to you and said, have you noticed that, no matter how many PhDs we have no matter how many MDs, no matter how this, it doesn't solve human problems? This is a job for the spirit, for the Holy Spirit. We say Holy Spirit because it's a movement. I stopped, with all the papers that I was about to fill out. I was going to either that place or I was going to the MATC, which was the Milwaukee Area Technical College. They were the

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 45 school that certified people for the license for counseling for alcohol abuse and alcohol treatment and stuff, and I've worked in prevention and intervent ion in drug abuse in the Milwaukee public schools. So, all of these things come together, you know? So, I didn't go to get a master's. Upon the same unction of the Holy Spirit, I went to ministerial school instead. For five years, almost, we drove from Mil waukee to Chicago in the sleet, the rain, the snow, the ice, everything, to do that. You know? And sitting on an L. Waiting for the L to pass. Taking the bus, you know? All kinds of things. Even the last day, when I went to get my ministerial license, I al most didn't make it. Five minutes and I wouldn't have made it before the license and ordination committee board. I was sitting somewhere on the L in Chicago, in the middle of the city; couldn't move, you know. When I got ready to do my first dissertation, or the speech, that they called it, for the license, sitting in the middle of coming all the way from Milwaukee; 4:00 in the morning, sitting in the middle of the city for the L. Five minutes I got there; five minutes in time to do that. So, I'm saying tha t nothing really is an accident, so just coming back to Mississippi is part of that journey and it's part of that journey. I've come back and I see a lot of different kinds of things that have changed, but I see a lot of things that have not changed. I see a need I don't see no need. I see, because in spirit, there is no real need. There's no need at all. So, I don't see a need. I see us changing, coming into a new awareness; coming to a level of understanding where none of us can make it unless all of us d o. That's hard to tell people and

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 46 it's hard to say to people when you've got everything you need and somebody doesn't have what he or she needs. I don't mean need, but when you can make a difference you know in that. All of this came through the civil righ ts movement, for a time, and then, through wok that I was doing through the Community Relations Social Development Commission in Milwaukee, and through Marquette University and then through the Johnnie Colemon Institute and then through this and then back to Mississippi and all of that. It all started, like, right here in Indianola. People say, how did you get to Indianola to Nassau, week before last? At a conference on panorama of truth, getting truth into areas where people can really begin to understand this. I said, well, it all started in Indianola, Mississippi, sitting on the back steps at 4:00 in the morning, just simply saying to God, show me yourself. You know, please, and I will come back and teach your people. Yet, sometimes I think I probably sho uldn't have made that kind of declaration, because it's hard. It's not easy, because even your own family doesn't understand sometimes. Your own best friend doesn't really understand that the people who have come before us left a legacy and opportunity, bu t they also left us with a commitment to get this done, or to let God get it done through us. We can't do it. We haven't done it yet. N: What do you mean, your own family? Do you have people saying, oh, that's over with, or . ?

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 47 L: No, they don't say the words over with, but because I'm different, and my sister tells me, she says, well, I am my sister's a principal at one of these schools here; I have five sisters, I'm the first sister and so they don't . they are a different religion. They are Bap tist, and they've always been Baptist. When I talk about Universal Foundation for Better Living, when I talk about it is God's will that everybody live a healthy, happy and prosperous life; that's the intent for us being here, that's not in the tenants of their religion, so they don't quite get it. They don't understand how you, or how I can leave Milwaukee and come back to Mississippi, when I was at the top of my field I was the associate executive director and how I can just leave that and come back to Mi ssissippi. Sometimes I wasn't working. Even now, I'm not making the kind of money that I made when I was there in Milwaukee. My husband says sometimes, see, if we had staye d in Milwaukee, there's no telling where we would be, you know? So family people jus t saying, wow, you know, we could really have this great big house or we could have remodeled that hous e in Milwaukee, and here we are; we're in Mississippi and the people don't want you here. Sometimes my husband says, people don't even want you in Indian ola. I said, well, that's all right. I'm here. This way. I have a right to be here, because I'm from Indianola. It's not that I don't try to impose things on people, because this is a mighty work. You really have to be committed to it, because you can't ju st do it. It's a mighty work. Therefore, I don't try to impose things on people. I do what I need to do, where I am, and I do

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 48 what the spirit say do, as Fannie Lou said. I just do what the spirit say do. Sometimes I don't what the spirit say do because I b e scared of the people. I say, no, I better not say that. [Laughter] So, sometimes I don't say what I need to say because I know that people have to be in a different frame of mind in order to get it, and so you don't want to alienate people. I don't say t hings; I just try to let it . N: What were these documents that you brought with you? L: Oh, this is just some things that now, I was trying to do a master's degree in Biblical Studies, and that's my real thing, is teaching Bible, to teach people ho w to understand the Bible. So these are just some of the things that I had to present to get to be in the school, so I just had a collection. Now, that's me. E: Oh. N: Oh. How old were you there? L: This is when I graduated from college. I was about thi rty, mm hm; thirty something. Of course you can see, I was in all the African American stuff, and I was in African American Studies and all kinds of stuff. For fifteen years, I wore African geles and everything, so that's why my sister always be saying, Lo rd, have mercy; now she got on the African gele. [Laughter] So, this is just, now, this is my ordination stuff, and this is when I was ordained in 1987. So, I had to present this to them. Then, this is my letter of introduction, and I talked about the civi l rights movement in this. So, this

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 49 was my life experience, and what I was telling you guys right here. So, it's not different. N: Wow. L: Mm hm. When I came back, I was the chaplain of the Seyah H ospice in Inverness, but I realized that our people are not unhappy because they're sick; they're sick because they're unhappy. We have a lot of sick people, you know, and they're sick because they're not living life. They're just kind of trying to survive. So, this was my introduction to that. N: So, what yea r did you come back to Mississippi? L: I came back in [19]93, and that's where this plaque that I showed you was from: [19]93 is when I was leaving them, so they just gave me a thank you. I left in [19]93, and I came here, and then this plaque I'm trying to think, now, what is this plaque? This is . oh, this is when I was working in Inverness as a volunteer, and I volunteered to be their chairperson for the Crossroad Prayer Project, and so I taught their parents and also worked with them and those kids were the highest in the state, from the parents and all of us working together. This is GED program at Mississippi Valley State University, where we had the this is HELP, HELP is for the High School Equivalency Program Graduation, so I spoke to them. I w as also there to volunteer to help them learn how to work with non traditional students and also to help them do staff training. From the volunteering, that's how I got the job that I have now. So, it's just been milestones, just working and helping with s tuff. So, these are just a few of the things. Now,

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 50 that 's my ordination, that's my license; I was Novick at that particular time. This is from the Universal Foundation for Better Living, and the Reverend Doctor Johnnie Colemon, who is my other spiritual m other, signed it here. That's just a copy of that picture that I had to send to them. This is a ministerial license that we have to have all the time and this was in 2002, when I went for my master's. I didn't get it, though, because I took my granddaughte r she's not fourteen, thinks she's thirty five but I brought her here from Wisconsin, and so she's in school here, giving me a real hard time. You know a fourteen year old? So, this is our principles of truth; this would be, like, our ethics. This is minis ter seminar, liabilities. They have to teach us a lot of stuff, because you know ministers get into trouble. This is the center that I developed here, so I have a Better Living center. N: The Christ Delta Center? L: Chris t Delta Center for Better Living and a study group. Now we're incorporated, and it's here, at 462 East Street, so I have a classroom there, and about thousand and thousands of books, so I have a reading room. You know, people want to come in and read and do things, learn more. But, see, t hey're now allowed to do that, and I can't say they're not allowed to do it, but when you are talking about spiritual principles and living by spiritual principles, it's more than reading one scripture in the Bible. It's really understanding the whole Bibl e. So a lot of times people and I read it to open their minds to more than that because I keep telling

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 51 people; in fact, I was telling somebody the other day, you all have to let God up out of your Bible because God is right here now, today, helping us do everything that we need to do and in heaven and everywhere else. So we are endowed with great things, and we need to be doing those things right. Well, that's not very popular; you can't tell people that from other places, because then they go back and the y say that, and then they say, well, you know, she's a cult over there; y'all can't be going over there. [Laughter] This is our first organizing meeting, meaning that we had to organize, and our foundation principle is, there's only one presence and one in telligence in the universe, and that is God, the good, omnipotent, the everywhere present spirit of absolute good, so absolute good is for all of us. Then this is what we do on Sunday; your hour of towering power. So, we're getting ready to do a radio prog ram from that. This is spiritual counseling contracts that we do, spiritual counseling with people These are just some of our bulletins things that I do at our center. We used to have some members, but they moved out of Mississippi and left me here. This is most of them. Then these are codes of ethics of the ministry and news articles and events conducted by our church. This is me when I joined the school board here in Indianola. N: What work do you do with the school board? I mean, you're a member of th e school board, but is L: Member of the school board, mm hm. N: But what are the main issues today with the schools?

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 52 L: Well, our main issue is that we are trying to make sure that our kids are bridging the gap between where other kids are in the state and where our kids are, so, we're doing that; we're trying to work toward it. I was the president for one year, one year, and then, workshops that I've done. I did this, creating a winning attitude, and I created this workshop and I did it with people. Th is is important, to create the winning attitude with people. I did this one in Jackson, I think. This was one done in Jackson. Then I try to do this one here on a special Saturday. Now, look how long that's been; this is 2000, this is 2009. It was just bri nging everybody together, and it says, men, teachers, laity community leaders, women, parents, administrators, human service people, to bring everybody together so that they could begin to understand the connecting of the whole person. You know? Nobody car ed. They didn't come. N: You tried to do it recently? You tried to do it this year? L: No, I haven't done it anymore. N: That was when you tried to L: But I'm going to try to do it again, but and by here, spirit, mind, and body, but I did do it at Mi ssissippi Valley State for their social work conference. They asked me to do it because there is I want you all to get from the Children's Defense Fund, The Rain Don't Fall to the Ground Down Here Have y'all ever heard of it? You haven't ever heard of it? I should have brought you a copy of that, and that's a study of the Delta, and it's also a

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 53 study of Delta in Alabama and Louisiana about how the people are doing, you know? N: The Rain Don't Fall L: The Rain Don't Fall to the Ground Here That's from t he Children's Defense Fund, and you know Marion Wright Edelman, she works the . she developed the Children's Defense Fund. So these are just worksho ps and differen t things that I have done. This is dynamic laws of prosperity, trying to teach people tha t it's God's will for them to be prosperous; for them to have everything that they want, need, or desire, and to teach them those laws. We live by laws every day, and to teach them those things. So, I just said they are to live the good life now, because w e're waiting for heaven So these are just some of the things that I just brought to share with you, because this is part of my journey, because I've been out of Mississippi and back two times. I can't go back nowhere else no more. It just takes too much, and this is and speaking engagements and different things, panel appreciation, and one article that I wrote for the wellness center. And National Association of Social Workers. I've done workshops with them. This is when I was the director at Boys and Girl s Club in Milwaukee. This is just all of the things that I accomplished for the club. This is the Johnnie Colemon Institute where I attended in Chicago. This is a continuing education now. We have to go for continuing education, and I'm so far behind on my credits. Then I also attend all of the different trainings here. This was a overcoming the challenge of a changing society

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M FP 043 ; Lunsford ; Page 54 at Delta State University. Then, doing work with other this is the University of Wisconsin but now, doing with other people, that's what you were asking me. All of this is doing collaboration work with other people who are doing the same work, but in a different way. You know, they're doing what you're doing. So, we have sexual violence, so I've taken all the credits for that; working and doing counseling with people, domestic violence, trying to stop domestic violence. Then, went to I don't know if you know Dr. Robert S c hul ler ? N: I've heard of him. L: Yeah, so we've got training there at his institute in Anaheim, California. I direc ted the prevention and intervention program for the state of Mississippi and Mandala Ministries in Greenwood, so this was, that's what that's from. So we are constantly working on these things. N: Great. L: You all are students now? What are you going t o do? N: Mm hm. Well, maybe we should just thank you for the interview before we start talking about ourselves and go ahead. Thank you so much. [End of interview] Transcribed by: Diana Dombrowski, October 16, 2013 Audit e dited by: Sarah Blanc, January 10, 2014 Final edited by: Diana Dombrowski, March 6, 2014