Helen Sims

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Material Information

Title:
Helen Sims
Physical Description:
Oral history interview
Language:
English
Creator:
Helen Sims ( Interviewee )
Paul Ortiz ( Interviewer )
Publication Date:

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Oral history
Civil rights movement--Mississippi--History--20th century
Blues (Music) -- Mississippi -- Delta (Region)
African Americans -- Mississippi -- Delta (Region) -- Music
Genre:
Temporal Coverage:
1960 - 2012
Spatial Coverage:
United States of America -- Mississippi -- Sunflower

Notes

Summary:
Sims talks about the African tradition of storytelling, and of the impact of Fannie Lou Hamer. She also talks about the development of blues music awards in the Delta, and the role of music in Mississippi life. People mentioned include: Fannie Lou Hamer, George Lee, Pearl Carpenter, Ernest White, Haley Barbour, Denise Le Salle, Pinetop Perkins, B.B. King, Betsy Smith, Ma Rainey, Billie Holiday, Koko Taylor and Thomas Dorsey. Locations include Sunflower County and Belzoni, 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 110
Classification:
System ID:
AA00021048:00001


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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 110 Interviewee: Helen Sims Interviewer: Dr. Paul Ortiz Date: September 20, 2012 S: Okay. Y'all ready? Do y'all want to meet Helen Sims or is it all right for t he Storyteller? I mean, you're talking to me, so . O: Whatever you're comfortable with. S: Oh, I'm comfortable right now. Let's do this. O: All right. Could you tell us wh y I mean, why the museum? Why is it important for us to learn this history? S: I think that, if history is not accurately portrayed i f history is not available to the people of the present then they will live a life in the future miseducated, misinformed I think that each one of us has a responsibility to record and document. In my life, my stepfather was old enough to be my mom's dad, and he was a storyteller. Part of the African culture is storytelling. When we came over to America, we didn't know how to read and write, but we knew how to tell the stories. It was always important for us to accurately tell our children about their past, so that they could embrace it, learn from it, and cast the positive as well as the negative onto their childr en. It was important, imperative, for me to begin work ing with passing on the stories in an empowering way, to encourage the young peo ple that yes, this be your past, b ut look at what a powerful impact that you past has had on your present. And, if we con tinue to learn and embrace those positive, powerful things that made us who we are today, who we is, then it will make us better people in the future. So, we passing the torch of knowledge in the present, of the past, to the future.

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M FP 110 ; Sims ; Page 2 O: Now, at the Universi ty of Florida I hate to say this, but, unfortunately many of our students, if you ask them, who was Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer? They have no idea. Can you tell me about her? I mean, who she was, and why we should know about her? S: Fannie Lou Hamer was a woman that, I believe, God and this is my opinion that God had called Fannie Lou Hamer for a season such as the 1960s. Fannie Lou Hamer was a de termined, anointed woman of God w ho, when she found out what her rights were, and the fact that she had been denied s o many different things, and that there was a movement that would help you put those rights in pe rspective in the forefront then when she received the knowledge and the process, which was registering to vote, learning about constitutional rights, human rig hts, knowing many ways how we w ere already denied and deprived; Fannie Lou Hamer, at that point, was called to be the woman that she was. In other words, she was like a sleeper. She was a person that was waiting to be touched with the knowledge that you ar e needed. You can make a difference. And, when Fannie Lou Hamer realized that her people were suf fering from a lack of knowledge, they w as not informed of their rights, and, understanding what full right would give each human being in the state of Mississi ppi, especially blacks in the Mississippi Delta, then Fannie Lou Hamer enlisted in the army of human rights and c ivil rights equality and justice for all. A nd she said, I am a soldier, I'm willing to fight, and I will fight all the way to my last breath. In other words ladies and gentlemen,

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M FP 110 ; Sims ; Page 3 Fannie Lou Hamer decided that she would devote the rest of her life helping other people who had been denied, deprived; who had had injustices imposed upon them because one man thought he was better than another man. O ne race wanted to be dominant, and the other race wanted them to be recessive So, what's happening now is recessive. Excuse me? Excuse me? Unidentified female: She had a question. Unidentified female II: I wanted to ask a question. So she actually did mak e a change for you to know about her? She has to make a change. S: Well, let me say it in a language that The Storyteller would tell you. I think I need to kind of keep it in character because that always explains better Fannie Lou Hamer and her life. Fan nie Lou Hamer realized early on that somebody had to stand up for those who could not stand up. And she realized that somebody had to speak up for those who could not speak up. And she realized that fear had taken so many people and cowered them down to wh ere they was just accepting things as the way they were. And Fannie Lou Hamer was one of those people that said, no, we're not going to take it anymore. We going to stand up, we going to fight for the rights of people, whether they be black or white, poor, disenfranchised; we going to stand up and we going to fight for them. And we going to fight even if it means losing our lives. And no, we not going to turn around and hate as they have hated, but we going to love them and we going to keep on fighting. And she said, if I fall, I'll fall five feet, four inches forward, not

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M FP 110 ; Sims ; Page 4 backwards. She kept marching on, knowing the cost, because she knew that every human being deserve human rights, c ivil rights equal rights. And then she believed in the Word of God, that we was all God's children, and we deserve the best that America had to offer. We had worked for it. We had fought in the war. We had died for it. And now she and a few other brave soldiers was going to stand up and fight for those that wouldn't and couldn' t fight for themselves. She was determined to make a difference, and a difference she did make. Students with education, with food and nutrition, with human rights and c ivil rights and equal rights, she stood and faced down the biggest and most powerful pe ople in this nation. She faced them down because she said, you have a right to be treated as a decent human being. And she said, if we cannot be seated to represent the blacks in the Mississippi Delta, the blacks in America, then I question whether this be America. She questioned the Constitution; she questioned the Founding Father's principles that this great state was founded on. She faced them down. And, because of that, we today enjoy to the and many others, but especially Fannie Lou Hamer: with her com mitment and dedication and sacrifice, we are allowed to register, we are allowed to vote, we have many rights that we were denied. Because segregation means separation. But integration mean togetherness, and that's what Fannie Lou was fighting for. Did I a nswer your question? O: Oh, yes. S: Okay. [Laughter]

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M FP 110 ; Sims ; Page 5 O: And George, Reverend Lee, even fewer people know S: About Reverend George Lee. Reverend George Lee was a Baptist minister, and he came to Belzoni, Mississippi. He scraped in spite of the circumstan ces his mom, family, being dead and he managed to get him education. Went to New Orleans and worked on the banana docks, shipping and packing bananas and things of that nature. And he saved money, enough money to ultimately leave that setting and come buy him a printing press, start a grocery store, open up a business, become a successful businessman in Belzoni in Humphreys County C alled into the ministry in 1930. Most people that you will learn that really made a difference, God had a calling on their lif e. George Lee was no different. He was a man with a calling on his life, a successful businessman that was put in a position to make a difference, and a difference he made. To everyone that would listen, even in his congregations, his church, he kept preac hing voter registration; voter rights. One day, he was empowered with a vision by God that, one day, we would be able to choose the congressmen and even the president, and we could become congressmans and presidents. He had a vision and a foresight into th e future like no other, and he would not be denied. He was a wealthy businessman by the standards of the Mississippi Delta, but he would sell his soul that his other brothers could not enjoy the liberties that God intended. So George Lee made the ultimate sacrifice. He died for voter rights and voter registration, but he preached it in his congregation and he

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M FP 110 ; Sims ; Page 6 preached it up and down the streets. So, he was a man that I want to honor, and that is why the first African American museum of history and heritage founded in this county was founded honoring and wearing his name, because he paid the ultimate price and he wouldn't back down. He didn't sell out. He wanted me to have the right to register to vote, but more especially, to choose the candidate of my choic e. O: Mrs. Si ms, could you tell me about your vision for the museum and the connection between the c ivil rights struggle and the blues? S: When I started working with the after school program back in the [19]90s and doing research and, unfortunately, blac k history month is just one month and working with the children to do their black history projects, I began to dabble and dig into history. I always had a love for it. But, looking at how much we miss eleven months out of the year; how much that was in the pages of history, that was not known to many children in many communities, especially this one, and finding the role that people like George Lee played in American history, Mississippi history, and knowing that it is an element of pride and empowerment an d sacrifice that need to be taught every day are available to teach on a desired basis, but necessary; that people would be able to learn from whence they came. How did we arrive at this point? We made it because of Reverend George Lee, Fannie Lou Hamer, and many, many others that I could call local people that other folk don't even know about. My goal was to make sure that they knew a woman by the name of Pearl Carpenter a man by the

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M FP 110 ; Sims ; Page 7 name of Ernest White, and many other people of the c ivil rights m ovement The Lee family, t hat's how I got my niche or my touch with the c ivil rights m ovement I started when I was a little girl, singing with the Lee family not George Lee family, but another great c ivil rights family here in the Mississippi Delta, right her f rom Belzoni of this county. The m ovement at that time the movers and the shakers of the c ivil rights m ovement after the death of Reverend George Lee, my mom and dad were they neighbors. My father married the Lee daughter. So, my connection with the c ivil rights m o vement became very strong. And then I understood how important it was that we teach our children, recognize our unsung heroes, highlight who we was. Don't run from the truth; recognize who we are, embrace, and then learn and move forward because we made a difference in the state of Mississippi through the c ivil rights struggle. And that is why it is so important for me to honor Reverend George Lee with a museum with his name on it. That, when people like yourself come in I could him the story about the Civil rights Movement Reverend George Lee, and I could tie the blues and the gospel and the struggle of the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta together, and tell them that you can't have one without the other. It was because we struggled so hard d oing the time and the transi tion from slave to sharecropper. F rom sharecropper, suffering the injustices that we did because we never work long enough, we could never work hard enough, we could never pay the debt that we didn't even owe. So, we had to sing about an injustice that was powerless

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M FP 110 ; Sims ; Page 8 to do anything about, and when we sung about it in the ju k e joints, we sung about it one way. But, when we sung about in the church choir, we sung about in a different way. Because, when we was around Mama in the cott on fields, we could say it one way; but, when we was in the church, round the pastor, we had to sing it a different way. So, the difference between the blues and the gospel was where you were when you were singing it, because both of them represented the t ruth of a people that was struggling in a time. To me, blues and gospel is just true life experience, but when you get the spirits in you, you see you sing it a little different. And when you in the church, you dance to a different drummer's tune. But, if you look at the drummer, he be the same one on Saturday night as he be on Sund ay morning. But, see, in the ju k e house, I could tell really how Johnny was doing it when he got drunk, but when I got to church, what I had to do, I had to say with the Lord, yo u got to help me because J ohnny be a drunk. But in the ju k e house, I sai d, Johnny be a drunk I n the ju k e house, he drinking that old corn liquor that old Papa Joe moonshining over across the creek over there. But, in church, I couldn't tell off on Papa Jo e, so I had to do it one way in the church house and another way in the ju k e house but I wasn't confused, I know who I be talking to. So, because I could dance in the ju k e house, it allowed me to connect to my African roots, because music is a universal la nguage, but music also heals. And the music in the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta healed the ills of the people that was in the field. And then, when we got to the church house

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M FP 110 ; Sims ; Page 9 and we talked to our spiritual connection, it began to heal our ills. S o, we go from blues, the cotton field, to heal our ills t o the church house, to our spiritual connection. And then, because of the struggle that encompassed the c ivil rights the sharecropper, the slave, we receive blues in gospel music. And that is the co nnection that healed the people in the state of Mississippi. That's where we drew our source of power; our spiritual connection to the gospel, our spirit connection to the blues. Because the blues allowed us to get a spirit connection from the bottle When we got to dancing and drinking, we did get forgetting some things. But, from Africa, our roots: music heals, t he dance heals. So, even though we were disconnected, what made us and what makes us who we are keeps us connected. That's how music and our spi ritual blues. I don't know whether I answered your question or not. [Laughter] O: Beautiful. Mrs. Simms, you've become a very noted educator, museum director; we've heard all about you in the state of Florida, and we're just so honored to be here today. I wonder if you could what have been some of your favorite stories about, maybe, young people who have come through here that you've had a chance to touch with your stories? And what have you seen as an educator in terms of making a difference with that? S: What I've seen, in terms of that, is making to make a difference, you first hav e to be available to the people and willing, sometimes, to tell stories that some people don't want to hear. But you have to press on to keep telling the stories, until people realize they need to hear it; that it's okay to

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M FP 110 ; Sims ; Page 10 hear what is being said, and then to receive it, because we can get the empowerment, we can get that story has to upbuild our lives. The Bible, to me, is a book of a series of different stories. Our life, to me, is a book of a series of different stories. And we must tell them and keep on telling them and m aking them available, because what happened in the [19]40s is still happening today. People hate. People love. People laugh. People get sick and people die. Those are the common things [19]50s, [19]60s, [19]70s, twenty twenty first century, nineteenth century. There are things that we will always have in common. So, we are to build on our positive and negative to become the people that we are. And, if I tell my story or how I overcome infidelity, alcohol, drugs, hatred, prejudice, racism, interracism fa cism and how I struggle with those th ings, surviving over, I overcome. T hen my life struggle will help my daughter's story, if she keep on telling the story. I ho pe I answered your question. [Laughter] O: Yes, you did. And you, when we've talked we talked on the phone and you were telling me that you have, or, this is a volunteer effort here. Could you talk about what that's meant and who has helped you and how y ou have built this museum, and . ? S: The museum was built, and it's starting it was a grassroots, and still is, effort. A lot of people recognize the struggle to want to do. I want to do whether anyone else want to or not. There was a calling on my li fe to tell these stories so that my children's children and others will know them. And there was a few other people that felt the same as I did, and this is

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M FP 110 ; Sims ; Page 11 you're talking, now, a decade and a half ago. Recently, we have more people that is, for whatever r eason, are involved with cultural heritage and all of this stuff now. And we can talk more freely because even our governor, previous governor, Haley Barbour he promoted c ivil rights And, even now, they're getting ready to do one of the biggest c ivil rights museums in the world, I guess, in Mississippi, in Jackson, the state capital. So, it's okay, after a while, to say what we've been saying for a decade and a half. But we wanted to say it; we wanted to highlight it and embrace it and pass it on, whether anyone else wanted to or not. So, that means a struggle back then was with a group of people that were poor folk t hat said, yes, this is our past. Yes, let us get together. Let us build what they say we can't build. Le t us do what they refuse to do. Our f ear of unconcerned. And we decided that we would get together, a few of us, and since that time it has been a few of us. And, because of a few of us, we're moving on a very slow pace. But we're doing it. And, if you really look at it, we are truly connecte d to the cause, because only that which is genuine can produce that which is genuine. Sometimes, we can have too much resources. Sometimes, we can take the struggle out of the struggle and lose the authenticity of the reason why we're here. And, when we do that, it's no longer genuine. And I know that God has allowed us to pace this case, that we could keep this race and journey, I think because of the way we have to do what we're doing. This is a fifteen year journey. Other people come in, decide that the y're going to do it, and do it almost

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M FP 110 ; Sims ; Page 12 overnight. We have had to sacrifice and suffer and struggle, take rejections; been denied and deprived to get to this point. But we are determined, and this is where we've come. And we know our journey has been a good one because it has been an authentic journey b y people that picked the cotton; t hat was part of the c ivil rights m ovement K now what the struggle is about. I didn't read it in a book; I lived it. You see? So, the difference is, when I put up a display, I p ut up one out of meaning and connection, not out of the way I think it's supposed to be or the way somebody written it in a book. When I tell the story, I can tell it with conviction and compassion because I lived the injustices. I took the injustices. It was like licks rolled off of my back. I had to shake them off just like that. I had to do it because I believe that George Lee and Fannie Lou's struggle wasn't in vain. I became spiritually connected to what they endured. So, therefore, I can reflect and p roject Fannie Lou, George Lee, and so many others on so many different levels, because now we face a different meaning The struggle here is a great one, but it's not a black struggle, it's not a white struggle, it's a power struggle; it's a people struggl e. If it's not my baby, I'm not going to rock it. You see, there's a different kind of fight that we got to fight now. When we say we the first c ivil rights museum in the state of Mississippi, twelve years old on December 1, that don't shake off nobody's b ack but ours. We're proud that, twelve years ago, we decided that we need a c ivil rights museum in the state of Mississippi It was seated in a twelve by twelve dimensional

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M FP 110 ; Sims ; Page 13 building; shall I say, room? Because a building, twelve by twelve is mighty small. But, we decided that Mississippi would have the first x ivil rights museum twelve years ago, December 1, chartered with the state of Mississippi. We decided that we would give Mississippi her due. The Mother of Blues is who I be. I decided that Mississippi needed, a long with these other folk here cause I decide nothing by myself the Lord touched our minds and said, Mississippi don't have a blues music award. I got up and I said you know one thing, children, I be the Mother of the Blues. I be calling my chi ldren home. They done got confused; they don't know who they be. They were born in the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta. Some of them left home and went North; some of them went South. They took on other names and n ow, they be denying they own mam a. You see, the group started here in the Mississippi Delta, they be my children. Last year, on November 26, me and Denise Le Salle had a n inaugural what they call it, Blues Music A ward; they called it pre b efore the real thing, you see. And we got on the sta ge and said, Mississippi need its own blues music award. It need a blues reunion. We got to do some things for Mississippi. So we decided that going to do some things because we be the last, seem like be the least. But, you see, until you come home to your family reunion you ain't here, now, children. If you don't recognize who you be, you're all confused. S ome of them want to be soul, some of them want to be hip hop, some of them want to be rock a nd roll, but you be my children. I be the Mother of the Blu es. So, I be calling my children home in

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M FP 110 ; Sims ; Page 14 2013. We going to be having the first big blues awards in the history of the state of Mississippi. Grassroots movement s like this sit back and look at what we don't have, what we haven't done, and what Mississippi d eserves. Mississippi deserves the best, but she be the last one on the list. But I said, before this old grey haired woman leave here, everything that God can put among these children here to tell this old lady to do, I decided that we going to be doing it So now we got a blues reunion, chartered with the state of Mississippi; blues m usic awards and a blues ball Some of them say it going to do a lot for cultur al heritage tourism, but that might be so, but that be all right, too. We going to recognize Miss issippi. It be time I get my due I'm going to grit my step one more time before I leave here, children. So, we decided that Mississippi deserves the best, and everything that she hadn't done from fifteen years ago when we set out with the George Lee Museu m's early days, to recognize what we haven' t done in the Mississippi Delta, what we deserve, and to tell our children, you deserve no less than Memphis, Jackson, anywhere else in the world. You worth it, and you deserve it. And it's not about black folks. It's not about Belzoni. It's not just about Humphreys County, but it's about the whole Mississippi Delta, the whole state. We have been last and least, but these old folks sitting hometown in Reverend George Lee, Pinetop Perkins and Denise La Salle, say, we going to be the first to do some things We might not be recognized for it all, but the state of Mississippi got to know that they registered We

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M FP 110 ; Sims ; Page 15 decided that we would be the first c ivil rights museum, first blues music awards, first blues reunion firs t blues ball And we went got us some lawyers and we incorporated them things and chartered in the state of Mississippi. This little movement right here, we decided Heritage Village, and we went for Heritage Village. We decided that's what we was going to do, see k ing the shelter But that was it. Now, any more questions aside? O: I know you're busy, but just one more question. Could you talk a little bit about the role when people think about the blues, they often think of people like Pinetop Perkins or B.B King. But black women, like Betsy Smith and Ma Rainey, played such an important role. S: Role in the blues. O: Can you talk about the role that women played? S: Oh. I think blues music was just like every industry. Lorraine, Bessie, and a whole lot more of the women of the music back in the day in the cotton fields and the juke joints of the Mississippi Delta, they sung the music just like the men did, but the women was the ones that Billie Holiday, just so many different people that was singing different types of music and singing, especially the blues music, was not recognized for the work that they done till later on. We start digging the blues history and we realize that we had some of the most famous blues singers and some of the best music, speaking to the hearts and the minds of the women, and we played just as important role in the music of the blues. K ok o Taylor, for instance, for a long time, was known as the Queen of t he Blues. Then, after the

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M FP 110 ; Sims ; Page 16 death of K ok o Taylor, we crowned Denise La Salle was known for the Queen of Soul Blues, that's why the Mother of the Blues tell them who they be, because they don't remember but, anyway. K ok o Taylor rightfully owned that title, the Queen of t he Blues. And after her death, we c rowned in 2009 Denise La Salle the Queen of t he Blues after the passing of K ok o Taylor because we recognize the role of women in American music and especially the blues. We have some of the most famous singers in the world in blues music that comes from the Southern region, and we need to highlight or recognize those, and that's what we did. We call it The Divas. See, we famous for a lot of things that's not yet known, The Divas Blues Music Awards, named honoring Denise La Salle. I t's called the La Salle's Divas Blues Music Awards, and t hat's to recognize every woman that ever sung the blues. So, it's a lot of work that's going to come out of this little area, and we have laid a great foundation to recognize the women of the blues, the role that they have played in American music, and hel p our young people to realize that, yes, women do sing the blues, and we have sung it very well, and we'll still sing the blues. [Laughter] O: Thank you so much. Right now, I don't want to take any more of your I know you're really busy S: Yeah, but I lov e I am so glad that you came and give me an opportunity. I am The Storyteller. I was given the gift of gab, and I love to tell the stories. I love to study history, I love history, I love people, and I love

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M FP 110 ; Sims ; Page 17 music. But whatever I do, I love doing it in a po sitive way. I went to the centennial of the Civil War in April of this year. I think that it's so important to put the African American story in the Civil War, and that hasn't been done to my satisfaction. So we're working with incorporating the stories. I have received stories over the past ten or twelve years from people that was eighty, ninety years old, and they have given me their stories and their parents' stories of the Civil War and some of their relatives that participated. And we I, The Storytelle r, along with the Heritage Village staff here is telling those stories, and we incorporated in the centennial of the Civil War. We founded, here, the Blues Society for Belzoni and Humphreys County. I go to the Blues Markers and tell the story behind the p eople that sung the music called the blues, and I be standing up there, telling you about that big corn liquor and that White Lightning, too A nd if y'all don't know who Bo Jack be, he the first run off of that there White Lightning, you see. So, I goes an d travel I think I'm one of the first to do that. And we're just proud of the things that God and the insight he has given us here to break ground on. And if nobody never know who we are, then that's okay. Each time some of you guys come back, it's worth i t all to be able to share our stories with travelers and visitors and students from anywhere in the world. I had a young lady, Amber, come from England the other day. Me and her talked about two hours, me and The Storyteller, telling her the stories of the past. And didn't have no idea the young lady had been here on a gospel tour, for thirty days, and I'm up here telling

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M FP 110 ; Sims ; Page 18 about God and how he warms up and being in all of us and set up circumstances to allow Himself to shine, giving her the parallel in relat ionship to gospel music and the blues, and told her, if you ever sing that song, "Amazing Grace" if you don't know who Georgia Tone was his name was Thomas Dorsey, who was the father of gospel music, but he was a blues singer first. And just sharing thin gs that, how music transcends circumstances and how we become divided and then how we come together after the division, and the unity of love and hope in music and in spiritual empowerment. That young lady left out of here teary eyed and she was jumping up and shouting and going on, and it was just a joy that when people stop here, that they are able to get something from what we have to give. And it's love and respect for all of God's people in a story from the old Storyteller. I'll be your storyteller. So me people call me Lula, some of them, I do the Spirit of Fannie Lou Hamer. I be sick and tired of being sick and tired. I remember when we had to walk them fourteen miles. I love to talk like that, I like the way she talked. But we love loving on people, s haring the story of American and African American history, and now, in a sense, we can share it in a non biased way more than we could in the past. People are coming back here to Mississippi. It's okay for me to mention the word c ivil rights without fear o f being ostracized. It's okay for me to say, voter rights, human rights, register to vote. It's okay now. It's okay for me to say, white folks don't like black folks, and black folks don't like black folks, and black folks don't like white folks, but not a ll

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M FP 110 ; Sims ; Page 19 of us are that way. Some of us, because the love of God lives in His children and, of course the Devil has his own children, too, and we give him that right but what I highlight and love so much is those that be loving on me when I love them back. And I be loving on everybody. [Laughter] [Clapping] S: Thank you. I enjoyed you guys so much. O: Thank you, we really appreciate it. S: I'm hoping that, the next time you guys coming through, you all bring somebody, stop by here and see the old Storyteller. I'l l be here. I won't be going nowhere, the good Lord don't take me, I'm on mind still telling children. I tell you. So, it's been a joy to have you guys here [End of interview] Transcribed by: Diana Dombrowski, July 31, 2013 Audit e dited by: Sarah Blanc, S eptember 19, 2013 Final edited by: Diana Dombrowski, January 2014