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Panel Discussion with Foster King, Steve Rosenthal, Rev. McKinley Mack, Jr., Chris Hexter, Eunice Jenkins Jordan, Margaret Kibbee, Lawrence Guyot, Charles McLaurin ( MP3 )
Panel Discussion with Foster King, Steve Rosenthal, Rev. McKinley Mack, Jr., Chris Hexter, Eunice Jenkins Jordan, Margaret Kibbee, Lawrence Guyot, Charles McLaurin Transcript ( PDF )
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
MFP 080 Interviewee: Panel Discussion with Foster King, Steve Rosenthal, Rev. McKinley Mack, Jr., Chris Hexter, Eunice Jenkins Jordan, Margaret Kibbee, Lawrence Guyot, Charles McLaurin Interviewer: Dr. Paul Ortiz Date: May 27 2011 F K: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Audience: Morning. F K: I'm Foster King and I'll be your emcee for this morning. At this time, I would like to introduce Sunflower County Civil Rights Organization Committee. I would like all t he committee members to stand right now. [Applause] F K: We are absent of Mr. Charles McLaurin at this moment. He had some unfinished business he had to wrap up this morning; he and his wife will be with us shortly. But we have a short program this morning and we were having our program, if you have a program, if you notice, we will have a welcome by our honorable mayor, Steve Rosenthal, and our moderator will be Mr. Chris He xter, a Freedom Summer volunteer, a panelist, who consists of . panelists consist of Ms. Eunice Jenkins Jordan, she participated in voter registration. Mrs. Margaret Kibbee, voter registration. Reverend McKinley Mac k junior, he's a local citizen here who participated in the movement. Charles McLaurin, he was with the Mississip pi Freedom Democratic Party, and Mr. Paul Ortiz, historical legacies of the movement. Then we'll have remarks by one of the committee members, Ms. Stacy White, the co chairperson. At this time, we will bring up honorable mayor Steve Rosenthal. [Applause] S R: Oh, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Excuse me just one moment.
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 2 ! F K: We want to give honor to our Lord and savior. I'm going to ask Reverend Mac k to give us a short prayer. Bow our heads. M M : This morning now, our heavenly father, we come with thanksgiving in our h earts. Thanking you, Lord Jesus, for bringing us this far. Thank you for keeping your arms of protection around us, protect us from dangers seen and unseen. Then, Lord Jesus, we thank you for working us this morning, clothing our right mind with help and s trength, and starting us on another day's journey. Father, we thank you for everything you have done, you are doing, and you're going to do in our lives. Bless us with this day. In Jesus's name, we pray. Amen. Audience: Amen. S R: Good morning, everyone. Au dience: Good morning. S R: I was thinking as I was driving here, I want to welcome everyone here, but more than that, I want to thank all of the people here today that was involved with the Freedom Summer programs. You know, y'all were the ones who got the battle cry of change started here in the Mississippi Delta. Without y'all, we wouldn't be this far along as we are today. Even though we still have a long, long way to go, it took y'all to get us going. I know y'all knew when y'all got on the bus that it w asn't going to busy, and it may have been a lot harder than you realized it was going to be. But I don't think, even had you known, would you have turned away and not come to the Mississippi Delta. I just got in last night from a meeting in Seattle that t he subject matter was racial equality and what effects it has on early childhood learning. That meeting is because of what y'all got started. Again,
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 3 ! the good of that is that the battle is still going on. Unfortunately, it still has to go on. But there is change being made. So, again, I want to thank y'all for the trouble, the aggravation, the hardships, the punishment that y'all had to put up with here. I know y'all came here as strangers and probably unwelcomed visitors. That's not the case today. We welc ome y'all with open arms, and we greatly appreciate what y'all did for all of us, black and white. It made Indianola a better community and we will continue to work and carry forward what y'all got started. So thank y'all, and I look forward to a great, gr eat program. [Applaus e] H: Hello, everybody. My name is Chris Hexter. I'm delighted to be here. I a m the moderator, which really, I think more or less means being a timekeeper, not really saying that much. I'm not going to bother on long introductions, except that we have an impersonator for Charles here. Charles and I call each other Geezer 1 and Geezer 2. We're introducin g Lawrence to that group, so, Lawrence; you're a welcome guest in joining the Geezer Society. G: I'm honored to be a member. H: We're going to simply start the panel because I think many of the panelists you know better than I do, s o it doesn't make much sense for me to introduce them. I do want to say that the subject of this panel is really change: change in Sunflower County, change in Mississippi, change in the United States that was brought about, in part, by the work that people, both locally and in t he broader country, engaged in in Mississippi in 1964 and the years following that. I just picked up when I was at the hotel something called the Leflore Illustrated
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 4 ! Magazine It's just striking. I mean, when you go through it, it's just like a sociologica l experiment about what happened here. I mean, there's page after page in which there are opportunities and actions engaged in by people that were unheard of. First of all, the magazine celebrates blues culture. I mean, it celebrates B.B. King; it shows a sign maker making signs for the B.B. King Historical Site in his hometown. It celebrates medical centers in which both the people receiving medical care and the people providing medical care at a high end are African Americans. It celebrates African Americ an food; it celebrates African American athletes. It's this kind of thing that, if you had come down here while many of you were here you know better than I do, this kind of magazine just simply didn't exist. The type of culture that was celebrated in this magazine didn't exist. So, when the mayor talks about change, that we're on the way towards change, it seems to me worth remembering where we were, the kinds of things that people did to get where we are now, and the kinds of things that we ought to be th inking about for the future. So, our panel's sort of divided up into segments. The segments that we have are voter registration, and for that, we have two distinguished panelists: Mrs. Margaret Kibbee and Mrs. Eunice Jenkins Jordan. Those are the folks to my right here. Lawrence, pretending to the Charles, talking about the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Reverend McKinley Mac k talking about the degree to which the project engaged local people, and Dr. Paul Ortiz as a historian and observer with his s tudents, which I just he just showed me, which is awesome, this oral history. I mean, single spaced, I wouldn't try to try to try and count well, he's actually provided the
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 5 ! number, seventy one people, or seventy two here, have been interviewed by his stude nts, who were either people who came into Mississippi to work on the project or people locally. It's an awesome undertaking, and he's going to talk about that process and sort of the legacy of the summer. So, without any more, and seeing as we're running a little late on the clock, I'm going to turn this over to Margaret Kibbee and Eunice Jenkins Jordan. My job is just to occasionally wrap on the table to keep the time going. So, ladies, the floor is yours. J: Thanks. I hope it's okay if I keep my seat. If you can't hear me in the rear, don't tell anybody. [Laughter] Yeah, you can hear my now. Okay. First, he said I'm Eunice Jenkins. I'll leave it at that. Everybody remember that name. So, anyway, when we decided to get together, we didn't mean to do everyth ing so historically, but on the last time we met up, we started about the same time. So, we're still in order, okay? Because what then, I'll make same thing now. I think that's when you realize you were a part of history making, you get an exuberant feelin g when you're old. But, when you look back on the way here, my sister said, my God, when we were this age at that time, I wouldn't even have gotten you out the house. I mean, you walked past, you had dogs biting you, you know that people are going to throw hot water on you or bricks at you or shoot at you. We didn't reflect on that. It was something that you wanted to happen in your life. One of the best things that I can say this is a person thing coming from the movement everybody's working, getting locke d up, going without food. My mother said, it's going to happen; it's going to come. And so did Mrs. Hamer. But just be ready. So I went on to school, I finished a B.S., I got the Master's, I got
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 6 ! the specialty, and I said, now, I'm going to get my doctorat e, and I did. And everything is okay right now. That's one thing that was a personal accomplishment for me, and we reflected on back. The other thing is, without the movement and you look back at voter registration you're thinking about what happens. It op ened things for us at that time. If one person here can you tell you about all of this, that's this job. I don't want her to stand, just hold her hand up. And don't you ask her a question, because she's going to answer you. [Laughter] You listen. If you're not writing, just smile. If it's okay, right here, we got it. But I'm here today, there's not a lot I can tell you about myself, but now I've become an old lady and hope to God I've acquired a lot more wisdom, thanks to Otis Brown. Where is the man? [Laug hter] But back to this Mr. Moderator, what do we get do we now get ready for questions or do I tell them more? H: You tell them whatever you want, and if you want to answer any of the questions that I put down on this sheet of paper J: Okay, you think of something. If it's better than this, you tell me. They say your age when you first participated in the movement, and a lot of other people, the age ranges from how old were you, Margaret, seventeen? M K: Nineteen. J: Nineteen. She had a lot, about eighteen less, from back up to what? Fifty or sixty, that's our age range. I'm not going to get more personal than that. [Laughter] Right now, I'm twenty seven. Stop keeping me along, don't mess with folks. But this actually happened. When I say that age group of p eople, some would be on the pavement and going around, getting books, writing names and taking names,
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 7 ! and dragging people like you do little kids when you're going shopping and you don't want to go. You got to go. But they're going to come, and they're getting to come, let's go. But then I have to move off the plantation. So good, fine, move. But I got to move at night W e can see you got lights. So, sometimes, when they did go to register to vote, they got fired from their job. They had to move out of the rent house. You can be t that you would be on the way out. So, it was good riddance for a lot of people that was actually coerced to the courthouse to become register voters. I don't know if Fannie was with me at the time; you went, you had to take a test to become a registered voter. So, what happened, we had to go take the test. We had to interpret what's the article of the section of the constitution of Mississippi. I can tell you today what I wrote on that paper. It said, if what is it, this politician, successor of office su cceed him, what is the answer? What I wrote on that paper, God only knows, but I passed the test, because they couldn't understand what I had interpreted it about. That was the good part, see. I was in college, I wrote some big words on my paper. [Laughter ] They didn't understand it, and walking around with the guns on and have the helmets on and the nasty boots, we're just going to want to take the test. So, then, we started bringing other people in. We just tell them, hey, you go on. They say, they don't know if it's right or wrong. Guess what? If I did the test, I wasn't going to fail Anybody here try fail that test? No? Everybody passed everybody reads And then, going to school away from home I was in New Orleans. You think everything was all topsy tu rvy? Boy, they was integrating Woolworth's and Crest and I'm waving hauling the kids from the campus down to the jail by the
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 8 ! busloads. Same thing going there. Because when I got back home, I say, we need this, too. But I had no idea how to start it. Then this is when them other little people started coming in; they were students, and I forget when. All folks. And put them in prison so many that that, Mr. White they jail was so full, they couldn't even put the ladies anywhere. But guess what, now? I worke d four years at a private prison in Mississippi. They can hold a lot of y'all now. When the records there run over, they talk them into a vault in Mississippi right in Greenwood, to the private prisons. It's private owned, too. But this is a thing that happened. There were people that were not even letting you come in their house when you go to the door. It's not as bad now as it was then. But now, it's, this drama's been going on twenty years, and they're waiting on us. I'm going to let Margaret tell you something. I'm getting old ; I got to gather my thoughts. M K: When I came, the following year after the rough year it wasn't until 64 that people came int o Indianola. They'd been in Ruleville before then. In 65, I came. I had just turned nineteen. My parents had given me Three Lives for Mississippi hoping I'd change my mind, but anyway, I read it and left. When I came here, I didn't know exactly what t o expect. We were talking a lot about replacing the Freedom School, and most of our program, which was directed by Otis Brown, Junior, was voter registration. He was the kind of person that liked to work about twenty hours a day and didn't understand why e verybody else didn't want to do the same thing. Lenny Jenkins and I, we had our clipboard, and we'd walk around a keep track of everybody on every block who had registered. Back in those days, even though, during that summer sometime, I think the Voting
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 9 ! Ri ghts Act passed, but you didn't know it in Sunflower County, because you'd take about six people up to the courthouse and one or two might get registered. So, that's how it was. But you steady worked at it. We mostly did Indianola, but we also worked throu ghout the county a little bit; went to all the towns. Worked in Sunflower, we would go up to Drew; it was always a matter of who was going to get arrested, usually the driver, when we went up there. So, Linda [ laughter ] will tell you But, anyway, that was the focus of our work, was voter registration. I didn't know that before I came here, but then I saw that that's how it was; that there was a seriousness, that this was something that was going to make a difference. It didn't come as fast as we thought it would come; even after we got people registered to vote, we had a hard time getting somebody elected. One of the things that Otis worked on and we worked together was trying to elect the first black mayor in Sunflower, and trying to replace the Freedom Sc hool was just one roadblock after another. Of course, the world into which I came, when I came here in 65, was still a police state. In other words, everything you did was watched and scrutinized. Your phone was bugged. I mean, they knew what you were doing all the time. So, this was something I was unfamiliar with, but it was like the whole other side was watching me and didn't like me. [Laughter] But . that was my first year here, and that's what we started out doing. Later on, Otis, Jr. got other things for us to do. Of course, we worked with the Congressional Challenge and other things that came up. We worked with that, too, and with that, I'll pass it on to someone else. Oh, one quick thing: I thought I was leaving and we were going to get a lot of things accomplished by the end of 65, and I
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 10 ! was going to go back to school that September. I didn't make it. So, I'm still here trying to change that. [Laughter] J: Okay. And what Margaret was saying about Freedom School, that's where we had a lot of material for voter registration, like she said. Now, there was somebody that had to keep things in order. Margaret and they out in the streets, running around, being chased by dogs, police, and everything else. When you look out, somebody say, don't go out the back door, why? Police are at your back, you're looking at the front door, so I'm like, oh, they'll kill somebody. They were after Lenny Jen kins and McKinley Mack. Because the police told them, those kids are wild; lock them up every weekend, beca use we don't want anything to happen to them. We heared a little to that fact. But, back to the Freedom School, we also had a Freedom House. They didn't care about that, so, one night, the Freedom School, it met its it wasn't a phoenix; it didn't rise from the ashes. They called it, the Freedom School's on fire. They brought truckloads and truckloads of folks in, and I had a vernacular, saying, you people I didn't mean it that way. I'm looking down, they said, how you do that? There's those Klansmen sitting right here, tooth and nail I'm saying, they can't read; they don't know I'm talking about them, don't worry about it. And we were at the Freedom School. The night they said the Freedom School is burning down, oh, they just bombed Mr Giles's store. Oh, m y God. They hit Mrs. Magruder's house. And the ot her man was . Dudley White that's who he was. They got his house. Who's next? My God. They struck all that. I think it was on the way to Scott's mom's house, but they say, lights popped on, you could hear guns clicking, and we been
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 11 ! out to run out of the house, them folk crazy. So, they kept moving. But these were things that happened during voter registration, and you had people actually making an X on the paper, and you would work with them at the Freedom House to help them writ e your name if nothing else, because we had one officer I remember one, had a black policeman. When you go to the meetings, I thought he was being real cute, looking in the news paper, had it upside down. They said, h e can't read; he's pretending. He would always he got into it with one guy he arrested, because the guy wrote his name. The guy put an X on that paper of writ, and the policeman said, huh uh, that's my name. So, we ha d to try to erase that X name for people. When you wanted to vote, you couldn't put a X on the book, you had to write a name. We're working with that. People up there were serious about it, seriously But it's been a twenty forty year lapse now, and it's kind of on a big decline, because now, if you don't go get some young voters, I'm telling y'all, with sharper minds. You're going to be lost. You're going to be kind of lost, and it was asked of me, and we've got a recording, but it was like, what percent age of African Americans were really registered voters by 1964? It's at ten percent at the height of the summer I think it was only ten percent. Now, they're asking did it hurt? It hurt the schools, it took the better students, it took all of your best a thletes I t took your everything. It drained the school. So, they're not separate, but they're not equal. Because you go to Mississippi State and Ole Miss before you go to Valley State and Alcorn make a big difference. Thank you.
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 12 ! H : Well, let me ask some questions, and before we move onto the next subject, people can pitch in. I'd like to ask both Margaret and Eunice, how many office holders, if any African Americans, were there in Mississippi in 64? Zero? J: Zippo. H: How many are there in . or, w hat percentage of office holders in Sunflower County today are African American? MK : All I know is, a lot. [Laughter] H: A lot. J: Mr. Scott and more are victims approximately what we got. We're just guess estimate now. It's in Sunflower County? H : Yeah. J: I can't remember that. Mr. Scott: Maybe a little bit better than fifty percent of elected officials in Sunflower County. H : Okay. Then, asking our panelists, how has that number the fact that you've gotten up to somewhat over fifty percent changed the q uality of life, day to day, for African American citizens and white citizens in this area? Some? A lot? None? How would you answer that? J: On a scale of one to ten, it fluctuates. But that I go back twenty five years ago, they had a little more impact, wo uld you not say, Mr. Scott? S: Well, what you had and what you have now is the whites that didn't have big money left, and moved out of town to where they could find a large amount. The
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 13 ! blacks that were here, the jobs had so, the whole totality of the thin g, you may have a negative impact. H : Really? S: As to what occurred; the money left the school, now. H : Is there less fear or more fear? J: Okay, I can go from here. Now, one impact I noticed: when your black politician's coming in, the money flow you know, the money never flows, it goes down. Somewhere, before it got all the way down, it went that way. But then, people start trying to say, well, maybe we mix, a little money will come in. The area where I live now, that that guy was kind of living on ol d money; and he'd been the mayor of that little town. Money meets money. So, this guy didn't have money to meet money, so we've got to be drying up some. That's what I forsee. It might not that, but that's what I'm really seeing now. And not curta iling now you ever heard of Cart er G. Woodson he wrote about the mis educated . he was back in the day, I mean way back. He didn't say African American, he say Negro. We got a lot of them getting elected, we got a lot of them went to school, but they're kind of a little bit mis educated to the fact of what happened to people for this to be about. This girl can be the top administrator at a hospital; African American. All the way, you know, no doubt about it, she's African American. She ain't looking like Michell e Obama, neither. But the mindset not there. She doesn't even know how she got there. She don't know how many people died. She don't know how many people sweat, lost their homes, lost their job, kids just went
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 14 ! crazy, went astray. They're not aware of this now. That's the hurt I see, too, from a lot of this. H : Margaret, you want to add anything? MK : Yeah. I want to say, back on the positive of it, back in 65, the black part of town did not really count no more than it was convenience for the white part of town. For instance, services were limited. You literally could go down a street, and when you got to the black side of town, you knew it before you saw anybody on the street. It was maintained at a minimum. If an animal died on the street, it rotted. No body picked it up. You know, services were limited. At least after you started getting black elected officials, you had somebody to whom you could go to. It made the white elected officials a little more responsive, also, because all of the sudden, you cou nt. So that everybody whether you had black or white offic ials, at least you had a voice or a say, and you wielded some power that way. So, you did matter, and they had to account to you. Once you got the vote, it laid the foundation for different court c ases, like we had the equalization of municipal services lawsuits and the redistricting lawsuits and all of these things, which wouldn't have been possible without registered voters. H : That's a change. M K: Positive change. H : So, let me ask another questi on, then. Has there ever been, since 64, a statewide African American elected official in Mississippi? J: No. There was no, but it almost could have happened. That was a secretary of state, when this guy was running.
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 15 ! M K: Gary Anderson. J: If he had had that, the blacks had had that knowledge to vote, they could have gotten a position, a position. H : So, is there a problem that there's not sufficient African Americans either voting today or registered to vote today? There's a hand up there. Unidentified male I : Yeah. I think Benny Thompson is the most powerful black we have in the state of Mississippi. If you look at I just think the chance to do state wide, as a Democrat, but the chance of him getting elected statewide is almost . I don't think it wi ll happen. If we have a black candidate now running for governor, Ronnie Freeman He talks real good and he's educated; knows what Mississippi needs to make progress. But I don't know if times have changed enough to elect him, black elected officials, statewide. M K: I think it's coming, but it's slow. Now, we've had the man who ran for secretary of state, and before that, he ran for state treasurer or something like this. Unidentified male II : [inaudible 29:09]? M K: Yes. And he was doing the job already ; he knew more about it than anyone else, and he was more highly qualified than his position. I don't know if he's going to try for an office like that again. He was more qualified, and a slight sign of progress: some of the major newspaper endorsed him. S o, it's slow. Unidentified male I : I have something. H: There was a hand back there, and Uniden tified male II : Let me add one thing to that. One of the problems about Mississippi, statewide, is that rough numbers are about forty percent Democrat,
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 16 ! forty p ercent Republican, twenty percent swing vote, and the problem is that people are not voting. Like in Sunflower County, the voter registration is very high, but voter participation is very low. We attended a Democratic meeting back a couple years ago, where they had party officials coming in and telling me the Delta, it h ad, like, sixty percent turnout statewide, but people just didn't want to turn out to vote because of the majority so majority Democratic, you see. So, really, i t's a party issue as much as race now. The twenty percent swing vote kind of . it's pulled over. H: Is the tendency that Republicans vote in greater numbers than . you know, you said forty percent of voters in Mississippi are registered Republican. Unidentified male II : by party, but I guess, in a way, it's kind of H: Do a higher percentage of them vote than Democrats? Unidentified male II : I don't know. I think it's probably about the same, but, in the Delta, voter participation is very low. It's mostly G: This gentleman at this table Unidentified male II: What I want to understand first is H: Go ahead. Unidentified male III: In case you're interested, there's a whole new movement is happening in the I guess I'd call it the right wing or the fascist wing of the Tea Party movement, and they're diligently at work making it very difficult to register to vote. H: I know. That's happened in Wisconsin.
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 17 ! Unidentified male III: They're even calling it the New Confederacy, and they're talking about reinstituting Jim Crow. I'm not s aying that's going to happen, but investigative journalists are reporting on those kind of issues right now, and I think it's really alarming. H: Well, I would agree, and I'm going to try and keep the clock going. We can always come back at a larger question period, but I'm going to turn now to Charles, to talk about G : This gentleman H: Sorry? Riley Rice: Yes. I just have one comment that I would like to make. During the time that he was talking about the Freedom Schools up at the Baptist schools t here, I was living right in front of the Baptist school the night that the school burned. I know personally about the problem we've been having right here in Indianola, because I went to well, I went to jail when we tried to go to the public library. I was a freshman at Mississippi Valley. We couldn't go to the public library here. It was called Seymour Library. I think Davey told me he was a child at the time he was looking at the window, and wondering what we were doing, and say his mama told me, get out the window, boy. So, at that time, I was with Scattergood. Scattergood was rugged on his back here in Indianola, right at the library. I was there with him. We went to jail and stayed in there eight days. We went to the Traveler's Inn Restaurant on the hig hway, and we were put in we were jailed again. Ms. Jenkins know me; I'm Riley Rice, and I was a freshman at Delta during the time that you are talking about this was going on. One thing I
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 18 ! recognize now is, we have the candidates, but the candidates don't l ook our for the interests of our people. We have black candidates I'm going to tell it just like it is: w e have candidates that are black that they don't look out for the interests of our people, and that's what he need now, is to start looking out for th e interests of all people, regardless of what color they are. There's no color when it comes to looking out for the interests of the people. Now, that's what we have here in Sunflower County and in Indianola, see. H: What do you have here? Do you have cand idates who look out for the interests of people or RR : We have some candidates who do not look out for the interests, and that's the problem that we are having, see. H: That would probably be that Mississippi has achieved the ordinary. That means that Mi ssissippi has achieved where we are in a lot of the rest of the country. RR : People are becoming more informed about redistricting, too. At one time, we didn't know anything about redistricting. Now we're having workshops on redistricting and they are doi ng all kinds of things. They're, like, racking and stacking and all these kind of things. We didn't know anything about racking and stacking and all this stuff. But now, that's the reason why the NAACP had to file a lawsuit against the state: for that reason. Or, for some of the reasons, see. H: What is racking and stacking? Because I'm not from Mississippi, I don't know what that RR : Well, I had that . these are the techniques that they use, such as gerrymandering, you know. They use those techniques to put us in a certain little
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 19 ! area so we won't be able to vote for a certain candidate, see. Like, okay, that happened to me. You know? Some people really, they won't really say that it really happened in Indianola, but that happened here in 2009. It happened right here in Indianola in 2009. H: Let me transition to Charles, who's going to talk about his experience with the Missis sippi Freedom Democratic Party and then maybe the larger issues. RR : I just wanted to throw that out, because Nelson Dodson was versus the state and city of Indianola. Nelson Dodson was instrumental in Mr. McLaurin helping to get the ward system here, an d that same thing that he was interested in doing was violated H: All right. Charles can probably talk to that, right? RR : Yeah, mm hm. Okay, go ahead. I just want to throw that out. C M : Thank you very much. RR : But I just want to be for real and don't let us don't, don't, I don't like to sugarcoat anything. Don't sweep it under the rug. Let's take it and bring it all out. H: Okay. RR : Okay. [Laughter] C M: Thank you, Chris, for giving me the mike and listening to my friends, Margaret, and Margaret and Jenkins and a lot of other people here. Kind of I consider us having grown up together. I want to run back a minute, and then I want to deal with several of the questions that have come up there. First of all, I'm Charles McLaurin, and I was a representat ive field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC. The Delta became a project of
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 20 ! SNCC, voter registration. That's why a lot of emphasis is placed on voter registration. I was inspired by the Freedom Riders in 1961 as they came into Jackson. As you may know, the Freedom Ride stopped in Jackson, but the intent of the Freedom Ride was to end in New Orleans. But the city of Jackson arrested them as they got off the bus, you know, on the white side or the black side. As you know, the Freedom Riders represented both black, white, Jews, Gentiles, as Dr. King said; Protestants and Catholics, so there was groups trying to test the Interstate Commerce Commission's ruling on desegregation. I got involved back although I did not go on the Fr eedom Ride, about ten of my friends did. I just couldn't see how going to jail and getting out and the problem still existing was going to help us. I had been working with Medgar Evers, who was the state field secretary for the NAACP, in the state, and who had held that job since 1954, just prior to the Supreme Court in Brown versus the Board of Education and the Emmett Till murder in Money, Mississippi all impacted, at that time, the work that Medgar Evers was doing. The reason that black people could not vote in Mississippi in 1890: the Mississippi legislature took the vote from black people, and they gerrymandered another word that came up over there they gerrymandered the districts. They took the solid black Delta and chopped it up into three districts, therefore to dilute the voting strength of blacks. Even at that time, in 61 and 62, we had black candidates run for office. Of course, they were running more symbolic than the possibility of getting elected because there were very few registered vo ters in the state overall but we focused on the Delta because of the significant black population in this mid Delta. Medgar Evers,
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 21 ! when I went to Medgar Evers one day after we had had a demonstration, I said, what are we going to do, Medgar, to really stop Mr. Charlie from lynching us? To stop the white man from lynching us? He said, well, come back this afternoon. Bring your friends, all of those who have been working with you and demonstrating around town; the people who were in the Jackson movement, whic h had come about as a result of the Freedom Riders and SNCC moving into the state. He said, in the Delta, if we get up there and we register black voters, we will be able to send a significant number of African Americans to state legislature and we will be able to elect mayors and judges and other sheriffs and other people in that area. Overall, this will begin to change the political and economic problems that we have. Of course, my friend Lawrence Guyot over here, who further encouraged me to get involved and so, one day, I wound up in the Delta. Now, that's how I got here. I got here to register black voters and to vote white people out of office. That was how I got here. I thought I could do it in, say, six months. [Laughter] I thought I could come up h ere, and the other people with me, and we could vote people out of office and change things. I had hopes, at that time, possibly, of going back to Jackson and getting elected to the legislature myself. But, because of the fear, and because of intimidation and violence and the development of strong opposition to black voter registration, the white supremacy domination of the planters and the plantation owners and those people that the sharecropping system which was, in fact, a new slave system existed in the Delta. That fear that blacks had owned no land, and the educational level was very low. There was that sense of inferiority on the part of
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 22 ! black people. I lived in the homes of black people across this county and across this state in Greenwood, Greenville Clark sdale, Ruleville; every town in this county. Belzoni. And the fear of the violence and of the economic reprisals . so, that was due to the fact that the White Citizen's Council was born right here in this town, in the city hall back there, and t hat their mission was to stop integration by any means available. I don't know of any individuals in there who did kill people, but there were numerous black people either killed or they were driven out of the state. They were told to leave. Dr. Bailey ri ght here in this city, was literally ran out of the state. He was ambushed one night by state troopers leaving the Mississippi Valley State and he was arrested for being drunk drunk driving. But the choice was, when they got him down there, if you get out of the state, it's okay. I mean, you're not guilty. Gus Cour ts, right over there in Belzoni, was shot down; Herbert Lee, right in the broad daylight. So, the fear of violence was one of the things that kept blacks from voting. Then, Ms. Jenkins alluded to the fact that there was this long application that you had to fill out, and that application asked you to read, write, and interpret a section of the Mississippi Constitution. All of us in this room know that lawyers argue over that every day. What is the interpretation of a section of the constitution? And so, the legislature don't write it, and they leave it up to judges and to people to interpret it. There was no lawyers or judges circuit clerks. The circuit clerk's office, across the state of Mississipp i, registered the voters. There were circuit clerks who had less education than many of the blacks who they were turning down, even here in this county. C.C. Campbell was the circuit clerk here in Sunflower County, and
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 23 ! Fannie Lo u Hamer, in a lawsuit, calle d, or styled, Fannie Lou Hamer versus Cecil Campbell The federal district court threw out the election in Moor head and Sunflower and ordered them to hold new elections because they had denied black people the right to vote. Margaret alluded to the fact that that election was held. While we had, say, 95% of the blacks registered in a town where eighty percent of th e population is black, we lost those elections. We lost them because of mind conditioning of the black people who lived there. But we knew that these were going to be some of the problems, and it caused a lot of disillusion on the part of those of us who w ere in the SNCC movement, because had put forth our best and we had problems. Now, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party was organized parallel parallel party to the regular white Democratic Party in this state. We brought in our summer people, our frie nds here, who came down in the summer of 64, and there were three missions objectives. One was to continue voter registration, and we did that. Margaret and we talked about that, and to organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. We did that. An d to establish Freedom Schools in the state. We did that. Then, we went to Washington I mean, to Atlantic City, New Jersey, to challenge the seating of the regular Mississippi delegation, segregated, racist delegation from Mississippi in Atlantic City. We did go there and, as you know, the highlight of that whole thing was Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer's testimony before the credentials committee of the National Democratic Party. If you think back to Medgar Evers and other leaders of the NAACP, and others who had b een trying to get the ear of somebody in some official capacity to hear us, hear our cry, let us out we couldn't do it.
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 24 ! Nobody would give us the time of day. But, when Fannie Lou Hamer testified, the White House got involved. Lyndon Johnson H: Freaked out C M: Wanted to be president of the United States of America, and he sent his henchmans down to our delegation. We had sixty eight members of the delegation, and all sixty eight members of that delegation voted. Fannie Lou Hamer did not make the decision a lone. The delegation made the decision, but Mrs. Hamer was the backbone of it, because they met with her and tried to get her to change; to accept what they told us was a compromise. To accept three seats, at large, representing no state in the United Stat es; nobody told us whether these people were going to be seated on the floor or whether they're going to be seated in Alaska someplace. [Laughter] Mrs. Hamer said, we did not come here for that, for three seats. We're all tired and we want the whole thing. Of course, we did not unseat the regular Mississippi delegation in 1964, but we did get rule changes; changes that affect both the Democratic and the Republican parties and broadened the base of participation for people around this country. In 1968, if yo u remember, a group called the Loyalists from Mississippi made up of Freedom Democratic Party delegates, made up of blacks and white . Hodding Carter. Most of you remember the owner of the Delta Democrat Times the Carter family. Harden Carter was one of the members of the delegation. Pat Dorian of Political Storm ; political families around the state. Mrs. Hamer was a part of that delegation. Lawrence Guyot. So, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party brought democracy to Mississippi,
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 25 ! because it didn't exist prior to it. A movement developed, and the Freedom Summer volunteers all of the ones who were here, went home. They worked, got involved in other organizations and movements in their hometown, and there was a sense of movement in this country at tha t time. It was through those rules and regulations and the enlightenment, the Voting Rights Act that took place, the challenge that F annie Lou Hamer and Victoria Gra y and Annie Devine, who were black women from Mississippi who had ran for Congress, they ha d that challenge on the floor of the U.S. House. But Mrs. Hamer and Annie Devine and Victoria Gra y were the first black women to sit on the house floor. The white congressmen from this state had to stand aside while that challenge was heard. We didn't unse at those guys, but think about that. They had to stand aside. To me, that was significant. Of course, then, the lawsuit after that Hamer versus Campbell, Nelson Dodson versus the City of Indianola, and the Congressional challenge, lawsuit Mr. Guyot formall y Ms. Peggy Connors? G: That's right, reapportionment. C M: The reapportionment. G: That's right. C M: A lawsuit, all coupled with various federal and other legislation that came down, helped to make Mississippi what we have today. I want to stop there, beca use I said my wife always tell me to stop talking because I'll go on forever. [Laughter] But things have changed. Okay? There have been significant changes. Recently, Mrs. Hamer used to say, we ain't what we ought to be and we ain't what we're going to be, but thank God we ain't what we was. [Laughter]
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 26 ! H: Why don't we reverse the rules a little bit and because people now know what Charles had to say and take questions from people in the room? Then we can move to our next, to Reverend McKinl ey Reverend Mack. So, I saw a hand back there, the mayor's hand. SR : I've got a question, and it may be more of a comment, but a t a number of different conferences I've gone to, I look around the room and I see Mr. Mack there and Mr. Guyot, Mr. White here, Mr. Scott over there. Thinking back for y'all, back to when y'all were nineteen and twenty, y'all saw the problems. Y'all reacted. Y'all got out and did something. What can we do today to get young people, like you were then, to get involved? H : Engaged. SR : I look around the room, and I don't see any of those young people who really comprehend one, what y'all did and what they need to be doing. How can we bring those leaders in the young group to the top to get involved? Because, obviously, y'all were great organiz ers. Y'all got people enthused. Y'all fixed a lot of problems and created a lot of change. We still need that going on, but for somehow or another, we've lost that knack. We can't seem to get people to come to action. I'm asking as advice from y'all, becau se I see the wisdom that y'all have here. What can we do to get the young people? Why aren't they here today? G: Let me take a crack at that. Charles McLaurin and eight other people met in a room one night. Each of them had a gun, and they would go out they were
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 27 ! going to go out and kill some peo ple. And a guy named James Beve l came in and talked to them SR : [Laughter] Right. G: said, you don't have to fight like that. There's another way for you to fight. You don't have to fight those folks that you' re planning to fight. Why don't you fight the state of Mississippi? I think this country is a better place because of Bevel bringing this man into the ci vil rights movement. Now, Bevel started him, and then I brought him in. [Laughter] But my point is thi s: if you want young people involved, they are eager to be involved, but you've got to approach them, you've got to recruit them; they've got to understand why this is important to them, and they've got to be given some choices. See, look, this gentleman r aised one up earlier today. You see, look: right now, between now and 2 12, you have make a decision. Either you're on the side of the Tea Party and the Republicans, or you're on the side of the Democrats and yourself. There's no middle ground here. Now, w ith what we learned is that we can organize anybody, but you've got to appeal to their interests; their frame of reference. If they listen to that . weird music, don't tell them not to listen to that weird music. [Laughter] You see what I'm saying? We' ve got to deal with them where they are. Then, once you get them to understand see, because once thing I know about people, once a person makes something happen themselves, they're different people. You know the old story of you can't step in the same rive r twice? Well, there's two kinds of people. There are those people who watch things happen, and there are those people who make things happen. What you want to do is get young people
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 28 ! aware of the fact that there's nothing that we will ever hear today; ther e's no book you can read; no documentary that hasn't been written that you can't master. Because your choice now see, when I was young, I'm seventy one years old. Unidentified male I V: You were young? G: I was very young. [Laughter] I got my first job wh en I was seven years old. So, I have a different kind of history about work and what you can do. But what we've got to do is say, look: work as we know it is disappearing. Let's understand that. What we've got to do is get the technologically advanced youn g people away from those machines and start talking to people. Now, we can utilize that because they know how to do this, whatever. [Laughter] But, remember, we organized a movement without all of that. [Laughter] So, basically, there's no one that you app roach openly, but you can't go to young people and tell them, here's what you got to do. Lay out the rationale of why they should. See, because you're not going to find anybody I don't care how incorrigible they are or how independent they are who says, I do not ever want any power. I'm glad I don't have control over my life. I'm glad that I'm not prepared for a job. I make it sound silly, but I want us to understand: the value of this kind of conference, and I love this, I love this kind of participation, is for us to arm ourselves. I'll tell you one other thing, too, I would do. I would get young people to read the literature and look at the tapes that SNCC had at its fiftieth anniversary. The best organizers in America is the Student Nonviolent Coordinati ng Committee. I don't care what historian wants to take me on, on that. [Laughter] But what we've got to do is get them to learn that ordinary people like them made this history. It wasn't geniuses
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 29 ! and holy people and labor unions. They were ordinary I mea n, there's no better case than Sunflower County, where ordinary people did some astounding . the people in Sunflower County began a process that changed the world. Now, maybe when they start out, they didn't understand that. See, I'm glad we got the ki nd of problems we have today. When you start talking about, the money has left the city, let's understand one thing: money will always leave a city that is not politically organized to bring it in. Money goes where the power is, where the access is, and wh ere it can make more money. But we're on the side of people, otherwise we wouldn't be here today. The reason I'm taking so long to answer this question is because it's so important. I want everybody in this church to understand: there's no young person tha t, if you pay time and attention and work with them, that you can't organize. There's not one. [Applause] Unidentified male V : Let me comment on that. G: Yes, sir. Please do. Unidentified male V : O ne of the fallacies that we have and I see now, this is my opinion black teachers in this area, in the 64, 65 area, had the same problems as any other place in the state. They, too, did not register to vote, because that was one of the questions on the application, are you a registered voter? Do you belon g to any subversive organization? I know because I signed a contract during that area. And when I asked th e principal, I said, can I list e n my NAACP membership, he said, that's up to you. I said, well, I'm going to list it, and if they don't hire me in Indianola, then I have to go somewhere to get a job. You had teachers that was concerned enough to take seniors to the courthouse to
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 30 ! register to the vote. You don't have that now in our schoolhouse. You don't have I don't think. At this time, I haven't been over there I don't think you have a black social studies teacher at Gentry High School. They do not know the history of Mississippi, and the y are not feeding our kids the necessity to become registered voters. That's one thing. G: Let me tell you something. You too important a man for me not to respond directly to, because I respect you. I'm going to put it to you just this way: parenting is too important to be left to parents. [Laughter] If the teachers are not doing it, you do it. And the man sitting right there, everybody what we got to do is say, here is what young people need. Don't say, well, we don't have it. Put it in place. I learned I had a good job in Washington, D.C. My job was to monitor the afterschool program for the public schools, and I got to understand that the school was responsible for feeding large numbers of people from Friday afternoon until Monday morning, because sch ool's closed. I would tell people, when I go speak to church people, I would say, look, you want to be helpful? Next time it snows, you gather the schoolchildren that live in your neighborhood, feed them, give them a warm place to study, just take care of them. It's easier to do that than care of them once they're in prison. Now, my point is this: I don't mean to challenge you. I respect you. I know who you are. I know what you've done, and I know that what you said is meant with a positive intent, but if y ou find something that's not working properly, don't say, well, this is the way it used to be, ho w do we get it to work properly? And, see, we can do that. We have that capacity. Remember, now, parenting is too important to be left to parents.
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 31 ! RR: I have one comment, I have one comment. Now, here is something that's in the pa per right now. It says, states to privatize conservatorship This city here is under conservatorship. Now, they are going to take away the power from the people here that we know the p roblem. They're going to take the power away from the people and give it to a conservator for profit. That's what they plan to do, the state plan to do this. And we're wondering what's going to happen? If we sit back here, don't say anything, a private org anization going to come in and take over our schools. Yeah, this is it right here. Now, if we don't say anything, that's what's going to happen, Mayor. That's what's going to happen. We know the problems here in the city of Indianola. Someone from the outs ide don't know what's going on. If they are not going to have any ties to Indianola, you've got to have a personal interest in Indianola to want to do something about what's going on. You get somebody from the outside, they're going to come in and they're going to do it for profit. Or what about for the love of the children? And you know what we're going to do? We're going to sit back and we're going to do just like we do with every other thing, don't say anything. H: Well, I'm going to make a good segue, because the next speaker is about local activism. So, you've created a nice segue, and I'm going to turn this over to Reverend Mack, because Reverend Mack is a person who became a local activist I think in 1964, right? M M : Mm hm, yeah.
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 32 ! H: So, I'm going t o turn the program goes to him. Then, when he's done, we'll go back to questions, and then we'll turn it over to Paul for a little bit, and then we can just go for the whole panel, okay? So, the floor is yours. M M : I would like to say good morning, again It truly has inspired me to be here, because I can see that the work that I chose to do is being honored. A little bit of my background: I'm one of twelve children born to a share cropper's family. My father was a minister, mother was Christian, and we wa s brought up in the Christian household. Wasn't too much money going around then, at that time, nowhere. But . I go to school and get out of school, I had got me a job bagging groceries, and it was at a local store here in Indianola. When I was hired, I got to looking around, and I saw that store had four bathrooms: one for white women, one for black women, one for white men, one for black men. And there was also two water fountains in that store. I was wondering, why is two water fountains in here? One had a sign on it, said, colored, one had a sign on it that said, white. So, I was thirsty after, you know, taking groceries to cars, and, not thinking, I got a cup of water out of the fountain said, whites. And I was fired for getting water out of a white fountain. And, on my way home, feeling disencouraged because it was, at that time, it was like you were less than human, to me. I was walking home, and I met a very good friend of mine, name of Charles Scattergood. And Charlie Scattergood told me, he said, brother, say, where are you going? I said, I'm going home. I just got fired off a job. He said, what? I said, for drinking out of the wrong water fountain. He said, well, you com e home with me. [Laughter] We went down to the Freedom School, which was a Baptist
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 33 ! school, and he sat down and he talked to me, and that day, I decided to become a member of SNCC, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. With the work, everybody explaine d to me Charles explained to me what we needed to do. We was getting people to go register to vote, and I'm assuming then, talking to them, that the only thing could change the system is by being able to register to vote. That was the vote that put who you want to represent you. Have a voice in what's going on in your life. After that, I talked to my father, talked to my mom, and they were scared to death for me. Because, at tha t time, it's like Brother Mike said, this was the center of Citizen's Council. I t was very dang erous for a black person to be outspoken on anything. My dad told me, he said, well, if that's what you want to do, then you've got my support. I explained to them what it was all about. Soon, my mama came on board. My sisters and brothers g ave me their hundred percent participation, and I remember one night, after all the schools and stuff got bombed, my dad and my brothers were sitting on the porch. Some of the same members of the White Citizens Council came with four bombs to throw in the house. This happened, like they said they were gone silently. Then, after that, that morning, the police came down and found, they called the cocktails: full of gas, with rags, been lit to throw, but they left them. And they found that. But nothing was don e about that. Then, I got to looking at my brothers and my sisters. I know what I had went through, and I wanted something for them. That's the idea behind my sisters and brothers, to push them to go as far as you can in school. Learn all you can. Because, one day, the work you see now won't exist. Just like today, the work that we've done won't exist no more. If
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 34 ! you don't master a skill, you're just about doomed. I encourage all of my nephews, nieces, go to school, get a quality education. Also, go to scho ol and major in a field that going to be there. We know that's computers, medicine, it's something going to be there. Like our politicians that we have, I'm glad that I had a right to put somebody in place to say something on my behalf, because I couldn't do it. Now that I see so many different changes I see blacks, I see whites; I see Jews, I see Gentiles, I see some of everybody. Somebody can speak for everybody. Because I don't know what goes on in the ma n's house. I don't know, because I'm not part of h is house I know what goes on in my house; in my neighborhood, because I'm black and I live in this neighborhood. If you can live and see what's going on in your neighborhood, why don't you vote for somebody that's there, can say what's going on? I thank y 'all. [Applause] H: Thank you. So, following the same procedure, do any people in the audience have questions for Reverend Mack? Unidentified male V I : I have a question on the last, for what Charles McLaurin was talking about earlier. Well, you know, Mr. Rosenthal asked about getting the young people out. You know, sometimes, you can be included to declude So, it's a lot of peoples that was not invited to this event; a lot of young people's not invited to, you know, this event. The first place I would go is be the schoolhouse and get connection with the instructors, the teachers that teaching these schools and taking advice on these students here to get them out and learn about the past. Universe, the future, what it hold. Okay? We had a redistricting workshop at the courthouse about a month ago. We had about fourteen young people there.
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 35 ! So, they was inter ested enough to come and see what's going on; it could happen right here if the word get out. Now, we are members of the NAACP. I invited several peoples here. Some have come and some did not, but I think the word need to go out a little more stronger. Who ever was in charge of getting the media and the let's work together next time, to get it to be a more media type atmosphere so people can understand where to come and where to come and what's going on, what is this versus, you know? Of course, our politici ans are our concern. We have a lot of politicians, they're just running in order to get paid. We might as well pin the tail on the donkey. Some of them are running for the paycheck. Some are not running to represent the citizens that live in their ward, or their constituents that live in their neighborhood, and we need to hold these people accountable for not representing. A lot of peoples on the ballot now, going to run again, and in this community now, Indianola, Sunflower County is a very unique communit y. Sometimes, they don't like changing. They'd rather see the same person in there, running over and over and over, and not getting the job done. But, you get ready to run against them, or get somebody to run against them, they're going and putting the wor d out, say, hey, why do you get to run against us? But you need changes. Changes are good, and changes have come always through generations. Even in Jesus's time, changes came and changes made it better. Changes if they're not getting the job done, we need to change them out. Same thing Benny Thompson's say all the time, whenever you talk to me, get them out, also. These are some of the things that we need to resonate
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 36 ! throughout the Sunflower County and Indianola community: if they're not getting the job do ne, replace them. H: You want to ? J : Okay, I want to kind of respond a little bit with the school; that is my forte. The schools, that's my forte. I spent a lifetime of trying, and quite a few others in here of you likewise. Your school today, as I stat ed earlier, it has been hurt, the school system. You look up as a principal, you have fifteen teachers. They're Teach for America teachers. They all went to liberal arts colleges. They don't know anything about teaching. Practically, they say, well, I can' t make a difference because of the students' grades or because I'm not from the South. No, darling, that is not the problem. You're not a teacher because you are not trying to be a teacher. You don't know classroom discipline. This child is from New York, this child is from Connecticut, this child is from Virginia, they have no interest in your community whatsoever. You can go to the schools. They lead the students going home. They have no interest in your community. You go to the superintendent and tell th em, too. He ain't going to move any in no Sunflower County; he's going to work you for a few years. He's going to your heart, knowledge, and whatever. But this is not his key interest. They go and they look where all the people that are in your school syst em. This hurt the people that's there. And in Mississippi you have no union, your teachers have no tenure, they have no backup I work here, I know. I've been working in the school fifteen years. They say, Dora, your service is no longer needed, I can go t o court and fight and it and use my little life savings, but guess what? There is no backing for me. Teachers say, we need
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 37 ! some help. We if teachers can boycott the school, you can ask the parents teaching children at home. I won't, I can't, I got to go to work and they got to go to school. Okay? I'm just telling you what happened in the school. You don't have the teachers, and Mr. Scott said, we're ta king the children to the poll They're not there anymore. You got young people come in there from God knows where. They are not in search of education. One of them is an oceanography major. I said, you are what? And we are not even near water, honey. What is going on? [Laughter] This i s what's happening in your school. Now, how do you reach your young people? When you're allowing them to be educated in this manner. Even though this is where your voting power is. This is when like Obama, he hit the young. And yeah, great grandparents. I mean, old rich great grandparents, my kids are just twiddling my thumb, and they say, well, you wanted change, don't do the same thing you've been doing. We got to change. Where will the change come in? So they voted differently, a lot of them did. But, wh at we have now, it is hard. You go to the schools, you don't find what you used to. I'll tell you about the miseducated people. It's not there. These people are not in our community. They are not at home. It's just a job like you're working at General Moto rs or Ford or wherever. This is what's happening here. Then, you get your elected officers, supposed to generate your community. You say voting power. You got mighty power up there. Lucille will sell a vote for five dollars. Your job might not be a million dollar job, but it gives you so much control you don't have anymore. You took her there, you train her for three generations of family that got to go to poll to vote, become a registered voter. You did the labor for somebody else to get five
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 38 ! dollars? Then you going to give them twenty five more on, get you a hundred and fifty dollars. Honey, she going to bring them in their by the dozen. She going to bring them in, because [Applause] This is what's happening. You can do what you want. What's the answer? Th at's just like me telling you the world going to come to an end. It's [Laughter] I don't know. But, seriously speaking, it was coming, like Mc Laurin and them said. You know, I have to use this old scenario: you know, in the old days, it was making his yeas t bread, and certain say, yeast rise, right? I guaranteeing to you, he said, bread going to do what? Rise. It's been that twenty or forty, forty some years saying, history repeats itself every twenty years. So, what's happening to us now, a lot of people t hat was heart and soul dedicated to the change, they were beaten; they were broken. These young people see this. Where are those people? They gave their lives, their everything. They're beaten, they're broken, and all this stuff. I mean, even their decease d people don't get respect. So, the people again, to now where, the younger people were saying they think it's just supposed to be. It's just supposed to be, just sort of happens because it's life. But it's not there. It's just not there. And, when they he ar their great grandparent, their grandparent, their parent talking about what they did and how they were left out, how they were not represented like before I went and I built a nice house over here, but when they started zoning and redistri cting, what ha ppened? You looked up at one project over there, and your house went from zip to zero. How can you keep a neighborhood up when you can't get proper stop signs? You can't get the streets fixed? What are you going to tell the children? They think you're lyin g to them. And I do, too.
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 39 ! Unidentified female I : Right. That's what they act the way they act now. They're pissed off. J : Thank you. See, I'm going to voter watch b ecause nobody getting my vote They feeling it, all that they need, took the votes, make ou t in the office. And they still, they going to hear me I'm telling you the truth. I work with them. It's hard out there, y'all. It looks like, man, it's almost harder than it was before. And, if you were looking for being able to go and vote, now, I'll go vote. I can sell that vote. As time goes by, less votes. But this is what's happening to us. You see it, and it hurt. You think about it, you look back. You look at those who done lost their lives. You look at those who lost their home. They lost the inve stment they had. They lost the friends they had. A lot of them got thrown out of their own church. How God didn't want them folks fighting for their rights? Right? Jesus, Jesus died for all of this. That's the thing. Thank you. [Applause] H: Okay. There's some now, I want to pass it on to Paul. Got an obligation to the panelists, and . O : Okay. Thank you, Christopher. Again, my name is Paul Ortiz. I'm a professor of history at the University of Florida. Every summer since 2008, I've been bringing Uni versity of Florida students to Indianola, to Cleveland, under the guidance of Stacy White and Margaret Block. It has been such an amazing, transformative experience for these students. I cannot even tell you how important the educational value is to them, because they come into our classroom as freshman at the University of Florida; they know nothing about the civil rights movement. They know nothing about the women's movement. They know nothing about the
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 40 ! labor movement. When they come here and they talk to people like Margaret Kibbee, to Mr. Mack, to Otis, to Alan, to other people, they leave transformed. They leave better people. They leave much more empowered. After our first night here, and we start doing the interviews with civil rights movement veteran s, a lot of the students are in tears. They're in tears because they feel, they realize, that they have been betrayed by the educational system. They have not been taught about this amazing history. Right? [Applause] Anyone who tells you that young people are not interested in history doesn't know what they're talking about. They are interested in history, you just have to put it to them, and you have to make a connection between where they are. Now, one of the questions that Christopher asked me, the first question here is he says, Professor Ortiz, how old were you in 1964? Were you even a gleam in your parents' eyes back then? [Laughter] I think that has to be one of the most interesting questions I've ever received on a panel, so. But, to confess, I was b orn in 1964. [Laughter] H: That's just past the gleam. [Laughter] O: Just past the gleam. [Laughter] But, when you talk about the legacy of the civil rights movement, of what people did here in Indianola, what SNCC did, what local people did, what the Mi ssissippi Freedom Democratic Party did, part of that legacy had such an amazing impact on my generation; on Hispanic Americans. I'm Hispanic. What you did in the movement here opened up this country to Hispanics in the 1960s. It made it possible for us to do much more than what we had been to do before that. I may have a Ph.D., but I'm not stupid. [Laughter] People like Paul Ortiz did not get into Duke University between 1964. We just did
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 41 ! not. If you look at the and this is why we call the civil rights move ment the born in movement; what people did in Indianola, Bolivar County, Tallahatchie County, i s to born movements. If you look at the position and the roles that women play in leadership and society today, it would have been impossible without the civil rights movement and the work that women did. I learned how to be an organizer well, I went into the Unite d States Army in 1982, I came out in 86. I was in Special Forces; I was in 82nd Airborne. I was Central America. That's where I received my political education, and I understood where my country stood on key issues about democracy, and it wasn't a good situation in Central America. When I got back, the first book I read wa s, Letter from Birmingham Jail by Dr. King. The next one was the Collected Speeches of Malcolm X Those tw o books changed my life. Going t o the United Farmworkers and working as an org anizer, we were using the tactics that you all developed here. G: That's right. O: We were just using them on the west coast to organize farmworkers; participation. Don't tell the people what they need, what you think they need, you ask them. What do you need? You know, that's how you get people involved. I met my wife on a picket line. We went to jail together. We were arrested, and we figured, shoot, if we could jail together, we could stand to get married. [Laughter] So . we've been married for fifteen years now, but I've learned that, if you have injustice in a society, it's worth going to jail for. There are good reasons to go to jail. Now, let me say something really quick, and I want to go back to the interview project, because these intervie ws are ongoing. There are two things in
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 42 ! response to what Mr. Guyot was saying, very wisely, about the economy. There are people in power in this country and I'm not going to call out a political party, demagogue, or anything there are people in power in th is country, you have to understand this, who would rather see young people in gangs than in trade unions. They'd rather see them in prison than in the university. The people in this room have changed history once, two times, three times, we can do it again The example that was set by the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, that is the most important political party in the history of this country, without a doubt. I'll tell you that as a historian. Because, why? Recruitment. The key term is recruitment. I f you want people to participate in politics, you've got to recruit them. Again, you cannot direct them. The problem with politics now: CLR James said this in 19 I think it was in 1964 he said, politics is an activity. It's not a schoolroom, it's not a lec ture room. Politics is an activity. The more active the people are, the more active the government can be in their interests. We have a political system now where people are taught to see themselves in opposition to the government well, the government does that in Jackson; the government does that in D.C.; I'm going to call into a late night radio show and complain about that. That's not politics. SNCC taught us what politics is supposed to do and what it's supposed to produce. In 1960 through 64 and la ter. I want to conclude by talking about the interview project. You'll see here, these are the interviews that our students have conducted. We've conducted seventy one interviews, again, under the direction of Stacy White and Margaret Block. We want to con tinue to do these interviews. Now, I was not able to bring the students this time because this is our
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 43 ! off session; the students are out of class now, but we're coming through here in September, and we would love to continue interviewing people. Because, ag ain, it's transformative for the students. Copies of the interviews go with Stacy and the Sunflower County Civil Rights Organization. We, in the Florida, the goal is to get those interviews in the schools. Our biggest end users are teachers. They call us o n a daily basis. They say, we have no information on African American history. None on women's history. None in civil rights history. Can you help us? The answer is, yes. Now, if you look at the list of people we've interviewed, for some reason, even thoug h we have seventy one interviews and I'm proud to say, with Mr. Guyot yesterday, seventy two there are one or two people here that are on twice. Allen Cooper, Otis Brown, they seem to like to talk a lot. [Laughter] But we need to add to that. We want to co ntinue to get more interviews. We'll be back here in September; we'll do a panel at Delta State. Last year's panel was just dynamite, just like today. We had Margaret Kibbee speaking, and then, this September, Mr. Guyot has agreed to come back to Delta Sta te. That will be around the third week of September. So, we'll be back around, but, again, I just want to thank you for leading by example. Because what happened here in Indianola, and thinking of what you said in the beginning, Mr. Mayor, you inspired the entire world. What happened in South Africa, Latin America, Asia, people were watching very carefully. The opinion was, if Mississippi could be changed by ordinary people, by grassroots politics, then you can change any society. So, if you study the histo ry of Eastern Europe in the late 1980s, they were studying very closely what had happened in the civil rights movement. If you look at what
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 44 ! was happening in Northern Ireland, when people turned away from violence into politics, they were studying what SNCC had accomplished. If you look at what's happening in the Middle East in the late 1990s, when people turned away from violence to nonviolent direct action, they were studying the work that you all did here. So, you all should be very proud of the work, but obviously, there's a lot left to be done. But I just want to conclude by thanking you for helping our students learn more about themselves and how to change the world around them. [Applause] H: Question in the back? Unidentified female II: Yes, I'd like to respond to something that Ms. Jenkins said. You were talking about the Teach for America teachers and that they had no interest here. I have to disagree with you. My daughter was a Teach for America teacher. I watched her group of friends, teachers that she worked with, I watched a group of kids well, not kids, young adults they came here after doing a serious routine for learning. I mean, they got, in a short period of time, what most teachers get over years of learning to teach. But, I went in with my daughter, and so did other parents, to help clean up the classroom that, unfortunately the school was run by an African American principal that had no interest in what was happening within her own school. Yeah, the floors were shiny, but the room, the buil ding, everything about it, was dirty. I had to bring the principal in and said, look, there's light fixtures that, if you bring a child into this room that has epilepsy, you're going to have a problem. You're going to have a child with a seizure on hand. W e walk into the bathrooms: one fixture worked out of an entire
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 4 5 ! bathroom. They were all new fixtures, but they didn't work, because they had somebody there she had somebody at her disposal to repair this stuff or to keep on the repair. Didn't utilize it. Th ese teachers went in two weeks before school started and started setting up their classrooms; worked. I, along with other parents, bought things for the children's classrooms, bought books, bought supplies, bought everything that these kids needed, and I made sure that they had it. So did the other parents. We worked weeks cleaning. The other teachers were teachers in the school that were not Teach for America teac hers, showed up the day of the class, the day school started, and there was nothing to walk into. My daughter happened to be a kindergarten teacher. We had the room looking like it was something out of a special nursery, because it looked good. So did the other Teach for America teachers. They went the extra mile. I watched these teachers show up before the principal every day and leave when the principal was telling them, you have to get out of here. They went home and started calling parents, on the phone every day with parents, talking to parents, talking to children. Those parents that, at the end, went to my daughter because they completely changed their lives. Children that get serious problems at home, and they had a safe haven to go to, because these teachers cared and they loved their students. My daughter had an opportunity in New Orleans to go to the best schools that, paid the most, that had the richest kids, and she said, I don't like these rich kids. I want to teach the children that need it. Th at's how most of these Teach for America teachers approach each day. So, when you look at the teachers, don't just say, well, they haven't had a degree in education.
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 46 ! Sometimes, ignorance is bliss, where you don't put them into a category to say, we can't d o this, so I'm not going to expect you to do this. If you go in, expecting them, that they can learn, that you just teach them that everybody has the opportunity to do something, and don't go in there, looking at them, saying, well, you can't do this and I 'm not going to try. It's just don't shoot the teachers down, because they do care, they do have a vested interest in the students. [Applause] J : I don't beg to differ with you. When you named the grade level, beautiful. They work like little geniuses fro m kindergarten, first, second, and third. Beyond, no. This is it. Sh h shh. They did beautiful cosmetics for the school. They did cosmetics for the school. When you got to middle school and upper, I'm talking not about the mental mind of your students, I'm talking about that mental image of the person. It's not there if you are a liberal arts major. You don't have the impact. It's not there. Now, the state of Mississippi agreed. Kindergarten through third grade, they make nice little teachers. But thereafte r, it's not there. The impact doesn't grow. The students become a challenge after third grade. From third down to kindergarten, you can kind of, sort of they normally like their teachers, understand. They kind of like their teachers because the teacher's t heir second parent. They like that, there. But, when they get older, it's more competitive. It's much harder. The superintendent is from Timbuktu. Your other administration with him While you got the Teach for America teachers here, it's nobody in that sc hool, as I stated earlier, that's direct impact on the community, to bring the work and the value of your community in. Well, like I said, cosmetics wise, the work is beautiful. But, when they come to the in depth, when it comes
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 47 ! to your students, when it c omes to those students a broken parent that's been in the movement, that's what they did, they become broken. You don't build that back like that. It's not that simple. I look at my people in there and they talk, they got a five thousand dollar write off o n their school loan, that's beautiful, I admire that. But I had a lot of them come in and they said things that they did not know. They are what you call the OJT, on the job training. They picked up a lot as they went, but it wasn't there to begin. H: I'v e been given some instruction let me do something. We'll take one question, and then we're going to turn it over to Lawrence, to summarize everything that happened. G: [Laughter] H: Lawrence is going to do that in about two minutes, right? G: Never, nev er, never. [Laughter] Unidentified female I I: I just feel that the conversation of pitting veteran teachers, who were trained in the traditional way, versus Teach for America teachers is counterproductive. I've been teaching in public schools here for thir ty years. I did not . I was not born and raised here, but I'm super defensive of Mississippi at this point in my life, and I'm going to get emotional in a little bit like you did. But, I think it's like, every profession has the b e st and the brightest and the weakest links. There is no profession that's immune from that. I think this country has to wake up to the fact that, the reason Teach for America is so prevalent in not just the Delta, but in inner city schools all across the country is because tea chers, to a large extent, have not stood up like many people did in the early
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 48 ! days for the profession. The burnout level is high. Some people have the best interests of the children at heart; some people are just there for the paycheck. We all know that. I think, when the conversation can really come down to, what can the community do as a whole and Mr. Young said something about, or was it Mr. McLaurin, parenting is too important to be just left to the parents G: That's my statement. [Laughter] H: Yeah, that's Guyot. Unidentified female I I: I just feel like that is the key to the whole thing. It sounds simple, but it's not, and I know that I went through student teaching and observation and all that when I was a young person, and when I got into the clas sroom the first day, I still had a lot of growing to do. Today, when I go in t he classroom the first day, I still have a lot of growing to do, because each set of students every period that you teach them has a different set of needs. And we just go from there. So, I would like everybody to just embrace the profession and support teachers as much as you can. Wherever the fact that there is tremendous turnover, Teach for America who may be super dedicated for two years and then want to go to law school, but so be it. There are people in the classroom who are not in Teach for America as well. I'm sorry, but I had to stand up for my profession. G: Please don't be sorry. [Applause] H: All right. Floor is yours, Lawrence. M K: There's a young person right ther e. He needs to say something.
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 49 ! G: Don't worry, I'm going to recognize him. I'm going to recognize her and this gentleman here. I want to hear what y'all have to say. Then I'm going to give the somewhat summation. Unidentified female I II: I just want to say quickly, the people Ms. Jenkins is pointing out, that the people, the teachers and the superintendent, she's not talking about the profession, she was talking about the individuals. They don't necessarily have a vested interest in the community, because they're not from here, and most of them, from my understanding, don't have any intention of staying here. Unidentified female II : Sometimes that's true, sometimes it's not. Unidentified female I II : Yeah. So, I think that's the place she was coming from. Un identified female II : And I'm not trying to stir up anyone I'm trying to do right. SR : No, I think this is very healthy. This is good. Unidentified female III : I just want to make that's understood. My mom was a teacher for thirty years, so I understand. G: This gentleman, now this lady, and this lady's the last one. Yes. RR : I just have -t he reason why I'm constantly making, I'm one of the veterans, too. I'm sixty eight years of age, and I worked thirty five years in the school system here in Sunflower County. The problem that we are having here in Sunflower, I would like to get real to the problem. They started this war. Who's going to keep the legacy going? That's what we are w orried about now. Mr. Donahoe, he's lived in Sunflower County; he's a super visor. He knows what goes on the school system because he's there. I was . coming back to the Teachers for America. They are very knowledgeable; I can say that because I work with them. I was the
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 50 ! assistant principal at Ruleville Middle School, and I wo rked with the Teachers for America. They are very knowledgeable, but when it comes to discipline, you have to know the culture of our students in order to . to discipline them. You can't teach them anything if you can't discipline them. See, I discipli ne them for them. I would visit their classes every hour; make sure that the children are doing what they're supposed to do, and you have to make history real to children. You take them after y ou teach them about the capital yo u have to take her to the ca pita l. You teach them about New York; you have to take them to New York. I took children to every museum in the state of Mississippi. I made it real. I made social studies real. I took the voting machine to the classroom to teach them about voting. So, you have to make it real. You can't say, well, you do this and you do that. Children, some of them are visual learners. They learn more from what they see than what they're taught, and I know that for a fact. They learn from what they see. They see us taking all this some of you don't know. Right at this moment, they are boycotting in Ruleville, Mississippi. Some of you do not know that. We have real problems. What are we going to do about these problems? You know one thing? A lot of times, I talk about problems you ha ve in Indianola and Sunflower County, and the first thing they do is turn their head. We don't want to hear what you're saying. That's what most people saying, now. They turned up here when you know the problem because I live here. I see the students stand ing on the corner. We had it in the ordinance about children pulling up their pants and putting on a belt. We came back there, changed it, and said, no, it's all right to wear your pants down, you know, but just don't show anything.
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 51 ! It's all right to wear them down, but just don't show anything. You're not going to get a job around here, walking around with your pants hanging down. We have to be mentors. [Applause] We have to have someone to go into the school. We are one of the most obese states in the nat ion. They took physical education out oft he schools. They took it out. And then, they're using a holistic approach now to social studies. Well, we don't have to teach social studies anymore; let's teach it along with reading. I said, no, you don't social studies out. They don't teach social studies and some h istory. They don't teach it. Th ey don't teach black history in the schools anymore. I taught everything I thought I could teach them about history. I would go out and find material My wife taught for thirty two years. I have my children at my house that I have to get rid of that we bought. I paid for the graduation expenses of these children. See? These children have real problems, no one they are doing the children just like they do me. They turned th eir backs to me. They're turning their backs on the children now. I'm telling you the real problem. The state, just like I said, we are going on a state conservatorship. They wants to take over the school system here in Indianola and Sunflower County. If w e don't do something, mayor, Mr. Mayor, if we don't do something, they're going to put our schools under conservatorship, and we ain't going to have nothing to say about our schools. H: Can I just move RR : Now I'm finished with that. You got to make it real, that's what I'm saying. We're talking about real problems. [Applause] H: Thank you very much. Yes.
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 52 ! Unidentified female IV : Okay. I taught in a summer school in St. Louis that was very much like the . you were talking about: children who had no understanding of their own history, and part of it is, let's think back, how long ago did all this happen? These are children who se parents weren't alive when you were fighting the good fight. They're you're children's children. When you talk about the civil rights movement, and when you talk about the women's movement, it's like the first woman, the first young college woman who be came a female Rhodes Scholar said, it doesn't have anything to do with the women's movement. I got it because I'm good. Well, yeah, you're good, but it was all those other shoulders you're standing on that got you there. Well, civil rights is the same thin g. We did a summer program on civil rights in St. Louis I'm trying not to be too wordy, so I'm talking real fast G: That's all right. Don't worry. Just take your time, take your time. Unidentified female IV : The kids were bored to tears when it started. Why do we have to learn this? You know, blah blah. [Laughter] Once they heard from a few people and they started understanding, they started getting interested. They tried not to show it. You know, got to be cool; you got your pants hanging down, your t sh irt over, got to be cool, so you don't want to act like it's too interesting, but it was interesting. I think that's what you were saying: there is no child who cannot be made interested in this matter if you approach them in the correct way. That means al l of us who are past sixty, who remember this, have to talk to our kids and our kids' kids, and we have to keep it alive for them. We have to Chris spoke to the summer school group, and even though I'm sure their first thought,
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 53 ! as an all black group, their first thought was, oh, what's this little white guy going to tell us about civil rights? You know? But, what he told them what was so vital to us: he got them excited about the movement, but he told them that you must find something you feel passionate ab out, and you must work on it. That's what kids have to be told. They have to understand that. G: You are too good a speaker. Now, I'm going to have to recognize two other hands because of you. [Laughter] You're not too bad at the job. [Laughter] Unidenti fied male VII : Sunday newspaper, you have 2,558 students that did not graduate because of the exit exams that the state of Mississippi requires for you to graduate. Now, those representatives in here and your state senators, I don't see any, is an exit exa m necessary? You had 180 some honor students fail the exit exam. Is this necessary for our black students? It was 98 point some percent, all these were black students that did not graduate. If these exit exams all you educators is this exit exam necessary for our kids to graduate? Can we have some type of movement to get that through legislature and get that abolished? Because it's really hindering our progress for our kids. G: I got to respond to that one. Let's put it this way: I believe that there's no body alive who cannot learn everything that has ever been learned by everyone alive and dead. Let me say that again. There's nothing learnable or teachable that individual X cannot master. Now, if that so, I don't, because of a higher black failure rate in the test, that's not a reason to get rid of the test. That's a reason to look at the test and say, okay, how is it biased or is it really a tough test, and why don't we begin to really test kids out of the school system on that test? See, that's
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 54 ! the way t o solve that. Now, I have to listen to two other people, then I'm going to give the summation. [Laughter] But let me just make this point: what I am so proud of is that there was a breakdown between the panelists and the audience. [Laughter] In that we hav e a lot of panelists who've been sitting in the audience. As far as I'm concerned, that's the best kind of meeting you can have. I'm going to recognize two people. [Laughter] And no more. H: I'm being told about lunch. By the way, there's background noise which says, lunch is on its way. So, we're going to have the two people and then Lawrence, and then we're out of here for lunch. [Laughter] I'm told. G: Margaret and then Mr. White. Margaret Block: I'm Margaret Block from Cleveland. I can't believe I'm still fighting the same stuff I was doing in 62. I moved to California, came back, but this is what we're doing now: we had to bring the Justice Department to Cleveland, Mississippi, and we're going to court. I don't know when, but they've already said that they're taking the district to court. But I want to address that exit exam. The whole trouble started with the No Child Left Behind. That's the worst idea I've ever heard of. [Applause] Created by Mrs. Bush, and she copied it off of a it was No Child Left Behind, it was a failing program, and they turned around it instituted it for the whole nation. It's not just Mississippi that have to take the MCAT test. They focus on testing now, and they don't focus on teaching. [Applause] How you going to teach somebody how to take a test? You're creating a that's why I'm getting frustrated with all of these business that are trying to trick you and act like you're stupid, because they've been trained, they've been
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 55 ! taught under that No Child Left Behind program. They wasn't taught any critical thinking, nothing. I want everybody to start trying to get Obama through this manner of No Child Left B ehind program. And at Round Two in April, something amazing happened in Cleveland. We had a boycott of the schools. We ha d, like . eighty percent of the kids stayed out of the school that day, and we marched on that was real good. I enjoy trouble. [Laughter] That was real good. We marched on the school district, to their board meeting, and had all of these kids standing, sitting around on the floor and all in the board meeting. They called the police. I'm going, oh, please arrest us. [Laughter] Please. Because, I was going to call Guyot that we was going to be on CNN. [Laughter] Anyway, w e got to do something about No Chi ld Left Behind. I think it's devastating, and I think it should ]. If we don't do something, we going to have raised a nation of idiots. G: Margaret, when is that meeting that you're talking about? MB: Oh, this is June 3. G: June 3. Where is it going to be? MB: It's going to be in Cleveland. G: All right. MB: At . I have a few leaflets. It's going to be St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church at 401 Church Avenue, on June 3. But you can call me, and if you want to come, you're welcome. Unidentified m ale VIII : No Child Left Behind is designed G: Brother, you're out of order, now. Unidentified male VIII : Sorry. [Laughter]
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 56 ! MB: I want to give you an update on what's going on G: Now, now now. [Laughter] MB: on in Bolivar County, because Bolivar County was an important, if it wasn't for Bolivar County, Sunflower County wouldn't have happened, because e verybody had to go to the C zar Amzie Moore. [Applause] G: Mr. White is the last speaker that I'm going to do thus today. [Laughter] Dorsey White : I'll be brief. I believe the thing that really kills public schools is the lack of discipline. Seemed like our legislature is working against the public schools, but not creating laws that will govern the children there. That plays into the hands of the ch arter school. Seems like everybody's trying to . you know, the word public schools went to charter schools, and unless we speak to our legislature and get them to amend the law, they're going to give public schools more authority to govern themselves a nd create a level playing field. Public schools have to take in whoever comes. Private schools can kick out who they don't like. So, public schools need to have the same opportunity for a charter school, that say s, and ought to be successful. We need to ma ke sure our legislature give public schools the same regulation to work with. [Applause] G: Let me thank everyone here. I want to especially congratulate the panel, but the size and the function of the panel has expanded beyond the panelists. That, to me, is a successful meeting. Now, one thing that flows through from each of the panelists is their collective and individual love for what they've done. There's nothing more important than that, except when it comes to our collective responsibility to replica te that in ev ery way that we can. [Applause]
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 57 ! Empowerment, the ability to transform a life yours first, and then everyone else you come in contact with is as pleasurable as sex and as addictive as crack. [Laughter] I want to shock you a little bit by saying it. There's no movement in the history of man and womankind that has been successful without it. Religion was. The abolitionists was. The labor unions were not You've got to say to people that you have the ability to transform the lives of the people you want to organize. And you've got to believe it and you've got to say it to them, because, again, once a person makes something happen, they're a different person. Now, what we've seen here today is a battle plan that fits perfectly, because it brought in a lot of people reacting very emotionally, very pragmatically, but never in their own interest. This is how do we deal with the interests of other people? Now, so, all I'm simply saying to you, ladies and gentleman and one other thing, I want to say this. See this man right here? He's written a book called Emancipation Betrayed. I'm going to say it again, Emancipation Betrayed by Paul Ortiz. It is that important. It is one of those books that changes I read everything, I read two books every week, okay? Tha t's why I'm so smart. [Laughter] But, what I've found that books do, they either associate and empower your ideas, or they destroy them. You can't now. I'm saying this. The name of the book is Emancipation Betrayed It talks about a statewide movement in Florida. I thought the only statewide movement in America was Mississippi. [Laughter] He proves . why do I encourage reading? I want each one of you to know that the tapes for the fiftieth anniversary of SNCC are all available. All you got to do, go to SNCC legacy of fiftieth anniversary of SNCC, and you can buy those tapes individually.
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 58 ! Please buy them, because the greatest organizers in America were the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. They lay out how they did it and what opposition they fa ced and how they recruited people. Then, there's a series of books, just called SNCC. You want a copy, a list of the books that were sold at the SNCC reunion, fiftieth reunion. This is a lady who's written a great book. Here's what do we have here? SNCC Fi ftieth Anniversary Conference now available on DVD. Ww.newsreel.org. Get them. They're going to send you a copy of the tapes. You can select the ones you want to buy. Now, why am I doing this? Because we have two years between now and 2'12. Those of you w ho are Republicans, leave. [Laughter] I don't want to waste any time with you. The direction that this country is going in for the next fifty years H: It'll be decided. You got it. G: will be determined in 2'12. So, everybody who's interested in a coun try that we can recognize as America, we've got to start organizing. H: You got it. G: Whatever group you're in, you need to be organizing. We need to be talking to people we've never talked to before. You see, the beautiful thing about the teaching discussion, I could have I'm from Washington, D.C. We had that same discussion going on in Washington, D.C. What we've got to come to the realization is, both sides are right. What we've got to do is be able to say, yes, Teachers for America need to be mor e tied into the families, the labor unions, the churches. But that's doable. That's not . that's not impossible. They can still move on, on their progress. What we've got to do is say, how do we when we
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 59 ! find a problem, the real message of this panel ha s been, when you find a problem, create a solution. Don't glorify the problem. Create a solution. Now . this gentleman right here, right there, told me that he quoted one of my favorite stories and he gave me credit for it. So, I'm going to share it wi th y'all. A guy was deciding whether or not to come to Mississippi and he went to the Lord. He said, Lord, I know you can do anything, everything, whatever is right and just. I want you to come and go to Mississippi with me. [Laughter] Lord said, fine, bro ther, I'll go as far as Memphis. [Laughter] It is very important that we all understand . [Laughter] That we have witnessed a state that the whole country laughed at. And we look now at the governor apologizing for that, and we look now at people who c ame and, see, it's very important that you understand about the Freedom Riders. They didn't just come to Mississippi. They knew that they were coming to Mississippi to go to Parchman. They came and they got arrested. McLaurin and I were living at 714 Rose Street, but they didn't try the Freedom Riders fifty at a time. They tried them ten and twelve at a time. When they came here for trial in Jackson, we got to talk to them. We got to plot with them. What you must also understand, a lot of the Freedom Riders joined SNCC. They joined CORE. They joined SCLC. Ever heard of a guy named Shuttleworth? C.T. Vivian? Bernard Lafayette? Diane Nash? James Bevel? They were all Freedom Riders. David Dennis? Freedom Rider. So, I'm saying to you, ladies and gentleman, we mu st remember how great we have been. That will push us forward to remember how audacious we were, and we must not, now, tremble at our audacity. [Laughter] [Applause]
MFP 080; Panel Discussion ; Page 60 ! H: Lunchtime! [Laughter] Unidentified female V : Okay, before we have lunch, I'd like to t hank our moderator and panelists for taking time out of their schedule to discuss their experiences and anecdotes. Thank you for your bravery and courage. [End of interview] Transcribed by: Diana Dombrowski, February 2014 Audit Edited by: Sarah Blanc, Mar ch 5, 2014 Final e dited by: Sarah Blanc, April 2014