Interview with Florine Carter, March 22, 2011

Material Information

Interview with Florine Carter, March 22, 2011
Carter, Florine ( Interviewee )
Weston, Marna ( Interviewer )
Mississippi Freedom Project (MFP)
Physical Description:
Oral history interview


Subjects / Keywords:
African Americans ( fast )
Mississippi Delta Freedom Project ( local )
Civil rights movements ( fast )
African American women
Spirituals (Songs)
Oral histories ( lcgft )
Temporal Coverage:
1918 - 2011
Spatial Coverage:
United States of America -- Mississippi


Carter talks about her family coming from Alabama to Lula, Mississippi and living on the Wilson Plantation while raising fourteen children. She sings two original spirituals that she composed: Stand By Me (21:29) and Just Over the Hill (32:26). Locations include: Lula and Sunflower, Mississippi. People include: Paul Wilson, Robert Roosevelt Carter, Jesse James Norman, Ida Williams, Walton Norman, eliza Noarman, Matilda Williams, Linda Carter, Natasha Carter, Viola Carter, Toot Carter, Paul Carter, Joe Carter, Dee Dee Carter, Robert Paul Carter, June Carter, Daisy Lee Carter, Louisa Carter, Barack Obama, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abner Carter.

Record Information

Source Institution:
UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Holding Location:
UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Rights Management:
Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license:
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The Foundation for The Gator Nation An Equal Opportunity Institution Samuel Proctor Oral History Program College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Program Director : Dr. Paul Ortiz 241 Pugh Hall Technology Coordinator : Deborah Hendrix PO Box 115215 Gainesville, FL 32611 352 392 7168 352 846 1983 Fax The Samuel Proctor O ral History Program (SPOHP) was founded by Dr. Samuel Proctor at the University of Florida in 1967. Its original projects were collections centered around Florida history with the purpose of preserving eyewitness accounts of economic, social, political, re ligious and intellectual life in Florida and the South. In the 45 years since its inception, SPOHP has collected over 5,000 interviews in its archives. Transcribed interviews are available through SPOHP for use by research scholars, students, journalists and other interested groups. Material is frequently used for theses, dissertations, articles, books, documentaries, museum displays, and a variety of other public uses. As standard oral history practice dictates, SPOHP recommends that researchers refer t o both the transcript and audio of an interview when conducting their work. A selection of interviews are available online here through the UF Digital Collections and the UF Smathers Library system. Oral history interview t ranscripts available on the UF D igital Collections may be in draft or final format. SPOHP transcribers create interview transcripts by listen ing to the ori ginal oral history interview recording and typing a verbatim d ocument of it. The transcript is written with careful attention to refl ect original grammar and word choice of each interviewee; s ubjective or editorial changes are not made to their speech. The draft trans cript can also later undergo a later final edit to ensure accuracy in spelling and format I nterviewees can also provide their own spelli ng corrections SPOHP transcribers refer to the Merriam program specific transcribing style guide, accessible For more information about SPOHP, visit http://oral.histor or call the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program office at 352 392 7168. October 2013


MFP 0 74 Interviewee: Florine Carter Interviewer: Cand i ce Ellis Date: March 22, 2011 W: This is Marna Weston, for the Sam Proctor Oral History Program in Sunflower Miss issippi with Miss Florine Norman Carter, on March 22, 2011. And find out, Miss Florine introduce herself. You just speak into the air Miss Florine, just like we talking normally. How are you today? C: All right W: Thank you very much for letting me speak with you in your home. Would you please state your full name from birth ? C: Florine Norman Carter W: And when and where were you born? C: Lula Mississippi. W: And what year? C: I was born in 1918. W: 1918. C: In fourth of July W: Fourth of July. So you are just a few months younger th an my grandmother Lucille, who s she s now passed away, but she was also born in 1918, in February. February 18 1918. C : I was born July 4 1918. W : So always lived here in Sunflower?


MFP 074 ; Carter ; Page 2 C : I came from Lu la, Mississippi with my husband. Moved together Mr. Paul Wilson, he bought this place and so all us come with him, from Lu la, Mississippi, here. So W : C : Robert Carter. Robert Roosevelt Carter. W : Is he still living? C : No W: s gone on? Okay. Who were your m other and f ather? C : Ida Williams Y ou kno w the Williams fortune made my d ad [ inaudible 0 1:52 ] Norman. And my d addy was named Jesse James Norman W: Do you remember when they were born and where they were from? C: W: Do you remember anything about your grandparents? On was his m ama and d addy? C: My d addy was Walton Norman. W: And who was his wife? C: And his wife was named Eliza Norman. Before she she was. Before she met him. W: Do you remember your g reat gr andparents? C: No I can name grandparent s, W: How bout on your m m ama and d addy? C: They was Williams. My g ran dma on their side was named Matilda. W: And where were they from?


MFP 074 ; Carter ; Page 3 C: Alabama A and I reckon she got acquainted with my d addy, my d ad. And all them they married. And then I come up, and I married the Norman family. W: Why did they come here from Alabama? C: you know they never did talk about their past to me. W: Do you have brothers and sisters? C: I never had a brother or sister in my life. Mama had one child. W: The only child. C: And my d addy was named Jesse Norman, and m ama was named Ida Williams, and so they married and then I come on. And they had one child. W: Where did you live in Lula? What was your house like? Did you all live on a farm? C: A farm. In Wilson Plantation. W: And did you have chores growing up? C: Oh yes sir. wake up the chores. W: [Laughter] C: stone, and you had to go up under there and get all whatever was in there, when I was a child. W: What kind of chores did you have to do? C: I had to clean up the house, I know. And Mama loved showing me how to cook. W: What kind of things did you cook?


MFP 074 ; Carter ; Page 4 C: though. We used with pop, but I hated to do it cause back in them days, they learn y a You gonna have to learn how to cook. W: Now did you have recipes? Or you just cooke d off you learn, you watch and you just C: No, just go from what she told me. W: So a pinch h ere and a pinch there. If your m ama was teaching you to cook, what kind of stuff did she say to you? C: What kind of what? W: Like how to cook it, how did she inst ruct you? C Well there and tell me what to do, what to put in it. And I always have been a fast hen when I married, I told my children the same thing. W: So all the coo king was passed down from your m ama to you, and then from you to them? C: To them Anonymous speaker: A nd then to whom? W: [ Laughter] C: W: Oh yeah. So do you remember when you first went to school, for the first time, where you went to school?


MFP 074 ; Carter ; Page 5 C: At a Sunflower I mean at a Lula, Mississippi. It was a church house, back in the wall big old what do you call them? When they come in there and built them schools, but we was going in a church to school W: You talking abo ut the Rosenwald Schools? Yes miss, so you went to one of those? C: No I was married then, when they come in. W: But you remember when they did it? Did you think that was good for the children, that they did that? C: It was. It really was, cause being the church house, and you know how church They were wood. W: Yes Do you remember who your first teacher was? C W: So your first school, how far di d you go in that school, what grade did you finish at? C: The eighth. W : Went to the eighth grade? C: everything, after eighth grade. So I got hired at eighth grade, in that chu rch, it was named like our church . What are our church names? Anonymous speaker : S t . C: S t W: S t C: Yeah, in Lula, Mississippi.


MFP 074 ; Carter ; Page 6 W: of your formal education or did you C: W: C: No. I done the wrong thing, so I had to marry. You know back in them days [ l aughter] your parents will make you mad and now one of y all s no w. See they get babies and stay with the parents of when and where you days, breaking your leg. If the girl break her leg, she had to marry that boy, and that boy had to mar ry her. W: The parents would see to it. C: W: How did you first meet your husband? C: Fishing. Me and him would go fishing [Laughter] you know T hey had bayous then and houses built along on the bayo u. And there was an old bayou at, in front of his house. So when I come from school me and him come W: And then just somehow sparks flew? Little attraction, while you was fishing? C: [Laughter] No. W: Did you catch a nything? C: you know how law used to be in the bayou, back in them days. So you know


MFP 074 ; Carter ; Page 7 W: What kind of fish did you catch? C: Catfishes, perches. W: And what was your favorite place to fish? C: Well, in Lula, Mississippi? W: Yes C: W: Well now, you have a lot of family here, so there must be some children along the way. How many children did you have? C: Fourteen counting Jolene. H ad to bring some of them chillu n in here cause I had thirteen of my own. W: Thirteen children? C: M m h m. W: So and they all have grans so you got plenty of grans? C: Oh, I got last time I counted, I had three hundred and something. W: Three hundred. Grans and great grans? C: Yeah. W: Any great great grans? C: I know it is by now [Laughter] Cause, see I had not a gran. W: Three hundred grans. I had Anonymous speaker: m other of fourteen kids. C: Yeah


MFP 074 ; Carter ; Page 8 Anonymous speaker: but eight. Four girls and four boys. C: Anonymous speaker: Three hundred gran. 150 great gran, and about 69 great great grans W: That must be a big picture at the family reunion. C: If everybody would come to pass. W: C: No, they they said they gonna do one this birthday. They said all of them coming home and have a family reunion. W: Well we should stay in touch that. C: Yeah, al l right, al l right [Laughter] I of them right around here [Laughter] W: C: I guess I need y all to come back here. W: C: Let me see. My children Carter. And I got Natasha Carter. And I got Viola Carter. And I got, did I call Linda? W: C: Yeah, the baby good. And then I got, we called her Toot, but her name is I


MFP 074 ; Carter ; Page 9 say them, but Bo was named after his d addy, he was named Robert Paul. June, t she was named. Daisy Lee, Paul was my baby. And I had Vio one of my girls. And one pass, Louisa passed. I had five girls and five boys, but I W: Well let me ask you thi s Miss Florine I wanna come back and ask you about married, and growing up, and your life, but you know we have Barack Obama as the p resident of the United States. Is that something that you ever thought you would see? C: along in the thirties, we had a black man running for the p resident, but they killed happened to him. We never did know how he got killed, but all we know he got killed. And then this colored man come up, and so I just scared to death f or him, but he made it. W: Did you get to go out and vote for him? C: Yes sir. You know I was gonna vote for him. W: [Laughter] How did you feel that day? C: I felt wonderful. Wonderful. W: Do you remember the first time that you ever voted? C: Well I voted so many times. You know I think the first time I voted was here. You know W: In Sunflower.


MFP 074 ; Carter ; Page 10 C: Me and my husband both voted right here, in this town. But they had it out in town then. We had to go out there to vo te. W: So What was that like? C: Children wanted to vote, but voted no So the next time it come around election what that man name come in? Oh dear Lord He come here and broke it down, he got killed. You remember what was his name? W: Medgar Evers. C: Yes sir. He got killed. But he come here and trusted his life to help us. W: You remember when he came here? C: It w as I think was in the thirties, I think, when he come here. No, it was in the fifties. Anyway, he broke it down, him. talk and all around him went to the c hurch out there, in town, and all of us went anyhow. And so he had all us to vote. And so the voting. Now blem. W: So y ou and your husband got married W here did you live? C: When we first got married in Lula, Mississippi. W: You had your own house, how did you ? C: Yes sir. Well, you know, see I come up pregnant with my oldest boy. Boy you t like you was gonna


MFP 074 ; Carter ; Page 11 marry, in order to so me and my husband married before it was even born. And so then we got a house of our own. Little old we had a bedroom and a kitchen. W: And did you both work? C: Yes sir, in the fields. You know we had he Mr. Paul Wilson was always wanting him to drive tractors. Wel l then he always give me a spot where I could man. W: So how long did you stay in Lu la? When did you move from there to here? C: I think it wa s in the it was in the thirties N o it was in the [19]40s W: And what made you come here? C: Moving with him. They bought he bought this place, called, both of them did now, him and his wife he bou ght this. And he brought us here from Lula Mississippi, with him. W: Was that before the war, or during the war? C: Is it been a war? W: World War II. C: No, we was in Lula. W: Still in World War II, okay. You remember World War II? C: Yes, I remember tha t. W: Were you still in the fields, or did you do something to help with the war? Or what kind of things did you do while the war was going on? C: Well, I was on the plan t do nothing but go to the meetings when they broke it down Medg h e broke it down while we


MFP 074 ; Carter ; Page 12 went to t o the meetings. So could just go. W: Do you remember Martin Luther King? C: Yes sir. W: What did you think about him? C: He was a fine man [Laughter] He was a fine man. All them men, coming here, I followed him. And we had a good time at them meetings [Laughter] We learned W: D id you ever do the freedom songs or work with the students when they came through? C: W: ? C: Yes sir. I sang. I sang solos. W: What kind of stuff do you sing? What kind of songs do you sing? C: When the S torm W ould R ise To the Rain and Stand By Me And This Little Light of Mine W: Could you sing a little something now? Anything you wanna sing? C: Well in this storm, light, life is raging, L ord stand by me. When this storm is light, life is raging, stand by me. When the world is tossing, oh upon the sea. Stand, stand, stand, stand by me. W: That was lovely, thank you. Where did you learn that song?


MFP 074 ; Carter ; Page 13 C: I laid down one night and Stand By Me come to me, and then I got up the next morning and got me some voices, of another song that was in there A nd I had a little song work at that time and I come up with about two, three verses. But that song come to me, when the storm of life is rag ing. Stand By Me I always when I get them songs, you know, they come to me at night, and I put me some verses to them. See W: Do you still have your song bo ok? C: No, they my house got burned. W: Oh no. What happened? C: come back, the house, my chillu n was in they just had got out, they got out, just burned down. And this the new one. Know the old one, my husband and I had, W: As you think back on your life and who you are now, and where you came from, being a little girl i f you were going to give ad vice to somebody like you today on how to live their life, what would you say to them? C: b ecause H br ought me this floor and I know H something [Laug hter ] Th at heat see I try to cook twice, and I fell out, down there by the stove, and the children got me up so tell Jesus about it, I can cook. [ Telephone rings]


MFP 074 ; Carter ; Page 14 W: Did you ever see yourself when you were younger, being ninety four years old? C: No sir. No sir. No way [Laughter] No way could I see myself getting that old, but alive. W: Are many of your friends stil l in the area, or have they C: Well some of them some of them still here. W: Do you still go to church? C: Every time I can get a chance [Laughter] My grandson he takes me I got a s ummer c amps, Sunday School, and everything c ause he know I like it. W: And what kind of things, what are the things that you take pleasure in now? What do you enjoy at your age? Being almost ninety four. C: Home. W: You like being home? Mm hm C: Sometimes I go out. I never was the woman that go out W: All the time C: No time. Cause see daughter died, and she left some children, and obviously I had all them to tend. go nowhere. When Then I just, I [Laughter] Sure did. I always have been, just home. Stay ther e and raise chicken, hogs, cows W hen my husband was there and ten of them kids I liked it there.


MFP 074 ; Carter ; Page 15 W: Well Miss Florine Carter, thank you very much for letting me speak to you today A nd I like to conclude my interviews just by again, thanking you, and then asking you if there is anythi ng you want to say or something you wanted to talk conclude our interview. C: or a you know, home and I had a house of kids. See, and plus my daughter died, and then I had her children nothing, just stay there and rais e them children. And back in the days now I raised chicken, hogs, and a cow. [End of Intervie w, Part 1 ] W: A l l right. This is interview p art two about some of her work experiences, and I guess f How did you find out about that job and get it? C: Well , I really had me on their mind, you Cause one day I went up there and Mr. Charles asked me, did I wa nt to work at the bank ? And I told them bank for you. And so, he says oka y. C ? All of them, work for them, all the whole family then. I went from house to house working for them. And so, I guess they give me a good reputation. So then the bank wanted me. And so I went there and worked at the bank, I think it was twenty two years, I worked at the bank.


MFP 074 ; Carter ; Page 16 W: And, what was it like working there? C: Just cleaning up, dust, water, and dust, and a mop, and a sweeping mop. Get all the spider webs A nd if it was a sum mer, t hat door would have water, would come and get them. Kept it nice and tidy. W: Were the people there nice to you? C: Yes sir. Everybody, all white fol They were always nice to me. W: Did you ever talk to the people when they came into the bank? C: Yes. W: What did you all talk about? C: We talk about hi l right today. Li ke that. W: Did you work anywhere besides the bank? C: Yeah, I work for Mr. Abner Carter, and Mr. Paul Wilson. W: What did you do for Mr. Carter? McCarty, pardon. C: Well I helped clean up the house and helped their children. W: So what was that like? And y ou were a mother, so you had a lot of experience C: It was fun, because they loved me. The children loved me, and their parents in that I worked with. W: As they grew up, did you still keep contact with those children, or did your relationship change?


MFP 074 ; Carter ; Page 17 C: hug me. W: So they w ould say hi? Anonymous speaker: They bring stuff now too. C: They bring stuff to me. Anonymous speaker: The grandkids, the grandkids C: Sure do Anonymous speaker: The great grans, they the great grans. W: Okay terrific. C: like that. I put the Lord in front. W: Now why is that? C: Because if you put the Lord in front, things will go smooth with ya. You recognize Jesus Christ first, and so I always have been that way. I love the Lord. W: Now you had one song already, do you have another one? C: [Laughter] Anonymous speaker: Yep. C: Anonymous speaker: S ing C: [ I naudible 32:19 ] like the radio Anonymous speaker: Sing Just Over t he Hill C: Just over the hill. Just over the h around, but I shall


MFP 074 ; Carter ; Page 18 under stone, I make my way to my happy home, just over, just over, just over the hill. W: That was lovely. So have you ever thought about going back and putting all these songs together, and making you a CD and getting on the radio or something? C: I thought about it W: You should A ll you need to get is like, seven to eight of them. If you got seven or eight yeah C: Oh I got plenty. W: Well you have a lovely voice. For a person in their twenties and thirties would love to sing as good as you do. A nonymous speaker: W: Well thank you for sharing your time and your talent. C: I always could sing. When I was a girl they would stand me up on the table and let me. W: But you can sit. C: [Laughter] W ell getting to the place, you see so I can sing you know. W: I have a hard time going to c hurch, getting up in the cars and things, but I make it. Sometimes my sons, they come out there and just pick me up, you kno w and ere. I know y a ss the railroads, but I was [ inaudible 34:52 ] on the Frost Plantation.


MFP 074 ; Carter ; Page 19 Anonymous speake r: When I take you, we still have to talk to the library, and then somebody would show me. W: Well thank you again Miss Florine. C: [End of interview] Transcribed by: Anna Armitage, January 21, 2014 Audit e dited by: Sarah Blanc, January 30, 2014 Final edited by: Diana Dombrowski, February 7, 2014