Title: Interview with Roscoe Brooks (June 13, 1973)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007109/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Roscoe Brooks (June 13, 1973)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: June 13, 1973
Spatial Coverage: Lumbee County (Fla.)
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00007109
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'Lumbee County' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: LUM 122A

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Full Text


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LUM 122A

Subject: Roscoe Brooks
Interviewer: Lew Barton (I: interviewer)
Date: June 13, 1973
Typist: JoAnn Suslowicz

Side I

I: This is June 13, 1973. I am Lew Barton interviewing.for the Doris Duke

Foundation and the University of Florida's History Department American

Indian Oral History Program. Today we are here in Lumberton, North Carolina

at the North Carolina State Department of Corrections, Robeson County

Unit. This is the third interviewee of the day, and with me right now is

one of the inmates, whom I will question very shortly. Sir, I want to thank

you for coming in and talking with us on this program. Would you mind

telling us what your name and number is?

B: My name is Roscoe Brooks. My number is 3063378. I'm from Robeson County

and I am an inmate serving time here, and I've been serving for quite a


I: Um-hm. (Affirmative) Would you mind telling us your offense, or do you get

tired of people asking you that question?

B: Well, no, it's nothing to be ashamed of. I think I have rehabilitated myself.

I have a good job, an h1/fr e ri"

I: That's great.

B: And, oh well, getting along good. I think, according to society, I have paid

my utility according to the law, and I have no objection to that.

I:. Um-hum. Uh, now who were--who were your parents? Are you from Robeson?

B: I'm from, uh, across the river here at Pembroke. Behind the old Brook


I: Um-hum.

B: And I guess--you know, a lot of my people are over there; the Locklears and

LUM 122A 2


I: And, uh, how long have you been in?

B: I've been serving time ever since 1949.

I: Uh-huh. (Affirmative) Are you looking forward to getting out?

B: I'm looking forward to building a good life.

I: Uh-huh. Uh, do you know--do you have any idea when that will be?

B: I have approximately two years.

I: Uh-huh. Well I sure hope you make it, and, uh, uh, I would like to ask you

if you would mind telling us some of your experiences--or just about anything

you'd want to talk about. We don't want you to talk about anything you

don't want to talk about.

B: Deffinitely (?) I'ld like to talk about rehabilitation. We've come a long

ways in this unit.

I: Um-hum.

B: We have a staff and real nice staff officers, and I come here 1950, I was

first sentenced to the mountain camp. January 1, 1950 I moved in here on.

I: Uh-huh.

B: I've had a lot of ups and downs. Anybody--it's always my fault. I understand

that. I think since Mr. Dill Brooks took over this unit, he has really

brought it a long ways. He's tried to rehabilitate every man with plus

giving him the opportunity and the chance to. He's made a lot of introduc-

tions, he's made a lot of programs that we did not have when he come here.

I think I've seen 'em all come and go out. And Mr. Harry '. ; Locklear I

think is the first Superintendent, and Mr. Hammer was the second, and Mr.

Oxedine was the third and a Mr. Oxedine again which is still with us. One of

our first. .

I: Would this be Mr. Rov-UL Oxedine?

B: Mr. o Oxedine. Mr. Oxedine, he is still with us. I think he's, uh,

LUM 122A 3

sitting in 1 c__ until, um, maybe somebody comes up better. We have

the greatest--one of the greatest and helping men--giving them an opportunity

to try to rehabilitate themselves as we ever had and that's Mr. Dill Brooks.

I: That's great. I'm certainly glad to hear you say that. And you certainly

do have an institution here to be proud of, and I'm proud of. .

B: I'm proud of the rehabilitation school, and I'm proud of--when he came here

he went all out to try to do what he could for us. When he first come here

we had no TV's, in other words we had 'em but they weren't no good. He

installed new TV's and got this here. All programs' system started. He has

been working' faithful with us, and he would help every man to gain a chance,

an opportunity to help him. In fact of the business, he's helped me, I'ld

say about three times. He, he never gives up on a man. That's one good

thing about him. I like it about him, because he never doubts a man.

I: Well that's great.

B: And I think any prison system should have a man that will work with 'em

like that and try to show 'em that the--he's not been forgotten. When you

get in a position ..with quite a few years, uh, ahead of you to go, you get

in the position that the world don't owe you nothing, and you don't owe them

nothing, and nobody cares any more, yeah, I think you need a man like him to

reach out and say he's not been forgotten. I'm still here to help you, so

this changes a man's mind quite a bit.

I: It changes his attitude. .

B: And his mind. Yes it does.

I: .to know that somebody does care.

B: Somebody does care. We know that, um.

I: Right.

B: Do I know myself by me being here? When I came here I couldn't read, couldn't

LUM 122A 4

write, but now I've -i .'i5 i toga Minister's degree and I've been

working with God for the past twelve years.

I: Oh, that's great.
J -1
B: And, uh, I think I know the bible from the beginnings -- the Revelation. I

think he's done everything that any inmate would let him do according to

God's word.

I: Do you--you remember Mrs. Mary Livermore, don't you?

B: Mrs. Mary Livermore? A person of established Y u You

went all out and worked hard for us to get her chapel here.

I: Uh-huh.

B: There's been quite a few of 'em i r-C '. fI and you try to worship

her in some ways like she was something special.

I: Um-hum. She certainly was. I agree with you there.

B: She was the finest lady we ever had in this part of the county.
I: I remember coming over4several times with her and sort of helping her out in

teaching, you know, adult education.

B: She taught it--she done everything she could to help.

I: Um-hum.

B: And no matter what some of the guys wanted, you know, her to do any little


I: Anything for them.

B: Or, whether it was little or not, if she could do it to help them, she would.

She made a statement here one time in my presence. She wanted God to let us

stay here long enough to see this Chapel finished and see the worksof God

start to moving on before we'ld leave and I think he let her see that a lot.

LUM 122A 5

I: Oh, that's great. Um, it certainly was sad when she passed along.

B: r.i, I? I Vr O\Ar but nevertheless, God knows the

best, and therefore, there's always somebody to come and take over and keep

"-S I think a lot of Brother Harold Wood, he's our Chaplain. He tries

to do everything he can to help the inside world.

I: Is that Rev. James Harold Wood?

B: James Harold Wood, yes.

I: Um, what is the name of your chapel, or what do you call it?

B: Uh, Proven Friend Chapel. In other words, we have a Proven Friend Society out at

Pembroke whose done us-quite a few of 'em worked into it, and so, I would say

in--on Christmas we have, oh, we have a great sum of money. It's from the

Baptist 1cO : *r -4 y. South Carolina. And a, and a

1ibm neh N S \1 Aj) f came in with us--each month he gives us five

dollars each--the church gives us five dollars to donate to the Proven Friend

Society. We just have a great feast. To be shut in at Christmas time.

k ( because he had appropriated money for that.

I: That's great. Uh, Miss Mary,-uh, let's see, the, uh, Proven Friend Association,

it supported, as I understand it, according to what he just said, by the )' L'I' Sv '

Baptist Association?

B: Association, yes.

I: And, uh, let's see. Who is head of that now, do you know?

B: ,I don't know exactly, but I think, um, seems to me like I got the news that Brother

\Q \ C, 1 Ias appointed. I know he was appointed as 't '.L

but I think he was settled with that, too.

I: Uh-huh. I understand it's an organization of about 41 or 42 missionary Baptist


B: Workers, yes.

LUM 122A 6

I: Uh, and uh, this is certainly great. This is the largest organization among our

people right now.

B: Oh, I--I would think, certainly.

I: How many that are Indian churches?

B: All of them is Indian Churches. Now you take when I--I paid my dues as the outside

worldje/ i)k where I could pay my dues. I want to show my love

towards my fellow man with--inside. We have a firm within we--men, white and

black, Indians--somebody deceased in the family--back in '.. tS we got a man's

sister died--deceased. Maybe we can send him out money. So, I'm the man to

go with that. To, to go around and try to show our love towards one another.

We got to help the man-that we--let's get up $25 and buy--buy him a wreath to

give to his sister. And I think that's a great thing.

I: It is. I was just wondering:about the, uh, number of people who've come

and gone since you, uh, were here. I bet you remember a lot of them. People

who've come. .

B: I remember quite a few of them, thank to goodness. I look around sometimes and

say to myself--when I first started serving time--I can't recall too many

names because, um, them that is still living is very few. Now this was, um,

80 man unit when I first started serving time, and I would say 60 percent

of them men that I really new are deceased, or something bad happened to 'em.

And I look at myself sometime, and I have to thank God for letting me stay

here for some purpose. Uh, I feel like sometime--then we're shut up. Then

we're--I committed a crime and I'm not--I'm not proud of being shut up, but

I'm just proud to be a living if I is inside..

I: You're not bitter about it, uh. .

B: I'm not bitter about it one bit. In fact, the fact of the business I thank

God--if He can come in here as good as he can go outside. As long as I'm

LUM 122A 7

paying a debt to society, I have no I(Kcl( v1iivtX3\'C .
)C 0 C. n c ; 1 b C( 16 ""T
I: What happened to that L e- yha eh--an eriany-but, uh, gospel singing' [:'

al/istenMg to te _tlady,- lt;1 Ug a ________

B: Uh-huh. Well we used to have, um, two bands. Fact of the business, youttake

the inside. You've got to have help from the outside, and somebody to support

'em. You only show your love through your fellow man, and if we could get

someone--I have quite a few of 'em to :.'I'.: I; ~ '. We will--we

would enjoy--we would love to form of couple of bands, uh, gospel singing,

um, some church singing, just anything to let the outside world know that

we've not been forgotten. And, I have to say this, we have quite a few men,

uh, good men. I just--I would say that for that matter, every man that should

become thirty years old, I believe shouldn't be surprised to have broken the

law. And we're just some that got caught. We just didn't get away as clean

as the other man did.

I: Um-hum.

B: And, I think if we give opportunity--now we know that somebody's gonna mess

up down the line unless--we don't want this to stop it.

I: Um-hum.

B: We want the opportunity and all programs. I think the--gonna pull 'em off

of the road--all these don't go on working--if we could get the outside of the
world to working with us, we can'make thisAhome instead of a prison, and they

can feel at home.

I: Yeah. There certainly has, uh, come a long way in a short while. Uh, you

know, I was thinking when you were talking about the saying that the' -_

there, when I see somebody in prison, or somebody, um, who is shackled by,-.'r

___ co _. or something like that, I always say, there but for

LUM 122A 8

the grace of God do I.

B: There, there, there you go. I knew, um, I can quote many scriptures. I've

been--I asked God to help me. As I read about King Solomon and his daddy--

daddy David 1 .,

one of them that went to God for wisdom, and he acquired the knowledge to

understand the word--the book of Mathew t-; I think

that you have to show your love towards the shut in. You can make a man do

what you want him to do by showing your love toward him. Nowadays you find

"w e-hax'en hc x-0---," A and therefore you don't demand a man to

do nothing. You may kill him, but you don't demand him to do nothing and

therefore you're not showing love nowhere.

I: Um-hum. Well, uh, uh, do you have any ideas for change--anything of yours at

all? What would you do?

B: Well, there's not too much we can change, unless we just get into a program

of worshipping. A program of singing. This would be about the only thing

that will cure you, andn M .'- it started rehabilitation--I think

we've got one of the greatest If'j&U to ever sit in the seat, and I've

seen 'em all come and go, trying to help us. And, he give us every oppor-

tunity, every chance. If a prisoner really in--in other words, I want to say

it, not just--we don't deserve what we are getting. We eat plenty, and we have

as good a food according to what I hear on the outside, and occasionally I

have some people to bring me food, and they bring me the very best they got.
7 /
But we never eat f ~ the year 'round.

I: Um-hum. That's good to know. .About, maybe, 15 or 20 years ago, uh, I was

talking to somebody who had been in a jail, and I asked him about the food

there, and he says well, L'}\ -/ t they have beef that looks

like they run the cow through the kitchen. It's not that way here is it?

LUM 122A 9

B: It's not that way here. I noticed I was e rein there last

night. And I guess we--we should have got close to two to three hundred

just as pretty a roasts. Just as pretty as you'd ever see, laying in

the meat counter. We got one of the best Sews we ever had. He, he, he's

really particular and he tries to fix it the very best way he know how,

and if any man go hungry here, he's sick. There's nothing wrong with his--

I mean, you know, his appetite, he, uh, if he ain't, if you go hungry

anyway, it's, uh, you're just a sick man because we have--I, I would say

on the average the best food that I ever see in this unit in the past

five to six years.

I: What was your cooks name?

B: Mr. Bobby Shaeffer. I guess you knew him. Ur, this is, u. .

I: Is he an inmate here? ,t

B: No, sir. He's. <- outside.

I: I see.'
IAht'%17 / 1.4 '// I -k
B: But he has inmates working itm ithe '' head man in the kitchen. You
Lzjorlfcrc ^ SY
have three 4 but you only have one so called, uh, uh, steward.

I: How do you feel about, um, the people who are fortunate enough to be on work

releases. Would you. .

B: I think that's one of the greatest programs that ever come forward, because

I've talked, you know, I'm among them, and you got men in there with very

long time, uh, trying to explain to 'em ten dollars a week. Uh, uh, uh,

otherwards, you have to break it down to a man. Ten dollars a week. If he's

on work release making 5 to 80 dollars, he--you only get ten dollars a week.

You allow him that much to draw, and, uh

I: And he has the rest when he gets out. ..

B: Oh, well. The way they did when I was on work release, you, um, pay your

board and so much, but over that they take good care of it. And I think

LUM 122A 10

it's one of the greatest things to let a man work his way through, although

he's paying his debt to society, and this would really take a load off our

welfare.department with outside.

I: Um-hum. And that certainly helps the state, uh. .

B: It helps the political system. I think Mr. Lee B-i .01 6 made a state-

ment. If he could get the system like he wanted it, that he would make

inmates feed inmates. That's why we have men out there today that are not

able to work. And you don't have an J\C(C )C. ,He can't help himself,

although he committed a crime. Now you take me. I'm an able bodied man

to work, and definitely I do love to work. I love to go outside and--

this type of work, and I don't know much other but laying out of pipes and

ditches and so forth, as long as'we're helping : Robeson County. I feel

like if we can get this thing arranged around to where the men would go on

work release, get 'em back with the highway department--work a lot of men.

It would help keep budgets down a little bit.

I: Are you married?

B: I'm a married man. My wife's divorced. I got two boys that are grown. My

oldest boy finished high school this year.

I: Um-hum. Who was it you married?

B: I married Rosa Scott. She was a Scott before I married her.

I; Um-hum. And, uh, you say you had how many children?

B: I had had three, but one 'em got killed--deceased. We have two boys who are


I: And what are there names?

B: Aurora Brooks and Roman Brooks.

I: How old are they?

B: I have one seventeen. One going on sixteen.

I: I should have asked you your age, but I didn't.

LUM 122A 11

B: My age--42.

I: Forty-two.

B: P1k gcv# 3cS j(ic I K

I: Um-hum. Do you, well, I shouldn't ask--don't need to ask you..

B: Don't bother asking me anything. .

I: .about what you're gonna do when you get out and everything. I hope that,


B: When you say dream, do you mean do I sit around and think about it?

I: Urn-hum. ., '^

B: Yes, I tave to--have to always I have to--if I've not lost

hope in myself, and who has done everything he could to give me--I was a human

being in the world--even he had not forgotten me. I made him a vow. I, I, I

got a good job. I can get a good job. I can hold any kind of job, if the, if

the Lord be with me and I keep my head-up, and I enjoy working.

I: Well, um, I wouldn't suppose that any of the guys, not, not very many of the

guys, anyway, are working release, uh, would sort of mess up if they get an

opportunity to help themselves. Don't most of the guys usually take advan-

tage of it and go ahead?

B: You were, uh, you had the same thing here, or, or, in a way you have in the

,______ You're gonna have difficulty--small problems anywhere you

have two hundred men. Some of 'em is gonna come up and break a rule and then

go on and get caught. Where others don't want to hurt nobody but himself.

They've understood that in the past years, and this man's got to pay for his

his punishment, but he don't want to hurt the other man. Now you take. .

I: That's good.

B: .. .what happened back up here in the state. All four, five months agoAin
Maitland, where-they like to hurt the whole prison system byAcrime he committed.

Well, if you look at your news in the newspaper and so forth and so on, it's

LUM 122A 12

being committed every day by the outside world.

I: Yeah.

B: I would say in. .

I: Ij''Jh t M ''itS '

B: Ur, I think it was

I: Uh-huh.

B: You see that gCvesdhm)j ._ 't ,,

I: Was he o-the 0 ?

B: TT2:. On work release, um, um, let me think of his own work release. I think

he was working to-b -e a, inatee rr-...-.-.... and then he went on and didn't


I: Uh-hum.

B: Well, by rights he wasn't on the prison system because an office had taken this

on itself to take in the boy and put him in a hotel, so he just left. I think

he had a nice time.

I: Uh-huh. Do you have a good A.A. chapter over here?

B: I don't think the boys dis--I believe they they've licked that part of it. I

think they dropped it. We don't get out much anymore.

I: Well I know some people who are very much interested in establishing A.A. in

the county. My son who owns the Carolina Indian Voice, for example, has done

work, uh, along those lines, and he's very much interested in it.

B: Oh, I think, uh, we should have this because when you get down to talking a

man--to a man about prob--a problem, and drinking is a problem, problem drink-

ing myself--if you get down to talking to a man about a problem, he won't, say,

understand, and a lot of times, well when he just quit, I think you had quite

a few members of it, and this A.A. I think it's a great thing because, um, it,

it, it donates a lot to this unit. It gives a lot of pride to this unit. It

LUM 122A 13

shows a man what they're trying to do.

I: Um-hum.

B: And you have some people especially in our race you got to, not only talk to

him, you got to show him something.

I: Yeah.

B: I think that helps a lot.

I: Well, maybe, uh, he'll get that chapter started, and would you --would you be

willing to help along with him?

B: I would be glad to help. I--I'll participate in anything that--to try to

rehabilitate a man. I've come to the decision that I wants to help. I wants

to help rehabilitate anything, and support anything that's come along.Now..

I: .help somebody else.

B: Help somebody else. Show a man what I've been through it. Experience means a

lot. But I hate--I went through the experience and I'ld love to tell what

drinking, and what, um, uh, cruelty to your fellow man. So forth and so on. I

have a, a escape record, but I'm '' officer here can kick against me if

I've been the type of person who's trying to hurt anybody. I've been here along
J"T 'C n<^<- o i/'. .
time. I're4ve-don my-_ for punishment.

I: Uh-huh. Um, I've heard people talk about the hole--it's not as bad as it used

to be.

B: No sir. It really ain't as bad. I escaped in 1950 and you put me in that

thing--that box cell at .'___ and you gave me six months and I was shocked,

and the doctor didn't even check me in 1950, and he didn't pay you anything to

deny me [ i time. We have some like that, and really one of the strictest
rules is that you've got to have there, it's a, it's just a law that you've

got to have him there, and he's, he's really very__very nice. He's laying up

there eating three meals a day, he's got air-condition.

LUM 122A 14

I: In the hole? / f

B: In the hole, and, uh, in other words he just cut offices. I'm not criticizing
him. I'm glad to see it thisAway because now-a-days and times if we get a man

that we can't __-, or if they get a man that they can't { and he's

gonna just keep right on, they have a place for him to, to rehabilitate these
rr \) You've got to try and keep talking to him. Then you can't do

nothing with him, you send him somewhere anyhow.

I: Um-hum. We were talking about the rules, uh, the gentleman read the list of

rules, um, um, the inmates know the rules, don't they, and they, they learn

them. .

B: Pretty much on their own.

I: If a fellow happens to slip up on one, and he's, uh, doing something he doesn't

quite know what he's doing, somebody--some of his fellow inmates will try to

guide him won't they?

B: Well, now you have, um, two sides of the thing. Now, according to who the

inmate is. Now you got, uh, I would say agitators as well as you have rehabili-

tated men in there.

I: Um-hum.

B: And, uh, we have quite a few of them. I think that maybe you can say about every

man in there. He may be in his office a lot, but he's, uh, he knows what goes

on down here.

I: Right.

B: In other words, uh, uh, it's the same thing as in a high school. You got some

boys in there and they want to get by with this. Uh, uh, uh, maybe smoking

marihuana, or drink a little whiskey, or Sip s So you have here

in your prison unit, and I'll lay you every dollar you got that some of these

young men and they're the same way they is in the high school. And then you got

LUM 122A 15

some of 'em that really wants to learn. He want to be somebody. Then you got

some in there that just ain't gonna be nobody, I don't care how they're mother

and father sent 'em to school.

I: You think we have some in the prison that can't be helped? Who won't be helped?

B: I would say yes in prisons. I don't believe there's too many on this unit that

don't appreciate everything that you do. And the fact of the business--if, if

he happen to stumble, talk to him and show him what you're trying to do, and he'll

be ('7 I rC(frt in, in, in just a few moments.

I: I was talking to one officer yesterday, and somebody said this morning he was

hoping for a hundred percent, uh, record in rehabilitating his men. Do you think

this is too optimistic? Too hopeful? Do you think this is too much to hope


B: I don't--I don't believe so. Really I don't. The way this program's system's

going now and the way it will be in the next few days, or;.a year or so, a man

had no--had no right to mess up. Or I could say that drinking, a man's subject

to get caught drinking or doing something, uh, with they put itythe Watergate

Committee. Some of them got caught.

I: Right. Somehow I agree to that. Sometimes they do get caught even in high

places don't they?

B: That's right. But I think this is, will, will be one of the units--now we have

all men, all types of men that come in on this unit, and he don't want to leave

this unit. That's the reason why it's more jof. a home than it is a prison unit.

I: Maybe it's better for him to be on the outside. Do you think you have that

case sometimes?

b: Oh, well I couldn't rightly put it that way, but it looks that way.

I: Um-hum.

B: It really looks that way.

LUM 122A 16

I: Um, men shut up in prison for a long time have a woman problem as you know. Uh,

uh, I know I would have if I was locked up. Although I was in the Navy, and

we would be out to sea for long periods of time, and just not seeing women.

B: Um-hum.

I: Just seeing them, ws*, uh, encourages a fellow. He doesn't have to even talk to

them. Uh, and somebody told them that you'd have some women in the prison now.

B: Uh, I think we got all six or eight down here working, and they visit us, and why

naturally we can't visit them, but they allow 'em to come up and visit. And we

just has a good time.

I: Uh-huh. Do you think that there ought to--this is--sounds like a dumb question,

but this is encouraging to the men?

B: I think so. Really I do. Really, I think so. It makes them feel--it is being

rehabilitate. Maybe one object, that if you get eight men to believe in

that he could talk to somebody that says, well, I went out visiting 4 r S0.

and he and I talked thirty minutes, this is every afternoon. I think, though,

now you're going to have a problem with one or two out of five or six hundred

which probably goes beyond the rules of those things from now on. Taken on the

other hand you have rehabilitative powers on him.

I: Well that's--you have a fellow who is, uh, sort of a problem to the other

fellows and, do they do anything about it themselves?Do they try to correct him?

B: He tried--yes, to, um, we have some very nice men in there that they--he would

try to correct him. Correct him in his--his--the problem, so on and so on.

The officers would then ,- do it, and, uh, he'd o' t 'C e c o i

Then, then if he got, uh, keep on--keep on agonizing this matter, they've always

got a place for him.

I: Um-hum. Do you think the punishment here is too severe?

B: No sir. By me being an inmate I couldn't say too severe, but rather than

LUM 122A 17

:. cruelty and hate in a man I think it would be better to move him from out

of his district or--to some people you can't be good to. To some people you

really can't be nice to, and I would say 95 to 98 percent of 'em appreciate it.

I: Uh-huh. Now, uh, you're working with, with 6 fellow inmates and you being in

ministry and all, there's a question I've always wanted to ask, and I've heard

it said that I never could quite accept the answer I got, and I want to ask

you, do you think every man has a conscience'that works, I mean an active


B: Um, I believe this, and I've want to run up with one. I believe that men are as

school children. There are some has a conscience, and a very few don't. I

believe that a man who told me one time, right after Miss Mary Livermore got

some* talking to him, and he went over to me when I first got saved and he said

son, you've made a good start, but there's one thing I want to ask you. And

do it for me, don't never turn around. He says I been saved four times and he

says today God will not have me because I can't cry, if I see my mother burning

up I can't cry. I think this man had really lost his conscience, his belief,

and his feeling in God will leave a human being.

I: Um-hum. Do you think, in other words, that the Lord deals with a man so, so

long. .

B: So long, and he'll. .

I: when he rejects him he. .

B: .he rejects him he don't cone to him anymore, and this man is just a tree

setting in the field waiting for you to move it where you can plant it good.

That's the way God deals with man.

I: Um-hum. So you've seen God working in this prison camp then haven't you,

with men, in men and through men?

LUM 122A 18

B: Indefinitely--indefinitely. I've seen miracles performed here through God, and

one of the miracles is we just got through talking about it. A man commit a

crime, he come here, he, he, he, he's in a good place, and he don't want to

rehabilitate here, you're not going to rehabilitate him by turning him loose.

And so, miracles is being performed to me everyday. Of course, there's nothing

new to me. Everything has been done, or said. I already read about it before-


I: Um-hum.

B: As I've always told ministers, this--God gives me mine. I didn't get it from

where you find it, or, um, this difference in God's call and God's wisdom than

it is in the school, really is difference in it, and when you get that belief,

and feeling and faith down in your heart, there's not enough devils in hell

to move you.

I: um-hum. v i i!

B: And furthermore, if for, um, God is for yout- b against you, nobody can

harm you, even though it takes this body, but in the spirit I see, I feel it's

there. i

I: Um-hum. Uh, turhe--eA ly -.. '. -- i-per erm '.4 there's some

that they like better than others?

B: And definitely I'm needed me. I'm needed now. Um, usually when we get a man

where I see work here in the last two or three weeks, that didn't know his job,

or, or wanted to be too hasty, um, and, the, the, the--you got experienced

officers and fine men. You see all the officers, the new officers moving in--

Syou ever move into the third shift, cause he don't realize what he's doing,

mind a thing and everything a man do or say or he's running him in for it, and

this man don't like that, and they move him to the third shift. Now if this

officer go back and call me or one of the inmates in, uh,

LUM 122A 19

he'd say hey when the new man come in, you have convicts been here so long

to, really he don't want a new officer set him in nothing, cause he know it

all anyway.

I: Um-hum. So, uh, do you think that, uh, most of the prisoners are satisfied--

happy? Well not happy, but. .

B: I would say so in this unit. This unit.

I: Can you see any changes in that direction due--we speak of it as morale. You

know, when people are in good spirits, and, and do things willingly, uh, just

having good morale among prisoners. Uh, do you think the morale here is better

than it used to be?

B: Indefinitely. It's a lot better.

I: Um-hum.

B: Because every man you talk to now, he'll tell you right quick he's got something

to look forward to. I can't afford to goof around. I can't afford to get

caught with that. I can't afford to get caught with a lowered knife. I can't

afford to get taken narcotics. I can't afford to caught drinking.

I: Um-hum.

B: Definitely on these men it has a lot to lose, and that's the way biggest of 'em

think themselves. They want rehabilitation, and I feel a lot of it coming on.

I: Uh, there was a time, you know, just a few years ago, when I never heard of

marihuana, unless you did?

B: Kinda.

I: In this county because there just didn't seem to be any around.

B: That's right. That's right.

I: It's gotten to be some kind of problem now. Uh, I wonder if, uh, I'm not asking

you to, uh, rat on anybody or anything like that now, but just give me the, but

do you think it has gotten to be a problem?

LUM 122A 20

B: Not on this unit. Not on this unit, because--I don't know. You deal with 'em.

Of course I know you, I know you there in the outside world you have so many

Indians really scared of narcotics.

I: Um-hum.

B: He seen it. He's seen the other man throw away his health. If you watch a

Indian, the average Indian, if you watch him he's smarter than the average person

because he's scared of a thing with, uh, uh, hurt his health--scare him so he

won't deal with it.

I: Um-hum.

B: We got this camp pretty well loaded with them.

I: Um, do you think, uh, it works better to have, uh, well most of the prisoners

here are Indians, aren't they?

B: Most, most.

I: Do you think they--they're happier because they have, uh, officers--Indian.

officers, that sort of thing, working with them?

B: Uh, indefinitely. And segregation? All men, I think by talking to them, he

don't see any difference because we have, um, couple or three Coloreds, Whites,

and this is fine, because he come to this unit.

I: Um-hum.

B: And so he can't kick against that because--I try to tell men like this which I'm

not the rehabilitation man, but I do a lot of it. I mean I watch these men.

God looks at the heart of a man and not on the outward appearance. And so regard-

less of what color you is, and the biggest of 'em will tell you that. If you

treat me nice, I'll treat you nice. And so we have Coloreds here. Fine men.

Just as fine as--like the businessmen, two or three of 'em were talking--we

would love to see a Colored Sergeant. We don't have a man. We got one. I believe

he'd make a fine man.

I: Um-hum.

LUM 122A 21

B: That won't start--that won't hurt this camp none.

I: Uh-huh. Well that's good. Uh-huh. That's certainly encouraging. Um, so you

don't think Miss Mary will have-been forgotten?

B: She'll never--she never will be forgotten as long as we keep on reminding men of

her. I think by talking to a lot of new inmates, we talk about her a lot of

times, especially once a year when these different, kinda problems and parties,

and so forth came up. Now, um, she would always, you know yourself Mr. Barton,

regardless of what program you get in, if you watch yourself, especially when

there's money appropriated for something, when you are in the Proven Friend

Society, and this is what we're speaking about. Now the Proven Friend Society
,s ,I (.^rc-
is to buy I ~' and toothpaste, soap, toothbrushes. Well, when she fell

and deceased, I may never get it anymore. And they often talking about it.

Now when Miss Livermore was living, we could go to her and get what we wanted.

See, she was a mother to this unit. This unit don't have a-mother anymore.

I: Um-hum.

B: And so she never will be forgotten until this generation moves on.

I: Uh, maybe we can do something about that. We, uh. .

B: It would be a great thing.

I: .uh, some of the boys, of course some people who are, uh, you know, are

fortunate enough to earn their. .

B: Still.

I: .to, uh, yeah, to work releases and so on, but there are many more of you

who can't--you can't until a certain time has passed, and all that, and so, in

the mean time, they, they have certain needs and. .

B: They have their needs and, take in business, I work in and I'm

very fortunate. God has prepared a table before me, and I can get most anything

that an inmate would be--could have. But I see the other man. Now we have some

LUM 122A 22

people that maybe just people fell asleep on. He don't have an income. He

don't have a trade, and it would really would be--give a great thrill to my

life to donate at least five or ten dollars a month to that society to buy

himself Lk rVi )

I: Ur-hum.

B: See I work\j, myself and I have no problem I'm'always got most of what

I want, that an inmate could have. I'm looking at the other man, and we got,

if the bank -F /I "!AC+- l 1 we should have 15 to 20 thousand dollars the

last count I had of it anyway. In other words, it's just fell asleep on us

and we got money there, I knew it's there because I'm a member and was until

it just fell asleep the men of the Prison Friend Society, and after we got our

chapter paid for I think it's about three year ago, we had over $7,000 in that

fund there but we don't know where the money is. When Mrs. Mary Livermore was

living we could always--every month, she would tell you how much money there

was in it, and say we gonna spend $50 for soap--50, 60, 90 dollars to buy soap,

0 r toothpaste, toothbrushes for these men. But she's not here any-


I: Maybe we could look into that, see what we could do, and, uh, if, uh, we don't

have the funds JIi-C /i1 t' l I mean, more people can donate

money and help. Uh, I think it's a good thing in the ability, you know, to

change. They may be, uh, maybe we could do something about getting j ?j)

B: If I'm a Prisoner Friend Society there's not--lost the money, let's put it that

way. We have plenty of money, and I think that's what the Prisoner's Friend

Society is for, is to help -ht-ar.

I: Well, uh, I'm wondering if, um, about your relatives. Do they come to see you

very often?

B: Well, my mother. She lives at Fairmont. Sisters: I got six sisters and five

brothers; twelve head in the family. And lessen you want to see me, I had my

LUM 122A 23

mother's telephone put in down there, and I can call her maybe twice a week,

and I never meet anything that--unfortunate enough by God's help to support

myself, and really--my Daddy deceased about three year ago. She can only support

herself. She never was a woman to want to look to the children but O0 )

\1"- takes care of them, and I never need anything from the outside world

no more than somebody to talk to.

I: Yes. Do you remember Stukey? Stukey Jacobs?

B: Jacobs, yes sir.

I: He's gone now, isn't he?

B: Uh, yes he's out. I think if I ain't mistaken, he would have married brother

Harold Woods' mother.

I: Is that right, now? I haven't seen him in years, but he and I used to be

very close. I'ld like, I'ld certainly like to see him. I'm glad he is out

though, you know, probably doing well.

B: Um, I don't know whether you remember me or--do you know a fellow called

Roman ? YC 74.I

I: Uh-huh.

B: You don't remember me. You came down and went back up.

I: My vision is so poor, you see. How long has it been since before you left?

B: Oh, 53.

I: Uh-huh, 53. My vision is so poor, I, you know, I don't see well enough to

recognize. .you know, and, um, if I had seen you more often, and I ought to

be seeing you more often, I, you know, wouldn't have that difficulty. Well,

um, what do you think, um, now we've talked about people on the outside, and

let's, let's assume that somebody at home in the, outside doesdi.-want to help.

Um, what would be the best way of going about it, supporting the Prisoner's

Friend Society, or do you have any ideas about it?

LUM 122A 24

B: Well, I don't think they have any means to support it, if the rules were

carried out. It could support itself already because it-relig-ion-very strong 1,,,

somebody, somebody should look into it.

I: Uh-huh.

B: And, uh, we fell one time before the Prisoner's Friend Society, and this is,

uh, when Mr. um, Bob ") h I helped him get it back


I: Um-huh.

B: So it started itself again. It's just strange because it just don't carry on.

Or something. I don't know what it is.

I: The :SE. BobU W.V' is a good man to work in at anything like that.

B: He's very nice. He's very nice, and, but what .
I: I'll have to talk to 0"i (''Ct and see what, you know, what we can do

about it.

B: Check the funds and you will find, I think thZt-pretty well all right. I don't

see--fortunately Mr. Davis the secretary, I think that there's i *-

r(1 (I ',:,i r* Cvery close.

I: Um-hum.

B: And I know, um, he knows about this amount of money. We got plenty of money

in there to support ourselves. All we want is somebody to work.

I: Maybe do you think that the problem might be that we just don't have anybody

right now who--who's interested in it as Miss Mary was?

B: That's the problem. I don't know ) )O'J), my brother Jim Davis has told me

time and time and time again. .


I: This is side two of the third interview on June 13, 1973, and uh, we were talk-

ing just now when we were interrupted by the tape running out, uh, you were

LUM 122A 25

saying something about Brother Jim Chavis who works with, uh, the 2f LSwamp

Baptist Association probably. Is that right?

B: That's right. I believe he's a member over at, uh, l Swamp, I. .

I: Barret Swamp.

B: Barret Swamp.

I: 1C3rref Swamp is the name of the Association that supported the church.

B: (A f(e of the two I'm not sure which.

I: Uh, do you remember what you said right there when the tape ran out?

B: Uh, I do, uh. .

I: Maybe you could. .

B: Um, you asked me, um,'about our church attendance.

I: Uh-huh.

B: Uh, we have a few--simple reasons why that. .we've been used to. .if we go

to church; want to hear a man that cuts deep and this is the wrong

place to send a teacher--let him call himself a preacher.

I: Uh-huh.

B: And, if this man came on time. .we're going to hear him. Good enough. But

if he came again, they won't hardly go out to see him because he taught 'em

and didn't cut 'em deep. I think, and I've always brought this to Brother

Woods' thinking, though Jim, he agreed, that this is where you need to--the

cut deep at, because we have committed a crime, we know about the crime, and

now you've got to go down and grind the crime out. You can't teach it out of

no hard criminal. You got to go down and cut him deep. You got a lot of men

in there would be .

I: You got to reach his conscience ...,

B: Reach his conscience, and let him know that vice shall not kill is still the

word of God, and cut him when you talk to him about it.

LUM 122A 26

I: Ur-hum.

B: And, so, I think if we put some hard-hitting men in here that we will make,

uh, uh, uh, a church group. That's what we want, a church group.

I: Uh-huh.

B: And with the church group we'll make a rehabilitating group.

I: Um-hum.

B: And with the rehabilitating group we'll make it a camp of the holy ground and

not a prison unit because we don't have the help from the outside. Nobody

cares anymore. I think that this thing comes up to everybody 5 looking for

help, and he's got something to look forward to.

I: Right.

B: You don't kiss the whole *J anymore because you can see Mr.--well we

K4e _f to put it on our daddy, Mr. Joe Brooks--give him all the credit
for it. He held--that man took this unit, we maybe had one on work release,

or two. When he said I am ypur superior, I am your superintendent, I am the

wheel now; and I made your W\CI O1 now I'm organizing so they ain't going

to put you on work release, I'm going to rehabilitate, I have the authority

here; and he real--real--really made it a good prison camp. / JT f L
I: What happened .s uh, to Mr. Brooks? Did he, did he resign or

something? He's no longer here, is he?

B: Uh, Joe Brooks?

I: Uh-huh.

B: I don't know. This is the one we got now, ain't it?

?: Right.

B: Right. yeah, he saw me MJ' r." He saw me A14 1 .

I: I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I wasn't C '"

B: Uh, really, you, you, you touched me a __- e_ _m__ig,--

p, y, ,y,-o- n- .

LUM 122A 27

I: .You looked a little uneasy there.

B: That's putting on the sweat over my brow. That's the cruelest place to sweat

you know.

I: Well, I'm certainly glad you think that much of him, and all the officers here

do seem to be so, and so understanding, and, and they want to help it seems.

B: One of the greatest things that I like him for--well I can say all of them--

that he walked through that camp and men respected him. Not that he is, is

hard, but he is a man.

I: Um-hum.

B: He'll tell you something--he'll do what he'll tell you, and all men recognize

him because of that. He, he, he, he is just the man for the job. I--he'll

stand up and walk with you. .

I: Sit down and counsel with you, won't he?

B: Sit down and where if you got a problem as I've seed the time that these men

have problems, you take a man and shut him up and he in love, and something

happen to his family, I've seed him go out into the homes and reach him and set

down and reason together and bring these families back--unite 'em together

again, and directly the inmate would be off the street and back with his family.

We don't have too many men. Now I've told you I've seen 'em all come and go.

But he's the greatest.

I: That's great. I'm certainly glad to hear you say that. Um, well I've certainly

enjoyed this Saturday with you, and I certainly want to wish you. .

B: It's been a great pleasure to. .

I: I wish you all he luck in the world, and, eTr, Y L an all6V

-nf-sa-yt I hope it won't be long before you'll be free, and you'll be
carrying that message on the outside and you can be bringing it back.

And I think you've been very kind and very helpful to sit with us and, and

LUM 122A 28

discuss these things, and, uh, you haven't shown any bitterness, or, uh,

you've tried to play it straight from the shoulder and be honest and square,

and, uh, I think everybody can appreciate that, and I--I'm certainly encouraged

to see that, uh, that the future is going forward as it is. I'll see what

I can do about, uh, some of these things, um, like you developed the, uh,

the American Friend Society)sort of die out. We want to keep it going. It's

a good thing and has been a good thing. A

B: God won't let a thing die out because we are coming outamsaag the curtain.

We got some education in us now and He's, uh, He's moving on out into--into

the field of the thing. He realizes now that He can have 'em in position,

and He's moving on out into the field. We are no more in darkness anymore, but

we have come i hI came a long ways, and I am grateful, and I am

happy to see a man like you, which ==c = "___ talk about, I don't

really know to be nice enough, to be helpful enough, to be gentleman enough

to work with our people like you working. I'm sure that you'll never be

forgotten in that. _0 always go down in history because you, from what

I can learn and the men that talks about quite a few of you, did, uh, you all

trying. You all working hard for our people and that's what we need; somebody

in the field to work. We got a revival running or anything like that and we

got men in there that want to get on down and work, God will come in and work
-t\w '-r1 .Cool I
with n, men when ae-everybody's-tld why He's with em.

I: Uh-huh. Well we do--we're trying to do what we can. We want to do a lot more

with God's help. .

B: With God?

I: with the courage required to that end, and h, uh, I know you have

Christians here in camp just like you -;--nI ra, and I do know that God

k\ ef, OesA f 7 2 jOt C/ and I do know that He loves you as He love

LUM 122A 29

all men, and I do, do know that He has his prayers, because He's answered

them for me. I probably wouldn't be here today if He hadn't.

B: That's true

I: Do you ? God has been wonderful to me in many ways. He's blessed me

in many ways, and I didn't deserve it. It wasn't because I deserved it. It

was--it was because Hejstr love, wR3 He loves you.

B: He loves you. That the greatest thing in the greatest of the land. We

was talking about rehabilitation. Faith without words (C? A

words without faith( ISOt C # #.so yo ac ompl h nothing. We say we

have faith and don't have the words. We just C ]ur S'S ,..*

That's what we're looking forward to. It's star--staring us in the face--in

the face. If you work with your faith, I'm sure God will be in it.

I: I'ld like to encourage you to go on with the work that you're doing, and, uh,

somebody's going to know about it. Above all God knows about it.

B: Amen.

I: .and maybe I could help bring this to the attention of some of the

people on the outside through the newspaper and things like this, and keep in

contact. Uh, maybe I'll be able to help in some small measure in this

direction. I--I certainly hope so.

B: We feel that OuT OhC )o me which he talks to me. I don't know why.

__ rather scared to talk to him myself. Did we all feel--

all these men--he asks me sometimes that how do the men feel about it. I
Vo k-WDtlA
would love for him my statement and how I would tell the outside world

how we feel about it.

I: Um-hum.

B: That is the greatest of all--to let him know that he's working hard himself.

I: Let him know you appreciate it and you're palA3-ng for him, and then he'll be

LUM 122A 30

able to work a little bit harder.

"B: Thre you Go. l

I: .h:teMtfthere's no telling what he can't accomplish.

B: That's the truth. So if he knew these things--like a foreman I used to work

under. I worked as hard as I could and that man would tell me, you're the

best worker, and, man, that made me work that much harder. But if he had

criticized, I'ld quit work. I ain't settling. So that's the way things

is going on in the world today, if one is doing a good job)helpig him.

I AtL brother, but we're living in a day and a time now that men would

take your testimony if he is possible if God gave you, instead of praying

and reaching out, asking God to give you one like it.

I: Right.

B: We're living in a \ vI 0 'Cff

I: the other person has. We only want what. .

B: What he's got.

I: Yeah. What--what he'll give us and what we can devote .God has given every

mana a\_____

B: I have many people that come by to visit and ask me one question. I got a

problem. Who am I to give him advice? But I am the man. But who am I to

give him advice?

I: So he's the one you come to--h -you're the one he comes to.

B: CI Aet me tell you something. You quit going to

the preacher. The same God saves the preacher saves you. If you have a

problem, go on down here out in them woods and talk to God as me and you are

talking. He'll give you the answer. Don't you do--if you do what the

preacher tell you to do, he'll f 1 0} '7 fCI

I: Well, he'll. .

LUM 122A 31

B: Don't go to a man. A man. .

I: .but He never fails.

B: He never fails. I went to him so many times, and He's never failed me.

You ain't gonna hurt. You ain't gonna die from it. Uh, I fk. k1i

in the last if I had a problem, I said, then you know what I'm gonna

tell you. You ain't never tried the first thing, I says, and when you go

home tomorrow I'm not going to give you none. When you-go home tomorrow,

get down there behind the hog pen there in the woods. Talk to God as me and

you--talk to God sincere. He'll give you the answer. He come back the next

day smiling. I could have told the man wrong, because I am not God.

I: Well He's, uh, He's always with us.

B: He'll hear a cry.

I: Right.

B: As long as it's from the heart. But, if it ain't in that heart there ain't

no good in talking to Him none.

I: And if we make excuses when we go to him, and we're not honest, then He--

He can tell. He knows.

B: He knows. Before yu know. .

I: -. Im always honest with Him. You get used to r _______ try to cover

up. You know, I can talk to Him just as you and I are talking and I'm satis-

fied that I'm being heard, and I can see the results of it.

B: Yeah.

I: So what gives me the courage towards it? God has not forgotten .you any ..

B: God never forgets me 'cause I always en--feel his presence, see his scenery.

You look out among the trees--even the trees bow to God. God's still alive.

I don't care what nobody tell me about God dead. I've seen him working every

day. When I look at you I look at God. I'm no fool about these things. When

LUM 122A 32

you get a fool, a man is a fool, you can't tell him nothing no how. But, you

see the presence of God in everything you do. Life still remains.

I: Right.

B: When God turns His'back on us, darkness covers all the land, because when His

son was hanging on that cross and gave up ld it turned dark from the

sixth to the ninth hour. God turned his back on the world--His son. All the

rocks ringing and the bodies rolled and went into the see, but when we had that

spirit to advocate with the Father between I and God, God's still alive, md-S

WthiaMMis shining all over presence of land.

I: Uh-huh.

B: And we still got a problem. We pray through Jesus Christ. We don't pray to

man anymore. So we see his presence every day, but to see his presence, you got

to want to see his presence.

I: Right.

B: If a man doesn't want to, he's not going to see God's presence.

I: h- UI[ kWWl Sv^c aC / /4rneA-s 6 -&k /4, k witrcii-

B: If He's a king, He must come.

I: Yeah.

B: You want--ever want me to go in a poor church, a poor sermon, everybody with

find suits on, and nobody gets down in honor of God? I didn't COA like

that no more. The Bible says shake the very dust off of your feet and leave

it in. Don't carry them on back here. God's ve7.g_-

I: Um. ..

B: God's spirit is just like a fire. You strike a match and hope it doesn't go

out. But if you lay it down there and begin to put more and more and more and

more on it, it reckons to get so hot you can't stay in this room, and you want

to tell people about God.

LUM 122A 33

I: Um-hum. .. )O J(

B: That's the way the spirit is.___ you want to tell people

about it. You got a little light and I can't see Y1 Cal V

I: Uh-huh. That's good. That's good. You're talking about something that I know

you've experienced, and have been--I can tell it. Uh, walking with God, even

here on this prison grounds, daily walking and daily talking with Him, this

will accomplish more than anything else in the world. God can reach the people

outside and inside.

B: I, I, I watch myself in, in a lot of ways. I made this statement last night.

I says, I ordered a Bible from Miss, um, I believe it was from Miss *

Clark. I says, I might even have the money to pay for it, I says, but, um, I

told him to order the Bible (?) and I'll pay for it today. And it's just God's

will and I say now it's God's will that you men help me, and whether you help

me or not, I'm going to get that !zU ) One of our friends' sister

4 P e CL& 07 V Chapel. I says, I intend to pay for that flower(?)

tomorrow, and they come across. I never failed. He never failed me. We have

some good men in there and that's the reason I love to get on and help them.

I'm the man that knows them, d Air 0ic amongst them, I sleep with them,

I eat with them. I'm the man--I wouldn't mind S g g got good

men in there--he's just a man that got caught.

I: Uh, well again I want to say thank you very much. This has been a very in-

spiring interview, and, uh, we'll be in touch with you, and, I praise God for

each of His blessings on you, and I want you to pray for me, too.

B: Yes. Thank you very much. Pray for all of us.

I: .Thank you so very much now.

B: Yes, sir.

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