search archive
browse archive Up

Oral History

Object Type: Folder
In Folder: Special Collections


Oral history.;Dr. J. Ralph Noonkester was born on June 10, 1924 in Flatridge, Virginia. In 1944, he received his BA in English and Sociology from the University of Richmond. He went on to compete ThM and PhD degrees at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Noonkester and his wife, Naomi Hopkins Noonkester, moved to Mississippi in the 1950s to begin a teaching position in Hattiesburg as Professor of Religion at Mississippi Woman's College, the predecessor to William Carey University. During his time here, Noonkester served as the Dean, and as the President from 1956 to 1989. In this position, he signed the Civil Rights Compliance Pledge in 1965, making William Carey one of the first private colleges in the South to voluntarily admit African American students. Noonkester recalls the intimidation he experienced following this decision. In addition to receiving hate letters from various institutions throughout the state, the Ku Klux Klan burned a cross in the front of his family property. Noonkester also served as president of the Hattiesburg Chamber of Commerce in 1966. During this time, he headed a community effort to rebuild the home of Vernon Dahmer, a civil rights leader who was killed when the Ku Klux Klan firebombed his home.

13 December 2006

Oral history.; Interview conducted on April 2, 1972 with Mr. R. Jess Brown in Jackson, Mississippi. Brown was born in Coffeeville, Kansas, on September 2, 1912, and was raised in Oklahoma. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Illinois State Normal University and a Master of Science in Education degree from Indiana University. In 1946, Brown moved to Mississippi where he taught school for five years. After graduating from law school and passing the Bar, he began to practice law in 1954. Brown was quite active in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, particularly in providing legal counsel for civil rights workers and organizations. He discusses the objectives and problems of various civil rights legal defense organizations. He also describes the type and degree of intimidation and harassment that he has encountered and attempts to gauge the impact of the events of the 1960s upon local black citizens that were affected.

02 April 1972

Oral history.; Interview conducted on September 2, 1981 with Mrs. Irene Napier at her home in Mount Olive, Mississippi. Napier was born on December 21, 1917 at Mount Olive in Covington, Mississippi. After having studied two years at Jones County Junior College, she began her teaching career in 1942 at Sand Hill School in Beaumont, Mississippi. In 1951, Napier graduated from Mississippi Southern Teachers' College with a BS degree in education as well as doing graduate work. She received a good deal of her college education through night, summer and extension courses from Southern, as well as George Washington University in Washington, D.C., the University of Florida in Pensacola, Florida, and East Texas State Teacher's College in Commerce Texas. Napier taught for thirty-one years in Mississippi elementary and secondary public schools.

02 September 1981

Oral history.; Interview with Jasper Neely conducted on February 19, 2000. Jasper Neely was born in Grenada, Mississippi in 1938. He experienced racism and discrimination at an early age. At the age of 25 Neely got involved in the movement to change conditions for African Americans. He studied at Mississippi Valley State University and was hired as a stock manager at the Liberty Cash Supermarket as their first black employee. In 1979 he was asked to become the President of the local NAACP, and when he did, was fired from his job. He filed suit against his employer which was settled out of court. He then began working full time for the NAACP. Neely was elected to Grenada City Council in 1977.

19 February 2000

Oral history.; Two interviews conducted on June 18, 1992 and March 9, 1993 with Mr. C.B. "Buddie" Newman at his home in Valley Park, Mississippi. Newman was born on May 8, 1921 in Valley Park, Mississippi. In 1942, he left his job with the Southern Natural Gas Company to serve in the army during World War II. After the war, Newman returned to his job and began farming in Issaquena County, Mississippi. In 1948, he was elected to the state Senate. After one term in the Senate, Newman ran and was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives. For the next thirty-six years, he remained in the House. During his tenure, Newman was chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, chairman of the Southern Council of State Governments, and Speaker Pro Tempore of the House. Newman also served for twelve years as Speaker of the House.

18 June 1992; 09 March 1993

Oral history.; Ms. Juno Gwendolyn Nichols-de Marks was born November 25, 1924, in Biloxi, Mississippi. Ms. Nichols-de Marks graduated from Biloxi Colored High School in 1941 at which time she entered Alcorn University. In 1945 she was elected Miss Alcorn. For her master's degree she attended Tennessee State University. At the age of four, Ms. Nichols-de Marks began studying piano. In her later career she played that instrument for many activities, including church meetings, banquets, and the State Teachers Association, and she instructed, organized, and directed a choir in church. She is a member of the NAACP and the mother of three children.

06 August 1999

Oral history.; Interview conducted on March 7, 1993 with James Nix (born 1937). In 1966, Mr. Nix formed a civil rights activist group called the Spirit. This group agitated for civil rights in Hattiesburg and served as bodyguards for local civil rights leaders.

07 March 1993

Oral history.; Norman discusses the creation and work of the Mississippi Humanities Council, the people responsible for its early development, and its programs concerning race relations and public education.

18 July 1997

Oral history.; Two interviews conducted on May 21, 1974 and January 26, 1976 with the Honorable Mildred Wells Norris. Norris was born in Ovett, Mississippi. She studied for one year at Mississippi State College for Women. Norris started working for two lawyers in Laurel, Mississippi. In 1947, she passed the Mississippi Bar Examination. Norris was appointed Judge of the Municipal Court of Hattiesburg in 1961 and was the first woman Police Judge in Mississippi. She has worked actively for the advancement of women; she was the first woman to serve on the Forrest County Industrial Development Board and also was appointed first chairman of the Mississippi Governor's Commission on Women. Governor Paul B. Johnson, Jr. appointed Norris to serve on the Governor's Commission on the Employment of the Handicapped.

21 May 1974; 26 January 1976

Oral history.; U.Z. Nunnally was born in 1945 and grew up in rural Mississippi. His civil rights activities took him out of rural Mississippi and around the southeast as well as to California and China. He grew up on a plantation, one of seven children in a sharecropping family. In high school he became involved in civil rights advocacy when Freedom Riders lived in his town. He spent time in COFO's Freedom House, in Freedom School, door-to-door canvassing for voter registration, was arrested many times for his activities, filed a lawsuit to avoid serving in the Vietnam War, and at the time of this interview was looking forward to retirement as one of San Francisco's bus drivers.

13 January 2001

Oral history.; Charlie Odom was raised by his grandparents in Lyman, Mississippi. He served in the Civilian Conservation Corps and later in the Unites States Army during World War II. He worked for the United States Postal Service from 1947 until his retirement in 1975. He was also a licensed funeral director with Lockett-Williams Mortuary, Inc.

04 February 2003

Oral history.; Jeremiah O'Keefe was born in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, on July 12, 1923. He served in World War II as a Marine fighter pilot. Following the war, he earned a degree in Business Administration and went to work with his father in the O'Keefe Funeral Home in Biloxi. He served four years in the Mississippi State Legislature and was mayor of Biloxi for eight years between 1973 and 1981. Mr. O'Keefe has been active in civic affairs and political activities his entire life.

17 March 2000

Oral history.; Dr. Leo Orris was born in 1916 in Arlington, Massachussetts. He studied public health and medicine, and after serving in the United States Army during and after World War II, he and his wife Trudy were active in advocating for civil rights. They worked in New York to support civil rights advocacy in Mississippi, and they also spent time in Mississippi, treating patients and educating the black population on infectious diseases.

29 September 2006

Oral history.; Interview conducted on 1995 November 21 with Dr. Peter Orris (born 1945). Dr. Orris participated in his first civil rights demonstration when he was only eleven. In 1964, he was recruited to participate in the Summer Project in Mississippi. Orris was also responsible for coordinating communications for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party at the Democratic Convention of 1964 and for installing two-way radios in all of the SNCC cars in the state.

21 November 1995

Oral history.; Mr. Lee Owens, Jr. was born on May 7, 1921, in Natchez, Mississippi. As a child, Mr. Owens worked in a cotton field for half a day while attending school for half a day. Because his parents could not afford to send him to school, he stopped attending in the second grade and worked in the cotton fields full-time. In 1939, Mr. Owens went to work at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and was drafted into military service based at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. He survived major hurricanes in 1947 and in 1969. In the 1960s, Mr. Owens participated in some of the beach wade-ins along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, helping to desegregate those public beaches. Before the legalization of gambling and the development of casinos on the Gulf Coast waterfront, Mr. Owens recalls that there was illegal gambling along Main Street where many nightclubs lined the street.

26 April 2000

Oral history.; Lee Owens Jr. was born in Natchez, Mississippi in 1921. In 1941, he moved to Biloxi in order to work on the building of Keesler Field (now Keesler Air Force Base). He was present at the Wade-Ins on Biloxi Beach and was encircled by hostile white protesters.

12 June 2010

Oral history.; Interview conducted with Jack Pace. Jack Alfred Pace was born in Conehatta, Mississippi, in Newton County in March 1917. After graduating from Philadelphia High School, Pace went to Decatur, East Central Junior College on a football scholarship. He contracted malarial fever before starting school. Pace moved to Hattiesburg in November 1937, took out a loan for $200 to buy a service station. He was drafted into the Army in March 1942. Stationed at Camp Shelby for a short time, Pace was then transferred to Fort Knox, Kentucky for basic training. He was deployed to Liverpool, England, then France, Holland, and eventually Stolberg, Germany. He was stationed in Berlin after Germanys surrender. Pace spent a total of two years overseas. After returning from World War II, Pace, who was working for the Sinclair Refining Company at the time, married Mary Louise Barksdale in March 1946. They met while she was a student at the University of Southern Mississippi. Pace joined the American Legion soon after returning from Europe. He became state commander of the legion, and ran successfully for the state senate. He was elected in 1959 and inaugurated in January 1960. He served from 1960-64 and then from 1969-72. Mississippis ban on the selling of alcohol was overturned during Pace's first term.

23 August 2003

Oral history.; Page discusses his family, his experiences as a black physician, the civil rights movement, his work in state politics, and the Mississippi Humanities Council.

07 August 1997

Loading indicator
Powered by Preservica
© Copyright 2021