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Oral History

Object Type: Folder
In Folder: Special Collections


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.; 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.; 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.; 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.; Alvin Pam was born December 13, 1934 in New York. He graduated from Brooklyn College with a degree in history, and went on to earn a master's degree in history from New York University. Though accepted to the history PhD program at the University of Rochester, Pam decided to pursue psychology instead. He then earned a master's in psychology from the University of Buffalo. He completed this degree during the summer of 1964. In this time period, he was a teacher in New York City, and heard about the opportunity to go to Mississippi to teach in Freedom Schools. He decided to go, and he was placed in Holly Springs.

21 September 2003

Oral history.; Wendell "Wendy" Paris was born in 1945 in Labuco, Alabama, a mining camp town outside of Birmingham. The son of college-educated parents, he attended the Tuskegee Institute and studied agriculture. He became active in civil rights work at Tuskegee and continued these efforts in Alabama and Mississippi through organizing Farming Cooperatives, voter registration, pushing for Head Start programs and child care.

30 October 2006

Oral history.; Interview conducted with G.O. Parker. Gary Otha Parker Jr. was born in Harperville, Mississippi, in Scott County in 1920. His father was a Southern Baptist minister; his mother a teacher. He went to Union School in Newton County up to the ninth grade. At the age of fourteen, Parkers family moved to Magee, Mississippi. He graduated from Magee High School, enrolled at Copiah-Lincoln Junior College, and then completed a year at the University of Southern Mississippi. Parker worked in the newspaper business in Collins after college. He volunteered to serve in the Marine Corps in August 1942 and was stationed overseas. Parker married in 1947 soon after returning. His wife, Etta Mae Kees Major, had married during the war and had a daughter, but her husband, a pilot, died in a plane crash in New Guinea. Gary and Etta Mae had three children, in addition to the daughter from her previous marriage. He returned to the newspaper industry after returning to the States, working at Simpson County News in Mendenhall, leasing the paper in 1946. Parker bought the Magee Courier in May 1948, which he owned until selling it in 1970. He then worked for five years at the employment service in Mendenhall. Parker also served as the president of a funeral business for eighteen years. Shortly after buying the Courier in 1948, Parker was elected mayor of Magee, a position he held for ten and a half years.

19 April 2003

Oral history.; Interview conducted April 23, 2002 at the Parker home in Port Gibson, Mississippi. Parker discusses growing up in Port Gibson, work, and church society.

23 April 2002

Oral history.; Interview with Henry Peacock conducted on April 2, 2000. Henry Peacock was born in Holcomb, Missisippi in 1949 on the Shaw Plantation where his father was a sharecropper. He went to school in Grenada when he was not working on the farm. In 1965 he witnessed a group of activists entering Grenada, which motivated him to get involved with activities in support of civil rights. Peacock became a group leader working to integrate Grenada businesses such as the Chicken Inn.

02 April 2000

Oral history.; Interview conducted on April 23, 2003 with John M. Perkins. Reverend John M. Perkins was born in New Hebron, in Lawrence County, Mississippi in June 1930. His family were sharecroppers. Perkins' grandmother had nineteen children; his grandfather was a bootlegger. Perkins had two sisters and three brothers. His mother died when he was seven months old. As Mississippi was a dry state until 1964, members of Perkins' family ran a profitable bootlegging racket throughout the state, selling home brew and moonshine. He dropped out of school at around the age of twelve. Perkins left Mississippi for California at the age of seventeen. Perkins married Vera Mae Buckley two weeks before being deployed overseas. Together they had eight children. Perkins and his family later returned to Simpson County where he began traveling from school to school and telling Bible stories. He later established the Voice of Calvary in Jackson and in Mendenhall (which became known as Mendenhall Ministries). His association of ministries includes seven hundred organizations around the United States and is known as the Perkins Foundation. Perkins was arrested in December 1969 after protesting the arrest of Garland Young and the brutality of the police force after Young's arrest. This event triggered what is considered the first event of the Civil Rights Movement in Simpson County. After boycotts and protests, Perkins was arrested again in 1971 and was sent to jail in Brandon, Mississippi, where he was subjected to extreme brutality. Perkins devoted the rest of his life to his ministries and to racial reconciliation.

23 April 2003

Oral history.; Interview conducted on May 8, 2003 with Vera Mae Perkins. Vera Mae Buckley Perkins was born to Rozel Williams and Garland Young in New Hebron, Mississippi in August 1933. Her mother was a cosmetologist and her father was a farmer, then a longshoreman in New Orleans, Louisiana. Perkins went to school at Lilly Hill in Simpson County. After graduating from high school, she attended Alcorn University, leaving in order to marry Rev. John Perkins in June 1951. While her husband was in the service overseas, Vera Mae moved to Hattiesburg, Mississippi and attended Young's Beauty School. John and Vera Mae Perkins had eight children together, four boys and four girls. They moved back to Jackson, Mississipppi in 1960. It was shortly after that when Vera Mae and John began traveling to local public schools and teaching Bible lessons. With growing support from the community, the couple established the Voice of Calvary Mission. Their ministries would continue growing and expanding throughout the country. The couple continued their evangelical efforts with much support, subsequently moving to Pasadena, California in 1982, Dallas, Texas in 1995, and finally back to Jackson the following year, where they have remained.

08 May 2003

Oral history.; Interview conducted on June 5, 2001 with Jimmie W. Person. Jimmie Person was born in Port Gibson, Mississippi, on August 5, 1924 to James W. Person and Mary Anna Gage Person. He attended local public schools in Port Gibson through the eighth grade and he received his high school education from Chamberlain-Hunt Academy. Person then attended Mississippi State University. Person served in the United States Army Air Corps from October 1942 to December 1945 in England and France. After completing his service abroad, Person farmed family property in Claiborne County from 1945 to 1957. In 1957, he became the Public Relations Director for Chamberlain-Hunt Academy, a position that he held until 1974. Between 1974 and 1999, Person was director of the Port Gibson Bank.

05 June 2001

Oral history; Interview conducted on February 6, 2003. Born on February 9, 1923, in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Reverend Joseph W. Pilate is the son of Mr. Arthur Pilate and Mrs. Judie Nichols Pilate. He attended school in Vicksburg, where he played football and was sometimes rebellious. In 1943 he was drafted into World War II. He joined the Marine Corps and was in the Eighty-eighth Platoon from 1943 through 1945, achieving the rank of sergeant in the Pacific Theater. Upon his return to civilian life, Reverend Pilate completed high school, and moved to Chicago to further his education. From 1946 through 1949, he attended Chicago Baptist Institute, earning a B.Th. From 1949 through 1953, he attended Roosevelt University, earning his B.A. In 1964, he earned his M.Th. from Garrett Institute. From 1949 through 1990 he was a pastor in the United Methodist Church. At the time of this interview, he was retired, enjoying traveling, fishing, hunting, and tutoring reading. He is a member of the NAACP. He is married to Mrs. Betty J. Pilate.

06 February 2003

Oral history.; Interview with Evelyn Dorsey Polk conducted on November 30, 1998. Evelyn Dorsey Polk was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1919. She earned a B.A. in history from Fisk University, then a B.S. in library science from the University of Illinois in 1942, and a Master's degree in library science from the University of Michigan in 1946. Polk was an active member of the NAACP and she assisted the Freedom Riders when they came to Meridian.

30 November 1998

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