Fred Clark, Sr. grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, during the 1950s and 60s. In this episode, the first of two parts, he recalls the death of Emmett Till and how fear dominated the black community at that time. As events unfolded around him, Clark was determined to overcome his fear and work to make things better.
During the Civil Rights Movement, local organizers would hold events called Mass Meetings. Clark explains how these gatherings satisfied a variety of needs within the community. After the meetings, he would often catch a ride with civil rights leader Medgar Evers. He describes the sense of dread he felt riding with Evers, even as he marveled at the man’s bravery.
The culture of fear used to maintain social order in the Jim Crow South was deeply ingrained in everyone. Clark explains how being part of a greater movement inspired everyone to do their part.
In the late 1920s, Donald Hemphill’s father took a job with the Homochitto Lumber Company and the family moved to Bude, Mississippi. In this episode, he shares his memories of growing up in the thriving sawmill town. At that time, many sawmills provide free company housing for their employees. Hemphill recalls the move to Bude and the primitive conditions in which they lived.
For Hemphill, growing up in Bude was a pleasant and carefree life. He recounts walking home from school to eat lunch and working at the local service station. He also discusses Bude’s prosperous times, and the important role passenger trains played in the people’s lives.
While the Homochitto Lumber Company was in business, life in Bude revolved around the mill’s work whistle. Hemphill describes the sawmill’s last day and how they tied the whistle down after the last board was cut.
PHOTO: MS Dept. of Archives and History