February is Black History Month and today we are looking back at Episode number 471, featuring an interview of Hattiesburg native and Civil Rights activist, Doug Smith. Smith was present for several key events in the Movement including the March on Washington in August of 1963, and Hattiesburg Freedom Day in January of 1964 which kicked off Freedom Summer that year. Doug Smith was also active in a series of voter registration drives which led to greater participation in voting by black citizens from across the state. His activities also led to his being arrested some 32 times by his count.
Joining me for the interview today is Dr. Kevin Greene.
Kevin is an associate professor of history in the School of Humanities at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he is the Director of the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage, and a fellow in the Dale Center for the Study of War and Society. He teaches courses in Oral History, American history, African American history, Urban history, World history, Research Methodology, and Cultural History. He is the author of The Invention and Reinvention of Big Bill Broonzy, a cultural and intellectual examination of William “Big Bill” Broonzy with the University of North Carolina Press for their catalog in African American Studies.
We will be discussing the March on Washington, the 1964 Hattiesburg Freedom Day, and how local law enforcement was used to suppress desegregation efforts.
We’re taking a break from production this summer, but don’t worry, the Mississippi Moments podcast will return this fall with new and classic episodes, along with exciting announcements about upcoming shows!
Since 2009, our little podcast has developed a loyal following and we’re looking to build on that success by expanding the Miss Mo brand. Soon, we will be offering additional podcast programming, as well as student projects and oral history-based documentaries.
We at the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage want to thank our production partners at the Mississippi Humanities Council, Mississippi Public Broadcasting, and the University of Southern Mississippi for fourteen years of support and encouragement and of course, we want to offer a special thanks to you, our listeners! (The MSMO broadcast began in 2005)
So, keep us in the mix and we’ll keep you in the loop about all the exciting new programming headed your way.
Ross Walton, Writer, Producer
Bill Ellison, Host
PHOTO: Bill Ellison
Claudette Romious grew up the Delta town of Alligator, Mississippi. In this episode, she discusses her father’s various business ventures including a garage, gas station, café, grocery store and juke joint. She also shares her memories of growing up as the daughter of a hardworking African-American entrepreneur.
The Rabbit Foot Minstrels tent show travelled the South entertaining both white and black audiences. Claudette Romious recalls sneaking into the adult-oriented burlesque show as a child.
As a teenager, Romious and her sisters worked in their father’s juke joint on the weekends. She describes learning how to handle drunk customers and not be afraid of confrontations.
When Romious’s father passed away in 1979, people called and came from all over the country to express their condolences. She remembers the diverse array of mourners and their stories of how her father had helped each of them to achieve their dreams.
Rosie Washington was sixteen years old when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to Grenada in 1966. In this episode, she recalls how meeting the civil rights icon inspired her to explore activism and school integration. Washington and her siblings were among the first students to integrate the public schools in Grenada. She remembers the severe backlash they encountered from the white community.
During the Civil Rights Movement, Washington’s family hosted several visiting activists. She explains how that experience encouraged her to participate in protests across her hometown.
While picketing in downtown Grenada, Washington and the rest of her group were rounded up and incarcerated. She describes the trauma of being forced onto a flatbed truck and driven to Parchman without representation or due process.
This episode was written by Abigail Wiest, a senior at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Hattiesburg.
Mississippi Moments is produced by Ross Walton, with narration by Bill Ellison.
Lucy Allen moved from North Carolina to Mississippi and spent the next seven years teaching school. In this episode, she explains how her interest in photography led to a career with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
In 1961, the first State Historical Museum for Mississippi opened in the Old Capitol building. Allen discusses conditions that highlighted the need for a new museum and archives and how MDAH began planning for a new state museum in 1998. She recalls how Hurricane Katrina devastated the old museum in 2005 and altered all their plans.
PODCAST EXTRA: As MDAH developed plans for a new state history museum, the State Legislature’s Black Caucus continued their years-long push for a separate civil rights museum to be located on the campus of Tougaloo College. Allen recounts how Governor Haley Barbour, former Governor William Winter, and Judge Reuben Anderson worked with others to combine the two museums together into one state-funded project.
Don’t miss next week’s episode as Allen discusses the challenges they faced in making the Two Mississippi Museums a reality!
PHOTO: Two Mississippi Museums architectural drawing
After leaving the Army, Charles Dubra became a longshoreman in Gulfport. He recalls how an injury on the job led him to go into business for himself. He also explains how he made the transition from entrepreneur to teacher.
Jerome Myles of
For over 27 years, Leo Welch has hosted a Gospel music TV show on WO7BN in Bruce, MS. He discusses his early career as a Blues musician and the switch to Gospel.
In 1894, a group of African American men from the Bay St Louis area formed the One Hundred Members Benevolent Debating Association. In 1922, the Association constructed a meeting hall as place to conduct fundraising events. Known as the Hundred Men Hall, it became a regular stop for many of the greatest musical acts of the day.
Walter Biggins and Anna Kline are newly weds from
Elsie McWilliams of Meridian loved to write plays for her church's you group, but had never tried to write a song. That changed after she received a phone call from her famous brother-in-law, country singer, Jimmie Rodgers
After not playing guitar for many years, John Arnold was inspired to by the re-release of Jimmie Rodgers' catalog in the mid-sixties. He began performing Rodgers' music across the state for fairs and other events.
For Greek Americans, traditional foods provide an important link to culture and family. Kris Gianakos recalls a recent family reunion and the role that food played at the gathering. He also details how Greek foods are combined with traditional American foods during the holidays.
As the son of an army officer, Julian Brunt of
Born in 1900, LeGrand “Doc” Capers witnessed many changes to his home town of
Capers also describes a visit to the Vicksburg Cotton Exchange.
Sarah Carter of
Carter recalls the decision to remain at home during the flood as boats became the only means of transportation.
During WWII, Japanese-Americans were forced to live in “relocation” camps by the government. Despite this harsh treatment, many of them served with distinction in the armed forces. Herbert Sasaki recalls coming to
In 1976, Dorothy
In this final look at Jerry Clower's 1973 interview with the Center for Oral History, Clower discusses the difference his step father made in his life. He also talks about having fun without a lot of money.
Before the advent of refrigeration, farmers relied on a variety of innovative methods for preserving meat. Boe McClure of Marshall County describes how they used to smoke hams in their smoke house. McClure also recalls how his mother preserved sausage using fertilizer bags and home canning.
Rev. John M. Perkins became involved in the civil rights movement after returning to Mississippi in 1960. He recalls being arrested in Mendenhall in 1969. After the arrest of Perkins and his young parishioners, people from around the county converged on the jail. Perkins marks this incident as the beginning of the civil rights movement in Simpson County.
The Civil Rights movement forced many Mississippians to rethink some long held attitudes. Humorist Jerry Clower speaks candidly about how his experiences and faith altered his views on race.
For many years, farmers and share croppers relied on credit supplied by furnish merchants. Humorist Jerry Clower of Liberty, Mississippi explains how this early lending system functioned and the history of the expression "making groceries."
In the early 20th Century, Mississippi’s fledgling cattle industry was plagued with tick fever. By 1929, it was obvious that something must be done to fight the state’s tick infestation. McComb newspaper publisher John O. Emmerich recalls how this new program was met with violent opposition.
Long time newspaper publisher G.O. Parker of Magee reflects on his early career and on the colorful history of politics in Simpson County.