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1969: Integration of Highland Park Pool in Meridian go to audio

NAACP activists Reverend J.C. Killingworth and Obie Clark, along with Clark's son Cedric, integrated the Highland Park Pool on the "same day that Neil Armstrong put his foot on the moon." This is part of the longer story of desegregation of public facilities in Mississippi.

audioClick on the play button to hear the following excerpt.
                                                                                                               Total time: 2 minute, 45 seconds

Well, the main opposition I've run into was the policemen, the police force. That's the main one we had, because by then we had some merchants, but you just couldn't pinpoint who they were. Take an instance, we had a white storeowner right here on the corner of Seventh and Mobile, Mr. Sellers, and the NAACP office was upstairs over his head. I took him to be a nice man, and he conducted himself nice so far as I know. But when I approached him about hiring a black cashier in there, well, things just went to pieces. Of course, he didn't do any improper talk to me, but his wife did while he was there, while he was talking to me. She told me, "They ain't no niggers going to get on this cash register, I don't care what happens." I said, "Well, that's no quarrel." He said, Fairley, this is a family operation. This is the way we intend to keep it." I said, "That's OK." So I went ahead, but that next morning we had a picket line around his place. Started on Friday morning. Sunday evening at four o'clock he had a van there moving out. We cut his business where he was making around $800 or $900 a day on Friday and Saturday, boy, we cut him down to less than $100. Very few people went by us on that.

He moved out, so ........them klansman over at Petal. We know Petal was infested with the klan. They fooled him to move over there, and they were going to buy-in.......have a big buy-in, and he got that week, and he moved over there. They might have made one buy-in and that was all. He went and fell dead on his face. He was man enough to call me after it happened. He said, "Fairley, I'm going to have to tell it to you. I'm going to admit to you," he said, "you won." He said, "This is a battle you flat out and won."  He said, "I ain't telling you if I had a revelation." He said, "if I would have listened to you, " he said, "I was doing well on that corner. And not let my wife run her mouth, I believe we'd still been there doing well."

J.C. Fairley, born in Greene County, Mississippi, was very active in the civil rights movement on the local, state and national levels. In 1961, he was elected president of the Hattiesburg chapter of the NAACP. He organized voter registration drives, led efforts to desegregate public accommodations, and worked to provide more employment opportunities and services for the black community. He attended the 1964 Democratic National Convention as a delegate of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.