An Oral History

With

Johnnie Faye Inge

Interviewer: Donald Williams

Tougaloo College Archives

This interview was transcribed as part of the Civil Rights Documentation Project.

Funding for this project was provided in part by the Mississippi

Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and

the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

1998

Biography

Ms. Johnnie Faye Inge was born on July 14, 1948 in Laurel, Mississippi. Her parents were Laura Holloway Inge and Reverend Clinton Owen Inge Sr. She was the fifth child of eight children.

Faye Inge was one of five African-Americans to first integrate the then all-white Meridian High School in 1965. She, along with four other black females, graduated from Meridian High School in 1966. She attended Meridian Community College for two years. Inge was then hired by Citizens National Bank where she was the first black hired. She worked for Citizens National Bank for one year in the bookkeeping department and then continued her education in Dallas, Texas at Bishop College, the name of which was later changed to Paul Quinn College. After graduating from Bishop College, she attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas where she studied journalism and received an internship at the Dallas Morning News.

Inge worked in radio and television for a number of years in Meridian. She later attended Mississippi State University where she received her teaching certificate and her Master of Arts degree. She served on several boards including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Lauderdale County Keep America Beautiful Commission, and the Lauderdale County Chapter of the American Cancer Society. She also served a term as secretary for the NAACP during the mid-1990s. She presently teaches English at Marion Park School in Meridian. She has one son, Lonzy Moore, III.

Table of Contents

Bishop College 1

Membership in NAACP 2

Harris High School 5

Meridian Baptist Seminary 5

Freedom schools 5

Slain civil rights workers Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner 8

Integrating Meridian High School in 1965 10

Meridian Junior College 13

Integrating the Meridian Junior Miss Pageant 13

Assassination of Medgar Evers 15

Assassination of Martin Luther King 16

Andrew Young 16

Integrating Weidmann's Restaurant 17

Dr. Hobert Kornegay 19

Obie Clark 20

ORAL HISTORY

with

JOHNNIE FAYE INGE

This is an interview for the Civil Rights Documentation Project. The interview is with Ms. Johnnie Faye Inge and is taking place on November 28, 1998, in Meridian at 12:10 p.m.. Also present is Ms. Inge's mother, Mrs. Laura Inge Love. The interviewer is Don Williams.

(A segment discussing scheduling of the interview is not included in this typed transcript).

Williams: When were you born?

Faye Inge: I was born in 1948. July 1948. Down in Jones County, Laurel, Mississippi.

Williams: OK. Laurel. How far is that from here?

Faye Inge: That's about fifty miles.

Williams: And, you had spent some time outside of Mississippi? Have you lived anyplace else?

Faye Inge: When I went to school, I lived in Dallas.

Williams: And what school did you attend?

Faye Inge: At that time, it was called Bishop College. Now, I think it is changed to Jarvis Christian College, [or Paul Quinn. Yes, it's Paul Quinn College, now.]

Williams: Yes. I've heard of that.

Faye Inge: But I attended that school, [Bishop College which is now called Paul Quinn College.]

Williams: Jarvis. And that was near the campus of SMU? Am I correct?

Faye Inge: Both schools are in Dallas.

Williams: I have a friend who went to Jarvis, that I went to school with in Syracuse. What church do you attend?

Faye Inge: New Hope Baptist Church here in Meridian is my home church, which I am a member of.

Williams: And how long have you been a member of that church?

Faye Inge: Since 1959.

Williams: Sixty-nine?

Faye Inge: Fifty-nine.

Williams: And I understand that your father was the pastor of that church?

Faye Inge: Yes. That is how we got to Meridian. My father was called to New Hope Baptist Church and we moved in 1959 when he became the pastor.

Williams: During the '50s and through the '70s, what organizations do you think were important here in Meridian?

Faye Inge: Well, during that time, the most important, because the only organization I really was aware of, was the NAACP. CORE and SNCC, I had heard of these, but the NAACP was the main organization that I was really aware of.

Williams: Were you actually a member?

Faye Inge: Not at that time.

Williams: But you eventually became a member?

Faye Inge: Yes.

Williams: When did you become a member?

Faye Inge: Oh, I became a member, probably in the '80s, by a membership in terms of money. You know, you sign the little card.

Williams: Yes.

Faye Inge: I became more active, really, in the '90s. I served as secretary for a couple of years for the NAACP.

Williams: What high school did you attend?

Faye Inge: I attended Harris High School for tenth and eleventh grades, and then, in 1965, when the Supreme Court said that Meridian Public Schools had to integrate, and, what they did, they began integrating at the twelfth grade. Their reasoning behind that was they felt that, "Who would want to leave their senior year and go to the high school?" Everybody would want to graduate. But I went in 1965. I, along with four other black girls. We went to Meridian High School in 1965, which was the all-white school. We integrated that school in 1965.

Williams: And what was the name of that school?

Faye Inge: Meridian High School.

Williams: Meridian High School. And the school that you attended was?

Faye Inge: Harris, which was the black high school.

Williams: Harris High School. OK. Can you tell me a little about Harris, when you were attending there? It was all black?

Faye Inge: It was all black. Harris was all black. We also had a junior college, Harris Junior College, too. But Harris, my memories, you know, are great memories, because friendships, organizations, football games. Had our own band. The teachers, caring teachers. My boyfriend was there. So the memories of Harris are good memories.

Williams: Do you remember any teachers who might have had a great impact on students at the time? Who influenced you the most?

Faye Inge: Well, really, it wasn't in high school. It was in junior high. But the high school and the junior high were located in the same little area. The high school was right here, it was Carver [?], and she taught me ninth-grade English. I mean, I just remember her because she was a good English teacher. She was very professional. You know, some teachers just stand out in your mind for certain reasons, and she was one who stood out in my mind. Not that she was active or vocal in civil rights or anything like that. She was just a good teacher.

Williams: A good teacher. And kind of motivated you.

Faye Inge: Yes.

Williams: So eventually, you get a degree in English from?

Faye Inge: From Mississippi State. I went to Mississippi State.

Williams: OK. And when did you graduate from Mississippi State?

Faye Inge: Let's see. Maybe about three years ago, Mother?

Laura Inge Love: Yes.

Faye Inge: I was working. My background is in journalism. And I worked at Charles Young's TV station. I worked there--

Williams: WLBT in Jackson.

Faye Inge: Well, at that time, we had a sister station which was WLBM, here in Meridian. Of course, now WGBC TV. I don't even know if Mr. Young even owns any of the stock. I don't know. Different things have happened. But, I worked at WLBM or WGBC for a while. Then, because I am familiar with the way small-market TV is: you are subject to have a job for three or four years and somebody else comes in and takes over. So I went, and I decided that I had better go ahead and prepare myself to do something else. So I started going to school, working on my teaching certificate, and that is what I eventually did.

Williams: From Mississippi State?

Faye Inge: Yes, from Mississippi State. We have a branch here in Meridian.

Williams: Oh, I see. You earned a B.S. in education?

Faye Inge: I got my Master's degree and I got my teaching certificate. I took the NTE [National Teacher Examination], and took a lot of English courses.

Williams: OK. So how long have you been teaching school?

Faye Inge: This is my second year.

Williams: OK. Let me kind of flash back to your high school days, and we are talking about what years?

Faye Inge: My high school, let's see, maybe '63 through '66. I graduated in '66 from Meridian High School.

Williams: And you first integrated in?

Faye Inge: In '65, Meridian High School.

Williams: What kinds of things were going on in Meridian, well, Harris High School, before you left, because you are talking about, you were there in '62, '61?

Faye Inge: No, I was there in '63. Tenth grade, '63, '64. Eleventh grade. In '65, I went to Meridian High School.

Williams: So what kinds of things were happening in terms of students and in terms of the movement, here in Meridian?

Faye Inge: In terms of the movement, basically, I can only speak about during the summertime. Because, we had the freedom schools, and we went to, I think, several summers, they had freedom school at Meridian Baptist Seminary which is a large building, very old now, but it was the first building, the Meridian Baptist Seminary was the first school to award, was it high school diplomas to students? I don't know, but is it in the state of Mississippi? Or? I am not sure about the history. But they were awarding high school diplomas to black kids when no other school was. So, we held the freedom schools at the Meridian Baptist Seminary here in Meridian, and I would attend, like, me and my younger sisters and brothers, we attended the freedom schools during the summer. And the three civil rights workers who went to Philadelphia, they were also at this same freedom school. Chaney was there at the same freedom school, and I saw them several times. My mother taught his daughter piano lessons, Chaney. So, these are things that I saw. These are things that I experienced at the freedom schools.

Williams: So Goodman and Chaney, were they teaching at the school?

Faye Inge: The freedom workers. Yes. They would come down and they would ask questions and they would talk about nonviolence and ways, things you could [do to] protect yourself, say, if you were attacked, and all these types of things. Basically, when I think back, they were basically college students, some were probably, may have been working on writing, may have been writing, you know. But they would ask us various questions, and talk to us about various things.

Williams: Now, who was the head of the seminary at the time. Do you remember that person?

Faye Inge: [Daddy. Daddy had a lot to do with the Seminary.] Maybe Charles Johnson was heavily involved in that.

Williams: Was this a black religious organization or was it mixed?

Faye Inge: This was black. Yes. Meridian Baptist Seminary. It was all black. I was trying to see, did I remember any ministers, other than my father. Charles Johnson. Wasn't Charles Johnson?

Williams: What was your father's first name?

Faye Inge: Reverend C.O. Inge. Clinton Owen Inge.

Williams: Clinton. OK. Can you remember any of the other teachers that were involved in the freedom school?

Faye Inge: I don't remember any teachers, really. I think probably they were afraid. I don't remember any teachers. I doubt it seriously if any teachers participated because they really were afraid. They could easily lose their jobs.

Williams: OK. What about the civil rights workers themselves? Do you remember anybody that stands out that participated in the freedom school?

Faye Inge: No. I just vaguely, I remember, all of the teachers of the freedom [school]. I remember one black guy and he basically had a guitar, and he would sing, lead us in freedom songs, but all of the classes, seem like, were conducted by white, they probably were white, young college students. I was young at the time, but thinking back, they were probably young college [students]. They were young, maybe in their early twenties, and they were probably young college students, because many of them had come down from the North. And, they were young college students, but in terms of anybody black? No, I can't remember a particular black person who stands out in my mind. I really can't.

Williams: Now this was predominantly in the summer time, right?

Faye Inge: In the summer time, the freedom school.

Williams: How many students would you say were accommodated? The largest group of students?

Faye Inge: Oh let's see. It was quite a few kids. Oh, gee. I don't want to be inaccurate.

Williams: Well, just within ten, twenty, fifty, a couple of hundred, a hundred?

Faye Inge: It may have been, I don't know, maybe fifty to one hundred. I'm not certain, see. But it was a number of kids.

Williams: OK. Can you tell me a little bit about the curriculum and the activities?

Faye Inge: You mean at the freedom school?

Williams: Yes. And some of the things that you've done. What stood out in your experience.

Faye Inge: OK. I remember, basically, we would gather. I don't even know what time they started. We would gather together. We would sing songs. I remember singing Oh, Freedom. And I remember this black guy. He kind of was more Spanish looking than anything. He had his guitar, and he would always lead us in songs like Oh, Freedom, Oh, Freedom. There were a number of songs he would just kind of pick out on his guitar. And then we went to classes and I remember the class that I went to. I remember the young white girl teaching, and I was trying to remember the kinds of questions she was asking us. She would ask us types of questions about various things.

Williams: Was it tending to be contemporary things or historical things? Did you get any black history?

Faye Inge: No. I don't remember any black history. I think her questions were probably more concerned about, maybe, what our life was like in the South, kinds of things that we were not getting or were denied. Her questions seemed to be more those type questions.

Williams: So, when she asked you those types of questions, how did you respond? How did you feel? What did you think?

Faye Inge: Well, I remember responding to a question, and I really wish I could remember. But it was so long ago. But I tried to answer as best as I could, and I tried to answer as honestly as I could, but I can't recall. I really wish that I could.

Williams: Well, you know, we have a blackjack out there in the car, if you are going to clam up on us now. (Laughter) We'll fix you up, now. OK. Now, do you remember any of the other students at the school that stood out? You know, especially someone who had gone through the school and who got involved in the civil rights movement or obtained some type of achievement in life? I mean, who stood out?

Faye Inge: Well, I was trying to remember what other kids were there. I'm trying to see, did the Hopkins go? I don't remember. Across the street from--

Laura Inge Love: (Inaudible) who played the piano.

Faye Inge: Who? Well, I don't think Pat, I don't know if Pat went. Pat Stennis. See, I can't remember. I know that I, my younger sisters and brothers were there.

Williams: And, what are their names?

Faye Inge: OK. My brother Clinton Inge Jr. He is in a facility because he is an old Viet Nam veteran and he got messed up. My sister Vera in Jackson.

Williams: OK. Viet Nam vet. Is he in the state of Mississippi?

Faye Inge: Yes, he is out in Jackson. He is in a facility, though.

Williams: The veteran's place out there on South Street.

Faye Inge: No. Where is it, Mother? It's a correctional facility.

Laura Inge Love: Yes, it is a correctional facility.

Faye Inge: Yes. He had problems.

Williams: Oh, I see. But he did go to Viet Nam?

Faye Inge: He went to Viet Nam. He also went to--. In fact, my brother, let me tell you, my brother was going to go to Philadelphia with Chaney, Schwerner, and my father was adamant and said, "No, you are not going." There would have been four. In fact, he was just upset, because he really wanted to go. He got furious because my father would not allow him to go, and my father said, "No! No, you are not going." And, but it would have been four, because my brother would have been the [fourth]. My brother was going to go with them, and my father told him he couldn't go. But, he probably wouldn't have been here right now.

Williams: OK. That's Clinton Jr.

Faye Inge: Yes. He also attended the freedom schools.

Williams: OK. Let me just stop this for a minute.

Faye Inge: OK.

(Brief interruption.)

Williams: So, you knew Goodman and Chaney and--

Faye Inge: Schwerner. Yes.

Williams: Tell me what you knew about them.

Faye Inge: Well, basically, I saw them. I would see them. They would come back and forth. I know about where they stayed, over in a house next to Berry and Gardner Funeral Home. In fact, they spent that last night, before they went to Philadelphia, they spent their last night in this house. And, my brother, Clinton Inge Jr., he was going to go to Philadelphia with them, and he was upset because my father would not allow him to go and my father said, "No. No, you're not going." But it would have been four civil rights workers instead of three, because my brother was definitely going to go with them. I remember, three civil rights workers. I remember Chaney, walking. I remember seeing them. It would have been five, I guess, instead of the three. Schwerner, Goodman, yes, four. I'm sorry. Four civil rights workers. But my brother was definitely going to go, but it just so happened that my father discovered that my brother was going to go, and he was adamant and said, "You are not going to Philadelphia. You are definitely not going." And he didn't go.

Williams: Do you remember who owned the house where they stayed?

Faye Inge: Yes, I do. The house was owned by S.P.'s father, Mother. Sims. Frank Sims. He owns Berry and Gardner Funeral Home.

Williams: Is he still alive.

Faye Inge: No, he's not, but his wife and his son, they still own the funeral home. And the house. I'm not certain if that house is still there. Because I tried so hard to get my niece [to draw it]. My niece draws. I said, "Please draw that house. This is the house that they spent their last night in. Draw that house. Draw it!" But sometimes, people don't understand the importance of history. The significance of certain things, and so she didn't draw it.

Williams: So Frank Sims, his son, what is his name?

Faye Inge: We call him Bunky. Robert! That's his name. Robert [Kennedy.]

Williams: OK. And his wife's name is?

Faye Inge: I don't know her name.

Williams: Mrs. Sims. She's still--

Faye Inge: She's still--. Yes. In fact, the house is right across--

Williams: Can you talk to her? Is she--

Laura Inge Love: Is she a foreigner?

Faye Inge: Well, oh, she's been here a long time, Mother.

Williams: You said a foreigner?

Faye Inge: Well, no. I think he met her when he went over--. I don't know if he was in the service or something. She has been here for thirty or forty years or so.

Laura Inge Love: Now her son is not his son, you know. She had this boy by, I guess, some American soldiers, when the war was going on.

Faye Inge: Yes. One of those things that happens.

Williams: OK. Now, let me ask you about when the civil rights workers were discovered missing. What was your reaction? What was the mood of the town?

Faye Inge: My reaction was, my heart just sank. You know, it was overwhelming to me because, see, I had seen them. You know, I had seen them going back and forth a number of times. I had seen Chaney. And, then what made my heart sink even more is the fact that my brother, I knew that my brother had wanted to go and my father had just had to be just hard on him and said, "No, you're not going." So, my heart just sank when I first heard that they were missing. And, I was trying to be optimistic and say, "Well, maybe, maybe, they are in jail. Or maybe nothing has happened." But then when they didn't find them and then they finally discovered, they found the truck down inside a river, or something, then we knew, that was it. They're dead. You know. They've been killed, you know. So, it was hard. It was difficult. You know. It was difficult. It was scary. Because, see, these are people who had been right here in Meridian, Mississippi, that you had seen, going back and forth. So, it was hard. It was hard.

Williams: Do you remember any other violent activities here in Meridian?

Faye Inge: Well, in 1965, you know, when we integrated Meridian Public Schools, there were five black girls that integrated Meridian Public Schools.

Williams: Do you remember their names?

Faye Inge: Yes. OK. Sadie Clark, Patricia Stennis, Sandra Falkner, and Loreace Hopkins.

Williams: Loreace. How do spell that?

Faye Inge: I think it's L-O-R-E-A-C-E. And, Hopkins. Now these are their maiden names. All these people are married. And, myself, which would be Faye Inge. And one girl is still here, I believe. Maybe Sadie. She's out in the county, somewhere. But during that time, one of the girls, Sadie Clark, her house was shot into. Also, was it during that time that New Hope Baptist Church, that Daddy's church was set on fire, Mother? It didn't burn because it was brick, but it was set on fire. But it wasn't damaged.

Laura Inge Love: It smoked it up really bad, and it burned some of the furniture.

Faye Inge: Was it during that time, or was it during the freedom school? See, my memory fails me.

Laura Inge Love: I know.

Faye Inge: Her house was shot into. Somebody passed by and just shot some bullets into the house. Now, none of the other girls, our homes were not shot into, but they shot into her house. So, that was, other than the fact of what we went through of constantly being thrown spit-balls, constantly being thrown eggs at, constantly being harassed, other than that, that was the only act of violence. (Inaudible) somebody coming along shooting bullets into her home.

Williams: So, how were you guys able to handle that, all that harassment in school?

Faye Inge: Well, one thing, you know, we had our families. We had our families. In fact, when it was first decided, I remember I always had this funny feeling that I would not graduate from Harris High. I remember Clintoria, my oldest sister, graduating from Harris High. And my parents were so proud. And I remember thinking, saying, "Well, one day my--." And Clintoria was getting ready to go off to Tougaloo. And I was thinking that my turn would come one day. And this little strange feeling came over me and said, "You will not graduate from Harris High." And I would have this feeling again and again, that I would not graduate from Harris High.

And I knew that when they said they were going to start integrating Meridian High School, Meridian Public Schools, but they are going to begin at the twelfth grade--. And so, my father was active in civil rights and he kind of wanted me to go, and I knew, I knew that I had to go. I knew that that was what that little voice meant, that I would not graduate from Harris High School. I knew then that I had to go to Meridian High School, and my father, I remember we met at Sandra Falkner's house. We would meet together and we would talk about how my father drove us over there. He would pick us up, and he drove us over there, and he would drop us off every morning. And we got together and talked about things and what would happen.

And so the school principal told us, he said, "Don't try to mix with them. You know, just go in, but don't try to mix." Which, we knew, we never tried to, you know, mix. We just--. But, family support is basically--. If we had not had strong family support, it would have been very difficult because this was a constant, you have to understand, this was a constant thing every day. Constantly being thrown spitballs. Constantly walking through halls surrounded by white men, and the guys were a lot worse than the girls. Constantly being called, "nigger." Constantly being made fun of. I remember going up a flight of stairs, and the stairs were crowded, so you know, you couldn't--. And somebody coming up behind me grabbing my hips, and I really felt violated, but I had no way of knowing who it was, you know. Things like that happening. So, those were the kinds of experiences. Somebody coming up behind you, stepping on the back of your heels, you know. Those kinds of things. So those were just some of the things that we went through, constantly, every single day.

So, but we made it through. We made it through. We graduated. And at least three of us were on the honor roll. We, you know, made the honor roll. I know I made the honor roll. I think Pat Stennis made the honor roll. I think three of us, at least, made the honor roll while we were there under that kind of stress.

Williams: OK. How did the teachers treat you or relate to you?

Faye Inge: You know, I really think that they were very selective about the teachers that they gave us. Because, in all of my classes, I had teachers who didn't tolerate, who would not allow students to pick on us. So I think, Meridian didn't want trouble. They really didn't want trouble, so they kind of tried to--. In all of my classes, none of my teachers would tolerate another student, a white student, picking on us. Now once we left that teacher's class, it was hard, because, you know, you were just surrounded by all these kids and you might have a spitball come your way. Somebody might say something or somebody might walk up behind you. You know, imagine you sitting there and somebody comes up, "Pow!" You know, just make a loud noise and you jump. So, that was the--. I wrote this poem called "Braving the Halls." I don't know where--. I have to find it.

Williams: Yes. Find that for us.

Faye Inge: OK. Braving the halls, you know, just getting through the halls, where you had to change class. That was the most difficult thing, because you had to deal with all of this. You had to deal with the name-calling, and the guys saying things, and, you know, if you could make it from one class to another, going across the campus to the music room. It was just, you know--

Williams: Was the faculty predominantly white?

Faye Inge: Yes, the faculty was all white. At that time, the only black people over there were janitors. And maybe the people in the cafeteria. But the faculty was all white. But I really believe they were selective about the teachers that they gave us.

Williams: Were there any white teachers that stood out that gave you positive reinforcement at Meridian High? Or that you thought were empathetic or concerned about you as a student in the learning environment?

Faye Inge: Let me see, there was a lady named Ms. Dannon[?]. But I can't remember if--. I'm trying to remember, did she teach at Meridian High or was she at the junior college? I remember that she was a very kind and empathetic woman, because she made the statement, you know, she said, she was telling the class, "Do you know what empathy means?" And then, nobody said anything. And she said, "Empathy means to put yourself in the other person's place." And I think she was trying to get them to try to, you know, think, to put yourself in the other person's place and see how you would feel if you were in that position. Her name was Ms. Dannon[?]. But, my first year, once I left Meridian High School, I went to Meridian Junior College, and at that time it had not been integrated either, see. You see, because you had the black junior college which was Harris Junior College and you had the white junior college which was Meridian Junior College. And so, the Meridian Junior College had not been integrated either. So, once I left Meridian High School, I really wanted to go off to college, but I knew my father couldn't really afford it because he had, I think Gloria was at Tougaloo, and I had another sister in college, so I knew, he said I would have to go to the junior college for two years. So I went to Meridian

Junior College. So at that time, it was integrated. So I remember Ms. Dannon telling her class, it was like a history class, or something, explaining to them what empathy was and to try to put yourself in the other person's place. And that stood out. I could tell that she was a kind--

(The interview continues on tape one, side two.)

Williams: Now, you mentioned your sister. And one of your sisters, you were just telling me about. What is her name?

Faye Inge: Her name is Katy Inge Predium. And Katy--

Williams: Predium, how do you spell that?

Faye Inge: P-R-E-D-I-U-M. Katy was the first black to enter the Miss Junior Miss Pageant here in Meridian. It's the pageant that Meridian usually hosts every year, and she decided that she was going to enter. And she entered it. My parents supported her. And she--

Williams: What year was that?

Faye Inge: That was, gee, it was in the '70s some time. Oh, golly. I graduated in '65. It may have been (tape skips) 1968 or '67. I'm not certain.

Williams: OK. How did she turn out in that?

Faye Inge: Well, you know, she didn't come in first, second, third, or fourth, either one of that, but she did well. The audience was very receptive. She did a, her talent was a dramatization. And she did a good job. And the audience was polite, but she had the nerve and the gall just to do it. And we were all there, her family, standing there, supporting her.

Williams: Was there any resistance on the part of the pageant officials to prevent her from entering?

Faye Inge: No. We had no resistance at that time. I think one thing Meridian never really wanted: they wanted to keep a tap on their racial problems. They really didn't want a lot of trouble. In fact, they worked closely--. My father was one of the ones that a lot of the city officials worked closely with, trying not to make Meridian a powder keg of things that would just become explosive, so they tried hard to keep things from exploding. From having a lot of problems.

Williams: You know, I interviewed Representative Charles Young. Can you tell me a little bit about the relationship of your father to Mr. Young and some of the things that you know about Mr. Young?

Faye Inge: Well, I really don't know what kind of relationship my father had with Mr. Young. I just know that they knew each other. They respected each other. I mainly knew Mr. Young, I had heard of Mr. Young, but I got to know him better because I worked at his TV station. The TV station here in Meridian that he built, and that is how I got to know him better. I do know that as a politician, he has done a lot for the city of Meridian. And also, one thing I admire Mr. Young about is that he is an advocate for black people. I know that, that the black caucus, I remember they stalled or something a few years [ago]. I remember him saying, "Did you read about what we did?" Because, I can't remember what it was, but the black caucus, what you call a filibuster, when they--. It was something like that. I can't remember exactly what the issue was, but they were successful in not getting something done, the black caucus. But I do know that he has been an advocate for black people and he has helped the city of Meridian out a lot.

Williams: He said that his family has owned a business here for quite a long time.

Faye Inge: Right. The E.F. Young Manufacturing Company.

Williams: You mentioned that the city officials and the black community tried to work together to keep the lid on, you know, of activity in the city. Who were some of the leading black personalities, and some of the leading white personalities, during this time?

Faye Inge: Well, at that time, I know Reverend Charles Johnson was very active. Probably Charles Young, I'm certain. My father was. Now, in terms of some of the whites, I'm trying to think who was mayor. Rosenbaum. I don't know if Mayor Rosenbaum was--. Rosenbaum was the mayor at that time, I believe. I'm not certain about that, who the mayor was. Robert Ward, who at that time owned WTOK TV. Robert and I went to school together. I remember him at Meridian High School. He was--

Williams: Robert is black, right?

Faye Inge: Robert is white. He is a white guy. He owned WTOK TV. But I remember that later on, you know, my father and Robert Ward would talk. They would talk about maybe some of the problems in the cities and trying to, you know, not let things get out of control. That wasn't during the period of when the schools were integrated. That was maybe later on. Maybe in the '70s.

Williams: Do you remember when Medgar got killed?

Faye Inge: Evers?

Williams: Yes.

Faye Inge: I remember hearing about it. I was trying to remember, what was I doing? I remember hearing about it, and it just kind of scared me. That's all. My first thought was, "They're trying to kill our leaders. They're trying to kill them all." That was the first thing, you know. And I was a young girl, but I remember thinking, "They're trying to kill our leaders." That was my first thought: "They're trying to kill our leaders." That was the thing that came to my mind.

Williams: I imagine you were in grammar school, then?

Faye Inge: No, that happened when I was in Meridian, so I had to have probably been in junior high school, probably, I guess. Junior high or high school. What year did he get--?

Williams: 1963.

Faye Inge: OK. In '63, I was probably in the maybe seventh grade. That was the year Clinton graduated.

Williams: You were 14 years old.

Faye Inge: Yes, I would had to have been because I was born in '48. I was in junior high school.

Williams: I tell you one thing, you sure don't look like you're fifty years old.

Faye Inge: Yes. Yes, I turned fifty this year.

Williams: You look like you are about thirty-two to me.

Faye Inge: Well, thank you.

Laura Inge Love: What about your momma? She's almost eighty. (Laughter)

Williams: OK. Well, we are going to get to you. We're going to work you over, too.

Laura Inge Love: My memory. I don't have a memory.

Williams: What about MLK?

Faye Inge: Martin Luther King. Of course, when Martin Luther King was shot, that was in sixty--. Was that 1968? April of '68? I'm trying to think where--

Williams: Yes, '68.

Faye Inge: Sixty-eight. My mind jumps back before I talk about Martin Luther King, my mind jumps--

Williams: It was a year before you went to Dallas.

Faye Inge: OK. My mind jumps back to Andy Young. And I'm mentioning Andy Young because Andy Young and some more civil rights workers--. Mother, you may remember this. Over at the parsonage, Andrew Young, and some more civil rights workers were traveling at that time, and they needed some homes for them to stay in, you know, just to get some rest. And Andrew Young, came to our house. You remember, Mother?

Laura Inge Love: Yes.

Faye Inge: And he spent a few hours just sleeping, in the front bed, in the guest bedroom, because, see, he was young, and they were tired, and they were traveling, and he spent a few hours in the front bedroom of our home which was over on Twelfth Street at that time. And I remember, being a young girl, and everything, I remember thinking how cute he was. (Laughter) You know, I was a young girl.

Williams: He was kind of a lady's man.

Faye Inge: Yes. (Laughter) I was a young girl. And I was thinking, you know, how cute he was. But I remember that. He came to our house. I don't know who else, but I do remember him. He laid across the bed. I guess he laid down for a couple of hours. And, I've never forgotten that. Martin Luther King, I remember when Martin Luther King came to Meridian and he spoke and I was trying to remember what church. Was it First Union? It may have been First Union. But I didn't go. He spoke that night, but I wasn't able to go to hear him speak. This was in the '60s.

When Martin Luther King got shot. I'm trying to remember. In '68. In '69, I went to Dallas. OK. I was at Meridian Community College. I think this was my second year. It was my sophomore year at the junior college and I remember it was on TV, and we were out in the student lounge. Being at the junior college was a little bit different than being at the high school because, you know, we could kind of come and go. Once you got through with your classes, you could go. You know, college. But I remember being in the lounge and I remember, it was on TV. You know, that was all that was on TV. They were having his funeral, you know. Pulling him in the wagon, and I remember that one of some of the white kids had maybe kind of said something or done something disrespectful and I really remember one of the teachers saying, "Don't do that." She was trying to say, you know, respect them. This man has died. And I never forgot. That stood out in my mind that she would say--. I can't even remember who the teacher was. But she kind of did like this to the white kid. Don't do, you know. And they were polite about it, let me say it that way. But when he was shot.

I'm trying to remember exactly when I first heard that Martin Luther King had been shot. I don't know if I was at home, if I was at school. I just cannot remember, but I do remember at the junior college, being in the student lounge. And we had more blacks, it was a few more blacks there then, and the funeral of Martin Luther King was on the TV, and I really remembered seeing the wagon, pulling him in the wagon, you know, him being pulled in the wagon, and some of the white kids saying something that was not too nice and one of the teachers kind of doing like this, telling them, "No, don't do it." You know, "Be respectful. Don't do that. Because this man has died." So, I remember that. That stuck out in my mind.

Williams: OK. Let me ask you this, now. I understand that there were some boycotts and picketing in Meridian. Did you ever participate in any kind of demonstrations and picketing?

Faye Inge: Let's see. I was trying to see, was it one of the Woolworth's? I'm trying to recall. It was one of the lunch counters, and blacks couldn't go. Oh, Mother-- Daddy. Where did he and some ministers go? Where was it? And they went to--

Laura Inge Love: Oh, yes. This all-white cafeteria.

Faye Inge: What was it? What restaurant was it? Was it Weidmann's?

Laura Inge Love: Yes, it was Weidmann's.

Faye Inge: OK. When they first integrated, when they passed a law saying that blacks had a right to go to these restaurants, Daddy and some other ministers--. I don't know who the other ministers were, but they were ministers. They went down to Weidmann's Restaurant.

Laura Inge Love: I can't think who those other ministers were.

Faye Inge: Were they served, or did they just go and sit? I can't remember. But I do know that they went, and I don't know what the response was. I can't recall, because--. But I remember Weidmann's Restaurant. They went to Weidmann's Restaurant and they sat. But were they served, Mother? Did they get served?

Laura Inge Love: I don't know. I remember they went there. I remember Reverend Johnson may have been there.

Faye Inge: Probably Charles Johnson may have been with them. I don't remember. But I do know it was ministers. It was all ministers who went down and sat at this restaurant.

Williams: Speaking of ministers, you talked about Reverend Charles Johnson and certainly your father. Were there any other ministers that were active, you know, supportive of civil rights activities?

Faye Inge: At that time, the only two that I really remember is my father and Reverend Johnson. I can't remember anybody else. Mother, do you remember anybody else? In fact, my father would drive us--. When we integrated Meridian High School, my father was the only minister who was there. The only minister. And he would drive us over there. He would pick us up and drive us over there. And eventually we got to the point where, you know, I remember that sometimes I would catch the bus home because they had some kind of little system, like if you made the honor roll and you could be off sixth period or something and sometimes I would get off. If you didn't have a sixth period class, you could go home, if you were like an honor roll student. And there were times when I would catch the bus home. But my father was the only minister that I remember, you know, being active. Then Reverend Charles Johnson was active. He didn't participate in terms of us, when we integrated Meridian High School, but I know he was active in civil rights. But I don't remember any other ministers. If there were any, I don't remember who they were.

Williams: What about business folks. Now, I know Charles Young had a longstanding business operation. Were there any other, let's say, black business elite in Meridian?

Faye Inge: What about Jones? How active was Jones?

Laura Inge Love: Oh, yes. I had forgotten about Jones.

Faye Inge: Of course, he's dead now. But Jones. What's his name? What was his first name?

Laura Inge Love: Albert Jones.

Faye Inge: Albert Jones. Albert Jones.

Williams: And what kind of business did he have?

Faye Inge: He owned a restaurant.

Williams: And what were some of the things that you remember him doing?

Faye Inge: Was he-- what was he active in? He was something with the--. Was he in the NAACP or what?

Laura Inge Love: Yes, I think that's what he was in.

Faye Inge: I can't recall. But now Obie Clark. Have you talked to Obie Clark?

Williams: Not yet. I have him down on my list. What about the dentist, Mr.--?

Faye Inge: Oh, Dr. Kornegay?

Williams: Yes.

Faye Inge: Doc was the first black city councilman, as far as I know. Wasn't that true, Mother?

Laura Inge Love: Yes.

Faye Inge: Dr. Kornegay was the first black city councilman, here in the city of Meridian.

Williams: And what year was that?

Faye Inge: Mother, when was that? Do you know? Was it the '70s or '80s?

Williams: So, but he's no longer a city councilman now?

Faye Inge: No, he's not. He served several terms. Then after that he ran for supervisor, and he served a term as supervisor. But I'll never forget, his wife told me once that, of course, he being a city councilman, and you know, how they have like the American Cancer Society and the symphony and all of this. And naturally, all the city councilman would get invitations. Well, he and his wife, you know, of course, they go. I think this was something Meridian Symphony. And she says, when they walked in there, people just gasped. It's like they really didn't expect them to come. They were like, "(Gasp) You're not supposed to be here." You know, they really didn't expect him to come.

And she was talking about how cold most of them were, and she was saying there was one person, the man is president at Citizen's, Archie McDonald. I think it was Mr. McDonald. She was saying that he was the only one--. No, it wasn't McDonald. I can't think of the man's name. But he's a bank president. And she said he was the only person there who was kind of warm and friendly. And she said, maybe because he is a bank president, and he knows, maybe--. But he was the only person there who was kind of warm and friendly. And she said, they didn't stay very long, you know, they left.

Williams: Do you remember what bank that was?

Faye Inge: Oh, let me see, was it Trustmark? I wish I could think of his name. It wasn't Citizen's. It couldn't have been Citizen's. Either Trustmark, First National--.

Laura Inge Love: His wife may remember, if you want to call her and ask her.

Williams: We'll find that out. You mentioned Obie Clark. Tell me a little bit about Obie Clark.

Faye Inge: Well, I've always admired Mr. Clark because he has always stood up for black people. And even at the expense of his life. I think his home has been shot into. He's been threatened a number of times. You know how they used to say that Malcolm X was black America's manhood?

Williams: Yes.

Faye Inge: Well, in Meridian, I felt that way about Obie Clark because Obie was arrested. You know, he was arrested, taken down to the police department and you know, things like that, and he probably went through a lot that people don't even know, but I have always admired him because I felt like he stood up, being president of the NAACP. He is now president of the NAACP. He served for a number of years, and then somebody else served for a term, and then he was reelected. But I felt like he had always stood up for black people in this city. At least, tried to stand up. You know, things that were reported, he would try to check them out or get the organization to check them out. Things like that.

Williams: So Obie is still kicking around?

Faye Inge: Yes. He is now the president of the NAACP.

Laura Inge Love: It's his second term, isn't it?

Faye Inge: Oh, Mother, he's served a number--. He's served for years.

Laura Inge Love: Right.

Williams: What side of town does he live on?

Faye Inge: Obie lives out this way. We can give you the numbers and all of that.

Williams: OK. You know, I need to get ahold of a Meridian telephone book some kind of way, too.

Faye Inge: Oh, you mean you want one to take back. Mother, you got one that you can take back? Make sure it's no writing in it, Mother, because sometimes I write numbers in it.

Laura Inge Love: I don't know if I have one or not.

Faye Inge: I might have one in my room.

Williams: OK. Now, let me ask you this. Reverend M.C. Thompson. Do you remember him?

Faye Inge: Yes.

Williams: Tell me a little bit about Reverend M.C. Thompson. What? You ain't gonna tell me nothing? All right. OK. You take the fifth amendment. Do you remember Howard McGlothin?

Faye Inge: Oh Howard. Yes.

Williams: Yes. Tell me a little bit about Howard.

Faye Inge: The only thing I know about Howard was that, he went by another--. He had a nickname. He had, I think he owned a video company at one time or something. I did a little work with him. Howard was OK. I remember him saying something, "You know, if you look on TV, it's really us. It's black people." You know, I just remember him saying something like that. That, you know, the shows on TV, and when they have blacks on them, you know, really what catches your eye, it's us. (Laughter) And I remember he did a documentary on the city of Meridian. I can't remember.

(A brief segment of the taped interview regarding the Meridian telephone book is not included in this transcript.)

Faye Inge: I don't know a lot about Howard, but he seemed like a nice person. He seemed to be black, if I can say, black-oriented. If you can understand what I'm trying to say.

Williams: Do you remember anything that he did in the movement here in Meridian?

Faye Inge: No, because I didn't know Howard at that time.

Williams: OK. What about Jo Lynn Polk?

Faye Inge: Jo Lynn, I think, she attended the freedom school. I think she and Douglas, that's her brother Douglas, I think both are doctors. And they lived right around the corner. We grew up, we played together. They'd come over to our house and eat dinner and that type thing. I knew Jo Lynn. I knew Douglas.

Williams: Did you know the mother?

Faye Inge: Yes. The mother, Mrs. Polk.

Laura Inge Love: They used to come over here. They were members of our church.

Faye Inge: Yes, they were all members of our church. They all grew up in our church.

Laura Inge Love: Reverend Inge baptized the whole family.

Faye Inge: They lived right in the back of us. You know, just in the back of where we lived. And Douglas used to come over to our house and just eat all the time. So, the only thing I remember about Jo Lynn is that I think Jo Lynn and Douglas, I think they came to freedom school. That's about all that I remember.

Williams: And her mother was involved, too. As a matter of fact, I'm going to interview her, next week or so. She comes over to Jackson. Do you remember Dave Dennison [?]?

Faye Inge: I don't remember him.

Williams: What about Al Fielders?

Faye Inge: OK. The only thing I knew about the Fielders is that they owned the pharmacy, downtown on Fifth Street. In terms of civil rights, I don't know that, anything.

Williams: Do you remember Mr. William Miller, the attorney?

Faye Inge: No, I don't. Is he black or white?

Williams: He's black.

Faye Inge: I don't remember. Seems like I remember hearing a name about a Miller, but I don't know that much about him.

Williams: OK. Is there anything that you think is important that we haven't covered? I mean, just go at it.

Faye Inge: You know what. We talk about the students who integrated the high schools, and that's good. I think that's very important. But one thing I was thinking about, too. What was it like for black teachers? See. Let me share this with you. There was a teacher and she was one of the first teachers who went to Poplar Springs. Poplar Springs Elementary School was considered the school where the rich white kids, the doctors, the lawyers. So they were very careful about who they sent to Poplar Springs.

Williams: What was her name?

Faye Inge: Her name was--. I know how to find out. I can't think of her name. Was it Jenkins? The lady who stays with Ms. Fredna Lewis [?], Mother. I cannot think of her name.

Laura Inge Love: Oh, yes.

Faye Inge: But Ms. Lewis can--. Ms. Ware. Ware. W-A-R-E. I knew it would come back.

Williams: What's her first name?

Faye Inge: I can't think of her first name, but her last name is Ware.

Williams: Is she still in Meridian?

Faye Inge: As far as I know she is. But I remember her telling me that, you know, the teachers had a table where they sat at lunch. And like the salt and pepper, things like that, the students were not allowed to come to those tables and get the salt and pepper. So one of the little white students came up there and got the salt and pepper, and she said, "No. You're not supposed to come up here and get the salt and pepper."

A white teacher said, "Here. Take this." You know, what she was doing was saying, "Well, you know, you're a black teacher. You can't tell this white child what to do." And you know she was saying how that stuck out in her mind. You know, just little things like that. And, even sometimes, with the parents, you know. Parents maybe trying to second-guess the teacher or the things that maybe black teachers had to go through who went to white schools. I remember one teacher saying that she had written a word on the board. She wrote it on the board misspelled. She did that on purpose because she wanted to see, would the students notice that. Well, what happened, a white teacher passes by the room. She sees that the word is on the board, but it's misspelled. She goes back, she tells the principal that Miss So-and-so misspelled a word. She tells the other teachers, Miss So-and-so misspelled a word.

And then she had to explain, "Well, I put the word. I knew that it was misspelled. I put it up there on purpose because I wanted to see if the students would see that the word was misspelled." You know all that. Little things like that. I thought it would be interesting if we could find a teacher, too, who, or teachers who went to schools and what it was like for them. What they had to go through. What they had to deal with in terms of being maybe the first black at an all-white school. What is was like for them, too. What they had to--

Williams: Yes. I guess this is kind of a big, open-ended question I am going to ask you. You went through the '50s, '60s, '70s, and the confrontation and the conflict, the activity and the reaction. Where do you think the white community is now in Meridian? Do you think there have been changes, progress? Are there things that we need to do?

Faye Inge: Well, you know, I think that there are always things that we need to do. Progress has been made. I think you have more blacks who are really wanting to get in to own their own businesses. Of course, one of my major concerns is black youth, especially young black males. Because I teach school and I teach in an alternative school and so I see. And one of the things I hear black males always saying, "Yes, the white man this. The white man this." And, you know, my thinking is you have to take responsibility for your own life, now. You can't blame. We had people who died, who were shot, who were killed, for us to have certain rights. But now it's up to you to take responsibility. So don't try to blame anybody else. And so that whole attitude, that whole thinking. Stop being the victim, you know.

I don't know if you are familiar with T.D. Jakes [?]. He's a pastor. He's a preacher out of, I think, Houston, Texas, but he talks about, "Hey, stop being the victim. You don't have to be a victim. You can take control of your own life." Too many of our young black males--. Maybe it comes back from just having a lack of enough positive black role models. They have this victim attitude. Or this, "The white man this. You can't do nothin' for the white man." That bothers me, because, to me, today, it really is no excuse for anybody not to make it. I know racism is out there and it will be out there for a long time, but if you are willing to work hard, if you are really willing to do what it takes, you can make it. And see, I just believe that now. That if you are willing to just do what you have to do to make it, you can make it. And you can really make it because there are so few out there trying to make it until if you really, you know, you can succeed if you really want to, and I really believe that.

Williams: You mentioned the struggle, the blood, and the sweat, and the sacrifice of previous generations. Do you think young folks today realize the connection?

Faye Inge: See, that's part of the problem, is that they don't. I think young people today, first of all, they don't know their history. They don't know that they come from a great and powerful people and they need to know that. If they knew from where they came, from whence they came, you know, I think they would fly. If they could understand that you come from a great and a powerful people. That our people, according to--. Black people were the original people of the earth. We're the mommas and daddies of the earth, and if they could really understand their history and Africa, the great kings and queens and the kind of civilization that was in Africa. If they really understood that, then maybe they could fly.

But they don't really know their history. They're too caught up in their past, maybe. Too caught up in blaming the white man. Too caught up in the nowness of their own little lives, you know. And like I said, a lot of it is just the lack of maybe the right kind of models, having the right kind of role models. Maybe some of them are into drugs. Not all. I know, not all. But too many are, you know, into that. But if they could really understand their history, know where they came from, and fully understand where they came from. This is one reason why I do admire Minister Far--

(End of interview.)

 
 

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