An Oral History

With

Laura Mae Holloway Inge Love

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

Mrs. Laura Mae Holloway Inge Love was born in Meridian, Mississippi on July 7, 1920. Her parents were Clem and Maude Holloway. She was the oldest of three children. She attended Meridian Public Schools, and received a scholarship to Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. She also attended Jackson State College. For two years, she taught school. She was married to Reverend Clinton Owen Inge in June of 1941. She taught private piano lessons for more than fifty years.

She and Reverend Inge had eight children, six daughters and two sons. Their offspring include teachers, musicians, doctors, business educators, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She married Mr. Nealy Love in February of 1998, several years after the death of her first husband, Reverend C.O. Inge. She is presently seventy-eight years old.

Table of Contents

Reverend C.O. Inge and New Hope Baptist Church 2

Registering to vote 5

Harris High School's first class 7

Bombing of New Hope Baptist Church 9

Civil rights meetings at New Hope Baptist Church 10

Working at the polls 13

Cab driver assaulting Medgar Evers on bus 13

Informants in the black community 14

Annual memorial for James Chaney at Okatibbee Baptist Church 16

Reverend Inge and Faye Inge and the integration of Meridian High School 17

Receipt of threatening letters 18

Drive-by shootings 18

ORAL HISTORY

with

LAURA INGE LOVE

This is an interview for the Civil Rights Documentation Project. The interview is with Mrs. Laura Mae Holloway Inge Love and is taking place on November 28, 1998, in Meridian. The interviewer is Don Williams. Also present is Mrs. Love's daughter, Johnnie Faye Inge.

Williams: Today is November 28. We are in Meridian, Mississippi, and we are going to interview Mrs. Laura Inge Love. And, I am Don Williams.

Laura Inge Love: Don Williams.

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

Williams: Where were you born?

Laura Inge Love: Here. Meridian.

Williams: Meridian?

Laura Inge Love: Yes. Right here.

Williams: And what year were you born?

Laura Inge Love: 1920. Been here a long time.

Williams: 1920. What month and date?

Laura Inge Love: July 7.

Williams: You were born a week before your daughter.

Laura Inge Love: Yes. The fourteenth. That was something born--

Williams: And your husband was Reverend--

Laura Inge Love: Reverend Clinton O. Inge, I-N-G-E.

Williams: O?

Laura Inge Love: Yes, the O stands for Owen. That's just how he always signed it, Clinton O. Inge.

Williams: And where was he born.

Laura Inge Love: He was born in Geiger, Alabama, February 25, 1909. He was older than I.

Williams: Yes, eleven years older.

Laura Inge Love: Yes, eleven years and a few months.

Williams: Have you ever lived outside of Meridian?

Laura Inge Love: Outside of Meridian? Just in Laurel. How long were we there? For twelve years. That's where Faye was born.

Williams: What period of time was that? What year?

Laura Inge Love: We moved there in--let's see, my son was a month old--1947. And twelve years. You have to count that.

Williams: Was it 1959?

Laura Inge Love: Yes, that's right. Because he was just a baby when we moved. One month.

Williams: What made you go from Laurel to Meridian?

Laura Inge Love: He was called to New Hope Baptist Church here.

Williams: New Hope?

Laura Inge Love: Yes. He built [the church, New Hope,] over there.

Williams: So, that was in '59.

Laura Inge Love: That was in '59. He was called. And he stayed for fifteen years, I think, there. Pastor for fifteen years.

Williams: And when did he die?

Laura Inge Love: He passed away May 10, I believe it was, 1993.

Williams: 1993.

Laura Inge Love: We had his funeral on May 15 [at New Hope Church].

Williams: So, you never lived outside of Mississippi.

Laura Inge Love: No.

Williams: You never went to New York?

Laura Inge Love: Oh, yes. My husband, we went all over the United States, because, you know, he was very much into the conventions. You know the National Baptist Convention, and Congress, you know the National Congress. And I had a built-in baby-sitter. His mother lived with us practically all my married life. Now that was a miracle. She lived with us practically all our married life and I was able to go around with him.

Williams: So, did he hold a nationwide office in the National Baptist Convention?

Laura Inge Love: No, no, he didn't. But he was a writer. He wrote music. He wrote a book of songs, songbooks for children, I think. And they published it up in Nashville, where we'd get our Sunday school literature, from Nashville, Tennessee.

Faye Inge: You're thinking about the alma mater.

Laura Inge Love: Yes, he wrote the alma mater for ABT.

Faye Inge: The American Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee.

Laura Inge Love: And they still use it.

Faye Inge: He wrote the school's alma mater.

Laura Inge Love: Yes. I sure had forgotten about that. He was a very smart man. Very talented.

Williams: Did he go to school? Where did he go to school?

Faye Inge: He went to the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville. That's where he got his Bachelor's in religious education.

Laura Inge Love: Yes, in religious education, and I think, he graduated high school from a Presbyterian school. He didn't do all that whooping and hollering, you know like, and a lot of people complained because he didn't do that whooping and hollering and cutting up in the pulpit. They called it, said, "He's just like a lecture." But he was real smart.

Williams: OK. Now during the '50s, '60s, and '70s. Well, the latter part of the '50s, he pastored the New Hope Church.

Laura Inge Love: Yes, Baptist.

Williams: What other organizations was your husband involved in?

Laura Inge Love: You mean during the civil rights [movement]?

Williams: Yes ma'am.

Laura Inge Love: He was the president one time of the PTA. That was in Laurel? Was he president of the PTA in Laurel?

Faye Inge: Yes. He was president of the PTA in Laurel.

Laura Inge Love: He was active in--. What was he active in? He was involved in a lot of things here.

Faye Inge: He served on boards and things. Especially after they integrated. He was the first black on a lot of boards.

Williams: Well, if you had Andy Young sleeping up in there, you must have had something going on with SCLC.

Laura Inge Love: Yes. He was selected to serve on boards here in Meridian, like--

Faye Inge: --the Transit Authority.

Laura Inge Love: Yes, buses.

Faye Inge: He served on one of the boards at one of the hospitals, Riley Hospital.

Laura Inge Love: What do you call that where you take care of the city business?

Williams: Chamber of Commerce?

Laura Inge Love: Yes. I couldn't think of that. Of course, he was on TV for twenty-five years. I don't know if you want to write that.

Williams: Oh, he had his own--?

Laura Inge Love: No, but, you know, he was on [TV for twenty-five years].

Faye Inge: He had a little--. You know how they let the little minister come on?

Williams: Yes. That program.

Faye Inge: Well, he was the first black that did that, you know.

Laura Inge Love: The first black that preached after the white speaker.

Faye Inge: That's right. He was the first black to deliver a commencement address.

Laura Inge Love: At the high school.

Faye Inge: You know, usually, they have a white speaker, but he was the first black speaker at--

Laura Inge Love: Meridian High, at that time.

Faye Inge: Meridian High School.

Laura Inge Love: That's right. I don't know what year that was.

Williams: I neglected to ask you. When did you first register to vote?

Faye Inge: When did I first--. Gee, I don't even remember. It may have been in the early '80s.

Williams: When did you first register to vote, Mrs. Inge?

Laura Inge Love: Let's see. We came back to Meridian? When did we move back, in '59?

Faye Inge: Fifty-nine.

Laura Inge Love: Because I know, those people, they had some kind of forms. They wanted you to take this hard test, you know. And a lot of people couldn't pass the test because they didn't know all that stuff. But finally, finally they got rid of that and they just let us go and register and vote. They were just trying to make it hard for black folks to vote, you know, giving them a hard test to take. And that was in--we came here in '59--, I guess maybe--. Who was the president before President--?

Faye Inge: Was it Eisenhower?

Laura Inge Love: Who was our president in '63?

Williams: Kennedy.

Laura Inge Love: Kennedy.

Faye Inge: Was it Kennedy? I have to get my little lamp up there, because I've got them all up there on my lamp.

Laura Inge Love: Oh, yes. In '62, I guess, is when--

Williams: When the Voting Rights Act occurred?

Laura Inge Love: The Voting Right, that we were allowed to vote.

Williams: Did the Voting Rights [Act] occur before the Civil Rights Act?

Unidentified Male Voice: Which Civil Rights Act?

Williams: The initial one that Johnson had?

Unidentified Male Voice: The Johnson Civil Rights Act was the (inaudible) act, but they had civil rights acts before that, starting with--. They had a Civil Rights Act in '48.

Williams: OK. Did you go to school in Meridian here?

Laura Inge Love: Yes. I finished up at Harris High. In 1938.

Williams: 1938?

Laura Inge Love: (Laughter) (Inaudible)

Williams: Harris High School.

Laura Inge Love: Same school that she [attended].

Williams: Would anybody know when Harris High School was established?

Laura Inge Love: It was built in 1937. Our class was the first class to go in the new school. For a whole term. You know, for the whole year. In 1937, one class, they just graduated there.

Faye Inge: Where did you go before that, Mother?

Laura Inge Love: That's the only school I went to. Wechsler. You know, the school's here, the high school is Harris High, where I attended. They built the new school. It was completed in '37, but we went for the whole year. I was in twelfth grade. In '38.

Williams: Where did you meet your husband?

Laura Inge Love: My home church, right here in Meridian, about three or four blocks from here at a convention. He proposed to me three days after he met me. And he wrote me a note and asked me, "Will you marry me?"

And I wrote him a note back and said, "Yes, I will marry you."

And he said, "I want something I can depend on."

And I said, "You can depend on it." He lived in the country. And he started writing me all these letters. We never courted. We never dated. And, a year later, one year later--we met, like, in June. And he asked me the same year at Christmas time. He gave me this little ring. I still have it. And then we got married June 16, 1941. I had not met his family. I had not met any of his folks. And so the Lord just gave me to him, because he said he was praying for a good wife. He was a young, jack-legged preacher. (Laughter) That's what he called himself, a jack-legged preacher.

Williams: So you didn't want to make him sweat any?

Laura Inge Love: Oh, it was rough, now, being married to a preacher, now. Tell you what. God is good, always good. But we married in 1941. June 16, 1941. We never dated. We just married.

Williams: When did you realize that your husband was concerned about civil rights? What set him off on it? Tell me something about his background that made him get involved in civil rights.

Laura Inge Love: In Laurel--

Faye Inge: Wasn't he active in the NAACP in Laurel?

Laura Inge Love: Yes, he was in Laurel, I think, that's when he really--

Faye Inge: In Laurel, I think he was active in the NAACP.

Laura Inge Love: Yes, in Laurel, when we were there. We were there from 1947. During those years, he got involved in things there like the NAACP and other--

Williams: Was Aaron Henry down there?

Laura Inge Love: He may have been. Yes, I remember Aaron Henry.

Unidentified male voice: Clarksdale.

Williams: Clarksdale. I'm sorry.

Laura Inge Love: Seems like I remember him. He may have come in. I don't know. It's been a long time. But that name, Aaron Henry. He may have come there. I don't know, but he was very active, even then, in Laurel, he was active. And they had a nice little group of young people meeting, you know, at that time. Of course, I don't think my kids, they were kind of small, I don't think they were going at that time. But he was involved in it. He always would get involved in community projects and things. I remember once, what happened, this white man wanted to come put some kind of business in our community by a church, a Methodist church. Our church was right around the corner. And Reverend Inge, I don't know what he did, but he got that man away from there, out of the community. He had the know-how. And he was not allowed to put that, whatever he wanted to put, some kind of business there to make money off the black folks. You know how they were. So, he got rid of that business. Some kind of business that he was trying to do. I don't know. [He never said.]

Faye Inge: Was it a little juke joint or something he wanted to put up next to the church. I don't know. I remember that vaguely. He wanted to come in and put it, and it was close to the church.

Laura Inge Love: It wasn't that. That was something else.

Faye Inge: I thought it was near the church. They wanted to put it up near the church.

Laura Inge Love: No, it was around the corner where this white man wanted to put up some kind of little something to make money off, I guess. But now, what you're talking about, the white man wanted to come and put up a business, I think, by the church. In fact, he did do that. And Reverend Inge tried to get the church members to buy the property, and they were not wise enough to understand. And, the man did. He put up his little business by the church. And when Reverend Inge would be up preaching, you could not hear a word he was saying because, the thing was going on real loud outside, whatever it was. And then, the deacons started complaining. He said, "Don't look at me. I tried to get y'all to buy it." So they had to learn the hard way.

Williams: Now, let me ask you this. You mentioned that your church got burned down.

Laura Inge Love: No, our church got bombed. They couldn't burn it down because it's mostly brick and block, but they smoked it up.

Faye Inge: They smoked up the church, New Hope.

Laura Inge Love: Yes, New Hope, here. They smoked it up real bad and then we had furniture, you know, in the back and they burned it up.

Williams: What year was that?

Faye Inge: That was in the '60s.

Laura Inge Love: I don't know what year it was. But they set it afire two or three times.

Williams: Two or three different times?

Laura Inge Love: Yes, they set it afire, but they couldn't burn it down. And he said he received all kind of threatening letters, but he never did share those with us.

Faye Inge: I forgot to tell you that. That was when I was in Meridian.

Laura Inge Love: Yes.

Faye Inge: But not wanting to scare us, he got letters, but he kept them to himself.

Laura Inge Love: He got letters but, he never shared those with us. He didn't share that with us.

Williams: Did you ever receive any direct threats yourself because of your husband, or your father's activities?

Laura Inge Love: No. He received letters. They would come to the church. But he never would share those with us. He said he received all kind of threatening letters and maybe sometimes telephone calls at the church, but he never shared that with the family.

Williams: Why do you think they bombed the church, attacked the church so many different times.

Laura Inge Love: Because he was outspoken. He would just say what was right and how he felt about things. And he would just tell it, like it was, you know, and people don't like it when you tell the truth. And the white people resented him because of that. Now he had a few white friends, you know. I guess you would say they were kind of undercover. Like they would go along with him, but they had to be discreet, because of their families and all, but he didn't back down one bit, you know. And he would meet with the officials here.

Faye Inge: The city officials.

Laura Inge Love: The city officials, you know. And he was the only minister they could kind of talk with, intelligently. They would talk with him how to get in and out of the schools, especially when integration was. So he was the kind of spokesman, like, in the black community at that time.

Williams: Did the reverend have meetings at the church, or community meetings at the church?

Laura Inge Love: Yes, we did. We had community--

Faye Inge: Yes. I remember going to one meeting (inaudible).

Laura Inge Love: Yes, they had meetings at our church. They would have meetings there. I guess that's why they bombed it, you know. Tried to burn it down, but they couldn't. They had different churches. They had there and some other churches. I'm trying to think of the other churches they had.

Faye Inge: First Union? Obie Clark's church.

Laura Inge Love: Yes. That's First Union.

Faye Inge: I don't know where else.

Laura Inge Love: And some rural areas. I can't remember those rural churches.

Williams: Just outside of Meridian?

Laura Inge Love: Yes. But New Hope was very much into civil rights, you know. Having the meetings and whatever else they were doing at that time. You know, he would open his door to the church whenever they wanted to have meetings or whatever. Or speakers.

Williams: Could you tell me, did any of the big civil rights speakers or leaders come in to speak at your church, from CORE, SNCC, or--

Laura Inge Love: I can't think. Seems like somebody came one time. What's his name? The one that they killed in Jackson?

Faye Inge: Evers.

Laura Inge Love: Yes. He came to our house one time. I don't know if he spoke at the church. I know he and Reverend Inge sat down and they talked, but I remember him coming to our church. And somebody else came, I think, one time. What's this guy's name, on TV?

Faye Inge: Julian Bond? It's not Julian Bond.

Laura Inge Love: What's his name, this other guy?

Faye Inge: Andrew Young?

Laura Inge Love: Seems like he came one time.

Faye Inge: Yes, he came to New Hope one time. And to the house. Did he come to New Hope?

Laura Inge Love: He may have.

Faye Inge: I know he was at the house.

Laura Inge Love: Yes. Andrew Young came one time. I can't remember.

Williams: How about Reverend Al Sampson? Did he come through here. Did you know Reverend Sampson?

Laura Inge Love: No, I don't know him.

Faye Inge: The name sounds familiar. That's not the politician.

Williams: Well, he was one of Dr. King's lieutenants. You know, he went over to Natchez and tried to organize some things, around SCLC, and other places here, too. OK. Your husband, do you know what kind of relationship he had with Andy Young? How was that set up that Andy would come and stay with you and rest up here?

Laura Inge Love: I don't know how he and Mr. Young got together.

Faye Inge: Seems like the only thing I remember Daddy saying was that they were traveling, and they needed to rest somewhere, and they needed some houses, some people who would be willing to open up. Because most people were afraid. And some people who would be willing to let, it was, several young men. Andy Young, and some more young men, and I remember him saying they needed some houses, people who would be willing to let them, you know, just come in and get a few hours of sleep. I don't know if they were coming back from Georgia or on their way to somewhere, but they were traveling. And they had been traveling along. They were tired. They just needed a few hours of rest.

Laura Inge Love: Yes.

Williams: Do you remember what year that was?

Faye Inge: It had to be the early '60s. I know Andy Young was young. He was a young man.

Laura Inge Love: You were probably going to Meridian High then, I mean Harris High.

Faye Inge: I was probably at Harris.

Laura Inge Love: I wonder if it was in '66. It may have been 1964, I guess.

Williams: OK. Let me ask you this: now, I understand that there were a lot of shootings and bombings in this area. In Lauderdale County?

Laura Inge Love: Yes, this is Lauderdale County.

Williams: OK. And I understand that the Ku Klux Klan was very, very active here. Can you tell me anything about that? About the kind of violence that was going on here?

Laura Inge Love: Well, they never tried to bomb our house. Just our church, which is about four or five blocks from our house. But they did burn down churches, you know, area churches, little country churches close around, in other counties. I don't know about Lauderdale County. I think they did burn down some in Lauderdale County, but I don't remember the names of those churches. And I don't think they bombed in Meridian that I remember. Or did they?

Faye Inge: I don't know about bombing. I don't think they bombed.

Laura Inge Love: I don't think they burned any down. I don't remember them bombing or burning down any churches in Meridian, but mostly like in the county and rural area, they kind of burned down quite a few. Not too far from here, but I don't remember the names of the churches.

Williams: Was there any resistance to your registering to vote here?

Laura Inge Love: Well, I was among the first workers. You know, they didn't allow blacks to work, you know, at the polls. I don't know what year this was, they selected a few, to come and work at the polls, and I was among the first blacks that worked there. And they acted, you know, prejudiced, the white man who was there. But it got better. Each year got better, you know. And I remember them calling Reverend Inge down to help count the votes. Boy, he could keep up with those white--they asked him [to] count the votes, you know. And he was real good with numbers and things, you know, and so the white man, he acted a little prejudiced. You know how they act, you know. But after Reverend Inge came down, then they found out he could work, you know, real good. Oh, they were just elated, because we'd have been there I don't know how long before we would have gotten through, you know, counting those votes and things. Because we didn't have all the machines and things like they have now. And, I worked at the polls quite a few times, and I had to kind of give it up, because of, you know, other things.

But I was among the first that worked at city hall. I'll never forget it. I worked at city hall and the courthouse, you know. They wouldn't allow blacks to work at the polls at the time, and I was among the first to work there. It got better, you know. They got used to seeing us and we got used to seeing them. You know how white folks, how they can [pretend; perhaps they were afraid to act too friendly.]

Williams: Yes. I remember how Medgar Evers came over to Meridian in the early '60s, and he caught the bus back, and I think Doris Smith and Fannie Lou Hamer and a bunch of other people were on the bus with him. And I understand that they beat them up at the bus station. Do you remember that?

Laura Inge Love: I have heard about that.

Williams: There was an NAACP youth meeting here in Meridian.

Laura Inge Love: Yes, I remember that, but I don't know exactly when it happened.

Williams: OK. What did you hear and what was the feeling of people when the cab driver assaulted him.

Laura Inge Love: Well they were scared. Some of them were angry, and you know, wanted to retaliate, you know, fight back, but that wasn't the way to do it. You know, they just, some of them, I guess, were wishing that he didn't have the courage to go around trying to help his people, but he had to do it, you know. And he always had a faithful few that would hang on in there with him. But, like my daughter said, at that time, people were just really scared, because, you know, the white people were so mean and evil. And then, we had, I understand we had--I won't say who he is, but one of our members, that would go to the white folks and tell them what was going on in our community.

Williams: Yes, that happened all over the state.

Laura Inge Love: You know, and you would have to be so careful of what you say or your plans you would make because you didn't know what Uncle Tom was there. You know, you always had those Uncle Tom folks.

Williams: Well, one good thing about this Sovereignty Commission, it has gotten most of the rats' names in the files. You know, so it is public record, now, who were the spies.

Laura Inge Love: Yes. The Uncle Toms. Somebody says that this black guy that told the white folks about [their plans.]

Faye Inge: --the civil rights movement

Laura Inge Love: --the civil rights, told the plans to come down here. I understand, said, a black guy told them. And that's how they knew where they got them and killed them, those three little black boys, plus the white guy.

Williams: Did that guy's name ever come out?

Faye Inge: The one who told them that?

Laura Inge Love: Well that's what we were told.

Williams: But y'all never did get a name, though.

Faye Inge: Yes.

Laura Inge Love: We got a name, but I don't want to say [who] it is.

Williams: You don't want to be liable.

Laura Inge Love: No, no. I wouldn't want to, you know, say who it was.

Williams: Are they still living or are they dead?

Laura Inge Love: No, they're dead, but the wife is still living.

Williams: The wife.

Faye Inge: Oh, I know who you are talking about, now.

Laura Inge Love: You know who I'm talking about.

Williams: So everybody would know in Meridian, but me! (Laughter).

Laura Inge Love: Then, this is, like, hearsay, you know. You just don't say hearsay, as you don't know whether it's true or not.

Williams: Of course. Well, all right.

Laura Inge Love: Because, you always have those kind, too, you know.

Williams: Yes ma'am. Absolutely. I want to get back to your husband, again. When the three civil rights workers came up missing, what did your husband do? What was his reaction?

Laura Inge Love: I don't remember what he did.

Faye Inge: I remember him being in the pulpit, saying something, and he seemed really upset. I just remember that he was in the pulpit, and he was saying something about it. But I can't recall. I know that he was upset about it because it seems like he said something about "those peckerwoods." I remember him using the term peckerwoods (laughter), you know. But he was upset about it.

Williams: And your daughter was telling me that your son was supposed to travel with them that day?

Laura Inge Love: Well, what happened, it was Sunday morning, during Sunday school. And my son ran in the house and said, "Well, Dad, I'm going out with," whatever their names--. What's--

Faye Inge: Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner.

Laura Inge Love: I said, "Junior, you don't have any business going out there."

"Well, it won't be long. We're just going out there to see the church, you know. Where they burned the church down."

I said, "Junior, you don't have any business going out there."

About that time his daddy walked in, time enough to say, "What business [do] you have going out there?" And that was the end of it. And I have thought about that so many times, you know, how he could have been gone, had it not been [for his dad.] You know how boys, sometimes, don't want to listen to their mommas, you know. He was about fourteen, I guess. "Well, we're going to go out there." And so, that's what saved him.

Williams: OK. When they actually found the bodies, they found the truck, then they found the bodies. What was the reaction here in Meridian? What was your husband's reaction?

Laura Inge Love: Oh, let me see. My husband was a very quiet man, and he didn't talk too much, you know, at home. But I'm sure he really was upset from hearing about that. He tried to stay kind of calm. He had all those kids, you know. Eight kids and all that and he didn't talk too much about what was going on, in the home, at that time.

Williams: Now the funeral was held here in Meridian. Chaney's funeral was held in Meridian. Am I correct?

Laura Inge Love: Okatibbee was his church. It was kind of out.

Williams: What was the name of his church?

Laura Inge Love: It was called Okatibbee Baptist Church. Because I know our president's husband went out there, and he says his grave is somewhere, you know, where he was buried.

Faye Inge: Yes. They do a memorial every year. I've been out there a couple of times to go to the memorial.

Laura Inge Love: Yes. That was a sad time in history. I tell you, it was a sad time. It was rough.

Williams: Now, let me get back to your family. I have met and talked with two of your daughters and I have interviewed one of them, Faye. Faye seems to be very aggressive and very opinionated.

Laura Inge Love: She is.

Williams: What happened to her? (Laughter)

Laura Inge Love: You should meet my daughter next to her. (Laughter)

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

Williams: What did you [stress with your children?] You stressed church.

Laura Inge Love: Church, values, moral values. And we lived the life, you know. We lived it. We didn't only talk it, but we lived it. My husband was a very moral man. He wasn't flip, you know, like a lot of ministers. He was quiet and calm and he wasn't into a lot of fancy clothes, and all this stuff, and money. He was a very humble man, well thought-of. Read all the time. Very alert. She reminds me a lot of her daddy.

When any problems existed, you know, among blacks and whites, people would always call him to come and he would sit down and talk with the whites and try to work out the best solution to whatever was going on at that time. They respected him a lot. And I remember when Faye went over for her job at the school she is working in, this white lady said, "You know, my grandfather said, 'I don't know what we would have done had it not been for Reverend Inge.'" He knew he had the [good suggestions or plans.]

Now that's my youngest son, Ken. (Ken Inge comes in. There is a brief interruption in the tape.)

Williams: OK.

Laura Inge Love: I forgot where we were.

Williams: What did you think about your daughter going over to that school, that integrated school there? And being mistreated over there? Tell me, what did you think? The first day she went out the door to go over to that school.

Laura Inge Love: I was worried about her. I didn't know if she was going to come back alive or what, you know. But she wanted to go, and her daddy had the courage to take them. He was the only minister at that time who had the courage. It was just what the Lord wanted him to do, and He just took care of him. He would pick up four girls and my daughter. Some of the girls lived across the street. He picked up those five girls every morning and then would go back. We didn't have another minister who would go and pick them up. Not one minister in Meridian would even go and sit with him. I mean, they were too afraid and he just went on his own. Well, God was with him.

And Faye would come home, sometimes--. I remember one time she came home, somebody threw ink, you know, had just inked her dress up. You know, just do little things. You know, little mean things. But God took care of those little five girls and they graduated and graduation night, I'm telling you, I was sitting on that stage, but I was absolutely scared because I didn't know what might would happen, you know. But everything turned out really nice, just only a handful of blacks, just, mostly, attended the graduation with their families, you know, of the students. But it was really, how can I explain it, seeing your daughter leaving every morning and your husband, too, because, he was the one--.

You know, they could have thrown a bomb, anything. But the credit goes to God. He took care of them. [Reverend Inge] took them, and he would put balls and things in the back of his car in case some of them would come after him, you know, he would have something to fight back with, but he never had to use that.

Williams: Balls?

Laura Inge Love: Yes. Balls. Just balls, where you throw, you know, just fight and go on.

Williams: Did he have any guns on him?

Laura Inge Love: I don't know. He may have. (Laughter) I never heard him say that. But now he said what happened, the principal of the high school met with him, asked him would he come over and they talked about the best way to get the students, the black students in and out of, the safest way, the campus, you know. So he went with them. They might have been ridiculed, but they all made it. They graduated. That was a terrible year.

Williams: Did your husband receive any direct threats or reactions as a result of your daughter integrating Meridian High School? I mean that you can attribute directly to her going to school?

Laura Inge Love: If he did, like I said, he said he had received a lot of letters, but we never saw them. He didn't share those with us. I guess they would send them to the church. I don't know about phone calls. We didn't get too many phone calls.

Williams: What about the parents of the other children that were in school with your daughter. Did they receive any kinds of threats? Loss of job?

Laura Inge Love: Do you remember?

Faye Inge: I remember they shot into Sadie's. Remember when they shot into Sadie Clark's house.

Laura Inge Love: Oh, yes, I remember, one of them they shot into.

Faye Inge: They passed by late one night and shot. Bullets sprayed their house. Nobody was hurt, you know. But I don't know--

Laura Inge Love: --about the other girls.

Faye Inge: But I don't know about the other girls.

Laura Inge Love: They probably didn't know where they lived or something. But they never did pick at us in the parsonage. We lived in the church parsonage. But the church, they set it afire. I mean, they tried to burn it down, but they couldn't. Twice, they attacked the church building.

Williams: Did New Hope do any voter registration drives or anything like that? Voter education things in the church?

Laura Inge Love: I just don't remember if they did or not. I know they did have voter registration, but I don't know where they met. I don't remember.

Williams: Well, you know, like in Jackson, and some other cities, especially up in the Delta, when someone tried to go register to vote or they picketed or somebody became a member of the NAACP, they would publish their names in the paper. Did they have any of that kind of tactics and things here?

Laura Inge Love: I don't remember that.

Faye Inge: No, I don't remember that.

Laura Inge Love: Ms. Polk may remember something concerning that. I don't remember. Mrs. Polk might remember.

Williams: What's Mrs. Polk's first name?

Laura Inge Love: Evelyn.

Williams: How do you spell Evelyn?

Faye Inge: E-V-E-L-Y-N.

Williams: She comes over to Jackson on Mondays and Wednesdays so I am going to get her.

Laura Inge Love: Yes, you get her. She can probably help you out a lot, too, because she was right in the middle of it at that time.

Williams: Good. That's marvelous. I am going to get her and Dr. Polk.

Laura Inge Love: Her husband is dead. He passed away.

Williams: I'm talking about Lynn.

Laura Inge Love: Oh, yes, Lynn. She might remember some things.

Williams: And Lynn is [a doctor], you know. And, like, you're a teacher, and you're the wife of a reverend. And we need these role models for young black folks to see. You know, that the struggle is still kind of going on and we're obtaining things, achieving things. Because that is what it is all about, anyway, to make a change.

Laura Inge Love: To make a change, right.

Williams: OK. Let me ask you this. Is there anything else, that you would just like to say or talk about, that you think was important, in terms of bringing your kids up, what you tried to do with them, and, just overall, where we are going, where we are.

Laura Inge Love: With our children, we were strict. Not strict-strict. But we were strict, and we brought them up in the church. They had to attend Sunday school and 11:00 services, and at that time, we had Baptist Training Union where the young people gathered together and would have fun. And we didn't allow them to run the streets, even with the boys.

Williams: How many boys did you have?

Laura Inge Love: Two. Two boys.

Williams: What are their names?

Laura Inge Love: Clinton, the one that I told you is in a correctional facility, and this one that just left here, too, Kenneth.

Williams: Kenneth. And your daughters are--

Laura Inge Love: Daughters are Clintoria.

Williams: Clintoria.

Laura Inge Love: She's the oldest. And Gloria is the second.

Williams: Gloria.

Laura Inge Love: Vera is the one in Jackson. That's the third. Vera.

Williams: Vera.

Laura Inge Love: Katy Maude and Ellen. Is that six girls? Ellen. Six girls.

Williams: I don't count but five girls.

Faye Inge: Who are we missing?

Williams: Clintoria.

Laura Inge Love: Yes, Clintoria. Clintoria was the oldest. Clintoria, Gloria, Vera, Faye, Katy, and Ellen. And two sons. That's eight.

So we brought them up in church. And, like I said, we didn't allow them to run the streets. When they were fourteen and fifteen, they worked at the colored folks, we called it, colored folks show. I let them work. All the girls worked, except the two older girls, at the theater, so they could have a little money, you know.

And the boys respected the Inge girls. I think they were scared of Reverend Inge. (Laughter) Their life was centered around, really, the church and the school and going to the conventions. They didn't go to clubs, and, you know, this kind of thing. They all were nice girls, you know. So, I hope they try to bring theirs up the same way. You know, the old school, where people could chastize the kids. And it's not like it was, now.

And I would check with their report cards. And at that time, you could visit the school without having to go by the principal's office, and I would go to the school, just go on in the classroom. I didn't have to go by the principal's office to see if I could. And, you know, see how they were doing. I'd check on them from time to time. And check on report cards. And if I thought they were falling down in one subject, you know, I would encourage them to try to do better. We never had any discipline problems with our children. They are very close. We had so many and they're close together. They played together. They never worried about going anywhere that much. I let them go to the movies, once in a while. I let them go to the junior and senior prom, but other than that, they were just a close family.

And their grandmother was there. She was from almost-slavery time, and you know how those grandparents are. And she tried to help instill, you know, doing the right things, and that helped a lot.

(The tape is briefly interrupted by a ringing telephone.)

Laura Inge Love: --before you eat breakfast. They don't do that now. We would always have prayer with the family on Sunday mornings.

Williams: How many of your kids attended the freedom school?

Faye Inge: I know Vera went. I think everybody. Let me see, Ellen. How old was Ellen, Mother, when she had her first baby? Did Ellen go any?

Laura Inge Love: She may not have gone any.

Faye Inge: I know Katy went.

Laura Inge Love: Yes, Katy went.

Faye Inge: I don't know how old--. I don't think little Kenneth went. I don't know.

Laura Inge Love: I don't think Ellen--. Junior.

Faye Inge: But I know Vera went. I remember Vera was there. Junior, myself, and Katy. I know we four went, definitely.

Laura Inge Love: Yes. I don't think Ellen went.

Faye Inge: I don't know about Ellen and Ken.

Laura Inge Love: I think they were too young. I don't know if they went.

(End of interview.)

 
 

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