An Oral History


Reverend Charles K. Chiplin

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.



Reverend Charles K. Chiplin was born on September 9, 1947, in Vicksburg, Mississippi, one of nine children, to Rosa and James Chiplin. He attended the all-black Rosa A. Temple High School in Vicksburg. He was student president of the Vicksburg Council of Federated Organizations (COFO). In 1964, when he was seventeen, he went to the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and was there when the Freedom Democratic Party delegates attempted to unseat the Mississippi party regulars.

His higher education pursuits took him to Alcorn University, Northeast Louisiana University, Louisiana State University, University of South Carolina, Tougaloo College, and the Mississippi Baptist Seminary. At Jackson State University, he plans to complete his doctorate by December, 2001. He is an ordained minister.

Rosa and James Chiplin, Reverend Chiplin's parents, housed Freedom Summer volunteers during Freedom Summer, 1964, in Vicksburg. As a result, threats were made on their lives, and their grocery store was bombed. In 1971, Chiplin was involved in a second round of civil rights activity in Vicksburg, picketing and boycotting for better jobs for African-Americans.

Reverend Chiplin is the author of Roads from the Bottom.

Table of Contents

Childhood 4

Father's early work as glazier 5

Newspaper publication or petition asking for equal education

for African-Americans 5

Freedom Summer volunteers housed by Chiplins 6

Vicksburg boycott of 1971 7

Chiplin's book Roads from the Bottom 8

Bombing of Chip's Grocery 9

Bombing of Baptist Academy freedom school 9

Vicksburg freedom school 10

Vicksburg Citizens' Appeal 11

Vicksburg Deacon's Alliance 14




This is an interview for the Civil Rights Documentation Project. The interview is with Reverend Charles Chiplin and is taking place on June 25, 1999. The interviewer is Don Williams.

(A brief segment of the interview regarding scheduling has not been transcribed.)

Williams: What is your date of birth?

Chiplin: Nine, nine, forty-seven.

Williams: OK. And you were born where?

Chiplin: Vicksburg.

Williams: Oh, Vicksburg. When did you move to Jackson?

Chiplin: Nineteen eighty-one.

Williams: Nineteen eighty-one. And you moved from Vicksburg to Jackson?

Chiplin: Right.

Williams: OK. Have you ever lived outside of Vicksburg and Jackson?

Chiplin: No.

Williams: OK. Never been in the Army or anything like that?

Chiplin: No.

Williams: OK. What churches did you attend while you were in Vicksburg?

Chiplin: Mount Carmel. That's for my whole time there.

Williams: Mount Carmel. OK. When you were in Vicksburg, and, let's see, how old were you? You're forty-seven, so in 1967, you were twenty.

Chiplin: Yes.

Williams: So, the early part, so, you were around thirteen or fourteen years old?

Chiplin: Right.

Williams: OK. And I know, Dr. Shirley told me that you went to Atlantic City once?

Chiplin: We went to the Freedom Democratic Party, and were with the Freedom Democratic Party when they went to challenge the regular Democrats of Mississippi.

Williams: Yes, right.

Chiplin: There was a meeting where Aaron Henry and Fannie Lou Hamer and all of them challenged the regular Democrats. I was just a little boy, then.

Williams: But you were taking it all in, though.

Chiplin: Yes. I was right there.

Williams: OK. What organizations do you think were important, during that time? I guess, sixty-one, sixty-two, sixty-three.

Chiplin: OK. The ones that we worked with, real hard, were COFO, SNCC, SCLC, and the NAACP.

Williams: I want to get back to that. OK?

Chiplin: OK.

Williams: Did you officially belong to any organizations?

Chiplin: I was student president in Vicksburg of COFO.

Williams: OK. Did you ever participate in any of the marches or demonstrations or anything like that?

Chiplin: Yes. All of them that were in Vicksburg during that time.

Williams: OK. And what school did you attend?

Chiplin: Rosa A. Temple High School.

Williams: That's an all-black school, of course.

Chiplin: Right.

Williams: It was a public school, right?

Chiplin: Right.

Williams: OK. And how far did you go? Twelfth grade?

Chiplin: Yes.

Williams: And then, where did you attend college?

Chiplin: Alcorn. Jackson State.

Williams: JSU. OK.

Chiplin: Northeast.

Williams: Northeast Louisiana?

Chiplin: Yes. Arizona State.

Williams: You've been doing a lot of traveling, then. I thought you told me that you ain't never been nowhere.

Chiplin: I said to live. Mississippi State.

Williams: Mississippi State?

Chiplin: Yes. Louisiana State. University of South Carolina. Went over to Tougaloo for awhile.

Williams: University of South Carolina?

Chiplin: Yes. Tougaloo College and Mississippi Baptist Seminary.

Williams: OK. Mississippi Baptist Seminary. That's here in Jackson, right?

Chiplin: Right.

Williams: OK. So, that's eleven different institutions you've been into.

Chiplin: And I missed a few, but (inaudible).

Williams: OK. What's your specialty?

Chiplin: Education administration and sociology.

Williams: And what degrees do you have?

Chiplin: Well, I'm nine hours from the doctorate.

Williams: OK. So you have a B.S.?

Chiplin: And Master's.

Williams: Master's. M.A. or M.S.?

Chiplin: M.A. I'll be completing the doctorate at the end of this next year, (inaudible).

Williams: Doctoral program. And where is that at?

Chiplin: That's going to be at Jackson State.

Williams: Oh, JSU. OK, great. That's a lot of academic experience you have, Reverend. And you are an ordained minister. Am I correct?

Chiplin: Right.

Williams: OK. Let me just kind of back up and just ask you a little bit about, you know, your family and your experience coming up in Vicksburg. Did you have any brothers or sisters?

Chiplin: Yes. There were nine of us, two girls and six boys. Well, one of my mother's children died when she was three, so that left eight. Two daughters. And my sisters live here in Jackson now. And six brothers.

Williams: OK. And what did your mother and your father do?

Chiplin: My father was a glazier. He worked at Vicksburg Paint and Glass Company, when he was not fired for being involved in civil rights activities. My mother was a chef by profession. She worked at All Saints College for awhile. Earlier than that, she had worked at Old Southern Tea Room, but she quit when they wanted her to wear the red bandana on her head and the white lady told her, when she beckoned with her finger, that meant for her to come, and Mama told her when she shook her head, that meant that she wasn't coming. So, generally, she was a housewife/chef.

Williams: Now, what was your father's name?

Chiplin: James T. Chiplin Sr.

Williams: And your mother's name, what's her maiden name?

Chiplin: Rosa Snyder[?] Chiplin.

Williams: OK. Now, tell me about your father and his job and why he got fired. Can you recall that?

Chiplin: OK. He worked for Vicksburg Paint and Glass Company after they first moved from Fayette, Mississippi.

Williams: What year was that?

Chiplin: That was around 1941, forty-two. He took a job out on the levee. And Daddy was making, like, fifty cents per day. Then, he took a job with Vicksburg Paint and Glass Company. He taught the owner, Mr. Cotts[?], how to cut glass, and then some years thereafter, he became very active and vocal in the civil rights movement, but the first time he was fired from Vicksburg Paint and Glass Company was because he signed a petition, along with Reverend Lassitter[?] and a couple of other black men in Vicksburg to insist that their children receive an equal education. Note, it was not asking for, at that time, integrated education, but equal. That petition appeared in the paper, and his employer at Vicksburg Paint and Glass asked him to sign a retraction, taking his name out of that. But he refused to do that. This was around 1959, in fact. To be sure, 1959. He did not do the retraction, and he was fired for the first time.

Some years thereafter, they hired him back because, certainly, they needed him. During that period, he opened his own glass shop, called Jim's Glass Shop, and after things kind of settled down with the thing he had signed in the paper, some years later they hired him back. But he would not stay over maybe four or five years before he was fired again. Daddy opened a grocery store in Vicksburg, and the boycotts hit Vicksburg. We were involved in the boycott movement. A sixty-something-year-old-white man raped a twelve- or thirteen-year-old black girl. They gave him a $75 fine and let him go home. And we found out about it, called meetings, and the community was up in arms. That was the first boycott in Vicksburg.

Williams: Do you remember what year that was?

Chiplin: Oh, goodness, that would have had to been around 1964 or sixty-five, somewhere thereabout. Early on.

Williams: So what transpired after? You got the information, and then?

Chiplin: Then we met with the NAACP guys, like Frank Summers[?], Lee Willa Miller, Dilla Irving. This was before Eddie McBride[?] came to town. McBride came to town shortly thereafter our meeting to get that started, and he became, like, the leader of the Concerned Citizens. I was his co-chairman of Concerned Citizens, but what got my father's store and house in Martha's Bottom bombed, was not that boycott as much as it was the COFO workers had come to town, most of whom were white, and many blacks in, most blacks in Vicksburg were afraid to allow them to stay with them, and they stayed at our house.

Williams: And where was your house located?

Chiplin: In Smith Alley, 1405 Smith Alley. These names: Elaine Singer[?], Emily Gordon[?], Willie Johnson[?], perhaps Byron Dunlap[?] who was from New Jersey, they stayed at our house, and we started receiving threatening phone calls, maybe a week before, and then Daddy had also taken over Baptist Academy Building as a deacon and gotten permission from some Baptist ministers there to redo it for a freedom school. Well, that didn't go over too good in Vicksburg, at that time. Folks said, "Who needs the freedom school?" White folks particularly knew that at a freedom school, black folks would be teaching things that were contrary to what they had taught us in their history books. And they bombed the Baptist Academy, I want to say, slightly before the bombing of Chip's Grocery. One of the young men, his name was Neil--I forget his last name. The night of the bombing, he was going back to the Baptist Academy, to the freedom school to do some work, and Mama begged him not to go that night, for some reason.

She said, "Let me cook for you." She loved to cook for everybody. She fed the town. She made Neil stay at our house that night. And certainly, the building was bombed that night, and where he would have slept on a cot, he would have been killed. So he was eternally grateful to Rosa Chiplin for saving his life.

I told him, "No, it wasn't so much Mama as it was the food that did it." (Laughter.) She bribed him to stay with her by cooking for him. So the Baptist Academy was bombed. The freedom school was bombed. Then not long thereafter, Chip's Grocery was bombed, as per my father's and mother's allowing the civil rights workers to live at our house. There were a couple of others who allowed that, however. Mrs. Smith in Vicksburg had a couple of people live with her. I'm not certain if anyone lived with Lee Willa. They may have. I don't recall at this time, but I know that the Chiplins and Ms. Ethel Smith, and maybe a couple of other people did allow the civil rights workers, who were generally white, to live in their houses.

Williams: Keep going! Now, what was your mother really famous for cooking?

Chiplin: Everything. She was Rosa, the cook. She cooked, even in later years when we owned the grocery store and restaurant, I think she gave away more food than she sold. Even in the restaurant. She just believed if she could help somebody, then her living was not in vain. And she did that. That was her life's testimony, helping. So it made it not unusual that the civil rights workers would have stayed with us because Mama and Daddy believed in that. Daddy said, "If I'm hungry or if I'm without clothes, if I'm without a place to stay, what good is your appointing a committee to study my situation? I need help now. I need food. I need shelter. I need clothes." And that's what he was about, all of his life. His moving to Vicksburg had to do with his not wanting his children to grow up, as he had grown up, on the plantation as a single--. His mother was a single parent, and he had dropped out of school around the fifth grade to help out, to work on the plantation, but when he died in ninety-two, two days before Christmas, he spoke fluently several languages; he was a master mathematician. He was quite a scholar. He was a lecturer, an orator. Self-taught individual who insisted on his children getting educations. You may know that I mentioned a lot of schools. Well, I was driven to that by my father who said that, "If you get it in your head, then they can't take it from you. They can take it from your pockets. They can take it from your bank account, but if you get it in your head, they certainly can't take it from up there."

Williams: What about some of your brothers and sisters? Did they get involved in the movement at all?

Chiplin: Well, they had moved to Jackson by the time we were involved with the second round of the civil rights movement. The second civil rights big effort in Vicksburg was around, started around 1971. My sisters had moved here to Jackson. I still had two brothers living in Vicksburg then. They helped out. They would come over and participate in marches and help cook food, help run the store when others of us had to go out to the picket lines and whatever we did.

Williams: Can you tell me about some of the actual demonstrations and pickets? You know, what were some of the big ones and why?

Chiplin: The second movement had to do with McBride's[?] leadership a lot. We were picketing then and boycotting then for better jobs. We had no blacks on the fire department and when it rained, the streets in the black community were washed out. Mud alleys. We had, maybe, two blacks, Joe Minor[?] and Clyde Harris[?] and Roosevelt Bunch[?], three of them, on the Vicksburg Police Department, and they didn't have cars. They were not allowed to arrest white people. If they saw a white person doing something, they had to call in, go use a pay phone, and call the white policeman to come make the arrest. Originally, they were not assigned to squad cars. They walked the beats, generally, in the black community. I remember Bunch and a couple of them walking downtown on the lower end of Washington Street in Vicksburg. So we were protesting that. The first time I went to jail, I think maybe I was the first person to go to jail during the second boycott in Vicksburg. We were picketing down on Highway 61 South, in front of one of the major grocery stores, and we were standing out on the median and the white policeman came up and, well, he started out by calling me a nigger. Said, "Nigger, what you doing out here? You have no business out here, nigger." And in my anger, I drew back to hit him, and certainly, I was immediately arrested. McBride and some others came back to the same place. They, too, were arrested. So I went to jail fourteen times during the civil rights movement, most often for being on a picket line.

Williams: Yes. Let me just back up. You have written a book called Roads from the Bottom.

Chiplin: Right.

Williams: Now, can you define what the bottom is?

Chiplin: The bottom is so-called because it rests at the foot of several hills. Black people live in the bottom, and up the hill in all directions leading from the bottom, is where white people stayed then and stay now in beautiful Southern antebellum homes. We lived in shotgun houses with newspapered walls and outhouses and they lived on the paved streets, at the tops of the hills in the gigantic mansions. And as children, we used to ask Daddy all the time, "Daddy, why do colored folks always have to live in the bottom?"

And he would say to us, "Well, boy, you can get out of this bottom, and you don't ever have to move." And we didn't understand what he was talking about. Later years, more specifically, when the civil rights workers were in Vicksburg, he explained that getting out of the bottom didn't have to do with moving, it had to do with your state of mind. Your state of being. And he described to us roads; he would actually say, "Now, these are the roads you need to take out of the bottom. Get yourself a good education. Associate with people who are trying to advance themselves. Pray daily. Do some things to help other people. Never forget who you are." And he went on for about ten roads from the bottom, and therefore, after he died in ninety-two, I knew that his story, and my family's story of the civil rights movement and of racism and prejudice in Vicksburg, Mississippi, needed to be addressed, so therefore, I named my book, I entitled my book Roads from the Bottom.

Williams: Yes. Now, you mentioned two phases of Vicksburg's movement. You said the first boycott phase and the second boycott phase.

Chiplin: Yes, the first was around 1964, sixty-five. In sixty-five was when our store was bombed, as per our wanting better things for black folks, but more particularly because a black girl had been raped by a white man.

Williams: OK. When your store was bombed, tell me, what happened? What was the reaction? Who organized?

Chiplin: We were running, right there on Harper's[?] Ferry Road, a store called Chip's Grocery, and we had received threatening phone calls all that week, saying things like, "Watch the damn fire, nigger. We're going to get you." And whatever. At any rate, on the fourth Sunday night of November of 1965, we generally closed the store at about 9:30. We noticed that someone left a car right outside the store. Well, we didn't pay it any attention. We just looked out the window and there was this car. We thought maybe someone had broken down. That night, around 11:30, we heard an explosion that sounded as if it might have been in Viet Nam, or something. An air strike. And the neighbors started shouting out to us that, "Mr. Chiplin, your store is on fire." It had been bombed. That blast knocked a hole, I would say, about fifty feet wide in each direction, and maybe twenty-two to twenty-five feet deep. They used dynamite that we later found out came from perhaps the Waterways Experiment Station, but it was done by the Ku Klux Klan. All of the neighbors, for miles in each direction, had to replace their windows and roof pieces and commodes, and etc., totally shattered from that explosion.

They thought that this would put my father out of the grocery business, but the very next morning in the middle of the burning ashes and rubble, he proudly walked in, and said, "I am open for business." That never left my active memory. The very nerve of a black man in Vicksburg, after being bombed for perhaps even being in business, would go back to the same store and announce that he's open for business. The customers and neighbors gathered in and not long thereafter the store was rebuilt.

Williams: OK. Were there ever any legal apprehensions? Or prosecutions?

Chiplin: No. Nothing. Nothing.

Williams: OK. Now, you mentioned, earlier, you mentioned something about the academy, where you had set up the--

Chiplin:--freedom school.

Williams: --freedom school. Can you tell me about that bombing? What you know about that?

Chiplin: As I mentioned, it was a couple of weeks before Chip's Grocery was bombed. The academy was not located near Martha's Bottom. It was on Main Street, up on a tall hill, I would say, maybe, north. More northern Vicksburg. It was an old building. A two-story, wood frame building that certainly had to have been built before the slavery period, or during slavery period in Vicksburg, and it was owned, at that time, by the Baptist Ministerial Alliance. The Black Baptists of Vicksburg. And, somehow Daddy was able to, since they were letting the building fall down, Daddy was able to get them to give them control, them being the civil rights people, control of the building. They went in and repainted and fixed broken boards, put on a new porch and stabilized the place to use it for the freedom school, and we had pretty good attendance. I remember that the Lassiter children, Reverend Lassiter's children--

Williams: How do you spell Lassiter?

Chiplin: L-A-S-S-I-T-E-R. Reverend W.L. Lassiter.

Williams: L-A-S-S-

Chiplin: I-T-E-R. Lassiter. His children attended. William Triplett[?] attended. William Triplett Jr., and some other blacks. And it was really a good, good school. We had teachers from the North sharing ideas that to us were very foreign. For instance, that Eli Whitney didn't invent a cotton gin. Things of that magnitude. And, to point out to us that a slave, named Barclay[?] in 1724 had invented a cotton gin in Mississippi. To let us be aware that in Mississippi there had been a set of black codes issued by Governor Bienville. We had never seen that in our history books. Our books were not written like that. They talked about the Constitution of the United States. More particularly, the freedom school was greatly involved in getting black folks registered. During that time, blacks had to pay a poll tax. A $2 poll tax which was prohibitive to them. They also had to interpret sections of the Constitution in what they called the literacy test. The same people who wrote the Constitution were not able to interpret it, it was so terribly poorly written. And guys and girls from the freedom school would go into the communities to help blacks be able to read and, as best they could, interpret the Constitution of the United States. Then, we talked about things like the "grandfather clause," which said that unless your grandfather had been a registered voter, then you could not become a registered voter. Well, certainly, blacks were the descendants of slaves, and they were not registered voters, so the grandfather clause there again was a prohibitive method to keep blacks from voting. Therein the freedom school enlightened us on many things similar to that.

Williams: Can you tell me the names of some of the teachers that were on the faculty?

Chiplin: At the freedom school?

Williams: Yes.

Chiplin: No, they were from that list of COFO workers, civil rights workers, the freedom riders. I do know that Neil[?] taught one of the classes. Elaine Singer and some others taught. They were generally the civil rights workers.

Williams: Did you have any of the leadership ever come through and kind of give them a pep rally?

Chiplin: The leadership of Vicksburg?

Williams: Of COFO, SNCC, or--?

Chiplin: Oh, yeah. Yeah, they would.

Williams: Could you give me a few names of people?

Chiplin: I don't recall right off. You mean from the national?

Williams: Or from Jackson. From around the state.

Chiplin: Oh, yeah. I do remember that Walter (inaudible) came through and did a very arousing speech. Dr. King was scheduled to speak at Pleasant Green but something happened and he was not able to make it. Ralph Abernathy came through. Then we had guys like Owen Brooks from up at Greenwood, Greenville area. The black lady who was mayor, Unita Blackwell came through, and some others. Aaron Henry was quite often through there. Certainly we had the likes of Aaron and Ollye Shirley. In fact, Ollye and Aaron Shirley worked very hard on a Vicksburg newspaper. A civil rights newspaper called The Vicksburg Citizens' Appeal. It's mentioned in my book. And I remember active participation with them from Pink Taylor, Ethel Smith, and some others. Dilla Irving who also served as an editor for The Vicksburg Citizens' Appeal. That paper was not housed at the freedom school, but I do remember us working there on it, quite often.

Williams: OK. When they printed this paper up, did you get a local printer to print it for you?

Chiplin: No. There was no one in Vicksburg who would touch it. I do remember us packing it up and sending it off, I forget where that was. It was somewhere in Mississippi where this black guy had a press, as I recall. It was either somewhere in Mississippi or Louisiana.

Williams: Could it be Dr. Shorts[?] in New Orleans, originally? And then later on, you were able to get some white fellow in Mississippi to print it.

Chiplin: Yes.

Williams: OK. Now. You said you worked on some of the articles in the paper?

Chiplin: Yes, I wrote some articles, and I think that's where some of my writing abilities really kind of crystallized. I think I was only in junior high school then, writing articles. It was fascinating to me that I could write something, and then a week or two later I would see it in the newspaper. That to me was--.

Williams: So, how did your peers in your school, how did they view you?

Chiplin: As a troublemaker. The principal called me and my sister to his office and told us that if we didn't get out of that mess, he would send us home. Well, we knew that he couldn't send us home for that so we remained a part of that.

Williams: Were there any of your teachers involved in the movement?

Chiplin: There were. Fortunately, there were guys like Frank Promp[?]. Otis Williams for awhile. Mr. and Mrs. William Triplett. Mrs. Geneva Paul Donahue[?] and some others who were very active in working with us.

Williams: Do you remember Dr. Shirley?

Chiplin: Oh, yes. Dr. and Mrs. Shirley. As I say, I rode to Atlantic City, New Jersey with them in a Rambler station wagon, green station wagon, and Dr. Shirley and Ollye were quite vocal in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

Williams: Let me just back up just a little bit. Who was the most influential person in your life at that time regarding the civil rights struggle?

Chiplin: My father who had come down to the jail to get me a couple of times as a child when I would refuse to sit at the back of the bus. This was before Rosa Parks. As a little boy in the third and fourth grade, I just didn't understand it. I would give that man my dime and then would have to sit at the back. Would walk outside the bus and get on the back of the bus, and I remember twice riding up front and his driving off the bus route to downtown to the jail telling me to get off, and my father had to come and get me. And he told me about Emmett Till who had just been killed there in around fifty-five, fifty-six, 1956, and he said, "Charles, you know, we're going to fight this thing, but right now I don't want you to come up like that boy, Emmett Till." Then he showed me the Jet magazine with Emmett's mutilated picture there. So my father was my lead-in into, not only civil rights, but human rights. And Daddy used the Bible so often as he would sit out on the front porch and talk to us in late evening sessions. We called them front porch stories. He talked about Solomon being black and Jesus and Adam and all the blackness from the Bible. He would say, "The problem is not to find the black folks in the Bible. It is to find the white folks." And he said, "Black folks even whip their children for calling people black." And he said, "I will never whip one of you for calling another person black because it is an honor." Not long thereafter I was walking down Smith Alley going down toward Hughes[?] Grocery that later became Chip's Grocery when a black cat crossed the path. Prior to that conversation Daddy had with us, I would have turned and gone the other way, but I went back home later and wrote a poem called "Black Cat." I was twelve years old in 1959, and it went:

Black cat crossed my path today.

I took no steps back. I went on my way.

Black cat crossed my path and blinked.

I guess he wondered, what did I think.

Was I like them who was not wise,

Looking at him through hate-filled eyes?

Daddy say the black cat ain't no bad luck.

Say some folks just color struck.

Black cat got a hard life, all nine of them.

People keep chasing him out on a limb.

Black cat, go on your way.

Our paths will cross again someday.

Because of my father, I learned early on, before James Brown's release, "Say it loud. I'm black and I'm proud." I had learned to accept and to appreciate blackness.

Williams: Keep going. You're just doing marvelous.

Chiplin: Well, that's about it. Unless you have some other questions.

Williams: Well, I've got a whole lot of questions, because the more you talk, the more--. Well, how much time do you have?

Chiplin: Not much longer.

Williams: Well, just give me, can you give me an idea what we have?

Chiplin: Ten minutes.

Williams: Ten minutes? (Laughter.)

Chiplin: I have a funeral to plan.

Williams: Yes, of course, you know, you have to do that. And then we can always follow up. But let me just ask you, I'm going to just kind of squeeze a couple more questions in here: I just want to get back to the academy bombing.

Chiplin: It was done by the Ku Klux Klan, and dynamite again was used.

Williams: OK. Now, what was the reaction of the community?

Chiplin: In the black community, they were saying, "We told y'all you'd better get out of that stuff. Y'all are going to get us killed."

Williams: OK.

Chiplin: By and large, that was the prevailing attitude.

Williams: OK. Did it energize the movement any in terms of organization.

Chiplin: Oh, yes. Oh, certainly.

Williams: OK. What were some of the things that some of the organizations--?

Chiplin: It made more people join. It made more people angry. They'd say, "Well, if the white folks are mad enough to bomb it, it must be something to it. It must be some good in it for us." And more people joined the picket lines or tried to register to vote. Up until that point, many were saying, "Mr. Chiplin and them other old folks, that's their movement." And one thing, one of the greatest things that still remains in Vicksburg now came out of that second movement was the Vicksburg Deacon's Alliance. My father was a deacon in Mount Carmel Church and when all this came about, not being able to get the black ministers in Vicksburg involved as they should have been, Daddy as a deacon called some of his deacon friends together and they formed the Deacon's Alliance, and they really became the spiritual, the Christian backbone of the civil rights movement in Vicksburg. My father became hated by many preachers over there who said that, "We ought not be using our churches for these meetings. God is going to work it out." Well, we felt, and knew that God gave us the energy and the ability to fight for ourselves. That he is not a God of prejudice. He is not a God of second-class for some. You remember Moses' story of leading the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt. So, we felt that some of us had to become the modern-day Moses to lead his people. The deacons who joined that alliance were blackballed by many of their preachers who called them agitators and troublemakers. In fact, my daddy was asked off the deacon's board of his church later on. Not as per the civil rights movement, but I'm sure that lingered in their minds, that he had insisted upon using our church for the last meetings and so forth. Daddy would say, "I bet you if they didn't take up a collection at some of these churches, we wouldn't be able to get some preachers to preach for us." Unfortunately, I knew that he was right.

Williams: Do you remember some of the deacons' names, and are any of them around?

Chiplin: Some are still there. There's a Mr. Brown, who recently lost his wife, there. I can't call his first name right now, but there was--. I fail to remember the names of those guys right now. Mr. Charlie Hunt[?] was one of the deacons. Mr. Brown was another. And there are some still there in Vicksburg who are functioning as members of the Deacons Alliance.

Williams: Reverend Chiplin, I know that you have to go, and I just want you to promise me that you will let me do an exit interview with you at your convenience next week.

Chiplin: That will be fine.

Williams: I just want to thank you for your taking the time and the information that you have given us. I think it is very important for us to pull together what happened in Vicksburg, for historical purposes. So, thank you.

Chiplin: Well, I appreciate the invitation, and I am glad to work with you.

(End of the interview.)


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The University of Southern Mississippi | Last updated
25 October 2003 3:37 PM AA/EOE/ADAI