An Oral History


State Stallworth Sr.

Interviewer: Stephanie Scull Millet

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.



Mr. State Stallworth Sr. was born in Beatrice, Alabama, on July 24, 1933. He was the only child of Caldonia Black Stallworth, who separated from his father when Mr. Stallworth was very young. Except for one year he spent at St. Peter's Catholic School, Mr. Stallworth attended Pascagoula Negro High School from pre-primer through twelfth grade. Enjoying athletics, Mr. Stallworth played all the team sports available during his school years. After high school graduation, Mr. Stallworth married, and he went to work at International Paper Company, joining the International Brotherhood of Pulp, Sulfite, and Paper Mill Workers (now the United Paperworkers International Union). In 1954, Mr. Stallworth, without incident, registered to vote.

After beginning his career, Mr. Stallworth became active in the union and in the civil rights movement. He ran for the president's office in the union, and he won. Later, he joined and became president of the local NAACP. After meeting Thurgood Marshall and Jack Greenberg, he became a community aide for the Legal Defense.

In 1961, with the legal counsel of the Honorable Fred Banks, Mr. Stallworth filed a class action suit against International Paper Company for racial discrimination in employment and in unions, finally resolving the case in 1971. In ensuing years, Mr. Stallworth filed similar suits against banks, post offices, city hall, and merchants.

In 1964, Mr. Stallworth was the member of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party who sat in the first roped-off Democratic seat on the convention floor. Additionally Mr. Stallworth helped bring the Head Start program to the Gulf Coast. As a result of his civil rights activities, Mr. Stallworth was the victim of death threats, including a drive-by shooting into his home. Currently, he serves on the Jackson County Democratic Executive Committee.

Mr. Stallworth retired from International Paper Company four years ago. He is the father of four children, and he and his wife have been married forty-seven years.

Table of Contents

Childhood 1

Pascagoula Negro High School 3

Segregation at International Paper Company 10

Working on the loading dock 11

Getting active in the International Brotherhood of Pulp, Sulfite,

and Paper Mill Workers and in civil rights 12


Legal Defense 16

Filing a class action suit against International Paper Company

for racial discrimination in employment and in unions 17

Resolution of case 18

Suing banks, merchants, institutions 20

Medgar Evers 25

Thurgood Marshall 26

Racism in childhood 27

Registering to vote 32

Bob Moses 34

The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and

the 1964 Democratic National Convention 35

Senator Dwayne Morris 37

Mr. Stallworth takes the Mississippi seats, Atlantic City, 1964 37

Lyndon Johnson 40

Fannie Lou Hamer 41

Head Start 45

Reprisals 51




This is an interview for the Civil Rights Documentation Project. The interview is with Mr. State Stallworth Sr. and is taking place on May 25, 2000, in Moss Point, Mississippi. The interviewer is Stephanie Scull Millet.

Millet: This is an interview for the Civil Rights Documentation Project of Tougaloo College and The University of Southern Mississippi. The interview is with Mr. State Stallworth, and it is taking place on May 25, 2000, in Moss Point, Mississippi. The interviewer is Stephanie Scull Millet. And first, I'd like to thank you, Mr. Stallworth, for meeting with me, today.

Stallworth: Well, you're welcome.

Millet: Taking the time to talk with me. And I'd like to get some background information, which is what we usually start out with, and ask you to tell me, state for the record, your name, and where and when you were born, please.

Stallworth: My name is State Stallworth. I was born July 24, 1933, in Beatrice, Alabama.

Millet: Is Beatrice close to a city that we would remember or recognize?

Stallworth: Monroeville. Close to Monroeville.

Millet: Monroeville. And do you have siblings? Do you have brothers or sisters?

Stallworth: No brothers. No sisters.

Millet: You're an only child?

Stallworth: Only one.

Millet: Lord, have mercy! (Laughter.) And what about your parents? Your mother's name and when and where she was born?

Stallworth: Alright. My mother's name is Caldonia Black Stallworth. She was born, also, in Beatrice, Alabama. She's deceased, now. And my father's name was George Winter[?] Stallworth. I think he was born in Beatrice, Alabama, also. But my mother and father separated when I was young.

Millet: When you were young. About what age? Do you remember?

Stallworth: I don't remember.

Millet: And, who did you live with, then?

Stallworth: My mother. My mother raised me, and, well, they both are deceased, now. My mother and father are deceased, but I had no relationship with my father.

Millet: None, whatsoever. Uh-huh. Well, that sounds like it might have been a little tough, then, for you as a kid, growing up with a single mother.

Stallworth: Well, it seems that way, but really it wasn't. No, she did a great job.

Millet: What was your childhood like? What would you like to tell us about your childhood, that maybe a hundred or 200 years from now you'd like future generations to know about the way you grew up?

Stallworth: Well, one way I grew up, like I said, my mother raised me. And, more or less, I was a spoiled brat. (Laughter.) Yeah. I didn't want for anything. Like, I had all the toys that a boy could have. I had a natural boyhood life, really. I didn't have no real diehard to want for anything. I had a good relationship with my other friends around the neighborhood, and I had a good relationship with all the other parents around the neighborhood. And I just had a growing-up, just like a boy. And so, I didn't have the problems that one would think that I would have just by not having any brothers and sisters and not having no relationship with my father.

Millet: Right.

Stallworth: So, my mother somehow filled all those needs.

Millet: Yeah. Were you in a country setting? Or a city setting?

Stallworth: No, I was mostly raised in Pascagoula. See, this is Moss Point. So, Moss Point and Pascagoula are so close, but as far as I can remember, I was raised up in Pascagoula.

Millet: So, your mother moved from Beatrice where you were born?

Stallworth: Moved from Beatrice, yeah, to Pascagoula. But from time to time, I would go and visit my mother's parents, who were my grandfather and my grandmother. I would go visit them real often. And I had two uncles: one was older than me and one was younger than me. So, more or less, for all practical purposes, they were my brothers. We grew up together, played together, and had a good relationship together. But from time to time, I would go to Beatrice, Alabama, to visit my grandparents. But I was raised in Pascagoula. I was raised up in Pascagoula and went to school in Pascagoula.

Millet: What was school like? Did you start out in a church school? Or the public schools?

Stallworth: No, I started out in the public schools.

Millet: They didn't have kindergarten, then. Did they?

Stallworth: No, I don't think, but the only thing I remember. I remember when I started school, I started school in the public schools. And I went to a school there we called Pascagoula Negro High School. Yeah. That's what it was. But it went from the--. Well, then, I think what we had, what you called a primer. That might have been kindergarten, but they didn't name it kindergarten. Anyway, we started from the pre-primers to the primer, and then you went on from there, on up through high school.

Millet: So, all of your school years were spent at Pascagoula Negro High School, from the first day, to the last day.

Stallworth: Yeah.

Millet: Did it go through twelfth grade?

Stallworth: Yes. It went through twelfth grade.

No. Now, for one time in my life, I might have been in maybe the third or fourth grade, I went to the Catholic school. Yeah, I went to St. Peter's.

Millet: St. Peter's for one grade?

Stallworth: Yeah. For one grade, I think. Yeah. That was because of my friends. You know. I had some friends; they were Catholic. And by virtue of them being my friends, they kind of had a lot of influence upon me to go to Catholic school. So, I went to Catholic school for about one year. Yeah.

Millet: Well, did you not like it? Is that why you--?

Stallworth: Well, yeah. I liked it. I liked it all right. But then I switched back to the public schools, and the reason I switched back to public school is because the public school was more involved in sports than the Catholic school.

Millet: Mm-hm. And you liked sports?

Stallworth: And I liked sports. Yes.

Millet: Tell me about your sports life when you were in school. What was that like?

Stallworth: Well, my sports life: I was a pretty fair athlete. I played basketball, football, softball, baseball. I played all of it. And had I followed through with it, I believe I could have earned some scholarships. I just didn't follow it up.

Millet: Some scholarships to go on and get a higher education?

Stallworth: Yeah.

Millet: I would assume that all of those were segregated sports at that time?

Stallworth: Oh, yeah. My whole--. All of my time of going to school was segregated.

Millet: Uh-huh. Do you feel that you got a good education that way?

Stallworth: At that point, I didn't give it any thought, but now, looking at it now, I would say that I had an inferior education.

Millet: You did?

Stallworth: Yeah. It was inferior. It's no doubt about it. And that's not saying that the teachers--. It was no fault of my teachers or no fault of the faculty. It was because of the facilities. The facilities really wasn't there to make it comparable to the white schools. I mean, you could see it. They had far more advantages than, and far more opportunities than we had.

Millet: Can you think of some specific examples? I know that some of the female interviewees we've had would talk about how in home ec, they loved home ec, but the sewing machines didn't work. Do you have some memories like that about other parts of the facilities?

Stallworth: Well, one thing we had, what we called a lab. You know. To take science and biology and all this stuff. And the only thing we had in our lab, I think it was a bottle of alcohol with a frog in it. That's all we had.

Millet: Isn't that something?

Stallworth: Yeah. So, that was our biology lab. So, science lab. So, we had no facilities compared to--. I know the girls had this thing with the home economics, but we had no--. And the only thing we had insofar as vocation was brick and carpentry.

Millet: Brick, like masonry and carpentry?

Stallworth: Yeah, brick and carpentry. And so, we had no mechanics or nothing compared to the vocational school, the vocational opportunities they had at the white schools. So, those and other reasons, too, that, well, you take, just like typing, for instance. That was a no-no. We had none of that.

Millet: They didn't offer typing classes there?

Stallworth: No. No typing. No music. Like I said, the laboratory labs was stripped.

Millet: What about your books? What were your books like?

Stallworth: Well, we got secondhand books. You could see they had been used; practically worn out. Some pages missing.

Millet: And so they were from the white school?

Stallworth: Yeah. After they was used.

Millet: Probably when they got their new books, they relinquished the old ones. Right.

Stallworth: So, that's all we got.

Millet: That's really sad.

Stallworth: Oh, yeah.

Millet: It makes me sad.

Stallworth: Yeah. So, that's why I say, my looking back at it, our education was inferior. It wasn't casting no reflection upon our faculty or our teachers. You know.

Millet: What do you remember about your teachers?

Stallworth: I loved all my teachers. The only thing about it, though, when I began to be a teenager, and grow up from school, I didn't want to be a teacher.

Millet: You didn't?

Stallworth: No.

Millet: Why not?

Stallworth: Well, because I could see the disadvantages and the things that my teachers had to cope with and put up with simply because of their color, that I didn't want to be bothered with it.

Millet: Can you remember some specific things?

Stallworth: Well, you take when they first started talking about the civil rights movement. See, I finished school in 1954.

Millet: That was the year Brown v. the Board of Education came down.

Stallworth: That's right. If you mentioned NAACP or anything about the civil rights movement in the schools, our teachers would tremble.

Millet: Why is that?

Stallworth: Because they felt that if it was any way that civil rights was being talked about around or in our schools at that day and time, it probably meant their jobs. That was the system's way of controlling black education, and black people, and the black community.

Millet: Economic, sort of blackmail, really.

Stallworth: Yeah. And see, at that time, the only opportunities open for blacks was to teach school, or get a job as a janitor, or a maid. Those were the only vocations open. You know. Probably, well, you had one or two in the medical field. You had one or two black doctors. You had no black nurses to speak of. None at that time that I can remember.

Millet: What were the hospital privileges like for patients and physicians?

Stallworth: They were segregated. They had special quarters for blacks and special quarters for whites.

Millet: I would imagine they weren't equal.

Stallworth: No, they wasn't. No, the black quarters were shameful. Really shameful. So, I didn't see any--. Well, as time went on, in the year 1954, we had one black doctor.

Millet: Who was that? Do you remember?

Stallworth: Our first black doctor was a doctor by the name of Dr. Pendleton[?]. I think he's still living. I'm not sure.

Millet: Wow. He would be old, now, wouldn't he?

Stallworth: Yes. Very old. And our next black doctor was a doctor by the name of Dr. Morris[?]. He's deceased.

Millet: I would love to talk to Dr. Pendleton, if I could.

So, when you came home from school, did you have chores that you had to do? Or did you go get your homework right away? Were you a good student, who would come do your homework before you'd go out to do your chores, or before you'd go out to play?

Stallworth: Well, to be honest, I was lazy about homework. Yeah. I spent most of my time, really, playing. Most of my time I spent out on the ball fields or out on the basketball court. I studied, but I didn't study hard. I studied very little. I did just enough to get by. I wasn't interested in trying to be a genius. I wasn't interested in trying to be the leader of the class. I was just interested in getting by.

Millet: That's the kind of student I was, too. To tell you the truth. (Laughter.)

Stallworth: Yeah. I just wanted to get by.

Millet: I just wanted to do enough to not get fussed at, and be able to play. You know. And have fun. That's the kind of student I was. And of course, now, you know, I look back and see that that didn't have the best consequences for me.

Stallworth: Right. Well, somehow or another, it was a point in my life where I didn't have no ambitions about education because I didn't see the use in it. I didn't see the sense in it.

Millet: If there were those three things that you could do, and you didn't want to be a teacher.

Stallworth: That's correct. So, I didn't have to have a Ph.D. to go out here to be a janitor or a maid. I didn't need it. And if I was a genius, I couldn't do anything with it. You know. So, why bother?

Millet: Exactly.

Stallworth: So, that's the way I summed it up to myself.

Millet: Mm-hm. Yeah. I can understand that. I certainly can understand that. Well, among all the subjects that you did take, did you have any favorites?

Stallworth: Somehow or another, I liked figures.

Millet: Yeah? Arithmetic?

Stallworth: Yeah. I liked arithmetic. I liked geometry. I liked algebra. I liked figures. So, I mean, with the little effort I put to it, I think I did well at it. Had I made some effort like you just mentioned to study to try to really be good at it, I could have been good. Yeah.

Millet: Well, another thing that I've learned just recently. Of course, I never learned any of this in public school, you know, about the lives of African-Americans, in Mississippi, particularly where there was so much oppression, and really, you know, a reign of terror because of the lynchings, but some schools in Mississippi did not stay in session very long. Some black schools. Do you know if your school had a shortened session compared to the white schools?

Stallworth: No, we wasn't bothered with that side of it, but I understood and I began to understand that most of that took place around the Delta and the farming parts of Mississippi. I think that was because--. I've made some acquaintances with some of my friends from around the Delta, and they used to tell me about [how] school was out because they had to go work. And they had to go farm, and they had to pick cotton. And they had to do this, and they had to do that. But, see, we didn't have that here. The difference, I think, had we had that here, we probably would have had [a shorter school year]. But by us not having it, the biggest thing that was going on here, was shipyard work, the paper mill work, and of course, they've got a lot of fishing. A lot of fishing industry was here. But that didn't affect our schools any. They had another industry here they called the woolen mill. That's where they made garments. Fruit of the Loom. BVD.

Millet: Did they actually mill the cloth? Or make the garments? Or both?

Stallworth: I think they mostly just made the garments. Now, during this period of time, the BVD didn't hire any blacks. See? Now, International Paper Company hired blacks on certain jobs, laborers and this kind of thing. Shipyard hired quite a few blacks, but mostly for the hard, backbreaking jobs.

Millet: Mm-hm. The hardest jobs.

Stallworth: Yeah. The hardest jobs. You know. And then, servant type jobs, too. So, we didn't have that season thing for our schools to close for the youngsters, the kids to go work.

Millet: Child labor.

Stallworth: Yeah. We didn't. You know. Because to work at the shipyard, they didn't need it. International Paper Company didn't need it. BVD didn't need it. So, you know, they didn't need the type work to close the schools like they did in the northern parts of Mississippi, where the black schools were closed for the kids to go work.

Millet: Because maybe it needed a little more training?

Stallworth: Yeah.

Millet: And to pick cotton, really there wasn't that much [training required].

Stallworth: No. And then most of the jobs. Most of the jobs down here were unionized jobs.

Millet: Oh. That's right.

Stallworth: So, I mean, they wouldn't stand for it, and so, but, the BVD was not unionized, but I imagine that policy just spread out over them. But International Paper Company was unionized. So was Ingalls Shipyard. They were unionized, and the waterfront work was [unionized] with the ILA longshoremen. So, they wasn't going to put up with that.

Millet: So, that's probably what stood in the way of child labor along the coast?

Stallworth: I think so.

Millet: Right. The unions. Mm-hm. That's interesting. So, we've already covered this about that you did not go on to get a higher education. So, when you were graduated from high school, were you eighteen at that time? What did you do after that?

Stallworth: OK. No, now, during the course of my life, I just fooled around in school. Well, I didn't half go to school. In other words, I went to school just long enough to play ball, and after the ball season, I would quit, and I just went to school at will. So, I lost about two years in school, so, really, when I finished school, I was twenty. So, then, when I got out of school--. Well, during my last year in school, I got married. My senior year, my wife and I got married. That was forty-something years ago.

Millet: And how old was she?

Stallworth: She was eighteen.

Millet: Eighteen.

Stallworth: Yeah. She was eighteen. I was twenty.

Millet: Y'all have been married a long time.

Stallworth: Yeah. We've been married, yeah, a long time. So, that following summer, when I graduated, I went to International Paper Company. And luckily, they hired me.

Millet: Was that pretty easy for you to get on?

Stallworth: No.

Millet: Did you feel that you faced discrimination there?

Stallworth: It wasn't easy. The way jobs worked then, it depended on who did you know. So, I happened to have bumped into a friend of mine. He's deceased, now. He had been at International Paper Company for a number of years, then. His name was Pim Dubose[?].

Millet: And was he white or black?

Stallworth: He was black. And the way these companies did, then, depending on what type job they needed, dictated as to what color employee they looked for. See, if they had a high-paying job or a good job, then they know that they had to look for a white boy or a white man. But if they had an old back-breaking job, or a laborer's job, or a porter job, or a butler job, or something of that nature, then they knew that they had to look for a black.

Millet: Something that would probably not pay very much and/or be really hard to do.

Stallworth: That's correct. So, but even at that, you had to know somebody to get that.

Millet: Even to get something that might not even be desirable?

Stallworth: That's right. So, I knew Pim; Pim knew me.

Millet: Is that Pim? P-I-M.

Stallworth: Pim. I don't know how you spell Pim.

Millet: I thought you said Kim.

Stallworth: No, Pim.

Millet: But, OK, we'll just fake it on the spelling.

Stallworth: Yeah, Pim. Dubose. D-U-B-O-S-E. I know that. So, anyway, he was already working with International Paper Company, then. Well, and he was the type of fellow that if the whites needed a black, they would ask Pim, and probably some more blacks that had been there just as long, "Hey, you know any boys out here want to work?"

"Yes, sir."

"OK. Tell them to come on."

Millet: So, they would give you a recommendation, and that's how you got on.

Stallworth: Yeah. And so whoever they recommended. That's right. That's how I got on. And that was in 1954, in June.

Millet: What kind of job did you get at that time?

Stallworth: I got a job, then, I was working on the loading docks.

Millet: What was that like? Tell me about that.

Stallworth: Oh, yeah, that was hard work. Working on the loading dock: that was all the paper that had to be shipped by train or truck. They came out of the mill to the loading docks, and they had what they called loading crews. So, I was on one of those loading crews. So, we loaded the boxcars, and we loaded the trucks. And whatever. And you had to be there a while in order to learn the different techniques that they used in loading these boxcars and loading these trucks, and the different types of material that had to go in them and how it had to be loaded, and all this. It was pretty interesting, and it was pretty hard, too, but it was interesting.

Millet: Did you have training to do that? Or was it something--?

Stallworth: No. No training. No, I mean, you trained in that crew. And you learned from them.

Millet: On the job?

Stallworth: That's right. That's right.

Millet: So, those first days of working were probably greater risk for getting hurt because you didn't know what could really happen.

Stallworth: You didn't know. That's right. Keep from getting run over. Because it was busy. It was busy. Going and coming. Going and coming. And I worked at that dock; I worked in that crew for about seven or eight years. We had white jobs and black jobs.

Millet: Was that unofficial? Or official?

Stallworth: No, practiced. See. It was practiced. Because, like I say, it wasn't in the contract, per se, that these jobs were white jobs or black jobs. They practiced [it]. You knew this. You see. Like, they had the white water fountains, and the black water fountains. It wasn't in the contract, but practiced. And you saw the signs, saying, "white" and "colored" and so forth. So, that's what brought the fight on. That's what got me involved in civil rights. See. Up unto that point, I was not involved in civil rights. Matter of fact, I didn't pay it too much attention.

Millet: Till you started trying to make a living?

Stallworth: Right. It was at this point, at this junction: the company hired a young white boy, and put him out in the loading docks. Now, sometimes, they would do this until they find a good, suitable white job. They would take him out of the loading docks and put him on the--. You see? He would just work with us until they found a place for him. So, they hired this particular white boy and put him out in our crew, and he worked with us. And I was the youngest black in the crew. So, at last, one day they told me that they was going to lay me off. And I asked them then about the white boy.

Millet: Mm-hm. "Why isn't he getting laid off? He hasn't been here as long as I have."

Stallworth: Yeah. Well, I felt like he was taking my job, because this was the black job.

Millet: Right. I see.

Stallworth: You see. That's what really got me. I could understand it if I had went over and tried to take one of the white's jobs, which there was a lot of those whites younger than me. But I wasn't talking about that. What I was trying to get them to understand was, "You've got white jobs and black jobs. Now, why is it that I've got to go home, and you're going to keep this white boy on my black job?" And they couldn't understand that. They couldn't understand what I was saying.

Millet: Now, were you a member of the union at that time?

Stallworth: Yes, but I wasn't an active member. See, I was just a dues-paying member. See, all I would do is work, draw my check, go home, and forget about it until the next day or the next whenever I go back.

Millet: You sound like you were pretty easygoing.

Stallworth: Oh, yes. You know. Like I say, I wasn't involved with no civil rights. I wasn't involved with nothing.

Millet: Mm-hm. Just wanted to make a living and have your life.

Stallworth: That's it.

Millet: So, did you talk to the union first?

Stallworth: Yes. Well, to my surprise, all the union officials--. See, we had white unions and black unions, then. See. So, we had an all-black union to represent all blacks on all-black jobs. They had white unions to represent all whites on all-white jobs. So, I go to the blacks and tell them to register my complaint, and my concern, and they were afraid. So, that further disturbed me.

Millet: They didn't want to help you?

Stallworth: No.

Millet: They didn't want you making a lot of noise?

Stallworth: No. Because they were afraid.

Millet: You were going to upset the status quo, the way things were.

Stallworth: Right. And I couldn't understand that because they couldn't understand me. See. I felt that I wasn't trying to make no waves. They had made the waves because they came over on our job.

Millet: They changed the rules.

Stallworth: That's right. (Laughter.)

Millet: Yeah. When it was convenient for them.

Stallworth: Right. And I couldn't get them to understand that. So, I got so angry and upset, then, I started being active in the union. I'm a Catholic by faith, so I took a copy of my contract up to the priest, then.

Millet: Who was the priest?

Stallworth: He was named Father Lawler.

Millet: L-A-W-L-E-R?

Stallworth: Right. Father Lawler was his name. Father E.J. Lawler.

Millet: Hold that thought, but I just want to ask you while I'm thinking about it, were you a member of a church, and what church?

Stallworth: Oh, yeah. St. Peter's.

Millet: St. Peter's. And I assume the churches were segregated, as well.

Stallworth: Oh, yeah. Yeah. St. Peter, the Apostle.

Millet: OK. So, what did Father Lawler say when he looked at your contract?

Stallworth: He told me that I was right. And I told him how upset I was and how I was concerned about it. So, he told me I was right. And he told me I should look into it; I should pursue it. And he told me that pressures would come on, but I couldn't back down.

Millet: Now, I assume he was an African-American priest?

Stallworth: Nope.

Millet: Oh, he was white?

Stallworth: Yeah.

Millet: Right on! Alright.

Stallworth: Yeah. That's right. (Laughter.) Yeah, he told me, he said, "Now--." What had already happened, he told me that, too. Said, "The people that supposed to help you are going to be afraid. They're going to be scared." He said, "But you have to go on." He says, "And the pressure's going to come on you, but you're going to have to go on. You know. You can't start this and then, because things get rough or get tough, stop. It don't work like that. In this type situation, once you start, there's no stopping. You know. Once you draw that light on you, you can't stop."

Millet: What was the next step, after that?

Stallworth: Oh, I took him at what he told me, and then I did what he told me to challenge it. So, I ran for office in the union. And I won.

Millet: Now, I don't understand how, if you no longer had a job, you could still be in the union.

Stallworth: Well, now, see, because I was temporarily laid off. See, what they would do, they didn't lay me off permanently. See, they would lay me off temporarily. Lay me off, like, if work slowed down--.

Millet: Then you didn't have a paycheck.

Stallworth: Right. See, when work slowed down, they said, "Well, but this other boy [is] still working." Sometimes I would work maybe one or two days a week.

Millet: I wonder if they were doing that to any of the other African-American workers there?

Stallworth: Yeah. Well, see, that's when I started my campaign. I started my campaign among them and among the other black workers that knew that it wasn't right, and they needed something done about it. So, I won the union election. Then, I met Medgar Evers.

Millet: What was your title when you won?

Stallworth: President.

Millet: President of the union. And what was this union?

Stallworth: Then, it was the International Brotherhood of Pulp, Sulfite, and Paper Mill Workers. It ain't no more.

Millet: What is it, now?

Stallworth: United Paperworkers International Union, now. UPIU.

Millet: OK. And you met Medgar Evers as a result of becoming president of the union?

Stallworth: No, I met Medgar Evers because Medgar Evers come down here on some kind of civil rights business.

Millet: He was field secretary of the NAACP?

Stallworth: Field secretary of the NAACP. That's right. He stayed down here, oh, a couple of weeks, or more. And I got acquainted with him. In talking with him, he convinced me and converted me. (Laughter.) Yes, he did!

Millet: Did you join the NAACP?

Stallworth: I joined it. I joined it. I joined it. I sure did. And then, I joined it, and become president of the NAACP, too. But not then.

Millet: Later. About what year was this that you met Medgar Evers?

Stallworth: I worked at the mill in 1954, and seven onto 1954, carries you to about sixty-one. Somewhere in the sixties.

Millet: Things were heating up in the civil rights movement.

Stallworth: Yeah, it was getting warm. Plenty hot. Yeah. And that's when I began to take--. Before then, I wasn't paying too much attention to the civil rights movement and its developments. I'd hear it on the radio and read it in the paper. But when this happened, then I met Medgar, I started focusing on it. I started keeping track with it; getting information about it. Started going to NAACP meetings, where I met Medgar. And then, after I met Medgar, I met Aaron Henry.

Millet: Who was the?

Stallworth: State president. Then, after that I met Roy Wilkins.

Millet: And I forget. I know he was with the NAACP, but--.

Stallworth: Yeah, he was the president. Executive president. And then after that I met Thurgood Marshall. I met Jack Greenberg. Yeah. So. Then, I became a community aide for the Legal Defense.

Millet: And Legal Defense is? Tell me about that. What is that exactly?

Stallworth: OK, the Legal Defense, the NAACP is an organization, like it says, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. They've got chapters all over the United States and probably out of it, too. And they've got chapters all on these college campuses, and so forth. They are organized. And they are community-organized, where a community group will address their community. They deal with things in their community. The college folks, they deal with things on their campuses, and around in the community there. And whatever the needs are in the community, insofar as racial inequities, they address that. Now the Legal Defense, that's a whole different ball game. That's all lawyers. That's when you get Thurgood Marshall and Jack Greenberg. All they are interested in is going to court, doing battle.

Millet: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Over inequities.

Stallworth: That's right. Over the things that's brought to them by these and from these different communities. Yeah. That's all they do. They concentrate on filing legal, whatever it takes legally. Legal, you know, lawsuits and doing interviews or what they call it?

Millet: Taking affidavits?

Stallworth: Taking affidavits and all that business. And they're into a lot of action. So, I got involved in all of that. So, after Medgar Evers talked with me--back to the International Paper Company thing--we filed suit against the International Paper Company for racial discrimination in employment and the unions.

Millet: Was it for just you? Or for several people?

Stallworth: Oh, no. Class action.

Millet: Class action. Uh-huh. Do you remember which attorney from the Legal Defense Fund would have been representing you?

Stallworth: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Millet: Who was it?

Stallworth: A fellow by the name--he's living, now. He's up in Jackson, now. Fred Banks. I don't know if you've ever heard of him.

Millet: I think we have an interview with Mr. Banks.

Stallworth: Fred Banks. He's with the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Millet: I'm pretty sure we have an interview with him.

Stallworth: Fred Banks. Yeah. Now, at first, it was another guy there before Fred Banks, Reuben Anderson.

Millet: I remember that name.

Stallworth: You remember that name? Reuben? Yeah. Reuben and Fred. It was a bunch of them. Well, some of them are dead, now. Jack Young, Jess Brown.

Millet: Right. I don't know if you ever knew Eleanor Jackson Piel? Who came down from New York, and especially in the summer of sixty-four.

Stallworth: I didn't know her. I do know Mr. and Mrs. Paul Breath[?].

Millet: I've never heard of them.

Stallworth: Yeah, that was a man and his wife. They were with the Legal Defense, but they left the Legal Defense when Thurgood Marshall got to be Supreme Court Justice. They went to be clerks for Thurgood.

Millet: In Washington, D.C.?

Stallworth: In Washington. Yeah. Mr. and Mrs. Paul Breath.

Millet: So, what was the outcome of your class action suit?

Stallworth: It took ten years.

Millet: Ten years!

Stallworth: That's right. It took ten years.

Millet: Till 1971.

Stallworth: Right. When we brought it to a resolve, the company had to do away with all segregated jobs, and oh, we went through a series of things during the course of this. You know. Like you mentioned: did they send me to a school? Did we have to take training? They set up tests and all that business. So, as a result of that suit, we proved in that suit, the only criteria was, to get a good job, was to be white. Education had nothing to do with it because we had blacks finish high school. We had blacks had college experience. We had blacks with college education, working under the supervision of whites, finished third grade. Couldn't fill out time cards. So, education was not the parameter.

Millet: Absolutely not.

Stallworth: So, we won that.

Millet: Did it go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court?

Stallworth: No. No, no, no. I think we were on our way there and somehow or another, the company worked out--this company, I'm going to tell you about. Now, it went through the Fifth District Court, down in Biloxi, and we were on our way to the United States Supreme Court. I think the company knew this, so, we worked out a thing down here in the Fifth District Court. This was the settlement that we got. The unions had to give up white unions, and black unions. So, we merged the unions. They had to give up the idea of white jobs and black jobs. So, we had to use seniority and put the blacks on the jobs, where their seniority put them. No testing. The only education requirement we had to reach, if they had a white fellow over there with a third-grade education, that's all we had to meet.

Millet: Uh-huh. To be on par with that job.

Stallworth: That's correct. See. We didn't have to have a college degree, and he finished third grade. So, that's what they were trying to tell us. But anyway, they integrated all the jobs and changed the whole seniority. See, the blacks couldn't use the seniority against nobody but blacks. You see. And so, I think the court did a good job, and come out with a monetary settlement.

Millet: Uh-huh, from all those years lost. Yeah.

Stallworth: Yeah, but it didn't come nowhere near what it should have, but it was something. It was a starter. But they did. They had to pay some monetary monies to the blacks that was there and also for blacks that tried to get jobs and they didn't hire over a period or span of time, and especially black females.

Millet: Oh, interesting. So, it was a double whammy against you if you were black and female.

Stallworth: Yeah. That's right. They didn't hire black women at all. So, they had to. I think we did a pretty good job of raking them over. I think we did.

Millet: Holding them up to standard.

Stallworth: Right.

Millet: So, you really made a big difference in a lot of lives with that decision that you came to.

Stallworth: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Because, well, you could see it. Because I didn't realize the far-reaching thing to this until I did witness what you just said. I seen some blacks go on jobs making $25.00 an hour. Yeah. I've seen some blacks move up in management. You know, which, my focus at that time was right there where they had took my little, old black job and gave it to a white boy. (Laughter.) That's all I--.

Millet: Your perspective widened. (Laughter.)

Stallworth: Yeah. That's right. So, I feel really--. And then after, as far as getting involved with Medgar and Medgar converting me, and then getting acquainted with Thurgood Marshall and that bunch, and working with the Legal Defense, that really broadened my perspective a lot. I got involved in the community with the banks.

Millet: How so? Tell me about that.

Stallworth: OK. The banks would only hire blacks for janitors or maids. Make coffee and clean up. Empty trash cans. I got a group of blacks--young, black ladies together. I got them to go to all the banks and the state and federal loans and so forth. Go to every one of them and make application.

Millet: Testing.

Stallworth: Or attempt to make application. See, some, they let them make application; some of them they didn't. Some of them faced insults. So, we documented all of that, and we sent it in and the Legal Defense filed suit against all the banks, all the savings and loans, and now we've got blacks in all of them. Tellers and cashiers, and first one thing and then another. Same with the post office, city hall, all our city merchants, all the stores, and different ones. J.C. Penny's, and you name it.

Millet: All of that was done through lawsuits?

Stallworth: That's right. We went and we used the same approach: we sent people around to attempt to make applications. To make applications or attempt to. And from that point, we sued all of them.

Millet: So, in hiring practices, you just addressed each, like, different kinds of institutions.

Stallworth: That's right. Well, the first approach was--. Even I put myself on the line, which I didn't have to, but I did. I met with all of the banks at different times. I would go to Pascagoula-Moss Point Bank and ask to meet with the president, and we'd sit down and talk. And I would tell him what my business was and what I was wanting to talk with him about, and he didn't voice no concerns. Didn't show no concern. Just said, "Well, I'll tell you. We'll hire some blacks in this bank, if you find some blacks with some experience. We don't hire non-experienced people. And, you don't have nobody qualified. I mean, if you bring me somebody qualified, I'll hire them."

So, my thing to the bank then was, I said, "Well, I don't have anybody qualified, but I got some just as qualifiable as the ones you've got. You know, giving them the same opportunities you gave those people." I said, "They could do you a good job."

"No. That wouldn't suffice."

Millet: Have to have experience already.

Stallworth: Have to have experience. Right.

Millet: But he wasn't requiring that of white people who came in and applied.

Stallworth: When we filed the charges and the feds came in to investigate and pull the records of the employees they already had, the employees that we sent to them was more qualified than the ones they had. The only difference was, they were black. Because the ones that they had, come in from out of the kitchen, into the bank. They were, you know, daughters-in-law, sisters-in-law, and cousins and friends, and so forth. Where the ones that we sent to them had been to college. And had worked in other places. They had a working experience. These people had no experience working nowhere.

Millet: No, they just had--

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

Millet: OK. So, the federal people said that the bank officers had lied about the experience of the white people.

Stallworth: Yeah, what they told us their criteria was. They lied. Because they challenged us with getting them somebody qualified, and told us what they had to meet. And the ones they had, hadn't met it.

Millet: And how did you settle that?

Stallworth: Well, they had to pay these people a monetary settlement.

Millet: Did it have to go to court?

Stallworth: They settled out of court. Well, what it was, see, we challenged them through their insurance.

Millet: Oh. How does that work?

Stallworth: OK. You know you've got it. If you go to the bank, you are covered by that. Your money's insured.

Millet: F.D.I.C. The Federal--. I can't remember what it stands for.

Stallworth: Right. F.D.I.C. That's what it is. See, so, we challenged them on that, whereas if they didn't discontinue the discrimination, or make this discrimination satisfactory, we had the F.D.I.C. to pull their insurance license. And if they pulled the insurance license--.

Millet: Not good for the bank. Not good for anybody's money.

Stallworth: No. That's right. (Laughter.) So, that made them settle up right quick.

Millet: That got their attention! (Laughter.)

Stallworth: Yeah. "Come on. Sit down. Let's talk. We've got to work this thing out. (Laughter.) You know, and see, can we look at it? Look here. We didn't understand what you said, you see, when you said it. Why didn't you tell us this was what you wanted?"

Millet: Oh. Yeah. That's right. You should have made it more clear.

Stallworth: Yeah. "You've been knowing me, State. You know me. Me and you can work this out. So-and-so."

Millet: Let's do it!

Stallworth: Yeah. "Hire them tomorrow." (Laughter.)

Millet: Did you say that?

Stallworth: Yeah. (Laughter.)

Millet: Did they hire them?

Stallworth: Yeah. They hired them quick as they could. They paid them. Paid them some money and told them, "Now, look, let's don't go no further. Now, give us a chance. Give us a chance."

Millet: Yeah.

Stallworth: You know, that's a funny thing. That's what all of them cried. Every last one of them cried that.

Millet: "Just give us a chance. Give us some time."

Stallworth: Yeah. "We didn't--. State, we didn't--." Look. When I first went out there trying to get them to understand, they told me, the mill manager told me, said, "I heard about you." Said, "You ain't nothing but a damn troublemaker. We don't want you working here. Do you want to work here, boy?"

"Yes, sir."

"You don't act like it. All these practices and traditions been going on around here for all these years. You're trying to change it. I'm going to tell you right now. Ain't a damn thing going to change. Do you understand me, boy?"

"Yes, sir."

And he went on, chewed me out, went up one side and down the other side.

Millet: Mm-hm. And all you could say was, "Yes, sir."

Stallworth: Just sit there and say, "Yes, sir." But the only thing I rebutted on is when he opened the door for me.

He says, "Now that this meeting is over and you understand everything, you got anything you want to say?"

"Yes, sir." Well, he shouldn't have did that. (Laughter.)

Millet: What did you say?

Stallworth: I told him, I said, "Well, you know, I understand what you're telling me about the practice and traditions, because I see it every day. You know." I said, "But, when it comes down to getting laid off," I say, "You laid me off." And I explained to him that they took the white boy and took my black job, and I'm not allowed to be black and take the white job. I said, "Now, the contract don't mention nothing about that." I say, "If the contract would have said that white people can take black people's jobs," I say, "I probably wouldn't have complained, but the contract don't say that. See. And the contract don't say that black people can take the white people's jobs." I said, "So, you know, if you had spelled that out in your contract," which I knew he couldn't do--

Millet: Exactly right.

Stallworth: I said, "Then, probably me and you wouldn't be having this discussion. You wouldn't be upset, and I wouldn't, either. But that's not clear in there. That's not what the books says, and that's not what the contract says." Well, that ended that meeting. But, now, when the feds come down, then, to, like I said, come down with this court order, now then, they understood. (Laughter.) And they wanted me to drink coffee with them. And they wanted me to laugh and talk with them. They understood now, but they didn't understand, then. And they were apologetic, and so forth.

And they promised me, told me that any time that I saw any problem going on, that was racially contrived or had any racial applications or anything in it, right then, let them know. "Don't wait. Let us know. Now, don't go filing no more complaints. Don't go telling all these others. (Laughter.) Come tell us."

Millet: "We want to know."

Stallworth: Mm-hm. And so, well, they knew that I didn't too much trust them. But they said, "Now, if we don't straighten it out," they said, "then, you go do what you want to do." Well, I made that deal, because that sounds pretty good. Said, "State, if you come tell me about it, and if I don't do nothing about it, then, you do what you want to do."

Millet: And did that work out?

Stallworth: It worked pretty good.

Millet: In the future. Did you stay and continue to work for them? Until when?

Stallworth: Mm-hm. I retired four years ago.

Millet: Wow. Did you get to be promoted and move up in management the way you wanted to?

Stallworth: No, no, no. I didn't go to management. I stayed in the--. See, if you were in management, you'd be exempt from the unions. See.

Millet: Ah. I had no idea.

Stallworth: Yeah. See, if I wanted to go to management, I would be exempted from the unions, and really, I didn't trust them that much. But, there were some blacks that did go over in management.

Millet: So, all these years, you had really three full-time jobs in between working for them at your regular job.

Stallworth: Yeah.

Millet: Working for the NAACP.

Stallworth: Right.

Millet: And working for the union.

Stallworth: That's right.

Millet: You were a busy man.

Stallworth: I was. (Laughter.) Yeah. I was. Believe me.

Millet: And I wouldn't be surprised if you were active in the sixties in the mass meetings and marches.

Stallworth: I was.

Millet: OK. Well, I'd like to talk about that. I did want to ask you about Medgar Evers and Aaron Henry and Thurgood Marshall. You know, there are already a lot of things written in history books about those men and dates that they did things, but there are probably some experiences you had with them, that nobody else knows about. But, how would you describe Medgar Evers? What kind of man was he? Do you have a memorable event that you had with him?

Stallworth: No, the only time I met Medgar and he and I had any kind of a relationship, it was dealing with the NAACP or something about the NAACP. I never met him, you know, like, when he wanted to play golf, or playing cards, or playing poker, or anything like that. I've never been with him socially. Whenever I met him, it was really on the occasions of the NAACP and its business. Now, he impressed me. He was real sincere. He was real. He was wrapped up in what he was doing, body and soul. I've never seen a man so dedicated as Medgar. He would sit here like you and I talking, and he would be talking about things and, literally, start crying. That's how sincere he was. So, that's the kind of--. So, many times, I didn't want to see him in that type of situation. I would try to find some way to get away from him.

Millet: Was it heartbreaking and intense? Was that the--?

Stallworth: Oh, yeah. Sometimes. Depends on what the situation was, because, see, he was the field secretary. He would go and be involved in something that I never would be involved in. Like, up around the other parts of Mississippi, he would go and see some, visit some family that had got beat up or--

Millet: Lynched.

Stallworth: Yeah. That's right. Some man or some lady got beaten, killed, stoned, burned, and those kinds of things. And he would be talking about it. And see, by me not seeing it, it didn't affect me that much. But I understood what he was saying. The field secretary--. I mean the state president, Aaron Henry, same way. The only time I saw Aaron was on strictly business, but I did see him in another uniform, though. He was hooked up in this political thing, too. You know, he was one of the state legislators (inaudible). And he was also with the Freedom Democrats.

Millet: Ah, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Yeah. Victoria Gray.

Stallworth: Yeah. And I was, too.

Millet: You were?

Stallworth: I was there.

Millet: Oh. We've got to talk about that. Yeah. Well, what about Thurgood Marshall?

Stallworth: Thurgood. Briefly, I saw Thurgood and Jack Greenberg. Not on no social call, but mostly on strictly business. And Thurgood used to constantly--. He was a fellow that firmly believed in litigation. He didn't believe in talking and negotiating and this kind of business. Thurgood believed in litigation. That's all. And if you didn't want to talk about litigation, if you wasn't going to do no litigation, he didn't want you to waste his time. That's the way (inaudible). That's what he would tell you. That, you know, if you--. That's what made me--. He's the one endowed me with that attitude about the banks and all these local people around here. See.

"Go to them. If they don't do it, sue them. Go to them. If they don't do it, sue them. Go to them, sue them. You know. Don't go with nothing else." (Laughter.)

Millet: That cuts through all the unimportant stuff. Go right to the heart of it.

Stallworth: That's right. And that's the way Thurgood was. You see. Now, you know. "Sue them. Get the papers to me." He'd tell you how to sue them, and this kind of thing, and he's through with it. Now, if you wasn't going to do that, you know, singing and marching and preaching and going on, Thurgood wasn't like that. No. Mm-mm. "Let's go to court. And if you ain't going to court, don't waste my time." (Laughter.)

Millet: Right. I have asked people, you know, what did singing freedom songs do for them. And people mention that it created solidarity. You know. And that's important. I mean, I understand Justice Marshall's reasoning. He had, probably, felt like his life was too short to get all this done, that he had to get done, but I see the value of the other stuff, as well.

Stallworth: Well, I do, too. I saw both sides of it, but I'll have to say Thurgood on a scale of one to ten, he was nine and a half right. On a scale of one to ten, that marching and singing, I wouldn't dare put it with litigation. I wouldn't dare. It's all right for a little fellow down the street with an ice cream parlor, but when you're talking about integrating banks, and you're talking about integrating the unions, and you're talking about integrating industries, and you're talking about challenging discrimination in schools, marching and singing ain't going to get it.

Millet: You're right.

Stallworth: No, it won't get it.

Millet: You're right. It can change the consciousness of people who are involved and who witness it, but as far as the teeth to enforce it, it's the litigation.

Stallworth: Yeah. To make the change. To make the change. That's right.

Millet: It's important to remember that. Well, I had talked to you about this question of when did you become aware of racism. I have a feeling it's backtracking, but I know that we talked about how it was the discrimination at your job. But I wonder if there are any other incidents that stand out in your memory that got you started thinking about racial issues.

Stallworth: Well, up until then, racism, I always knew it. I can't think of when I didn't know it. See, I always knew it, but, it didn't register with me to do nothing about it, until this happened. When I was growing up, a kid, I used to love to go to the movies. And I noticed they had a white side and colored side to the movies. I knew where to go. And I didn't bother about trying to go around on the other side. It didn't dawn on me. I didn't care. You know. And I bought popcorn through my window. I went around to the ice cream parlor, and they had white and colored. I went on around to the colored side. I accepted that. It didn't bother [me]. I didn't care nothing about going around to the other side, buying ice cream. Me and my mother rode the train a lot. And I'd see the signs, white and colored. That didn't--. You know, in other words, I knew we was living in a racist society. I knew it all the time. Going to school. I knew that the whites had a school, and the blacks had a school. And it never dawned on me or bothered me about trying to go to the white school. That never crossed my mind. In other words, I accepted it. And like the white job and the black job, I accepted that. But the only time it really thundered me or hit me, was when they laid me off.

Millet: Yeah. They were interfering with your living.

Stallworth: I mean, but, see, what they did, they took my black job. That's what. (Laughter.) See, if they would have just said, "Well, OK, State." And moved me over there with another black job, I probably would have--. Well, something else would have happened to bring it about, but I'm just saying, you wanted to know, how did it affect me. And so, me, as an individual, I always knew that we were living in a racist country and a racist society. I always knew it, but it didn't dawn on me to challenge it or do nothing about it until this happened to me.

Millet: Yeah. It took away that real basic thing, [your means to make a living]. Even though it was a part of what you thought you had accepted, when they took that away, that was kind of the last straw.

Stallworth: Yeah. Well, I didn't have nowhere to go. You know, I figured--. Well, see, during that time, we had four kids, three girls and a boy. They were all in school. And I said to myself, "Now, how can I support my family, and they done took my black job. Where can I go? How can I tell my kids when they get up in the morning, they ain't got no breakfast; they ain't got no dinner; they ain't got no clothes; ain't got this; and ain't got that. They done took my black job."

Millet: So, they pushed you in a corner.

Stallworth: That's it. So, that's when I really made up my mind to really dig in and try to do something about it. But I knew it was there.

Millet: Right. Tell me about your children. How many children do you have?

Stallworth: Four.

Millet: You have, still, only four?

Stallworth: Four is all.

Millet: Did you want to give us their names, for the record, or would you prefer that they remain anonymous?

Stallworth: Oh, no. My oldest daughter is named Cecilia. My next daughter is named Agnes. Then, my son, State Jr. And then, my youngest daughter, baby daughter, Robbi.

Millet: R-O?

Stallworth: R-O-B-B-I.

Millet: And, I wonder if you have memories about their public school experiences. Did they have to go through any troubles to get into the integrated schools?

Stallworth: Well, they all went to Catholic school. Except, see, our Catholic school went to the eighth grade. After the eighth grade, then they went to the public schools. But I'm sure that they had racial encounters. Some of them I knew about; some, I didn't.

Millet: Did they tell you about them?

Stallworth: Some of them. Yeah. My daughter had one. My oldest daughter had one at the Catholic school.

Millet: Oh, no. What was that about? Do you remember?

Stallworth: Well, it was a name-calling thing. I had to go down to the school to talk with the principal. With the sister. Somehow or another, my daughter Cecilia had some kind of encounter with a white girl out in the hall. And in this encounter, they got into calling one another names. And after the name-calling, then they got physical with each other. Well, you know, I'm not boasting about it, but my daughter got the best end, I believe of the physical. So, then, they called me down to the school. And the other parents. And then, they told us what it was about. So, that's what it was about. Somehow or another, one bumped into the other one, and then the name-calling took place. Then after the name-calling, they got physical, and I think my daughter got the best end of the scuffle. And that was all.

Millet: Yeah. And no more trouble after that?

Stallworth: Well, no. Not that I know of. Well, I apologized to the other parents. You know, I didn't want them to think--. I let them know that I don't raise my kid to meddle people, bother people, and fight people. You know, because of their color or for any other reason. But I also let them know, and I also told (inaudible) I always raise my kids: "I don't teach you to fight, but I'm not telling you not to fight."

Millet: Mm-hm. You might need to sometime.

Stallworth: That's correct. And I made that clear to them down there, that I didn't tell my daughter to fight, but I didn't tell her not to fight.

Millet: Yeah. If she has to defend herself, then she has to defend herself.

Stallworth: In situations. That's right. If I'm not there, nobody's there, she has to do what she has to do. And so, you know, and I apologized for all the bad words she said, but although the other girl said bad words, too. But, see, you don't have to teach that.

Millet: That's right. They seem to learn that on their own, somewhere. (Laughter.)

Stallworth: They get it somewhere. That's right.

Millet: At a Catholic school, too. It makes you wonder. But as far as the public schools, do you know about what years they were entering public school?

Stallworth: Oh. See, time. I know events. But time, I can't keep up with it.

Millet: Yeah. I just wonder if it was more like the end of the sixties?

Stallworth: Oh, no. They went to integrated schools. Yeah. The schools was integrated.

Millet: They were already integrated, so they didn't have to be the ones who were filing the lawsuits to get in, like Ms. Sanders.

Stallworth: Right. Oh, you talked with Ms. Sanders?

Millet: Yes. Oh, that was a pleasure.

Stallworth: Yeah. Well, Ms. Sanders was real involved. That's right. But no, my kids, then, was in the Catholic school. So, well, like, well, you hit it. See. The Catholic schools, St. Peter's, we had schools for our kids, although they were segregated. St. Peter's Parish is predominantly a black parish. But we had schools that go from first grade to the eighth grade. But then, by the time my kids finished eighth grade, the schools were integrated. So, that's--. And I really had in mind keeping my kids in Catholic school all the way through, but I didn't do it. See. I didn't do it. So, that's why they was involved. When they went to Moss Point, they went to Moss Point High School. All of them graduated from Moss Point High School. When they went to Moss Point High School, it was integrated.

Millet: Do you feel like they got a good education there?

Stallworth: Yes. Yes, I feel like they did. They got the best they could, but I'll say this: and I don't want to offend, or mean to offend, but I have to say in my strongest opinion, from what I watched my kids, when they went to the Catholic schools, then they went to the public schools, they was that far ahead of the public schools. So, you know, I can't say that they--. See, because, when they went to the public schools, they didn't have to study. And still maintained good grades.

Millet: They had been so challenged by Catholic school and had to come up to a higher standard, I guess, there. Yeah. Isn't that a shame?

Stallworth: Yeah. So, I'm not saying. It wasn't a black school, either. See, I could understand if it was a black school, but the Catholic schools, they are so much--. The public schools got to come on and come up with the Catholic schools. I mean, they got to come on. I mean, I think that's all over.

Millet: Oh, I do, too.

Stallworth: Yeah. I think it's all over. I don't think it's just here in Mississippi or here in Moss Point.

Millet: I know. I have to agree with you. Yeah. Those parochial schools do a really good job of teaching kids. And it's interesting, because usually those teachers' salaries are lower than the ones in public school.

Stallworth: But I think that's the difference.

Millet: They do it because they love it?

Stallworth: You see, dedication is one thing, and doing it for the money is another one. I realize, and I will say that the teachers deserve to make more money than what they're making in Mississippi. Now, I don't know about other states. But in Mississippi, they deserve it. It ain't no doubt about it. In public or Catholic schools. The teachers deserve it, because if I was a teacher, and if I could go to Timbuktu and make more money teaching, that's where I'm going. And I mean, that's just simple.

Millet: That's basic survival.

Stallworth: Yeah, but to get back to the other part, now. I feel like you've got more dedication in the Catholic schools, and money is not the reason. I think if you go to the Catholic school, you'll see they've got more discipline. And without discipline--. Because they've got more discipline, they can teach more, and teach better. In the public school, you can see it; you don't have the discipline compared to the--.

Millet: So much of a teacher's time has to be spent just getting some kind of control.

Stallworth: Yeah. You can see it. See. And one just has to realize that and recognize that and just be fair and earnest with it. That's the whole thing. If you go to a Catholic school, you're going to see more discipline and better discipline than you'll see in the public school.

Millet: What are your children doing, now?

Stallworth: I tried to get all of them to go to college, but they didn't want to go. My boy told me he didn't want to go to college, so he's a first-class pipe fitter.

Millet: Mm-hm. He's probably making more than college graduates do.

Stallworth: He is. He told me that I could save my money; that he didn't want to go to college. So, he's a first-class pipe fitter. My oldest daughter, she didn't want to go to college, but strange as it seems, now she's going. And she's trying to go into real estate and something else. My youngest daughter, she's over in New Orleans, and she's in some type of management position with Home Port.

Millet: I'm not familiar with Home Port.

Stallworth: Home Depot.

Millet: Home Depot. Oh, the office--. Well, they sell all kinds of stuff.

Stallworth: Yeah. They're just something like Lowe's. They sell everything.

Millet: Everything for the home, I guess.

Stallworth: Everything you can mention. Yeah, and so, she's been with them, now, for twenty-odd years, I think. And, my other daughter, she's not doing anything. She's a homemaker. She's staying at home.

Millet: With her children?

Stallworth: Yeah.

Millet: Well, that's an important job. Very important. One of the most important. Just like teaching.

Stallworth: Yeah.

Millet: We have the future in our hands when we have the children in our hands.

Did you register to vote?

Stallworth: Yes.

Millet: And what was that like? Were you successful on your first try?

Stallworth: Strange as it seems, I had no problem.

Millet: And do you remember when that was?

Stallworth: Yeah. That was in 1954. That's the first thing I did when I turned twenty-one, was pay my poll tax. We had to pay poll tax. I'm glad we mentioned that. See, here's a copy of the poll tax.

Millet: Wow. Like a receipt.

Stallworth: But they're not mine. These are a friend of mine's.

Millet: Oh. Look at that.

Stallworth: But I thought I would get them just to show you what they looked like.

Millet: That is so interesting. Wow, 1965. Two dollars.

Stallworth: Yeah. Had to pay it.

Millet: And they had, "male, female, age." They didn't fill out her age. Cecil Byrd was the sheriff. James Ira Grimley was the sheriff in sixty-three, sixty-two, sixty-four, sixty-five, sixty-six, 1959 receipt. Did you have to take a test? A literacy test?

Stallworth: Yeah.

Millet: And do you remember what that was like?

Stallworth: Well, now for some reason, I didn't take it. But I know what it was like.

Millet: What was it like?

Stallworth: They would ask you questions like, "What civilian has executive power over the military?"

Millet: I wouldn't know. (Laughter.)

Stallworth: The president.

Millet: The president of the United States would be my guess, but I didn't actually realize he was a civilian. But, yeah.

Stallworth: That's right. They would ask questions like that. Or they would ask you, "What is ex post facto?" I've done forgot what all else.

Millet: And I don't know what ex post facto is.

Stallworth: Well, that's, when we was coming down here, you know them red lights we come through? All them red lights we come through. Now, suppose those red lights was not there, and we come down that highway. Then, they put them up. Then, they want to arrest you for running a red light that wasn't there.

Millet: When it wasn't there. Then that would be an ex post facto law?

Stallworth: Ex post facto. That's trying to convict you of a law that didn't exist at the time--.

Millet: That you broke the law?

Stallworth: That's right. There was no law at the time that you did this. See, you have to go to Yale to understand all that.

Millet: I should say.

Stallworth: Yeah. So, they had all kind of stuff like that.

Millet: Well, with your background, you probably know this already. I didn't know until I started doing research into civil rights issues that Theron Lynd, for example, would ask the African-American people who came to register to vote, "How many bubbles are in a bar of soap?" And, you know, (laughter) that's absurd. That's absurd. But--it's absurd--but it kept people from voting! It kept citizens from being able to take part in their own country, and sometimes they were citizens who had gone and laid their lives on the line in World War II or Korea or World War I to defend those rights.

Stallworth: That's right. So, you know, during that period of time, that's when--. I don't know exactly when it was, but you know, they sent SNCC down here. Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. I got acquainted with them and got involved with them.

Millet: What was that like?

Stallworth: That was a new ball game. I didn't believe it was going to happen. We had been to Jackson and met several times in Jackson saying that, "Hey, we've got a hot summer coming in Mississippi, and this, and that, and the other."

I said, "Ah. They're just talking."

Millet: Was that Dave Dennis?

Stallworth: Yeah, Dave Dennis and--.

Millet: Sandy Leigh?

Stallworth: Yeah, and a fellow named Moses.

Millet: Oh. Bob Moses. You met Bob Moses.

Stallworth: Yeah.

Millet: Well, I am so jealous because he is just, from all accounts, the wisest, most fabulous man.

Stallworth: He is, but he's a little, quiet fellow. Yeah. A little quiet. Because, you know, when I first heard, "Bob Moses is coming down. Bob Moses."

I said, "Oh." I was looking for a great, big, old giant. (Laughter.)

And I looked around and heard somebody whispering, saying, "I'm Bob Moses." I looked around.

I said, "This little squirt?" (Laughter.) But you're right. He's all knowledge. He is. And he's wise, and he does his homework. And he can take a big mountain of confusion, and he can simplify it. And that's not (inaudible). And he seemed to never get upset. He's cool all the time. Yeah. I met him, and I met quite a few of the people with the SNCC. Anyway, when I got involved with them, and I started meeting with them, and they started organizing and (inaudible), which a lot of the things they were talking about doing didn't make no sense to me.

Millet: Like what?

Stallworth: Well, when they was talking about organizing the community and setting up districts and all that, I said, "What in the world are they talking?" You know. And I said, "We've already got districts." You know. I didn't see where they was coming from till after they put it all together. And when they put it all together, then I understood it, because blacks was disenfranchised. We wasn't allowed to participate. See, like when they set up the Democratic Party, the Freedom Party, and all, I was involved in it. But it took me awhile to understand it. And I didn't quite understand it, until we went to Atlantic City.

Millet: And what happened to make you understand it?

Stallworth: Well, what made me understand there, then, clear as a crystal, was that we challenged the others. And I said, "Oh, now, this is what this is about." Because they didn't allow us to participate to get to Atlantic City. They wanted to be there in Atlantic City pretending they were representing us, when they didn't. They wanted to pretend that they supported the Democratic Party, when they didn't. They wanted to pretend that they supported the platform and the program of the Democrats, and they didn't. But see, I didn't understand all of that until--. See, I knew what was going on at the polls. They didn't support the president. They didn't support the Democratic party. They didn't support the platform. They didn't support nothing.

Millet: Yeah. They weren't elected by African-Americans.

Stallworth: That's correct.

Millet: African-Americans were either not allowed to register to vote, not allowed to vote, or only allowed to register and vote if they really had no power.

Stallworth: That's right. That's correct. And so, it took all of that to make it sink in, to what was actually, really going on. And Moses was there with us, too.

Millet: In Atlantic City?

Stallworth: In Atlantic City. Yeah, he was there. Aaron Henry was there. Oh, the whole--.

Millet: Fannie Lou Hamer?

Stallworth: Fannie Lou Hamer and I rode the bus up together. And back together. And something else I've got to tell you. I don't know if you remember. Do you remember during the time when Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey was going to be nominated this night. Well, Lyndon was going to be nominated, the Democratic nominee, and the old, regular Democrats and the loyal Democrats couldn't come to no agreement, and the Executive Committee there said that they was not going to seat the Democrats, the loyals nor the regulars. They was going to rope the seats off, and wasn't going to let us in, and wasn't going to let them in. And lo and behold, during the course of that convention, one loyal Democrat sneaked in some kind of way and took the seats. And the whole building come down. And you know who that delegate was?

Millet: Who?

Stallworth: Me. (Laughter.)

Millet: Now, why did you do that?

Stallworth: That's what I can't understand. Why did I do that? (Laughter.) Here again, it didn't dawn on me what I had done till I did it. (Laughter.) OK. I was standing outside the convention hall. They had the security guards and everybody there, guarding the gate, to let nobody in but the delegates with the credentials. You had to have your credentials. So, I was walking around outside and this fellow walked up behind me and said, "Hey," says, "You from Mississippi."

And I said, "Yeah."

He says, "Do you want to go in the convention?"

I said, "Well, it really don't matter."

He said, "If I get you some credentials, will you go in?"

I said, "Yeah." (Laughter.)

He said, "OK. Wait till I come back."

I didn't know him. I didn't know who he was, but I found out he was Senator Dwayne Morris from Oregon. He goes in. He comes back. He says, "Here's your credentials." Said, "Put them on." He say, "Now, what we want you to do, we want you to take the Mississippi seats. Will you do that?"

I said, "Yeah, I'll do it."

He said, "Now, we're going in past these guards." Say, "You go and sit with New York." See, I had New York credentials. So, I walks in as if I was from New York. The guards let me in. I walked on in, and had on my little, old suit and tie. Well, they didn't know me from nobody else. So, I walks on in and sit down with the New York delegation, and the Mississippi seats were right across from New York. See. But they was roped off.

Millet: You were strategically placed.

Stallworth: That's correct. And I had me an end-row seat, too. Right on the end. All I had to do was just step right over there. So, I'm sitting there and all the other delegates are watching me. You know. The New York delegates.

Millet: They must have been in on it.

Stallworth: They was. And they was (inaudible) me, and they would (inaudible) one another to get on down to me. "Now, when we give you the signal, you step across the rope."

I said, "OK." And they was clapping, and we was clapping. And we was clapping, and after awhile something happened.

They said, "OK." Said, "Step across the rope." And I stepped across the rope. And when I did, whew.

Millet: What happened?

Stallworth: The news media swarmed down on me like a swarm of vultures. They wanted to know who I was; where did I come from; how did I get in there; what was going on; what was my name. "Where you from? You from Mississippi? How did you get in here?" Whoa, man. Good gracious. I mean, just, whew.

Millet: How did you feel?

Stallworth: Well, I was busy, then, trying to--. I hadn't lost my hand, then. They had the seats bolted to the floor, and the marshals had me, trying to pick me up to throw me out.

Millet: They were going to try to pick up your whole chair or just you?

Stallworth: No, what I did, I grabbed the chair. Well, see, by me holding the chair, they couldn't pick me up. (Laughter.)

Millet: All those years loading all that stuff at the paper mill. You had those strong arms. (Laughter.)

Stallworth: Yeah. So, I was holding the bottom of the chair. And having the news media come over there and start putting the camera on them. If it wasn't for that, they'd have threw me out.

Millet: Oh, that's very interesting.

Stallworth: Yeah. See, by the news media coming over, and putting the cameras on me, the marshals say, "Get back. The cameras are on. The cameras are on." And I was just holding the seat. So, then, Aaron Henry, and all of them, they came from somewhere. I don't know where they came from.

Millet: And they sat down?

Stallworth: Oh, yeah, we all did. We took the seats. And so, that was a big excitement.

Millet: That is a great story.

Stallworth: Yeah. That was something, man. And I still got those credentials. New York credentials.

Millet: You might think about leaving those in your will to Tougaloo College or something like that. I'm sure they would love to have them.

Stallworth: Oh, really?

Millet: Oh, yeah. Those should be archived somewhere.

Stallworth: Let me see. I've got them here somewhere. I know I've got them. (There is a brief interruption in the interview.) Lyndon Johnson sent a special plea to us not to upset the doggone convention.

Millet: And did he do that prior to the time you took the seats?

Stallworth: Yeah. See, he's the one that offered that compromise. Said, "Listen, don't upset things." Said, "I'll tell you what we're going to do. We ain't going to seat you, and we ain't going to seat them."

Millet: I see. That was the compromise.

Stallworth: Yeah. He said, "We know they're dirty rats." You know. Him and Hubert Humphrey. Said, "We know they don't support nothing. They don't support nobody." Said, "But I'll tell you what. We ain't going to seat you, and we ain't going to let none of y'all sit. We're going to let a committee--." No, they offered to compromise, along with that not to let nobody sit, they wanted to seat just Aaron Henry, who was our president, and I don't know who the other president was. Let the two presidents sit over there. See. With equal status.

So, we told them, "No. No." Say, "They didn't want nothing to do with us back here, we didn't want nothing to do with them up here."

Millet: Yeah. "We're not going to be working together like that." Just out so it looks good to the media.

Stallworth: Well, plus the fact, the other thing we told them: our challenge to them was more serious than trying to do some political juggling. Our challenge to them was about people's lives. You see. To come back here to Mississippi and try to participate in politics meant your life. It wasn't a political thing, and we wanted them to understand that. That was our reason and our rationale for not compromising on those terms. You see. Because to come back here to Mississippi, and then in order to try to participate, you'd be found floating down a river. You'd be found hung up in a tree. You'd be found burned or bombed or killed. And this is the kind of thing we was concerned about. Not so much about the political ramifications.

Millet: Just being given a seat. And then what happens after that? After the convention is over?

Stallworth: That's right. And as strange as it seems, I don't know about others, but Lyndon Johnson really surprised me.

Millet: How did he do that?

Stallworth: I had ranked him with the other Southerners.

Millet: Uh-huh. He was from Texas.

Stallworth: Yeah. See, I said, "Well, Lyndon Johnson ain't no different from the rest of them." When we're talking about these things. And his voting record dictated that. See?

Millet: Mm-hm. He seemed to be like the other Southerners, based on his voting records?

Stallworth: His voting records when it come down to issues like this, it was the same. Identical. You see. But strange enough, when he got to be prez, he made a complete--. See. I figure Lyndon Johnson did more for civil rights during that time than any man we had up there.

Millet: During the time of his presidency?

Stallworth: During Lyndon Johnson's time of his presidency, he navigated the Civil Rights Bill. He navigated the Voting Rights Bill. See, and that healed all that. That Voting Rights Bill healed all them wounds that we were talking about. What I mean, it put teeth in it. He come up with the Poverty Bill.

Millet: What did the Poverty Bill do?

Stallworth: The Poverty Bill dealt with Head Start.

Millet: And the Child Development Group in Mississippi?

Stallworth: That's correct. That's right. See, that was done under Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Millet: Were you involved with those beginning years of Head Start?

Stallworth: Oh, yeah. I really was. And I'm proud of that program, today.

Millet: I should say. It's a program to be proud of.

Stallworth: That's right. I'm proud of it today. In my opinion, that's one of the best programs the Democrats come up with.

Millet: Can you think of anything else that happened during his presidency that was helpful?

Stallworth: Well, the Civil Rights Bill, I know. We talked about the Civil Rights Bill, the Voting Rights Bill, and the Poverty Bill. Well, one thing he did here, he shut Brookley Air Force Base down.

Millet: Now, what Air Force base was it?

Stallworth: Brookley. You had an Air Force base in Mobile, called Brookley Air Force Base.

Millet: Oh. I didn't know that. How do you spell it? Do you remember?

Stallworth: Brookley. B-R-O-O-K-L-E-Y. Brookley Air Force. OK. That was a military base in Mobile, and what happened was Lyndon Johnson, I mean Lady Byrd came down here on a tour, some kind of Lady Byrd train thing. And the folks in Alabama, the Klan in Alabama, threatened her. Sure did.

Millet: Threatened the first lady's life?

Stallworth: Yeah. L.B.J. come on the tube that night, and you could tell he was angry. And he told the Klansmen, "If you're wearing the gown, get out of it. I'm coming at you. I'm coming after you, so if you want to survive, and you're in there, you'd better get out. You'd better run, now. And get out before it's too late, because if I get in behind you, it's too late." Thirty days afterward, he shut Brookley down. Brookley is still down.

Millet: So, he came out against the KKK?

Stallworth: That's right.

Millet: And that was helpful to the movement.

Stallworth: That's right. He did. And then from that point on, up until Lyndon resigned, you didn't hear of no sheets. Nobody wearing those sheets. (Laughter.)

Millet: They weren't very fashionable anymore.

Stallworth: That's correct. And the reason I know that, now, after that he sent Katzenbach. Katzenbach was the attorney general; he came down to Mobile. And Katzenbach gave them the same warning. And he told them, he said, "When the Klan rides at night," he said, "we ride at night."

Millet: Federal agents. We'll be after you.

Stallworth: That's right. He said, "When you ride at night, you ain't going to be out there riding by yourself." (Laughter.) Yeah. He did. He made them do a big, long cool-off until Lyndon left office. So, we might as well go on to the countdown, now.

Millet: What do you remember about Fannie Lou Hamer? What was she like?

Stallworth: Fannie Lou. Real sweet lady. Real sweet, simple-minded, good lady. I understand that she showed at Atlantic City; she testified before the committee. And testifying before the committee, she had them in tears.

Millet: What committee?

Stallworth: The Democratic National Executive Committee. You see, we had to present, to show the evidence that--.

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

Millet: OK. So, she was testifying to the Democratic National Executive Committee that African-Americans in Mississippi were terrorized into not voting.

Stallworth: Right. And she was arrested.

Millet: In Mississippi?

Stallworth: In Mississippi on more than one occasion.

Millet: I remember she was beaten very badly in Winona, [Mississippi].

Stallworth: That's right. She was put in jail and beaten for her participation into the political process. And she showed the scars on her back, and that brought tears from most of the committee that was there. They was watching it, and you could see the tears rolling because that was solid evidence. And she told them how they arrested her, and how they beat her, how they treated her. And it was just--. And you know, when I say she was a plain, simple, good person. I think she might have finished second or third grade.

Millet: Yeah. She had lived on a plantation.

Stallworth: Yeah. She lived on a plantation. That's right, and she had that amount of courage to do, and she taught voter registration. You know. It was amazing. So, she was an inspiration to talk to, itself.

Millet: There's a book, Local People. Have you seen that book, Local People?

Stallworth: No.

Millet: It's very well done by a professor who taught at Tougaloo for a number of years who is not an African-American. He's Caucasian. His name is John Dittmer. He talks about how Fannie Lou Hamer did not know, and someone told her, what power there was in voting. And she said it opened her eyes. You know. That she had no idea until someone taught her, "You can elect African-Americans who make policy, who can make your life better in Mississippi. And not just your life, but everybody's life." I remember talking to Mrs. Sanders about, I don't remember what piece of literature it is in, but somewhere it says, "Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It always tolls for you." And if I tolerate someone taking your rights today, tomorrow they can take my rights. And so, it's for all of us. It's for every single one of us and our children.

(There is a brief interruption in the interview as Mrs. Stallworth hands to Mr. Stallworth the New York credentials which opened the door for him at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1964.)

Stallworth: There you go.

Millet: Wow. You know, if your children don't want to keep this, you really should have it archived somewhere. At Tougaloo or there's the Amistad Center in New Orleans at Tulane. You know, one of your children might really want to keep that, but if not, it should be [archived]. That's an important piece of history, right there. Very important.

Stallworth: Yeah. Nineteen sixty-four convention. That's it. This is the badge I had and from New York.

Millet: There was a revolution in our country, and that was part of it. You know? There really was. There really was a revolution.

Stallworth: OK. Well.

Millet: You mentioned losing your hand. How did you lose your hand?

Stallworth: At International Paper.

Millet: Oh, my goodness.

Stallworth: Yeah, I got it jammed in a machine.

Millet: Oh, my goodness. Oh.

Stallworth: Yeah. Got it jammed and crushed it.

Millet: So, was it surgically, actually, they had to--?

Stallworth: Well, it was just crushed so bad till the doctor had to. He saved all he could. It was a miracle that he saved the thumb. See, it's below the knuckle. See, it's crushed. And the doctor told me if it would have been cut, he could have put it back.

Millet: But it was so badly damaged, there was nothing to put back.

Stallworth: That's right. We had a piece of equipment we was working on. Machinery, and it had broke down. And you know, we was scrabbling, fooling around there, trying to get it going, and really didn't know what we were doing. And I happened to engage a switch and didn't know it. A piece of electronic equipment, and when that switch engaged, then I couldn't get my hand back in time. Just [snaps fingers]. Just like that. Yeah. That happened a little bit after I got back from Atlantic City. And it wasn't nothing purposely done. It was a pure accident.

Millet: You're sure.

Stallworth: Yeah. I'm sure. A pure accident. Because it was more my fault than any. I mean, what I'm saying is the way the accident happened, it couldn't have been nothing somebody planned.

Millet: I see.

Stallworth: See. That's what I'm getting at. So, it wasn't nothing planned. It was just a pure accident.

Millet: That's quite an experience, in itself.

Stallworth: Yeah.

Millet: Well, there are a couple of things that I think are important. You know, as I've said before, people will be researching into this 100 years from now, 200 years from now, if the world lasts that long. (Laughter.) The way we're going, sometimes I wonder. But I'm wondering about Freedom Summer and about the Child Development Group in Mississippi and Head Start. What your experiences were with that, and also about the struggle to integrate the beaches, here. So, why don't we just start with Freedom Summer of sixty-four. What do you remember about Freedom Summer, 1964?

Stallworth: Well, the highlight in my mind of the Freedom Summer of sixty-four was the preparations that was put into, and the things that was involved that we had to do in order to go to Atlantic City. And that was my big involvement. At that time, I wasn't wrapped up in beaching and going to the beach. I know it's a thing that's good. I know. And we've got just as much right to the beaches as anybody else, but at that time, I was all wrapped up mostly with this political thing and with jobs.

Millet: The legal suits for stopping the discrimination in hiring and promoting. And the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party bid to unseat the regular delegates.

Stallworth: Right. And you know, you couldn't hardly do that and fool with the beaches, too.

Millet: Now, did any of your children want to go to the freedom schools, here? Do you remember?

Stallworth: No, they didn't mention it. They didn't too much mention it. But, Head Start, too, I was involved in that.

Millet: What was that like? Tell me about that.

Stallworth: Well, first of all, when Head Start was first introduced to Jackson County, people perceived it as being a civil rights organization. So, whites shied away from it. Most white people shied away from it. And a lot of blacks shied away from it out of fear because they thought it was the civil rights movement. But we had some courageous people in this community that really put their shoulders to the wheel, and we got our first Head Start program we landed here, we were just a few dollars short of a million dollars, because it was based upon the population. You know, the amount of kids you had to enroll and how you had to have your centers structured, and this kind of thing.

Millet: Was that for the whole state?

Stallworth: No.

Millet: That's just for this area?

Stallworth: Just for this area. Just Jackson County. See. And so, I never will forget that.

And we thought that was real good.

Millet: How did you get that money?

Stallworth: It came--. Whew!

Millet: Did you have to write a grant?

Stallworth: Oh, yeah. The legal fellow we had working with it; we had a white lawyer here to volunteer his time, named Bernard Gautier.

Millet: He was a local man.

Stallworth: Yeah. Mm-hm.

Millet: And he helped you write the proposal.

Stallworth: Yeah. He was the attorney here, locally, for us. And the government had an attorney named Capheart[?]. I believe was his name.

Millet: Capheart.

Stallworth: Yeah. I don't know how you would spell that. And then we had another fellow called Dr. Gentry.

Millet: Was he a physician or a Ph.D.? Do you know?

Stallworth: Dr. Gentry. No, I don't. But I do know he had a lot to do with setting up the program. Like, setting up the medical side. He might have been a doctor.

Millet: Must have been a physician. Was he an African-American?

Stallworth: No.

Millet: He was white. And what about Capheart?

Stallworth: Capheart, he was white fellow, also.

Millet: And Mr. Gautier?

Stallworth: Gautier was white. Mm-hm.

Millet: And so, how were you involved?

Stallworth: Well, I was the first chairman of the board. At it's initial starting. You know. We had to have all different parts of the community involved. We had to set it up. We had to have a board. We had to have a Head Start board. I've done forgot how many people we had to have on the board, but we had that amount of people on the board. And I was the chairman, and we set up the medical side. We set up the education side, and we set up the nutrition side. I think those are the three main sides of the Head Start program. You know, how it's set up. And then we had a dietician, so that--. See, that was the main thing about it. What made the Head Start so good, and the reason it's still got a good standing today, Lyndon Johnson, somehow or another knew that there were poor communities, and in particular, blacks, but white folks, too.

Millet: Both. Yes.

Stallworth: Poor communities where kids, the reason they didn't learn in school, it wasn't because they didn't have learning abilities, and it wasn't because of the parents' being lazy. It wasn't because of none of these things, the myths that we had been told. But the reason a lot of kids fell short of learning, is because they had health problems. Some of them had hearing problems, eye problems, dental problems.

Millet: Which would cause chronic pain.

Stallworth: Yeah. Throat problems, stomach problems. All kinds of problems, and so, that's what that medical side did. We had it set up where all those kids would be screened by the local doctors. The doctors would give them thorough examinations. Eye doctors, nose and throat, ears, the whole gamut. And if that kid needed anything, wouldn't care what it was, from an aspirin tablet to a major operation, under Head Start, he got it. See. And then we saw to them getting balanced diets. Nutrition. See, that's where that came in. They all had a balanced diet for breakfast, dinner, and afternoon.

Millet: So, they were fed at the Head Start Center.

Stallworth: That's right. And they were making preparation. And the thing it is, again, the reason a lot of kids couldn't learn is because, coming out of a poverty environment, they didn't know properly how to go to the restroom. They didn't know how to properly take care of their teeth.

Millet: Probably, some of them had never held a pencil in their hands.

Stallworth: There you go. See. So, this is what it was about. And some people try to misconstrue it today to be an education program, but it's not. It's still a program getting the kids ready for school. See. You get ready to learn. But at the same time, because it's a learning process by him mingling with other kids. That's a learning process in itself. You learn how to mingle with other kids, but the main thing you learn, when you go to school, you already know you don't have no problems seeing. You ain't got no problem breathing. You ain't got no problem hearing. You ain't got no problem. You ain't starving.

Millet: You've had a year of good nutrition from those two meals and afternoon snack.

Stallworth: That's right. Now, you're ready now to pay attention and learn something. You see. And you don't have no problem, and the teacher's got no problem because she ain't worried about this kid over here don't know how to go to the restroom; don't know how to set down at the table and eat; don't know how to--. You know. So, these were the things that really Head Start did. You had to go there to see it. And to really appreciate it. My wife worked at it. Yeah, and she enjoyed it.

Millet: What was her role? What did she do?

Stallworth: She was a teacher, and what they did, they played with the kids. That's what they did. They'd go out there and play with them. You know. And we put as many mothers in there as teachers, as possible. See.

Millet: And they probably learned some things, as well.

Stallworth: We had classes for them. You know. Teach them this and why and how. And so forth.

Millet: Made them better parents, I'm sure.

Stallworth: That's right. And then the parents would have better care for kids that's small. See. It's different from a person that just went to school and learned a kid how to [count] one, two, three, four, five. And you know, I mean, you go to a lower level. I mean it's another level to teach a kid other than trying to teach them A, B, C.

Millet: Because of their developmental--. Where they are, developmentally, and they can do certain things, and they cannot do other things just because of their coordination or physical--.

Stallworth: That's right. And a mother would understand that better than anybody. See. And so, you know, I really do. I think Head Start is one of the best things. Also it proved that kids got learning abilities and you don't have to wait till they get six years old. You straighten a kid out with his eyes, his ears, his throat, and so forth, and you'd be surprised what that kid can learn. I got a doggone little, old great-granddaughter. I tell you the truth. She's almost a genius. (Laughter.)

Millet: I have a friend who says that these days they're born going to college.

Stallworth: She's almost a genius, but smart!

Millet: How old is she?

Stallworth: She's four. Four years old. Oh, she's some kind of smart. I mean, it's just amazing. I watch her, and I pretend that I'm not watching her. And she knows, when she wants you to do something, she knows how to con you into doing it. She can con you. Yeah. Yes, she will, too. (Laughter.)

Millet: Yeah, and I'll bet you can tell her, "No," anytime you want to, can't you? (Laughter.)

Stallworth: She'll con you. Let me tell you. Kids are smart. They really are. I mean, they're born smart.

Millet: Oh, yeah.

Stallworth: Yeah. But anyway, the other part that we talk about in the civil rights movement, for some reason I never was too warm on, you know, I wasn't warm on integrating hamburger stands, and hot dog stands, and ice cream parlors. And, like you say, beaches. Number one, I felt that we had so many important things, other than that, that we shouldn't waste our time and efforts and energy with that.

Millet: And some people gave their lives for that.

Stallworth: Yeah. Yeah. I really couldn't see that. Somehow or another, Thurgood Marshall really overwhelmed me or programmed me. See. Just sitting and talking. He wasn't a guy to get up and make no whole lot of speeches, but he would sit and talk and his whole idea and thing was, and it makes sense. He said, "Now, we don't have the time and energy to be arguing over a hot dog and a hamburger, and walking in water out on the beach." He said, "Now, these things are important." He said, "But, if you get--. If we make legal breakthroughs and get the access to equal education, and get access to equal and fair employment, and get equal access to equal justice in the courts, you ain't got to worry about that."

Millet: That's empowerment. Yeah. Those things will be taken care of.

Stallworth: They'll fall in place. See. But if you put that first, what's going to happen to your legal thing? What's going to happen to your school thing? What's going to happen to your--.

Millet: Your resources are spread too thin.

Stallworth: Yeah. I mean, why do you want to have the right to go buy a hamburger, and ain't got a job to make the money to buy the hamburger? So, you know, that sold me. And I just, today, I'm that way. And I look at it other ways, too. Now, you know, I just played with International Paper Company. When you look at it economically, those same people who was practicing that discrimination and thought that they were doing something big or something, it shows how foolish they were.

Millet: How does that follow?

Stallworth: OK. You're the manager of a factory. And your whole thing in running this factory is to make money and drive your cost down. Not your cost up. Now, you're going to bother yourself about your employees not going to the same restroom; so, you're going to build two.

Millet: Build two. Mm-hm.

Stallworth: Not drinking at the same water fountain; you're going to build two. Not going to the same pay window; you're going to build two. And you've got good, productive employees out here that's one color is a better productive employee than the other color, but because of his color, you're going to hold him down. You're losing money. You're driving your costs up.

Millet: It's crazy.

Stallworth: Yeah. But, so, that's the same thing. I told (inaudible). I said, "Now, I'm going to come back out here, and I'm going to put a proposition before that we want separate restrooms, now. We want separate water fountains. We want a separate cafeteria."

They told me, said, "State, you're crazy." (Laughter.)

"But at first, when I tried to show you how crazy you was, you said I was (inaudible). Now, who's crazy?" (Laughter.)

Millet: There were separate cafeterias, too?

Stallworth: Yeah. Separate everything. So, now, the same argument goes. If blacks get better jobs and make more money and equal education and equal justice under the courts--.

Millet: And can vote, can elect representatives.

Stallworth: Then Holiday Inn going to tell them they ain't going to accept them because they're black?

Millet: No, they're going to say, "Bring on that money. Sign this line. Pay me." (Laughter.)

Stallworth: This is what Thurgood was saying. So, why? You don't have to boycott Holiday Inn. You've got that money in your pocket, that'll do it. And you got the education. So, that's it. And so, he really programmed me. And did a good job. And right today, I see that priest, Father Lawler, I was telling you about. Every time I see him, I hug him. He's old, now, and I think he's--

Millet: Getting a little slippy in the head?

Stallworth: Yeah, that Alzheimer's is getting him. He hardly recognizes me, now. I see him every now and then, but--.

Millet: He was a wise man; he gave you good advice.

Stallworth: He gave me good counsel. Well, see, I knew Father Lawler. Father Lawler married me and my wife. Father Lawler baptized all my children. And he confirmed them all. He confirmed me. So, he's my family minister.

Millet: Is he an American or was he an Irish priest?

Stallworth: He's an American.

Millet: He's from this country.

Stallworth: But most of the priests that served the black parish here are Irish. Most of them are. Father Lawler, now he's American.

Millet: Well, he was a rare individual.

Stallworth: Oh, yeah.

Millet: Did you feel frightened in your life about reprisals, like for--?

Stallworth: Yeah.

Millet: Did you receive any threats? What was that like?

Stallworth: Phone calls. "You black S.O.B. We'll get you." "You GD n troublemaker. We're going to get you." Yeah, I got all that. They shot in my house.

Millet: They shot in this house?

Stallworth: Not this house; I was living in Pascagoula. Yeah. They shot in my house and I was asleep.

Millet: At night. They came at night, when it's dark, and nobody could see them.

Stallworth: Right. That's the way cowards do. They don't realize it, but cowards wait and hide in the dark, and shoot and throw a brick and run.

Millet: Or dynamite.

Stallworth: Or dynamite. Yeah. That's the way cowards do. And then they mostly kill little children. You know. That's what they mostly do, and that's bad. But now, that's what they mostly do. And they have people afraid. That was one thing that made me not be afraid. Because I said, "Well, when I'm asleep, I put my self in the hands of the Almighty to look after me." Because I wouldn't know what's going on when I'm asleep. But I ain't got to worry for nothing when I'm walking around in the daytime because they're cowards. They ain't going to face you. They won't. Now, they'll face you if it's a hundred of them on one. You see. The whole police force, and the whole sheriff's department. See. But that's nothing to really be afraid of because if you don't change it, that's going to forever be. Like little, old Emmett Till, fourteen year old boy, and they took the whole sheriff's department and half of the town to go pick him up and do him like that because they say he whistled at a woman. You know. One sheriff or one policeman could have gone over there and got him. They took half of the town. But anyway, yeah, I got those threatening calls, and I was threatened about what all might happen, but, well, I ain't going to say I didn't pay it any attention, but I didn't let it bother me. I didn't let it stop me.

Millet: Didn't let it stop you.

Stallworth: Yeah. I really thought about it because I didn't want nothing to happen to my wife and my kids. But I wouldn't let it stop me.

Millet: I think Winston Churchill said, "When you have a child, you give a hostage to the world." You know? Yeah. That's where they can really get to you is with your children and your loved ones.

Stallworth: Yeah. But, then again, though, I said this. I smiled. I said, "I must be doing something."

Millet: You're drawing fire. (Laughter.)

Stallworth: That's right. I said, "I must be doing something. Other than that, they wouldn't pay me no attention."

Millet: Yeah. And you survived. You did.

Stallworth: Yeah. Sure did.

Millet: Although those shots in the night are close calls.

Stallworth: Yeah. They are.

Millet: You know, I guess I really do believe a Higher Power decides all that, and some people just go earlier than other people. Like Medgar Evers.

Stallworth: Well, I say, it's just a thing of fate. You see. If, you can say if, if Medgar Evers just would have been out of town that night, all night, it probably wouldn't have happened then.

Millet: But, they were after him. They probably would have gotten him.

Stallworth: Yeah. They'd track him down. Yeah. They'd track him down. It's just the thing of something that happens. Like, for instance, that night when they shot in my house, it just happened I wasn't up. If I was up--.

Millet: Would they have gotten you, you think?

Stallworth: I think they would have.

Millet: Based on where the shots came in?

Stallworth: Right. But, see, they shot in. We leave the lights on in the bathroom window. You know. Because the kids was small. So, they could go to the restroom. And then, you see, that's the room they shot in.

Millet: Because there was a light on.

Stallworth: There was a light there. And they used a shotgun with hunks of lead in it.

Millet: And, for the record, because 200 years from now, people won't know: what does shot do when it comes out of the gun?

Stallworth: It spreads.

Millet: Buckshot?

Stallworth: Yeah. See, but these was buckshots, but they wasn't buckshots. The buckshots had been took out, but the shell was loaded with hunks of lead. See, that means that would knock a hole in that wall big as my thumb.

Millet: They were probably jagged and take more--?

Stallworth: They'd take more flesh. See, where if it hits your body, it'll make a bigger hole. See, it'll just tear your body up.

Millet: Yeah. It probably has a different trajectory [and] the way it impacts something.

Stallworth: That's right. See. Now, had I been up, I would have been looking at TV. They would have saw me. But it happened, you see, I say act of fate. Something just told me, said, "I don't feel like watching TV tonight. I think I'll go on to bed."

Millet: Now, did you report it to the police? Could you expect any kind of help from law enforcement at that time.

Stallworth: [Shakes head.] But I reported it.

Millet: Was the law enforcement neutral, on your side, or against you at that time?

Stallworth: Well, to be honest, law enforcement was against me, but they wouldn't say it.

Millet: So, law enforcement at that time was probably infiltrated by the Klan.

Stallworth: That's correct.

Millet: And were not going to help you, and might even do you harm.

Stallworth: Right. But I called the FBI.

Millet: And what happened when you talked to the FBI?

Stallworth: The FBI came down, and they investigated. Like they told me that they used these buckshots. See, they took them out the wall; cut them out the wall. You see, they can't trace a shotgun. See. You can trace a rifle or a handgun, but you can't trace a shotgun. But they stayed in constant contact with me for, oh, over a year. Yeah.

Millet: Could they give you any kind of protection for the future? Like surveillance?

Stallworth: I think from time to time they probably did, but not visible. See. Not visible. But from time to time, they would get in touch with me, and I would get in touch with them, and we would meet safe places and talk. But they did it in a secret manner. They didn't overtly do it. But I did. I called the FBI. And the reason I called the FBI is because the police told me not to. (Laughter.) He didn't know what he was telling me, and when he told me not to do it, that's what I did. That's what I did. Yeah. You see. See, that opened the window on them. They said, "Let us handle this, now. Don't call the FBI. We're going to take care of this."

I said, "OK."

Millet: Oh. Sure they were going to take care of it. They'll be back the next night.

Stallworth: I told him, "Yes, sir." But just as soon as he left, I called the FBI. I told the FBI what he told me.

Millet: And what was their reaction to that?

Stallworth: They laughed. Because they knew what I knew. [The police] wasn't trying to protect me.

Millet: What did you tell your children at that time?

Stallworth: I think they understood. I told them exactly, so, they understood.

Millet: That's a tough thing to have to tell to little children. They couldn't have been very old at that time.

Stallworth: No, they wasn't. Well, see, one of my daughters used to do my typing for me. Agnes. She was the one used to do all my typing. She's pretty good at a typewriter.

Millet: So, she was reading other events that were going on?

Stallworth: That's right.

Millet: She had a real liberal education at that point in her life. Yeah. That is really a touching story. Your whole family really was together and solid and unified around that issue. I guess you felt like you had a lot of support from your wife?

Stallworth: Well, yeah. Had I not had the support from my wife and my family that I had, I don't believe I could have made it. You see. Because I had to have somewhere to come where I could feel welcome or felt needed or felt appreciated.

Millet: Because you were getting all these messages out there of troublemaker and worse.

Stallworth: That's right. "We don't want you. We don't need you. We're going to kill you. We're going to run you off." Oh, yeah. But things, now, we still got racial discrimination. We still got a lot of inequities, but it's far better than it used to be. It's not near what it used to be.

Millet: It's improved. What are the improvements that you see?

Stallworth: Versus, I used to ride down the street, and I could see racial discrimination all around me. Just by looking. Just by riding. I looked at all the policemen; they were all white. And they were none of my friends; all my enemies. I go to the post office; all the mail carriers and everybody behind the counters were white. The only black I see, was a janitor or a maid. I go to the bank to do my banking, all white, except the janitor and the maid. I go to town to tend to my business, to pay my utilities, all white. I go to the courthouse to pay my taxes, to do my other business at the courthouse, all white. I go to work, all the supervisors, all the management, everybody in personnel, everybody up, was white. School, when I was going to school, you could pass a school, and you could tell the white school from the black school, just look out on the campus.

Millet: And what did you see?

Stallworth: If they were all black, you'd know that was a black school. And sometimes the windows be half torn out of them; they got maybe one or two little pieces of equipment on the ground. You pass by the white school, you'd see a big, pretty building. You see all kinds of equipment out on the playground, and you see the playgrounds is well kept and well groomed. And you knew, that was a white school. Now, to show the difference.

You go to town, now, and you see the police cars and you see white and black. Pass the fire departments, you see white and black. You go in the city hall and do your business, you see white and black. You go to the post office to do your business, you see white and black. You go to the courthouse to do your business--you see white and black. You go out on the jobs, and you look up and down the ladder, although, the further you look up, the fewer the blacks get. See. But once, you didn't see a few; you didn't see any. Still, improvements need to be made. But the further you look down, the darker it gets. So, these are the changes. But it's not near what it ought to be. But some changes have been made for the better. And once upon a time, you'd get your ballot, all of the candidates was white.

Millet: Yeah. If you could get a ballot.

Stallworth: Yeah. If you got a ballot. That's right. But, now, it's been made possible that you can get the ballot, and all the candidates are not white. So, you know, to say progress has not been made would be a misstatement.

Millet: And I think there are more physicians who are African-Americans, now. More attorneys. They don't ask schoolteachers to sign something that says, "I don't join the NAACP." You know, and they used to do that years ago.

Stallworth: That's right. So, but, far, far from what it used to be.

Millet: And we're talking about really a relatively short time, from the sixties to the end of the nineties, I guess. That's why I say we had a revolution. I think we really did.

Stallworth: Yeah. It was. Because back then, if you could bring our foreparents back now, that was back then, and let them see what's going on, now, they would be overwhelmed.

Millet: Yeah. It would be a shock.

Stallworth: Yeah. They would. They would be overwhelmed. All but a few, now. I think people like Martin Luther King and Thurgood Marshall and Roy Wilkins, and you go on down the line. The three civil rights workers--

Millet: Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner.

Stallworth: Yeah. Even Fannie Lou [Hamer]. I think they'd be disappointed.

Millet: You do?

Stallworth: Yeah. In spite of the progress. I think they'd be disappointed in a lot of things that's going on because some of the things that went on, goes on, shouldn't go on. But I imagine it goes with everything else. You know. But, like, Martin Luther King, he told them, said, "Don't bother about giving me no rewards. Don't even bother with that." But the minute he died, you couldn't hear nothing but all over the place, they would name a street. Everybody went street-naming crazy. They named a street after Martin Luther King, and every once in awhile, they have a day when they want to hold hands and march all over the place. I'm not opposed to that, but when it comes down to things that we really ought to be doing. Like we really ought to be going out here on election day, voting. They don't vote. That's what I'm talking about.

Millet: We've seen a downward shift in participation at the polls.

Stallworth: See, that's what Fannie Lou Hamer and Martin Luther King and Roy Wilkins and all them would be disappointed over. You see.

Millet: Can you think of anything that we could do that would make young people want to be more involved in the electoral process?

Stallworth: I don't know. Well, what I think is--I don't think it will happen, but I think what you've got to do, you've got to go where the kids are. You've got to go to the school. Now, I really don't think that they are pushing the kids hard enough to be involved into politics in schools like they should. They've got some kind of old, crazy way to answer to say that they can't do it, but I think they should. That's one of the things. Because that's the way the kids are.

The next thing I think that all of the churches, the preachers or the deacons or somebody ought to teach it in church. Not that you're endorsing a party, but they ought to show them that they ought to be involved.

Millet: The process. How to do it.

Stallworth: That's right. But these preachers will find some way to say he can't do it, or they can't do it, but he can talk about everything else. See, that's where the kids are.

Millet: Yeah. School and church.

Stallworth: Yeah. So, I think if they did a better job in that, then you would have better involvement or more involvement than what they have. And it would help the adults, also, because if they start talking these things and teaching these things, in churches and in schools, it's got to get back home to the parents.

Millet: Yeah. And some of the parents would probably be doing the teaching. They say that you really learn something when you teach it. You know. That's when you really learn it.

Stallworth: Yeah. So, you know, these are the things that I think that our shortfalls and our longfalls and so forth, and so.

Millet: Do African-Americans have representation among elected officials in the coastal counties?

Stallworth: Oh, yeah. We've got, I would boast to say--. OK. In the state of Mississippi, I think we've got more black elected officials in the state than any state in the union. That don't say that we are where we ought to be. But we could say, we're leading the pack.

Millet: And that's really something considering what it was like here thirty years ago or forty years ago.

Stallworth: It was zero. That's right. Well, here in Jackson County, we've got one black on the board of supervisors, out of five. Here in Moss Point, we've got a black mayor, and we've got four black board of aldermen out of seven.

Millet: That's a majority, isn't it? Or, at least--?

Stallworth: Yeah. In Pascagoula, you've got one black councilman out of five or seven. There ain't but one black.

Millet: If all the African-Americans were voting solidly, would that picture change? Is that because people are not going to the polls?

Stallworth: I would say if more black Americans would go to the polls, you might be able to get one more black councilman in Pascagoula. But population-wise, the population is so heavy, you've got far too many white voters over black voters, I think, to land a mayor. You know, unless, in the white community you have a big change of thought, which I don't--.

Millet: Exactly. Unless people could be color-blind and just vote with the issues and candidate.

Stallworth: Right. So, but I think you're probably minus one black councilman, that you would have if you had a good black turnout. If you had a good, black turnout all over the state of Mississippi, you could get rid of Trent Lott. (Laughter.) If you could get that. Not that--. I'm on the Democratic Executive Committee. I'm on the Jackson County Democratic Executive Committee. There are some Republicans that I could vote for. There are some Republicans I couldn't vote for no kind of way. There are some Democrats I can't vote for. So, I mean, because of my estimation of the moral situation. See. Like Gene Taylor, he's a Democrat. I can't vote for Gene Taylor. See.

Millet: Do you want to comment on that? Why? Or, you certainly don't have to.

Stallworth: Well, Gene Taylor is nothing but Gene Taylor is a Republican wearing a Democratic uniform.

Millet: He's a Republican in Democrat's clothing.

Stallworth: That's right like a wolf in sheep's clothing. So, that's what Gene is. He's that sacrificial goat; Judas goat. You know. That goat that's trained to make pretend that he's leading other goats to safety.

Millet: Yeah, and he's taking them to slaughter.

Stallworth: Taking them to slaughter. So, that's Gene. So, I just couldn't vote for Gene Taylor. You know. If he wanted to be a Republican, be one. I've got no problem with that. Probably if he were a Republican, I might could vote for him. (Laughter.)

Millet: At least, he would be honest, huh?

Stallworth: Yeah. So, you know. Trent Lott, I just can't vote for Trent Lott because Trent Lott, when he talks, he talks a good game, but when you look at his voting record, it's a shame. It's a shame. Every time they vote to do some improvement on social security, Trent votes against it. Every time they vote to make an improvement in Medicare, Trent votes against it. Every time they voted to raise the minimum wage, Trent votes against it. Every time they try to improve anything for old people, poor people, working people and black people, Trent votes against it. Every time. But yet, when he runs, all these segments that he votes against are voting for him.

Millet: He talks a good talk.

Stallworth: He talks a good game, and he gets away with it.

Millet: He sure does.

Stallworth: Because don't nobody check behind him. See?

Millet: Yeah. And I wonder if people know how. You know, maybe people just don't know how to do that.

Stallworth: Maybe they don't. Yeah, see.

Millet: Because I think they would care.

Stallworth: So, here, that's what I'm saying. That's why I think that they ought to talk about it in church. They ought to talk about it in church. They ought to talk about it in schools. And that way, you won't have that.

Millet: I think that's what they did in mass meetings in the churches. You know. They talked about strategy and how you find things out. Who's doing what, and what we can accomplish if we unify and unite. But I guess the mass meetings are scarce, now. I think in Holmes County, they're still holding Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party Meetings. I'm not sure how often, but they are organized to the point that if an issue came up, the community would be mobilized. You know. They would just be able to bring it up in a meeting, and they'd be ready to go.

Stallworth: And you know, I can understand that there are some blacks that's warm toward the Republican party, and I have to say, in this day and time, I don't understand it.

Millet: Really?

Stallworth: Yeah. I would say right now, all blacks ought to be Democrats. I'll say that. I'll say it for this reason: when you look at the--.

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

Millet: OK, prior to the Emancipation Proclamation--

Stallworth: Yeah. That I could see why blacks was so warm to the Republican Party because the Republican Party was the liberal party. See, it was the liberal party, but they didn't do nothing for blacks. But they were the liberal party, and Abraham Lincoln did sign the Emancipation Proclamation, but he didn't sign it with the intent of black people being free.

Millet: What did he sign it with the intent of?

Stallworth: The intent was to keep the Union together because the South and the North was fighting, and he didn't want the Union split. So, if the South would have won, you wouldn't have had no United States. You see. So, Abraham Lincoln did it to save the Union, not to free.

Millet: Stop the fighting and save the Union.

Stallworth: Yeah. OK. But there are blacks interpret that to say, "Well, he did it to free blacks." If he did that to free blacks, what are we talking about?

Millet: I don't know. What are we talking about?

Stallworth: We're talking about civil rights. About freeing blacks. So, him signing the Emancipation Proclamation didn't free blacks because had it would have, we wouldn't have this problem. OK. Now, so, let's say that: because, they were the same, then. The Democrats was racial and so was the Republicans. OK. Now, that brings us up to the change of the thing was to, when Roosevelt took office. When Roosevelt took office, then everybody was down to their eyeballs. They didn't have nothing. They didn't have a dime or penny or nickel or nothing.

Millet: We were all in the same boat.

Stallworth: Now, what has happened. All through those years by any party to help any group of people, or all poor people: the Democratic Party is the party that started the WPA, the CC camps, and so-called them "poverty programs."

Millet: Now, a hundred years from now, people are going to wonder: what is the WPA and the CC programs. Basically the federal government created jobs for poor people and paid them to do those jobs.

Stallworth: That's right.

Millet: For example, there were artists who were unemployed who painted murals, and the government paid them. And there were other people who weren't artists who maybe went and cleared paths through the woods for something because that was needed for logging.

Stallworth: Build dams.

Millet: The government paid those people. So, the government got jobs done that needed to be done and paid people in the WPA. I'm not familiar with the CC--.

Stallworth: CC camp was similar. The CC camp was something like, more or less, something like a military situation, where you wasn't in service, but what you did, too, you cut trees, and you cleared the land and cleared the forests.

Millet: My mother had a brother who did that when he was seventeen.

Stallworth: Yeah. They called that CC camps. And so, that helped millions and millions and millions of people. Then, they come up with the minimum wage. There was no minimum wage at all. The Democrats come up with the minimum wage.

Millet: And that helped people.

Stallworth: That's right. Then, the Democrats come up with the forty-hour work week.

Millet: Oh. Well, I'm glad for that. I didn't know who invented that.

Stallworth: That's right. Democrats. And time and a half for all hours paid over forty. The Democrats come up with that.

Millet: So, you could make a living, with minimum wage.

Stallworth: That's right. That's correct. The Democrats come up with the federal reserve banks, that we were talking about. Poor people lost their money to rich folks. They worked, put their money in the bank, and they go to the bank, and they ain't got none. The rich folks done took the money from the poor folks. Roosevelt shut all the banks down, and when they came back up, they was federally insured that you wouldn't lose your money. The Democrats did that. That helped poor people. But I have to say, the Democrats come up with the Welfare. You know, the soup lines, and all that, because there was a need for it, then. But, as you come up, you can see that it was the Democratic Party that answered the call for poor people, in particular, black people and old people, but poor people in general. We were talking about the Head Start. The Democrats come up with Head Start.

Millet: To ease human suffering rather than to make money.

Stallworth: Right. And Head Start don't help only black folks. Head Start helps all poor people, white people or black people. See. And so, when you look at it, the Democratic Party have done more for old people, poor people, and black people, and poor white people than any party. They come up with Social Security. That was the Democrats come up with Social Security. That started under the Democratic Party, but the only thing the Republicans can do, now, is find some other way to use it besides what it's put there for. That's the problem. See. You know. If Social Security that people were paid from the time the Democrats started, was paid for what it was put there for, it wouldn't be under no threat, but every time the Republicans get a chance, they want to use it for something else, and then they say, "Social Security is going broke."

"Yeah. It's going broke because you're using it for what it wasn't intended for."

Millet: Yeah. At your convenience.

Stallworth: That's correct. So, I can't understand black people being Republicans. Now, I know some will see this, and they will challenge me. They'll say, "You're crazy. I've got a right to be what I want to be." That's true.

Millet: Yeah. That's true.

Stallworth: But now, I'll say this: name me one black Republican, one black Republican, even a black Republican could read this and challenge me on it, name me one and that one himself, I challenge him to do what the black Democrats did. Now, if you're a black Republican and you say you've got a right to be one, I'm a black Democrat. I've got a right to be one. I challenge the Democratic Party to help make it what we think it ought to be. I don't see no challenge from no black Republican trying to make the Republican Party nothing to bring concessions to poor people and old people. I don't see any.

So, now, to you black Republican that reads this or wants to challenge my statement, I challenge you.

Millet: It's on the record!

Stallworth: Yeah. To do what we did. If you do that, then I applaud you, and I salute you. And say, "Yeah, you've got a right to be a Republican." But just to be a Republican just to sit over in the corner and do what the Republicans are doing to poor people and old people and black people, no, I don't see no reason why you ought to be one.

Millet: I don't see any reason why anybody ought to be one! (Laughter.) This is a great interview. It really is. I thank you so much.

Stallworth: I appreciate it.

Millet: And I just--. My last question always is: is there anything I failed to ask you about that you would like to address for the record?

Stallworth: No. I think we--. We covered more than I thought we would.

Millet: Well, it's been a pleasure and a privilege, and this will educate people for years to come. As long as the archives are intact, and the Internet is still working, it'll be on there. Thank you.

Stallworth: Thank you, too.

Millet: You're welcome.

(End of the interview.)


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