An Oral History


Annie Stewart

Interviewer: Worth Long

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.



Mrs. Annie Lee Stewart was born March 21, 1927, in Grenada County, Mississippi. Her parents were the late Rosie Stewart Walker and Mr. Luke Stewart. She is the fifth child of nine children.

For many years Mrs. Stewart was a cook at the Monte Christie Café, and the Country Kitchen, as well as the Country Club Restaurant. While working holidays and weekends, from sunup to sundown, she always found time for her seven children and three nephews. She was able to provide for her children on a meager wage that never exceeded two dollars per hour.

In 1996, in memory of Mrs. Stewart's loving mother Mrs. Rosie Walker, the NAACP gave Mrs. Stewart an award for being a diligent civil rights activist in the sixties. In 1997, the NAACP gave Mrs. Stewart another award for activity in the civil rights movement.

Mrs. Stewart's children are Freeman (deceased), Alberta, Jimmi, Beverly, Carol, Lawrence, and Stanley.

Table of Contents

Childhood 1

Sharecropping 2

Church 3

Civil rights in Grenada, Mississippi 8

Meredith March 9

Bell Flower Church 12

Integration of Grenada schools 14

Mrs. Stewart's segregated school days 17

Cooking in the civil rights movement 21

Integrating the Monte Christie Café 24

Working 28

Dr. Martin Luther King 32

Mrs. Rosie Walker's movement work 36




This is an interview for the Civil Rights Documentation Project. The interview is with Mrs. Annie Stewart and is taking place on March 22, 2000. The interviewer is Worth Long.

Long: OK. We're recording this for the Mississippi Oral History Program and for the Tougaloo College Archives. Now, we're in Grenada, Mississippi. Can you tell me your name and where and when you were born, please?

Stewart: My name is Annie Lee Stewart, and I was born in Grenada County.

Long: Uh-huh. In what year?

Stewart: March 21, 1927.

Long: Mm-hm. What was it like growing up in Mississippi at that time?

Stewart: Oh, it was rough. I can tell you. Go in the field and picking cotton, pulling corn, and everything. Plowing the mules. And it was rough.

Long: Mm-hm. Who were your father and mother, and what kind of occupation did they come out of?

Stewart: Well, they was farmers. My mother was named Rosie Stewart, and my father was named Luke Stewart.

Long: Uh-huh. And where exactly--? Was there a particular plantation or a place where you were farming at that time?

Stewart: It was in Yalobusha County. A place they called Coffeeville.

Long: Uh-huh. And what did your folks say about that time? Can you tell me just--?

Stewart: Well, there wasn't anything they could say because at that time, they was afraid to talk about anything, but most times we didn't even have clothes fitting to wear to school, shoes, or what have you. In other words, they would just take everything. Yeah. Oh, it was rough growing up back then.

Long: What was the system you were working on? Was it sharecropping? You say you were chopping cotton. How exactly did he pay off people who worked for him on that place in Coffeeville?

Stewart: Well, it was sharecropping. Just after everything is gathered, you know, after you harvest everything, well, then, you know, that's when you get your pay. Which wouldn't be nothing. Because he would say, "Well, you almost broke even." You know. And that type of stuff. The man said, "Well, we'll let you have fifteen dollars per month to survive till the next term." You know. Oh, it was just really rough. Yes, indeed. It was rough.

Long: So, how do you think your family did considering the conditions of that time?

Stewart: Well, I think they did pretty good, because at that time, I mean, everything you had, you know you'd have to raise it and grow it and whatever. You know, I mean you just couldn't, as far as hogs and cows and all like that, you know, your chickens, and all that. You had to raise all that yourself. Yeah. So, it was rough.

Long: Mm-hm. How many boys and girls?

Stewart: It was five girls and four boys.

Long: Uh-huh. And was women's work different from men's work?

Stewart: No. No.

Long: What does that mean?

Stewart: It means women plowed, too. Pulled corn. Pulled cross-cut saws to saw wood. (Laughter.) So, it wasn't any different.

Long: Did y'all get the same amount of attention as men?

Stewart: No.

Long: Really?

Stewart: No. They always thought the men was supposed to get more. You know. The man, they would always pay them more. But in the meantime, we was there [the same] hours, doing the same type of work.

Long: Uh-huh. Tell me when you began [in] the day? Give me--. I'm going to go on and let you talk, and you can give me an example of one working day you might remember. Just an example of a working day. Y'all get up at--. Let's see, work starts at 9:30, generally, when you work downtown. So, talk about the field. When did work start?

Stewart: At seven.

Long: Uh-huh. And just go on and tell me about it.

Stewart: Oh, well, we worked till dark. As long as you could see, you was out there. You really didn't have no rest time until you got off, and that was because you worked all day. Yeah. You just worked all day. Then on Saturday, you would have to do your laundry, and go do what little shopping you could do. Right back in the field, Monday morning. You'd go to church on Sundays. Right back to the field. And you went to the field from Monday until Saturday noon.

Long: Uh-huh. And then what would you do after Saturday noon? You say you got off at Saturday noon.

Stewart: Right. Uh-huh. Well, that's when you do your laundry.

Long: Uh-huh. Yeah. You work around the house.

Stewart: Yeah.

Long: I see. And Saturday night?

Stewart: Oh, it wasn't anything to do Saturday night but go to bed. (Laughter.)

Long: And Sunday morning?

Stewart: Well, you went to church on Sunday morning.

Long: And what was the church you went to up in Coffeeville?

Stewart: Pleasant Grove Baptist.

Long: Do you remember what church was like? Just feel free to tell me.

Stewart: Oh, yeah. It was better than it is now, because you could hear them down under the hill before you get there. And Lord, they would be having a time. I tell you. Oh, yeah. It was real good back there, then. Yes, indeed. Go to Sunday school on Sunday morning and back for service at night, and back to the field Monday morning.

Long: Uh-huh. Now, at the church, did they eat out there, too?

Stewart: Yeah.

Long: What exactly would they have for you to eat and to drink, when you were out there after the church service?

Stewart: Oh, they would have lemonade to drink, and they would have chicken and potato pies, and you know, greens, and peas, and stuff like that.

Long: Uh-huh. And who would bring it?

Stewart: Well, all the members, you know, everybody would take a basket.

Long: Wait, now. Everybody would take [a] basket?

Stewart: Mm-hm.

Long: OK. Now, tell me what your mama would take sometimes.

Stewart: Oh, she would take fried chicken and greens and cornbread and pies. Fried pies, or something like that. Yeah. Just like, for instance, like, it's going to be, like, this Sunday. Well, they pick out so many to bring boxes; and then the next one, so many more. You know.

Long: They'd rotate?

Stewart: Yeah. Right. Uh-huh.

Long: Uh-huh. Yeah. And what if you had meager means; you didn't have much you could bring? What would you do?

Stewart: Just carry whatever you could.

Long: Anybody bring any banana sandwiches?

Stewart: No.

Long: You ever seen any banana sandwiches?

Stewart: Oh, yes, I've seen them.

Long: Uh-huh. But they wouldn't bring that to church?

Stewart: No. Mm-mm. No, they didn't bring no banana sandwiches.

Long: To church. And then, how would the table that people ate off of look? What did they eat off of?

Stewart: Well, they cut those two by fours or whatever. They made those tables.

Long: Uh-huh. So, it's a slab table.

Stewart: Right.

Long: Uh-huh. And then they put some kind of cloth over it?

Stewart: Right.

Long: I see.

Stewart: Flour sacks. Take those flour sacks and make those tablecloths.

Long: I see. Who could eat first?

Stewart: The preachers. And the deacons. (Laughter.)

Long: I wonder why.

Stewart: I wondered that, myself. (Laughter.) And most time, there wouldn't be nothing left, hardly.

Long: You mean, they would sit there at the table and just eat till they were full?

Stewart: Oh, yes. Yes. Yes. And then, "We're going to wrap this for the preacher. Let the preacher take this home."

I'd be saying, "Lord," to myself, "what in the world are we going to eat?" (Laughter.) Oh, boy. We've come a long ways, but not far enough.

Long: Yeah, I guess. Now, the children, when did they eat?

Stewart: Oh, they would always eat after the adults.

Long: Uh-huh. So, then the preacher eats first, then the adults, and then the children.

Stewart: Then the children.

Long: Right. And let's suppose you were a child at that time. We're going back that far.

Stewart: Which I was.

Long: Uh-huh. So, what would you be thinking?

Stewart: The [children] didn't have nothing [to eat] but a neck and feet. (Laughter.)

Long: There wasn't nothing going to be left but what?

Stewart: The neck and the feet. (Laughter.)

Long: And you would eat that?

Stewart: Really! And be glad to get it.

Long: And then, some of the potato [pie]?

Stewart: Yeah. Some of the dessert. And vegetables. They wouldn't leave no meat, though. (Laughter.)

Long: That is something. But you would have some lemonade?

Stewart: Oh, yeah.

Long: Yeah, the kids would have lemonade.

Stewart: Yeah.

Long: Tell me what kinds of songs were being sung during that time that you can remember?

Stewart: Oh, "I'm Going Home to Live with Jesus," and "I'm Packing Up and Getting Ready to Go Home."

Long: What were some of your favorite songs? Can you remember a particular favorite that you had? Or that your mother or family sang? What about now? What are some of your favorites?

Stewart: Oh. So many of them are running across my mind right now, until I can't even think. (Laughter.)

Long: But my question has to do with: is the music different, now, than it was then?

Stewart: Oh, yeah. There wasn't any music, then. Oh, nothing but your hands and feet. No, wasn't any music back then.

Long: Describe that whole thing. I'm going to let you talk for maybe five minutes about that. Just talk any kind of way you want to about the music and what you saw in church, and how the children felt. Can you do that for me?

Stewart: Oh, when they'd be throwing out those hymns, them old, good hymns, when you'd be down at the bottom of the hill trying to get that dust off your feet to get your shoes on, because you'd be done walked there barefoot. (Laughter.) And they would be singing them hymns, and they would sound so good. Ooooh, Lord. "I'm on the battlefield for my Lord." And oh, Lord, they'd be singing. I mean, they would sound good. But it wasn't any music. No. "And I promised to Him that I would serve until I die." Now, that was good back then. But now, all this loud music and, oh! Well, you know, back then, they used to preach from the Good Book, but now they preach from your pocketbook. (Laughter.) Oh, yeah. It was some good days back then. But now! You can't hardly afford to go to church, they ask for so much. Begs too much! Oh, Lord. Mmmm.

Long: Did folks shout in church?

Stewart: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. They would shout, sure enough, then. But now they think they're too cute to shout. Yeah. They would shout, then. And there was some good preaching back then. Oh, Lord. Yes, indeed. There was some good preaching back then.

Long: Did you ever hear any of the, we call them "classic" black sermons? Like "Jonah, in the Belly of the Whale?"

Stewart: Oh, yeah.

Long: Can you think of any others like that?

Stewart: You know. I don't believe I can.

Long: Did you ever hear of the "Eagle Stirred the Nest?"

Stewart: Stirred the nest? Yeah.

Long: Where did you hear that the first time, you think?

Stewart: That was in Coffeeville.

Long: You heard a local preacher?

Stewart: Yeah.

Long: Mm-hm. Because I know it was a record, at one time, too. C.F. Franklin put it out.

Stewart: Yeah.

Long: What were they singing in that song, "The Eagle Stirred the Nest?"

Stewart: Yeah. It's been so long, I really can't.

Long: Uh-huh. But I just wrote something, and it was about how the preacher preached that, and he used to talk about how the mother would bring worms to the eagle and make a feather-bed for the eagle, but then at a certain point, started bringing thorns and putting them in the nest, and very little food for the eagle because she was ready for the eagle to fly. Was it kind of like that?

Stewart: Yeah. It was something kind of like that, but I really can't remember now.

Long: I see. OK. And I'm saying that because I'm trying to look at why and how black people up here in Grenada and people from Coffeeville and other places got ready to fly. And I'd like for you to talk about that. Why were they going to get involved in trying to bring change during the early 1960s?

Stewart: Well, after we learned about the movement, we just thought it was a good time to get involved. So, after they came here and then got us, you know, registered to vote, well, I just figured we should just keep pushing on. Wasn't no point in turning around. So, we just kept going from there. And so, then Dr. King and them came and so, we just been out there ever since.

Long: Can you tell me the first time you ever heard about the movement? And then what you did or your mother or your family did in response to that? Kind of an early story about the movement.

Stewart: Was that in sixty-four? When I came home from work, some of the civil rights people was at the house. And so, I got home, and my mother told me to fix some food for them. And so, I went in there, and I cooked. And they sat around, and they ate. And would have mass meetings at the house, and so, I mean, it just--. They kept coming and kept coming. They was in every room on the beds, and all in the living room, and kitchen and everywhere. They was all over the house. And when they would come along on the bus traveling, we would fix lunch for them to travel with and all that when they were, you know, going on the march. And a paddy-wagon loaded up at our house. I mean, they were taking them all down to jail. Yeah, right at our house.

Long: You're talking about on Plum Street?

Stewart: Plum Street. Yeah.

Long: What was the number of that house, now?

Stewart: Four, twenty-eight.

Long: That's right next to where we are right now?

Stewart: Right.

Long: And you're saying that your mother remembers the Meredith March. What did she do during the Meredith March that you mentioned?

Stewart: Well, when she heard about him getting shot--.

Long: What was her name, please?

Stewart: Rosie Walker. And she went and met the march and led it on back to here, and then they went on through. So, we washed their clothes and ironed them.

Long: Right here?

Stewart: Oh, right here. Right here. James Meredith, from up there at Ole Miss. You know. He integrated Ole Miss.

Long: Right.

Stewart: And it was awful; I tell you. They was going to jail, taking them to jail in the cattle trucks and whatever, and so, we was all up around the jail getting them out of jail. Or up there bonding them out. And over there at John Rundle School when they was beating them with trace chains, and axe handles, and all of that. And broke some of their ribs, and some of their legs. It just--. Oh, it was terrible.

Long: Mm-hm. And who you talking about did that?

Stewart: The white peoples. When they integrated the school. When the black went over there. My mother and Dr. King led the march over there, and they beat them with axe handles and chains and broke ribs. Broke their legs. And all of that.

Long: Was Dr. King in danger during that time?

Stewart: Yeah, I'm pretty sure he was, but they didn't bother him at that time. Not here.

Long: And, your mother, how did you feel about your mother being in danger?

Stewart: Well, really and truly, my mother got tear-gassed. Real, real bad. And she never did get over it. No, she never did get over that tear gas.

Long: She inhaled it?

Stewart: Yes. And it, oh, for days, days, could not get it out of her system. And couldn't get it out of her clothes. She just never did get over that tear gas. I mean, that tear gas carried her away from here. Hosea was it, that night.

Long: Uh-huh. Now, this is Hosea? Who?

Stewart: Hosea Williams. Yeah.

Long: He was doing what? Tell me about him.

Stewart: Oh, he was in the march that night, when [they] got tear-gassed.

Long: What had they intended to do? They were going to march on what?

Stewart: Well, they were just having a march. I don't know exactly what it was for, now, but anyway, they staged a march.

Long: Did they march on the courthouses?

Stewart: Oh, yeah. But this was at night, and I don't know if they was going to the courthouse that night, or where they were going. They were just having a mass meeting in the streets, I think. And, they was tear-gassed. Lord, they was tear-gassed! Oh. My mother never did get over it.

Long: Get over that.

Stewart: No, she didn't.

Long: Mm-hm. Now, your mother never did get arrested, though, did she?

Stewart: No. Because my son told them, "No, you can't take her." [He] said, "I'll go in her place, but you can't take her." [He] said, "My grandmother's not going."

Long: Yeah.

Stewart: So, she never was arrested.

Long: Who was your son? Who was that saying that?

Stewart: Freeman. Freeman Haywood.

Long: Uh-huh. And how many children did you have?

Stewart: Seven.

Long: In all.

Stewart: Yeah, but he's deceased, now.

Long: Yeah. And your husband's name was?

Stewart: Ivory Haywood.

Long: Ivory Haywood. And you had Freeman and who else?

Stewart: Alberta, Jimmi, Lawrence, Beverly, Stanley, and Carol.

Long: And only one is deceased.

Stewart: Right. [Freeman is deceased.]

Long: And the others are doing well?

Stewart: Doing fine.

Long: That's fine.

Stewart: Yeah. Three boys, now, and three girls.

Long: Yeah. Because these are trying times, aren't they?

Stewart: Oh, Lord. That is so true.

Long: These are trying times.

Stewart: Yes, indeed.

Long: Let's get back to that. You were saying that you saw the Meredith March come here, and you said that James Meredith, that your mother and your family washed his clothes and helped send him on to Jackson, I suppose.

Stewart: [My mother met the march; James Meredith did not come here. My mother brought his clothes.]

Long: Now, did they come back? Is that what happened? They had an ending of the march down in Jackson, Mississippi, I know. And then, you were saying that you saw something else. That demonstration started back here? Is that right?

Stewart: Well, he was coming from, toward Memphis. He was coming this way, and got shot up the highway. And then, they [took him to the hospital.] Well, he went to the hospital, but they picked up the march and carried it on through.

Long: I see. On through to Jackson?

Stewart: Jackson. Right.

Long: But if the movement in Grenada started after Jackson, that means they must have come back here. Don't you think? How did Hosea and Leon Hall and Andy Young and Dr. King and Big Lester? Can you name some of the people who were here?

Stewart: Oh, yeah. Dr. King and Leon Hall and Cottonreader, and Big Lester. Yeah, they was here. But during the time that James Meredith got shot, they wasn't here at that time. I don't think. But they came shortly afterward. But they had been here. They had been here before then. Yeah.

Long: Mm-hm. What church had they been using mostly?

Stewart: Bell Flower.

Long: Bell Flower.

Stewart: Mm-hm. And then, starting using New Hope.

Long: Uh-huh. How many people would come to the mass meetings?

Stewart: Oh, about thirty-five or forty. Then they started picking up, picking up, picking up till got around about a hundred. Yeah.

Long: Mm-hm. Mostly older people? Or middle age? Or young people? Who was coming?

Stewart: Well, some were kind of young. Wasn't too many teenagers at that time would come, but middle age and elder people would come.

Long: Had any of them been with the NAACP? Or were they just ordinary citizens?

Stewart: Just ordinary citizens. Because they didn't even know anything about the NAACP until Cottonreader and them come here.

Long: Yeah. So, you're saying in Grenada, there was no real movement here until that time.

Stewart: Oh, no. No movement at all.

Long: Why do you think that black folks hadn't done anything at that time?

Stewart: I just really don't know, but they hadn't did anything. But after they come and got us started, well, then, they just kept going forward.

Long: Could your mother vote?

Stewart: No! She had went up there, and they'd give all kinds of old, hard tests, and she would pass them, and then they would say, "Well, you got to take it over." And she would go back, and every time they'd go up on the price, you know, and all of that. But she eventually got a chance to vote.

Long: Right. She voted before she--? When did she actually vote? What year?

Stewart: Mmm.

Long: Do you remember when she died?

Stewart: Oh, yeah. She died the tenth of December in seventy.

Long: In seventy. So, was it ten or more years before that she voted? Or when? I just wanted to see the period when she got a chance to vote and go to the polls. I'll ask this question: did she get a chance to vote for John F. Kennedy?

Stewart: Yeah.

Long: Uh-huh. She voted for John. F. Kennedy.

Stewart: I believe the first time she voted was in sixty-three.

Long: Sixty-three? Mm-hm.

Stewart: Mm-hm. Yeah. The first time she got to vote.

Long: And you don't know what the issue was then? What she was voting for?

Stewart: No, I didn't.

Long: Because sixty-four was the presidential election.

Stewart: Right.

Long: But she voted as early as sixty-three.

Stewart: Yeah.

Long: So, does that mean that she passed the test?

Stewart: Yeah. She passed the test. Yeah.

Long: Uh-huh. Now, did any of--? We talked about integration of schools. Did any of the children that you knew go to an integrated school back in the 1960s?

Stewart: Oh, yeah. My kids went.

Long: They went when?

Stewart: In the sixties.

Long: Where'd they go?

Stewart: Well, they went to John Rundle. That was the all-white school.

Long: Uh-huh. What year did they? After it was integrated? Was it the first or second or third year? Can you remember? I mean, was it early?

Stewart: I believe it was about the third year. I believe. I'm not positive.

Long: Uh-huh. What had happened to people who went, the first people who went to integrate the school? Did they do all right?

Stewart: Yeah. They got beat up.

Long: Tell me, just, about it. I'm going to let you just talk and tell me about what you heard.

Stewart: Well, they were saying, "The niggers are not going to this school. This is our school. This is our town, and we're going to run it." And so, they just would be up there with the chains and the bats and things and would just beat them down.

Long: Uh-huh. Yeah. Who were these people?

Stewart: I didn't actually know any of them.

Long: Did they say they were Klansmen? Or did they say they were with any organization?

Stewart: No, they didn't say, but I'm pretty sure they were.

Long: And where did that actually happen? At what place?

Stewart: It was right up, right across there on College Street. Right over there at John Rundle. It was right off of College.

Long: The children who tried to integrate, they had come from what? What used to be the all-black school?

Stewart: Yeah.

Long: And what was that called?

Stewart: Carrie Dotson and Willa Wilson.

Long: Willa Wilson. And your children were over there at that school?

Stewart: Yeah.

Long: Well, with all that happening, how could you decide to send your children to a school outside the community? Did you think it was going to be safe by the time that you sent them? Or what did you think? What would a mother and a father think? And why would they send their kids to a school during that time?

Stewart: Well, we wasn't sure it was going to be safe, but by the civil rights workers being in here, we thought maybe they wouldn't be as bad. Which they wasn't, at the time, but you just had to take a chance. Well, you know, you just think like this: "If it's not worth dying for, it's not worth living for." And so, you just have to put the good Lord in front and just think for the best.

Long: Mm-hm. OK. Now, did you feel that your children would get a better education in that school? Or what was your feeling about the quality of the school?

Stewart: Yeah. Because I knew it was better books. And, you know, you just want the best for your child. Sometimes you just have to take a chance, you know, but I knew there were better books and better everything over there, than there was in these all-black schools.

Long: Mm-hm. Now, how'd you know there were better books?

Stewart: Because I just felt like it.

Long: Mm-hm. But did your kids get books, hand-me-down books from--?

Stewart: Oh, yeah.

Long: Uh-huh. So, you saw some of the books that they no longer used?

Stewart: Right.

Long: And they'd be just what? Used books?

Stewart: Yeah, just old hand-me-down books. Just used, almost tore up.

Long: Uh-huh. And who used the new books?

Stewart: The whites be getting the new ones.

Long: Uh-huh. So, then you felt that there was a better opportunity in the other school because they had better equipment.

Stewart: Right.

Long: Uh-huh. What else? Was there any other reason that you thought that, "I'm going to risk sending my child here?"

Stewart: Well, I just really wanted my child to have as good an education as anybody. And if there's a will, there's a way. And I just wanted them to get the best. Whatever. So.

Long: And with that education were they able to go on and try to go to college, any of them?

Stewart: Oh, yeah. Uh-huh. Some of them went to college. Yeah.

Long: Where did they go?

Stewart: Well, my son, he's in service, now. He finished over there at Valley State. And my daughter, she's in Virginia. She went to college in Virginia. And another one of my daughters, she's still going here [to Holmes College]. And my oldest son, he went to Itta Bena. So, if you don't push for it, you just will not accomplish a thing. So, you just have to take a chance on some things.

Long: Uh-huh. Tell me about your own education as a factor in trying to get a quality education for your children. You went to school, you said, at a--? Where did the school bus drop you?

Stewart: School bus? Oh, Lord! The white kids passed by and spit on us! We were walking in the cold. And a lot of times, we had to go to school, turn around and come back because it wasn't no wood there. And what little we learned had froze out before we got back home. Oh, boy, it was rough. I tell you. It was rough.

Long: And you had to do that for nine months out of the year?

Stewart: Oh, yeah. And I tell you, you go and register when school started, but you'd do good to see the inside of a school till the last of December, because you'd be out there picking that cotton, and pulling corn, and what have you. It was rough. No school bus. No, Lord. No, indeed. We walked every single day, and that's why I was pushing for my kids not to come the way I did.

Long: Yeah. Walked to school.

Stewart: Yes, every single day.

Long: And was that a pot-bellied stove in the middle?

Stewart: Oh, you know it was. (Laughter.) Yes, indeed.

Long: What did you use, wood? Or coal?

Stewart: Wood.

Long: Wood, and have to go out and get it.

Stewart: Had to go out and get it. That's the reason we had to go back home so many days because the trustees didn't have wood there.

Long: The trustees could not provide the wood for the school?

Stewart: No.

Long: And sometimes the school was closed down because people were working?

Stewart: Right.

Long: When did they close it down? They closed it for what two different times? If you were doing a cotton crop?

Stewart: Well, they would open in September. That's when you registered, but still you really wouldn't get to go until the last of December or the first of January. And then you'd go until about the middle of March. And then you had to stop and go to knocking stalks and getting ready for plowing, and then you'd go maybe two days out of a week, or maybe one. And then go back to the field. So, that's just the way it was.

Long: Now, they didn't make you have to do that, did they?

Stewart: Oh, yes, I did! Oh, yes, I did.

Long: But wouldn't you have been special? Being able to cook and clean and stuff like that? You went to the field.

Stewart: I went to the field. Oh, I'd go back and cook, now. I'd go back to the house and cook, and then I would go back to the field. That's just the way life went.

Long: That does sound hard.

Stewart: It was hard. Real hard.

Long: Mm-hm. Do you think that your children's life was better than your life?

Stewart: Oh, I know it. Oh, of course. Of course.

Long: Give me an example.

Stewart: Well, they had more than we had. Because, now, they didn't have to stay out of school. Not for anything. Now, they could go. Only time mine missed was when they was sick. But other than that, they was there every day. Every day.

Long: I see. And they didn't have to go chop cotton?

Stewart: Oh, no.

Long: So, the school didn't close for them.

Stewart: Didn't close for them. They was there daily.

Long: Right. Did you have a better shot than your parents in education? Did you have a better chance than your parents?

Stewart: I really don't think so. Because, I don't know how they survived, but somehow, looked like some of them got to go more than we did. They didn't have to go to the field as often as we did.

Long: Mm-hm. So, why? I mean, I need to understand why y'all had to go to the field more than your folks had to go. Tell me about it.

Stewart: Oh, yeah. They had to go. But they got to go to school a little bit more than we did.

Long: I see. Can you tell me why?

Stewart: Well, my mother's uncle raised them. He had got his own place, and they didn't just have to go. Him and his older family would do the work and let them go to school. So, therefore, we were different.

Long: Mm-hm. So, then, your mother and father were brought up with a better educational opportunity and less work than you were?

Stewart: Well, to be honest with you, my mother raised us. I didn't really know anything about my father too much until after he got sick, and then I had to take him. He passed with me.

Long: And that was in Coffeeville?

Stewart: Right.

Long: Mm-hm. And you had mentioned his name. He was?

Stewart: Luke Stewart.

Long: I see. Finally, let me--. I'm going to ask you some questions where if you were telling a story, you would just go on and talk until you got tired. (Laughter.) Now, I know you don't talk a whole lot, but since I'm asking questions, then you'll wait for me to ask the questions. Tell me about something that you may want to talk about as it relates to the questions that I've asked. About your experience. You can jump back and forth. You can do it any kind of way you want to. But go on and let me sit back and listen to you talk about the civil rights movement or growing up in Mississippi or something that you want, if I was going to put something on the shelf that represented you. Can I have you do that? Are you willing to risk that? I'll listen. And after I count ten is when I may ask a question, anyhow. But I like the way you have done this interview, and I feel kind of like I may be interrupting some of your thoughts. So, I'm going to let you go on and just talk. And you can ramble if you want to. You can gossip if you have to. (Laughter.) You can do whatever. I'm going to sit here and listen. Where you think you want to start? I see you have something written in front of you. You can do whatever you want to. (Brief silence.) That's a good place to start. (Laughter.) Go right ahead. (Brief silence.) Go on, Ms. Annie. Go on.

Stewart: Now, what are you talking about, now? My growing up? Or what?

Long: Anything you may want to talk about here. Because I wanted some thoughts that were just your own.

Stewart: Well, I really think if people would pull together and not against each other and get this thing to going and everybody pull one way and not pull against each other, you know, I think things would be much better. You know. For instance, say, a black running against black. I don't think they should do that. They really shouldn't do it because that splits up the votes and stuff like that. You know. I [think that we] ought to get on one accord, and try to work things out for the best. And you know a lot of times we do things against ourselves. So, everybody should try to get together, and it would be a much, much better world for everybody. But like it is, I don't know. Look like they want to pull against each other. And that's not right. Everybody should pull together and it would be a much better world.

Now, Mr. Neely, he's been out there. He's been struggling down through the years. And some sticks with him and some don't. And that's wrong. You know. But everybody should pull together. And I think we would get things over. We been struggling and struggling a long time. Somehow look like they're backing up. So, I don't know if it's happening like that every place, but I tell you, look like they're backing up here. Before they know it, things are going to be right back like it was. We're just going to have to put the good Lord in front and keep on. Because if it wasn't for Him, we couldn't make it.

I hate you caught me with my thinking cap off! (Laughter.)

Long: That's all right because what you just said was wonderful.

Stewart: Yes. But we got so far to go. We've come a long ways, but we've still got a long journey.

Long: When were people in one accord? Did you see some of that when your mother was out there trying to--?

Stewart: Well, it looked like it was more pulling together then than there is now. Look like they falling back, now. Yeah. Look like some is falling back. Some is still trying to go forward, but it's some pulling back. Yes, I tell you. Just one of those things. If you don't keep on pushing it, nothing will never accomplish of it.

Long: Who were some of the local leaders back then, during the time when people were in more one accord, as you put it?

Stewart: Well, there was Mr. George Bingham, and Ms. Essie Mullins[?], Mable Wilberton, but she's deceased.

Long: You say I should interview Mr. Bingerton[?], if I can?

Stewart: Right.

Long: OK. What kind of aims did they have, and have we met some of them? I mean, think about that time. About the time some of the people that you talked about were trying to go forward. What was it that you kind of wanted? And what did they seem to say they wanted?

Stewart: Well, you know, for instance, equal rights, because if I'm working beside a white person, and he's getting the most pay, well, that's not right. We doing the same type of job. So, if we're doing the same work, why shouldn't we get the same pay? So, that's what we were pulling for. You know. Somehow it don't seem to be working out so hot.

Long: So, tell me some of the work you did during that time. I heard about how you were feeding the civil rights people, that they said you prepared the best table--.

Stewart: Oh, my Lord! (Laughter.)

Long: Where'd you learn how to cook?

Stewart: Oh, my mother. And then I started working in restaurants and just kept going.

Long: Uh-huh.

Stewart: Oh, yeah. I fed a-many of them, now. I'll tell you. I fed a-many of them. And will do it right today, if any of them come back. I sure will.

Long: What did they come for seconds on? There was some special thing, I heard, that you used to fix. You say you fixed chicken, and what else could you cook?

Stewart: Oh, green peas, and pork chops. Oh, Lord, I never would name it all, now. Peach cobbler, and, you know, stuff like that.

Long: Yeah. Let's say I'm Dr. King, sitting here, and I'm waiting for you to bring me something to the table. What would you bring him? Or what would he ask for? This is Dr. Martin Luther King.

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

Stewart: Well, now, Dr. King, I've never known him to ask for anything special. He just liked soul food, period. But, now, I never did cook for Dr. King. But now, he just liked the soul food.

Long: I see.

Stewart: Yeah.

Long: Right. So, I was just trying to use him as an example. Hosea, Andy, Big Lester, now, he'd eat you out of house and home, wouldn't he? (Laughter.) Did you cook for any of them?

Stewart: Oh, yeah. All of them. Uh-huh, and Cottonreader would tell you he's hungry in a minute. (Laughter.)

Long: Well, what did you have to fix Cottonreader? I'm going to talk to him, soon.

Stewart: Oh, I'd be fixing him vegetables and meats, and whatever. Cottonreader would eat most anything. Him and Leon Hall, too. Yeah, I enjoyed cooking for them. Yeah, I sure did.

Long: Yeah. And their favorite dessert?

Stewart: Peach cobbler.

Long: Peach cobbler.

Stewart: Yeah.

Long: And you used your mother's recipes?

Stewart: Oh, yeah.

Long: Uh-huh. So, what you do that makes it so good?

Stewart: Well, now, I don't know about it being good, now, but, well, you just use your butter, and your flavor, and sugar, and nutmeg or whatever, you know. Just a little of both. But now, you had to have your crust real short; if not, it's going to be tough.

Long: Light crust?

Stewart: Right.

Long: Uh-huh. Now, how many would you have to fix up with all these people coming in? You had to prepare a lot of food?

Stewart: Well, sometimes there'd be ten and twelve, and sometimes, more. Yeah.

Long: Who would be helping you in the kitchen, trying to feed these hungry freedom fighters?

Stewart: Oh, my mother. She would come in there and help me. And in the summer, the ladies that were there, they would come in and give me a hand in serving.

Long: Do you actually know anybody who had cooked for Dr. King? An example of somebody. Andy or any of them? That served them?

Stewart: I really don't know who served Dr. King.

Long: He was staying, they say, over at Billy McCain's mother's house, during one time. You actually saw him, though.

Stewart: Oh, yeah. Billy McCain.

Long: Ms. McCain over across from the school.

Stewart: Uh-huh. I know who you're talking about. Grace Hardiman. That's Billy's mother.

Long: That's right.

Stewart: Well, maybe he did. But she's deceased.

Long: Yeah. She is. Now, I enjoyed when you just talked, just a minute ago. I think I'm going to be quiet and let you do that one more time. What do you want to talk about when we do that? Is there something that you would like your children to have had you say with regard to--. We're talking about freedom, but we're talking about every day life, too. One of the things I like to hear you talk about is getting fair pay, equal pay for equal work. That was one thing. I mean, you were spirited when you said that. (Laughter.) What jobs where you didn't do that? They didn't provide that? Can you think of some times?

Stewart: What jobs?

Long: Yeah.

Stewart: Every place!

Long: Where did you work?

Stewart: I worked at the Monte Christie, there where Cottonreader and them used to come and eat.

Long: It's a café?

Stewart: Yeah.

Long: A black café?

Stewart: No, all white.

Long: Oh, it's an all-white café?

Stewart: Yeah. They integrated it while they were here, and I was cooking at the time.

Long: Uh-huh. Did they come in before it was really open? Or, they didn't integrate it, did they?

Stewart: Yes, they did. They was the ones that integrated it.

Long: Did you see them?

Stewart: I was there.

Long: Tell me. Now, we've got something we can talk about.

Stewart: And I saw some of them, the people come in there.

Long: Now, what was the name of the place, first?

Stewart: Monte Christie.

Long: The Monte Christie. And it's a white--?

Stewart: All-white.

Long: All-white eating place. And you were back there in the back, cooking.

Stewart: Back in the back, cooking.

Long: Uh-huh. Now, tell me. Tell me that story.

Stewart: And we used to come in the back when we come to work, and then go up there and punch the time clock. But after the civil rights people came in here, we were going in the front door, punching our cards. We had to go in and out of the back. And they would come in there and load them civil rights workers up and take them to jail. I'm there looking at them.

Long: Right there in the restaurant?

Stewart: Right. In the restaurant.

Long: And what would the civil rights people do?

Stewart: Nothing but go on and go to jail.

Long: They just go on to jail. They didn't care? Just go on to jail.

Stewart: Just go on to jail. And bond them out. My mother would go up there and help to bond them out. And they'd get right back out there. Go back to jail, again.

Long: Huh. How long did it take them to integrate that restaurant?

Stewart: Oh.

Long: About how many times did they have to go to jail before they had to open it?

Stewart: Oh, they went about three or four times.

Long: Three or four times.

Stewart: And they--this little hut right across there--they integrated it.

Long: Yeah.

Stewart: Sure did.

Long: Just kept coming.

Stewart: Kept coming. Kept coming. And wasn't not one place integrated. The black would go to the [back]. They had a little, old hole cut. And they would go there, and that's where they'd push their food, out that little hole. And that's where they put they money, in that little hole. They couldn't go in.

Long: So, if I wanted a piece of cobbler, I want some of your good cobbler with that light crust, and I come to the door back in 1960. I walk through the door. And I go in, and I say, "I want some peach cobbler." What's going to happen, now?

Stewart: Well, some of the waitresses would serve you, and some wouldn't. But, now, most likely, after you were served, they'd be out there waiting on you to take you to jail. And they would come in there and get them sometimes.

Long: Yeah. Drag them out.

Stewart: Came and dragged them out. I remember Cottonreader was in there, and he ordered a club sandwich, which is a three-deck.

Long: He ordered. From whom did he order it? He ordered from?

Stewart: From the waitress.

Long: This is the white waitress?

Stewart: Right. But--.

Long: Three-decker.

Stewart: It's a three-decker. And they fixed him a two-deck. And Cottonreader told them he wasn't going to pay for it because it was a three-deck, and they brought him a two-deck. And when they know anything, the police was in there putting the handcuffs on him. Sure did.

Long: What were the people back in the kitchen saying? The help. What were they saying about that? Or did they wait till they got away from there to say it? What were they thinking?

Stewart: Do you really want to know?

Long: Yeah, I really do.

Stewart: Well, two of the black that was working the sandwich table. They fixed [the] two-deck and sat it up there, and the white waitress said, "Well, I'm not going to take it out there." Said, "Because, now, you know he looked at the menu. He know it's a three-deck."

"Take it on out there. He didn't have no business in here."

Now, that was our color. Sure did. And so, they wouldn't fix the three. And so she carried it on out there, and Cottonreader told them it was supposed to have been a three-deck.

Long: And he wasn't going to pay for it.

Stewart: And he didn't. He ended up going to jail, though. I was looking at it. I sure was.

Long: Now, what if he had gone on around to the back? What was that back there? You say there was a way, there was a little, that they'd cut a--?

Stewart: Oh, yeah. Well, when we would go to work, we would go in the back door. It was a back door for them to come in there, but they had to sit back in the back and eat.

Long: I see. And if you wanted to take it to go, there was a little place cut back there.

Stewart: Oh, yeah. You could take it to go.

Long: But you couldn't, just like a regular person, you didn't have a choice?

Stewart: Oh, no. Oh, no. And drinking out of a fountain. No. Mm-mm. Couldn't drink out of no fountain. No. Or restroom? White only. Now, these service stations around here, you could buy all the gas you want, but white only. That's just like the buses, had them little black signs up there that further go back, go back. And get filled, you got to get up and give the white people your seat. And the same thing happened to Rosa Parks. And she was determined that she wasn't going to get up. (Laughter.)

Long: Which one am I looking at, now?

Stewart: That's her.

Long: That's her, there?

Stewart: That's her. Yes. That's her.

Long: You look kind of like her. (Laughter.) She's saying what? What did she decide?

Stewart: Rosa Parks said her feets were tired. She'd got off work. Her feets was tired, and she was not going to get up and give that white man her seat. And that's where they got started. That's when they integrated those buses.

Long: That was down in what part of Alabama?

Stewart: Was it Selma? Or Montgomery? Montgomery. Montgomery.

Long: Yeah. Now, you back there. Now, you were actually back in the kitchen, most of the time?

Stewart: All the time.

Long: You were cooking all the time.

Stewart: Right.

Long: Who washed the dishes?

Stewart: Well, they had some dishwashers.

Long: They had dishwashers.

Stewart: Had dishwashers, cooks, salad girls, and bus boys and what have you.

Long: And this was? What was the name of the place, again?

Stewart: Monte Christie.

Long: Is it here, now?

Stewart: No, it's a bank, now.

Long: It's a bank. Uh-huh. That's interesting. That's ironic, in fact. But it was a kind of a high class place.

Stewart: Oh, yeah. Supposed to have been the highest class one around here until they built the Holiday Inn.

Long: Uh-huh. So, what did they like for you to fix back there in the kitchen? What did the people who owned the place, what did they count on you for?

Stewart: Well, cooking the steaks and making rolls and stuff like that. But they had salad girls to make the salads and stuff like that so I just, you know, I fixed the rolls, and steaks, and chickens, and all the seafood, like stuffed crabs and oysters, and stuff like that. Frog legs, fish. Just name it.

Long: Yeah. So, any fried food, you can do it.

Stewart: Oh, yeah. Well, we had to fix vegetables, too. Turkey and dressing. Just whatever.

Long: Whose style did you count on? Whose cooking style? When you came out into the public cooking, who did you cook like?

Stewart: My mother, I guess. (Laughter.) That's the only one I know.

Long: Yeah. Had she cooked for somebody? Or, how did she learn how to cook that good?

Stewart: No, she just mostly cooked for churches and different things like that. She never worked in a restaurant.

Long: Right. And what was the name of the cooking school you went to?

Stewart: I didn't. (Laughter.) Unless someone said, "Rosie Walker's School." (Laughter.) No, I didn't go to no cooking school.

Long: But, you could cook good.

Stewart: Well, I wouldn't say that, but I got by.

Long: And, did you eat your own cooking?

Stewart: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. I got by.

Long: What made a good steak? I mean, how you make a steak that you want to eat?

Stewart: Well, now, mine had to be medium-well. But, now those rare ones and medium-rare, and well and medium-well and all that, I couldn't handle them.

Long: That's the other people coming in to eat that.

Stewart: Right.

Long: Black folks like their steak cooked.

Stewart: Well and medium-well. Uh-uh.

Long: Pate? Kind of--(laughter.)

Stewart: No, couldn't handle that.

Long: Blood's dripping out.

Stewart: Oh, mm-mm.

Long: But they love it. "Oh, that's a good steak."

Stewart: Oh, yeah. I couldn't handle it. No, indeed.

Long: But you could cook it?

Stewart: Oh, yeah. I could cook it, but sure wouldn't dare eat it.

Long: For yourself.

Stewart: No.

Long: And how did you make your crust be light? Say on your cobbler?

Stewart: Well, you make it with ice water.

Long: What?

Stewart: Oh, yeah. Ice water. And had to have plenty of shortening, now, because if you don't have plenty of shortening, [it will be tough]. Well, make it with plain flour and put salt in it, but no baking powder.

Long: I see. That's something. But ice water.

Stewart: Yeah. Make it with ice water.

Long: What that do? I don't understand.

Stewart: Make it flaky.

Long: Flaky? (Laughter.) Did you know that before you came to work there? Or was that something you learned there? Did y'all have flaky crust at your house?

Stewart: Yeah. Uh-huh. So evidently I learned it before I went there. If not, I finished learning it there. Whatever. (Laughter.) Because I had so much of it to do.

Long: Now, you were saying that not everybody got the same amount of money for the work they did.

Stewart: No.

Long: Were there any cooks who were not black cooks, at all?

Stewart: No, everybody was black. All black cooks.

Long: Did they get the same thing?

Stewart: No. The one that was there the longest, that's the one [who got paid the most money].

Long: Who got the more money? And then, the one there the shortest got the--?

Stewart: Shortest end.

Long: Shortest end. Now, how did the cooks' money compare with the waitresses' money?

Stewart: Well, the waitress would get a lot of tips. Uh-huh. And then, they would make so much an hour. You know.

Long: I see. So, if the food was good, and the service was good, they'd get a better tip.

Stewart: Right.

Long: Uh-huh. So, and those people--I remember the man who made the sandwich two-tier rather than three-tier--he was old time? Or young time? What was he? The man who sent out Cottonreader a two-tier?

Stewart: Oh, oh, oh. That was two ladies!

Long: Oh, really?

Stewart: Yeah.

Long: Sent him out a--?

Stewart: Sure did. I know that's a fact because I was there. Oh. I was steamed up.

Long: What were they trying to prove, though? They were trying to prove something.

Stewart: Mm-hm. Yeah. Being a fool. (Laughter.)

"Got no business in here. He has no business in here."

Oh, I could have just--. Whew!

Long: All they had to do just make the sandwich?

Stewart: Make the sandwich. And that was it. And now the waitress, she told them that she didn't want to serve it. Because, she said, "Now, you know he looked at the menu, and he knows it's a three-deck." But, they carried that two-deck out there.

And talking about, "Make him pay for it. He doesn't have no business in here."

I said, "Oh, Jesus. This is it."

Long: Right. And after the civil rights movement, they benefitted. They made more money.

Stewart: Right. Right.

Long: You know who they are, now, don't you?

Stewart: Looking right at them. And the same two that found out that I went to Dr. King's funeral. That's the nearest I come to getting fired, but I didn't care.

Long: Tell me about that. Dr. King was killed up in--?

Stewart: Memphis, Tennessee. April the fourth.

Long: And you heard about it?

Stewart: Yeah.

Long: And what did you decide?

Stewart: Well, I don't know what I decided right then and there because I almost lost my mind, but I had that one day off on a Tuesday, and we went to his funeral, and I had to be back at work that Wednesday. And we got to Ebenezer's Church at 4:30 that morning, and we stood in line from then till 8, before we got in to view the body. And then, I walked all the way from Ebenezer Church over to Morehouse College, behind the old mule.

Long: Who'd you see up there with the mule? Hosea?

Stewart: Yeah, Hosea was one.

Long: Did you see any people who had been here?

Stewart: Yeah.

Long: Well, like who?

Stewart: Was Lester there? I was trying to think who had those horns and was singing so.

Long: Yeah.

Stewart: Was you there?

Long: I was in Atlanta that same time because I had to be there. They were holding arms. Harry Belafonte, Ms. King, and folks up at the beginning, up at the front end. John Lewis was there. But Harry Belafonte is who I remember. And now, Andy. I remember him there. And then they had the mule and the wagon he was on. But I remember Hosea. Hosea was right there.

Stewart: Yes, he was.

Long: And James Bella[?]. But you might not have known him.

Stewart: James Belafonte?

Long: Harry Belafonte, yeah.

Stewart: Oh, yeah.

Long: And then there was somebody from the government who came down. The vice president or someone who came down. I can't exactly remember, but--.

Stewart: Robert Kennedy was there.

Long: Robert Kennedy. That's who was there. Mm-hm. And you saw these people, and you were marching, too.

Stewart: Yes, I was right there.

Long: Why do you think Dr. King was [assassinated]? Why would they shoot somebody like that? I mean, he's a peaceful man.

Stewart: Actually, they thought he was going to be president, I guess. That was one of the reasons, but I tell you one thing. It's not over. It is not over. Because James Earl Ray, if he did it, he didn't act alone. He didn't act alone, so, he can tell all his friends it's not over because it's coming up again. Because God's sure going to fix it. Oh, yes, he will. I mean he didn't bother [nobody]. He was for everybody.

Long: Yeah. Uh-huh.

Stewart: And you know, he gave up his life trying to help everybody. And we shouldn't let him die in vain.

Long: Now, you squeezed into the church to hear him talk, one time?

Stewart: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Long: What did, people just, they just sit there or what kind of preacher was he? Did he arouse folks with words?

Stewart: Oh, yeah, because what he was saying. You know, he was mostly telling them how to go about living better. You know. And what to do. And, you know, but he never wanted no violence. Never wanted no violence. Now, they can't say he taught violence because he never did teach no violence. He was just for peace, but he wanted everybody equal. And that's what he died for.

Long: And he died for you and for your children. He died for me.

Stewart: He gave up his life for us, and we shouldn't let him die in vain. Yes, sir. He struggled.

Long: Right. Now, the movement in Grenada moved on after his death. It did move on.

Stewart: It moved on.

Long: What do you think is the difference between when they came, and now, and after Dr. King's death, here in this area? In Grenada?

Stewart: Well, it was a lot of difference after he came here. [After he], I won't say, "died"--after he got killed, well, then it started slipping back. You know. Kind of slipping back, but if we all stick together and keep pushing it, it'll have to go forward. It'll have to go forward because it's not near as bad as it's been. Because I'll tell you, it's been a struggle.

Long: Now, you're not cooking, now, are you?

Stewart: No.

Long: OK. About how long ago did you stop cooking?

Stewart: Eighty-three.

Long: Eighty-three. Uh-huh. Why did you decide to stop?

Stewart: I was doing what four was doing. After they had to pay us, and cut us down to eight hours. Now, we wasn't working eight hours. We was working from six till six, or whatever. Or if they got real busy, you had to turn around and go back. But after they cut us down to eight hours, then they had to pay minimum wage. So, they just laid off everybody around here, and I was doing what four was doing.

Long: Four?

Stewart: Four.

Long: Four people.

Stewart: Four people. I said, "It's time to go." And I got to hiking. (Laughter.)

Long: What place were you cooking at then?

Stewart: At the Monte Christie. The last place I worked was at the Country Kitchen. Yep. That was too much, too much, too much.

Long: Yeah. Just too much.

Stewart: Too much. One person doing what four was doing and getting the same pay. Same pay. I said, "Well, Lord, I didn't have nothing when I come in. I sure ain't going to have nothing when I leave." (Laughter.) "But a tired back." (Laughter.) So, glory be it!

Long: You had worked in the fields all day. You'd get up as early as seven, you said, over in Coffeeville.

Stewart: Be in the field at seven.

Long: I see. You be there. And then you work until?

Stewart: Well, a lot of people worked from dusk to dawn, but, uh-uh. Like the old saying says, "A man works from sun to sun, but a woman's work is never done." Because when you go home, you still got to cook and do. You know. So, there's just no rest for the weary. Just got to keep going. And there's a child hollering. You got to see about this one. Do that. Oh, Lord have mercy! Tough struggle. I done all the work, and the white folks putting it all in their pocket. That's a shame.

Long: But you do have retirement. You have some retirement.

Stewart: Oh, yeah.

Long: Yeah. Well, I'm happy for you and for your children because they feel that you are secure. You won't have to walk around. You're not walking around Heaven all day, now. (Laughter.)

Stewart: No, no, no, no, no, no. Still have to kind of move about, though. But still, you know.

Long: I appreciate you letting me come into your house. I'm going to end the interview here, and, this is not a radio interview. This is going to Tougaloo College Archives, but when it is put together, even though we have some pauses, it's going to be a good interview, because it tells someone who was right there during the time of Grenada's transformation. Who saw it sometimes from the kitchen, who saw it at the churches, who went to see Dr. King be put away as a martyr to the freedom struggle has spoken from her own eyes and her own mouth what her eyes have seen, and what her mouth, had to say about those things. And I am moved by it, and I want to thank you. Is there anything you want to add? It's your--. On the telephone, they say, "It's your dime." (Laughter.) I was trying to make--. You've got some stuff written there, and I was just wondering.

Stewart: Oh, this is just about the different places my mother went. Yeah, that was just what that was about.

Long: You want to read some of it, and we'll put that on there. Quote her. Read it for me.

Stewart: Well, this is what they had mass meeting in the homes, I--.

Long: Who wrote that?

Stewart: My daughter-in-law.

Long: OK.

Stewart: And she went to the John Rundle School, but she marched with Dr. King. You know. And she went to Alabama, Georgia, Washington, D.C., Florida, and many other Mississippi towns. And she met James Meredith and washed his clothes.

Long: This is James Meredith.

Stewart: James Meredith, right. Mm-hm. Yeah. And she bonded people out of jail. So, I was trying to get something named after her. One of those parks or something, but you know how people do, so I never did get anything named after her, so I said, "Oh, well." Folks is something.

Long: But she was early in the struggle.

Stewart: Oh, yeah. Lord, she went to Virginia and all these different places. I mean, she--. Yeah. Because I thought she was staying in Atlanta, and [before I knew] anything, she had took a plane and gone to Washington. Yeah.

Long: That was before Dr. King's death?

Stewart: That was before.

Long: So, they counted on her.

Stewart: Yeah.

Long: So, who was some of the people other than her that Dr. King and other people would count on? Your mother, Mrs.? What was her name?

Stewart: Rosie Walker.

Long: Rosie Walker.

Stewart: Uh-huh and Mr. George Bingham, as I said.

Long: George Bingham.

Stewart: Uh-huh. And Mr. Essie Mullin[?]. And, well, Ms. Mable Wilberton.

Long: And some of the others have passed.

Stewart: Right.

Long: OK. But I want to thank you for this interview that goes into Tougaloo College Archives on civil rights history, and thank you for letting me come into your home and eat on the table where they fed civil rights movement people.

Stewart: Even though you didn't get nothing. (Laughter.)

Long: Well, I'm sitting at the welcome table. (Laughter.)

(End of the interview.)


This page created by Instructional Media Unit Webteam, and maintained by Charles Bolton.
The University of Southern Mississippi | Last updated
25 October 2003 3:37 PM AA/EOE/ADAI