An Oral History


John Daniel Wesley

Interviewer: Harriet Tanzman

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.



John Daniel Wesley was born on December 2, 1926, in Lincoln County, Mississippi. He had one sister, one twin brother, and one other brother. His mother was Mahannah Wesley, and his father was Fairley Wesley. Leasing farmland from his father's cousin, the family farmed for a living, growing cotton, corn, peas, and other such crops. In 1945, Mr. Wesley was drafted into the Army and sent to Germany to police that area. Upon his return to Mississippi, he acquired farmland in Holmes County and began making his living as a farmer.

Mr. Wesley has seven children, some of whom were the first to integrate Mississippi's public school in the midsixties. He currently serves on the Mileston and Tchula, Mississippi area school board.

Table of Contents

Childhood 1

Education 2

World War II 2

Farming 3

Registering to vote 3

Greenwood SNCC office 6

Poll tax 7

Reprisals for registering to vote 8

Mileston Cooperative 9

Public school integration 10

Burning of the Tchula city school 11

Representative Robert Clark 13

Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS) 14

Abe Osheroff 17




This is an interview for the Civil Rights Documentation Project. The interview is with Mr. John Daniel Wesley and is taking place on October 16, 1999. The interviewer is Harriet Tanzman.

Tanzman: --Mississippi, talking with Mr. John Daniel Wesley, and it's October 16, 1999. Thank you for coming, Mr. Wesley.

Wesley: Thank you for having me.

Tanzman: OK. Mr Wesley, can you just start off telling us a little about when you were born and where and your own family?

Wesley: Oh, yes. I was born down [in] south Mississippi, in Lincoln County. There were three of us in my family, two boys, and one girl.

Tanzman: Are you the oldest?

Wesley: No, I had a twin brother. And my sister was the older.

Tanzman: And what date was that that you were born?

Wesley: December 2, 1926.

Tanzman: And your parents names?

Wesley: My mother was named Mahannah, M-A-H-A-N-N-A-H. And my father's name was Fairley Wesley. They all came from down in south Mississippi, Lincoln County.

Tanzman: What were they doing for a living? Were they living on a farm or on--?

Wesley: We always lived on a farm and farmed.

Tanzman: Was it your own family's farm or some white man's farm or--?

Wesley: No, my daddy always leased his farmland from a cousin of his.

Tanzman: How many acres?

Wesley: Oh, about forty acres is what we had down there.

Tanzman: What were you growing?

Wesley: Cotton, corn, and peas, and things like that.

Tanzman: And, did you go to school there in that area?

Wesley: Yes, I went to school there. I left there when I was at the age of fifteen, and moved from there to Tallahatchie County. And we farmed two years, made two crops there and then my father and my uncle decided to come back down here.

Tanzman: Down here to the Delta in Holmes County?

Wesley: Mm-hm. Holmes County. And they liked it, so they decided to move down here. So, I went to school at Mileston for two years. Then, I was drafted into the Army.

Tanzman: What was the school like, when you were going? Was it an older--?

Wesley: Well, they--.

Tanzman: Was it Mileston Attendance Center?

Wesley: No, just Mileston High School. Mm-hm. And it, you know, it was nice.

Tanzman: It was OK?

Wesley: Yes. We had good teachers, and it was fine, I think.

Tanzman: And you were in the service. Was that during the war? During World War II?

Wesley: I went in service March, 1945, and I came out in 1946. October 1946. So, we went to Germany. My brother and I were together. We went to Germany. We were supposed to have been going down to the South Pacific, and we had got [as] far as South Carolina, and Japan surrendered, so we didn't go. They changed the orders, and we went to Germany to do the policing.

Tanzman: Mm-hm. After the war.

Wesley: After the war. I didn't get a chance to see any live action.

Tanzman: Mm-hm. But you saw the remains of the war. Must have been pretty rough.

Wesley: Right.

Tanzman: And you came back here to farm on your own or to live at home?

Wesley: Yes, after I came out of the Army, I came back and helped my father farm. And so then, later on, my father gave me a portion of the land to farm, and my brother, you know, so we farmed that way until my father got to the age where he didn't want to farm any more. So, then I took over the farm, and I've been around here ever since.

Tanzman: You and your brother [were] both farming near each other, then?

Wesley: Yes, we were. My brother--. My aunt's husband passed, so she let him take over that land that they had. So, my brother farmed until he passed in 1991.

Tanzman: Oh, OK. How was it in terms of getting FHA loans and getting furnished by ASC[S][Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service]? You know, how was that treatment during the forties [and] fifties?

Wesley: (Laughter.) I'm trying to figure out a way to describe this, now.

Tanzman: Take your time.

Wesley: We didn't have--. The only thing that hurt us was we didn't get a chance to get our farm loans in time to, I figure, to make a good crop, you know, because they were always late coming. Well, so far as being treated, you know, harsh, or bad, or something, you know, I didn't foresee a lot of that.

Tanzman: Mm-hm. You just got the loans late which made it more difficult.

Wesley: Right. And, you know, it was always, "Boy, what you want?" You know.

Tanzman: Mm-hm. Yeah, they talked--. How did you first get involved in the movement, and what brought you to that or to first trying to vote and so on? Was that early sixties?

Wesley: April, 1963 is when I got started to trying to exercise my right to vote or get registered.

Tanzman: And, you had never tried that before?

Wesley: No, I hadn't.

Tanzman: Did people in the community come out and talk you into it, or, how did you make that decision?

Wesley: There was a movement going on, you know, across the state of Mississippi, and we got involved with the movement that was set up in Greenwood, and then it came on down to Holmes County, down to Mileston. We started having meetings.

Tanzman: That was with some of the early SNCC workers? Like John Ball? Or, Hollis?

Wesley: Right. John Ball, Amzie Moore.

Tanzman: Hollis Watkins?

Wesley: Yes. Hollis Watkins. Hollis Watkins sung the first song that we had when we began our movement.

Tanzman: You remember that?

Wesley: Sure. Never will forget it.

Tanzman: What was the song?

Wesley: Mm. It won't come to me right, now, but I'll think about it. (Laughter.)

Tanzman: You'll remember it. Singing brought people together, didn't it?

Wesley: Right, yeah.

Tanzman: So, you just decided that was the time to do it.

Wesley: Well, yes. Yes. I figured if I had to go and serve this country that we call ours, then I figured that, you know, I should be able to vote just like anybody else.

Tanzman: Mm-hm.

Wesley: And, I just figured that I was not going to back down, you know. I was going to stick with it, and I did. And I've been with it ever since 1963.

Tanzman: Mm-hm. A long time. Now, when you all decided to go, that was the first time a group of people went to the courthouse?

Wesley: Yes. On that Sunday afternoon, we had a community meeting, and from that meeting, they asked who would go and attempt to register on that Tuesday morning. So, I was one of the first said, "I will."

Tanzman: Mm-hm. How many of you were there?

Wesley: There were thirteen of us, and one person joined us that morning in Lexington. That afternoon, in Lexington, but, he disappeared. I didn't know him then, and I wouldn't know him now. So, that made fourteen.

Tanzman: Was it mostly people from the Delta?

Wesley: All of them that went up that morning, came from the Mileston area, in the Delta.

Tanzman: And were most of you farmers?

Wesley: Yes, all of us were farmers.

Tanzman: And Reverend Russell[?] was there, too?

Wesley: Yes. Reverend Russell, Mrs. Russell, Mrs. Alma Kornegay[?], T.L. Lewis[?], Chester Hayes[?], Sam Redmond[?], Laura Redmond[?], Hartman Turnbow[?].

Tanzman: Ozell?

Wesley: Ozell Mitchell[?], Annie Bell Mitchell[?]--that was his wife.

Tanzman: Ms. Kornegay?

Wesley: I believe I called Ms. Kornegay, didn't I?

Tanzman: I don't know.

Wesley: Well, if not, I'll call her again. (Laughter.) Because she was the live wire.

Tanzman: Really?

Wesley: Yes, she and Hartman Turnbow. They kept everything going.

Tanzman: Mm-hm. They spoke out a lot? You mean that day or in general?

Wesley: Well, that day that we went up there, it wasn't too much to be said because everything moved so fast, you know. We got there about eleven o'clock. So, Mr. Turnbow went in, into the circuit clerk's office, and they told him they was fixing to close for dinner.

Tanzman: At what time?

Wesley: Around eleven.

Tanzman: Eleven.

Wesley: In that neighborhood. And so, he came back out. John Ball, Sam Block[?] said, "Let's go to the SNCC office." And we never knew, some said Sam Block [was] threatened in Lexington, but I can't confirm that. All I know, he said, "Let's go to the SNCC office." So, we loaded up and went all the way to Greenwood to the SNCC office. Sam Block went through the front door and right out the back door, and we never did see him anymore.

So, then John Ball said, "Well, let's go back to Lexington." We got back to Lexington that afternoon, around three o'clock if my memory serves me right, and so, at that time, it was about three of us got there first. Evidently, they were riding in my car with me. So, we walked out up under the tree. That's where they made us stand.

Tanzman: Outside?

Wesley: Outside under a tree. So, the sheriff came out, and so he walked up to the group. He said, "Which one of y'all want to go in to try to register? That's what you came up here for, ain't it?"

I said, "Sure. It doesn't matter who go first."

He said, "Well, you come on."

And, I followed him in, and he gave me--. They had the laws written down and cut up in little strips, you know, and packed down into a fruit jar.

Tanzman: Of the pieces of the constitution? State constitution?

Wesley: Yes. And--.

Tanzman: Who was the registrar then? Was that McCl--?

Wesley: McClellan. And they told me to get one out of the jar. So, you know, what you had to do is just reach in there and pull up one, you know. And I never will forget, I pulled up post facto law. And, "What that mean?"

I said, "Well, I can't interpret that."

"Well, you can't register, then."

Tanzman: He couldn't interpret it, either!

Wesley: No. And so, well then, I was showed the door. You know? And so, I had to go out the door and then somebody else, until all of us went in there, but nobody could interpret whatever they pulled out. They couldn't interpret what it means.

Tanzman: So, nobody actually got registered that day?

Wesley: No. And so then, the law changed. Somebody changed the law. No more laws in the jars. (Laughter.) And so, we--.

Tanzman: You mean when they passed the Voting Rights Law in sixty-five.

Wesley: No, that was before sixty-five. That was within the same week, I think. The first day was that Wednesday. I believe we went back within that same week. That's been thirty years, but then they let us register.

Tanzman: Oh, they did? The same week?

Wesley: I believe it was the same week.

Tanzman: Oh. Well, that was quite a victory.

Wesley: Oh, sure. Sure.

Tanzman: Were there very few people registered in the whole county then?

Wesley: Now, they tell me, some of the older people, just a very few of them, had paid poll tax, and so I think they had let just a few of them register, very few.

Tanzman: Did you still have to pay poll tax that week?

Wesley: That week, no, we didn't have to. You know, we didn't have to pay it.

Tanzman: So, when you came back to the community, how did people respond when you--? This was the first time a group went, so it really was very public. Did they publish your names in the newspaper and all?

Wesley: Yes, and we were--. Mr. Louie[?] and I had insurance with Farm Bureau Insurance Company. They canceled the insurance, and we couldn't get any, right then. Not right around, you know, in Holmes County. But we just kept pushing, so, finally we got insurance wherever we wanted to, you know.

Tanzman: Mm-hm. You got over that hurdle. Yeah. So, there were several women, just some of the wives and Mrs.Kornegay.

Wesley: Yes. Mr. Sam Redmond's wife, Laura. Mrs. Russell. Oh, I forgot about Rose Bud Clark and Norman Clark. I know I was missing somebody.

Tanzman: Yeah. And these were all independent farmers, right?

Wesley: Yes.

Tanzman: So, the main thing was the insurance, and the fact that they knew who you were.

Wesley: Yes. I don't know, somehow I managed to go along pretty good without being harassed, you know, like some of the other people. I don't know why, you know, but I never really had a rough time from harassments, you know. But there are a lot of them who did, and I know it, you know.

Tanzman: Yeah, wasn't that just before Mr. Turnbow's house was firebombed, was right after you went there?

Wesley: That was--. We went to the courthouse that night, I mean that day, and somebody bombed his house that night. They threw firebombs into the house.

Tanzman: And I heard that he fought back.

Wesley: Oh, yes. He fought back. And if it had not been for--. If he had not fought back then, we all feel, that we would have had a tougher time than we did. But he was strong enough to fight back; then, they knew that everybody else was going to fight back.

Tanzman: Mm-hm. When you started having the meetings, the community meetings, did they begin in churches or was that, that's before the community center. Was it hard to get a church to open up to you?

Wesley: Some churches wouldn't, but the little church sitting right by the old community center [did]. And that's where we got started, in that little church. It's not there anymore. They remodeled it. A part of it's there. They remodeled it.

Tanzman: But they opened up right away? Just that one?

Wesley: Well, yes. Now, the churches in the community were, you know, we could have meetings with them better than those that were in town.

Tanzman: You mean out? Oh, out by Mileston?

Wesley: Right, because we always, whenever we had meetings, we always had guards, you know. If anything looked suspicious, everybody got ready, you know. That's just the way it was. And it shouldn't have been that way, but it was.

Tanzman: Did they send over police and sheriffs? Unidentified white people? Was there harassment [at] a lot of meetings?

Wesley: Yes. We had a highway patrolmen, [and] a constable. Well, it could have been more than that. I don't know who all was in it, but they would park on the highway, you know, where we were coming out from the church, and harass the people, you know. The patrolman sometimes would stop people and give them a ticket. Pretend like they ran a stop sign or something. It was pretty often.

Tanzman: Where do you think some of the strength came from for the people? The courage to keep going? You think it was a mixture of them helping each other out before, through the cotton gin and all the rest of it? Or, how do you think people were so strong in that area of the county?

Wesley: Well, we had two reasons, or maybe more, but the SNCC movement helped out a whole lot, you know. They gave people a lot of courage, and kept our morale built up, you know. So, the people just--. I guess I could say, the people just got mad and say, "We're going to do it!"

Tanzman: Before the movement came in, weren't there kinds of cooperative things going on in the community before that, too?

Wesley: We had the Mileston Co-op in the community at that time.

Tanzman: Which was what?

Wesley: It was a farmer's co-op.

Tanzman: You marketed together?

Wesley: It wasn't like it should have been, you know. People--. I don't know why. People just didn't trust each other, I guess.

Tanzman: What was the cooperative part? Was it the gin? The cotton gin part?

Wesley: We had a store and the gin. The store sold some products. It didn't sell--. Well, at the beginning, well, I mean, when I first came in the community, it was doing pretty good. They sold farm products, like wire, and stuff like that that farmers needed, but it just started going down.

Tanzman: Was the idea that the profits from the co-op would go back to the community? Is that how it was co-opped?

Wesley: Well, that's the way it was supposed to have done. And it done pretty good for a while.

Tanzman: What about the gin? Cotton gin?

Wesley: The cotton gin ginned cotton, in the first beginning, most of the ginning was for members. And then, later on it was opened up to--. And the members didn't include the Choctaw community. But eventually, they opened it up to where everybody could gin and become a member.

Tanzman: Was Choctaw the area where the government had let people buy their land?

Wesley: Yes, that's the area that Shadrack Davis[?] and (inaudible) Hayes built.

Tanzman: But it eventually opened up to everyone?

Wesley: Mm-hm.

Tanzman: I wanted to ask you something. I know you've been active in school questions, more recently. I wonder if you could go back. I know it's quite a ways back, but to the beginning of the attempt to integrate the schools. Did you have children who were going at that time? It was the midsixties.

Wesley: Mm-hm. Sure did.

Tanzman: How many kids do you have?

Wesley: I have seven.

Tanzman: And they were schoolage then?

Wesley: Not all seven. I don't remember how many were! (Laughter.)

Tanzman: But did you have any kids who were trying to go to the better school?

Wesley: Right. We went to Tchula to try to integrate it. Well, we did go there, but when we went, all of the white kids moved out. Then, somebody burned it.

Tanzman: All the white kids left, right away? What, they went to the private school?

Wesley: Mm-hm.

Tanzman: And then they burned down the school?

Wesley: Burned down Tchula School. That's the city school, you know.

Tanzman: Mm-hm. So, what did you all do?

Wesley: They--.

Tanzman: This is in what? Nineteen sixty-five or so?

Wesley: I believe it was sixty-five. And we said that we were going to rebuild it, but somehow we didn't rebuild it.

Tanzman: So, there only was the one public school that had been the segregated black school? Was that the Tchula Attendance Center?

Wesley: Right. No, this was Tchula City School. Tchula Attendance Center at that time was Marshall High School[?]. No. I'm sorry. It was Tchula Attendance Center then, from that to Marshall High.

Tanzman: But, when they burned down the city school, then the only school left for the kids to go to was the--?

Wesley: Tchula Attendance Center.

Tanzman: Had been Tchula Attendance Center?

Wesley: Right.

Tanzman: Did that continue through the seventies and eighties?

Wesley: Mm-hm.

Tanzman: They never built another school.

Wesley: No, not (inaudible).

Tanzman: What about the elementary level?

Wesley: It's at Marshall High, too.

Tanzman: Oh, they're together.

Wesley: Mm-hm. All of it's together, now.

Tanzman: When the little children went to try to integrate the schools, did they go into another school, a previously white school?

Wesley: It hadn't been but a very few white children that has gone to the public school in Holmes County. Very few.

Tanzman: Do the white kids get money from--? The ones who don't have so much money, do they get their tuition paid by the richer ones?

Wesley: That's what I've been told. Mm-hm.

Tanzman: So, the school situation hasn't changed a lot over the years.

Wesley: Not a whole lot. It's much better now than it has been. And it's, each year, to me, it's better, you know, gets better as the years go by.

Tanzman: When did you start getting involved? Like, when did they start running people for school board? I know people ran for local elections from way back, but when did people start getting involved in the schools in terms of trying to run them? Run for the school board? Was that back in the late sixties?

Wesley: I believe that began in the seventies. I believe.

Tanzman: Mm-hm. Well, who is on the school board now?

Wesley: Myself, Ms. Ann Polk, who is the city clerk in Tchula, Mr. Charles Hurst[?], who lives out near Lexington, and Mrs. Sandra Young, who lives over at Goodman[?]. And James Anderson.

Tanzman: James Anderson?

Wesley: James Anderson. He's the chairman.

Tanzman: How many black people and how many white are on it?

Wesley: We're all black.

Tanzman: Oh, OK. And this is the school board of this area, Mileston and Tchula?

Wesley: Right.

Tanzman: Has it made a difference to have Representative Robert Clark in the legislature, in terms of schools? I mean, has he been able to affect any monies coming in or any policies, or no? (Laughter.) Shouldn't I ask you that? I know when he was elected, nobody else, hardly anybody, in the county was elected locally. So, I know that was hard.

Wesley: (Laughter.) That one, I might bypass.

Tanzman: OK. We'll bypass this one. (Laughter.) OK, so, the schools have improved some over the years?

Wesley: Yes, they have improved. We have, I think, a very, very, very good school superintendent.

Tanzman: Who you can work with. Who is that?

Wesley: Mr. Judge Nelson. Some of the older school board members and superintendents, they say we have the best working relationship that has ever been in Holmes County, serving as board members and superintendents.

Tanzman: Mm-hm. Well, that's good. When you all had the early meetings--again, bringing it back to the midsixties or so--when people were beginning to do things like send their kids to the schools and so on, what was the reprisals or response from the white community? Was it just mostly that they took their kids out? Or were there other adverse things that happened? Because, I moved here in sixty-six, and I remember people said the Klan had been around.

Wesley: Well, they did. Yeah, they dropped what is said to be bombs around the community center over there out in the road. And, of course, we didn't lose any churches.

Tanzman: Oh, they didn't burn any churches?

Wesley: No, they didn't burn any churches.

Tanzman: Was that partly because they were guarded when--? Oh, but you didn't meet in every church.

Wesley: No, we didn't meet in every church, but the one that we did meet in, during the meetings and all, you know, we always had lookout people. Always. And so, I'm not sure whether that kept them from bombing, or not.

Tanzman: Was FDP? I remember there were the ASC[S] [Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service] selections that were held in the sixties. I guess they have been held regularly, but there was one point where black farmers were running for those boards. Could you tell us what the ASC[S] did? What those boards were about?

Wesley: I ran for the ASCS committee, twice. See, they had that constructed where you couldn't win anyway.

Tanzman: Who could vote?

Wesley: Well, anybody could vote.

Tanzman: Anybody who had land? Or anybody?

Wesley: Anybody who had land could vote. But see, when they--. It's been so long now, but they had it--. Hm, how'd that thing go? But anyway, when guests of the county convention, most all of the black ones [were] eliminated anyway. Because we didn't--. You know, black folks didn't follow through as they should have.

Tanzman: You mean even if you were elected to a local committee, you didn't have pow--?

Wesley: Mm-hm. You could get on the local committee, but when you get to the county, you're already eliminated.

Tanzman: And with the ASC[S], could you refresh my memory? Were they the boards that, the committees that decided about loans? Or what did they do exactly?

Wesley: No. That's FHA that worked with loans. ASCS (inaudible) come, you know, like, land development and stuff like that, you know. Land services and all of that.

Tanzman: Oh, OK. So, they okayed monies that would go for land development and other services?

Wesley: Right.

Tanzman: When you ran, were there other people running in the county? Was that one of the projects FDP was doing? Were you the only one from the Delta who was running?

Wesley: I believe I was the only one from the Delta.

Tanzman: And you tried twice?

Wesley: Mm-hm.

Tanzman: But you didn't have to be a voter, you had to prove that you had land? That you owned land?

Wesley: Right.

Tanzman: Over the years, I know a lot of the farmers have been getting older some, and the kids haven't always stayed here. What has developed, and has there been any movement to try to keep land from being lost or stolen or taken away from farmers? Because, I know you used to have a lot of black-owned land, for example, in the Delta.

Wesley: Well, yes. We don't have a lot of it now that's being lost, but what happens, and this has been happening a long time: if I don't get enough money to make a crop this year, next year (inaudible). And they're automatically (inaudible). And then, if you couldn't come up with that payment when they said, then they'd just take all the land.

Tanzman: Oh, I see. So, the land was like the security for the loan.

Wesley: Right. So, there have been a lot of people who lost their land by doing that. Some bought cars. Well, they didn't buy them, you know, they got them and say, "Well, you can get what you want. If you want (inaudible)."

Tanzman: And if they couldn't pay that--?

Wesley: Right. I got in and had a problem one time. FHA refused to give me a loan that year and I went to (inaudible). (A portion of the tape is inaudible.) How much of it you want to take?

I said, "I don't know." (Inaudible.) Make the check out for the whole deal. It was one of those chairs with the wheels on it. He'd keep backing, and then he wheeled around. He looked at me. (Inaudible.)

He said, "You want to pay it all?"

I said, "I'm old. Your daddy's old, now. I'm getting out of it."

He said, "You know what? Anything you want we have, you can get it. You want a new car today, you can get it."

And I said, "I don't know. We'll see about it." So, I got out of the trap, you know. But everybody didn't get out of it.

Tanzman: They didn't always realize what they were getting into.

Wesley: That's right.

Tanzman: The meetings that were held at the community center, was it primarily farmers, or was it a mixture of farmers and plantation workers or who was the strength of it?

Wesley: Very few plantation owners. There were some, but when it first started, it got started only with the landowners around in the community, but the plantation workers, some of them soon came in, because they didn't like the deal that they were getting, you know?

Tanzman: Mm-hm. So, they must have been risking quite a bit to come.

Wesley: Well, some of them were told to move from the plantation.

Tanzman: What percentage in this area? How much of it was black-owned land? Were there a lot of big plantations? White-owned plantations?

Wesley: No, most of them went from fifty-something acres up to possibly eighty, seventy or eighty acres.

Tanzman: This is the white-owned land? Or the black-owned? Oh, fifty (inaudible). Were you familiar with Providence community that they--?

Wesley: Yes.

Tanzman: Yeah. Could you tell me a little about that history in the early fifties?

Wesley: I don't know too much about what went on out there. I know they had a white doctor out there. (Inaudible.)

Tanzman: Because there were very few doctors, from what Rosie was telling me, that would see people.

Wesley: There wasn't. She was right.

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

Tanzman: (Inaudible.)

Wesley: Right.

Tanzman: And that was in the fifties?

Wesley: Mm-hm. During that time, doctors made house calls. All you had to do was call him, he would come out.

Tanzman: How was health care otherwise? Were there any hospitals nearby that would see black people? Or were they all segregated? Greenwood or Lexington?

Wesley: Yes, I think they could go to the hospitals.

Tanzman: (Inaudible) very few doctors. When I heard about him, he sounded like a legend. You know? I mean, he made a big difference. The summer of sixty-four, were you real involved in the movement then, when they were building the community center? Or was that that summer?

Wesley: Sure, sure. I was right in the thick of things. It was built by a man named Abe--.

Tanzman: Osheroff?

Wesley: Osheroff.

Tanzman: Mm-hm. Yeah, I heard it was hard to find a place to hold it, right away. It's a beautiful center. Did that make a big difference in the movement, to be able to have meetings there?

Wesley: I think it did because back then, people didn't have (inaudible), so we were given a lot of food and clothing through the community centers, so it worked real well.

Tanzman: It was given to anyone in need. What about the FDP local meetings? Were they mostly developed out of the first people who tried to register and some of the SNCC people? You started small and grew it?

Wesley: Yes, it started small and it, you know, just kept building. Started in Holmes County.

Tanzman: In terms of the schools, did most of the kids kind of see their future as trying to leave as soon as possible? Or did some of them, when the movement started getting stronger, did some of the young people start getting involved, too, within the movement, or was it mostly the farmers and the people from the towns, the older people? Like the time of the freedom schools, were the kids pretty active, too? With FDP?

Wesley: Yes. The kids, you know, wasn't a problem to get. It wasn't a problem to get them to fall in line. (A portion of the tape is inaudible.) But the FDP wanted (inaudible) to have a march (inaudible).

Tanzman: Mm-hm. They came out for the action, direct action. Yeah. I know you had a series of boycotts, in terms of (inaudible) wanting to integrate the stores in the seventies, right? Mr. Wesley, are you OK?

Wesley: Yeah, I was trying to think.

Tanzman: There were marches and protests going on, well, I know it was way after I left, so it was in the late sixties, seventies. Was that partly around the police? Problems with the police?

(The recording on the tape ends at this point in the interview.)


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