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Oral History Digital Collection

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Oral history.; Interview conducted on July 19, 1978 with Mr. W.S. Griffin at his home in Jackson, Mississippi. Griffin was born on October 15, 1913 near Mantee, Mississippi, in Webster County. In 1936, he accepted a position as a teacher and coach at Woodland High School in Chickasaw County. While teaching at Woodland, Griffin continued his education at the University of Mississippi and in 1940 his received his BA degree. After returning from service in World War II, he began his master's degree program at the University of Mississippi. In 1949, Griffin became superintendent of the Springhill Consolidated School District. He then went on to join the Mississippi State Department of Education as director of the state's school lunch program in 1952. In 1958, he became director of the Division of Administration and Finance at the state department of education, and in 1974 he was appointed Assistant State Superintendent of Education.

Oral history.; On April 8, 1927, Dr. Pete Walker was born in Lumberton, Mississippi. When Dr. Walker was four years old, his mother passed away. As a child, Dr. Walker worked in his father's cafes. Dr. Walker attended Jones County Junior College on a football scholarship; he attended Mississippi State on a football scholarship and graduated with an undergraduate degree in physical education. He earned his master's degree in counseling and testing and his doctorate in school administration with a minor in psychology. From 1952 to 1964, he taught and coached in public school. From 1965 to 1986, he was an administrator and teacher at Delta State University. For two years, Dr. Walker was in the Army during the Korean Conflict. He was a U.S. Army corporal and a first lieutenant in the Reserves. He is currently retired and pursues his interests of golf, fishing, and photography. He is a member of the Lion's Club.

Oral history.; Two interviews conducted on May 21, 1974 and January 26, 1976 with the Honorable Mildred Wells Norris. Norris was born in Ovett, Mississippi. She studied for one year at Mississippi State College for Women. Norris started working for two lawyers in Laurel, Mississippi. In 1947, she passed the Mississippi Bar Examination. Norris was appointed Judge of the Municipal Court of Hattiesburg in 1961 and was the first woman Police Judge in Mississippi. She has worked actively for the advancement of women; she was the first woman to serve on the Forrest County Industrial Development Board and also was appointed first chairman of the Mississippi Governor's Commission on Women. Governor Paul B. Johnson, Jr. appointed Norris to serve on the Governor's Commission on the Employment of the Handicapped.

Oral history.; Mr. Roberts Wilson Jr. was born July 6, 1941, in Rosedale, Mississippi. After attending both Vanderbilt University and the University of Mississippi, he went to Washington. D.C., during the mid 1960s where he worked in the office of Mississippi Senator John Stennis. Returning to Mississippi, he attended Ole Miss Law School, graduating in 1969. In 1970, Mr. Wilson married Ann Smith of Birmingham, Alabama. Both Mr. Wilson and his wife have been active in Mississippi politics, and Mr. Wilson has run for state senate, state representative and mayor of Pascagoula. At the time of this interview, Mr. Wilson was practicing as a trial attorney in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Wilson discusses his family's history; the murder of Emmett Till in Money, Mississippi; his work in the office of Mississippi Senator John Stennis in Washington, D.C.; the integration of Little Rock Central High School in 1957; the enrollment of James Meredith at the University of Mississippi; the Vietnam War and Mississippi politics.

Oral history.; Mr. Monroe "Bill" Winston was born September 12, 1907, in Caseyville, Lincoln County, Mississippi. His parents were sharecroppers on the Red Star plantation, the same plantation where his grandmother had been a slave. Mr. Winston attended school through the second grade, stopping to begin work in a brickyard. He worked in the brickyard until he was twenty years old. In 1929, before he turned twenty-two, Mr. Winston married. He and his wife had two sons. After his first wife passed away, Mr. Winston remarried to Gladys Winston. As an adult, Mr. Winston farmed, worked as a mechanic, worked in an oil mill, did odd jobs, and worked as a driver for several people. He continues to live in Brookhaven, in the same house he has lived in since 1926.

Oral history.; Eargia Winters was born just outside of McCool in Attala County, Mississippi. She spent her early education in a one-room schoolhouse in the Bear Creek and Thatcher Hill Communities. Winters later went on to the Attala County Training School where she played basketball for the school team. Winters received her degree in elementary education from Jackson State University and started work as a teacher shortly thereafter. Throughout her life, Winters has been involved in the church, serving as the youth director, Sunday School teacher, executive board member, and mission director board treasurer. In her role as youth director, she often takes groups of children on various trips throughout the South.

Oral history.; Interview conducted on October 21, 1995 with Fred Winyard. Mr. Fred Winyard was born in Calcutta, India, on June 14, 1944. His father, Frederick Winyard, is a British subject born in Hong Kong. His mother, Florence Lee Winyard, is Chinese and was born in Shanghai. Winyard spent his first ten years in Calcutta and Hong Kong. He earned a bachelor's degree from Reed College in Oregon and a master's degree in economics from Berkeley. He currently owns a company that develops computer software. He is married to Nora Moses, and the couple have a daughter, Sara. While at Reed College, Winyard was recruited by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to work as a civil rights activist in Mississippi. His first assignment was in Holly Springs, where he volunteered to organize the huge quantities of books that had been donated through college book drives and oversee their packaging as self-contained libraries to be distributed throughout the state. Winyard began working in Clarksdale in late 1963 and continued through the beginning of Freedom Summer 1964, organizing Freedom Libraries, helping register voters, and lettering picket signs. During his time in Clarksdale, he lived in the home of Aaron Henry.

Oral history.; Adrienne Wooten was born in 1974 in Riverside, California and grew up in Meridian, Mississippi. She attended West Hills Elementary, Oakland Heights Elementary, Carver Middle School, Kay Griffin Junior High, and Meridian High School. After graduation, she went on to attend Alcorn State University and the University of Mississippi School of Law. She was first elected as state representative in 2007. She is a member of the Magnolia Bar Association, Madison County Bar Association, and the Hinds County Bar Association, among other organizations.

Oral history.; Interviews conducted on 04-21-1977 and 05-12-1977 with Unita Blackwell (born 1933). Ms. Blackwell was a field worker for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1964 and also served that year as a delegate of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which went to the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, as an alternative to the all-white, regular Democratic Party of Mississippi. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Ms. Blackwell served about ten years as a community development specialist with the National Council of Negro Women. Since 1977 she has served as mayor of the Issaquena County community of Mayersville.

Oral history.; Interview conducted on November 4, 1993 with Joseph E. Wroten (born 1925). Joseph Wroten was born February 28, 1925, in a Methodist parsonage in New Albany, Mississippi. Mr. Wroten graduated from Stephen D. Lee High School in Columbus, received his bachelor's of science from Millsaps College in 1945 and a law degree from the University of Mississippi in 1948. He served three four-year terms in the Mississippi House of Representatives. He became famous during his tenure as one of only two legislators who voted in favor of allowing blacks to enroll at the University of Mississippi. He was elected as a judge of the county court and of the youth court of Washington County from 1971 to 1982. He has also served in several capacities for the Democratic Party in Mississippi and as a delegate to the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

Oral history.; Dr. Forest Kent Wyatt was born on May 27, 1934, in Berea, Kentucky. He graduated from Delta State College (now Delta State University) with a double degree in mathematics and health, physical education, and recreation. He then began a teaching career that included work for the University Military School in Mobile, Alabama and at his high school alma mater, Cleveland High School. Dr. Wyatt became Delta State College's first alumni secretary and he also completed his doctoral degree from the University of Mississippi. Having served Delta State University as alumni secretary for four years, Dr. Wyatt worked as the administrative assistant before becoming the fifth president of Delta State University in 1975. Dr. Wyatt served in that capacity for twenty-four years, retiring in 1999.

Oral history.; Interview conducted on February 21, 1980 with the Honorable George M. Yarbrough at his home. Yarbrough was born on August 15, 1916 at Red Banks, Mississippi. Yarbrough served in the U.S. Army during World War II, achieving the rank of master sergeant. In 1958, he purchased a controlling interest in a local paper, The South Reporter, eventually assuming full control as editor and publisher. Yarbrough was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1952 and in 1956 was elected to the Mississippi Senate, where he served until 1968. He gave up his seat in 1968 but was returned to the Senate in 1972 and served until 1980, when he lost his bid for re-election. Yarbrough was President Pro Tempore of the Senate, 1960-1968, and was active Lieutenant Governor from 1966 to 1968.

Oral history.; An interview conducted on November 20, 1998 with Jason York, marketing manager for Silver Star Resort and Casino. Born in Philadelphia, Mississippi, York describes his experience of Choctaw culture in the context of American society.

Oral history.; An interview conducted on October 21, 1998 with Kenneth York (born 1948) in Neshoba County, Mississippi. York is an educator and advocate for Choctaw cultural heritage.

Oral history.; Interview conducted on June 12, 2010 at Church of the Redeemer in Biloxi, Mississippi. Youngblood describes conditions of growing up in Biloxi and the influence of the Biloxi Beach Wade-Ins on her life and in the life of the community.

Oral history.; Interview with Charles L. Young conducted on November 14, 1998. Charles L. Young was born in Meridian, Mississippi in 1931. He served 2 years in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict. Young earned his B.S. degree in business administration from Tennessee State University. He was elected to the State Legislature in 1979 for the eighty-second district which covers most of Meridian.

Oral history.; Interview conducted on April 18, 1996 with Zoya Zeman (born 1943). Ms. Zeman was a civil rights activist who worked on the Mississippi Summer Project in Clarksdale, where she worked at the community center, organizing classes and doing health education and literacy work.

Oral history.; Interview conducted March 11, 2003. Joseph Stephen Zuccaro Jr. was born November 24, 1923, in Natchez, Mississippi. In 1941, Zuccaro graduated from St. Joseph's High School in Natchez. He volunteered for service in World War II, joining the Marine Corps at the age of nineteen. He later attended the University of Mississippi School of Law, earned his JD degree in 1949 and began practicing law in Natchez. He was attorney for the Natchez mayor and Board of Aldermen, attorney for the Adams County Board of Supervisors, and also for the Claiborne County Board of Supervisors. He represented the Board of Trustees of Natchez Regional Medical Center, served as Chancery Judge for the counties of Claiborne, Jefferson, Adams, and Wilkinson, and served as a Justice of the Mississippi State Supreme Court from 1987 to 1989. In addition, he served as member and chair of the Mississippi Oil and Gas Board.

Oral history.; Born in 1947, Dr. Story was graduated from Mississippi Valley State University in 1969 where he earned a B.S.; he earned an M.Ed. from Delta State University. During his varied career he has been a sharecropper, a public school teacher in the Shelby School District, and the Leland School District, and a professor and dean at Delta State University, where he is currently employed. In 1977, Delta State University hired Dr. Story as a full-time instructor in guidance and counseling and as a part-time counselor in the Counseling Center. In 1993, he became the dean of counseling and developmental studies and a professor of behavioral sciences. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated.

Oral history.; Interview with Matt Suarez conducted March 26-30, 2000. Matt Suarez was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1938. After a period of service in the U.S. Navy, Suarez returned to New Orleans to participate in the civil rights movement. He met Oretha Castle who got him involved with the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and came to Mississippi with other activists to continue organizing in the early 1960s. Suarez now runs the Rainbow Child Development Center in New Orleans which has been open for 25 years.

Oral history.; Interview conducted August 29, 2002. Robert P. Sugg was born in Eupora, Mississippi on February 21, 1916. He attended Mississippi State University and the Jackson School of Law, now the Mississippi College School of Law, and began practicing law in 1940. Sugg served as Webster County Prosecuting Attorney from 1949 to 1951, when he was elected Chancellor of the Fourteenth District which included Chickasaw, Clay, Lowndes, Noxubee, Oktibbeha and Webster Counties. He served in this capacity from January 1951 until September 1971. Governor John Bell Williams appointed Justice Sugg to the Mississippi Supreme Court in 1971 where he served until January 1983, having been re-elected without opposition. After he retired from the court, he continued to hear cases as a senior status judge until the age of eighty-three.

Oral history.; Interview conducted on March 23, 1977 with Mr. Jimmy Swan. Jimmy Swan was born in Cullman County, Alabama, but ran away from home when he was thirteen or fourteen and ended up in Wayne County, Mississippi. He sang in nightclubs and wrote songs until he became one of the first disc jockeys in the country. Swan performed for many years with his own radio program and eventually became part owner and manager of a radio station. He unsuccessfully ran for Governor of Mississippi in 1967 and 1971.

Oral history.; Discusses her childhood education, life at Alcorn State University as a college student, and her early teaching positions. Describes her voting rights lawsuit and the repercussions on her career. Expresses her opinions on school desegregation and the end of segregation.

Oral history.; Dr. Antone Walter Tannehill, Jr., was born May 22, 1929, in New Orleans, Louisiana, but grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He attended Vanderbilt University and Duke University Medical School. He served an internship at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia, and then in the United States Air Force as a medical officer. Dr. Tannehill practiced medicine in Mississippi from 1964 until his retirement in 1997. He has been awarded several medical and civic awards.

Oral history.; Harry Tartt attended Mobile County Training School in Plateau, Alabama, and New Orleans University (now Dillard University) in New Orleans, Louisiana, from which he graduated summa cum laude in 1933. From 1934 through 1937, Reverend Tartt taught at Thirty-third Avenue High School. After teaching three years, he married Ms. Orlean Grace, and the couple moved to Chicago, where Harry did graduate work at the University of Chicago. Tartt joined the military and served as a combat soldier in Tunisia and Algeria in North Africa, where he won five Battle Stars and also served as chaplain. In addition, he worked as a journalist. At the end of World War II, he served in Germany, France, and Korea. After thirty years of military duty, he retired at the rank of major. Upon retirement from the Army in 1964, he entered the classroom again at Thirty-third Avenue High School, where he taught until he was assigned as the first African-American teacher at Gulfport High School during the desegregation of the Mississippi schools.

Oral history.; Horace Tate Jr. was born in 1934 in Gulfport, Mississippi. In 1953, he graduated from Thirty-third Avenue High School, and attended Jackson State University from which he graduated with a B.S. in 1957. He was drafted into the Army in 1958, and after completing his military duty, he returned to Gulfport to teach at Thirty-third Avenue High School. For thirty-seven years, he taught on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, during segregation, during the transition into integrated schools, and after schools had become fully integrated. Mr. Tate earned his M.S. at Jackson State University. In 1977, he became assistant principal at Central Junior High School, where he served until his retirement in 1996.

Oral history.; Andrea Taylor-Harris attended Thirty-third Avenue Elementary School and High School in Gulfport, Mississippi, graduating in 1963. She was a debutante in the first annual Alpha Phi Alpha Debutante Ball. She attended Xavier University from which she earned her B.S. in pharmacy. After a period in Chicago, in 1972 she and her husband, Mr. Mack B. Harris, returned to Gulfport in order to re-open her father's drug store, one of two independent, African-American-owned drug stores on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She has served on the Gulfport School Board, Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Gulf Coast, and Magnolia State Pharmaceutical Association. She is the recipient of the Jefferson Davis Junior College Woman of Achievement Award, and the Small Business Association's Business Recognition Award. She is a member of St. Mark's United Methodist Church.

Oral history.; Marjorie Taylor is an elementary school teacher on Long Island, New York who was recruited by the National Federation of Teachers to come to Mississippi during Freedom Summer in 1964. Taylor stayed through 1965, working with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and teaching local people in a Freedom School.

Oral history.; Reverend Wendell P.C. Taylor was born in 1915, in Rankin County, Mississippi. His grandparents, all born around 1847, had been slaves; his grandmother was one of the first African American teachers in Mississippi, and his grandfather was a traveling minister. Reverend Taylor grew up on a 240 acre farm that his father owned. He received his B.A. degree in sociology and a master's degree in education from Columbia University. He pursued postgraduate work in theology at Union Theological Seminary. He retired in 1978 after having served forty-one years as a full-time minister. Reverend Taylor has a long history of community involvement and social and civic responsibility. He was the first president of the Mississippi Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Reverend Taylor died in 2006 at his home.

Oral history.; Mrs. Frances Ryals Terry was born July 30, 1923, in Greenville, Mississippi. She was a child during the Depression and during the flood of 1927. Mrs. Terry grew up near Hollandale, Mississippi. She graduated from Delta State Teachers College where she met her husband Harold E. Terry; they were married in 1947. Mrs. Terry was the recipient of the first B.S. degree that Delta State awarded. Mrs. Terry taught mathematics at Shaw, Mississippi, Boyce, Mississippi, Minter City, Mississippi, and Sunnyside, Mississippi. Additionally she served as math supervisor for Leflore County Schools until her retirement in 1985. She is a charter member of the Mississippi Council of Mathematics and served as the president in 1977. She is a member of St. John's United Methodist Church in Greenwood, Mississippi.

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