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Oral History Digital Collection

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Oral history.; Interview conducted on July 5, 1982 with the Honorable Thad Chochran, United States Senator from the state of Mississippi. The interviewer is Dr. Orley B. Caudill. At the time of the recording, Thad Cochran was the junior United States Senator from Mississippi, the first republican from Mississippi elected to the senate since Reconstruction. These recordings span over three meetings totaling more than eight hours of interview time covering many aspects of Cochran's life and career, including his family, early life, education, and his service in the Navy. The interview also regards Cochran's career as an attorney, running for office, his time in the House of Representatives and subsequently the Senate.

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.; Interview conducted September 19, 2002; September 26, 2002; October 3, 2002; October 17, 2002; and October 31, 2002. Honorable James Lamar Roberts Jr. was born in the Robbs Community in Pontotoc County on June 8, 1945. He received his education from the Pontotoc public schools, Millsaps College (BA, 1967), Mississippi State University (MBA, 1968), and the University of Mississippi (JD, 1971). He is a graduate of the National Judicial College, Reno, Nevada, 1988. Roberts practiced law in Pontotoc from 1971 to 1984, while serving as county prosecuting attorney and youth court prosecutor from 1972 to 1984. From 1984 to 1988, Roberts was the Mississippi Commissioner of Public Safety, supervising the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol, Mississippi Crime Laboratory, Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Training Academy, Medical ExaminerΓÇÖs Office, and Bureau of Narcotics. In 1988, Roberts was appointed Chancellor in the First Chancery District, where he was elected and re-elected for consecutive terms. In 1992, Roberts was elected to the Mississippi Supreme Court to commence in 1993, and he was Governor FordiceΓÇÖs first appointment to the Mississippi Supreme Court to complete the unexpired term of retiring Justice James Lawton Robertson. He served as the Supreme Court member of the Board of Governors of the Mississippi Judicial College and as a member of the Mississippi Bar Foundation Board of Governors.

Oral history.; Interview conducted on August 6, 2003. Born in December of 1922 in Orange, New Jersey, Colonel Lawrence E. Roberts grew up about twenty-five miles west of New York City. Colonel Roberts attended Howard University, received his bachelor of science degree from Morningside College, and received his master's degree from Tuskegee Institute. He entered the United States Army Air Corps as a private, and he retired from the United States Air Force as a colonel. He was a graduate of the Forty-four K class of the prestigious Tuskegee Airmen. His first assignment was the pilot training program at Tuskegee Army Airfield where he graduated as a second lieutenant and was assigned to the 477th Medium Bombardment Group and later the 332d Fighter Wing. Among the nineteen service medals and awards received during his service career are the Legion of Merit with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the United States Force Commendation Medal, and the Distinguished Service Order and Air Service Medal received from the Republic of Vietnam. Colonel Roberts served in numerous flying, technical and command assignments in the continental United States and Japan, Canada, Turkey, and Vietnam. This service included duty as a jet fighter pilot in the Air Defense Command and as a flight instructor at the fighter school at Williams Air Force Base, Ground Electronics Officer in Japan and Canada, Chief of Ground Communication-Electronics and Meteorological Maintenance at an Air Division Headquarters, Department Chief for Ground Electronics and Officer Training at Keesler Air Force Base, Commander of a NATO communications organization and Chief Communications- Electronics and Logistics Advisor to the Vietnamese Air Force Headquarters, and Commander of the Maintenance and Supply Group at Keesler Air Force Base. After retirement from the United States Air Force, he worked for Global Associates at the National Space Technology Laboratories. Colonel Roberts was very involved both in his church and in his community. He was a former member and vice moderator of the General Assembly Council, Presbyterian Church USA; former member and chair of the council of the Presbytery of Mississippi; and an elder, First Presbyterian Church, USA, of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Colonel Roberts' community activities include being a member of the board of trustees, Leadership Gulf Coast, former member and chair of the board of trustees for Pass Christian School District; former member and chair of the executive board of the Mississippi School Boards Association; former member and chair of the southern region of the School Boards Association; and director of the Genesis Foundation. On Tuesday, October 12, 2004, Colonel Lawrence E. Roberts, USAF, Retired, died in Biloxi, Mississippi, at eighty-one years of age. He had been a resident of the Mississippi Gulf Coast for thirty-five years, living in Pass Christian and Biloxi.

Oral history.; Interview conducted March 1, April 5, June 6, and June 9, 2003. James Lawton Robertson was born in Greenwood, Mississippi in July of 1940. He attended the University of Mississippi where he earned his bachelor's degree in history. He then moved on to pursue his Juris Doctorate at Harvard University. He was a prominent Mississippi Supreme Court Justice and presided over many civil cases in the state.

Oral history.; An interview conducted on February 22, 2007 with Paige Roberts, Director of Southeast Mississippi's Chapter of the Red Cross, who discusses the hurricane season of 2005, especially Hurricane Katrina's lingering devastation.

Oral history.; Mr. Coygon Robinson Jr. was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, on December 3, 1951. He attended Perkins Elementary School and Nichols High School. In the fifth grade, Mr. Robinson got his first set of drums, and he continued to practice and perform music throughout his college years. After earning his post-secondary education at Mississippi Valley State University, Mr. Robinson moved to San Francisco where he made a living as a substitute teacher, and also developed his graphic art skills as well as a body of work. Additionally, he married and decided to move to his wife's home in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he worked for Dupont and continued to work in graphic arts. In Wilmington, he joined the United States Air Force, had his first child, and traveled extensively overseas in the military. In 1991, he returned to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, working at Keesler Air Force Base, retiring in 1992.

Oral history.; Mrs. Lodie Marie Robinson-Cyrille was born on August 21, 1951 in Biloxi, Mississippi. As a child, she remembers meeting people from various cultures, including Africans; many were studying or serving at Keesler Air Force Base. Additionally she recalls an influence from the French culture, still intact since the earliest settlement of Biloxi. She and her siblings grew up in the segregated South during the Jim Crow era. Childhood was a time when some of their household's income was earned by catching crabs from the Gulf of Mexico or picking pecans. During the summer of 1964, Mrs. Robinson-Cyrille attended freedom school. After 1964, she attended school in Connecticut through tenth grade. She acquired her high school diploma through GED testing, going on to California State from which she graduated in 1979. In 1987, she was graduated from Southern University Law School.

Oral history.; Mr. Delmar Robinson was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, July 11, 1937. He attended Biloxi Colored School and M.F. Nichols School from which he graduated. Escaping the oppressive segregation of the Deep South, Mr. Robinson migrated to California and joined the military in 1953. After four years of service as an Accounting and Finance Specialist in the United States Air Force and thirty-three years of service with the National Park Service, Mr. Robinson retired and currently provides consulting services for school districts and city governments. Additionally, he works with Habitat for Humanity as an advisor on selecting home sites. He has participated in many and varied associations and has received numerous awards.

Oral history.; Robinson discusses her participation with the Mississippi Humanities Council.

Oral history.; Interview with Bilbo Rodgers conducted on May 26, 2000. Bilbo Rodgers was born in Louisville, Mississippi in 1924. He worked on the farm with his family as a child, and joined the United States Army in 1943 at the age of 18. Rodgers shipped to England with the 490 Battalion and participated in the D-Day landing in France. He returned to Mississippi in 1945 and finished eleventh and twelfth grades. Rodgers moved to the coast in 1949 in search of a job, and in 1950 was hired by the International Paper Company, where he worked for 35 years.

Oral history.; Interview conducted December 14, 1995 with Amos and Sammie Lee Rogers. This interview discerns some of the unique characteristics of the north Mississippi civil rights movement, particularly in voting and voter registration drives. The Rogers also discuss school integration in Ripley, Mississippi, and the church as a site of mass meetings.

Oral history.; Interview conducted on November 16, 1977 with George Rogers (born 1927). Mr. Rogers, a Rhodes Scholar, was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives, where he served for more than twenty years. He became well known for his dedication to education reform in Mississippi and served as chairman of the education committee for many years. He worked closely on the Minimum Foundation Program, on reforming the leasing laws for sixteenth-section land.

Oral history.; Interview conducted on December 1, 1994 with Judge Harvey T. Ross (born 1920). In the mid-1960s, Judge Ross was active in laying the groundwork for Coahoma Opportunities, Inc. (COI), a community action agency designed to improve the economic position of Coahoma County Mississippi.

Oral history.; An interview conducted on July 17, 2007 with Chris Rowell, who describes Hurricane Katrina's impact on Hattiesburg and his experiences in the days following the storm.

Oral history.; Stephen L. Rozman was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1940 and grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Rozman moved to Jackson, Mississippi in 1972 to accept a faculty position at Tougaloo College. Dr. Rozman is professor of political science and director of the Center for Civic Engagement & Social Responsibility at Tougaloo College. He is also founder and co-director of the HBCU Faculty Development Network, the leading faculty development network for historically black colleges and universities. He has directed numerous faculty development projects at Tougaloo College and has hosted workshops, conferences, and summer institutes related to civic engagement and service-learning.

Oral history.; Interview conducted April 28, 2001 in Takoma Park, Maryland, at Larry Rubin's home. Larry Rubin was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A civil rights and social justice activist, Rubin worked in Albany, Georgia, and then in north Mississippi with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He describes his early activism, the importance of the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service elections to the course of the movement in North Mississippi. He also describes police harassment in Holly Springs and the development of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP).

Oral history.; Interview conducted on November 11, 1995 with Larry Rubin. A Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native, Larry Rubin was born June 23, 1942. In 1961, he began working to register voters in the South for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In late 1963 and for all of 1964, Mr. Rubin worked as a civil rights activist in Marshall County, Mississippi.

Oral history.; Mr. Balfour William Ruff Sr. was born March 31, 1923, in Jackson, Mississippi. He moved to Tupelo at a young age and attended its public schools. For many years he operated the Ruff Dairy Farm, the first in the Tupelo area to pasteurize and homogenize milk. After that, he farmed and ran a beef cattle operation. He was an active member of several area farm organizations. He was a member of the board of directors of the Federal Land Bank, and an original founder of the Town Creek Master Watershed. He was a founder and treasurer of the North Lee Rural Water Association. A land developer, he developed the neighborhood between Thomas Street and Lawndale Drive, and the Hillplace Development in Tupelo, Mississippi. He was a co-owner and founder of the Big Oaks Country Club golf course and residential development. He was a longtime member of St. Luke United Methodist Church in Tupelo and the Men's Breakfast Club. Mr. Ruff passed away on February 9, 2000.

Oral history.; Mrs. Sarah Harris Ruffin was born on April 15, 1914. Her parents came to Hattiesburg in the early 1900s. When young, Mrs. Ruffin did domestic and warehouse work. In 1949, she began working at the Brooklyn Jewish Hospital as a nurse's aide. She also worked as a practical nurse for the Green Point Hospital in Brooklyn, New York; for the New York City Health Department; and for the Hebrew Home for the Aged. Mrs. Ruffin is a member of the New York State Practical Nurses Association and St. George Association of Practical Nurses. She attends the annual meetings of the New York State Practical Nurses Association, and each year she lobbies as an advocate for senior citizens and children. She is active in the Zion Baptist Church and she served as a Girl Scout leader for over twenty years. Mrs. Ruffin's activities have earned her many awards.

Oral history.; Ann Spivey Bishop Ruscoe was born in 1923 in Cleveland, Mississippi. She was graduated from Cleveland High School in 1941. She was Salutatorian, OAR Good Citizenship Girl, and won the Senior Award. After attending Delta State Teachers College and the University of Tennessee, she received her B.S. degree from Peabody Teachers College in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1945. Her first teaching experience came in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. She married Lieutenant Ray M. Ruscoe in San Marcos, Texas, and was with him in Japan when the Korean War started. They settled in Texas after the war for twenty-five years, returning to Mississippi in 1980.

Oral history.; Sidney Lanier Rushing was born in Carthage, Mississippi in 1930. Rushing earned a B. S. degree in political science from Mississippi Valley State University and an M. Ed. in administration and supervision from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He also earned an M. S. and Ed. Specialist degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University as well as further study at Northern Illinois University. Rushing served in the United States Air Force from 1951-1955 and then taught high school social studies in Gulfport, Mississippi, from 1958-1971. He was a loan officer and vice president of Hancock Bank from 1974-1996 and served on the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning from 1984-1996.

Oral history.; Mujahid Sabree, also known as W.C. Wells, was born in Philadelphia, Mississippi in Neshoba County. He attended segregated schools in Philadelphia, Mississippi, and moved to Wisconsin after graduating high school. After being drafted in to the military, he returned to Mississippi where he worked on voter registration and confronting white racism. For a period he was involved with the Nation of Islam, but later abandoned it.

Oral history.; Interview conducted September 20, 2003 in Holly Springs, Mississippi at Rust College. Tonei Sackey was born in 1926 in South Dakota. A writer for the Twin Cities Courier, she became aware of racial discrimination and got involved with the civil rights movement while living in St. Paul, Minnesota. She made several trips to Mississippi and also marched from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. She discusses her early childhood experiences, marriage, children, education and career. She also describes incidents during the 1960s of Ku Klux Klan violence and intimidation; discusses close friendship with Walter and Earlene Reaves, fellow activists in Mississippi.

Oral history.; Interview with Franzetta Sanders conducted on May 17, 2000. Franzetta W. Sanders was born in Moss Point, Mississippi in 1936. She joined the NAACP in the early 1960s and became increasingly involved in the movement for civil rights. Sanders was involved in efforts to integrate the Moss Point Theater, restaurants, and a local swimming pool. She was also involved in boycotts of businesses which did not hire African Americans. Sanders was instrumental in implementing the Head Start Program in Moss Point, where she taught for 14 years.

Oral history.; Annis Guess Dickerson was born and raised in the Possumneck community of Attala County. She speaks about her family heritage, property, and the settling of Possumneck. The early part of the interview focuses on her Grandfather, Joseph Allan Weeks. Described as an educated and self-taught man, he built houses, surveyed land, and wrote poetry. The transcript of the speech given by him at his ninetieth birthday in 1956 is included. Dickerson also discusses the self-sufficient nature of life on the family farm. She helped raise animals, silk corn and churn butter. Dickerson had a successful career showing horses and competing in equestrian events.

Oral history.; Interview conducted on April 24, 2010 with Eric Dickey. Eric Eugene Dickey was born May 7, 1966, in Biloxi, Mississippi, where his grandparents and Head Start exerted positive influences in his early life. In elementary school band, Mr. Dickey began playing trumpet, and later expanded to piano and organ, becoming the professional musician he is today. In May of 1989, Mr. Dickey graduated from William Carey College, and then began working in Biloxi's Department of Community Development in the Planning Division. Several years later he was elected as councilman of Ward Two and has served in that capacity since then.

Oral history.; Interview conducted April 24, 2010 with Ruby Lee Dickey. Dickey discusses her family of origin, hard-working parents who valued education. She describes her husband Marvin Dickey's experiences in participating in the Biloxi Beach Wade-ins and the violence that followed. Describes gains in equality since the 1960s as well as the persistence of racism.

Oral history.; An interview conducted on June 16, 2008 with Rod Dickson-Rishel, pastor of the Mississippi City United Methodist Church. Reverend Dickson-Rishel discusses his experiences during and after Hurricane Katrina.

Oral history.; Interview conducted September 20, 2003 with Ivanhoe Donaldson in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Discusses growing up in New York City as part of an extended family with roots in the West Indies. Donaldson discusses his education in New York schools, awareness of racial inequalities, political awakening and early activism. He also describes the organizational challenges and successes of the SNCC and activities associated with Freedom Summer.

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