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Mississippi - Meridian: Obie Clark Interviewee [Part 2]
Dent, Thomas C.
Tom Dent continues his interview with Obie Clark in Meridian, Mississippi. He says there is a new Meridian community college. The Black student percentage is about 35% and the teachers are about 15% Black. They discuss mutual acquiesces and new Black leaders. Clark says a lot of people have had to leave Meridian to find employment. About 30 years ago the Black community started to made efforts to keep the youth in the community. In 1968 people that had left Meridian returned for a short reunion party. Originally, the White population was scared of the reunion but it is now an annual occurrence. Despite this, Clark describes the down town of Meridian as a "ghost town." They discuss specific Black leaders who have been active since the movement. Clark says many of them were not as active as they should have been. Little change has occurred since the 1960s. Clark states that his active stance has gotten him in trouble; someone once called for his impeachment. Clark says, "If a Black man in a leadership position came through the "u201860s and didn't have a jail record I question his commitment." Clark says that Meridian has a history of racial harmony but they have paid a price for that peace. Blacks are still very much second class citizens there and have to leave the city to find employment. Clark believes if they had agitated more, sacrificed more, they might have more to show for it in the 1990s. Clark discusses a lawsuit he filed against Meridian for access to their pools. It was settled before it went to court. Clark talks about the efforts to desegregate Meridian. It turned violent on the first day and the kids walked out of school. Clark eventually decides to run for president of the NAACP because he thought the leadership at the time was weak and ineffectual. He did not really want the position but he could not watch it mishandled. Clark says he often gets turned off by NAACP national politics. He disapproves of the political nature, which is often ineffectual and works to the detriment of the people of Meridian. They discuss race politics within the Democratic Party.
African AmericansBusiness peopleCivil rightsEconomicsLaw & legal affairsPolitical partiesRace relations
Tulane University Digital Library
Box 152, Item 6, Side 2, Tom Dent collection, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
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