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Mississippi - Longdale: Cornelius Steele Interviewee [Part 1]
Dent, Thomas C.
Tom Dent interviews Cornelius Steele in Longdale, Mississippi. They talk about the community of Longdale, Steele states his knowledge of it dates back to the 1920s and it has historically been a Black community. They discuss the local church which was built about 100 years before the date of the interview and had burnt down at one time. They speculate that the community probably stated after the civil war. Dent states that it is unincorporated, meaning it does not appear on a map. Steele reminisces that the name Longdale most likely comes from a local school and had several names before Longdale. The founder of the school was named John Rogers and it was originally a "log school". The school burned in the 1920s, Steele speculates that it might have been arisen instigated by the local "redneck" community. It was a Rosenwald School, Dent explains, with was a type of school set up in local communities around this time in this vicinity. Steele says there were 25-30 students and 2 teachers. Steele states that the community was held together by the Papa Spring church, a Baptist church, and the Mount Zion church, which was Methodist church which later converted to a United Methodist church. Macedonia, another local community, also had a Methodist church on a nearby road. Steele states that the local road is named "Steele Road" after his family, one of the oldest in the community. Lenard Long, a local White man, asked that the community be named Longdale because it was similar to his name. The Longdale School merged with the other local schools shortly after World War II. Steele notes that the trustees of the school were mostly White but they did not put up money for the school. Steele states that his father did not put much stock in education; he was a farmer with about 40 acres of cotton land and expected his sons to be farmers as well. Steele had 120 acres at one point. Steele comments that when civil right movement came to Longdale in 1964 many of the Black residents of Longdale left for Pascagoula on the coast. Steele states that a number left before "the killings," even Steele, his wife, and three brothers discussed it and "decided not to run." They did sell land though, to send their sons out of Longdale. Steele was careful to sell his land to Blacks. Dent asks about voting in the local community and Steele states it was not even talked about. They knew the procedure but were strongly discouraged. They were still made to pay the poll tax every year without being registered to vote. Steele says that the entire community is now registered and officials come and campaign there often. Dent discusses the local voting districts (beat/place) and election campaigns with Steele's wife. They comment that there is a man running now who could win if all the Blacks in beat 5 vote for him, a few Whites might even vote for him. At the time of the interview Steele notes that there are no elected Blacks in local government though some Blacks have been hired to work in the office. The local Choctaw community also votes but more likely for their own candidates then for Black candidates.
African AmericansCivil rightsEducationIndians of North AmericaReligionSuffrageWorld War II
Longdale (Ms.)Macedonia (Ms.)Mount Zion (Ms.)Pascagola (Ms.)Meridian (Ms.).
Tulane University Digital Library
Box 154, Item 1, Side 1, Tom Dent collection, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
Physical rights are retained by the Amistad Research Center. Copyright is retained in accordance with U. S. Copyright Laws.