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Mississippi - Canton: Walter C. Jones Interviewee [Part 1]
Dent, Thomas C.
Tom Dent interviews Walter Jones in Canton, Mississippi. Jones explains that his family has lived in and around Canton for generations. Jones says he grew up in "brickyard hill" or Smith Street in the city of Canton. Jones says his mother cooked for the local schools, nursery homes, and meals for wheels. His father drove trucks across the country, particularly when Jones was young. He eventually he came to co-own a café called the "Twin Oaks." His father also owned a small plot of cotton outside of Canton. They discuss Jones' grandparents, all of whom owned land outside Canton. Jones has four brothers, a sister, and a half-sister. Jones recounts the different ways that White and Black children were allowed to play when he was little. Jones went to Holy Child Jesus Catholic School from elementary through High School. His whole family attended even though not all of them were Catholic. The school was designed to provide quality education for Black children with an awareness of Black culture and history. Jones recalls that there was only one Black nun at Holy Child named Sister Thea. Jones called Sister Thea his original idol. He says she taught him Black values, like self-esteem. He says she was known for "bringing a Black consciousness to the Catholic church" and she became a power within the school, church and community. Sister Thea died in her early forties; some in the community believe she should have been sainted. He says he finished Holy Child in 1973 and continued on to Mississippi Valley State University. Jones was very active there, working on political campaigns and voter registration. He says some of the Blacks in the more rural areas were hostel and afraid of the registration attempts. Dent states that Civil rights in Canton began in earnest when George Raymond came to town. Jones was very young at that time. Jones states that he was not very conscious of segregation when he was growing up; he was taught to be proud of his heritage at school. He remembers specifically the march to integrate the local park and the violence that ensured. He also recalls that there was a march in 1966 led by MLK and that he met MLK during that time. Jones recalls conversations with Miss DiVine. She taught him about the other Civil Rights leaders who Jones was too young to be conscious of during the 1960s. Jones recalls that his father was one of the first to register and vote. They discuss a man named Theo who was very active in Civil Rights and another of Jones' idols.
African AmericansCatholic churchesCivil rights leadersRace realtionsUniversity & collegesVoting rights
Dent, Thomas C.DeVine, AnnieKing, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
Tulane University Digital Library
Box 153, Item 2, 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.