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Mississippi - Canton: Jewel Williams Interviewee [Part 1]
Dent, Thomas C.
Tom Dent interviews Jewel Williams in the Canton, Mississippi. Dent asks how Williams got involved in 1963 with George Raymond and Civil Rights. Williams says she began attending meetings at Asbury Church before George Raymond came to the area. She joined the meetings initially at the request of Miss Divine. The meetings started at Sanders Chapel on Leads St then moved as the meetings got bigger. She met George Raymond shortly after and was deeply impressed. Williams's first active step in the movement was when she volunteered to be a poll watcher for a local election. She recalls watching George Raymond being violently arrested at the event. They discuss Raymond's physical appearance and leadership qualities. Dent asks how Williams met Miss Divine and Williams recalls that Miss Divine was an active member of the community. She sold insurance and walked everywhere talking with people in the community. Williams recalls that Miss Divine was living in a housing project and was threatened with eviction when she became active in Civil Rights. Williams recalls that this made Miss Divine mad and she became even more active after the encounter. Similarly, Williams saw the condescension in not being able to vote as a challenge and made sure to pass her registration test. Williams recalls having many conversations with Raymond on goals and how to accomplish them. She remises that his leadership was absolute and undoubted, people sought to help and follow him. The talks about the Head Start Program and its popularity in the region. Dent asks who the original leaders of the movement were and Williams names her brother, James Stoats, Miss Divine, Theodis Hewitt, Eugene Patterson, and Chin. They met in Chin's Café on Franklin St. Dent asks how aware they were of other movements in Birmingham, Greenwood, and Jackson. Williams recalls that she was always careful to be well informed and those in Canton were generally aware but not well-informed. It was seen as a "dangerous mess that will get you in trouble" but the community still found small ways to help, such as feeing and housing activist when they came to the area. Dent asks about the reputation of George Washington and Williams states that some saw him as an "Uncle Tom" for working too closely with the Whites during the boycott. However, she thinks he should be respected and remembered in a positive light for the work he did do on behalf of the Black community. She recalls that it was often George Washington who bailed people out of jail, once even putting up his own property to raise the money. They discuss the death of a local man who was hit by a truck on the interstate in suspicious circumstances. Dent asks about Head Start, which started in 1965. William states the purpose was to find good jobs for Blacks in the community.
Tape cuts out and skipps a few times. Jewel Williams' grandaughter walks in at one point towards the end.
African AmericansCivil rightsCivil rights leadersRace relationsSexism
Dent, Thomas C.DeVine, Annie
Canton (Ms.)Jackson (Ms.)Tupelo (Ms.)
Tulane University Digital Library
Box 154, Item 9, 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.