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Mississippi - Issaquena County: Clarence Hall Interviewee [Part 1]
Dent, Thomas C.
Tom Dent interviews Clarence Hall in Issaquena County, Mississippi. Hall explains he was born in 1924 and raised about seven miles north of the city on a farm. His father was a sharecropper. He was born on an old plantation called Duncan. It had about ten or fifteen sharecroppers working on it by the 1920s. Each person had about fifteen acres of land. They mostly grew cotton and corn. The owner was given half of the crop and expenses were paid by the sharecropper. Beans and rice were added to the rotation in the 1940s. In the past, Hall saw people raise cows and hogs as well. Hall says there were six children in his family growing up, two boys and four girls. His mother died when he was eleven years old and his family split up afterwards. He stayed with his father, and then a friend until he was seventeen. Hall says he worked the fields the whole time he was growing up. He worked on the Nickerson plantation from eleven to sixteen. He bought his own cloths and books for school. School ran for about three to four months at a time, sometimes five. The highest you could go was eighth grade. The school worked around the agricultural schedule. Hall says the racial makeup has changed a lot since he grew up. When he was little it was about 75% Black and 25% White. Now it is about 58% Black to 42% White. Hall joined the army when he was seventeen. He saw it as the only way out of earning a dollar a day. His father was a WWI vet and Hall had always planned on join the military. He left in 1941, before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He was made a commissioned officer by 1943. He arrived in Liverpool that same year and was there until 1944 when he went into France and then Germany. He reenlisted in Germany in 1945. He was discharged in 1947 and returned to the United States. He worked with his uncle for a little then, in 1950, he bought the Nickerson place where he had worked as a child. It is 67 acres and he paid it off early. Dent asks how Hall felt about coming back to Mississippi and he says he believes it was god's will. He says he wanted to help bring change to Mississippi. He tried to register to vote as soon as he returned. Hall did not pass the first two times he tried the test. However, he was the only Black in the area trying to register to vote. Hall says he was threatened a few times by White people for trying to vote. A few Black people asked him to stop trying as well. They believed if he didn't agitate the White community they might get a road or some other sort of pay off. They never did and he continued to try and register. Dent asks Halls to tell the history of the county. He says it started a low land strips next to the river. A majority of the people there after the Civil War were Black. Whites owned the land and leased it to the Blacks. It is generally swamp land. They had a landing on the river but it was fairly small. Most of the people on the land were sharecroppers with big families who came out in the red at the end of the year. After civil rights, the farms began to mechanize and kick Blacks out of their houses.
African AmericansCivil rightsRace relationsCivil rights leadersEducationEconomicsMilitary life
Issaquena County (Ms.)
Tulane University Digital Library
Box 152, Item 14, 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.