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Mississippi - Mayersville: Unita Blackwell Interviewee [Part 1]
Dent, Thomas C.
Tom Dent interviews Unita Blackwell in Mayersville, Mississippi. She discusses her achievements as mayor of Mayersville over the last fourteen years. The town was incorporated just before she became mayor. The incorporation and the election were tied together, led by the Board of Alderman. Three out of five people on the board were Black, and they nominated a mayor from among themselves. She was the only person nominated. She had been working on a housing program for the National Council of Negro Women with Anne Devine and Dorothy Duke and prior. She was also a founder of Mississippi Action for Community Education [MACE]. She talks about the work of that organization and the Delta Foundation. She discusses the challenges of board involvement [with Citizens Crusade for Poverty?] while traveling to work with housing. She describes the work she has done with MACE to incorporate towns and her organizing work. She talks about this history of Mayersville, which is the county seat of Issaquena County. David Mayers was the landowner who supplied the land for the town. Black landowners have largely been left out of the history, but there were many in the county. She talks about Freedom City and other projects with which she has been involved in the area, including the blues festival. She had considered doing a thesis on Reconstruction in the county. Blackwell discusses her work as a community organizer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee [SNCC], MACE, Head Start, and the National Council of Negro Women. She went to jail in Jackson in 1965 for passing out leaflets which stated that people had the right to register to vote. Students in Issaquena County all attend school in Rolling Fork, Mississippi. It had previously been a White only school. When the school desegregated, the White students moved on to private academies. She talks about integrating the schools, and the anger they faced from the White community. Fannie Lou Hamer was a symbol of people being put out of their homes.
African AmericansCivil rightsCivil rights demonstrationsDesegregationEducationIntegrationRace relationsSegregation
Mayersville (Ms.)Issaquena County (Ms.)
Tulane University Digital Library
Box 151, 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.