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Matt Suarez interview, Part 1
Rogers, Kim Lacy
Topics Include: Who his family is as well as his early childhood, How he got involved with CORE what he did there and his relationships within CORE, His violent philosophy, Him having to work hard and make money for himself
0:15 born and raised in new Orleans, dad pharmacist mom housewife, grandpa committed suicide after a hunting accident paralyzed him. Both parents had to work much harder after grandpa became paralyzed. On fathers side of the family they went more into business and did some things illegally to make extra money 2:30 segregation did not strike home despite numerous incidents until he was 11 years old. This is because the neighborhood was integrated. At 11 years old they were playing basketball and the white kid couldn't finish the game because they had a birthday party that only the white kids in town were invited to. This stuck in his mind. 4:30 family did not give him any lessons about discrimination, some of his family worked with or for white people. His uncle passed for white and was dating a girl and after they got married he found out she was passing for white as well. 6:00 born in march 1938. Was in the creole community, which is when white marry blacks. They thought they were superior to everyone. He felt confused growing up amongst this because he identifies with his mother's people and had almost all black friends. 11:00 Even though it was against the law teenagers were able to go into any bar and drink, as well as staying open until 24 hours. Creoles believe in being self-employed and making a lot of money. He rebels to commands. He was in jail 6 hours after being in the navy. Kept getting thrown into jail during navy tenure for insubordination. Was sent to psychiatrist for weekly sessions. 16:00 Saw things done to black as a child that he would of died for. Said he thought he would never go to Mississippi because of how racist it is. Heard from a friend that CORE group had a lot of good looking women in it and that's why he checked it out. Said the women is what brought lots of men into the movement. Being in the group kind of seems like a brainwashing. He says he never ever agreed with nonviolence, but understood it as a strategy. 2 things struck him when he heard nonviolent arguments, they are that blacks didn't have the resources to meet a violent confrontation and they were usually outnumbered. 19:30 he would never let someone hit him and walk away in a one on one confrontation. He was convinced for almost a year that he should be involved with a total commitment and accept the philosophy of the group. Was told he had a responsibility to the rest of the world rather than just make money for himself. 23:00 He suffered from some of the same things that a lot of other creoles suffered form as well. Looked at blacks as ordinary. Kept meeting extremely intelligent people during his involvement in the Civil rights movement. He never got to the bottom of her mind, there was always more information she had to share. She (Oretha Castle Haley) was the reason he got involved. He considered her one of his best friends.He always went to her first when he needed to talk about something. 26:00 gradually starting doing direct actions with the group. Still firmly in his mind that he couldn't tolerate anyone hitting him or spitting on him. He tried to support them financially. He made them signs and got them lunch and drove them from place to place. At first he wasn't directly involved until they had a picket line on canal street where there was supposed to be a march where hundreds of students were going to picket. They never showed to canal street because they were arrested before they got there. He then realized everyone was in jail except for him and he decided to walk the picket line with his friend frank who was a white kid at Tulane. They had a 2 person picket line. 29:30 He was hoping nobody enticed him into doing something violent. 2 old white ladies told them that they agreed with what they were doing. That experience changed him perhaps more than anything else because he was expecting violent reactions from whites.
SegregationEducationPrisonsRacismCivil rights movement
New Orleans (La.)
Amistad Research Center
Rogers.Suarez 6.20.1988 Item 10-01
Box 8, Item 10, Side 1, Kim Lacy Rogers collection, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
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