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Mississippi - Mayersville: Unita Blackwell Interviewee [Part 4]
Dent, Thomas C.
Tom Dent continues his interview with Unita Blackwell in Mayersville, Mississippi. She talks about Black awareness of education. The education process was always skewed in favor of the White children and the expense of the Black. A "debriefing" process must occur to educate the Black community on their own history, as well as to education the White community. She is happy to be part of the debriefing and education process. All the work the civil rights movement and others have done has made the youth question what they are being taught for the first time in their lifetimes. She does not think that they are "in a low period." Their generation was the vanguard of the process and the world is currently in flux. She stresses the importance of Black people identifying themselves as Black, and not "multicultural." White colonization is still happening, it is just happening overseas. Dent sees the balance of power shifting away from the west and toward Africa. She talks about visiting Zaire and meeting seventeen Black presidents. She felt amazed, and it made her want to transfer the knowledge that the world had so many Black leaders to the African American population. She was struck by the difference of a culture where Black people had not been enslaved. The Black man in America does not know who his family was. The rest of the country became rich off of their backs. They talk about their inability to trace their roots very far. Her family is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Dent talks about visiting Gambia, where Blackwell would like to visit. She talks about her visit to central Africa, and learning about Africans' role as "the first people" on a trip to China in 1973. "n[30:00] Dent and Blackwell drive to the levee of the Mississippi River. Blackwell describes the beauty of the area. She points out the slabs that people lay to reinforce the levee, one of the jobs in the area. They walk along the river and Dent takes photographs. Blackwell indicates where the Corps of Engineers set up in 1976. The river is wide and deep there. She points out Louisiana and Arkansas. There are bar pits in the area into which the water feeds, where people fish. The river is monitored because it is the dividing line between the states. They drive to the courthouse. Blackwell points out the two oak trees they were made to standby because they were net let into the courthouse to register to vote. She received a grant to redo the street signs. They kept Mayfield and Court Streets. Twin Oaks Drive, her street, was named in honor of her experience waiting under the oaks to register in 1964. It is a peaceful town, where people can walk the streets. She points out Minnie Ripley's house."n
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Tulane University Digital Library
Box 151, Item 16, Side 2, Tom Dent collection, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
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