Interview with Victoria Gray Adams
QUESTION 4
INTERVIEWER:

CAN I—I'M GOING TO INTERRUPT ONE SECOND. IT'S KIND OF TOUGH, BUT THEY WILL NOT HEAR MY QUESTIONS. OK, SO WHEN I ASK YOU SOMETHING, WHAT, WHAT WAS, WHAT WERE THE DIFFICULTIES IN REGISTERING, IT WOULD BE GOOD TO INCLUDE MY QUESTION IN YOUR ANSWER. TO, TO REGISTER, SOME OF THE DIFFICULTIES WE ENCOUNTERED…SPECIFICALLY, WHAT WERE SOME OF THE DIFFICULTIES IN REGISTERING?

Victoria Gray Adams:

Well, the difficulties were, to register in Mississippi, the—you were at the mercy of the registrar. The requirements to be registered were you had to be able to read and write, you had to be able to interpret any section of the constitution that the registrar required, to his satisfaction. The requirements to be a registrar was simply to be elected by the people. There was nothing said you had to be able to read or write, you know, nothing like that to be a registrar, but all that to become a registered voter. And so a PH.D could be denied the right to become a registered voter by a registrar who didn't finish elementary school, and so this was the kind of climate that we lived in. And you can imagine the mentality of the people many times with whom you had to deal with, and this was certainly true in my town. And so, from the beginning ours was indeed a political fight rather than a struggle, if you will, rather than just a purely civil rights struggle. Because our—the climate in our state was such that to go out there and wage that struggle just on a purely, you know, civil rights basis the—we could never have gotten off the ground. We would probably all have been killed you know, and I mean intimated and just totally frightened off. Because you see you do have to understand something of the history of voting rights in Mississippi, you know. Back, or during reconstruction, we had blacks participating,in every level of government. But when the 1870 compact was violated, was, you know, betrayed, open season is what happened, on not only the blacks, but those other whites and other people in the community who had coalesced and were really about the business of doing progressive kinds of things for the people of that state. And whole communities of people were, were, was simply slain, you know, with immunity. And when word went out,you know, from the state to the federal government asking, you know, for support, for assistance, for help, none came. And so the whole business was totally destroyed, you know, within a very short span of time. And then Mississippi led the way in 1890 in the 1890s, you know. They redid their constitution and that constitution of course put Jim Crow laws in effect and from that time forward Mississippi was a very bad place to be just to put it very simply. As long—