Interview with Hodding Carter III


Hodding Carter III:

[laughter] Well, there are a million funny incidents. I, a—not so funny, but I'll tell you a few. Well, I'll tell you some, no, I'll just—I'll try to get one or two. In 1962 the last editorial I wrote on Oxford prior to that Sunday night the 30th, was Sunday morning in our Sunday paper. And the thesis of the editorial was the governor of Mississippi Ross Barnett had committed sedition against the United States and ought to be in a Federal penitentiary yesterday and if no sooner today and certainly tomorrow, and we lost ten percent of our circulation that day after that editorial came out. We also caught hell, I mean the threats came in from everywhere. That night my wife and I, two friends, and an off-duty deputy sheriff lay around the house with guns waiting for these guys to come and get us, who had threatened us all day. Dad called me from New Orleans and said, "Is everything going OK?" By now all hell was breaking loose at Oxford. And I said, "Sure, everything's fine," and mother got on the line and said, "Tell me the truth," and I told her the truth. Dad actually hadn't put down the phone and said, "We're coming up to save you." And so he, my brother who was just married, and my uncle, and my mother drove fast as hell from New Orleans to Greenville, 330 miles through the night, arriving about five in the morning. They got their guns poking out of the cars. In the meantime, we who'd stayed up till four and nothing had happened had gone to bed exhausted. They arrive at the house. We all woke up, we talked, we wrote the follow-up editorial. That night we went to bed around seven exhausted. They burned the cross two hours later. We weren't around to see it. The next morning we woke up and there was the cross. It was a good thing because the people who burned it turned out to be kids, and we would have killed them if they had come the night before because we were just that primed up. When my brother died, he shot himself to death in 1964, they dumped garbage in the, a—nope, kill that, can't do that one…in Dad's driveway, wonderful…anyway.