Interview with Dave Dennis
QUESTION 7
INTERVIEWER:

OK, GIVE ME UM, GIVE ME THAT—TELL ME, TELL ME THIS MISSISSIPPI THAT YOU'RE COMING INTO. DESCRIBE IT… MOST OF THESE PEOPLE WILL… CAN UNDERSTAND TOO.

Dave Dennis:

Yeah, you see coming into Mississippi, from Louisiana, it wasn't really much difference. Say uh, you cross the state line. Uh, Mississippi got of course more of the publicity, because of things were going on there, there's more activities. Uh, the conditions that existed or the type is, is that you, you there weren't any public places whereby one could go to and enjoy as a human being. The result is separation. There was black here, white there. You had separate restrooms, you had separate, you couldn't eat at the same lunch counters, you know there is a, if you go to a department store, where you have lunch counters and things like that there was a little section, a hole in the wall in the side, where blacks were allowed to eat, and then there were the other whites, beautiful lunch counters and stuff like that whites were allowed to. Hotels, most hotels, you know that you; in fact there weren't any real, what you considered the white hotels, your Holiday Inns, your Sheratons if there were any, your Hiltons, or whatever you had equivalent to that. They were all segregated, blacks could not go to those. I mean you had some places for blacks to go to that we say a little hotel here that some blacks might have put up, a boarding house here a boarding house there. I mean traveling in those particular days just to go from one place to the other you just hoped like God that you could, by God that you didn't have to stop. Or you could buy gas at the service station but you couldn't use the restrooms, you know the restrooms. You would have to go down the road someplace, stop on the side of the road and use the bathroom and hope like hell that the sheriff or the police didn't see you because then you get arrested for you know uh, indecent exposure or something like that is. And uh, those were the type conditions that existed. Blacks were, we take for granted now I guess, the fact is that registration voting and things which you weren't, blacks were not allowed you know that opportunity at that particular time. I mean you had the tests, uh, for instance one part of the test, I'll always remember in Mississippi for becoming a registered voter is that they would take a part, a section out of the constitution of the United States and tell the person to interpret that. Now in terms of, number one is, just to be able to interpret that, I mean people would do that lawyers are doing that you know, on a daily basis, attempt to interpret it, the Supreme Courts are still attempting to interpret what the constitution means. And you had people who would give you that test who would determine as to whether or not your interpretation of that was right or wrong and if you didn't pass just that one section then you know you would not be allowed to register to vote.