IN YOUR BEST WORD PICTURES WHAT YOUR FEELING ABOUT YOUR—WHAT YOU EXPERIENCED AS A KID—GIVE ME, EXPLAIN MISSISSIPPI TO ME.
I grew up in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Vicksburg is quite well known for its battlefields and the battles that were fought there during the Civil War. My mother and father divorced when I was quite young and I was reared by my grandmother and my aunt, both who were school teachers, both pillars of Vicksburg society. And being pillars of Vicksburg society and teachers meant that they did not question, at least publicly question, the whole desegregated system in which we lived. I lived in, of course, the segregated section of town. It was on a hill where everyone know everyone. People were very protective of each other. We were all quite poor, but we didn't realize that we were. And my grandmother had a very large garden which we survived off of. Our neighbor next door had chickens, someone else had geese. It was a very small, well knit community of black people. But the hardships were there. Hardships in terms of being able to get jobs and to make enough money to survive. And being school teachers as my grandmother and my aunt were was the epitome of success in Vicksburg society. My grandmother was perhaps a rarity insomuch that she went to Hampton Institute as a young girl, and you didn't find too many young black or Negro or colored, as they were called then, people who went to college during, during that period of time. My aunt was a product of Tougaloo College, and we think of Tougaloo in the sense of the major role that it played during the civil rights movement in Mississippi. Some of the things I remember most about my growing up in Mississippi have to do with the whole desegregated system. I recall only too well how I had to walk miles past the white schools.