Interview with Lawrence Guyot
QUESTION 42
INTERVIEWER:

WHAT DID THE VOTE MEAN TO PEOPLE? HOW WAS IT SO WASY TO ORGANIZE? WHAT DID IT MEAN TO PEOPLE?

Lawrence Guyot:

The vote in Mississippi meant everything. It meant, it dis—it determined whether or not your road would be paved, it determined whether or not a hospital would be established in your county, of—your supervisor, had 28 responsibilities. See, every—82 counties in the state of Mississippi. Each county has five supervisors. Those supervisors determine life and death. If someone's going to be pardoned from the jail sentence, if uh, someone's going to get a job, if someone's going to get a scholarship. You talk about an infrastructure that, of that, that is, that delivers, well just as it delivered positively, it could deliver negatively. When we started attempting to register people in Leflore County, the board of supervisors cut off the food supply. So Dick Gregory started providing us with money and with food so we were able to set up an alternative food system. But the vote in Mississippi from 1961 to today means everything because of a suit that we filed, a reapportionment suit that we—Peggy Jean Connor, God bless her—filed it in 1963 at a COFO meeting. That suit has been held in abeyance because of the brilliance of J.P. Coleman, a former governor from Mississippi, and now a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals judge, but now the Supreme Court has ordered the state of Mississippi to desegregate the state legislature. There will be more blacks in the state legislature in Mississippi than in any of the fifty states. And the black people in Mississippi made that happen. We didn't wait for someone to help us. We helped everybody… the—the beautiful thing about my being in the movement and that I'm most proud of is we saw a problem, we ask—forced people, we convinced people about the righteousness of our position, and we went ahead and did what was an impo—what was—what seemed impossible at the time. And black politics will never be the same because we changed it.