Interview with Bob Mants

You were getting up to something pretty important here. The difference between being a southerner, civil rights worker and a northern civil rights worker and how you related differently to, ah, Lowndes County people.


Well, we, ah, in the South, I came along in the days of segregation when there was distinct communities. There's a Black community, a White community, there were places of public accommodation you didn't go in. We went to the movies. We went up to the peanut gallery at the Fox Theatre on Peachtree Street in Atlanta. Ah, there were, and what happened as a result through the years of hearing your parents and grandparents and other folk tell you these horror stories, and some of the beauty too, that's the other thing. That's on the beauty of coming up, ah, in the South. There were certain kinds of, of notions that we had. There were certain kinds of fixed attitudes. There were certain kinds of, ah, ideals and ideas, ah, that we had. There were, there were, and there were some differences. For me to go into a restaurant, sit in a restaurant, had nothing to do with trying to integrate a restaurant. It has to do with human dignity. It was my God-given right to exercise my humanity because, ah, I was a human being. That's simply what it was. It wasn't to get a hamburger. Because we already knew. We found out, ah, we knew, ah, Colonel Sanders secret recipe years ago. It was Mamma in the kitchen. We knew who cooked the chicken, who, who did it. It was our parents because they had worked in these places in these homes for, for years. It has to do with human dignity, our right. As opposed to some political notion, ah, it was just our right to do it. Our folk had told it. In my particular case, ah, I used to stay with a, with a, a great aunt before I was school aged. And she used to tell me things. And I knew before I was school aged what my mission in life had to be because she told me the horror stories about her life and her husband, and folks that had gone on before them. Ah, and they would always tell you things about how to be a human being. How to stand, how to stand up for what was right, that kind of thing. So I think it, um, was just a natural thing for some of us. We had to do it. It fell into our lot because our fore parents couldn't do it. And we were caught up in a historical time. And it was our generation, our time to, to run with the ball.