Interview with Bob Mants

I want to get more to the sacrifices that went on around registering to vote. And I understand that many people went homeless, ah, because they did register to vote. And they moved to Tent City. I want to get a little bit more into what Tent City was about in terms of what SNCC did, ah, to make it possible for people to begin to move toward independence.


You know at that time, ah 19- roughly '65, 1965, the population is kind of roughly 81 percent Black. This county's had a history ah even during the period of slavery of being the majority, a majority Black county. Ah, in 1860, I believe it is, was, ah, this county was roughly 75 percent, ah, ah, slaves during that time. So it has a history of, of being a majority Black county. One of the other things, the thing that happened during the Civil Rights, ah, Movement is that because people be, were living on plantations, and because they were registering for the first time in record numbers, ah, they were being put off the places. Ah, they were, they lived in plantations by these, ah, large wealthy landowners and they were being put off as a result of their registering to vote. I'm reminded of a man who for 35 years, who had worked on this plantation, and when he went to register to vote, and it was found out that he had registered to vote, the man sent for him to bring his truck. What led to a, that led us to try to do something to keep those people who wanted to stay in Lowndes County, ah, to try to provide them with some place to stay. And we did that the best we knew how at the time by providing tents that was donated through SNCC and other people from around the country, ah, to locate these families that were, ah, being put off because of them attempting to register to vote. Ah, people made great sacrifices. Many of their families were split. There were some people who left the county, who moved north with relatives in Detroit and elsewhere. People left, ah, and moved other places. One of the fortunate things, ah, in retrospect is that everybody who stayed here who was put off because of their participation in registration now owns their own home. Ah, the community came together at that time. Ah, they would go to Montgomery and buy a used new building materials. People in the community would come together and build houses. There were a couple of instances in which folk got their houses that way. And that was another attempt on the part of some of us in SNCC, ah, SNCC staff to be able to purchase plots of land for people to be able to still live here in the county.