Interview with Ethel Mae Matthews

OK. So, Mrs. Matthews, I'd like you to tell me the story of your run for city counsel in '73.


Well, I decided I want to run again. So, I went down, because, you know, I thought the law still stood. And, when I got down there, they said, "No." It says five hundred dollars, I don't have five hundred dollars, and so he looked at me and said, "If you're so concerned about your peoples--as you call them--if your so concerned about them, and you want to help them, say you go out and solicit the two thousand signatures." So, we came back to the mayor's house and we sit down and we scrapped out our, you know, strategy of what we was going to do. And, so when I went back two weeks from then, when we went back down, and I had twenty-five thousand signatures. And, so he counted them, and he looked up at me and smiled and he said, "You didn't need but twelve hundred." And, to me, that was a slap in the face, but I controlled it, myself, because they do not want poor peoples running for office. And, then if you do run, they will tell you that if you quit fighting against us, and come along over on our side and fight for us, we'll put you on an office. But I didn't, I didn't want to go in office like that. I wanted to go in on my own honesty. That's the way I wanted to go in--where I could help my people. And, they knew if I went in office, things were not going to never be the same no more. I don't know how long they would have let me stay in office, but if I'd have gotten in there, things wouldn't have never been the same, no more. Because, I wanted to help my peoples change the way things were, and make it better for poor peoples, who was worse off than I was.