Interview with Hollis Watkins


Hollis Watkins:

During the early ‘60's uh, the thing that got me involved in the movement in Macomb being about the age of nineteen, uh, I was disgusted with the situation in Macomb, the condition that uh, black people especially had to go through with, and was about to give up and leave the state cause I had just finished high school, and I went to Los Angeles and had the option to stay there and while I was there I was looking for a job actually to stay. But somehow while I was looking for a job I began to see the Freedom Riders on TV and that was exciting to me because it seemed as if there was young people that was doing something about the condition in which they were involved in. And I felt that I wanted to check them out and find out what they were about and see if this was something that I really wanted to do. So because of that, uh, I came home and I was real excited because they had announced on TV one day that the freedom riders was headed to Mississippi, so I left Los Angeles, stopped looking for a job, and came back to Mississippi. After getting back to Mississippi, I guess there was a news blackout in my area because I didn't hear anything about them at that time on the news. But fortunately within a week or so a friend of mine came and told me that she had heard that Dr. Martin Luther King, and some other big people were gonna be in Macomb, and she told me where and when she had heard that they were gonna be there. So I went and told a few other friends of mine about it and we decided that we would go out to Macomb to check them out to see what they were about. The reason I say go out to Macomb to check them out to see what they were about. The reason I say go out to Macomb is because I was born out in the rural, which is about uh, seven or eight miles from the little town of Summit. Summit is about three miles from Macomb. So when we got to Macomb uh, we went to the Old Bretheren town supermarket uh, upstairs at the Masonic temple. We uh, met some people and we told them that we had heard Dr. Martin Luther King was gonna be there in town and some other big people. One of the people we met was Bob Moses. And he told us that he didn't know anything about Dr. Martin Luther King coming to Macomb, but he and some other students and young people were there working on voter registration, trying to get people registered to vote so that they could become first-class citizens. And he asked if we felt that we would be interested in giving him a hand. So I asked him to explain the process a little bit to me, and he went through the process of explaining how in order to become a registered voter you had to fill out a, a form, a voter registration form, and then interpret a section of the constitution. And he said that once you do that successfully you become a registered voter. At that time he gave us sections of the Mississippi constitution and gave us this specific section of which we all had to interpret. Once we did that he looked it over and told us that uh, if uh, we had gone to the registrants office and did that then we would be registered voters. Then to me it wasn't much to it, and I felt that I could help do it, so I told him that I would definitely, you know, help to get people registered to vote. All I needed him to do was to tell us what process that we went about in doing that.



Hollis Watkins:

Do I need to say something else to the folks back there. How did…