Interview with Oscar Fendler
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QUESTION 21
INTERVIEWER:

Now, you were saying that turning to the political process to get a raise or turning to the courts, just wasn't an option for poor people.

OSCAR FENDLER:

Oh, no. The, I'm thinking about politician. I think maybe I told you that I've been engaged in politics since maybe I was thirteen. I voted when I was thirteen and continued voting. I never voted Republican for President in the whole darn time. I'm just a Democrat and I'm on the Democratic Central Committee, been on that for over forty years. If, if you're not, if you don't have some connection with political influence, you, you're the same as not existing in, in an agriculture county like this. And these, they knew this. Certainly Lee Wilson knew it because they controlled the whole thing. They controlled the, the political process. They elected a governor. They elected all the county officials. So they—but what could a sharecropper do? He couldn't even have a dollar to buy a poll tax. He could have no influence. The tenants, some of the tenants that voted and had those, some of them bought it, but they were good and rare. Most of them are bought for them by somebody else, and they voted the way somebody else, the fellow that bought it would do it. What, so what did he have? What rights did a sharecropper have? A poor laborer. He, he, were almost zero. Unless you'd have some lawyer that would go in there and talk for them or do something for him, he didn't have any. They treated him just like he would one of the mules. He'd kick them around, and wasn't anything he could do about it except leave. And that's what they did. They started leaving. And a bunch of them started moving out. The, the tenants who, who were making, making progress, they bought land eventually and they bought their homes, owned their homes, you know, owned stuff. And a lot of them are still here, some of them our finest citizens.