Great. Can you tell me the story that Mitchell told you about the first meeting and the decision to become an interracial union?
Yes. I can tell you a little of it because it's very easy to visualize, I think.
Can you start over?
Mitchell told me about the very first meeting when the union really organized, and it's very easy to visualize because one can easily imagine this small group of I believe seventeen—I'm never good at numbers but I think that was the number—who met in this little church in, I don't know where it was now. Somewhere near Tyronza, Arkansas where Mitch was. They talked about the possibility of organizing a union to address the problems that everyone was experiencing. And there were both black and white people there, and most people know that even before the Civil Rights Movement there were real problems, and this didn't happen very often that people got together. But they did at this time and there was some discussion as to whether there should be a black organization and a white organization sort of working parallel. However,
one man, Mitch told me, got up, a white man who said that he had belonged to the Ku Klux Klan in the past, and however he felt that this was a situation where they were all in this together and there wasn't any way to get out except together, and he was all for having a union of black and white sharecroppers.
** This certainly was a historic organization, a historic thing to do because they decided that night that is what it would be, and it was certainly that.
Can you just tell me that part about the man who said he was in the Klan? It was actually his grandfather who was in the Klan.
His grandfather was in the Klan? OK, all right. [laughs] Just start again?
If you want to just say, "There was one white man who stood up."
Yeah. The white man who stood up said that his grandfather had been a member of the Ku Klux Klan, but that he realized the importance of people working together, and that they must be together as both black and white in the organization.