Interviewer: Carroll Blue
Production Team: A
Interview Date: October 19, 1988
Camera Rolls: 1015
Sound Rolls: 107
Produced by Blackside, Inc.
Housed at the Washington University Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.
Interview with Mary Jane Jackson, conducted by Blackside, Inc. on October 19, 1988, for Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads 1965 to 1985. Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.
These transcripts contain material that did not appear in the final program. Only text appearing in bold italics was used in the final version of Eyes on the Prize.
Mrs. Jackson, I want you to tell me about registering to vote in Lowndes County.
They don't need me to tell you 'cause, it's a mess, well, it was worse than best in Lowndes County. Didn't want you to vote. No.
Because if they used Lowndes, they, they know. No, they didn't want you to vote. But we voted anyhow. Right there in Hayneville, where they started. And my husband said, some of the folk wanted to go home. He said, "You run now, you'll be running today and ten years. So I ain't gonna leave. Me and none of my folks." And we didn't leave. In Havyneville, that's the first place I went to vote.
What happened when you went down to vote? How were you treated?
Treated like dogs. Talk to you, like you wasn't human. Howard, ah, and my husband that boost me up. He says, I'm going to vote, and you're going to vote, before I leave here, and both of us vote. Black folk was scared to vote. I was scared, but I didn't do, vote, unless he told me. He dead now. But a lot of folks left, and wouldn't vote.
Why were you not afraid to vote?
I wasn't scared of no White folks. I was scared of them. Because my husband told me to stay and vote. And I stayed on and voted. Always would do what he said.
Now they tell me that you went to mass, to big meetings, and that one time you had your gun in your purse.
I did. I carried it everywhere I went.
Tell me what happened at that meeting.
What you, what now, what meeting?
The one where you said that you'd take your gun out.
You talking about in Lowndesboro?
That was in Lowndesboro.
You want to tell me about it.
What you want to know about it?
When you went to the meeting and you had your gun in your purse, what did you say?
What did I say? You don't want to hear what I say.
OK, let's stop for a minute.
That night. Didn't nothing happen to us, but other folks was very, different varieties. My husband, he got beat up. But we didn't. Because every one of us had us a gun. And I had mine in my lap. Me, John Jackson were together. He said, eh, to make one fire, said, let's make two. And I was ready to get him. But we didn't have to shoot. But I carried my husband's gun, I've got it right now.
So what did you say?
What did you say when you had your gun in your lap?
You didn't hear me.
You going to tell me?
You're going to tell me? Let me ask you this. When you and John would go out to where you were born, you'd tell people about registering to vote. Can you tell me about that?
Didn't want to vote. Uh hah, they was scared to vote. I'd never have been scared to go. I never have. But I had John Jackson, me and him got together, I said, "Now, what's the heading? You want to go, I'll go with you." And I went with him. I went with him. He said, "You ain't scared?" "I, scared of what? I ain't scared of nothing. And I'll vote." Yeah, me and John Jackson. Were together.
What was it like for you to vote?
What was it like for you to vote?
Your first time voting.
To what was I like?
What was it like for you to vote? How did you feel?
I felt all right. I felt all right. And I was --I felt all right.
Did you feel like you had done something important.
I knowed I had.
What did you do?
What did I do?
Well, I won't tell all of it. I won't tell what I say.
I said some nasty things. Some of them here, some of them wouldn't hear it.
OK, then, hold off just a minute.
Both of them was my best friends. Stokely, and Bob Mants. Stokely left me and I wished for him back, many times, many times. But when he left, he said, "I won't be back." But Bob Mants, he had, ah, he comes around. I talks with him.
What did Stokely and Bob Mants do to help you in Lowndes County?
What did they do? They made me a brave woman. That's what they done. Made me a brave woman. I was already brave with noone, but they made me tougher.
How did they do that?
By talking. They tells me what to say. 'Fore us got there. Yes sir.
What did they tell you?
Tell me don't dodge. Told me don't dodge.
I didn't hear you.
You done heard it.
Thank you. OK.
Mm-hmm. You'd vote the Black Panther and then go home? Do you remember that? The Black Panther.
Black Panther. Whereabout?
In Lowndes County. Do you remember vote the Black Panther and then go home?
Did I go home?
Do you remember, vote the Black Panther and go home.
You remember the Independent Party that you all formed in Lowndes County? The party?
What about in Lowndes County.
The Black Panther Party in Lowndes County.
Do I remember?
I remember everything was different in Lowndes County, hereabouts. What part of Lowndes County?
The Black Panther Party. No? Do you remember the state troopers coming to the mass meetings?
They was scared. They was. They didn't have, they, no, didn't have to us talk, but they was there.
OK, thank you. That's it.