We Are Family: A Klan Child Fans A Different Flame | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

We Are Family: A Klan Child Fans A Different Flame

Photos by Kate Medley

Little Shirley Seale was in her room at the back of her wood frame house when she saw flames through her window. The Natchez girl, who was 5 in 1968, stared out at the green cow pasture that opened up beyond the window. She could see dozens, maybe a hundred people, wearing mostly white—but some black and red—choir-like robes with pointy hoods covering their heads. A cross decorated the front of each robe.

The crowds of men were yelling something, and could probably be heard on Morgantown Road, only two-tenths of a mile south from where her family lived on Seale Road next to her grandparents' larger home. Several of the robed men were holding up torches, using them to set a towering cross on fire. It was easily 20, 25 feet high.

Excited, the little girl ran out of her room to get a closer look, and to try to hear what the men were yelling. Her mama and daddy were in the living room, watching TV.

"I want to go up there and see what's going on," she told them. Shirley was a precocious child, often slipping out to go to rooster fights held on her granddaddy Tullie Seale's vast property, to visit the rodeo pen on the place, to poke around the sawmill, the dairy barn or the sugarcane mill.

Her daddy, Shirod, told her they couldn't go over to the rally, as he would numerous times in the next two years, but they could go outside and watch what Klansmen referred to as the "lighting of the cross" from a distance. He got up, and the two of them walked out the front door and turned right to go around the side of the house. She could see masked Klansmen carrying rifles up and down Seale Road in front of her house, making sure nobody came down who wasn't supposed to. She later heard that they had turned away a carload of black people that night.

Shirley could hear some of the words being chanted in unison once they got outside: "Keep the white race pure!"

Around back, the little girl was riveted and still antsy to get closer. "Let's go! Let's go!" she begged.

"No, we're setting right here," her daddy answered. They then watched for what seemed like hours, as individual Klansmen made fiery speeches about preserving their race, while the cross kept on burning.

Little Shirley knew her grandfather was up in the group that night. It was no secret that he was a Klan leader; the little church that her grandfather had built in 1949, right at the corner of Seale Road and Morgantown, was a meeting place for the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and would later become a whites-only segregation academy. Klansmen, robed or not, were commonplace on their neighborhood roads in those days—an area of northeast Natchez feared by African Americans and known for being heavily imbedded with restless white bigots.

Shirley couldn't tell who was who, but she saw one red-robed Klansman, who was likely her grandfather. Tullie Seale was the Grand Wizard (also called the Grand Dragon), the highest-ranking leader of a local klavern. But she couldn't know for sure because she had never seen him with his robe to her knowledge.

The little girl did know one thing, though: She wanted desperately to be just like her grandfather, a larger-than-life, tough man she idolized. That desire intensified as she watched more Klan gatherings and learned how inferior black people were—no better than dogs, really—from her grandpa and his friends. Her own parents didn't say those kinds of things, but like many white people back then, and now, they didn't speak up about it, either.

And thus, Shirley Seale grew up hating black people just like her grandfather did.

Of Love and Drinking
A life of hate can seem like fun at the time.

Shirley Seale Beach, now 42 and already a grandmother, grew up rowdy, loud and racist. Like her grandfather, she blamed "n*ggers" for the problems around her in Natchez; she believed black people were lazy and didn't do enough to help themselves; she didn't want her kids to spend much time with black people—or heaven forbid, date one. She remembers cursing black students and even getting into fights with them when she was at South Natchez High School.

She even looked for love with race at the front of her mind. After failed relationships of the past—she had her first child at age 16—she met her current husband, Gary Beach, in 1989 at a bar named Dimples in Natchez. Then, she smoked and drank heavily and wasn't averse to a bit of honky-tonkin'.

When she and her future husband first caught each other's eye and started talking, they weren't focused on the usual size-'em-up chitchat. One of their first questions for each other before they hooked up was: "Have you ever slept with a black?"

Neither had; they were, therefore, free to fall in love and marry.

Beach had been taught to be an open racist by her extended family, especially her grandfather, even as she remembers her own mother and father subtly trying to instill different values. Her mother, Kathryn, liked to say that she knew how it felt to be a slave; her family—sharecroppers ripped off by rich landowners—might as well have been "white slaves," she'd say.

But even with parents trying to quietly buck tradition, Shirley drank her family's traditional racist Koolaid.

Until she decided to stop drinking.

I first heard the name "Shirley Beach" uttered by a black woman in Roxie, about 20 miles east of Natchez in Franklin County, the home of many of the primary players in the James Ford Seale trial—including Seale himself. The Beaches also live in Franklin County.

I was visiting Valerie Doris Norman after a chain of reporting discoveries had parked me on her doorstep. After my original story appeared detailing Thomas Moore's journey for justice for his brother and Henry Dee in July 2005, I got a call from John Briggs, who shared his father's journal saying that the Klan had searched his church in Roxie the day they killed the two young men. I spent months following leads that Briggs and others in the area provided, finally ending up sipping tea in Mrs. Norman's living room in March of this year.

I was there for colorful stories about Rev. Clyde Briggs, the defiant black preacher who took on the Klan in the '60s. He had first encouraged Norman to get an education and have the nerve to be in the church choir, telling her she could do anything she wanted.

The sprightly woman, who acts far younger than her 70 years, had mesmerized me for nearly two hours with her tales, past and present, about the complicated race relations of her community, how the Klan had tried to scare Roxie blacks, how blacks had armed themselves in response.

We were finishing when she remarked that not only is she a pastor in a Natchez church, thanks to Rev. Briggs' influence, but she ministers there alongside James Ford Seale's cousin.

"What?" I responded.

"Yes," she responded, giggling a bit at how she had set her trap and lured me in.

"Is she white?"

"Yes." Her blue eyes were doing the jitterbug above her mischievous smile.

"She's a pastor at your church?"

"Yes."

That's how I ended up sitting behind Shirley Beach, Seale's second cousin once removed, on the second pew of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Natchez the Sunday before the Seale trial started in Jackson.

Pastor Shirley Beach
After hearing about Shirley Beach, she became a bit of a personal obsession. I didn't know what to expect. But I had to meet her.

But she wasn't calling me back. I'm not sure I would have, either. The Seale trial was about to start, and reporters would be trolling for a quick story, especially involving the Klan. Or maybe she'd think I was just trying to bleed her for information on her family.

Why would she talk to me?

So the weekend before the trial started, I was on about my umpteenth trip to the area since 2005, and I dropped in on Mrs. Norman. Then I popped the question, standing next to her baby-blue Cadillac: "Could I come to your church tomorrow morning?" It was my turn to play the Cheshire cat.

She was thrilled and, I was to learn, just as determined as I was that this 40-something white woman meet that 40-something white woman. You could call Mrs. Norman a "connector." A delightful, conniving one.

I arrived at the church for the 11 a.m. service, and a young woman met me at the door (posted there by Pastor Norman, I assumed). She led me through the huge sanctuary across deep purple carpet with music blaring from the speakers and people standing up waving purple, silver and white flags.

The young woman showed me to my seat in the left row of pews, right behind the only white woman I saw at that point. She had shoulder-length permed brown hair and a delicate silk red suit and pumps, and perfect makeup. She was standing and swaying to the music, clapping her hands, alone on her pew. Her only ring was a gold wedding band.

The sole white man I saw was in the next row to our right, nestled comfortably among a group of black male worshipers in dapper suits.

Soon after Bishop Stanley B. Searcy Sr. started talking, he told everyone to hug our neighbor. The white woman turned and embraced me as if she had no idea that I was stalking her. Then the next time we stood to sing, I looked down at her big black Bible on her pew: "Pastor Shirley Beach" was written in gold script. I glanced to the front pew of the middle section and Mrs. Norman, dressed in a dusty-blue dress suit with a white priest's collar, shot me a little wave and grin.

Continuing his 2007 "empowerment" theme, Searcy told worshipers to "manifest" their power to do good. The 47-year-old preacher—who could be played by Cuba Gooding Jr. in the movie—called for the overwhelmingly black congregation to build a diverse church, and pointed to the people who marched during the Civil Rights Movement: "They had to put their lives on the line. … There was something in them that told them something was unfair, unjust, and they stood against the system." He implored worshipers, young and older, to ask themselves: "What has God designed me to do?" To decide: "I'm going to make a difference in society." To reconsider violence: "Before you pull the trigger, give God a chance."

He pointed to the quickness of the leopard in Revelation 13 when he declared to grateful "Amens": "We have come a mighty long way in this nation. … If you can't stand for something, you'll fall down."

Sitting inches in front of me, Shirley Beach rose to her feet, her hands in the air. I could see tiny embroidered roses on the sheer red sleeves of her suit jacket.

"Outside of these walls, you're called," Searcy boomed. "This is your destiny."

"Amen!" This time, Beach yelled out, too.

As the service ended near 2 p.m., Beach turned around to me and shook my hand. "I hope you come visit us again," she said, her eyes penetrating mine. Then she turned and walked away, as Norman approached and bear-hugged me (as people in this church do constantly, whether they know you or not).

"Should I go try to talk to Mrs. Beach now?" I asked her.

Pastor Norman shook her head, and pointed toward the bishop and his beautiful co-pastor/wife, Brenda Searcy. "No, go talk to Bishop first."

'I Didn't Go Down That Road'
Bishop—as everyone calls him—wasted no time sharing his vision for Natchez, a city that he believes sits under a cloud from the past, a cloud put there by racism and the vast economic divides of a city of such vast wealth that so many slaves helped create, even as they couldn't share in it.

"Some of the oldest money is here. Millions," he said. "But we're 50 years behind time." He paused and added, "We're headed somewhere now."

The cycles of low self-esteem for the descendents of slaves are still holding people back, said the man born in St. Louis, but who grew up in Natchez. "They're beat down so bad." Until some recent legal decisions, he said, it was hard for blacks in the Natchez area to get loans for anything other than cars. So "their cars cost more than their homes."

This bigotry of low-expectations and self-esteem is a more subtle racism than that Bishop had encountered as a young man. He remembers seeing a red Camaro at a local dealership. He had saved up the money to buy a car—but the dealership simply would not sell it to him. They did not believe a young black man deserved that car, he says.

Bishop left Natchez, not expecting to return. He was called to the ministry in 1982 thanks to Bishop Philip Coleman of Greater Bethlehem Temple in Jackson. But it wasn't until 1993 that he decided to take his mission back home.

He was living in Mobile with his wife Brenda—they had married in 1991, the same year she was called to ministry—when God sent him a message, he says. Go home and help heal divides. So he moved back to Natchez, surprising no one more than himself, and started to do Bible studies in different churches. He had little money, but then in 1997 he had a dream in which he saw a little white church he was supposed to lead.

Shortly afterward, he turned onto Morgantown Road and saw a dilapidated wood frame building with a small sign with "For Rent" in red letters. The church was at the corner of Seale Road, which jarred him a bit. "

"As a boy, I didn't go down that road," he said.

When he dialed the number, Shirley Beach's mother was on the other end, looking to rent the old Church of God building that her husband's family had owned for so long. She was a woman of few words, and would not tell him until later that she had prayed for someone positive to come take over the building, even though she likely wasn't expecting her prayer to be answered by a black minister.

When Bishop went to look at the building, he was greeted by "KKK" spray-painted on the porch in front of the door. Kathryn Seale then told him that the building was the old Klan headquarters in a former life. It had also been the first location of what is now called the Adams County Christian Center—then the Thomas Jefferson School—which was officially started by a Natchez-based Klan front group called the Americans for the Preservation of the White Race, a name more acceptable than Ku Klux Klan back in the day, even though its members, and goals, overlapped. It was a school where little Shirley Seale and her siblings could walk across Seale Road to attend classes there when she was in the first and second grades.

Mrs. Seale rented him the building, and told him to put whatever supplies he needed from the lumber company on her bill.

More than 300 people attended the first service on Feb. 9, 1997. Of those, a decent number were white—fulfilling a major mission Bishop believes God has assigned him, and one that he says has angered both whites and blacks in the community who don't see the need for 11 a.m. on Sunday to be integrated.

Later, the Seale family gave the Searcys the church and the land outright. Today it stands as the children's church, with a large, modern church next door. The church claims more than 1,700 members, with several dozen white—although they do not attend nearly as often as Bishop would like.

"Is our work finished? No," Bishop said defiantly.

He Ain't Heavy
Bishop's journey with the Seale family was not just about property, however. One day later in 1997, a large white man with graying curly hair, in his 40s, walked up to the reverend after church services and "fell on my neck." He then began to cry.

"My brother," the white man called Bishop as he hugged him.

"Yes," Bishop replied like he would to any parishioner. "You are my brother."

"No, you don't understand. You're my brother. This day, I adopt you into my family," the man responded. "My granddaddy was Grand Dragon of the Klan. A generation of curses has been over my family. I apologize for what my family has done."

Bishop says now that he could see his landlady over the man's shoulder, with a slight smile on her face, as he hugged her weeping son, Billy Seale.

From that day forward, Bishop and Co-Pastor have been accepted members of Tullie Seale's large family, gathering every year with dozens of Seale family members for Thanksgiving and then to exchange gifts at Christmas time. Their home is now on Seale Road, down past Tullie Seale's old house, where his son Shirod's family now lives.

Bishop remembers his new stepmom announcing to the family: "Y'all have a new brother now."

At first, many of the Seale family members were "stand-offish" at holiday gatherings, Bishop recalls.

Shirley Beach was not happy about her new brother at all. Despite astounding moves by her mother and brother, she was still an avowed racist.

It would take another year before God pulled a fast one on the woman who still idolized her grandfather and his ways, even though he had died 20 years before. Her husband, Gary Beach, even started going to New Hope M.B. without her—his brother and sister-in-law were going and loved it—and became a deacon. Billy was an active member. Shirley scoffed.

"I was ready to divorce him," she said, sitting in Ruby Tuesday next to her husband June 2, days after the James Seale trial started in Jackson. "I said, 'Alright, this is why we got together in the first place because you didn't like black people, and I don't like black people. Which I didn't say black people. I said the N-word."

"I threw a fit. … I cursed like a sailor."

Finally, though, she agreed to go with him to New Hope "to shut him up." She had been drinking the night before, and he was pushing her to go to church with him.

"I loved it. Right away," she said, especially the raucous worship style that she missed from her childhood days at Natchez Church of God, back before white church services became "boring," as she puts it.

She quit smoking and drinking nearly overnight, but couldn't quite commit to joining the church. She started leaving her white service, which lasted only an hour, and then popping into the New Hope service to enjoy the last two hours, learning to giggle every time Searcy promised he was almost done.

One Sunday, she remembers, God told her to step up and take her place at New Hope. She got up and walked toward Bishop.

"Shirley, you need something?" he asked.

"Yeah, I'm going to join the church," she answered, grabbing him.

She dropped her arms, and then started hugging him again, as if she couldn't help herself. She was ready to take Billy's place, she told him, as he was leaving to pastor his own church in Tennessee.

"I had never hugged a black person in my life," she told Bishop as she officially joined what she calls the church with the "most huggingest people I've ever seen."

"She was still a renegade; then she gets saved," says Bishop of his adopted sister, who now calls him "little brother," although he is five years older.

Shirley laughs at the memory. "Honey, the people started shouting, and it was just unreal," she said June 2. Armed with her new gift from God, Shirley immediately experienced happiness for the first time in her life—and realized that it had a whole lot to do with the absence of hate.

Soon, she began preaching—including occasionally for New Hope services broadcast to all of Natchez on Sunday morning cable channel 4—and she took on another important role. She redirected the toughness she inherited from her grandfather, the bravura that she used to put into bar brawls, into providing security for two of the most important people in her new life: Bishop and Co-Pastor.

That is why she sits on the front left pew every Sunday morning: Like many Seales who have come before her, she is there to guard a way of life she believes in.

Educating Shirley
Shirley Beach's education was just beginning when she suddenly realized one day that she had been told lies all her life. Teachers and textbooks alike had taught her revised history that justified slavery and segregation. Like many white Mississippians, she was told that slave owners didn't treat their property poorly, that the slaves would run away if they did. The old Shirley had no reason to question those "facts," and the new Shirley hadn't needed to know the whole story in order to start loving black people, too.

But one day in 2003, she was at the Mount Locust Plantation, which was built in 1784 off the Natchez Trace about 13 miles north of Natchez, with a group of kids from church. They were walking on the gravel path behind the old house through fields toward a cemetery for 43 slaves—with names like Turner, Chamberlain, Tyler, Allen, Jackson—that lay ahead behind a clump of tall oaks and little poplar trees. The kids had run on ahead.

Suddenly, Beach saw an image so powerful that it took her breath away. In front of her was a black man picking cotton and a white man beating him with a whip.

Walking that gravel path with me as the sun set under clouds ready to burst with rain last Sunday, just after she'd returned from the Seale family reunion, Shirley relived the day she saw the beating. "It was really happening, and I just felt so sorrowful, my heart was just hurting. Stop, stop, stop, why are you beating this man? I couldn't understand it. It really upset me. I wanted to grab the whip and whip him with it," she said, her harness boots crunching gravel as she walked toward the slave graves.

Shirley believes God was telling her to stop believing lies, to face the truth about how badly white people had treated black people over the years. "God gave me a vision to see that, yeah, it really did happen," she said.

The vision had inspired her to read more about Natchez's history, all the way back to the white man's brutal treatment of Indians. She also began talking to the older black people whom she cares for in her elderly caretaker job, listening to their stories of how their parents and grandparents were abused because of their skin color.

Embracing real history has shown her why many problems exist in the black community today. It started with white people dividing black families by selling children away from their parents, she knows now.

"They grew up without fathers for a long time. There's never really been a family unit there; it goes back hundreds of years. White people looked at them as big stout bucks. ... I'm sure they treated their dogs better than they did slaves. They didn't want slaves to read, be educated, because they'd figure out what was going on wasn't supposed to be happening," she said as we approached the master's graveyard filled with ornate gravestones that looked like mini Washington monuments, a carved angel, even a Confederate flag.

"It's really sad. I just thank God I wasn't born back in them times," she said.

As we got back into her long green Lincoln Towncar, Shirley asked, "Do you want to go see where my grandfather is buried?"

"I'd love that," I responded.

"Alright, let's go." She headed south toward Natchez, as her hot-pink cell phone jiggled in the ashtray and an ornate gold cross swung from the rearview mirror.

'Right with the Lord'
On the way to Morgantown Road, Shirley wanted to know more about Edwards, and why he should get off even as Seale goes to jail. I could tell that her query wasn't so much about the fate of the man she calls her "distant cousin"; she was wrestling with why Edwards—who admitted his role in the brutal crime—should go free. I told her about his apology to the families and said that, as unfair as it can seem, sometimes immunity is the only way to get any justice in a case like this.

I then told her what Edwards had testified that he had said to Charles Moore as he beat him with a long stick under the watchful sawed-off shotgun of her distant cousin. "Are you right with the Lord?" Edwards asked the young man that he knew was unlikely to be alive the next morning.

The irony of that question posed by a man in the process of a murder slammed us both like a brick to the head as she drove us toward Natchez. I was watching her tear-filled eyes as my own welled up—two white daughters of Mississippi pondering how religious faith could be so contorted to justify the depths of hate we'd both known.

"The Klan used Christianity, which is not Christianity at all. It is nothing but a lie," she exploded. "How can you say you are a Christian and you love God, and yet you can turn around and kill and hate somebody? It don't make a bit of sense. Christianity has been used for so many things that are wrong. It's nothing but the devil allowing that to happen, and making people think they're doing right when they're doing wrong. And using God in the midst of it all."

"It was widespread among white people," I said.

"I know. It's still that way. Go on the Internet: KKK. Oh. My. Word."

"I know. I've been there," I said.

"I thought all this had been done away with. They don't go like they used to and burn crosses, or light crosses, whatever you want to call it, and go and openly do the things they used to do, openly kill people and stuff. To be perfectly honest, the blacks aren't going to allow that to be done that way, and I don't blame them. And there are a lot of white people who aren't going to allow that to be done, either. Look at me. I wouldn't allow anybody to come into our church and disrupt it with guns or threaten to kill Bishop or Co-Pastor. I would stand between them, and I would take a bullet in a heartbeat for them.

"It's not Christianity," Shirley continued. "It's white supremacy is what it is. And you know I thought that's what I wanted to be—you know, tough like that—because I saw strength in my grandfather."

More sun was breaking through the clouds by the time we located Mac Tullie Seale's grave among the neat rows of graves with those sophisticated flattened stones. The granddaughter was quiet as I read the Seale inscription into my tape recorder.

"M. Tullie, born Aug. 30, 1909; Died Jan. 20, 1980. Johnnie Poole, Oct. 11, 1907; Died March 23, 1999."

"How do you feel about him now?" I asked Shirley quietly.

"Well, at the end, he gave his life to the Lord and was saved," she answered. "He was real different in his last year or two of his life."

Did he ever express any regrets? "No, he wouldn't have talked about it," she said.

As we walked back to the Towncar, she told me she will be buried in the New Hope M.B. cemetary, not in the Beach family plot.

"I'll be the first white there," she said.

______________________________

Also see Guarding White Christians

Correction appended: Billy Seale did not become a co-pastor at New Hope, but was an active member.

Previous Comments

ID
81297
Comment

Excellent story of growing up, getting help by letting the power of love and the truth rule the day, and accepting the cure for a self-imposed disease that cires out for medicine and treatment.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-06-27T16:44:30-06:00
ID
81298
Comment

I loved this article. Thank you. Bishop left Natchez, not expecting to return. He was called to the ministry in 1982 thanks to Bishop Philip Coleman of Greater Bethlehem Temple in Jackson. But it wasn’t until 1993 that he decided to take his mission back home. I knew a couple of Searcys when I was a member there, but this Searcy went back to Natchez a couple of years before I was there. “The Klan used Christianity, which is not Christianity at all. It is nothing but a lie,” she exploded. “How can you say you are a Christian and you love God, and yet you can turn around and kill and hate somebody? It don’t make a bit of sense. Christianity has been used for so many things that are wrong. It’s nothing but the devil allowing that to happen, and making people think they’re doing right when they’re doing wrong. And using God in the midst of it all.” I'm so glad to hear that being said from someone with her background. “I loved it. Right away,” she said, especially the raucous worship style that she missed from her childhood days at Natchez Church of God, back before white church services became “boring,” as she puts it. That's what I'm talkin' about. Some folks say you haven't had church unless you sweat a little. :-)

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-06-27T22:00:39-06:00
ID
81299
Comment

Thanks, L.W. Shirley (and Bishop) said so many quotable things that I should do outtakes from our interviews. I thoroughly enjoying spending all these weekend days in Natchez in recent weeks. This was one of those stories that I just had to get out of the way of and let it channel through me.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-06-27T22:11:09-06:00
ID
81300
Comment

Oh, and the church services are very entertaining. The first one was downright amazing; the second week, I must admit, got a bit too conservative for my tastes. But that's personal taste and peripheral to the story.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-06-27T22:12:38-06:00
ID
81301
Comment

AMAZING what a little love can do. Jesus said if you love me, you'll keep my commandments. As a believer, Christianity - not religion or denomination, but Christianity is about love and forgiveness. Love chips away at the attitudes of bigotry and hatred. I'm making sure that my teenager reads this article so that she can see God's love in action. Thank you so much for an enlightening story that we would never get anywhere else. As a member of this community, I would like to see more opportunities for children and youth to interact with others from differing backgrounds, ethnic groups and races. These types of opportunities help counteract alot of the negative messages that kids hear when they never go beyond the walls of their own communities.

Author
lanier77
Date
2007-06-28T08:38:25-06:00
ID
81302
Comment

[quote]Oh, and the church services are very entertaining. The first one was downright amazing; the second week, I must admit, got a bit too conservative for my tastes. But that's personal taste and peripheral to the story.[/quote] I think it all depends on how the Spirit is moving that day. :-) [quote]As a believer, Christianity - not religion or denomination, but Christianity is about love and forgiveness. [/quote] Absolutely. That's why I tossed the denomination stuff out the window as soon as I was old enough to make a decision about my own spirituality.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-06-28T08:52:25-06:00
ID
81303
Comment

I'm making sure that my teenager reads this article so that she can see God's love in action. Thank you so much for an enlightening story that we would never get anywhere else. Lanier, thank you so much. I'm tearing up just reading your comment. I think Shirley will appreciate it, too. She said so much to me about her primary goal in life now is racial reconciliation, and segregating 11 a.m. on Sundays. I wish I had gotten more of that in, but I think it goes without saying. I'll see if I can find some of those comments about why people *must* be spiritual together if they're really past racism. Maybe I'll even put up a digital recording of that part. I think y'all would enjoy hearing her voice. Also, I suspect we could convince her to come speak to a group in Jackson about this if all are interested. We need to revive the JFP's "Race, Religion & Society" series anyway. We had the first one as a resounding success, then got busy covering Melton and haven't scheduled any more. :-( L.W., maybe this is something you would help with?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-06-28T08:59:30-06:00
ID
81304
Comment

Donna, I'm not sure what I can do, but I'm definitely willing to do something. Do you have my Gmail address? Is there any way I can see that movie you showed called "The Most Segregated Hour" or something like that? i would love to see it. My pastors have a dream of having a multiethnic church, but it's been a challenge for them. I wonder if they would be interested in getting involved at some point.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-06-28T09:19:48-06:00
ID
81305
Comment

I agree Lanier. What I'm still puzzled about is why the disease of racism and prejudice is so deep here in Mississippi. As I understand it, Slavery and abject racism ended in Britan and many part of Europe long before it did here in the U.S.. And I don't think James Crow ruled Europe like it did here for another 100 plus years. Did the US get Europe's worse people or what? What is the great fear of moving beyond racism? Clearly racism remains constant today although mostly disguised now. No better evidence or proof of the prevalence of racism exist than how the majority has responded to the mandates of Brown v. Board of Education and similar cases that struck down the phantasy or phantasm of separate but equal (unequal). It took almost 20 years to figure out what "with all deliberate speed" meant, which apparently meant to most officials to take their time at doing nothing of real consequence or substance. Certainly not to do anything well or correctly. Even in Brown I and Brown II our U.S. Supreme Court Justices were trying to placate old racist southerners, gutter trash I call them. Supposedly their jobs were arduous, trying to do the right, moral and humanly decent thing, while trying to not hurt the feelings or aggravate the fears of southern cave men and women. Since then we have slowly seen our Supreme Court packed with many racists (excepting a few) or conservatives as many like to call them. Yes, and with one manufactured Uncle Tom who couldn't have been born of a human. Certainly not a black woman. Once Thurgood Marshall resigned we got a court of little conscious and questionable morality. Yet I have hope and am glad to see us move a step closer per decade to what the Almighty meant for us to be - loving one another as humans beings regardless of race, religion, age, creed or sex.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-06-28T09:32:24-06:00
ID
81306
Comment

Ray, how do you feel about this? Divided court rejects school diversity plans

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-06-28T09:40:14-06:00
ID
81307
Comment

It's what I expected, LW. It's predictable what this court will do. It's no accident Bush and his type want certain kinds of judges who they know will scholarly, legally and intellectually justify their goals. I'm not that impressed though. This has gone on for decades and centuries with rare exceptions. The results of all of it is to maintain the status quo as well as possible. Thurgood Marshall, et all, outsmarted the whole American system but only temporarily. They weren't ready for him at the time. They slowly figured out his strategies and underminded them before he was even left the court. Survival of the fittiest always rules here and elsewhere. We can halt the tide but rarely stop it.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-06-28T09:53:04-06:00
ID
81308
Comment

I should add that I'm all for a race-neutral society but I want a real one, not merely the pretense of one.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-06-28T09:54:45-06:00
ID
81309
Comment

My apology to everyone if I hit a little hard on this one. Sometimes I get wounded up when I discuss these issues. I often throw kindness out the window, a character trait that is good and bad. Carry on. I hope I didn't mess up anything or scare anyone off.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-06-28T10:18:55-06:00
ID
81310
Comment

I should add that I'm all for a race-neutral society but I want a real one, not merely the pretense of one. True dat, Ray. How far has lipservice gotten us so far?

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-06-28T10:22:13-06:00
ID
81311
Comment

Me, too. Pretending that "all that is in the past" is absurd, and ultimately the worst kind of racism. Shirley Beach clearly realized that, even if it was late coming. The danger is that, when people don't study and learn from the past, it makes it very easy to whitewash. Then people function in ignorant racist ways, perhaps without even realizing it. Like when people say that someone can't be racist because they have black friends or employees. Or that a black person can't be racist toward his/her own race. That shows a profound lack of knowledge about our past, and how many white people were "good to" some black people in front of them even as they supported efforts to keep them powerless and uneducated. By the same token, history shows that some African Americans historically went along with racism to help themselves personally. In other words, history is our friend, if we allow it to be.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-06-28T10:31:49-06:00
ID
81312
Comment

By the same token, history shows that some African Americans historically went along with racism to help themselves personally. Lord knows that's occurring in Jackson right now if you really think about it.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-06-28T10:47:22-06:00
ID
81313
Comment

Another thing Shirley said that was really cool was that, once she realized how wrong racism was, she took all the energy she had put in to being a racist and denying and hating, and put it into deliberately working to combat it and close the divides. Just imagine if everyone did that. I told the people I spoke to at the church in Oregon that racism was deliberate; therefore, we have to deliberately work to rid ourselves of its vestiges. That seems so obvious, doesn't it? Of course, there is nothing like the freedom that comes when you stop making excuses for racism and start trying to rid your community of it. That's written all over Shirley's face. Something else I didn't put in was that both Bishop and Shirley expressed frustration that they also run into African Americans who resist reconciliation. Charles Tisdale's "Brown Society" comes to mind.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-06-28T10:49:03-06:00
ID
81314
Comment

Lord knows that's occurring in Jackson right now if you really think about it. Right, L.W. There is no question that Melton's tactics are racist. He is targeting only one race with his efforts, and is willing to deny black people their rights with his tactics. That's racist.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-06-28T10:50:56-06:00
ID
81315
Comment

[quote]Charles Tisdale's "Brown Society" comes to mind.[/quote] I've never listened to his radio show. What is the "Brown Society"?

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-06-28T10:52:27-06:00
ID
81316
Comment

[quote]Right, L.W. There is no question that Melton's tactics are racist. He is targeting only one race with his efforts, and is willing to deny black people their rights with his tactics.[/quote] Yeah, it's a shame when someone is willing to sell out their own for a little power. Redefines the meaning of the word "Oreo".

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-06-28T10:55:13-06:00
ID
81317
Comment

Oh yeah, Donna, you may not want to say Oreo. :-)

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-06-28T10:55:57-06:00
ID
81318
Comment

To put it as delicately as such an ugly thing can be put, the "brown society" is made up of African Americans Mr. Tisdale believes have betrayed their race, for one reason or another.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-06-28T10:58:20-06:00
ID
81319
Comment

Hmm, fascinating. To whom does Mr. Tisdale apply such a label?

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-06-28T11:05:16-06:00
ID
81320
Comment

I find it interesting that this biracial church is operating out in "the boonies". That says alot right there. Very nice story and encouraging to all that there is hope for things in the future.

Author
GLewis
Date
2007-06-28T11:35:17-06:00
ID
81321
Comment

I think he had Harvey Johnson, Bo Brown, Marshand Crisler, Councilman McLemore and some others listed there. I tell you for a fact that there are lots of blacks who don't want to get listed there. Standing up for the truth is the way to go, in my opinion. I hate to call Clarence Thomas an Uncle Tom but you can't read his opinions and call him anything else ecxept maybe a racist white man carrying the wrong skin pigmentation. Clarence Thomas invoked the greatness of Thurgood Marshall, Fannie Lou Hamer, W. E. DuBois, Fredrick Douglas, et al, whenever he needed to at his Senate Judiciary Hearings. He even mentioned a high-tech lynching of him. Many of us said "deep down Clarence just might be a brother." It didn't take long for him to show us he wasn't and that he hates us as much as Guvner Billbo ever did. Thank God Brown v. Board of Education was decided before he got appointed. Otherwise, we possibly wouldn't have had the 5 minutes committment to erasing obvious past racial wrongs. Surely, Clarence would have worked just as hard as Earl Warren to get the justices to vote the other way. After Bush appointed Clarence Thomas to the court to repalce Thurgood Marshall and the Senate confirmed him despite Anita Hill and others pointing out his indiscretions, I knew then that Bush and the Republican party undeniably loved us. Needless to say, that kind of love hurts so bad. Standing up for what is right isn't as hard at it appears. Often how to respond is so obvious, and how we respond is so telling. A few minutes ago, I was at a mixed race eating facility, and decided to watch how people would respond to the JFP cover page. Lots of people pretended to not see it. I was the only person to pick up a copy. I saw people looking at me as I tried to read it. I was tempted to get up and say, ____ the ____ are y'all looking at, but my food was too good to risk not getting to eat it.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-06-28T11:47:48-06:00
ID
81322
Comment

but my food was too good to risk not getting to eat it. I just love you to pieces, Ray Carter. ;-) Your Clarence Thomas point reminds me of one of the things that drives me craziest about Melton—how he uses his race to benefit himself, but then harangues others who talk about race. Like when he says that people are criticizing him because he's a successful black man, but then turns around and belittles people who support the NAACP or talk about the problem of racism. That is so self-serving that it makes my skin crawl. And GLewis, it's not too far out in "the boonies," not compared to where much of the other part of the Seale family lives, over in Franklin County. One thing that is important to understand here is how Natchez was so central to "Klan Nation." Too many people want to point to Franklin County and the rural areas around there, but the truth is that much of the real support for white supremacy, and the violence, that supported it came from right in Natchez. And the Klan was bred in the factories there. They might have helped the economy, but they also served as incubators of race hatred back then. The people who worked int hem then fanned back out in their communities around Natchez and started their own Klan groups.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-06-28T11:55:23-06:00
ID
81323
Comment

[quote]I think he had Harvey Johnson, Bo Brown, Marshand Crisler, Councilman McLemore and some others listed there. I tell you for a fact that there are lots of blacks who don't want to get listed there.[/quote] Well, I guess it won't be long before I get on that list, huh? Not that it matters, though. I don't define myself with labels.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-06-28T12:18:23-06:00
ID
81324
Comment

Well, why isn't Tillsdale himself on the list for buddying up to a bunch of white republicans?

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-06-28T12:35:15-06:00
ID
81325
Comment

whew...just got in from hearing Unita Blackwell speak at the library Applause series. She was there with Jo Anne Prichard Morris reading from their book Barefootin'. The last section she read described the week that protestors for voting rights were taken and held at the MS state fair grounds, merely blocks from where I work everyday. They were held for 11 days and the stories she told made my skin crawl, including one episode where police officers beat a woman with sticks. Donna you are right about whitewashing - how easy it is to forget the sacrifices people have made so that we can be more whole.

Author
Izzy
Date
2007-06-28T12:36:25-06:00
ID
81326
Comment

Izzy, I think I saw footage like that on the Eyes on the Prize documentary. I wonder if that was the fairgrounds I saw. Pike, putting himself on that list would be like Mr. Blackwell putting himself on the worst-dressed list. Ain't happenin', cap'n.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-06-28T12:48:54-06:00
ID
81327
Comment

L.W., I would think that being in the Brown Society would be a badge of pride. You know, like when Richard Barrett calls me the "integrationist editor" on his Web site. What an utterly fabulous insult. And Izzy, be sure to read Anne Moody's "Coming of Age in Mississippi" if you haven't. Her descriptions of them being held in the livestock pens, and of protests like the Woolworth sit-in, are just breathtaking, and very different from what you read in the Black History Month version of civil rights history. Her book is available in paperback at Lemuria. Also, Rev. Ed King has written a very powerful description of when they were herded into the livestock pens, and of a white police officer who seemed to want to help them, but couldn't bring himself to. Anyone remember where that's published? Someone ask Rev. King if you see him and report back.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-06-28T13:14:46-06:00
ID
81328
Comment

I'll check it out.

Author
Izzy
Date
2007-06-28T13:18:01-06:00
ID
81329
Comment

L.W., I would think that being in the Brown Society would be a badge of pride. Oh, don't get me wrong. I wouldn't mind at all. I think I would be in good company.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-06-28T13:31:02-06:00
ID
81330
Comment

I forgot to tell y'all that I was in a restuarant in Greenville after fighting with a prosecutor over killing one of my clients, and two white ladies intending to compliment me on looking like a lwayer, so to speak, said I looked like Clarence Thomas. I wanted to be nice and pondered how to tell them I didn't consider that a compliment. I just said thanks but Clarence ain't my kind of people. Surely they were stunned. The bad thing about lack of diversity in schools is that if there is no diversity in the home and in the schools (pre-college and college), the children will grow up likely perpetuating only the ways and interests of their parents and teachers. Then the first real encounters with diverse individuals will likely take place while competing for jobs and other necessities of life. Everybody will then look out for their kind. Those with disadvantages will continue to get screwed. What's worse though is that the poor people in the poor neighborhoods and schools won't be granted an equal education and won't have a good or fair chance at competing for the jobs, et al, even if a so called race-neutral and fair standard or stystem is in place. History has proven this time and time again.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-06-28T14:11:09-06:00
ID
81331
Comment

Yet I have hope and am glad to see us move a step closer per decade to what the Almighty meant for us to be - loving one another as humans beings regardless of race, religion, age, creed or sex. Ray, and all of you with similar comments...this IS what God has in store for us. Who could ever imagine the changes experienced by hundreds of thousands of individuals over the course of their lifetimes? An aspect of racism and race-relations that we fail to realize stems from Ephesians 11 (for those who trust to read it), where it says that we do not war with flesh and blood, but with powers and principalities. Forgive my paraphrase. As long as there is a war going on [here on earth] there will forever be individuals making attempts to hold down others (of other races or their own). Divide and conquer. With people fighting to preserve themselves from outside influences, the desire to separate and to view themselves different intensifies. This happens from "above" and "below." Donna, this article was a blessing to my heart. Thanks. Gotta love home.

Author
lilsoulja
Date
2007-06-28T15:15:56-06:00
ID
81332
Comment

All, Shirley just called and had read the story online. She's really pleased with it (although she was bummed I didn't give more details about how they all exchange presents and celebrate the holidays!) I told her they're so full of great stories that I can't squeeze them all in! Maybe she'll sign on and tell y'all some stories herself. ;-) She also said that she would be happy to come speak to our next "Race, Religion & Society" event, which I want to do in late July (and she's going to invite Bishop and Co-Pastor as well). Stay tuned for more details, and if you have thoughts about how/where to do it, chime on in! Intern Luke Darby here will be be organizing it.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-06-28T15:17:29-06:00
ID
81333
Comment

You do gotta love it, lilsoulja. Folks, we have it all here in Mississippi if we take the chance to love it and care for it as we should. And not let the dividers tear us apart and make us feel bad about ourselves. Peace, all.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-06-28T15:19:18-06:00
ID
81334
Comment

Donna, was it held at Tougaloo last time? How did that go?

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-06-28T15:36:59-06:00
ID
81335
Comment

Actually, at Mikhail's, and it was GREAT. Packed to the gills. Great conversation.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-06-28T15:41:45-06:00
ID
81336
Comment

Okay. Mikhail's isn't far from me. Wouldn't mind going there.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-06-28T16:05:51-06:00
ID
81337
Comment

LW, I wouldn't expect much in terms of good food, but I imagine the conversation there is well worth a visit.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2007-06-28T19:29:30-06:00
ID
81338
Comment

I ate there before a few years ago, and I thought the food was so-so, but that's okay if I get to participate in something like that.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-06-28T19:45:04-06:00
ID
81339
Comment

i predict this will win more accolades at NEXT June's AAN Conference. Donna, you had me snifflin' at the doctor's office with this one. turns out my hunch was correct and i DO have a sinus infection, so i was able to blame my condition on that... this story has done much to lift my spirits, though. there IS hope. "gotta love home" indeed!

Author
jaysus
Date
2007-06-29T07:05:47-06:00
ID
81340
Comment

To expound on L.W.'s question on what the Brown Society is, it has its roots to a social club in New Orleans called the Autocrat Social and Pleasure Club. This club only allowed in black members whose skin was lighter than a paper bag. The club on the TV show Frank's Place was based on this club. As Brian explained earlier, Tisdale's version of the Brown Society is used to identify blacks who he thinks are working towards the detriment of their own race.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2007-06-29T08:34:22-06:00
ID
81341
Comment

Thanks, golden. I heard of the brown bag test, which is an example of the problem with internal racism in the black community. Skin color, hair texture, the size of your nose or lips - the list goes on and on. That's one of the reasons why I decided to never relax my hair again, although the main reason was that I was sick of losing my hair, burning my scalp, smelling the chemicals, etc.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-06-29T08:49:29-06:00
ID
81342
Comment

Thanks, Jaysus. The most remarkable part of the story, I think, is how her family quietly rejected racism all those years. She didn't follow them as quickly as she could have, but when she got there, she got there. She likely never would have without her family's influence. I think of my own mother and the quiet influence she had on me, although she didn't know how to speak up and stop the horrors of the past.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-06-29T09:04:30-06:00
ID
81343
Comment

The past was a scary time for blacks and whites alike, right Donna? I mean, blacks could get snubbed out for fighting back, and whites could pay for not going along with the status quo.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-06-29T09:25:33-06:00
ID
81344
Comment

Yes, L.W. It is often overlooked that whites could really pay the price for trying to buck tradition: boycotts, violence, being called "communist," and so on. Does that excuse the fact that more whites didn't stand up? Hell, no. But it does add texture to the conversation, and give us more common ground if we choose to tread it. It also should provide an example to all people today of going along with race division in whatever form. It. Hurts. Us. All.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-06-29T09:27:33-06:00
ID
81345
Comment

BTW, all, Shirley is attending the JFP's book party at Lemuria.com building tonight. She'll probably arrive about 6 p.m. Please stop by and say hello.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-06-29T09:28:23-06:00
ID
81346
Comment

Shirley's tale is very inspiring. Loved the cover image as well.

Author
Izzy
Date
2007-06-29T10:29:32-06:00
ID
81347
Comment

Yes, my partner-in-crime Kate Medley did a wonderful job as usual.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-06-29T10:40:45-06:00
ID
81348
Comment

Great, moving article. I read it quickly the other day and didn't have time to comment (I've been really busy), and I came back to tell you what a wonderful job you've done with this and say how much I admire Shirley and the rest of her family who are throwing off the chains of the past - I know it's taken a lot of courage for them to do it, but has been worth it in joy and the love of God and all his children. Now all these great comments are in here as well. Well done, guys, well done. If all the good folks in this state could just find each other and band together for the good of the whole state, wouldn't it be wonderful? And, it is happening, partially with the help of JFP and wonderful stories like these. A few years back, before I got involved in the flag fracas, I was feeling so alone. Just finding other folks who thought like me, and being able to speak with them and work with them has been marvelous. I recommend it to everyone, it's a feeling like coming home.

Author
C.W.
Date
2007-06-30T08:30:07-06:00
ID
81349
Comment

Ha Donna i thought id let you no my hair is naturaly curly not permed but many other people have thought the same .

Author
sbeach
Date
2007-06-30T17:23:56-06:00
ID
81350
Comment

Hello, Ms. Beach. Just wanted you to know that it was a pleasure to meet you yesterday evening. I hope to see you again next month or on this site.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-06-30T17:36:19-06:00
ID
81351
Comment

I know, Shirley. You nailed me on it last night. ;-) Remember me telling you last week that when I do intense stories, it's usually details about how people's hair and such that get challenged by the source. Tee, hee. It was great to have you and Gary up last night, and over to Sal & Mookie's. Thanks for driving up, and we'll see y'all soon. And please participate in the discussion here as you'd like. I know people here want to hear more from you!

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-06-30T17:51:55-06:00
ID
81352
Comment

Thanks for having us .Gary has been talking about the calamare all day .We went to a Beach family reunion todayand he told everybody how good it was.Donna andL.W. I LOOK FORWARD TO MANY TALKS WITH YALL.

Author
sbeach
Date
2007-06-30T18:17:48-06:00
ID
81353
Comment

Yeah, I would definitely call Gary a "squid man" at this point. ;-) I'll have to tell Jeff that he has some new S&M converts ... oops, well, you know what I mean. Y'all got reunions coming out your ears! Many, many talks, indeed. There is much work to be done, and there are many people willing to do it. Shirley, you should share with everyone how the holiday schedule goes between your family and Bishop's. I didn't have room to get it all in here. (How they come to your house Christmas Eve, and y'all to Mama Searcy's on Christmas Day, and so on.) As we discussed Sunday, one thing I so admire about your story, and your parents' and brother's, is that you all simply walk the talk. Until I found you, you didn't even talk about it much. You just did it. That includes 11 a.m. Sunday, as well as social events and holidays. As we discussed, you don't really mean the reconciliation thing if you're not willing to worship and socialize after work hours with people of other races.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-06-30T18:26:28-06:00
ID
81354
Comment

Donna that is so right Sunday is the most segrated (please excuse my spellings it not very good)Im better talker than a writer .time And Ive been working to change that for seven years. And MY JOURNY has realy just begun.Christmas Eve night we get together all the family ,as we have done every year .(43 years)That includes Bishop(little brother)CO-PASTER .IN my grandfathers old house (aint that something )I dont know if you knew that or not .Igo to mama searcys christmas day and eat chiltlings.I TAKE homemade pies @stuff.DONNA if you can us my assistance in anyway please let me know.And i will answer any Quistons AND im looking forward to the foram in july.Bishop will let me know Sunday if the date we talked about lastnight is good with him are not.

Author
sbeach
Date
2007-06-30T19:11:03-06:00
ID
81355
Comment

Donna i dont know whats up with all these family reunions all of a sudden .WE didnt khow about this one until a few days ago.

Author
sbeach
Date
2007-06-30T19:20:14-06:00
ID
81356
Comment

Bishop and Copaster has been coming to Christmaseve gathering since 1995 i think .But i only started giving them gifts 7 years ago .After GOD GOT AHOLD OF ME .I WOULD NOT CHANGE THESE LAST SEVEN YEARS FOR ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD.

Author
sbeach
Date
2007-06-30T19:47:00-06:00
ID
81357
Comment

Were is everybody ,Nobodys talking

Author
sbeach
Date
2007-07-02T09:27:14-06:00
ID
81358
Comment

Hey, just happened to be passing through. Things usually slow down on the weekend and on Mondays around here. You are more likely to get responses this afternoon or tomorrow. I also suggest that you check out some of the other topics here and post there. It's a great chance to join in all kinds of interesting conversations. Here's one that may be of interest to you: School Integration

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-07-02T09:36:33-06:00
ID
81359
Comment

Thanks, Shirley! We do slow down a bit over the weekend; personally I try to avoid the computer all around then (although I check in to make sure that hasn't been a killin')! I'll take the homemade pies over the chitlins any day. ;-) We have to go to press a day early this week all, so I won't be saying a lot today. Y'all keep on keepin' on without me. More soon.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-07-02T10:15:56-06:00
ID
81360
Comment

Donna the 22nd is good for me and little brother for the forum @5:00

Author
sbeach
Date
2007-07-02T10:17:41-06:00
ID
81361
Comment

This is interesting, what is pastor Shirley Beach's email if we wanted to contact her for future speaking engagement for our youth.

Author
Pmm
Date
2007-07-02T13:42:30-06:00
ID
81362
Comment

Bishop Stanley B. Searcy Sr. is a miracle worker. He has done more for that area in such a short time. I am honored to call him my friend

Author
AGamm627
Date
2007-07-02T14:28:36-06:00
ID
81363
Comment

You know him, Agamm! Cool. He is one entertaining cat, I tell you that. Everyone will have to come hear him and Shirley, and hopefully Mrs. Norman, when they come speak. We'll let you know the details as soon as it's finalized. Pmm, note that Shirley has her e-mail address linked to her username. ;-)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-07-02T14:31:41-06:00
ID
81364
Comment

Bishop Searcy , Is a miracle worker sent by GOD. There is no doubt about that i am one of those miracles. I am honored to call him my brother

Author
sbeach
Date
2007-07-02T14:44:40-06:00
ID
81365
Comment

My e-mail address is [email]kati@telepak.net[/email] And i would love to come speak to your youth.

Author
sbeach
Date
2007-07-02T14:49:32-06:00
ID
81366
Comment

I grew up in Natchez and you would have had to grow up there to understand the dynamics.

Author
Goldenae
Date
2007-07-03T11:34:44-06:00
ID
81367
Comment

Tell us about the dynamics, Goldenae. What do you mean? One thing that's rather remarkable about Natchez is to hear well-meaning people say they were happy, at least, that Klan violence there wasn't as bad as it was in other places. I presume that codes of silence, and refusal to talk about the past, is what leads to that level of ignorance about one's home. I certainly experienced it back home in Neshoba County, which I long thought had to have been the epicenter of racial hatred. I was wrong, though, which studying Southwest Mississippi really reveals. That in no way lets Neshoba County off the hook, don't get me wrong. It just means that other places need to face their pasts, and the legacies of them, as well.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-07-03T11:37:52-06:00
ID
81368
Comment

Ms. Ladd, I graduated North Natchez High School in 1989, the last year the schools were divided. South Natchez was predominantly white and North Natchez was all black. The entire school system was setup under that "seperate but equal" plan, that never worked out that way. Natchez was a town were blacks and whites did not interact at all. We went to the mall on different days, and definately did not go into each other's neighborhoods. When I was there, there were places were you could still see the "colored" and "whites only" signs. I think that things were not so bad in Natchez because the races were completely and totally seperate. Other than teachers, I dont think I had a conversation with a white person until I was in college. My mother was a very fair skinned black woman and her and my father would be harashed by the police and sheriffs when she first moved there with him. If not for my mother being a teacher and working at the predominantly white schools, we would have never known that the schools really were not equal. I was an All-State academic football player and whenever we played South Natchez, I would always get racists harassing calls at home. I said the dynamics were odd because even though blacks and whites did not interact, you still had a feeling that you were inferior and looked at as such when you would go downtown, etc. Its hard for a black person to embrass a culture like Natchez that is fond on the antebellum era. I do not know what the recent Supreme Court ruling means, but I do know that if Natchez had not been forced to integrate, they never will. In the long run it will be better because those kids don't focus on race as much as we had to. I am writing a story right now that I hope will capture what was going on at the time that those schools merged. Before my senior year, we were told that we would be the last class and it gave everything a sense of urgency. We had an undefeated football season and I know that it was driven by pride for who we were and fear of losing that identity forever. I think that is why I am so passionately opposed to the current state flag. I did not experience the turbulent times for being black, but there were times when it still was hurtful. No one has ever given me a good reason to hold on to symbols that represent such an ugly period in our history. Natchez has a black mayor now and that is in part to a lot of whites moving out of the city and also because things have changed alot. The sooner people interact, the sooner they will realize that we have more in common than not and no reason to hate one another. Sorry for hoping around like that, but soooo many memories were in my mind at one time.

Author
Goldenae
Date
2007-07-03T12:12:01-06:00
ID
81369
Comment

Donna, Thanks for doing that story. I think its very important for people to see that even though things have changed a great deal that the seeds of hate still sprout. A lot of people act like when slavery was abolished, that was the end of the story. Then others think that after the Civil Rights Era was over, things were made right. Maybe you understand a little better why I beat the drum against people like Kim Wade, Rush Limbaugh, etc. We could have a real good shot at erradicating the overt racists if folks would take a stand like this lady did and stop condoning things that we know in our hearts to be wrong. My father is 6'4" 240 and by anyone's description a man's man. I vividly recall our family driving through Alabama on our way back to MS once and turning a corner and seeing about 20-30 hooded Klansmen in the road. I will never forget the uncertain look on my father's face. It was like I could feel the inadequate feelings that came across him. Racism had a way of castrating black men. That was hard to see, but I knew that it wasnt new to him or other black men of his era. However, I never once heard a racist word from either of my parents.

Author
Goldenae
Date
2007-07-03T13:00:51-06:00
ID
81370
Comment

Thank you, Goldenae. Those are wonderfully honest comments. And you're right: Pretending that "all that" is behind us hurts us all.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-07-03T14:23:19-06:00
ID
81371
Comment

Yeah. And it is good to know that there are people who realize the effects that the past hs on us all. The work that Donna is doing is great and much needed around the state (and this country).

Author
Melishia
Date
2007-07-03T14:46:46-06:00
ID
81372
Comment

Its seems like its so hard for people to understand that if you build something on a radioactive site that there will be long lasting effects. Donna should be applauded because things rarely change unless people in the majority speak up for people in the minority. That goes for any situation.

Author
Goldenae
Date
2007-07-03T14:55:37-06:00
ID
81373
Comment

I just had a chance to sit down and read this article. Powerful. It's so nice to read and hear stories of people who see the light of their wrongs and try to amend for them. Stories like this proves that there is a God there and miracles do happen. It did, however, burn me up to read the part about the white man whipping the black cotton picker back in 2003--only four short years ago. I had to re-read that to make sure it didn't say 1903. We still have a long way to go.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2007-07-03T18:24:50-06:00
ID
81374
Comment

With people like Shirley, true racial harmony's day of arrival definitely sped up!. Kudos to you, Shirley, for your boldness. And Kudos to you, Donna and Kate for a great story. All I can say at this point is this: Why should skin color create conniption fits any more than eye or hair color ought to? That's just about my summary of how to go about race relations.

Author
Philip
Date
2007-07-03T19:49:10-06:00
ID
81375
Comment

Golden, wait! That was a vision she had that she believes came from God. I *thought* that was clear. I'm sorry if not.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-07-04T08:04:37-06:00
ID
81376
Comment

Goldenae, 19-fricking-89? Unbelievable. And I thought the northern areas of the delta were bad . . . thank you for telling us how it was.

Author
C.W.
Date
2007-07-04T11:26:36-06:00

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