Deep South – First Impressions

Feb 03, 2024 4.9M Views 12.9K Comments

Deep in the heart of the Mississippi Delta region is an America that lives by its own rules. A place that feels like traveling to another country with its own unique stories and culture. Join me in Mississippi at the start of this 6-part series about the Deep South region of America.

► For more behind the scenes videos:
► Video edited by: Natalia Santenello

► Headlund – Small Mirage
► Headlund – Red Moon Rising
► Peter Crosby – Nothin’ Left Blues

(peaceful music)
– Good morning, guys.
Here in the Mississippi Delta
region here in the deep South,
first impressions feels
almost like traveling
to another country.
Today we’re meeting up
with a man named Booker T.
Booker T.’s a local in the
area, said, “Hey Peter,
do you wanna see what
it’s really like here,
the local culture, even
plantation culture?”
He said he can show us the former world
and the current world of
that, and some soul food.
“Meet up with some of my
friends, we’ll have a good time.”
Couldn’t say no to Booker T.
So that’s what we’re doing
today, getting into this part
of the country that most of us have
very little understanding
of, let’s do this.
(peaceful music)
(peaceful music continues)
(peaceful music continues)
(peaceful music continues)
(peaceful music continues)
Well, this is a huge place you guys have.
I thought it was a dentist office
when I pulled in with
all the parking spots,
and it’s just Booker T.’s home, right?
– Right. (laughing)
This is my wife, and her
name’s Lodine Beckum.
Booker T. Beckum.
– [Peter] Lodine?
– Yes.
– [Peter] Nice to meet you.
– This is my baby, my Escalade,
I done had it for 22 years.
– [Peter] It looks like, yeah,
you just bought it yesterday.
(Booker T. laughing)
– 22 years.
– [Peter] This is a
great zone you got here.
– Yeah, just like heaven on Earth.
My mom had this stove,
and she told me she wanted
me to have it when she died.
This is what we used to
bake all the biscuits
and anything you wanna bake.
And then we picked cotton.
These are some of our cotton scales.
– Okay.
– So and then this here,
the pea, where you always,
you would weigh the
cotton right on this here.
You put the pea on there when
the cotton sack is on here,
and this here is hanging up on a hook too,
and then you put the pea
here, which is pretty heavy.
– Oh yeah. (laughs)
– And that goes on here.
So this only goes up to
like about 40 pounds.
– Okay.
– And then this one here,
it goes up to like a couple hundred.
We got a well over there.
I used to all, we’d draw
out water from the well,
and after the well broke down,
this is what the thing was
where the rope go in the well.
– [Peter] You grew up with well water?
– Well water.
– [Peter] Okay.
– I didn’t have a bathroom
till I was 15 years old.
I’m a certified welder, diesel mechanic,
and I did that in Wyoming
for a little over 42 years.
When I left here, I
didn’t even have a GED,
and when I went and did
the first welding test
and got to be a welder,
I just didn’t grab the
thirst for knowledge.
– [Peter] And so you
came back to Mississippi?
– Came back to Mississippi,
wasn’t no need in us staying
in Wyoming no longer.
Our family here, we’d been away 42 years.
I said, “We might as well
enjoy our family the rest
of our lives and be
back around them some.”
– Okay, so today we’re gonna
get into where you grew up.
– Yes.
– Your family stories,
what it was like.
– Yeah.
– What it’s like now,
’cause you have an
interesting perspective.
You grew up in it, but then
left it and then came back.
– Came back.
– So you see it maybe in a different way.
– I do, you know?
– Which is cool, but okay,
back there near your house,
nice house, many nice houses.
– Yep.
– We’re in the Delta region,
or right outside of the Delta region?
– We’re up at the,
we’re kind of at the
northern part of Mississippi.
– Okay.
– So when you get
more in the Delta, you’re
down in Greenwood, Greenville.
– Where I came from today.
– Clarksdale.
– A little poorer over there?
– Oh yeah, it’s lots poorer up there,
especially you still got
peoples in little houses
that don’t even have
restrooms and stuff like that.
– Still got that?
– And they’re probably still pulling water
from wells and stuff, you know?
This used to be a little club
we used to party at all the time.
– [Peter] This blue house?
– [Booker T.] Yep.
Now, that’s our church straight ahead,
Sweet Home AME Baptist Church.
Right in this corner here is
my mom’s first little school house.
– [Peter] Oh, this wooden one?
– [Booker T.] Yeah.
They really didn’t have
the schools uptown,
but my mom and them were
just out here in the country.
They didn’t have no buses or nothing then.
So this used to be our store.
– [Peter] Okay.
– This was our store
and our house when my daddy bought it
when they came out here.
But this is the little school.
They used to have a little
school, just a few kids in there.
– [Peter] Oh, there’s a little dollhouse,
– [Booker T.] Is it?
– [Peter] Yeah.
– [Booker T.] So that thing is probably
over a hundred and something years old.
– [Peter] And there’s
school chairs in here.
– When my daddy and them first came here,
his cousin, Miss Rosie used
to live in this old house.
My daddy’s cousins set
up a lumber mill here,
and they built homes, helped
build a home for everybody.
And my dad and them,
after he got out the Army,
and my cousin got out the
Army, and they come in here
and they bought almost 108 acres of land.
So we’re gonna run
through here just a minute
and show you my folks.
This is our like family cemetery.
Mattie Beckum and Booker Beckum.
My dad, he lived to be 100 years old.
– [Peter] How many generations back
does your family go here?
– About three generations.
So our house used to sit right
back there in them trees,
but not-
– [Peter] That was the
house you grew up in?
– Yeah, right back in them trees,
and we used to walk right
over here to our godmother’s,
which is the house we own now.
We didn’t own it at that
time, but my daddy ended up,
as we progressed in life,
making cotton, corn,
and molasses and stuff.
So that’s what we own right
here now this five acres,
it’s almost six acres here.
When I was 15, we moved into this house.
– [Peter] Who lives there now?
– My sister, Berta Beckum.
That there, that was
my brother’s that died.
That truck there, his
old truck there he had,
and I’m gonna fix that up one day.
And my mom built all the
old sheds and stuff in here,
but my brother used to
live out in this one.
He drank quite a little bit,
and my mom put him out the house
and built him a shed out here
where he wouldn’t bother them
coming in at night, you know?
And then my mom had this
little storage room.
But my daddy used to farm.
We farmed all this right
here with corn and stuff.
– [Peter] Okay.
– But back down in there
in that field area,
you can call it the hollows,
where we farmed all our cotton and corn,
and we brought it up to
here, and we made molasses.
– Hey.
– [Peter] Hello.
– That’s my sister, Berta Beckum.
Don’t she look like me?
– [Peter] You guys are twins.
(Booker T. laughing)
As a kid, you were
pulling water outta here?
– Out of the well, yeah.
Look at a rock, see if
there’s anything down in it.
– [Peter] How deep is this one?
(item clattering)
– Yeah, water’s still in there, ain’t it?
Wow. (laughing)
– So do you look back at
your journey and just say,
“Wow, I came from a well and an outhouse,”
to now having what you have now?
– What I have now, ain’t it, it’s amazing.
– And you just did it
through your hard work?
– Through my hard work, and my wife, yep.
– And your wife, and she’s a nurse, right?
– Yep, she was a nurse, did that 38 years.
– What do the people do for work out here,
like some of those nice houses we passed?
– So we got the paper mill here,
them and some of the factories
and stuff that pretty well.
Now they’d just be up at that
new Milwaukee plant here,
so that’s gonna help
out a lot of people too.
– [Peter] Milwaukee Tools?
– Uh-huh.
– [Peter] So manufacturing jobs?
– Yeah.
We still got a lot of farming, you know,
people still raise a lot
of cotton, stuff like that.
That’s about it, you know?
– [Peter] So cotton’s
still a big thing here?
– Yes, it’s bigger now
than what it used to be.
– [Peter] Does the cotton go to China
to manufacture our clothes,
or how does it work?
– Yeah, I don’t know where
they ship it to, but yeah.
We got a old gin down here,
but our big gin now is down in Winona,
Winona, Mississippi, and that’s
where all the cotton kind
of goes to between there and here.
She cooked a coon, we
got a raccoon she cooked.
– I got it in the house.
– Yeah, she cooked a raccoon.
– [Peter] You cooked a raccoon?
– [Booker T.] Yeah.
– Okay.
– I cooked the greens and peas.
– [Peter] So this is a
meal we’re having today?
– Yeah.
– [Peter] Raccoon?
– Yep.
– [Peter] Peas and greens?
– And-
– [Berta] Cornbread.
– And pork chop and fried chicken.
– [Peter] How’s raccoon taste?
– Just like a roast, like chicken.
You know, everything tastes
like chicken, you know?
– Well, best cornbread in Mississippi,
this is true?
– [Booker T.] Oh yeah.
– The best dressing.
This is cornbread with meal and flour.
– [Rita] Eggs and buttermilk.
– And buttermilk.
– [Peter] Oh, you’re
putting onions in there?
– You put onions sometimes,
you don’t have to.
– It’s just like a hot cake.
– Oh yeah.
(Berta laughing)
Oh yeah.
(all laughing)
That’s nice, that’s nice.
– Eat some greens with this,
and that’d be really good.
– Good, aint it?
– [Peter] That’s nice.
– This is a old house, but you know,
we’ve been still trying
to keep it going for her,
though, you know?
That was my room in there.
– [Peter] This was your room growing up?
– Yep, she got a million
pictures on the wall now.
The bathroom here.
We built this bathroom on into this house,
’cause we didn’t even have a bathroom,
so this was just a whole
room right here, you know?
– [Peter] What’d your parents do for work?
– [Booker T.] We were just farmers.
– [Peter] Just farming, that’s
what everyone was doing?
– Picking cotton.
– Picking cotton.
– Chopping cotton, chopping corn.
– [Peter] Did you pick cotton?
– Did I?
– Yeah. (laughs)
– I’m one of the first ones.
– Yeah.
– I started when I was six years
old with a seven foot sack.
When I got 12, I got the 12 foot sack.
– [Peter] 12 foot sack?
– Sack put to put the picked cotton.
– Yeah, you know, you
get different size sacks,
how old you are or whatever.
– Like a croker sack when
we was six years old.
When we got 12, we got the long-
– Long sack that dragged behind you.
– Okay, so the culture
here really is cotton?
– Yeah, yeah, yeah, cotton and soybean.
– We’re gonna go, you
said, to a plantation?
Now, do you-
– Ain’t nothing but there’s
just a home there now.
They don’t even do nothing no more.
– They don’t do the cotton?
– No, they don’t.
– Okay.
– But cotton area fields around it.
– Okay.
– You know?
– Okay.
– But ain’t no plantation,
nothing like that no more, just-
– That’s where I was born.
You taking them over there on the place?
– [Peter] Do you have to lock
the doors out here or no?
– Yeah.
– [Peter] So crime in the countryside?
– [Rita] Yeah.
– [Peter] Really?
– [Booker T.] Oh yeah.
– [Peter] What about your pit bull?
They wanna mess with your pit bull?
(Booker T. laughing)
I wouldn’t.
(peaceful music)
(peaceful music continues)
– [Booker T.] This was
like a cotton plantation.
Rich guy bought it out now,
and he’s just got cows and all on it.
– [Peter] When did it end,
I mean, after the Civil War?
– Well, you know, the
Civil War is pretty well
when that ended, so.
– [Peter] The cotton plantations?
– Yes, all ended.
– [Peter] But they still had cotton here?
– Well, yeah, because like I was coming up
using mules and stuff.
They never would give us
no big loans or nothing.
See all the cows they got now on here?
– [Peter] Yeah.
– They would never give us no loans
and stuff to buy a tractor
or nothing, you know?
My daddy, so we didn’t make enough money
to be able to afford a tractor,
so we only had our mules and stuff.
With the farming amount of farming we did,
it was just only for
ourselves, our corn and stuff.
We raised our molasses, we raised them
and we sold them for $6 a gallon,
and that’s where we made our little money.
The cotton, we’d bring
it down here to the gin
right on this road in our mule and wagon.
So we had a wagon, we’d pack
it, once we get like a bale
or two of cotton, we’d
pack it in the wagon.
It’s gotta be, what was
the bale of cotton then?
About 2,000 pounds.
– You were harvesting
your own land, 180 acres?
– Yes, just for us.
– You’d bring the cotton down and sell it?
– Yep, and we would get maybe
like three, $400 a bale then,
if that.
– Oh wow.
– That was my daddy and my cousin,
them sharecropping with Mr. Sentry McGee.
But then once he died, then
they lost the land, see?
And we just only had that
little five acres right there.
– [Peter] So what’s sharecropping exactly,
can you explain that?
– So sharecropping more
so, my cousin Mr. Babe,
by him letting us farm on the land,
we would get two bales of
cotton, he would get one.
Same thing as corn, we’ll
get two loads of corn,
we’ll take him a load to
his crib for his animals.
– [Peter] So it’s just his
land, you do all the work?
– That’s right, but it was
like eight of us in the house,
10 with my mom and dad, so you
see, it took more food stuff.
But we had hogs and a few cows, goats,
and that’s what we kind of lived off,
chickens, raccoons, possums,
all that stuff. (laughs)
So all that was cotton.
– [Peter] It’s just been picked, right?
– [Booker T.] Yeah, yeah.
– [Peter] You can see
some cotton out there.
– On the ground, yeah.
– [Peter] So there’s good
money in cotton still?
– Yeah, there’s more
cotton being raised now
than I ever seen, you know?
– [Peter] Oh really?
– Yeah, because it used to be
a lot of soybeans in my years
of growing up, wherever we
used to eat soybean burgers.
See that stalk out there?
I should get you a stalk.
We’ll grab some out of field up here.
– So they used to just come out?
– Yeah.
– Cotton ball by cotton
ball, is that how you do it?
– Just, yeah, just picking it by hand.
– [Peter] So that’s how it grows?
– [Booker T.] Yeah, see
how it grow right here?
– [Peter] Yep.
– [Booker T.] The summer,
it will be a lot nicer.
– [Peter] That’s it.
– Uh-huh, so you can
take that back with you.
– [Peter] So how would you pick it?
Would you take, you break the whole stem?
– No, no, you just come here.
– [Peter] And you just fill up a bag?
– Yep, see how I’m picking it?
– [Peter] You’re saying a bale,
though, goes for over $1,000?
– We’ll pull it up and see kinda now,
but back then, so you pick that like that
and get them out them balls.
We used to play with them
like little animals, you see?
And we’d get them and have a few of them.
But you take that cotton with both hands
and you put it in the
sack, and just keep picking
all the way up the row.
– That was the time
when having more kids made you better off.
– Was good, yes, so see, it
wasn’t no problem with my mom.
When my dad met my mom, she already had,
she had six kids, but two of ’em died,
so it wasn’t no problem
for him to marry my mom
with four kids already.
– Yeah.
– Because he was coming in on a farm,
and he, you know?
– He’s like, “Sweet, more money makers.”
– And then he had four more by my mom,
and then so it was always eight of us.
And then my brother and sister and them,
by the time we got up of age to farm,
they was kind of easing out.
– Okay.
– And then we would hire
kids to help us, you know,
in that local area and pay them,
and our daddy paid them a little money.
But we just, our food and
what he give us for Christmas
and all that, give us out
and we’d buy a pair of boots,
and you keep your shoebox for Christmas
where you could put your stuff in it
that they give you for Christmas,
your little oranges and
apples and the nuts.
And every year only I would just,
I’d get a paper cap pistol, a paper gun.
– Okay, yeah, yeah, yeah.
– Yeah, that was, looked like every year,
you got your paper cap gun, you know?
– So literally in one generation,
it went from have as many kids as possible
’cause it’s gonna make you
better off as a family,
to don’t have many kids
’cause they’re expensive.
– Yeah, they’re expensive now.
– It changed in one generation.
– Yep, and then that’s why you see now,
like a lot of the womens
have a lot of kids now,
what they are they’re pretty well
on welfare or something, you see?
– Right.
– Because that’s, you know,
ain’t nothing for her to do,
but a lot of ’em now,
if they’re having kids,
it’s because they’re getting welfare
or getting stamps and stuff like that.
– Are a lot of people on
welfare here in this area?
– We got a lot of ’em, yeah,
– A lot, like what percentage?
– Especially after the virus.
I would say with welfare, I
don’t just regularly know,
but I bet you 60% or 50, 60%.
– Wow, seriously?
– Yeah, you know, a
lot of the Blacks more.
You know, you got a lot of
white now on food stamps.
Well, we fixing to go up to
the grocery store, you’ll see.
– Okay.
(Booker T. laughing)
– See my name?
(Booker T. laughing)
And I got you some cotton.
So this was like the big
manor house there, you know?
The big plantation home right
there, all back in there,
all that land you see back
where we come through,
Dunbars Plantation.
– So the business model
was get a bunch of land,
get a bunch of slaves,
make a bunch of money?
– That’s right.
– That’s what it was, right?
– Yep, and then this one guy,
Black guy, he ended up in kinda like,
probably like the Dunbars guy.
He ended up and he wouldn’t
be no farmer for someone.
He ended up and bought his own land,
and had the Blacks to
help him, you get me?
– [Peter] The Black guy had Black slaves?
– Yes.
– [Peter] Really?
– Yeah.
– [Peter] They could do that?
– Well, yeah, because,
but he paid ’em better,
and he gave ’em stuff, you know?
– [Peter] Okay.
– And that’s why a lot
of the Blacks ended up
doing better, you know?
– [Peter] How does it feel for you
when you get near these establishments?
Is it like, it was so long ago, whatever,
or does it have some feeling to it?
– It’s just kind of like,
I knew my mom and them,
and her fathers and forefathers,
like my granddaddy’s dad
and them, you know, I know
they was into this slavery,
you know, probably, but you know,
we were just so much out of
it by the time we got up.
But I just kind of feel for ’em, you know?
The work that they, the torture
and stuff they went through, you know?
Yep, and like I said, a
lot of ’em was in house.
You know how the in house slaves were,
the prettier womens and all like of that?
That’s what they did,
like the prettier womens.
– [Peter] Okay.
– They kept them in house to cook,
and whatever they did with ’em, you know?
That’s why you got so
many, had so many kids,
white kids and all, or
Black, whatever, you know,
that their parents was slave owners,
and they went with the women,
so they end up with their kids,
they had kids by their womens, so you see?
So this is my friend down here.
He’s a meat processing plant.
So we’re gonna holler at him
and see if there’s anything interesting.
Wayne Newton, great guy.
There you go.
What’s up, buddy?
This is his beautiful
fiance, how you doing?
– [Peter] Peter.
– Nice to meet you.
– [Peter] Nice to meet you.
– Yes ma’am.
– So there’s all the deer,
they’re just cutting it up now,
making deer burgers.
– [Peter] Deer burgers, nice.
Okay, so the guys go hunt out here?
– [Booker T.] Yeah, they go hunting.
– [Peter] They bring the
deer in, get money for it.
– Well, they just bring it
here for him to process it.
– [Peter] And then they process it,
and then the meat gets sold locally?
– No, you know, they just give it back
to whoever it belongs to.
– [Peter] Oh.
– I’m gonna take him by Spain’s
and show ’em the grocery store where,
yeah, that’s a busy place.
– [Peter] Spain’s?
– People come from everywhere
to buy groceries there.
– It’s an experience. (laughs)
– [Peter] What about south,
like south of Jackson area,
is it similar or it’s different?
– [Wayne] South of Jackson?
– [Peter] Yeah.
– [Wayne] You start getting
into the coastal region,
it’s different.
– Why do they call some of the people
in New Orleans coonheads?
He was asking me that.
– [Wayne] Why do they call ’em coonheads?
– Yeah, I told ’em to because where they,
back in the hills, back in there, huh?
– Freak.
– [Wayne] They don’t like
to be called coonheads.
– They don’t though?
– [Peter] What do they call you guys?
– Redneck.
(Booker T. laughing)
– Buddy, we’re gonna head on, hear?
Appreciate you, hear?
We’ll walk back on
through if it’s all right.
– [Peter] Take care, Wes.
– Yeah.
– [Peter] Have a good one.
– [Wes] Thank you.
– [Booker T.] I’ll get with
you a little later, boy.
– [Wayne] Later, brother.
– [Booker T.] All right.
– [Peter] Let me ask you this, Booker T.,
might sound silly from the outside,
so shut me off when you need to.
But people would think, especially
I would say in the north,
everything down here is
just racist, and you know,
there’s no-
– Oh yes, yeah.
– [Peter] Give us the lay
of the land with that stuff,
because I see you with white
people and it’s no problem.
– See, I’ve been gone from,
and that’s all I deal with
in Wyoming with whites, see?
So I have no problem with it, you get me?
I treat people like I want to be treated.
If I got a negative eye from you,
then I’m through with you,
you know what I’m saying?
But if you treat me right,
I’m gonna treat you right.
– [Peter] So how is it
here in Mississippi?
– It’s still, we still got a
lot of the prejudice, you know?
And you can tell it from some folks,
but the few I that got come
around and start dealing with,
and if they, you know, deal with me,
I deal with them, you know?
This way is the old
jail, see the jail house?
– [Peter] This is the old jail.
(Booker T. laughing)
Here we go.
– [Booker T.] Ain’t that something?
– [Peter] Yeah, how many
years ago was that a jail?
– [Booker T.] Oh my God,
that must have been,
I bet you 50 years ago or longer.
– [Peter] 50 years, that’s it?
– [Booker T.] Yeah.
– [Peter] Oh my god.
– [Booker T.] Yeah.
That was the jail, and this
was the little courthouse.
– [Peter] That was the courthouse?
– Yeah, that’s probably
been 100 years ago, I’d say.
So that’s back when the plantations,
all that was down in here, you see, yeah?
– [Peter] So courthouse-
– Yeah, and the jailhouse.
Yeah. (laughing)
These are some old stores
used to be down here,
right in here, that was
the little courthouse.
– [Peter] The fan’s up
here, the old ceiling.
– When I was a little boy,
I used to come down here
with a guy, Mr. Paul Sam,
and there was a restaurant down there.
That’s what kind of made me realize
more of what was going on.
We came down one day, we
was helping him haul hay,
and I told him, I said, “Mr. Sam,
we’ll just stay in the field and work.
You know, you can just
bring us something back.”
No, y’all come on, y’all
can go down and eat.
And we got down there, and
what made me really feel bad,
when he went inside, we’re
fixing to go inside with him,
and he told us we had to go
around to the back of it.
So we went around, he had to go in,
and we went around to the back and sat,
and it was the worst
hamburger I had in my life,
because you know, I wasn’t understanding
more of the prejudice back then, you know?
– [Peter] Okay, when was that?
– So that was in like,
so I would say I was probably
no more than about 12 or 13,
so that was like in ’60, in ’72, ’68, ’72.
– [Peter] So in the ’70s it was like that?
– Yeah, yeah.
When I got older, I said, “I know I need
to leave here and do something
different,” you know?
– [Peter] Okay.
– And I just seen how the life was,
and the prejudice and all that,
and that’s what made me leave Mississippi.
– [Peter] So in 42 years,
has it improved a lot?
‘Cause you left at that
time and then you came back.
What are your thoughts?
– Well, yeah, in there, like I said,
you’re meeting people
now like Wes, you know?
Used to, you didn’t hardly
go in there and walk around,
talk to him like that in
his business or something.
– [Peter] So there’s integration
now with a lot of people.
– Well, and that’s another thing.
So my cousin Dottie Lee
was with a white gentleman
all her life, but she caught hell,
he did too coming up when we
were little old kids, you know?
And he ended up married her
and they had kids together,
but he just made his way
through life with her, you know?
And my uncle shot him one time.
Uncle Kerry ended up, they
got into it and he shot him,
but he end up dying here
about 8, 9, 10 years ago.
And I’m gonna show you my old school.
’71, I integrated.
– [Peter] High school?
– No, this was, so this
was, when I integrated,
we was in the seventh and eighth grade.
– [Peter] This was all
white school before?
– Yes, yes, this was.
– So do you remember those,
do you have any memories?
Like what was it like walking
up here, and you know,
up until that time, it was only Black,
and then you come in and it’s
white, what was that like?
– It was just, it was
different, but you know,
we knew of white kids and
stuff, but not to be learning
and sitting with ’em every day, you know?
– [Peter] Okay, so were
they, I mean, were kids kids?
– Well, we were just kind of you know,
the Black kind of stayed theyself,
the white would still
just stay to theyself,
like they was doing, you know?
– [Peter] Okay.
– Until you start, and
when we started, you know,
getting more into learning each other,
and in the class is when things started
getting a little better, you know?
– Okay.
– So but at first, you
know, it was just kind
of a shock, you know, what
is going on, you know?
But we knew, you know,
it was integrating time,
and we just accepted it and
just went along, you know?
– So it went pretty smoothly?
– It went kind of smooth.
There was fights and stuff, but you know,
you just tried to mind your business.
And this is kind of where the cat,
there used to be a catwalk
there, see over there?
You’d come over here to the cafeteria.
The cafeteria sat right over here.
I remember one time I was
sitting by that tree throwing up.
My sister Betty had a whole jug
of Valley High wine under the bed,
and they went to a wedding,
so me and my two sisters,
we knew that that wine was under that bed,
and we drunk the whole jug,
and drinking moonshine
from my daddy’s crib.
We go out there, and you
talking about the next day,
I remember that tree
standing right out there
throwing up by it, you know?
– [Peter] Helped it grow, look at it.
– Ain’t it?
And I cannot stand Valley High
Wine to this day. (laughs)
– [Peter] You were saying
a lot of this land is owned
by a certain family?
– Yep, the Kirk family, Kirk,
Gene, Lownes, and all them,
they’re just like the
Mississippi wonder boys
and stuff, you know?
That Ford place here, see, Kirks,
and all this belongs to them.
– [Peter] Oh, okay.
– [Booker T.] All this right in here.
– So I’m not saying it’s the Kirks,
but are there those
situations in Mississippi
where the money’s come down
from slave times stayed in the families?
– That’s pretty well
– They built these empires?
– That’s pretty well where it’s at.
Now they probably own half of the banks.
If you want to, you know,
you probably could jump in
and try to borrow money that,
but you ain’t, you know,
they already own
everything, you getting me?
There’s more of these car
lots and stuff, you get me?
They own all this stuff up
through here, the newer stuff.
What else there is, anything come up,
these folks already got it.
You maybe try to do you a car
wash, they already got that.
You know, you want start
a laundry mat, you know?
They’re already taken, so
I’m myself, like I said,
I’m trying to look at when I do turn 65,
I want to do a little
something more, you know?
If I could set up a
welding shop or something,
a welding business, I wanna do more,
but I don’t want really
do more, you get me?
Because I’m retired, I
wanna just enjoy my life,
but I don’t want to just like
I said, leave this world,
and with the knowledge I got,
I’d like to kind of share more of it,
even with my kids and
grandkids, but you know,
they already got their
thing, basketball playing,
and that’s all they interested
in nowadays, you know?
And I don’t want to just bring up farming,
’cause I don’t want to farm no more.
Like Rita says, you don’t want to even see
baled cotton, you know? (laughs)
Not only do nothing like that,
it’s just the stuff I never
went away and learned,
like a skill, or I’d
like to see, like I said,
more of the kids around
here do something more
with their time and stuff.
It’s just still bad, you know?
When we ride up through
here we may see a little.
– [Peter] It’s bad, what do you mean?
– Far as the kids just around
here just killing each other
and stuff like that.
Instead of them being in a
vocational school or something,
trying to get some training or something,
they figure it is easier to sell drugs
or something like that than
it is to work, you know?
This used to be theater.
That’s a historic site,
yeah, look at that, see?
– [Peter] That’s sad.
So you remember that as
a kid going in there?
– Yeah, a few times going in the theater,
and a barber right there.
There used to be a little Pinky
Cafe used to sit right here,
had the best chicken sandwiches,
and this was old Eddie Lewis shop,
and my sister used to live
right here in this little house.
So this is where we used to park.
That’s where me and my
wife, I kind of met her.
That used to be her little
old house up there, yeah.
There was a big old apartment right here,
and it burned down long ago,
and about five people
burned up in it right there.
– [Peter] What’s this mural here,
this plaque or blues trail?
– [Booker T.] Take a picture of that,
yeah, that’s something.
– [Peter] You a big Magic Slim fan?
– I like him, I’m a Little Walter,
B.B. King, Bobby Bland, all them.
– [Peter] So you had
your theater down here?
– [Booker T.] Yep.
– [Peter] The bar.
– [Booker T.] Yeah, my sister’s house.
– [Peter] Lively streets everywhere?
– Yeah, it was nice back then,
when I’d come up here in ’78, ’79,
it was all nice then, you know?
And it wasn’t much, like
I said, we’d get to fight,
and we’d fight, and that
was about it, you know?
Old Joey, hey there.
He knows me.
– [Peter] You lived here?
– [Booker T.] Yeah, it was
our apartment right in there.
– [Peter] Right there?
– [Booker T.] Uh-huh, then there was
a couple more clubs in here.
I tell, all the gangsters
asleep right now, see?
And this was a couple cafes here.
We used to party in these here.
Even back when I was 15, 16, we’d come,
it didn’t matter then, you know?
Here was a couple little jerk
joints and stuff we used to-
– [Peter] Did anyone have bars
on their windows back in the day?
– No, not as much as now,
’cause people are
breaking in ’em, you know?
That was the church
where Martin Luther
King came to years ago.
– [Peter] Oh wow.
– And see, it’s broken down now,
so they built a new church over there.
But this where, when Martin
Luther King first came here.
Hey man, what’s up brother?
Who passed away, some of your family?
Hey, oh really?
– [Jesse] Yeah, yeah.
Oh, what was his name?
– [Jesse] Johnny Ross.
– Johnny Ross, I did know him.
How you doing, Johnny?
– [Jesse] How you making it, man?
– [Booker T.] Good, good.
– [Jesse] How you making it, man?
– [Peter] Hello, sir, Peter Santenello.
– [Booker T.] Yeah,
he’s doing a documentary
on me, man, and you know.
– Okay, okay, that’s all right.
– [Booker T.] Back when
we come up out here.
– Okay.
– Me and Jesse went to school together.
– Oh yeah?
– [Peter] Booker T., you know everyone.
– [Booker T.] Well, I know people here.
– [Peter] He’s gone 42
years and knows everyone.
– [Jesse] Well, I mean that’s
a good thing too, isn’t it?
– [Peter] Yeah, people don’t forget.
– [Jesse] That’s right.
– Yeah.
– [Jesse] Well, you’re doing a good job.
Do the documentary.
– Yeah.
– [Jesse] Take him around
and see everything.
– Yeah.
– [Jesse] All right, take care.
– [Peter] All right, take care.
– Yeah, man.
– This is kind of a little bit
of the rougher areas down in here too.
– [Peter] So a lot of
people in these homes,
you think are living off food stamps?
– A lot of these back in
here, yep, pretty well.
– [Peter] Who’s paying the rent?
– Well, so they get, you know,
they probably getting a
little check too, you know,
so a lot of these stay in this apartment,
I can guarantee a lot of them.
I used to live here in this
Pearl Street apartment.
A lot of these here are
probably older home now,
they probably paid for
and stuff, but you know,
they ain’t got no assisted living.
The older folk getting a
little check, you know?
But otherwise, a lot of the younger girls
that got pregnant and
got three or four kids,
I used to live in that
bottom apartment right there.
– [Peter] Oh wow.
– [Booker T.] Yeah, lived
in it for about a year.
There’s some people living in there now
that was there when I
left, and still there.
– Do you think there are
actually women that want
to have more kids because
they’ll get more money?
Do you think that exists?
– Yeah.
– You really do?
I mean, kids are expensive, though.
– Yeah, but you know,
they’re gonna get a check
and the stamps, they’re
gonna pay the rent,
’cause they’re gonna get
a check also, you know?
So this is the town square here.
– [Peter] Oh, this is nice.
– This is the little town square,
and our courthouse right here.
And that’s all the jail and all now,
but that was a drive-in theater
used to be right over there.
So this statue, they’re
waiting to move it.
My cousin was in on moving this.
He was a big slave owner,
so they don’t want no memory, you know?
– Yeah, understandable,
but okay, where do you
draw the line on that?
So Thomas Jefferson,
like everyone in those
times had slaves, right?
– Yeah.
– Like Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin.
– Yeah.
– So what do we do with that?
– Well, it’s all over now,
and that’s why you see
the days now, they want to
take history away, you know,
because of the people was
doing that kind of thing.
– Right.
– You know?
What have we done if we’re
just getting rid of all that?
I don’t care, you know?
And a lot of folks don’t,
but a lot of folks still do,
and a lot of folks still
got gripes about it.
And like I said, that’s why
this ain’t the only place.
Down in Winona, they got
stuff they got to move out,
moving them out and stuff, you know?
And put ’em in other areas.
So a lot of ’em, they
were destroying, remember?
They was throwing them in the
rivers and stuff like that,
but so they told them they
don’t care about ’em having it,
but they want ’em to put
it out in this big park.
– [Peter] Sure.
– It’s a more, you know,
white park or something,
but put it out there.
– So yeah, I totally understand.
If that was a statue of some
big slaveholder around here,
I wouldn’t want it here.
– Yeah, yeah.
– And even as a white guy,
I wouldn’t want it here.
– Yeah.
– But then it gets sticky
because as with the times-
– Yeah, yeah.
– Like our founding fathers,
the people that wrote our
Declaration of Independence.
– Yeah, yeah.
– Did amazing things,
also had slaves too.
– Had slaves too, yeah.
– What we gonna do with that stuff?
We’re gonna get rid of that stuff too?
– We’re gonna get rid of our money
and take their faces off everything and-
– Yeah.
– That’s where it gets sticky, you know?
– I gotcha, I gotcha.
– I don’t know, it’s a tough topic.
– It is. (laughing)
– But the way I was
brought up in my education,
like we were really, we
were hammered pretty hard-
– Yes.
– With the history,
and I’m glad it was that way,
you know, we were taught the
big events and how bad it was,
and we learned about the history,
and then you know, growing up in the ’90s-
– Yeah.
– It’s like, I don’t know,
I thought it was somewhat
in the rear view mirror, hopefully.
– Yeah, yeah, yeah.
– Right?
– And that’s what now-
– And now it seems
like it’s coming back.
– Yeah.
– Like we’re getting pitted
against one another again a bit.
– I gotcha.
– And it’s not the MLK message of quality,
you know, content of
character, not color of skin.
– Yeah.
– It’s turning more into
identity, and maybe not here,
but I’m just saying
from the powers that be,
it seems like it’s more like that,
and I just wanna not care
about what anyone is.
– Yeah, yeah.
– Are they a cool person or not?
– Definitely, and I tell you,
I treat people how they treat me.
– Same.
– You know?
– Same.
– Yes,
and I don’t care what
color you are, you know?
– Yeah, but you can’t
talk about Mississippi
or the South without
talking about this history.
– You’re right, yeah, yeah.
– I don’t want to glaze over it.
– No, no, no, I don’t mind,
and I’m showing you, you know,
where the plantations
and all that was here.
– I appreciate it.
– Yeah.
So this is Spain’s Supermarket, okay?
– [Peter] Spain’s is where it’s going on?
– Yeah.
(carts rattling)
It be so busy sometime you can’t even walk
through here, you know?
Pork chops and fish, you see?
– [Peter] 2.88 a pound?
– [Booker T.] Yeah.
– [Peter] That is so cheap, wow.
I mean, this whole packet is 3.82?
– [Booker T.] 3.82, see?
– [Peter] That’s like dinner for eight.
(Booker T. laughing)
– [Booker T.] People come from everywhere,
Memphis and everywhere to shop here.
– [Peter] I mean, look at this,
four big steaks, 7.12.
(Booker T. laughing)
– A lot of people eat
chicken gizzards and-
– [Peter] Oh my god, $2 and 1 cent.
(Booker T. laughing)
– [Peter] You can’t even get
a bottled water for that.
– [Booker T.] What’s up,
brother, how you doing?
– Good to see you too.
– Yeah.
– What you got going on?
– We’re doing a little
documentary on, this is Peter.
– [Peter] We’re making
a video of Booker T.
– Huh? (laughing)
– [Peter] You got some stories?
– I got the stories,
but the stories I got,
you won’t hear them.
(Booker T. laughing)
– [Booker T.] My nephew was
married to her daughter.
– [Peter] Oh.
– Hey Yaz, how you doing, man?
How you doing?
– I thought that voice sounded
familiar, good to see you.
– They’re doing a documentary
on me now from the old South.
– [Yaz] Yeah?
– Uh-huh.
– [Yaz] You got the right man.
– [Peter] Yeah, I think so.
– You got the right man, huh? (chuckles)
Hey, my girl.
– Hey now.
– How you doing?
– All right, how you?
This is Pete Santenello.
– [Peter] How you doing, ma’am?
– They’re doing a documentary?
– [Peter] Doing well?
– Okay.
– Yeah, she’s a postal
lady here, post office.
– [Peter] Oh, okay, great.
– A friend of mine.
– [Peter] Cool.
– Hey brother, how you doing, man?
– [Peter] How you doing, sir?
– You you doing?
– [Peter] Nice to meet you.
– He’s my mate.
– Yeah, yeah, how you been doing?
– You doing good?
– I’m doing good, man.
– Hey man, (indistinct).
– Because of a stroke, isn’t it?
– Yeah.
– Oh, man.
Well, holler at me out
there, keep doing good, okay?
– [Friend] I know where you’re at.
– All right.
Hey, brother.
– Hey, how you doing?
– [Peter] Booker T.,
everyone knows you in there.
– [Booker T.] Oh yeah, man.
– [Peter] How cool is that?
– You ought to have seen ’em in Wyoming,
they told me I definitely need
to run for mayor in Wyoming.
(bluesy music)
(bluesy music continues)
(bluesy music continues)
So here was my first
welding when I learned how
to cut in school, I cut out
my name and my wife’s name.
– [Peter] Aw, you’re a true romantic.
– Look at that. (laughs)
So that was my name when I
learned how to start cutting
with torches, and I
cut, and that used to be
over my office desk, over my office door
in my home up in Wyoming.
(Booker T. humming)
– The one you are able to be doing?
– Yeah, and jump up, you jump back.
(continues humming)
Jump up, back, kick your
feet and you turn again.
You do it four times, you know?
– [Peter] Your hips are a
little tight, I’m noticing.
– Yeah, yeah, I’m a, you know.
– [Peter] You gotta, you gotta, you gotta.
(Booker T. laughing)
– And the leg here, too. (laughs)
That what the guy told me.
He said, “Booker do pretty good
if you spray a little
WD40 on his hip.” (laughs)
– [Peter] Booker T.,
what’s going on in here?
– All right, we’re having
some raccoon today.
We’re having fried crappie, fried chicken.
My sister cooked the fried bread here,
kinda like little pancake bread.
Rita cooked some black-eyed peas
and some greens here too, and okra.
You’re gonna eat okra and
mashed potato and turnip greens.
– [Peter] Okay.
– And this is a nice little meal,
and I’m gonna say a verse for us.
Dear Father, I want to
thank you for this food
that all of ’em have prepared for us.
I want to thank you for
just being graceful to us,
Father, and watching over us,
and I want to thank Peter here.
He came in to visit this house,
and I’m thankful for him visiting us,
and hope he have a nice journey
on the way heading home too.
And I want to continue to thank
God for all He does for us,
in His name, amen.
– [All] Amen.
– [Peter] Thank you.
– Yeah.
Here we are now after 64
years of my life, you know?
So and I thank God for my wife.
I’ve been with her 45 years,
and three wonderful kids,
Monica, Chandra, and Dante.
And I thank God for my
sisters and brothers,
and I hope this’ll be a good start
for a lot of peoples to, you know, do.
And I told him, we’d just
seen the kind of kid uptown.
I’d like to see more ambition in kids now
than what they are doing, you know?
Far as working, and you know, get a craft
or something, you know?
And not just being like sorry,
and don’t want to do nothing, you know?
– Right, right, right.
– You want the money,
but they don’t want the labor-
– Right.
– And it takes labor to make money, so.
– Right, right.
– That’s it, you know?
– It’s a evil town.
It’s a evil state.
They don’t want you to have anything.
– [Booker T.] Yeah, man.
– If you get anything,
you get it on your own,
ain’t nobody gonna help
you get it, you know?
– [Peter] Who’s they?
– It’s still, I’m sorry.
– Go ahead.
– It’s still like a Black and white thing
down here in the South.
– Right.
– It’s moved since way back in the time,
but this particular town
here is still kinda stuck
into the ways it was
years and years ago.
– Years and years ago, yeah.
– So Blacks had to strive
and struggle to get any
and everything that they wanted, you know?
And whites have always had it easy,
because like you said,
it’s generational wealth.
They kept it on in their family,
so it was handed down to
them, and Blacks had to strive
and find ways to get it on their own,
or do like Booker, move outta state.
– [Peter] Can I say some whites,
yes, some whites I see in the trailers,
like they’re not doing too well, right?
– Yeah, they didn’t get
handed down nothing.
They didn’t have nothing to hand them,
so they had to struggle too.
So like but that comes
from the sharecropper mode.
Back in the old days, Blacks sharecropped,
so you sharecropped with some whites too.
Those whites were just
as poor as you were,
but you were working together with them
to try to obtain something.
– [Peter] Okay.
– So then you have the
people that owned it
that do have that generational wealth
that owned the plantations or whatever,
and then you had some
whites that they had to work
on the plantation too
to make a survival too,
so it kind of comes two different ways.
– [Peter] But the ones
that really control
Mississippi are these families
where it’s generational wealth?
– Yes.
– [Peter] Is that what you’re saying?
– Yes, definitely.
– [Peter] Okay.
– And then you just have to get in
where you fit in, you know?
– Right.
– Booker T., this is my
first run in with raccoon.
– [Booker T.] Okay.
– So thank you for that.
Ever since I kicked them outta my house.
(all laughing)
when they destroyed it,
I’ve had a bad relationship,
so this is revenge maybe,
(Booker T. laughing)
a little revenge there.
– [Booker T.] Just like a nice roast.
– Oh.
(Booker T. laughing)
– [Booker T.] My buddy Lance
in Wyoming, he loves it now.
– That’s actually really good.
I’m surprised, I didn’t
think I would like it.
– [Rita] Yeah, eat the yams with it.
– Oh yeah?
– [Booker T.] Get some yams.
Come on, fix you a nice I plate up.
– Get some yam action.
– [Booker T.] You’re at home now, so.
– Thank you, thank you.
– [Booker T.] Yeah.
– Very generous here.
– [Booker T.] Oh, yeah.
– [Peter] Okay, so Mississippi’s evil,
but why do you all wanna stay?
Why don’t you want go where
it’s not evil then let’s say?
– I guess because we were born here.
(Booker T. laughing)
– [Peter] But Booker T left 42 years,
and then came back to the evil.
(all laughing)
– This is where mostly
everybody come back to retire.
– [Booker T.] Yeah.
– [Peter] They come back to retire?
– Yeah.
– [Peter] If you’re young,
you sort of have to leave.
– [Lodine] It’s how it should be.
– [Peter] You sort of should?
– I wish my mama had
have got me outta here.
(Booker T. laughing)
– [Peter] Okay, where to?
You wanna of Chicago, Atlanta?
– When they left here,
she should have left
when they left and went to Wyoming.
– [Booker T.] Yeah.
– [Peter] Wyoming, you wanna be a cowgirl?
– I wasn’t going there
because it cold out there,
and I can’t stand cold.
– I didn’t know when I was
little, I just wanted to leave,
’cause all my family was
gone, my cousins was leaving,
and I wanted to go with them.
– [Peter] Okay, but get this,
if you go to the countryside
of Wyoming, all the young people will be
like, “I gotta get out here.
There’s nothing going on.”
– They say that anyway, yes, that’s true.
– [Peter] Right?
– They do.
– I went up there for a farmer.
– [Peter] You liked it?
– Yeah, I enjoyed it.
– [Peter] So where’s the dream,
what’s the Mississippi dream
if they’re gonna go to a city?
– Chicago.
– Chicago, St. Louis.
– Mississippi going to
Chicago and St. Louis.
– St. Louis, yeah.
– Yeah.
– Detroit.
– And a lot go to Texas.
– Live in Detroit, they go to Texas.
– Yeah.
– Michigan.
– So when we have our
family reunion right now,
we more go to St. Louis
or either Cincinnati,
because all our people
now migrated to there.
– [Peter] Was that hard
for you being in Wyoming
when your people weren’t there at all?
It’s like white as it comes, right?
– Well, my brother was there
and my sister was there,
and my stepfather, and
then his seven, eight kids.
– It’s as white as it comes.
1.8% Black live in Wyoming.
– But you know, we was, you
know, we was just there,
so we had each other.
We’d do stuff on the
weekend together, you know?
– [Peter] Did they take you
in pretty well in Wyoming?
Were they cool to you?
– Yeah.
– [Lodine] Oh, very.
– [Peter] Very?
– Yeah, it was like we were family.
– [Peter] So different in Wyoming
than Mississippi with that?
– Like I said, in the bars
right now, we go in there,
man, you think people know
me up there in Spain’s
or something, we’d go in the
bars up there, you know, and-
– His chances would be better in Wyoming.
(all laughing)
– But it just, everybody, like I told you,
I treated the people right and they just,
and I did a lot of things.
I had a detail business for 30 some years.
I detailed a lot of folk’s
cars, a lot of older, you know,
folks, and just work on
people’s stuff the same way-
– I have to get to my mother.
– [Booker T.] We’re coming down there.
– [Peter] Okay.
– It was nice to meet you.
– [Booker T.] We’re going down there.
– [Peter] We’re gonna see your mom?
– Her mom.
– [Peter] Her mom, yeah.
– So enjoy.
– [Peter] Thank you so much.
– [Booker T.] Yeah.
– It’s Chivas Regal what I drink,
but this is moonshine in it.
I put some moonshine in this jug.
– [Peter] You made it?
– Uh- uh, a friend of mine made it.
– [Peter] Powerful stuff?
– Yeah.
(plates clattering)
– Oh yeah.
(Booker T. laughing)
High octane.
– But I’ll take it and put a little 7 Up
or Sprite with it, you know.
And then this is some
of the wine like I make.
– [Peter] You make the wine?
– I make the wine.
– [Peter] Where do you
get the grapes from?
– So I bought like a
whole thing of muscadines,
a whole case of muscadine at Spain’s,
and then I put ’em all in
this five gallon bucket
and let ’em set for about a month or two.
And then I just strain it
out, put sugar, yeast with it
and let it set for about two months,
and then you got your wine.
(Booker T. laughing)
I had about eight jug, but.
– [Peter] What do you ladies
think of Booker T.’s wine?
– Well, he make it just
like my mom used to make it.
– [Berta] It just ain’t good as my mom.
– Yeah, don’t taste as good.
– [Peter] Not as good as Mom’s?
– Yeah, so that’s it.
I make that for Christmas.
So when everybody come for Christmas,
we’ll drink some during Christmas.
– M-I crooked letter, crooked letter,
I, crooked letter, crooked letter,
I, humpback, humpback, I.
That’s Mississippi.
– Mm-hmm.
– So you say M-I crooked
letter, crooked letter,
I, crooked letter, crooked letter,
I, humpback, humpback, I, all right.
(Rita laughing)
– That’s Mississippi.
– I got another one for you.
So it’s a cigarette joke, all right?
So one Kool morning, Ms. Pall Mall headed
down Chesterfield Lane in Winston Salem,
where she ran up on Philip Morris,
and he took her to the
Raleigh Motel in Newport.
And right away, he put her
into this King’s size bed
and stuck his King’s size
L&M into her flip top box,
and if she don’t look
like Camel in nine months,
it’s a damn Lucky Strike,
but he wasn’t worried
because he used a filter tip.
(all laughing)
That’s a cigarette. (laughs)
– [Peter] Booker T’s
mother-in-law’s place,
95 years old ,Booker T.?
– [Booker T.] 97.
– [Peter] 97.
– [Booker T.] She’s turning 98.
– Hi, how you doing?
– [Peter] Oh wow, hello.
– Hi there.
– [Peter] Hello.
– [Booker T.] This is my
mother-in-law, Miss Semolina.
– [Peter] Nice to nice to meet you.
– There’s my sister-in-law.
– [Peter] Nice to meet you.
– My hand is cold.
– [Peter] No, it’s actually,
it’s nice, it’s warm.
– [Lodine] This is Peter.
– And this is Janie Mae, Lodine’s sister.
– Have a seat.
– [Peter] Yeah, nice to meet you,
Janie Mae.
– [Janie Mae] How are you?
– [Peter] Good.
What was it like when you were young here?
– Yeah.
– [Booker T.] She can’t hear good.
– Tell him I don’t hear good.
I don’t hear outta but one
ear, I can’t hear good.
– [Peter] Can you ask
her for a good old story?
– What was it like when you were young?
He wants you to tell him
what it was like when you were young,
when you was a little girl.
– Yeah, well, it was a lot of fun.
I had fun, get with other
kids and go for a ball.
But other than that, my brothers,
I didn’t have no sisters,
but I had four brothers,
and we grew up together and
had fun, enjoyed myself.
– [Lodine] Tell him you picked cotton.
– Huh?
– [Lodine] You remember
picking cotton, picked cotton?
– Oh yeah.
– [Lodine] Y’all worked in the fields.
– We chopped it when
it was young and green,
and then when it got white,
we got out there and picked
cotton, we had a ball.
– [Peter] She liked picking cotton?
– [Lodine] She did, to get outside,
something to do, I guess. (laughs)
Tell him what it was like at school.
– Oh, I enjoyed school.
We had to walk to school, though.
Some days we come in pouring
down rain, I didn’t like that.
But we had fun going to school.
– [Lodine] Yep, and what
grade did you stop school?
– I finished the eighth grade,
but I didn’t go to college.
I didn’t go to college,
but I enjoyed school while I was going.
– [Booker T.] I wanna hear
the little poem up there.
– [Lodine] Indian children.
– [Booker T.] Tell him the
poem about the Indian children.
– Oh, where we walked to school each day,
Indian children used to play,
all about our Native land,
where the shops and houses stand.
Here, the trees were very tall,
and there was no streets
at all, not a church,
not a steeple, only
woods and Indian people.
I can’t remember it all.
– [Peter] Does she remember Indians here?
– Were you around
Indians when you grew up?
– Well, no, I didn’t see ’em.
(all laughing)
– [Lodine] But your
grandfather was an Indian.
– Huh?
– [Lodine] Your grandfather
was Indian, remember?
– Yeah.
– [Lodine] That’s her parents.
– He was part Indian.
– That’s her parents.
(overlapping speech)
– [Miss Semolina] That
was my mama and daddy.
– Yeah, that’s the poem she was reciting.
Tell him how you got picked on at school
because you was light skinned.
– And I couldn’t help
it, they picked on me,
(all laughing)
but I made it okay, I made it okay.
– [Lodine] So were they mean to you
because you were light?
– Some of ’em were, but all of ’em wasn’t.
It was some, you know, had their ways,
but I learned to ignore
it and go ahead, you know?
– [Booker T.] Yeah, yeah.
– [Peter] So because
everyone in school was Black?
– They’re Black, but different
complexion, you know,
Blacks come in different colors.
– [Peter] Right, so she was lighter?
– She was light, yeah.
They called her high yellow.
(overlapping speech)
She’s got Indian.
– She have Indian in her.
– [Peter] What kind of
Indian, do you know?
– Blackfoot. (laughs)
– [Peter] Blackfoot?
– We’re not sure.
We thought it was Cherokee
maybe from this area.
– [Peter] Cherokee?
– Her dad’s parents were,
I guess, was borne out,
they were were slaves, or they were mixed.
Her dad had green eyes,
blue eyes, I can’t remember.
Yeah, they were kinda hazel.
I don’t know if you can
look on that picture.
You can’t really tell,
but they were mixed.
His mom was half white,
so you know, and she was
like, really, she’s dark now.
– [Lodine] You can tell that picture
right there with my dad.
– Yeah.
– [Lodine] Look at my dad
in the picture of here.
– That’s Dad and that’s her.
– [Peter] Oh, okay.
– [Booker T.] That was like she was then.
– Most Black people, even
if they’re half white
or whatever, over time,
when they get older,
you start to get, the
color starts to get darker.
It’s just kind of a natural thing.
And her granddad on her mom’s
side was Native American.
He was full Native American.
So we’ve got a lot of mixture. (laughs)
– She said she was so light,
she got mistaken uptown
one time on the square.
They were passing out,
the Klan was marching
and handing out literature.
– [Janie Mae] Flyers, and
they gave her literature.
– They gave her literature.
(Booker T. laughing)
That’s how bad that was back then,
and that was in downtown
Grenada, and she’s 96.
– [Peter] When did the Klan go away?
– Well actually, they don’t go away.
They’re just not around in the daylight.
– It’s like lots of other towns.
They come out when they choose.
But this particular time,
they were passing out
flyers down the street.
It’s not an everyday
thing, and with the Klan,
it’s not like there was a
fight thing that, you know,
it’s not, it’s that, it’s open racism,
but not in their eyes.
It’s like we weren’t, we’re
not bothering anybody.
We’re just handing out flyers.
The racism here to me is far more subtle.
I mean, I graduated
from Ole Miss, you know?
I didn’t have any problems.
I went there, I had no issues
as far as race was concerned.
I was treated really well.
There were Black teachers
there and instructors.
I didn’t see any issues,
and it’s that thing of,
like I said, it’s a subtle thing.
It’s not where you just
openly are mean to people
and you’re doing all
these horrible things.
I don’t hear or see a lot
of that in Mississippi
as far as you know, where
I’m concerned, and I’m 72.
– [Peter] You’re doing great.
– [Lodine] She was one
of the chosen eight,
of the eight integrate schools.
– Right when they first, but
since I was really smart.
– [Lodine] It was the ’60s.
– Yeah, this was in ’68, ’66.
– [Lodine] When they first
integrated Mississippi.
– Here in Grenada, I was one.
Mother was always, she was
nervous about everything,
and I know it was because
of the way she was raised.
– [Peter] 97, 72, and?
– 66.
– [Peter] You ladies are on fire.
– [Booker T.] And she
was born on her birthday.
– Yeah, she was born on her birthday.
– [Booker T.] On her birthday.
– Birthday present, and
I do like her, all right.
(all laughing)
– [Peter] Thank you, ladies.
Well, Booker T., thanks for that.
That was very cool.
– Yes, no problem.
Glad to meet you, Peter.
– Heck yeah.
(Booker T. laughing)
And guys, part of a bigger, greater South,
deep South series.
– Yeah.
– I’m doing, so I’m going from
here down South to Alabama.
– Alabama.
– So I’m trying to go-
– You’re going to Natchez.
– North to South Mississippi.
– Yeah.
– South to North Alabama.
– Okay.
– And get an understanding of this region.
– Well, I’ll be checking them out
with you on your travel there, okay?
– All right.
– Glad to meet you again.
– Thank you, brother.
(Booker T. laughing)
– Thanks, guys, for coming along.
Until the next one.
– [Booker T.] All right. (laughs)
(peaceful music)
(peaceful music continues)

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