Xye Arellano: Tell me about the Civil Rights Movement.
Chude Allen: Well, it was in 1964 I went south to go to school at Spelman College. I worked in the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta, then in the summer I went to Mississippi.
Xye: What is the Civil Rights Movement?
Chude: The Civil Rights Movement was called the freedom movement by the people who worked in the movement and it was a movement to gain rights for African Americans. It was to end segregation. Segregation made it illegal for whites and blacks to live together or go to the same restaurants or go to the same schools. So it was to end segregation and it was for people to be treated with dignity and respect even if they were black. Remember, in the South black people had to get off the sidewalk when white people walked by them. They were cheated out of good pay. They couldnt go to the police to get help because they were discriminated against. So the Civil Rights Movement was to get equal rights, end discrimination and segregation.
Xye: What years were you involved?
Chude: I was involved in 1964 in the spring in Atlanta and in Mississippi in the summer.
Xye: Were Asians considered whites?
Chude: It depended on where they lived. In one county you could be considered black and in another you could be considered white. That would affect what school you got to go to. The black schools were much worse.
Xye: If you looked white, could you pretend to be white?
Chude: Not if people knew you. In most southern towns people knew each other. So if you had even one ancestor who came from Africa, it didnt matter how white you looked.
Xye: What was the name of the school you taught at?
Chude: I taught at the Holly Springs freedom school.
Xye: What was it like to teach?
Chude: It was very exciting. I taught Black history. In 1964 I didnt know anything about black history. We didnt have any black history in my school. I was learning at the same time the students were learning.
Xye: How did your parents feel about you being in the Civil Rights Movement?
Chude: I was twenty years old when I went to Mississippi. I had to have my parents permission to go. They had to sign a piece of paper for me to go. They were scared and worried, but they still let me go. That summer three men were killed in Mississippi before I even got there.
Xye: Did you write poetry and stories about the Civil Rights Movement?
Chude: I wrote letters home. My parents made 80 copies and sent them to family and friends. Some were put in a book. Now that I am older I write poetry and memory stories. You can find them on our website, www.crmvet.org.
Copyright © Interview with Chude Pam Allen
and Xye Arellano, 2013
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