Conversation about the Freedom Movement Madison Parish Louisiana, 1965

Moses Williams, Harrison H. Brown, Jr. Rev. F.W. Wilson, Zoma C. White

Original Audio


First, could you all give me your name and address, please?

Moses Williams:

Moses William, 315 West Askew Street, Tallulah, Louisiana.

Harrison H. Brown, Jr.:

My name is Harrison H Brown Jr and I live at 416 Bozeman Street, Tallulah, Louisiana.

Rev. F.W. Wilson:

My name is Reverend F.W. Wilson and I live in Route three, box 38, Tallulah Louisiana.

Zoma C. White:

I'm Zoma C. White, address 505 West Green Street, Tallulah, Louisiana.


Okay. Now could you all just go back in your minds a bit and talk about how the movement got started in Madison Parish.

Speaker 6:

That was a long, long time ago.


The movement got started in Madison Parish a long time ago. How it got started is almost hard to tell because I don't exactly know what phase of the movement that you are referring to, but I imagine you was referring to voting or registration or a struggle for human rights.


Yeah, that's what I'm referring to.


Well, this movement was started in Madison Parish years ago before World War II, and there was a constant struggle for human rights in Madison Parish from that day on. In 1947, a petition was circulated and signed for voter registration in Madison Parish, which somewhere along the line was never brought up. But that did not stop the Negroes of Madison Parish.


Who circulated that petition? Who was behind it?


This petition was circulated by a group of industry Negroes in the parish, civic minded individuals. I could call some of the names who are deceased, dead at this time, Mr. C.S Boxdale, Mr. Tom Goodlow, and one who is presently living now Reverend W.L Harris, along with myself, White. We circulated this petition secured over 250 names and presented it to Mayor of Tallulah, the Sheriff of Madison Parish. As I said, somewhere along the line, this petition got lost and nothing was ever done about it. But this did not discontinue or discourage us. We kept on fighting and struggling through the years, through our civic organization, the NAACP, of which I was the president for a number of years until it was outlawed by the legislature in Louisiana.


When was that that it was outlawed?


It must've been somewhere along in '56, I think it was '56 or '57 somewhere at that time. And from then on we kept holding our civic meetings and trying to keep the town together. There were lean years when we didn't do anything, but we were constant trying to do something and to expedite some of the time in between. The movement got started again really in '62 when the suit was filed in fellow courts in behalf of the Negroes in Madison, Parish by Mr. Harrison H Brown, Joe Neal, William Butler, and White. This code... this suit was tried in Monroe and was won. And in December of 1962, we started registering in Madison Parish. I'm sure the other individuals have something to say. So from there, I'm sure they can take over.

Speaker 7:

You just name [inaudible 00:05:42]


During the time before I was called into military service, I hadn't taken too much time to really get started because I had just moved into this parish and was called into service within a year or two. While I was in service and oversea, I had a chance to do a little research and study of Louisiana and the policies that was followed very closely. I was working in the mail department of the Army and we had a few books to read and the President's election came up, I believe in '44.

At that time, all of the soldiers, my comrades around me was mailing in their absentee ballots. We had absentee ballots there from all the states in the union. I decided that I would mail one in too. Having never had a chance to register, nor vote in Louisiana. But I thought since I was in foreign service, perhaps I would be honored that much to be able to cast an absentee ballot for the President of the United States. And it was just the other way. I got a letter from the Secretary of State telling me how sorry he was, that I was a little out of line with the policies of Louisiana and I wouldn't be able to do any voting by any means.

That is one of the things that I brought back from overseas that really helped me and made me determined to try to do something about it after getting back home and getting out of the army. So when I came home, I found some of the other soldiers here with the same determination. Some of them had the same experiences that I had had. They had tried to vote and they were told the same thing. And we began trying to do something about it. We made several trips to the sheriff's office. We were told to go other different places. We made trips to Monroe and [inaudible 00:08:52], was given very much the runaround. We didn't know too much what was the right thing to do, but we kept trying.

And the sheriff was very uncooperative in all his dealings. At one time he got real angry with us, I guess, he used some very unpleasant language. He invited us to leave the parish or leave the state. Said he was running Madison Parish and if we didn't like the way he was running it to sell our property and leave here, because as long as he was sheriff of Madison Parish, there wouldn't be any Negroes registering to vote. But that didn't stop us. I guess about a year passed and we studied, planned, and finally the federal government brought about legislation that enabled us to file a lawsuit and has been said before this suit was heard and won. And in two or three days after the suit was won, it was three of us went by the registrar's office and was able to register to vote.

Copyright © 1965. Moses Williams, Harrison H. Brown,
Jr. Rev. F.W.Wilson, Zoma C. White, Mimi Feingold Real.

Copyright ©
Copyright to this web page, as a web page, belongs to this web site. Copyright to the information and stories above belong to the authors or speakers. Webspinner:
(Labor donated)