Field Report: West Feliciana (LA) June 1964.
Interview by High School Students: Video, Transcript 2020
I am humbled and honored to have been a part of a seminal period in American history. I now teach American history, including a unit on the civil rights movement another humbling experience to relate my experiences to my classes.
When I was back in Louisiana after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, and virtually every Black adult in the parish was now registered to vote. There was a meeting in the Masonic Lodge, where we used to hold our voter registration clinics, but this time it was candidates' night for the forthcoming election for sheriff. In the lineup of candidates was the incumbent sheriff, who had harassed and arrested many of the Blacks in the audience who had tried to register. Now he had to stand in front of that packed audience to appeal to them for their votes! His appeal: "I'm the incumbent and I know how to do my job." Needless to say, he lost the election. "A man is not a first class citizen, a number one citizen, unless he is a voter!" Rev. James Carter, the first Black person to be registered to vote in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana.