I grew up in a sharecropper family in Shaw, Mississippi, which is in the cotton growing part of that state. I started picking cotton at age of 5, then at age 7, I began working10 hours a day picking and chopping (hoeing) in the hot sun. I also worked several other jobs as a child to help feed our family. When I was 18, I became a sharecropper on my own.
My father had to leave Mississippi under threat of death and death to our family, just because he joined the NAACP and subscribed to Jet Magazine, so our family of eight went on without him.
With others in the Movement, we integrated the library that was supposed to be public, restaurants, and a park. I led some Freedom School sessions, and was active in voter registration, mass meetings, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) and the leadership of the Mississippi Freedom Labor Union (MFLU). This union, made up mainly of people who worked in the cotton fields, spread to other states and was one of the inspirations for the United Farm Workers Union, as I found out later. I was jailed 4 times and my life was threatened.
I met my future wife, Mrs. Mary Sue Short (formerly Gellatly) at that time, who was also active in SNCC. We married shortly after leaving Mississippi, have a family, and are still married.
Serving as a deacon at Calvary Baptist Church in Milwaukee, WI has been a significant part of my life, as has been communicating with people that everybody should be respected and treated equitably. p Career-wise, I became a Class A Machinist and had that career for 40 years.
My wife and I have been giving speeches about our civil rights actions because it's important for people to understand what Mississippi was like then, how people who are not famous can make a difference for justice and some of what actually took place in the Movement.
A book entitled A Small Town Rises, by Lee Anna Sherman, has been published about my wife's and my civil rights movement actions with the courageous people of Shaw, Mississippi. It's available through bookstores and on www.Amazon.com.