Book/ chapter summaries for Coming of Age in Mississippi
Book/ chapter summaries for Coming of Age in Mississippi HIST 2020
Popular in Survey of United States History Since 1877
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Date Created: 10/28/15
Comin of A e in Mississippi by Anne Moody Mama and Daddy have two little girls Essie Mae who is four and Adline who is 67 months old and they live in a house made of rotten wood on Mr Carter s land Mama and Daddy work in the field for Mr Carter and leave the two girls with George Lee while they work George Lee beats Essie Mae when she annoys him or talks he pushed her off the front porch and hurt her head Daddy got mad and threatened to kill him the next day he did not show up forcing mama to leave the two girls home by themselves for the first time He shows up very late hits Essie Mae and says he is going to light the house on fire so he doesn t have to take care of them anymore he sets some of the wallpaper on fire as a joke and quickly puts it out with his hands and takes everyone outside so he can play Not long after they went outside they heard yelling coming from the fields followed by mama papa and some other workers running towards the house and yelling The house was on fire George Lee ran inside and filled up a bucket of water and put it on the porch this was his excuse for the fire saying that he went to get water and Essie Mae must have set the fire This got him out of trouble and Daddy beat Essie Mae After the fire Daddy was always mad and depressed because the harvest was not what he was hoping for and he would not have much money left over when he paid Mr Carter his portion of the earnings Daddy started to have an affair with his best friend Bush s widow Florence Mama was getting fatter Essie Mae thought it was because she was sad but learned it was because she was having a baby It was a boy and he was named Iunior after Daddy who s real name was Fred Soon after Iunior was born the family packed up all their things and got in a wagon and went to GreatAunt Cindy s house to stay for a while Daddy did not stay with them he had left them for good Mama the two girls and junior stayed there until mama found a job working for at a negro caf where she earned 12 an hour Mrs Cook let mama rent a house from her on her land for 4 a month Essie Mae started school at Mount Pleasant School it was held at the biggest Baptist church in the area which was 4 miles from their home The minister of the church taught school his name was Reverend Cason Adline and Junior stayed with grandfather Moody during the day while Essie Mae was at school and mama was at work Grandfather loved mama and gave her when he could At the end of the chapter Grandfather dies and mama and Essie Mae see daddy at his house mama hates him and refused to let Essie keep the money he offered her pages 2030 It is summer and since Grandfather died mama has no one to watch the three kids so mama started to leave them home alone with bread to eat throughout the day Everyday they saw snakes and one day they saw a huge oneMr Cook and some friends searched for it but could not find it so mama started having Uncle Ed watch them while she worked One time when Ed was late Essie Mae Adline and Junior waited for him on the porch when he got there he said he was taking them to his house where they had never been before Grandma Winnie lived there as well Mama and grandma did not get along well because she talked mama into marrying daddy when she didn t want to When Ed and the kids arrived at his house his sister Alberta was standing out in the yard with two white boys Alberta told Essie Mae to go help Ed and Sam with a chore When one of the white boys responded to Sam and ran towards Ed Essie Mae was shocked that Ed s brothers were white Even though Sam was white he treated Essie Mae just like Ed treated her When she asked where Sam was before she realized the white boy was Sam Ed looked hurt that she didn t know Sam was his brother Even Adline had a hard time processing that Ed s brothers were white Essie Mae finds out that the white boys and Ed and Alberta had different dads but the same mom She asks mama about it and if they are her brothers too Mama gets mad and Essie Mae realizes she is pregnant Mama named the baby Iames Iames s father was a soldier named Raymond and had a mother called he Miss Pearl they took Iames after he was born and said that mama could visit him when she comes to town At the end of summer they moved to the town of Centreville so mama could be closer to her work They moved less than a mile from the new school Essie Mae was six years old and in second grade when they moved into the new school district Essie Mae began at Willis High the only Negro school in town which was special because prior to this school eighth grade was the limit of schooling for Negro children in Centreville While they lived in this house Essie Mae was embarrassed because no one was home to take care of Adline and Junior so they were often found naked in the sand in front of their house Before the school year was over they moved to another new house where mama had someone to watch Adline and Junior while Essie Mae was at school But one day around Christmas Iunior set the house on fire and destroyed the first new clothes that mama had bought for them that were inside They moved into another new house and mama quit working at the caf to do domestic work for a white family they lived in the maid s quarters Mama is still seeing Raymond the soldier and father of her baby They live only a mile away from each other Raymond began going to their house to see Mama every weekend and mama would take Essie Mae Adline and Junior to his house to see baby James James looked a lot like the soldier and mama wanted more time with the baby She started to bathe James and wash all of his clothes every Sunday Raymond was also dating another woman at the same time he was seeing Mama Miss Pearl wanted him to marry her but he left back to the service to end some of the tension at home After he left mama did not go back to see Iames much because she was scared of Miss Pearl pages 3145 Mama quits her job because of how hard she is being worked and the white lady kicks her out and they moved 2 miles from that house Mama found another domestic job where she was working from breakfast to dinner and was paid 5 an hour The people mama worked for The Iohnsons were very kind and let her and the kids live with them for free in a smaller house right next to theirs This made the family the only Negroes in the area The neighborhood consisted of welltodo white families When Essie Mae was seven Adline was five and Junior was three they played with other children for the first time The children they played with were the children of the white families surrounding them They were named Katie and Bill Which was somewhat touch for Essie Mae seeing her friend s dollhouse that looked nicer than any house she would ever have Mama took her kids to the movies every Saturday night At the movies the blacks sat on the balcony and the whites sat on the main oor One evening at the movies Essie Mae Adline and Junior spotted their friends Paul Sandra Katie and Bill and followed them down into the white lobby mama ran and got them out of the door and took them home Essie Mae had never really thought about this they were friends but why did they have to attend different schools Katie and Bill did not come over to play for a couple of weeks and when they came back it wasn t as fun because now Essie Mae thought of them as white and realized they and everything related to them was and was capable of being better than she was This made her conscious of how many things in her life were examples of this like the upstairs not being as good as the downstairs at the movies as well as homes streets and schools were much nicer than hers This made Essie Mae curious as to why Sam and Walter weren t considered white and when she asked mama she said because their mom wasn t white When Mrs And Mr Johnson went to Florida in the summers Essie Mae stayed with Miss Ola She loved to stay with Miss Ola she made treats for them every Saturday Essie Mae was to sleep on a pullout bed that belonged to Mrs Johnson but would end up falling asleep while Miss Ola read to her because she was so tired from working so hard on her chores all day She also used her first bathroom ever while staying with Miss Ola Doing her chores for Miss Ola made her think that white women were lazy In the second year of living with the Iohnsons Adline 6 and Junior 45 started school Iunior went early because mama had no one to stay with him at home Essie Mae 9 was in fourth grade she had to take Iunior back to his class many times a day because he would follow either her or Adline around instead of going to his class Iunior would also follow her around during lunch when all three of them met up to eat the lunch they had packed peanut butter and jelly biscuits Essie Mae was made fun of for the biscuits so they started eating lunch on the way to school to avoid being made fun of even if they were hungry all day They filed up on water when they got hungry at school Mama started seeing Raymond again because he was out of the service he came over almost every other night He helped them all with their homework Essie Mae eventually learned to do it on her own but Adline and Junior were not very smart and did not even learn their 123 s Things were really hard at home for the family mama was struggling to provide for her children on 5 a week Essie Mae was nine years old and had her first job sweeping the porch she earned 75 cents and two bottles of milk a week This saved mama from spending money on milk and made it possible for Essie Mae Adline and Junior to each get a quarter to save each week When Essie Mae started to be over worked Mama made her quit because she was only making 75 cents and the lady fed her milk that the cats drank from When school began again Essie Mae started to work for Mrs Claiborne Mrs Iohnsons teacher friend Mrs Claiborne taught home economics and had her work every day after school and all day on Saturday and paid 3 a week half of what mama made Essie Mae learned many things from Mrs Claiborne like how to set the table and what a balanced meal was She loved working for her and going to work Mrs Claiborne s husband was a businessman and he invited Essie Mae to dinner one night he thought she was very smart From then on every time she was there at dinnertime she would eat with the Claibornes Soon she realized mama was pregnant again with Raymond s baby she knew because he had not been around for a month because mama was getting fat Soon mama told Essie Mae Adline and Junior that they were moving for the seventh and last time since her and Daddy split Raymond had built them their own house and that he was going to take care of them now They would never have to live on white people s land again pages 4659 The new house was finished by the end of the summer it was right down the road from Miss Pearl s house It was the biggest house they had lived in it had 5 rooms the only thing that restricted them from being middle class was their wood stove lack of indoor bathrooms and the tin bathtub James who was now four was living with them When they returned to school Essie Mae was twelve and in sixth grade Raymond s sisters Darlene and Cherie were the same ages as Essie Mae and Adline and he had five or six nephews that were the same age as Iunior It was a constant competition between who was the smartest child Mama put a lot of pressure on Essie Mae to be the smartest and she did have the best grades of all the children Because she was doing so well she decided to join the basketball team at school She loved the coach Mrs Willis and spent extra time practicing whenever she could During the first game she got so nervous she was taken out before the end of the first quarter Everyone made fun of her and blamed her for losing so she quit the team Just before Christmas Essie Mae came home to fin Alberta at the house and thought there was something wrong with mama She was having the baby and the experience was horrifying to Essie Mae who now did not want children The Aunt Caroline the doctor came and delivered the new baby girl Virginia she weighed ten pounds Aunt Caroline had delivered all of mama s babies Essie Mae is worried about Mama not being married to Raymond there was no security here until she married him After the baby was born Miss Pearl came to visit her While she was there she did not speak to Mama at all Mama was so angry Raymond had brought her and Essie Mae realized he was not going to break ties with his family to marry Mama For Christmas Mrs Claiborne gave Essie Mae five dollars as a present and seven dollars for helping with Christmas cleaning as well as a present that was all wrapped up Alberta moved into the neighborhood and mama had someone to visit with On Christmas morning when Essie Mae came down it felt like the first real Christmas she had ever had pages 6079 When they moved in with Raymond they started going to his church Centreville Baptist it was the largest Negro church in the town Even though they were not attending Mount Pleasant mama still paid her membership dues By going to Raymond s church Mama thought that she could get Miss Pearl and the family to like her So she bought new clothes for everyone so that they could look their very best on Sunday and impress Miss Pearl Mama was so nervous on the way to church and so was Raymond but he hid it better than she did She was very intent on everything being perfect when they arrived but they arrived late When they got there Essie Mae saw Betty and Vera whispering and laughing at them while Miss Pearl acted like she did not even know them The service began with prayer singing Essie Mae decided she wanted to join the choir and then a message from the minister The whole service lasted around an hour unlike Mount Pleasant where church was an all day event This church s pastor was Reverend Polk and when he spoke all of the women in the church cried and screamed according to Essie Mae After Church Essie Mae asked Raymond why the minster s hair was so white if he wasn t old like Miss Ola He told her that it had been like that ever since he got out of prison he was in prison for killing a man So Essie Mae asked why he could be a minister if he had killed a person this made Mama mad so she did not say anything else the whole way home Mama never went back to church there but Essie Mae Adline and junior did Mama wanted them to be the best in the whole Sunday school so she had them working just as hard on their Sunday school work as their schoolwork She also had them attend Sunday school and the eleven o clock services she also had them go to the BTU Baptist Training Union When this was not enough for Mama she made them start reciting passages at every Church holiday event Essie Mae was really enjoying the new church and wished that Mama would go there too Mama decided that she was going to go back to Mount Pleasant but Raymond wanted her to join Centreville Baptist She did not go to church for a few months but in August she went back to Mount Pleasant Raymond dropped Mama Essie Mae Adline and junior off while he Iennie Ann and Iames went back to Centreville Raymond doing this made Essie Mae aware of the fact that it was two families living under one roof more than anything else had First there was Sunday school when that ended all the adults entered the church to hear Reverend Tyson who replaced Reverend Cason speak The message was short but there were many collections including one for Sister Turner Essie Mae spent most of the service outside in the bathroom she used to hide in when she went to school there When she went back inside she saw Mama talking to Sister Iones who basically ran the recruitment for the Revival and baptisms The next week was the week before revival started and Essie Mae tried her best to avoid Mama because she was constantly trying to get her to be baptized at and join Mount Pleasant Mama even told her that a famous minister Reverend Brown was coming to speak so that she would attend the service Essie Mae was mad the whole service and barely listened but when the minister started calling for people to leave the Devil and come to Christ Essie Mae without realizing what she was doing went up to the front row of the church where she was accepted to become a candidate for baptism into the church on the 2 Sunday of September Essie Mae was angry that she was tricked into coming and that she was joining Mount Pleasant she wanted to kill Mama and Sister Iones She also ignored Mama for the next few weeks For the baptism which was one of the biggest events of the year at Mount Pleasant A white outfit was worn when they were baptized to symbolize they were washed clean and pure They had another outfit for after they were baptized that was blue it symbolized that she would always remain true and faithful to the church Essie Mae was not exited she was the last one to wake up which made her about an hour late to the baptisms The baptisms were held in a pond beside Miss Rose s house which is where the candidates would change into their blue outfits after the ceremony as well as a field of cows located across the pond Everyone getting baptized looked scared the water was nasty and Essie Mae was very angry that she was doing this pages 8090 During the second winter they lived with Raymond he decided he wanted to be a farmer and have his own land He wanted it fast so he bought an old mule for 25 and rented an area of land on an old army camp After Raymond starts to plow he discovers that there are unused hand grenades all underneath the soil so for the first few weeks of plowing there is a possibility of him blowing up everyday Essie is still working for Mrs Claiborne but will have to quit once summer starts so that she can help Raymond in the fields She would go to bed praying that the mule would die so that she could keep working for Mrs Claiborne Essie was also tired of Raymond being in a bad mood and every time he cursed around her she wish that he would burn up in the groundquot Neither happened so Essie began working in the field as school ended for the summer The night before she started her work she had a dream In the dream everyone was up near the only tree Raymond left near the field everything around them was red and Essie was sweating a lot She looked over at the tree which was withering to nothing and then she looked around to see all the trees in the distance were on fire When she went to look for Raymond and the rest of her family they were all dead among the rows of cotton when she looked up everything was closing in on her and she woke up This dream made her very nervous and scared to start her work in the field She Raymond Adline and Alberta were there to chop the cotton and Junior and James were water boys Cherie and Darlene even came along to help Raymond and Alberta had to teach the others how to chop cotton because they were the only ones who knew how to do it Essie got obsessed with outdoing Darlene that she overworked herself and almost fainted in the field from over heating and not having any water Raymond gave her some water and told her to rest under the tree but she kept working because the dream she had scared her and she didn t want to go near that tree in fear that she would die After a few days of work she was not scared of the dream anymore Essie even grew to like working in the field Raymond was the happiest she had ever seen him and Mama cooked so much good food to help them stay strong and able to work After Raymond s cropping was done Alberta Essie and Darlene went to chop for other farmers in the area earning 2 a day Essie learned a lot about farming over the summer but knew that it was never something she would want to do Which was hard to realize with how much Mama talked about how great farming was and how good Essie was at it Essie did not want a life as a farmer because you have to put so much work in and do not get much out of it for example all the world they did cropping Raymond s field only had one good crop which meant that they didn t make enough money off of it to even buy new school clothes and if it hadn t been for the corn sweet potatoes and Mama s garden the family would have starved during the winter pages 91 99 The kids started school in the same clothes and shoes as the year before and Essie was desperately trying to find a job since the summer work was over and Mrs Claiborne had already hired someone else Then Mama found Mr Wheeler a rancher who lived on the opposite side of the project who would let them pick pecans from his tree that Mama and Raymond would take to Woodville and sell them for 18 cents a pound and ultimately made 120 Mama used this money to buy school clothes for Essie Adline and Junior Miss Minnie who lived across the way from Mr Wheeler also let them collect her pecans Essie started to work for Miss Minnie sweeping her porches and halls and burning her trash She paid Essie 3 a week and let her pick pecans left from the first big picking which she sold and made about 6 each week while they were in season When the pecans were gone Essie went to work for the Ienkins a young couple who rented rooms next door to Miss Minnie They had one daughter named Donna and one on the way that Essie babysat they read stories went for walks and played games together Mrs Ienkins let Essie call her by her first name Linda Iean Essie loved this because she felt they were friends and only thought about their difference in color when she was paid for her weeks work Because Linda Iean was so nice Essie started helping her with other chores around the house soon they had Essie doing all the housework and was paid 12 a week because the new baby was about to be born When Mrs Burke Linda Iean s mother hears Essie address her daughter by her first name she is shocked and not happy she also wondered why they were paying Essie more than any other maid in Centreville Linda Iean told Essie not to worry about Mrs Burke Soon after Linda Iean went into labor and had to go to the hospital to have the baby it was a boy and they named him Iohnny The following Saturday Essie went to give the house a thorough cleaning before Linda Iean returned home with the new baby While she was cleaning she ran into Mrs Burke who informed her that Mr Ienkins father was the sheriff of Woodville he was known as one of the meanest sheriffs in the whole area This frightened Essie so she went over to help Miss Minnie while she waited for Mr Ienkins to get home and pay her When he got home he was surprised Essie was there and asked her to go get Donna and dress her so he could take her to see her mom and new brother at the hospital Not very long after Linda Iean had Iohnny Mama had hers It was a boy and Mama named him Raymond Ir and called him Ierry Right before he was born Mama and Raymond decided to get married pages 100 113 Essie worked for the Ienkins throughout seventh grade but had to quit to help Raymond n the farm again Due to Raymond s crop being even worst than the last when the school year started up Essie Adline and junior had to return to school in last year s clothes again The problem with this was the Essie had grown too much to fit in any of her clothes she had two dressed and then her jeans and white tshirt from her summer work The dresses made her feel uncomfortable so she wore the jeans and white shirt even though the jeans were super tight and made the boys at school stare at her This made all the other eighth grade girls want to wear jeans it even became so popular the high school girls started to do it too Essie had started a jean fad In early October it was time to choose a homecoming queen Homecoming was in November and every grade had a queen that competed against the other grades to be crowned the homecoming queen of the whole school The deciding factor in the final decision before the Queen is announced was who earned the most money for the school Whoever s class earned the most money for the school was chosen as the Homecoming Queen Essie s class nominated three different people at first and had to go to a live vote It was between Amanda Dorothy and Essie Essie ended up winning The class went around selling all kinds of things all over campus Essie also thought they were at an advantage because she as well as many of the boys in her class worked after school and had money they could contribute Their class earned 50 more than any other class At the end of all the fundraising the total amount of money raised was around 1700 Mrs Willis Essie s class earned around 800 of it Essie was so excited to be the homecoming queen until she remembered she needed a nice dress and shoes to wear and she did not even have a dress that fit her nor could she afford one Linda Iean offered her one that belonged to her mother but it was very ugly and Essie had to pass When Essie talked to Mama about this problem Mama told her that her daddy was making a lot of money in New Orleans and his cousin Clara had gotten Essie s dress size from mama and sent it to daddy telling him to buy a gown for her When she had not received or gotten a dress by Wednesday the day before the parade she went to Linda Iean s and got the ugly dress When she got home Mama asked her why she had that and Clara had a letter for her from her Daddy which made Essie mad that he sent a letter but not a dress When she got up to Clara s house she was surprised by Daddy who gave her a box with a blue lace gown in it She had not seen him since the day the Grandfather Moody died She wanted to hug and thank him but she couldn t she felt to weird She thanked him and went home to show everyone else When Raymond asked where she got it she told him that her daddy bought it for her which he responded to by turning and walking away The dress made Essie happy but she couldn t really be happy because Adline and Junior were jealous that Daddy didn t get anything for them Raymond was mad because he thought Mama was seeing daddy again which made mama upset Essie tried not to let it get her down and went to sleep On Thursday she went into school later so that she could go to the hairdresser to have her hair done for the second time in her life When she got to school it was around 1 o clock Because she thought her gown was the prettiest she started to laugh at the other girls gowns which caused a fight that was ended by Mrs Willis saying to let it go Essie deserved the best dress since she was the Queen Four o clock was when the parade started Essie had to have her makeup done and she had never worn mascara before which delayed the process of getting ready When she was completely ready she could barely recognize her self in the mirror she realized she was no longer a little girlquot 110 Everyone cheered for her and for how pretty she looked When she stood next to her escort Ioe Lee she truly felt like a queen When they turned the corner onto Main Street she saw Mama who could barely recognize her the same thing happened when she saw Linda Iean When she was crowned at halftime during the football came she felt cold and like she was getting sick pages 114123 Not long after Homecoming Essie s name was changed Her birth certificate was lost when Iunior set the house on fire so when she ordered one to give to Mrs Willis for graduation it came but had her name as Annie Mae and they did not have enough time to get it fixed before it was due at school Mama let her keep Annie as her name but did not call her by that name Later at school the Valedictorian and Salutatorian were announced Betty Posey was the Valedictorian and Darlene was the Salutatorian while Essie would give the Welcome Address on Class Night That summer mama convinced Raymond to go look for a job in California It was easier to find a job in Las Angeles rather than be a farmer in Mississippi He stayed for close to a month but came home because he felt like he was wasting his time This ruined any hope Mama had of getting a better life The future was blurry for the family at this time Raymond did not have a job and Mama was expecting another baby which would make her a mother of seven She cried a lot and drove everyone in the house crazy She would scream at Raymond any chance she got and beat on the kids and made them cry too On top of everything Linda Iean was moving which meant Essie was out of the job but around this time Raymond started selling pulpwood with some friends On one of her last days working for the Ienkins Essie went to get Donna and Johnny from Mrs Burke s house While she was there Mrs Burke offered her a job working for her Eventually Essie decided to take the job with Mrs Burke because she could not afford to be out of work She was nervous on her first day but relaxed some when she met Mrs Crosby Mrs Burke s mother Wayne Mrs Burke s son who was in the same grade as she was She had another son named Dennis that Essie never met and Mr Burke was rarely home Mrs Burke was the only mean one in the house Mrs Burke used to be a schoolteacher and liked everything to be done in a specific way her way Essie was determined not to give in and to keep doing things her way She would lock the door so Essie couldn t get in unless she went in the back but Essie continued to knock at the front everyday where Mrs Crosby would let her in every day at 730 Eventually Mrs Burke let her realizing Essie might have quit if she didn t Mrs Burke was the first mean white erson Essie had interacted with When Essie started high school she had a new name and a new way of thinking on how Negroes lived in the south especially Mississippi She was working for Mrs Burke a mean white woman and Emmett Till who was 14 years old was killed a week before school started Before his death Essie could remember hearing Mama and some of her friends as well as other people talk about finding dead black bodies in the rivers shot to death or beaten to death When she was seven she asked Mama who killed them she said an Evil Spiritquot killed them It had taken her eight years to figure out what the Evil Spirit was Essie heard about Emmett s death while she was walking home from school The boys walking in front of her were talking about it and she overheard and asked them what happened They told her that he was killed because he whistled at a white woman in Greenwood The boys were mad because no one cared that the white men were messing around with black women and leaving them pregnant and alone After talking to the boys Essie realized she had no idea what was going on around her and that she barely di anything with other people her age When she got home and Mama was feeding the new baby Ralph she asked her about Emmett Till being killed mama got upset and told her not to speak about it in front of Mrs Burke or any other white person She told her to go to work and act like she did not know anything about it When she went to work she was so nervous she was shaking she even broke a few dishes at dinner While Mrs Burke and her family ate Essie cleaned the bathtub she scrubbed until it was bright white When she finished cleaning and the family was finished with dinner Mrs Burke called her in to eat her dinner While she was eating Mrs Burke asked if she knew anything about the 14 yearold boy who had been killed in Greenwood Essie remembered what Mama had told her and lied to Mrs Burke and said that she had no idea what she was talking about Mrs Burke went on to tell her that he was from Chicago where the Negroes have no respect for people and was killed for getting out of place with a white woman Mrs Burke reminded Essie how close in age he was to her and said it was a shame he had to die so young This made Essie afraid she had experienced lots of different fears in her life like the fear of hunger and hell but now she was scared she could be killed just for being black She was especially scared because she had no idea what she was supposed to do or not do in order to not be killed A few days later Mrs Burke held a Guild Meetingquot at her home Essie helped her serve tea and cookies to the people who were attending During the meeting while she was sleeping she heard the group discussing the NAACP When she got home she asked Mama about it but Mama told her not to bring it up again especially around white people Since Mama would not tell her about it she decided to ask her teacher Mrs Rice She told Essie that it was a Negro organization that was created a long time ago to fight for the rights of Negroes like the right to vote She also told Essie to listen ore closely next time there was a meeting going on while she was working On a Sunday about a week after their first talk Mrs Rice invited Essie over to her house where Essie learned so much about the persecution and killings of the Negroes in the south by white people Mrs Rice and Essie talked a lot and Essie considered her to be like a second mother but at the end of the year she was fired and Essie did not see her again pages 136 147 When Essie was 15 she started to hate people she hated the whites for how they treated black people and she hated black people for not sticking up for themselves and doing more to stop the killings Her feelings of anger were stronger towards the black people because they were letting the white people get away with killing so many people Because they were not sticking up for the black community as a whole she lost the respect she had for black males and now thought of them as cowardly Mrs Burke was having Guild Meetings much more often there was one going on almost every time Essie went to work There was a lot of talk amongst the white people and a lot of gossip amongst the black people The one common subject between the two communities was the affair going on between Mr Fox and Bess one of Essie s classmates who was around the age of seventeen Many families would not hire teenagers to work in their homes in fear that they would try to seduce their husbands it never crossed their mind that the husbands would come on to them Almost every man in town had a Negro lover Mrs Fox who was completely devoted to Mr Fox thought he was honest and would never do such a thing to her but she decided to test him and see whether it was true or not So one day she left Bess at home while she waited next door at the neighbors When she had waited almost half an hour she decided she would go home and apologize to Bess for even thinking she would do something like that As soon as she started to head home Mr Fox pulled up when Mrs Fox walked back to her house she went inside and found them in bed together Bess never went back to school and got a job at a Negro caf even though Mr Fox felt badly about what happened and took care of her The gossip at the guild meetings had shifted from talking about what white man was having an affair with a black woman to talking about what Negro men were having affairs with white women This gossip made all black men afraid to walk the streets at night if they even looked at a white woman they could be hanged Emmett Till s death was evidence of this because all he did was whistle at a woman Essie had never heard of an affair between a white woman and a black man in Centreville the men did not really have access to the white women It was about a month before anything actually happened a black boy named Ierry who was also a classmate of Essie s was beaten nearly to death because he was accused of calling a telephone operator and threatening to molest her One night Essie was woken up by horrible screaming so she Mama and Raymond got in the car to go and check it out When they got to the place that the screaming was coming from they saw that a building was burning with a whole family inside The family was the Taplin family who died in the place of Mr Banks The Guild had discovered that he was having an affair with a white woman and they tried to burn him and his house but ended up burning the Taplin family This incident really upset and scarred Essie After the fire one day she felt as though she could not stay in Centerville any longer and wrote to Uncle Ed to see if she could stay with him this summer and work in New Orleans to which he replied of course so she set off for New Orleans pages 148 155 When Essie got to New Orleans where she was staying with Uncle Ed and his wife Bertha she found a job within 3 days She was working for a lady named Mrs Ietson who paid her 18 dollars a week One night when Essie was supposed to be paid Mrs Ietson said she would have to give her a check the following Saturday because she was unable to make any deposits When Essie went to work the next morning the Ietson s were gone and the house was empty The neighbor told her that the bank had taken their house and they were gone Essie decided she was even worse than Mrs Burke because she had never paid her for two weeks worth of work before she left Essie had decided that she was going to head home and bought a 5 bus ticket and put he things in a locker at the station She overslept and missed her bus so she went back to uncle Ed s to wait for the next one when she walked into the house Bertha told her that Susie had called to say she had found a job interview for her Essie went to the interview the next morning before she went in Susie told her to tell them that she was 18 or 19 instead of only 15 The only thing Susie did not inform her that she needed to lie about was having a social security card Essie had no idea what social security was because most Negroes in Mississippi did not make enough money to have one She was interviewing at Ourso s Department Store they needed workers so badly they hired Essie and she started that same day The people who owned the store were the richest people Essie had come in contact with They owned the hardware store restaurant gas station grocery store and Tastee Freeze A member of the family was president of the American Bank Essie thought the family put together had more money than all of Centreville Essie s job included cleaning glass cases pressing wrinkles out of dresses helping wit display windows and occasionally sweeping There was one other lady who worked with Essie She was a middleaged black woman and they both earned 24 a week During the time they worked together she would tell Essie all about her life Essie considered them close and told her that she had lied about her age because she thought that she could trust the woman Not long after she had told her this Essie was called into the office given her last check and dismissed from working there When this happened she was not sure why she was being fired but then she realized that the other lady had told on her and saw her mistake in telling the woman her true age Essie had to return to Centreville since she lost her job When she returned in Centreville she had new clothes for school and 65 that she had earned in Baton Rouge When she got off the bus she ran into Doris a girl she went to school with who had told her that Benty and Mrs Rosetta had been run out of town because rumors emerged that Benty was screwing the white woman that Mr Banks was supposedly taking care of Essie felt as though she had not even left for the summer and was unhappy to be back When she got home things seemed different and Raymond left the room when she walked into it and Mama looked at her funny She wished she had stayed with Uncle Ed in Baton Rouge but since that was impossible she decided to bury herself in extracurricular activities and spend as little time at the house as possible She started piano lessons joined the band and decided to play basketball She also planned to return to Baton Rouge next summer to earn money and planned to leave Centreville for good as soon as she graduated high school pages 156 172 While Essie made her plans for the year she completely forgot about Mrs Burke and her after school job She did not even think about it until Mrs Burke stopped by the house to ask when she was going to return to work She seemed very interested in what she did in Baton Rouge Essie told her she could start the following weekend even though she had nothing to do until then that was stopping her from returning to work earlier other than the fact that she did not want to Essie was still confused about why Mama was acting different and decided it had to be Raymond s fault He hated Essie and she knew it he had barely said anything to her since she got back from Louisiana After only two weeks of being in school Essie had done exactly what she had planned She was so involved in after school activities that she was out of the house and busy for 18 of the 24 hours in a day She would not return home until around 8 or 9 o clock at night and when she got home she would help Adline with schoolwork in order to avoid Mama and Raymond Due to how busy she was Essie was able to work for Mrs Burke without constantly thinking about the Guild meetings When the middle of the semester grades came out Essie had all A s she was surprised because everything was going so smoothly and easily for her which made her nervous The basketball got a new coach Mr Hicks who was very serious about physical fitness He let anyone who was fat or lazy go and told them not to come back to practice Essie felt as though she worked harder to impress the new coach than any of the other girls on the team Coach Hicks also organized the first tumbling and Gymnastics team the school had ever had Essie and the other girls felt he was merciless but when conditioning was over and they could breeze through practice without getting shortwinded they decided that the new coach knew what he was doing Essie finished out the semester with straight A s On a Wednesday afternoon while working for Mrs Burke Essie was ironing when Mrs Burke came in and told her that she was disgusted and tired of her son Wayne She went on to tell Essie that he almost failed out of school last semester and asked her if she did well in school When Essie told her that she had straight A s Mrs Burke gave her some of the problems that Wayne was having trouble with in math Essie finished them in no time this impressed Mrs Burke who then asked Essie to start tutoring Wayne a few times a week for extra pay As well as extra pay Mrs Burke offered to help Essie with piano Within a couple weeks Essie was not only helping Wayne but also a group of his friends The group included Wayne Billy Ray Sue Iudy and Essie Mrs Burke got uncomfortable when one evening she came in to find Essie and Wayne cheek to cheek while working a problem After this incident she was very aware of Essie and Wayne and the time that they spent together She started to find ways to take Essie home herself and not have Wayne do it Sue and Iudy also dropped out of the group Tutoring Wayne and his friends made it to where Essie was earning 12 a week 8 of which she put into her savings Not soon after the tutoring began Essie saw Wayne playing golf he offered to teach her When he put his arms around her to show her how to hold the club Essie knew what was going on Wayne liked her as more than a friend and Essie was sure that Mrs Burke was very aware of this Wayne Billy and Ray all got B s on their midsemester tests while Sue and Iudy who came back to the study group failed All the members of the group loved Essie and Essie enjoyed spending time with them She did not understand how they could be so nice and their parents so horrible One evening Mrs Burke began talking to Essie about segregation and the question of whether school should be integrated When Essie mentioned that she wouldn t mind going to school with Wayne and his friends it infuriated Mrs Burke and she stormed out of the room From then on the dining room symbolized hatred love and fear this brought Essie much anxiety and fear as well as courage After their talk Essie did not see Mrs Burke much because she had so many guild meetings to attend and would leave her notes with her instructions for the day Essie stopped tutoring Wayne and his friends When Essie talked to Mrs Crosby one afternoon she told Essie that she had overheard Wayne and Mrs Burke fighting the night before Wayne and his friends loved Essie but Mrs Burke was impatient and not for the new ways of integration She encouraged Essie to continue to work hard and do well in school and that when the time came for her to go to college Mrs Crosby wanted to help her financially Essie became scared to walk through the project at night in fear that Mrs Burke would send someone to beat her up like what happened to Ierry The next day Essie did not show up for work which made Mama mad because she thought that Mrs Burke might fire Essie So Mama sent junior to tell Mrs Burke that Essie was sick and not able to make it to work Essie really started to miss Mrs Rice because she would have told her what to do When Iunior returned he told Essie that Mrs Burke just said to be there the next day because the house needed cleaning and that she asked him to come along and mow the lawn So on Saturday morning around 700 o clock Essie and junior headed over to Mrs Burke s house to start their work When they got there Mrs Burke was waiting for them in the hallway smiling Essie did not notice this as odd because she was just so sick of working for Mrs Burke After they had been working for a while Mrs Burke asked Essie if she had seen her change purse while cleaning her room When she asked Essie this Essie realized how Mrs Burke was going to hurt her through Iunior trying to accuse Iunior of stealing her change purse Eventually Mrs Burke told Essie that she had found the purse but Essie had already decided she was going to quit and this would be her last day When she got ready to leave Mrs Burke asked if she could pay her on Monday to which Essie replied no She went on to explain that she would not be returning to work for her and that she needed to be paid right then Before Essie left she made sure to say goodbye to Mrs Crosby This was the last time Essie was at the Burke house Three days after quitting work for Mrs Burke Essie found a new job This job was working for Mrs Marcia Hunt who owned Hunt and Taylor Ladies Shop She was also a friend of Mrs Burke s and lived across the street from her One day when she was cleaning the windows of the store she saw Wayne and his friends walking by and got embarrassed because she lost her balance and almost fell off her ladder Wayne made sure she was ok told her he missed her and that he would come see her for tutoring before finals Mrs Hunt grew to respect Essie once she found out that she was saving her money for college tuition and started paying her 5 to clean her house every Saturday and 5 to babysit her daughter on Sunday nights Mrs Taylor her coowner of the shop paid her 3 to clean her house on Fridays Essie wrote to Aunt Celia to see if she could stay with her in New Orleans for the summer and that she didn t mind sharing a bed with sis She arrived at their house 2 days before her letter did pages 173 181 Essie had the intention of being a waitress when she first arrived in New Orleans She had heard they could make 50 a week and she wanted to save 300 for the summer But before she knew it she had been there a month but had not found a job Sis had domestic work and Celia worked as a dishwasher at Maple Hill Essie spent the first week of July praying for someone at Maple Hill to quit so she could replace him or her No one quit so Essie packed up to go home early Little Eddie stopped by before she was going to leave and told them that he worked at the chicken factory and a lot of people had quit and they could get the job tomorrow Essie saw this as her answer to prayer So Sis and Essie got up early the next morning and went outside to wait for Little Eddie and Buck to pick them up They waited for a long time but they did not show up Eventually they showed up with Rosemary in the car At the factory everyone on the line was black except for 2 men who sat at a desk and the foreman There were hundreds of dead chickens all over the factory In a 2 hour period Essie switched stations five times When they got a 15minute break Essie went outside and was shocked to find protestors right in the back of the factory She had never seen a group of such angry people They were holding signs that read NO MORE SLAVE LABOR WE WANT MORE PAYquot When Sis and Essie got home Celia told them that Iohnny was angry with them for breaking the strike at the chicken factory Even though he told them not to go back Essie had to because she was being 960 a day She worked at the factory for about a month in total and because of what she saw when working like the chickens who came in with sores just had the sores cut off and then were boxed up for people to buy and eat pages 182 198 When Essie returned to school in the fall she was lonesome and very bored She was making straight A s with little effort not even Darlene challenged her anymore She felt her only outlets were basketball gymnastics and tumbling the church and piano She bought a piano from someone at school for 50 so she could practice all the time she eventually became the regular pianist at Centreville Baptist for Sunday school and BTU Mr Hicks held a tumbling and gymnastics night at school Essie was the only girl on the team When it was over Mama was so proud and everyone was impressed Essie also wrote a oneact play called Mama s Apron Stringquot and did an Exotic African Caf Style Dance that got her and Principal Willis pushed the 6 girls in the group off stage Mama ran backstage and yelled at Essie scaring everyone else backstage Two days after school ended Essie was on a bus back to Aunt Celia s in New Orleans After 3 weeks of searching with no luck she went back to work at the chicken factory One night Winnie went to Essie and told her that a busboy where she worked was sick and her boss Mr Steve said that she could fill in for him for 26 a week She went to work with Winnie and wanted to leave as soon as she got inside The kitchen was tiny and hot Winnie was sweating through her shirt There were two cooks one named Howard he was short and little And the tall big one was named Mike who was the only employee who wasn t black Essie Winnie and Dorothy a pantry girl were the only real women who worked there the rest of the staff were men Waite was an old waiter and there were two tall waiters who worked at the counter named Percy and lack There was another waiter who was much bigger and worked in the dining room named P There was a Chinese looking Negro named Lily White who worked in the dining room as well Everyone was making fun of Lily White who looked so much like a woman to Essie but when she spoke to her she sounded more like a woman than a man There was another waiter like this who worked at Maple Hill named Lola Lola was much meaner than Lily White On the way home from work that night on the bus Essie noticed that Winnie was crying She had 13 children and had only kept two of them with her Sam and Walter who were half white Essie s mama was the only one that married out of the family and all the other children were given to other Negro families who worked for Mr Carter and didn t have many children of their own Winnie had only come to New Orleans because they had dropped out of high school and went to look for jobs and she didn t want to be without them During her second week there Steve the owner came to Essie and told her he needed her to work in the dining room for the day She was excited and thought she would be waitressing but was very disappointed when he told her she would be bussing tables She was overwhelmed and dropped a whole tray of water glasses that broke all over the oor Many of the customers were students at Tulane the college that was close to Maple Hill Essie became the main busser until someone new was hired she was earning 15 more than she had washing dishes Soon after she started bussing P quit and she became a waitress She got to know Lily White first and found out that his real name was James and that he was an exotic dancer The new busboy Robert who was a freshman at Dillard knew where he danced One Saturday night Essie and Robert decided to go see Iames dance They went to his midnight show where most of the audience looked like men dressed in women s clothes When Iames appeared on the stage his potbelly was gone and his wig and makeup made it look like he really was a woman Lola was not as friendly as Lily White was he was known to be dangerous and had done time in Tulane and Broad Louisiana State Prison for three years due to being convicted of armed robbery and assault While in prison he smuggled a razor blade in hiding it in the roof of his mouth and earned the name Killer because he killed 3 or 4 men during a fight between the straight prisoners and homo prisoners Lola thought he really was a woman and seemed to be very lonely at Maple Hill Essie had seen him poke his razor out of his mouth at James before which scared her Lola confronted her oneday and told her that he wasn t the monster she thought he was He also helped to give her a makeover because he thought she was pretty but was a Plain Janequot He wanted to be her friend and convinced her to cut her hair start wearing mascara and even had her wearing dresses and push up bras pages 199 221 Essie really appreciated what Lola had helped her do with her appearance when she returned to school the next fall Due to how much money she made as a waitress that summer she was able to buy a bunch of cheap clothes for herself that emphasized her body in a positive way like Lola had told her they would All the white men in town would stare at her whenever she passed them Mama got tired of it and threatened to tell the sheriff Ed Cassidy Mama told Essie that white men felt entitled and the black women were obligated to whore around with them She also told her not to be caught out past dark and to act blind and deaf when she walked past white men in town At school her basketball coach Mr Hicks began to give her affectionate looks and spoke to he as though he was her lover Mama had noticed this too and made a comment about how she wished she had married a schoolteacher once At school the other girls on the team noticed that he favored Essie and started to exclude her and avoid passing to her out of jealousy The team s dynamic got so bad Mr Hicks threatened to cut the team altogether which prompted one girl who had trampled Essie earlier to apologize Mr Hicks stopped treating Essie differently which made the whole team happy especially Essie Soon after things were back to normal with Mr Hicks Essie started having trouble at home with Raymond Essie had noticed how he looked at her like he wanted her so she stopped wearing low cut shirts around him This upset Essie because she hated Raymond for how poorly he treated Mama If things were to get any worse around Centreville Essie decided she would have to leave Two weeks later Samuel O Quinn was killed by being shot at very close range with a doublebarreled shotgun Essie remembered all the previous killings and had feelings of hatred towards all the Negroes in Centreville for not doing anything to stop the murders It was rumored that Samuel was killed because he was a member of the NAACP which caused anyone else who was involved with the organization to ee and leave town out of fear of being killed Another rumor was that Principle Willis was the biggest Uncle Tom in town and was who told on Samuel for being involved in the NAACP Willis also delivered 500 to the Negro who killed Samuel as pay After Samuel was killed Essie did not have much contact with her classmates or teachers outside of school and when she was at home she stayed in he room to avoid seeing Raymond One Sunday morning in November when Essie and Adline were getting ready to go to church when Essie and Raymond got into a big fight Essie caused a big scene She was screaming and threatened to kill Raymond Finally Essie decided that she would leave home and not come back but Raymond would not let her collect her belongings so Essie went to Ed Cassidy s house to get him to make them give her the clothes that she bought Mr Leon and Miss Clara daddy s cousin drove her to his house After she got her belongings they drove her to Woodville for her to stay with Daddy and his new wife Emma She began to feel close to daddy and Emma but decided to go stay with Alberta until she was done with the current semester While living there Mama wrote her a letter saying that if she didn t come back home that Mama would kill herself So shortly after she moved back in with Daddy and Emma who awkwardly asked her to call her Mama Both of them worked and Daddy didn t want Essie working for any white families in Woodville so they gave her an allowance of 10 a week for doing housework and mowing the lawn every week Living with them Essie was 17 and had a room all to herself for the first time in her life Emma took her shopping in town for furniture but didn t really let Essie pick anything out The day after they shopped for furniture Essie was woken up to go visit and spend the day with Emma s family All of her family except Ianie her sister and her husband Wilbert lived on highway 61 The first went to Ola s house she had 10 children There were two of the prettiest girls Essie had ever seen one was named Mildred Essie came to find out that their father was a white man which was surprising because mixed marriages were very uncommon and looked down upon Emma s family was so close that Essie was upset and thought that if Raymond was as strong as Emma was Mama wouldn t have had to go through all the things she did pages 222 232 The next Sunday at around 10 o clock when they were getting ready for bed they heard screaming coming from Ianie s house next door They all jumped up and ran over to their house and when they got there Wilbert was on the porch pointing a gun at the kitchen window where Emma his wife and children were When Daddy asked what he was doing Wilbert started yelling about how Ianie was a bitch and he was planning on killing her tonight Before Wilbert snapped out of his crazy episode he fired a shot through the front door There was not much noising coming from the kitchen They soon came to realize that Emma had been shot Daddy ran up to the house grabbed Emma and put her in the back of his car to take her to the hospital with Ianie and Wilbert close behind them leaving Essie home alone with all five of the children When Essie entered the house there was more blood than she had ever seen All of the kids were staring silently at it The oldest one Leon was crying He was talking about how she was shot straight through her foot which made Essie happy because when she saw Daddy carrying her she looked like she was bleeding from her stomach Leon was upset because Emma helped his mom when she needed it and gave them money for food occasionally and that he was so mad at Wilbert he could kill him They continued to talk all night about what would happen to Leon and his siblings if Wilbert and Ianie separated not to mention Ianie was pregnant Just as Essie had fallen asleep Daddy returned home and told her that Emma s brother Clift was going to pick her up so that she could go visit Emma in the hospital she stayed for a week This was a big deal to Essie because the hospital was in Centreville and Essie had not planned to ever go back Essie grew to like and respect Emma while she was in the hospital it amazed Essie that she did not blame Wilbert for what happened and made it very well known She blamed it on the fact that him and Ianie wouldn t be fighting if Wilbert could get a good job and make enough money to take care of them children If these damn white folks ain t shooting niggers brains out they are starving them to deathquot 226 Essie decided that if there were more black people like Emma in the world it would be a better place to live But this optimism did not last long After being there for 2 weeks she was discharged and now was only visited by family on Sundays A week after being alone the majority of the time she began to pity herself She became so negative that Essie was counting the weeks until she could leave During this same time Essie attended Iohnson High School She missed everything about Willis High except the basketball team Her new schools team was a lot better and exciting the coach s name was Coach Dunbar When Essie walked into practice he told her that he was expecting her and that Coach Hicks had called and let him know she was coming She only decided to play because it was a distraction from her troubles at home The day after she joined the team they left the school on a bus at nine o clock in the morning for Liberty Mississippi The team won the game by 2 points making the score 4341 Essie scored 27 points and scored the last basket with 10 seconds remaining in the game During the spring Essie rarely saw Emma or Daddy she was so busy with basketball She was the MVP of the team In addition to playing basketball Essie organized the first gymnastic and tumbling team the school had ever had ran track and was a substitute teaching All day on Sundays she was at church The county that Daddy s house was in was Wilkinson County Wilkinson County was one of the few that was enforcing separate but equalquot that was created because of the 1954 Supreme Court Decision When Essie graduated in 1959 all the Negro high schools in the county combined into one school with around 3000 students and around 90 teachers Mr Willis was chosen by the state board to be principal Essie s class was the first class to ever graduate from the new school The only reason white people were nice about the school because by building this new school it was protecting their school from integration Although they said separate but equal it was very obvious that wasn t the case The white schools always had the better teachers more funding from the state and better equipment The night before her graduation Essie packed and got ready to go to New Orleans She said goodbye to Daddy because she wouldn t be awake when he left for work the next morning He advised her to try to get into college and he would help her however he could Iohnson High was 2 hours late to graduation Essie was so tired that she fell asleep but a classmate tapped her and woke her up when it was time to march When walking down after the ceremony the aisle Essie saw Mama as Essie walked by Mama told her to wait for her outside Essie was so upset and close to tears that she left the rest of her class that was headed outside and ran to the bathroom She stayed in the bathroom for a long time crying and when she came out she realized that Cousin Hattie had left without her She was walking out of the building when Mama and Junior were driving by and stopped to talk to her They asked if she needed a ride she said yes and ended up staying with Aunt Alberta for a few days before she left for New Orleans pages 235 248 When Essie got to New Orleans she hoped that she would earn enough money working at Maple Hill to be able to attend a small inexpensive college nearby She did not have any savings left because she spent it all while living with Daddy because Emma stopped working and he cut off her 10 weekly allowance Maple Hill was less busy than usual this year and Essie was only averaging 23 a day which at this rate would take her a year to earn enough for college This upset her because she did not want to take a full year off and forget what she had learned previously Out of panic Essie decided to contact Coach Dunbar and ask him if there was still a chance of her finding a women s basketball scholarship to a junior college in Mississippi A week later she got a letter from coach Dunbar informing her that Natchez College a Baptist school was considering her for a scholarship She did not hear any news until late August when she found out she got the scholarship and school began in 2 weeks To pack all her things for college she bought her very first luggage set that was all hers It was 18 When her taxi arrived at the college Essie was very disappointed that it only consisted of three small old brick buildings She was so distressed because of the campus she forgot to pay the driver who called after her and she ran to bring him her money The fair was 35 cents and she gave him a dollar and let him keep the change because she was so depressed When she entered the building titled Women s Auxiliary she met a woman named Mrs Evans she was the matron Essie got a motherly feeling from her When Essie saw the food she wanted to take over the kitchen She went to the kitchen and met the cook Miss Harris who Essie would soon learn that she was the biggest Uncle Tom on campus The cook asked her if she wanted to work in the kitchen Essie said she would love to which ultimately benefitted Essie because the school required all students on scholarship to have a parttime job Essie quickly decided that she did not enjoy Miss Harris who only liked her because she wanted Essie to keep her filled in on what was going on in the girls dorms When Essie did not tell her anything she became mean and would make fun of how she looked to the other workers in the kitchen Once when Essie was sick and was 5 minutes late Miss Harris threw a spoon at her Essie threw it back and walked out She went to the Dean and asked for a new job he assigned her to be assistant librarian The girls on the basketball team were bigger than any other girls Essie had ever seen and was scared to play with them and later found out that Coach Dunbar had told them how good she was and they were scared of her Coach Lee was in charge for the first few days and then turned the team over to Miss Adams who was to be the head coach No one liked her because she had so many pointless rules and was thought to be having an affair with the Dean She was jealous of all the girls when the Dean stared at them but it was a known fact that he was cheating on her with 2 students Essie noticed that the Dean seemed to like her a lot and heard that he told one of the boys that she had one of the most beautiful bodies he had ever seen in a pair of shorts he also said she was afraid of men At this school Essie felt like she was in some sort of prison like never before Miss Adams monitored the ream s every move Once when Essie was sick she stayed in bed for two days and Miss Adams was going to punish her by making her wash all the windows in the library When she refused to do it the dean asked to meet with her When he asked her about the windows she still refused to do them so he called the Dean After Essie told the Dean what had happened and a few days had passed Essie found out that he got rid of all Miss Adams rules this made Dean and Miss Adams very angry with her When Essie had attended school for 2 months she was sick of it She was not even allowed to go to the store that was only a block away without asking the matron s permission Every Saturday the Matron would take them into town and let them shop or see a movie on Union Street She only took them because it made her look like she was keeping them from evil in uences to the older sisters in the area Essie thought if only she knew that most girls were running around the corner and hopping in cars going anywhere they wanted while she thought they were in the movies Bernice would always make up stories and always tell the matron it was a lovely picture Everything the girls did even when on campus was supervised by the matron The boys did not have to ask permission for anything Boyfriends and girlfriends only got to see each other on Sundays from 46 Most girls came from very strict Baptist homes that lead fantasy lives Essie had only one thing in common with them basketball So just like in high school she was a bit of a loner Essie had wanted to transfer but the schools in New Orleans were too expensive so she stayed at Natchez pages 249 258 When Essie returned to Natchez for her second year she felt different During her first year she had been so rude to all the boys especially the ones who played basketball that had wanted to date her She decided she had not have been so rude and was jealous of other girls with boyfriends when she saw them kissing on campus because she was 20 years old and had not been kissed This year there was a new boy at school he was 6 5 and played basketball His name was Keemp and Essie thought he looked just like her daddy minus the mustache this made her wonder what everyone saw in her Daddy growing up When she first spoke to Keemp he knew who she was and asked if he could walk her to her dorm it was the first time that she had ever slowed down for a boy in her life They didn t speak much on the way to her room and when they did it felt like she was talking to her brother but before he left her for the night he asked her if he could take her to dinner She said yes Because Natchez was so small gossip traveled quickly Everyone was surprised to find out that Essie had started to go with Keemp especially the boys she had rejected the year before A few of them point blank asked Essie what was so much better about Keemp than them Essie really started to like him after she saw him play basketball he could make dunking the ball look so easy and soon due to basketball he was one of the most popular boys on campus Although he tried many times Essie did not let him kiss her On the bus after all the away games all the couples would kiss on the bus except Essie and Keemp Keemp would sit there and beg her to let him kiss her Everyone knew they hadn t even kissed and some of the boys on the team started to make fun of him for it When Keemp started irting with other girls Essie asked one of her friends for advice on how to kiss It took Essie two months to fully prepare to have her first kiss and then one night she had a dream about kissing Keemp on the bus but they were naked she woke up screaming Now she was afraid if she kissed him it would lead to other things When the basketball team played Philander Smith College in Little Rock Arkansas in November she decided she was going to break it off with Keemp After the game she felt stupid for even thinking of breaking up with him he was a terrific person and basketball player He made close to 40 points during the game and earned the nickname king of basketballquot When they were riding home on the bus Essie felt like she never had before and she let Keemp kiss her One of the boys noticed and started yelling about it Soon the whole bus knew and was watching them kiss Essie tried to pull away but he pretended he didn t even hear the others and kept going No one said anything not even Mrs Evans Essie was embarrassed that her first kiss had been in front of everyone on the bus but she did not regret it From then on every time she saw him on campus they would kiss she would even kiss him right in front of Mrs Evans Soon all of the other girls became more public about kissing and Mrs Evans called Essie in to have a talk with her about being the ringleader of the public kissing on campus Essie was happier than she ever could remember during the first 6 months of being with Keemp She even made the first straight A average in many years When basketball was over in the spring it seemed hat all the boys and girls were all over each other and Essie began to slowly back away from the scene Essie did not want to be all consumed with Keemp like other girls were with their boyfriends Their relationship eventually turned into one of a brother and sister than boyfriend girlfriend When Keemp picked up on the fact that she was not as interested in a romantic relationship he found a girl in the city which did not even make Essie jealous She didn t care because she knew the following year that she would be leaving him but she did not let him know she knew about his other girl He was the best friend she had and was able to tell everything to since Lola She became more and more depressed as the school year neared the end she had only 90 left and hoped to make at least 200 during the summer at Maple Hill One Saturday Essie was late for breakfast and when she got there everyone was making so much noise When she got down the stairs she asked her friend Inez what was going on She told Essie there were maggots in the grits being served to everyone Essie went to the kitchen where Mrs Harris who she hated told her to leave because she did not work there anymore Essie ignored her She went to where the grits were kept in the pantry and saw a big leak coming from the showers that was dripping right onto the shelves where the food was kept She wanted to get President Buck but he was offcampus Everyone stopped eating in the dining room and Essie used 550 of her last 90 to buy food she gave 25 to the boys and the other 25 for the girls When she woke up on Monday at 630 AM Mrs Evans was outside her door to let her know that President Buck was waiting to speak with her in the lobby He told her he was tired of her upsetting people He had only been informed of how she told everyone not to eat in the dining room he had no idea about the maggots in the grits and the leaking shower When he finished talking she told him what Mrs Evans and Miss Harris had left out By Wednesday of that week the leak was fixed but none of the students had returned to the dining hall Essie split her last 40 with the bus to buy food to last the rest of the week Most of the students eventually went back to Miss Harris who know wore a hair net and white uniform everyday and the dining room Essie did not go back She tried to survive off food her friends brought to her from the city She began to lose so much weight that she wrote to Mama to tell her what had happened Mama and Junior came up to bring her cartons of canned food that would last her the rest of the semester At the midsemester grade check Essie had the highest average in the class Soon President Buck called her into his office to see what her plans for the next year was Essie could tell he liked her despite of the trouble she had caused him and decided to let him know about her concerns about going to college next year He told her she could probably get a full scholarship since she had such high grades The next week a registrar from Tougaloo College came down to let her take a test to get a scholarship A week before school ended she got the news that she had a full ride to Tougaloo the best senior college in all of Mississippi for Negroes pages 259 269 Essie was beyond excited to start at Tougaloo as a junior in September One of her friends told her that she was too dark and it was more for highyellow people with rich ass daddy squot 259 This same friend tried hard to convince Essie not to go Essie told her she was just jealous A few days later the same friend came in and told Essie to look outside there was a white girl from Tougaloo talked to some boys on the lawn Essie decided to go out and talk to her after talking with her she decided that Tougaloo probably was not the right place for her She started to seriously look for a college to attend in New Orleans LSU was only 35 a semester for offcampus and thought she would go there but decided not to when she heard it was newly integrated She kept searching and then September rolled around and it was too late to apply anywhere else so she sent her 15 to Tougaloo for a room and registration Tougaloo was in Iackson Mississippi it took her 4 hours on a greyhound bus from New Orleans to get there The first person she met was a senior named Steve they split a cab to the campus She decided he tried to hard to impress him and did not like him much They dropped of Steve then the cab driver took her to where her dorm was A boy came to help her with her stuff when they pulled up When he looked in the car he said I m Iimmy What s your name prettyquot 261 This made Essie angry because he was yellow and she ignored him The dorm she lived in was called Galloway Hall Walking up to her room she was happy to see that there were some black girls there When she entered her room she saw a girl smoking a cigarette on one of the beds her name was Gloria and she was friends with their other roommate Trotter Gloria was not very friendly and Essie was thinking that she would ask to be assigned to a different room in the morning When Essie told her she went to Natchez Gloria was nicer to her because she was from Natchez Essie got up early the next morning and went to explore campus it was beautiful Her first few days were spent going through registration and meeting the teachers and faculty There was a new student talent show on Saturday that Essie wanted to join so she could make a good first impression of herself When thinking of what she could do in the talent show she thought of her exotic dance from high school but quickly decided not to do that so she did not look vulgar to her white friends She finally decided on the idea of tumbling She met a girl named Freddie that was doing exercises in the lounge and decided to see if she wanted to tumble in the talent show with her She told Essie that she would participate and they decided to meet at three that afternoon to practice While they were practicing a boy named Paul came up to them and asked what was going on When Essie explained he said his major was PE and would love to join He even thought they had a chance of winning 1St place The talent show started at around 830 and Essie was really nervous Essie wore skintight red shorts over a black leotard and looked really tall To Essie s surprise they won first place followed by the boy who did the limbo in second and third place went to a girl who sang When classes began Essie only had one Negro teacher which scared her and she began to wish she had gone to LSU the whites in New Orleans were not half as bad as the white people in Mississippi were She knew if the white people here were anything like the ones who had killed Samuel O Quinn and the Taplin family she would leave this new school immediately Essie had become good friends with her roommate Trotter who was even darker than she was Essie told her how she was nervous and thought she would have problems with the white teachers Trotter told her northern Whites had a different attitude towards black people Essie started the school year off well and by mid semester was hoping to make honor roll and she began to relax She was worried about how she looked and had not received anything from Keemp in over a month so she decided that she should probably find someone else to date In December she started dating Dave Iones When she did not make honor roll which she missed by 3 points she wanted to blame it on getting used to have white teachers but knew Dave was the real problem All he thought about was them going to bed with each other after only a month of dating When he brought it up to Essie she told him she was a virgin and didn t want to sleep around When she wasn t ready after 2 months he got angry One night they were walking home from hanging out and he was very drunk he wanted to sit on a bench and talk to Essie for a while Essie tried to get him to just take her home and he said ok if she just gave him one kiss they would leave Essie pulled away because he tasted like beer and cigarettes which made him really mad He pulled her close to him and started to kiss her and feel her up She started crying and told him to let go of her right about the same time another couple was walking by them so he let go but still held on to the back of her sweater She jumped up which ripped all of her buttons off her sweater and ran back to her dorm She never wanted to see him again That Monday she got a letter from him apologizing and wanting her to call him but she was done and didn t contact him Soon after she broke up with Dave she started going to NAACP meetings with Trotter who was the campus chapter s secretary She was worried about what would happen to her family if she joined but wanted to join anyways she had wanted to for a long time pages 270 282 A few weeks after she joined the campus chapter a demonstration at the state fair in Iackson was organized by the group Before it was about to happen Medgar Evers visited campus to give them a pep talk about moving Iackson Four picketers were sent to the fair Dave Iones being one of them He was chosen as the first to be interviewed on TV When all the girls saw him on TV they said they were going to join and take part in the next demonstration and the girl who was seeing Dave now was running around talking about how great he looked All four picketers were arrested and bailed out around 8 o clock When the police dropped them off they stayed in the car with the doors locked and were completely surrounded by members of the NAACP Essie really wanted to do well in school that spring but became so wrapped up in the NAACP that her GPA had fallen down to a onepoint average a lot of students involved were failing To make things worse Essie was running out of money In May she had to write Mama asking for money because she was unable to pay the last month s bill that was 30 Raymond wouldn t let her send any money so Adline sent all she could spare 10 Essie wrote to Emma to ask her for the money since Mama could not help her She immediately sent her 40 and explained that they wanted to and would send more if they could but Daddy had not been working as much because his back had been hurting Even though she had missed the deadline out of desperation she filled out a Federal Loan Application in hopes that someone would change plans and drop out She became so down that she started to see Dave again just to have someone to comfort her But the same things that caused trouble before began to cause trouble again except this time Essie didn t care that much school was almost over Dave was about to graduate and she wouldn t have to see him again Dave was so smart he received a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship When Essie was getting ready to leave after taking her finals she got a letter from the dean s office informing her that she had been given 150 to help her go to summer school During summer school she met a white girl named Ioan Trumpauer who was a SNCC secretary They became very good friends and Essie began hanging out with her in her office in Jackson Essie began to canvass with them every other weekend The first time Essie was in the Delta she went with three other girls The second time she went she stayed in the Freedom House with Bettye Poole and Carolyn Quinn When they got there late on a Friday night they walked in to find around fifteen boys all sleeping in their clothes on tripledecker beds in one large room Some of the boys were from McComb Mississippi Essie was not prepared to sleep in a room full of boys and had to borrow extra pants from other people to sleep in Essie really liked all the people she worked with at SNCC and thought the director of SNCC in Mississippi Bob Moses was Jesus reincarnated They were paid 10 a week and often went to a place where a lot of boys had become friends with the waitresses so they snuck them fifths of liquor Most whites were waiting for the chance to kill the boys even though they had friends almost everywhere they went One Saturday in Greeneville it was discovered that an office had been bombed Things in the Delta were not going well Not many people attended the SNCC canvasses and rallies out of fear At first many people were afraid to even speak to members on Sundays the group went and spoke in churches Essie knew for the first time that she would be part of whatever it was that the Negroes decided to do to fight back against all the killings beatings and abuse of Negroes by the Whites On the way back to Tougaloo one day Essie was with her friend Rose and they decided to try to go on the white side of the bus station When they went to the counter to order tickets one man quickly got on the phone most likely with the police When they sat on a bench in the terminal it was around 245 and the bus was supposed to leave at 330 A drunken man called them niggers while they waited Rose was so scared she was smoking cigarettes to calm her nerves The people in the bus asked if they had wanted to see a show and that s why they had come to the white side of the station When the girls didn t reply they said oh guess you girls didn t but you ll get one anywayquot The girls decided to leave On their way out people were threatening to kick them out and throw them all the way to Tougaloo When they got outside they were afraid but then a car pulled up and told them to get in they soon learned he was a minister and worked parttime at the bus station After this Essie decided to go work for three weeks in New Orleans before school started back and she began her senior year pages 283 310 In the middle of September Essie Anne returned to campus which was uneventful until the annual NAACP convention held in Jackson Mississippi in February The speakers of the convention included Jackie Robinson Floyd Patterson Curt Flood Margaretta Belafonte and many others Essie decided to send pamphlets home to Mama asking her to come 3 days later Mama sent a letter that was 6 pages long Essie could see there were dried tears on the pages in the letter Mama said she forbid Essie to attend and that if Essie didn t stop messing with the Movement that she would come kill her before any white person had the chance Mama also wrote about how the last time Essie had gone home the sheriff had come to the house and told Mama that she was involved with the NAACP and if she remained involved she could not come back to Centreville because he did not need any NAACP members causing trouble Mama s letter made her very angry but she did not want anyone at home in Centreville to get hurt because of her Now that Essie thought about her time at home which was 4 days Mama had done everything in her power to keep her in the house and when she had gone to town she got a creepy feelingquot 284 A lot of people did not like Tougaloo in Centreville because they had housed Freedom Riders the school was criticized for this throughout Mississippi by the white people Essie decided to go to the convention but was not going to tell anyone back home that she went The more Essie thought about Mama s letter she wondered how people in Centreville even knew that she was involved It didn t matter how they found out because they did and now Essie could not return home Essie went to the convention and listened to all the celebrity speakers she even got al of their autographs Essie planned on graduating from Tougaloo in 1963 but was not going to be able to because not all of her credits had cleared at Natchez Essie was not even sad because it gave her a reason to stay on campus longer and work with the movement Her family did not send her any money during her senior year She moved offcampus because she didn t have enough money to live on campus She wanted to finish school and show Raymond and Miss Pearl she could do it even if she was hungry every day Essie became very close with her social sciences professor and NAACP activity director Iosh Salter she became one of his best canvassers and church speakers Essie and two of her classmates Pearlena and Memphis were chosen to be the ones to participate in a sitin at Woolworth s lunch counter The cops heard about it and were ready and all lined up in Capital Street but the picketing started down the street at C Penny to distract them The three participants entered through the back at 11 AM and by 1115 they were sitting at the previously segregated counter When they requested to be served the waitress told them they would be if they went to the black counter but they did not move and told her they wanted to be served there But the waitress just turned the lights off and left with the rest of the waitresses A middle aged lady told them that she would sit with them but her husband was ready to leave As she was leaving the newsmen came in trying to interview her and get her name but she only said she was from California and was in sympathy with the Negro movement When they asked what organization the three delegates were from Essie told them they didn t represent one organization and were from Tougaloo and that all they wanted was service When the high school students came in at noon they started yelling anti Negro slogans Suddenly Essie saw a face she had seen before the drunken man from the bus station He recognized Essie too but couldn t figure out from where Soon the restaurant was complete chaos A man ran towards them threw Memphis to the ground and slapped Essie Another man who worked at the restaurant threw her against the counter As Essie recovered from being thrown against the counter she saw Memphis on the oor near the lunch counter with blood coming out the corners of his mouth As he was trying to protect his face the man kept repeatedly kicking him in the head Eventually a man identified himself as a police and arrested the man and Memphis Pearlena had also been thrown on the ground but along with Essie got back on their stools at the counter and were joined by Iean Trumpauer Now they were integrated because Iean was white and the people watching started to call them communists An old man yelled at some students to take them off the stools and they took Iean first Then they took Essie pulling her by her hair thirty feet toward the door Essie got up and lean came back inside to rejoin Pearlena at the counter Lois Chaffee who worked at Tougaloo and was white joined them also Soon the crowd started throwing ketchup mustard sugar pies and anything else they could find on the counter at them Iosh Salter tried to join them but was hit in the face with brass knuckles Ed King who was the chaplain at Tougaloo ran to check on him At around the same time George Raymond a CORE field worker who went to Iackson State sat down at the counter with the others The people now took spray paint and sprayed the new demonstrators with red paint and wrote quotniggerquot on their white shirts They all stayed at the counter and took whatever they got for 3 hours before Dr Beittel President of Tougaloo came and escorted them out Reverend King came and picked them all up in his station wagon and took them to the NAACP headquarters that was on Lynch Street Essie was sick over how much the southern whites hated Negroes and how much they believed in the segregated way of living They believed in it so much they were willing to kill for it Essie knew this was just the beginning Before they went back to campus Essie wanted to get her hair washed The hairdresser was so nice she even cleaned Essie s legs and stockings for her In Iackson at Pearl Street Church there was a mass rally where Medgar Evers spoke and said this was just the beginning of such demonstrations Before this had taken place Essie wrote Mama who begged her not to participate and even sent her 10 for bus fair to New Orleans Essie kept the money but decided to live how she thought was necessary However Essie was hurt by how scared her family was She was the first Negro from Centreville who had openly demonstrated She did not write back to Mama and waited until she heard from her again because she was sure to see the news about the sitin on the news Essie also waited to hear if anyone from Centreville had been murdered because she knew if someone was it would someone in her family A six man delegation of black ministers were selected to meet with Mayor Thompson the upcoming Tuesday and were to present a few demands on the Negroes of Iackson s behalf After the meeting it was said that the mayor was going to act on all the suggestions he was given by the delegation but denied that he said that the following day Reverend Haughton of Pearl Street Church said that he was calling them liars and making them out to be fools The next day around 10 a full day of demonstrations began During the demonstrations Essie held workshops that taught high school and college students as well as potential demonstrators how to protect themselves During this time wellknown activists were used as diversions and to distract the police from ongoing demonstrations During a sitin at a post office no one was ready to go to jail for example Doris Eskrine and Essie had to teach a workshop the next day The ministers did not know what to do and the rest of the people just walked to the paddy wagon and were taken to jail When they arrived they were mugged and fingerprinted then taken to a cell where they were allowed to make a phone call They were there for four days The cell shower had no curtain and the cops always came running when they heard the water turn on Essie came to appreciate Tougaloo because Iackson State was the biggest Uncle Tom school and expelled people for almost anything When they were released on Sunday they found out that over four hundred high school students had been arrested and were taken to the fair grounds and placed in an open compound the NAACP did not have enough money to bail them out When the cops arrived at Lanier High School the same day they were released from jail they brought the dogs with them When the students would refuse to go back to class the cops would let the dogs loose on them They used bricks rocks and bottles to fight off the dogs The paper the next day reported how police officers had gotten hurt during the event but it did not say anything about the students who had been hurt by the dogs The next day students from Lanier and Brinkley High School gathered in a church on Farris Street they were lead by Willie Ludden the youth leader After marching two blocks they were stopped by police and when they refused they were arrested those who resisted and were moving to slow were jabbed with ri e butts Essie joined a group of high school students the next week with the intention of getting arrested and taken to the fair grounds which everyone described as a concentration camp from Nazi Germany Essie and the others were not sent to the fairgrounds but back to jail because they were thought of professional agitators They were in jail for 2 days and when she got out Essie had received a letter from Mama She had written it on Wednesday the same day as the Woolworth s sitin but had taken so long because she sent it Adline first who then sent it to Essie so the sheriff would not know Mama was communicating with Essie In this letter she said the sheriff had com back and asked a lot of questions about her but Raymond had told him she had not been there since she was a senior in high school Mama also told her that she should never come back to their home in Centreville and not to write back until she had given the OK and that Essie would hear from her through Adline who also put her own letter inside the envelope letting Essie know that junior had been corned by a group of white boys and was about to be lynched when a friend of his drove up and rescued him She also said that Uncle Buck had been beaten up and that her and Mama had been unable to sleep out of fear of the nightriders The letter ended with Adline cussing her out and said that she was trying to get all the Negroes in Centreville killed Iackson became a hotbed for demonstrations Police started to arrest any Negro on the scene of a demonstration even if they were not participating On a Saturday Medgar Evers and Roy Wilkins the national director of the NAACP were arrested Theldon Henderson from the justice Department who had come to investigate was arrested as well but was released as soon as he showed the police his credentials Mass rallies were beginning to take place every night Essie had the feelings that the NAACP wanted Medgar Evers to be the Mississippi version of Martin Luther King When Essie missed the bus back to campus on Tuesday Iune 11 she had to stay in Iackson with Dave Dennis and his wife for the night That night while they were watching TV it was announced that Medgar Evers had been shot They could not believe it because they had all been with him only an hour or so before The next announcement was that he had died while in the hospital The next morning on the TV there were videos taken not long after he was shot in his driveway The pool of blood where he fell was clearly visible as well as his crying wife trying to explain what had happened At the NAACP headquarters they were already planning a march to protest his murder Dorie Ladner and Essie decided to go to Jackson State College to try to recruit some people to join the march but the students did not respond When they were about to leave President Reddix stopped them in the hall and told them to leave the campus immediately and that Dorie who had gone to school there knew better Medgar was usually followed home by police each night but Essie thought they must have known The police had heard that there were going to be Negroes in the streets protesting Evers death all day and were prepared for them When they walked onto Rose Street a blockade of almost 200 cops was there to stop them led by Captain Ray The cops wore steel helmets and had ri es they took the protestors American ags and stomped on them and jabbed people with ri e butts if they did not obey them This time when Essie was arrested they took her and her friends to the fair grounds When they got there the driver turned the heat up and closed all the windows and got out of the car locking it behind him Leaving Essie and the others inside after an hour inside their clothes were wet from sweat and sticking to them They realized this had been the plan the whole time because Essie along with others in the car were well known to the police While they were in the car they saw Iosh Salter with a huge hole in his head with blood pouring out Finally after two hours they let them all out of the car The fairgrounds were everything that everyone had said they were Many people were taken from the fair grounds sick from hunger When Essie got out on Saturday right before Ever s funeral she had lost 15 pounds The funeral was at the Masonic Temple and there were more negroes there than Essie had ever seen in one place at the same time After the funeral march of seven blocks the police had a blockade at Capital Street where they had shotguns fire trucks gas masks dogs fire hoses and clubs The police started knocking heads letting the dogs loose on people and made around 30 arrests After being pushed back almost a block the police brought the fire trucks up to start spraying people with the hose which broke up the demonstration After Medgar Evers died there was a time of confusion between the Negro leaders and organizations in Jackson Each one was told they were next and things began to fall apart During this time the SNCC and CORE began to push for more demonstrations The paper took this as an opportunity to cause more trouble and ran a headline one day that read There is a Split in the Organizations this caused some organizations to completely cut ties with others and ultimately gave the whites another win Within a week everything was different rallies were now only twice a week instead of every night pages 311 332 In July a CORE office opened in Canton Mississippi with the goal of starting a voter registration campaign in Madison County Essie was so over all the fighting in Jackson she would go just about anywhere else even Madison County where it was a frequent occurrence to have someone turn up dead Right before Christmas a man s headless body had been found in between Canton and Tougaloo also with his genitals cut off and K s carved all over his body Around this time there were a lot of threats at Tougaloo so the school took inventory of all the boys on campus to make sure no one was missing Reverend King and some of Essie s friends begged her not to go to work in Canton but being from Wilkinson County she knew she could take it Even though there was so much violence there some people thought there could be a future for Negroes in Madison County because the black population was 29000 against 9000 white people and the Negroes owned 40 of the land in the area When she arrived with Dave Dennis they went straight to the CORE office that was joined with a Negro caf owned by CO Chinn and his wife the most well established Negroes in the county They got there just in time to eat with them as well as George Raymond and Bettye Poole who was friends with Essie at Tougaloo Mrs Chinn said that most black people had been brainwashed by the white people in the county even though they outnumbered them three to one She also told them that even though they owned a lot of land the allotment from the government only let them farm a small part of the land not to mention they were always in debt and basically sharecroppers Essie began to think that the federal government was to blame for most of the segregation discrimination and poverty of the south Mrs Chinn s brother Sonny who lived with his brother Robert provided them the Freedom House as a place to stay Essie began to like and respect the Chinns the more she got to know them That night a rally was held at the CORE office George gave a short talk and at the end asked Essie to stand and told everyone that she was a soul sister and was so dedicated and told about how she had been beaten and kicked all over Iackson and as a result of her work she was not able to return home She decided that Negroes were the same everywhere and did not care much about voting but the CORE had started to bring in a few adults along with all the teenagers Most of the canvassing was done by teenagers so the white people decided to scare them away by shooting 5 of them Ed King went to the hospital but would not let Essie Bettye ad his wife stay home because what if they were targeting Essie or Bettye they shouldn t be in town in that was the case The next morning when they got to the office Mr King let them know that everyone was ok and had only been hit with a buckshot and that Price Lewis had shot them and been arrested for it but was home in two hours after posting bail The shooting really hurt the teenager s relationship with CORE and within a few days they had stopped coming which was mostly die to their parents not letting them Essie felt she needed to speak with the parents but did not have much success Many parents did not want to see her and had their children say they were not home During this time Mama sent another letter as usual begging Essie to leave Mississippi When she finished reading the letter a teenager who had been helping her clean the office came in and told her two white men outside wanted to see her This scared her because she thought it could be someone from Centreville coming to kill her She finally composed herself and walked outside to find that the men were from the FBI there to investigate the shooting and needed the names and addresses of the kids who were shot The investigation involved the FBI men asking the teenagers questions and that was it By August the teenagers still hadn t come back so George brought in two girls from Jackson and a boy named Flukie Soon someone took a shot at a pregnant women and her two children who were walking home They were picked up by a black truck driver who took them to the Boyd Street Housing Project This caused participation to drop to almost nothing and things were so bad they were afraid to walk around the town To add to the problems the CORE s funding was cut off because not enough people were registering to vote The full time workers started to have to go days without food and Essie began to get sick and to lose a lot of weight One Thursday Essie was asked to speak at a Women s Rally in Iackson and prepared a speech but when she got up to present she completely forgot it The speech she did give really touched everyone who heard it When she got back to Canton she had a letter waiting for her from Mrs Young asking her to come and stay with her for a week as well as enough food to last the week She had met Mrs Young through her son who had been in jail with Essie Out of nowhere they began to receive a lot of support from the local Negroes and Mr Chinn was working almost full time with them Soon there were nine people working full time for the CORE and when the whites heard about this they began to threaten them once again One night while they were eating Robert burst through the door and looked like he had really bad news He told them they needed to get out of town as soon as they could that the white people were planning to kill them all tonight Finally George and Ierome went into town to see if he was really telling the truth Everyone knew Robert was right as soon as Ierome walked into the room They had to act quickly They decided to hide in the weeds behind Sonny s house At around 1230 they all snuck into the back with blankets They had to spread out so the weeds didn t look shorter in any one area They all sat there silent and at one point thought they would be caught because of the neighbor s dog but it stopped barking not soon after it started Finally they got there they walked around the house and in the back but did not find them So they left to go check the Chinn s house and would probably be back They did come back but did not stay long because it was starting to become light outside After this a few men who couldn t find jobs formed a group to protect them When Essie went to churches to speak she could tell the only thing getting the old people through this was the thought of going to heaven Mr Chinn was the best speaker they had because no one wanted to mess with him black or white Soon the white forced him to close his shop but this wasn t enough for the whites He was arrested one day when he had a gun in his passenger seat for carrying a concealed weapon even though he wasn t They posted his bail at 500 and had to stay in jail a week before his family could come up with the money The whites thought this would dishearten him and make him stop but it only made him work harder They had been working in madison county for two months in August and not one minister had committed to help them Soon the spirit was back and the core was being taken care of by the local Negroes Many of the teenagers had even come back which pleased Essie because she had really missed them pages 333 337 By the end of August Essie felt as though everyone in the group was leaving soon it was only she and George left and had to do all the work themselves They also had to find another place to stay because Sonny and his wife got back together This was a problem because most people didn t want to risk having them stay with them In no more than a week they had found a place to live a two apartment house One side for the girls and one for the boys They were so busy moving Essie forgot about the August 28th March on Washington was in two days The Kings were driving there and offered to give Essie a ride they left at 6 AM on August 27th There were five people that went Mrs And Mr King and loan Trumpauer who were all white and then there was a Harvard Student named Bob and Essie who were black They arrived at the march and listened to the speakers talk about their dreams most notably Martin Luther King and his I Have A Dreamquot speech There were around 250000 people gathered for the march Two days later Ioan Essie and the Kings all left Washington DC They stayed the night in TN at a National Park to avoid problems because Essie was traveling with them The next day they arrived back in Canton around 6 PM where the Kings dropped Essie at the Freedom House and drove straight to Tougaloo since Canton was too dangerous for white civil rights workers after it got dark pages 338 350 After school started in canton Essie became more and more conscious of the fact of how poor the city of canton really was Many teenagers who had previously helped the CORE were not able to go back to school because their parents had lost their jobs and couldn t afford to buy them clothes for school Some of them worked every summer so they could afford to go to school but this past summer had not been able to find jobs because of the voter registration drive Essie felt sick and very guilty when she saw them all out of school standing around hungry Across the street from the office there was a family of five kids a mother and a sick grandfather the mom only made five dollars a week doing domestic work Essie noticed that the two girls had not been attending school since it had began two weeks before Finally she found out that they were not going because their mom didn t have enough money left over after buying medicine for the grandfather to buy them clothes to wear to school The 3 boys had been able to buy clothes with the money the oldest brother who was 17 ad earned When Essie heard they couldn t go to school because there was not enough money in the house Essie remembered how her childhood had been very similar So she conducted a meeting with George and Mr Chinn about trying to find a way to help them as well as other families in need get clothes and food The meeting lasted about 4 hours The day after the meeting Essie received a 25 check in the mail as payment for her work with CORE She was so excited because she was going to use the money to buy the girls new clothes so that they would be able to go to school It only took Essie and the girls 35 minutes to find everything they needed and they even had some money left over so they went and got bologna sandwiches The girls seemed so happy but Essie was even happier than they were On their way to school the next day the girls stopped by the office to see Essie and asked her if they could do anything to pay her back for the clothes she had bought them She told them all she wanted from them was for them to study hard and catch up on the 2 weeks of school they had missed George and Mr Chinn returned the same day from the Delta with enough peanut butter and canned food to last the rest of the month Essie told them all about the checks that had come from CORE and they told her that they would most likely receive a shipment of clothes from the SNCC had been getting a lot from the Delta A few days later a truck filled with boxes of clothes showed up outside the office There were enough boxes to help so many people and may even encourage them to go out and vote Soon Essie began to feel so depressed and did not even want to see or talk to anyone else So she decided to go on a walk around Canton by herself Everyone knew that Essie could not go back home but no one knew how hard this was for her She was getting from Mama all the time telling her how she was in danger and needed to get out of Mississippi While she was walking she started crying the next day she would be turning 23 and she had not even received a card from Mama or Adline She knew Mama was mad but also knew that Mama would never understand how she felt She tried to be happy when she got back to the house but every one could tell that she had been crying Everyone asked if she was upset with them or asked if it was because she was so lonely To which she replied that the next day was her birthday and that she had been looking for a card from her family She also said that she never told anyone because everyone else already had problems of their own and did not need to worry about her being sad about her birthday Dave and George went off to the store and came back with bags full of food that Essie would soon learn were full of ice cream and cake to celebrate her birthday The next day Sunday September 15th1963 Essie turned 23 but felt as though she was 103 She woke before everyone else and decided to cook breakfast even though Mattie Dave s wife had promised that she would When everyone woke up and ate they were listening to the radio when the music stopped suddenly and the D said A special bulletin from BirminghamA church was just bombed un Birmingham AL It is believed that several Sunday school students were killedquot 346 There was a second report that confirmed that 4 girls had been killed Essie was so upset she went outside crying uncontrollably to talk to God She questioned why he would let this happen Why would he let the Negro people suffer like he was She decided that the God she grew up knowing was not this God God couldn t possibly let his people suffer like he was She told him she was through with him and that she would be her own God and that if he was angry he should just strike her down right then and there Maybe it would be better to die then she would not have to suffer like she was When she went back inside George was saying they should pray for nonviolence to which Essie replied that nonviolence was over and didn t work and that the bombing was Birmingham s answer to the March on Washington The following week the black people in Canton were scared to walk the streets The bombing had a terrible effect on Essie she started to question everything that she believed Later George came to the house with a girl named Lenora who had been kicked of her father s plantation Essie knew he brought her so she would have someone else to talk to and be able to relate to She tried to make Lenora feel better by telling her that she had not been home in almost 2 years and she knew how she felt Lenora had been staying with her aunt in the projects Essie asked her to move in with her pages 351 377 Lenora moved into the house the next day but all she brought with her was a shopping bag When she saw the cake in the fridge it gave Essie an idea they could use it to throw a party for the high school students and hopefully get them excited about the movement again The party was scheduled for Saturday night and turned out to be a huge success that it even turned into a rally The next Wednesday was when the office was going to give out the clothes and when Essie and Lenora got to the office there were over 200 Negroes already forming a line outside the office They knew that the majority of people would just take the clothes without registering to vote Essie had never seen so many people in need and knew they would never have enough clothes to help all the Negroes in Madison County Overall only 20 people signed their names to be registered to vote Not soon after the clothes were given out a high school girl was raped by a white farmer while she was picking cotton Everyone thought it was awful but no one stopped sending their kids to pick cotton It was an institution in Madison County for high school girls to pick cotton The schools closed at noon for the first two months so that the girls would be available to go pick cotton The white man who raped her was mad that anyone was even making a big deal of what had happened He blamed it on the organization coming to town and that before they were there no one would have said anything The father of the girl who was raped filed an affidavit at the office and had to start carrying a gun to protect his family After he did there were several open assaults on young black girls by white men in the area Essie felt as if she was in Centreville again It had been 3 weeks since the church bombing in Birmingham and the KKK ha been very busy Essie feared that the threats would stop and that the action would begin and she would see KKK members riding through Canton If this happened she knew there would be blood owing for days from how many people would be murdered Finally out of friendship with Essie Doris decided to come work in Canton where they tried to start holding nightly workshops When Doris and Essie went to the high school campus the principal who was one of the biggest Uncle Tom squot in Canton told them that if they ever came back onto the campus that he would have them arrested The fact that the principal was against the rallies made the students want to participate even more On a Monday they all left school to attend a rally on Boyd Street behind the housing project Essie wanted to go but decided they needed to make their own choices and was just happy they were starting to act on their own While Essie and Lenora and Doris watched the rally from the porch of the Freedom House George came running up and told them he had almost been arrested because the police were blaming them for starting the rally They were also told that the police were going to raid the Freedom House one night and try to frame the girls for prostitution so it would cause a big scene and cause the organization to have to leave Canton Due to this rumor George started to stay somewhere else for a while so there would be no men there and make it impossible for the police to frame them for prostitution When the police discovered that there were no men staying in the house with the women they started to harass the girls almost every night of the week The girls started to be scared of staying there because until the sun came up there would be cars driving by and throwing bricks in the windows Doris became so scared she wouldn t sleep in a room by herself and began to sleep with Essie some nights Lenora would sleep with them too Sometimes they would just talk all night because they were too scared to go to sleep After a week of this Essie felt so tired she thought she was dying and that ever since she had come to Canton she hadn t had a good nights sleep Things got worse when they opened up a few workshops in the county The girls no longer had guys riding with them for protection because most had gone to California or north to find jobs Either George went with them or they went alone One night they traveled 26 miles out of the town and were chased by a group of drunken white men Doris who was driving freaked out and started to swerve Essie was worried they would turn over in a ditch and die She also considered the option of just stopping the car and best case scenario they were raped or beaten instead of being killed Finally she just closed her eyes and hoped for the best and when she reopened them they were back at the Freedom House Next time they went out George went with them One night when Essie got home Lenora had a pistol and Doris had a ri e for protection She wasn t too sure what two guns would do against the bombs and many guns that a KKK group would bring though The guns seemed to make her more scared around the house because she was worried they were secretly given to Doris and Lenora from a white person who wanted to set them up If they were caught with guns it would be the perfect excuse to arrest them One night the police showed up with K9 units and bloodhounds it scared the girls to death The dogs returned night after night and Essie knew it was the KKK s doing She thought that they were probably planning to set the house on fire and have the dogs attack them when they ran outside She had lost so much weight she was basically skin and bones at this point she was even losing hair Doris was so different than she had been in jail the thought of working in canton alone had messed her up before she even arrived Lenora was a little different She did not seem as scared as Doris and if she did she hid it very well Finally it was so hard for Essie to sleep she began to take sleeping pills and Doris still slept in her bed When they would have to get up to use the bathroom at night everyone would have to wake up so no one was accidentally shot In the middle of October every one went to a COFO meeting The COFO was a statewide coalition of the national civil rights groups in Mississippi it was held to decide whether or not Allen Henry should run for a freedom vote for the upcoming election for the governor of Mississippi At the meeting someone called Essie out and said she didn t know what she was talking about and had probably never worked with Negroes in Mississippi before Essie was infuriated and quickly stood and let the lady know that not only was she born in Mississippi she was born in Wilkinson County the toughest country for Negroes in the state She also informed her that she had been banned from returning to Wilkinson County and had been working in Canton for the past 5 months and that as far as she knew that qualified her to have an opinion on the subject One old man stood and told everyone he thought she was right and they should think of a way to impress the importance of voting on the black citizens Finally a committee was selected to make the final decision Essie was the only one not in favor of holding the Freedom Vote There were 3 weeks from the meeting until the vote actually took place During the preparation Essie finally decided that the fate of the Negroes was not in the hands of the older people but the teenagers The older people were just waiting to be called home to heaven they had already lived through a life of suffering and suppression The organizations in the movement needed to be working with the minds that were open to change It finally clicked in her head why five kids had been shot and not adults the teenagers were the ones who had the power to bring about change if they worked hard and wanted it badly enough On top of the elections the movement was planning on sending 5 farmers to the National Sharecroppers Fund s Conference in North Carolina and maybe they could return with some FHA loans to help their farms A meeting was held in the Canton office and around 35 farmers who were accompanied by their wives showed up When the meeting was just beginning the police were trying to spy on the meeting and find out what was happening which frightened the farmers and made them almost too nervous to speak Essie noticing what was going on walked over to the window to cover it and closed the door She heard the cops comment about what she had just done one of them saying that she needed to be taught a lesson this worried her After the police were no longer visible the farmers spoke clearly and loudly After the meeting one of the farmers gave her and Mrs Chinn a ride home When she arrived at the office the next morning a woman told her that the cops had waited to beat her up in an ally for two hours the night before she also pointed out the cop wanting to beat her up the most He was only slightly older than she was and had the most hateful eyes Essie had ever seen She was not too worried because most likely he would rape her rather than beat her up When Doris returned from visiting another office she was even scared during the day now She said that the KKK ruled the entire area she had visited and CORE didn t have enough participation to stay there The next big event in Canton was the state fair which was segregated The CORE s first thought was to boycott it but decided against it and instead made lea ets to pass out about the Freedom Vote Not many people at the fair accepted the lea ets that were being passed out While Essie was passing out the lea ets she saw the cop that wanted to beat her up and he started to follow her around She began to wonder if he had come from Centreville and was told by someone there to kill her A few high school boys acted as bodyguards from the police for her but the cop was still only a few yards behind them almost every time she turned around to look After passing out all the lea ets they bought tickets and rode a few of the rides While on the Ferris wheel with Doris she noticed the cop talking to the man who was running the ride They were up on the top for about 10 minutes before he finally let them down When they exited the ride the cop just stood there and laughed When she got back there was a letter from Mama waiting for her at the Freedom House Like the rest of her letters she was begging her to leave Mississippi Essie was mad with Mama and Doris they were driving her crazy The next morning when she woke up she felt as though she was choking like when she had to get out of Centreville for the summer once in high school So she decided to go visit Mrs Chinn s mother Mrs Dearon on her farm She always cheered her up and was the youngest old lady she had ever met Mrs Dearon s farm was the prettiest she had seen in Mississippi it had huge cedar trees and a small lake Doris tagged along and when they went to get in the car Doris was carrying the ri e and pistol with her They decided to keep them and to go hunting in the woods They had to be careful a cop did not see them with the guns or they would be arrested for sure When they arrived Mrs Dearon greeted Essie with a kiss and a hug and told them she was happy they came to visit but she could tell something was wrong with Essie It was so peaceful walking though the woods Right before Dave picked them up they decided to try some target practice on a can by cutting a round hole in it by shooting Doris was not very good but Essie was a natural When Dave got there he did not seem happy about the target practice but that did not bother the girls one bit Now that she returned to Canton she began to feel like she was choking again She began to question now more than ever before if God existed One day when Essie went to visit her friend Bobbie who had helped the CORE during the summer Bobbie showed her a KKK lea et of their blacklist with her picture on it This was the worst scares of her life She couldn t figure out why she was on the list except she was the only one from Wilkinson County working in the state Most people on the blacklist left the state one minister went as far as Africa She began to think more and more about the cop that followed her and wondered if he knew she was on the blacklist On November 12 and 3 the Freedom Vote was held The week before there were 25 cops added to the police force in Canton there was too much confusion and work and too many threats On Friday while sitting on the freedom house porch Essie decided she was going to take a break from the movement When they tallied up how many Negroes had voted in the election it was 2800 more than they had expected On the final evening of the freedom she told George and Doris she was taking a break but they did not believe her The next day people asked if she had been serious about taking a break no one realized she was about to have a breakdown if she stayed much longer They tried to make her feel bad by posting posters on the wall with inspirational sayings about quitters never win which upset her because she had thought everyone would understand Doris did not last much longer than Essie She was not yet positive if she would ever return to the movement she was so tired watching Negroes suffer so badly On the train ride home she told all the negroes the bus was desegregated and then she knew she wouldn t ever be through with the movement pages 378 389 She arrived in New Orleans around 11 PM and was so tired she left her things and decided she would get them in the morning With one suitcase she made her way to Grandma Winnie s house When she got there Winnie said that she could not stay with her because she was just too tired So Essie just turned and walked away she guessed that she was probably scared to have her with her due to her work in the movement Uncle George Lee who had set their house on fire when she was only 4 so because she had nowhere else to go she decided to see if he would let her stay with him When she got there he and his wife Etha seemed excited to see her they said she could stay as long as she wanted and asked all about the movement Adline also lived with there but was not home when Essie had arrived Essie slept until around 2 PM the next day When she woke up around 9 PM after she had fallen back to sleep Adline was sitting across from her She told her that Iunior was living with Winnie working as a short order cook She also discovered George Lee s house was used to gamble She also went to Maple Hill to try to get her old job When she saw the owner Mr Steve he gladly told her she could come back to work there and when she went inside everything was the same Everyone was so excited she was back She started the next Tuesday she did not really want to work and was working like a machine After the first time she was paid she and Adline found an apartment to live in together for only 50 a month Soon Mama would be coming to visit for her birthday When Iunior knocked on the door Essie hope Adline would answer it but he didn t and so Essie who had not seen her in 5 years opened the door to see her Mama Iennie Anne and Junior While Mama and Adline were talking she noticed Mama was carrying a baby Essie finally asked Mama if it was sleeping and Mama seemed hurt it had taken her so long to notice her The baby was 3 months old Mama got around to asking if when she was going back to Mississippi and she told her that she didn t know if she was going back She had a good job and was settled with Adline for the time being Mama got mad and said that she was wasting her college degree and could be a teacher instead of a waitress After seeing more of the family at George Lee s Essie had to leave early because she was so upset about how estranged from everyone she had become She soon decided she was going to return to the movement in Canton but couldn t figure out any reasons to make that decision On Friday November 22 1963 IFK was shot and Essie felt that any chance of civil rights had died with him On her way home from work she saw the headlines of the New Orleans States in huge bold letters PRESIDENT IS DEAD Essie felt as thought IFK had made Negroes especially her have a hope in real Freedomquot pages 390 405 During the week following the death of IFK Iames noticed that Essie had been in her own world and told her she needed a vacation from the US She was going insane and knew she had to get involved with the movement again and she called a girl working with CORE in New Orleans and started attending their meetings every week Her new canvassing partner was a white girl named Erika who was the editor of the Tulane Drama Review When Adline met her she did not know how to react because she had never been involved socially with white people After 2 months of helping the CORE in New Orleans the number of people registered to vote was never more than 35000New Orleans was happy with where they were Most of the population came from the rural south and compared to living there New Orleans was utopia The first weekend of March Iunior went home to visit Centreville Essie knew he would bring back bad news When he got back to New Orleans it was late at night and he went straight to see his sisters He had something from mama for them and had to let them know that Emma s brother Clift had been murdered He also told them about how he went to visit Daddy and Emma and they were going crazy Adline and Junior were very upset by all the recent killings in Woodville and Centreville Adline was even crying She had never seen them react to any of the other killings in Woodville or Centreville The next day Essie realized she had not cried at all for Clift s death she was out of tears She was so tired when she woke up she could barely stand up so she took a hot bath and went back to bed until 1030 when she had to leave for work When she woke up to the sound of her alarm she felt as thought there was a heavy weight on her chest and she could hardly breathe She felt as though she was paralyzed and stayed there without moving for 3 hours She started crying and after that she seemed to get better She called the restaurant to let them know what had happened Joe was concerned and Waite was mad she hadn t called earlier but she told him there had been a death in her family and she was having a really hard time with it She decided to see a doctor who prescribed her medicine iron tablets and tranquilizers because she was overexerted and anemic Emma had told her not to write but she felt as thought she had to In her letter she told her about her grief for Clift s death and asked about the three people murdered in their car and sent her regards to Daddy and Ruby and the children Finally she put it in the mail and regretted it as soon as she let go of it She was worried that the cops would be monitoring the mail sent to the immediate family of Clift because they did that to Mama ever since she had joined the movement For 2 months she worked at Maple Hill and with the voter registration work for CORE as well as moving into a bigger apartment with Adline In midApril she began to restless again She had never truly enjoyed herself or been able to relax like most people did in the spring Adline was buying new spring skirts People who could be so content during such suffering really irked Essie One weekend she went with Erika down to the French Quarters for a party where even the people who were involved in the movement were getting spring fever she knew she had to leave and go back to Mississippi The weekend after the party she quit working at Maple Hill and began to canvass for core full time Finally she got a letter from Emma In it she told her how they were extremely sad about the death of her brother All that she could find out about the three murders were the names of the victims Eli Iackson Dennis Iones and Lula Mae Anderson They were all found dead in the car off of highway 61 which was 10 miles to the North of Woodville Two of them were shot and Eli s neck was snapped She spoke of how Clift was found riddle of a buckshot on a local road as he was on his way home from work She ended the letter by letting her know that Daddy sent his love She began to cry and started to feel angry and helpless because she could not make things better she couldn t even go home During the second week of May Essie got word from Tougaloo that her credits from Natchez had transferred and she was scheduled to graduate during the last week of May Essie did not have enough money to buy a new dress for graduation so she found an old white dress from high school and shined some of Aldine s black shoes so well that they looked almost brand new When Essie prepared to leave on a Tuesday night Adline cried and after some time of just sitting there she asked what time the graduation was and told Essie that she and junior were going to come The next morning she got on the Greyhound and headed for Iackson When she got to Tougaloo she ate dinner in the cafeteria and then went to the King s house to see what was happening in the movement The King s reminded her that the following day was the oneyear anniversary of the Woolworth s sitin and it was a day worth celebrating The target this year was Morrison s Cafeteria and they had a dignitary from India included in the group Their timing was off and the sitin did not go as planned when they got there the cops had already arrived and barred the doors No one could afford to go to jail because the CORE didn t have the money to bail anyone out and five people in the group had to graduate on Sunday So they got back into the King s car and drove off Essie was thrilled with the summer project of getting people to register to vote but also being able to open Freedom School and community centers for remedial courses to be taught The office was a huge mess when Essie stopped by there had been bricks thrown at windows by nightriders Mississippi was beginning to crack down on legislation and trying to outlaw all phases of the project She made a plan to meet with Bob Moses to discuss the murders in Woodville which he knew a lot about However he did not know that her family was directly involved She had learned from speaking with bob that the man who was killed in Liberty Mississippi was Louis Allen who was killed because he witnessed the murder of Herbert Lee by EH Hurst a member of the Mississippi legislature Allen decided to move to Milwaukee to get away from Hurst but 12 hours before he was going to move he had half of his head blown off by a shotgun as he crawled under his truck to get away from his murderer His body was found by one of his children Essie was guilty about her uncle s death and Bob could tell when he spoke with her He thought her uncle s murder was just part of the terror killings that took place in the south to keep the Negroes in their place Talking to Bob only confirmed what she already knew Civil Rights organizations were powerless about doing something about the murders that were taking place She was upset that the government could support the Peace Corps to protect and assist the underprivileged people in other countries when some native born Americans were not even considered human right here in the US She was so upset and angry after her meeting with Bob she walked all the way to see Dave and Mattie Dennis who lived 3 miles away She got back to her room around 1230 and was so tired she fell right to sleep and dreamt about being back in Canton pages 406 420 On Friday May 29 1964 Essie was on her way back to Canton Mississippi When she arrived it was like returning to a family after being away for almost 6 months She was given a marker and told to help make freedom slogans as soon as she got there Mrs Devine said that there were over 500 adults expected to march and if they didn t come through there were around 800 high school students that were going to march 300 adults showed up and Essie couldn t believe the changes that had occurred in Canton while she was away On the way to the church Essie spotted the cop that loved to follow her around There were also around 300 teenagers in the church and watching them brought all of Essie s hope for change back She could see them becoming normal people and living a good life When they were about to leave the church she noticed her cop taking pictures of her The teenagers noticed what he was doing and embarrassed him by posing but he told them he only wanted Essie s picture This made her suspicious and think that maybe he was from Centreville When a cop asked the teenagers why they were even marching and called one of them a nigger the teenager replied with saying the Negroes were marching to experience a little bit of freedom that they got to experience everyday The cops laughed saying they wouldn t know what to do with it and the teenager responded that they would get it and then would show them what they would do with it Then two cops jumped the ditch and began pulling McKinley Hamilton by both arms into the street They thought he was resisting and began beating him on the head with their billy clubs Not soon after this started two more cops joined in The boy was laying on the ground surrounded by a pool of blood Soon Essie s attention was taken by something else that was going on Teenagers were yelling at the two FBI men who had sat there doing nothing while watching Hamilton be beaten to death by the cops Many people were not in a position to go to jail so Reverend King asked for volunteers The group was lead by an 86 year old man who walked with a cane When the group began to march Essie began to cry and watched as they marched toward the line of cops in helmets with guns and billy clubs When the old man was only a few feet a way he picked up his cane and started to walk without it which toughened almost every Negro that watched him do this A 9 PM curfew was established for Canton2 weeks before the march As soon as the CORE workers finally heard the news the McKinley was alive but unconscious they left Canton as quickly as they could On their way back to Tougaloo one night they were chased and then stopped and surrounded by around 15 white men who were going to kill them but let them go and told them never to return to Canton again At 10 on Sunday morning Essie was in line for the baccaluarreate ceremony and took a nap until the graduation ceremony was about to begin She was late and had to run to graduation in the rain and was soaked by the time she got there After graduation the kings took Essie loan and Memphis out to dinner because their parents had not attended the graduation After graduation Essie and loan stayed in the King s home while they went to the Gulf for vacation Essie road to New Orleans with Richard Hayley and arrived around 530 at the apartment that Adline lived in When she got inside Adline handed her a gift and told her that she decided to get her something nice instead of attending the graduation Inside the box was one of the prettiest dresses she had ever seen After Essie opened her present Adline asked about her diploma and asked to see it because Essie was the first person in her family to ever graduate from college When she saw it she was surprised it looked exactly like a high school diploma and told Essie she was thinking of trying to get her own pages 421 424 Essie did not stay long in New Orleans because she had no way of earning money there and was sad she had quit her job so soon Right after she got back Tim and Carol from California were going to see their friend who had been arrested in the Canton Freedom Day March asked if she wanted to ride with them to Mississippi she said yes and left the next morning When Essie saw Mrs Chinn she told Essie that if she was her that she would not waste anymore time in Canton since she had no ties there it was getting worse than ever before When Essie went walking around town she hardly saw any Negroes at all The whole place looked deserted and she felt worse than she ever had before When she got back to the house she got into Dave Dennis s car and headed for Jackson When the pulled onto Lynch Street she saw a big Greyhound bus parked in front of them with Bob hanging out the door he yelled and asked her to come and testify in Washington Soon Gene Young a 12 year old popped his head out and told her to come on so she jumped on just as the doors were closing and sat down next to Gene who told her to get the spirit on While they were driving as she looked out the window of the bus she began to think about everything she had witnessed the Taplin Burning Birmingham church bombing Ever s death blood coming out of McKinley s head and the other murders She could hear Mrs Chinn saying We ain t big enough to do it by ourselves Then Gene looked at her and asked her if they were going to get it right while in Washington to which she replied I wonder I wonder
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