Once upon a time I taught school in the hills of Tennessee, where the broad dark vale of the Mississippi begins to roll and crumple to greet the Alleghanies. I was a Fisk student then, and all Fisk men think that Tennessee--beyond the ... Read more of A NEGRO SCHOOLMASTER IN THE NEW SOUTH at Martin Luther King.caInformational Site Network Informational
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Jane Oliver




From: Arkansas

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Jane Oliver
Route 4, near airport, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 81


"I'm certainly one of em, cause I was in the big house. When Miss Liza
married they give sister to her and I stayed with Miss Netta. Her name
was Drunetta Rawls. That was in Mississippi. We come to Arkansas when I
was small.

"I remember when they run us to Texas, and we stayed there till freedom
come. I remember hearin' em read the free papers. Mama died in Texas and
they buried her the day they read the free papers. I know. I was out
playin' and Miss Lucy, that was my young mistress, come out and say,
'Jane, you go in and see your mother, she wants you.' I was busy playin'
and didn't want to go in and I member Miss Lucy say, 'Poor little fool
nigger don't know her mother's dyin'.' I went in then and said, 'Mama,
is you dyin'?' She say, 'No, I ain't; I died when you was a baby.' You
know, she meant she had died in sin. She was a christian.

"Me and Lucy played together all the time--round about the house and in
the kitchen. Little Marse Henry, that was big old Marse Henry's son, he
was a captain in the army. We all called him Little Marse Henry. Old
mistress was good to us. Us chillun called her Miss Netta. Best woman I
ever seed. Me and Lucy growed up together. Looks like I can see just the
way the house looked and how we used to go down to the big gate and
play. I sits here and studies and wonders if I'd know that place today.
That's what I study bout.

"I used to hear em say we only stayed in Texas nine months and the white
folks brought us back.

"My uncle Simon Rawls, he took me after the war. Then I worked for Mrs.
Adkins.

"I went to school a little and learned to read prints. The teacher tried
to get me to write but I wouldn't do it. And since then I have wished so
much I had learned to write. Oh mercy! Old folks would tell me, 'Well,
when you get up the road, you'll wish you had.' I didn't know what they
meant but I know now they meant when I got old.

"I was married when I was young--I don't think I was fifteen.

"Yes ma'am, I've worked hard. I've always lived in the country.

"I can remember when the white folks refugeed us to Texas. Oh we did
hate the Yankees. If I ever seed a Yankee I didn't know it but I heard
the white folks talkin' bout em.

"I used to hear em talk bout old Jeff Davis and Abe Lincoln.

"Bradley County was where we lived fore we went to Texas and afterward.
Colonel Ed Hampton's plantation jined the Rawls plantation on the
Arkansas River where it overflowed the land. I loved that better than
any place I ever seed in my life.

"I couldn't say what I think of the young folks now. They is different
from what we was. Yes, Lord, they is different. Sometimes I think they
is better and sometimes wuss. I just thanks the Lord that I'm here--have
come this far.

"When I bought this place from Mr. R.M. Knox he said, 'When I'm in my
grave you'll thank me that you took my advice and put your savings in a
Home.' I do thank him. I been here thirty years and I get along. God
bless you."





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Previous: Helen Odom



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