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Interview with James Richard Carter, September 6, 2016

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:13 - Early farming days

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Partial Transcript: And, Mr. Carter, you were born here in Rolling Fork...

Segment Synopsis: Carter talks about his childhood growing up in Rolling Fork, Mississippi. Carter explains that, as a kid, he was part of the 4-H and Rotary club and recalls that his father was a delta planter. Carter states that, at fifteen, after his father's death, he started his first crops, on which he grew corn and cotton. Carter explains that he eventually had to put a hiatus on farming and joined the army reserves due to the onset of World War II. Carter talks about farming conditions during the mid 1900's. Carter states that mules were often used for labor, and sharecroppers performed much of the manual work.

Keywords: Mississippi State University; Rolling Fork, Mississippi; United States Army; World War II

00:07:08 - Farming during the 1940's and '50's

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Partial Transcript: And did your mother always have a kinda...

Segment Synopsis: In order to assist with the family farm, Carter recalls he had his college courses at Mississippi State scheduled so that he could farm in the afternoon. Carter explains that three successful farmers in the community also gave him and his family advice on running the farm. Carter talks about the fact that many African American tenant farmers worked on his farm, and that the majority of them received daily wages. Carter explains that Lyme, nitrogen fertilizers, and pesticides were utilized for farm management and soil nutrition. Carter states that he started to use tractors and pesticides on the family farm around 1948 and that shortly after, during the 1950's, many tenant farmers were let go. Carter recalls that the family farm was a partnership previously owned by the older generation of men in the family.

Keywords: Lyme; fertilizers; pesticides; tenant farming

00:14:31 - 4-H Club/ The Delta Council

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Partial Transcript: Did you get involved in, kinda, the politics...

Segment Synopsis: Carter talks about some of his work conducted at the Delta Council and 4-H Clubs while he was in school at Mississippi. Carter explains that the Delta Council conducted agricultural research through Mississippi State University. Carter recalls that he often traveled around as a member of the State-Wide Farm Bureau and was very active in the Delta Council.

Keywords: 4-H Club; Delta Council, Mississippi; Mississippi State University

00:20:10 - Delta Council (cont.) / National Cotton Council

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Partial Transcript: Were the interest of the farm Bureau always the same...

Segment Synopsis: Carter recalls that, throughout his time in the Delta Council, the Farmers Bureau and the Delta Council were aligned in their ideologies concerning farming. Carter explains that as a member of the Delta Council, he assisted in the development and distribution of cotton gins for agriculture. Carter describes the racial makeup of the Delta Council, as no African Americans served in leadership positions on the council. Carter recalls that as a later member of the National Cotton Council he often assisted in communications between congressmen (such as James Eastland) and the agricultural community.

Keywords: Delta Council; Farm Bureau; James Eastland; National Cotton Council; Theodore G. Bilbo

00:27:01 - The Delta Experiment Station / The impact of farming research

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Partial Transcript: Who were, on a day-to-day basis...

Segment Synopsis: Carter talks about his typical interactions as a farmer during the 1950's and 60's. Carter recalls that most of his interactions revolved around communicating with researchers from the Delta Experiment Station and county agents (government officials who advised farmers on farming and marketing techniques). Carter explains how his farm's management got increasingly complex as the farm grew in size. Carter talks about how the 1960's bought on an era of change in farming research and technology. Carter states that decisions over insecticide usage required the assistance of researchers, as competition among farmers spurred high-crop yields.

Keywords: Entomologist; county agent; marketing; research

00:33:19 - The impact of farming research (cont.) / The expansion of Carter's farm

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Partial Transcript: Would you always follow the recommendation of...

Segment Synopsis: Carter explains that the research conducted over pesticide distribution and farming economics by experiment stations in the 1960's proved useful providing farmers with advice on farm management. Carter explains, that during the 1950's and 60's, his farm rose to a size of 18,000 acres which spanned over both Sharkey and Issaquena County, Mississippi. Carter states that many of his partnerships are with family members.

Keywords: Issaquena County, Mississippi; Sharkey County, Mississippi; economics; pesticide

00:40:28 - Challenges of farming / Changes in Mississippi

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Partial Transcript: You might be the person who's been farming the longest in all the delta...

Segment Synopsis: Carter explains that his biggest challenge in farm management is fortifying relationships between family members and also farm workers. Carter talks about the development of the tractors he used on his farm throughout the years. Carter describes the variety of foods his farm provides which includes soybeans, rice, corn, cotton, and more recently he has invested in catfish farming. Carter explains that his farm's cotton production has decreased throughout the years, while he has increased his acreage of irrigated crops. Carter recalls that the research provided through the pesticide manufacturers was often taken with a grain of salt due to their possible intentions. Carter talks about the rise of black politicians in the state of Mississippi. Carter adds that after school integration in Mississippi there is a new division of races where blacks students are concentrated in public schools while the majority of white students are in private schooling.

Keywords: African American; Delta, Mississippi; Frank Corban; Rolling Fork, Mississippi; segregation