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Interview with Mary Mackey, September 13, 2016

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:21 - Family and childhood home

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Partial Transcript: Mrs. Mackey, if I recall, you weren't born here in Tutwiler, were you?

Segment Synopsis: Mackey describes growing up on a farm outside of Tutwiler, Mississippi. She talks about how her father was a farm worker and her mother had 11 children. Mackey was the oldest girl and she discusses taking care of her younger siblings and cooking for the family. She describes her childhood house as a two-bedroom shack, mentioning the wood burning heater, outhouse, water pump, and well.

Keywords: Florida oranges; Leflore, Mississippi; childbirth; community; cotton; survival skills; welcoming; work ethic

00:10:23 - Parents

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Partial Transcript: What was, uh, what was the farm like?

Segment Synopsis: Mackey describes how her father worked as a tenant farmer on a plantation for a white man. She talks about how he had to work everyday in order to keep the land, mentioning how he was unhappy in his old age when he could no longer work. Mackey describes her mother's caring disposition which motivated her to take in another mother and her three children in order to keep that family together.

Keywords: blood clots; community; farming; fishing; sharecropping

00:17:54 - Chopping cotton

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Partial Transcript: You, uh, you said all the kids were out chopping cotton and picking cotton some.

Segment Synopsis: Mackey describes how she worked in the field chopping cotton in order to pay for her school clothes and support her family. She talks about earning six dollars for a 12 hour day of hard work, mentioning the dangers posed by the heat, snakes, and hoes. She discusses having a child at 16 and continuing to work. She describes being sprayed by chemicals from crop dusters and tractors as she was working.

Keywords: Johnson grass; cotton scout; herbicides; motherhood; pesticides

00:27:57 - Education

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Partial Transcript: And so, you were, uh, you said you were chopping to pay for your school clothes. You were going to school at this time?

Segment Synopsis: Mackey describes attending school through 7th grade. She talks about how she hated school because her teachers did not believe in her potential. She mentions how a local doctor and nun helped her receive her GED after she dropped out of school. She discusses taking care of five children on her own before marrying and having more kids.

Keywords: children; marriage; motherhood; survival

00:34:18 - Hunting and fishing

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Partial Transcript: You said your dad taught you how to survive.

Segment Synopsis: Mackey describes how her father taught her survival skills, including hunting, fishing, cooking, gardening, and chopping wood. She talks about how hunting and fishing provided a large part of her diet. She discusses how she did not worry about the health of the animals and fish until people started talking about pollution in the early 1970s after fish started dying and cattle were poisoned from the water.

Keywords: Black Bayou, Mississippi; Cassidy Bayou; Vance, Mississippi; bayou; buffalo fish; catfish; family; pollutants; toxins; water quality

00:42:00 - Positive memories

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Partial Transcript: What are some of your good memories, the things you like thinking about?

Segment Synopsis: Mackey describes her positive memories of her children and siblings. She talks about living in the same area as her family after she married until her father was forced to leave when he could no longer farm. She describes saving money and purchasing a house in Tutwiler with loans from the bank.

Keywords: husband; kickball; soccer; tenant farming; trustworthiness

00:48:49 - Garden and paternal family

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Partial Transcript: So growing up, did you say you had a garden as well? Did your family have a garden?

Segment Synopsis: Mackey describes raising gardens both as a child and as an adult. She talks about her limited knowledge of her father's childhood, mentioning his isolation from other family members. She discusses how she barely knew her father's family and only grew close to some of them once her father died.

Keywords: aunts; family history; greens; okra; paternal family; peas; tomatoes; uncles

00:53:18 - Granddaughter's career and family reunion

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Partial Transcript: Did you have family members that moved up North or to any big cities?

Segment Synopsis: Mackey describes how some of her family members moved North or to large Southern cities, mentioning her daughter, granddaughter, and sister. She talks about how one of her sons died when Mackey's house burned down, forcing his daughter to move back in with her mother. Mackey describes that granddaughter's experience at college and her career with a blood bank. Mackey also talks about how she created her own holiday, Pig's Day, where family members would come together on Labor Day weekend.

Keywords: Freeport, Illinois; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; career; commercial driver's licence; death; extended family; house fire; nursing home

01:01:36 - Chemicals in the garden and pollutants in town

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Partial Transcript: You said, you were telling me earlier, uh, one time that a plane flew over your garden when you were growing up. What happened there?

Segment Synopsis: Mackey describes how her family got sick after a crop duster flew over their garden and sprayed it with chemicals. She talks about the horrible working conditions in the picture frame factory where she worked, mentioning an ongoing lawsuit about toxins in the factory. She also discusses living near a cotton gin that polluted the air with dust and other particulates.

Keywords: asthma; community center; doctor; family garden; pesticides; poisoning; volunteering

01:07:55 - Quilting program

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Partial Transcript: So how was, uh, how has Tutwiler changed over the years. What was it like in the 1970s as you remember it?

Segment Synopsis: Mackey describes how Tutwiler has lost many businesses since the 1970s. She talks about her involvement at the community center where she is the director of the senior citizens program and involved with the children's program and the quilting program. She talks about how the quilting program was started in the late 1980s when a community organizer arrived in town and connected quilters in the community with buyers in California. Mackey talks about the success of the quilting program, mentioning how it was feature on the television program Sixty Minutes

Keywords: Tutwiler Community Education Center; Tutwiler Quilters; quilt tops; quilting; tote bags