Local Civil Rights Leaders Interviewed For National Project - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/13/02

Local Civil Rights Leaders Interviewed For National Project

A nationally recognized group called "The HistoryMakers" spent the last three days on the coast. They interviewed Dr. Gilbert Mason, Bishop Joseph Howze, Sidney Rushing, Rev. Harry Tartt, Lanier Phillips and Katie Booth. All six people broke racial barriers to improve the lives of their families and their communities.

On Wednesday, the documentary's focus was on Mrs. Booth.

A white light shined on her black skin as she talked about the spices used in southern cuisine. A camera crew recorded every word she said. The 95 year old Gulfport chemist relived her days in Mississippi and Illinois. She talked about battling racism. And she remembered her fight to cure the sick. "I was working to try and make a living," she said.

Katie Booth survived and flourished during an era when African Americans struggled for an identity. Her fight for civil rights earned her numerous awards. That's why a group called The HistoryMakers recorded her memories, so generations to come could hear her resolve.

Larry Crowe interviewed Mrs. Booth. He's done 90 interviews for this project. "There is nothing like history from the first person," he said. "People telling their own stories."

During the height of the civil rights movement, many white men had very little interest in the story of a black woman. Yet four decades later, there was Scott Stearns, sitting behind the camera while Mrs. Booth stole the spotlight. "To me, it's part of everyone's history," the videographer said. "It isn't just African American history."

During a break from the two hour talk, Mrs. Booth talked about the significance of the interview. "I think it's important to just have it there for true history," she said. "I want them to remember that I remembered everything that was bad, and also everything that was good. But I want them to remember that I, as a person, have always tried to make something good, regardless."

The HistoryMakers documentary will include 5,000 well known and unsung African Americans -- people like the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and former New York Mayor David Dinkins.

by Brad Kessie

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