Eva Harris Interview

Mrs. Eva Harris

Interviewed by Mrs. Kay Calcote

July 1987

Calcote: Mrs. Harris, we certainly appreciate the opportunity of coming into your home and asking you some questions about the very important and vital role that you have played in community affairs as an educator. You have had a certainly full career. You have been a teacher in the public schools, you have been a college professor, you have been a high school principal, a supervisor of county schools and you have held various offices in the state and local educational organizations. In what role do you feel you made the greatest contribution to the community or to your fellow human beings?

Harris: Well, I’ll have to start with teaching. I feel that I made a great contribution teaching. I was a classroom teacher for thirteen years. I had an opportunity of teaching boys and girls who only had enough to attend school about three months out of the year. I would take my time allotted, recess time and what-have-you, and bring them back in and take them around my knees, so to speak, and teach them how to read and write and figure. And those students, some of them, especially the boys, they grew up and did the high school work and went on to their Master’s and some of them are some of the greatest principals, high school principals that we have in Mississippi.

Calcote: And you kept up with them through the years?

Harris: I kept up with them through the years.

Calcote: Can you think of any particular ones by name?

Harris: Yes, we have one. Roosevelt Otis is one who became principal of the high school in Columbia. Some of them went into business. One of our funeral establishments here, this young man founded that, opened it up, and conducted it into a success and it is still in operation. Williams Mortuary right down this little street. Now he was one of the boys, “three month school boys.” That’s the only time they had. They were living on a white man’s farm. They’d have to make the crop and gather it and it’d be December before they’d be through gathering it. And the last of February they’d have to go back and start the crop again.

Calcote: So you had to do a lot of teaching in a short period of time.

Harris: Right, right. And I had an opportunity to encourage them and I have had products who are in all walks of life that I know that I had something to do with their success.

Calcote: That’s as rewarding as anything you can hope for.

Harris: It’s rewarding. That’s what I’m living off of today.

Calcote: At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to be an educator?

Harris: I’ve known it, I was born a teacher.

Calcote: Tell me a little bit about your early schooling. You said you started in school in about 1907.

Harris: About 1907. You see we didn’t have any age then for children to go to school. I think I started when I was about five years old.

Calcote: Can you tell us a little bit about what school was like then?

Harris: Yes. Well, it was very ill-equipped, you know. The school buildings were not very well built and there were no supplies. We had to get out and get our own trash to make a fire. No lights as such, no electric lights.

Calcote: What about books? Were you adequately furnished with books?

Harris: I had a speller, just a speller and somebody else maybe had an arithmetic and we went on like that, well, we went on like that all the way through grammar school. Never had a set, a complete set of books. So after I grew up to about twelve I guess, I took a job, went to work for a white woman, the postmaster in Wesson, but we lived in Lincoln County. I was a helper. At the age of twelve, thirteen, fourteen I was an excellent cook, much better than I am now. And I prepared her dinner every day and served it. She came home at twelve. And after she ate her dinner, we left. She went back to work and I went to school. I went to school in the afternoon.

Calcote: I see. And was this in high school?

Harris: No, no, I was still in grammar school.

Calcote: Still in grammar school.

Harris: And I came then, or my father moved on down the line. He was between here and Wesson. And he moved here some sixty-five years ago. I can’t guess when. And I came here and started school here in the public school in Brookhaven in the eighth grade. I just got in a grade; I didn’t get passed a grade, I just got in the eighth grade.

Calcote: Did they test you to see what you knew?

Harris: No, no. They didn’t test me. I just told them I was eighth grade. I got in the eighth grade and I went to school from September until December in Lincoln County. Eighth grade. Then I went to Prentiss Institute and completed my eighth grade work at Prentiss in 1922-23. That’s the session. And I graduated from eighth grade and back then eighth grade graduation was a big thing. We had a program. We got our certificates on the stage. Prentiss was in much better shape than the rural school I went to up here. But I was getting old and I really couldn’t see my way as to what I really wanted to do.

Calcote: Were you thinking about teaching at that time?

Harris: Yes, I had known since I was seven that I really…

Calcote: Really wanted to get into it.

Harris: And I worked toward that end. And I decided and I didn’t make a formal education at Prentiss Institute. It was a boarding school. I hitch-hiked my way up there and didn’t anybody know I was coming but I went out there and I was received very well. And I joined the eighth grade class and was there five years when I graduated from high school at Prentiss Institute.

Calcote: Did many of your eighth grade classmates go on to Prentiss Institute?

Harris: Not any of these, no. Not any of those that came along with me.

Calcote: I see.

Harris: There were a few other kids from Brookhaven out there but they were not my classmates. I didn’t have any classmates go.

Calcote: Was Prentiss Institute a paying school then? Did you have to pay to go?

Harris: Yes, it was a boarding school.

Calcote: It was a boarding school but you didn’t board?

Harris: Yes, I did, but I didn’t have any money. I didn’t have any money and my daddy didn’t have any. And when I got out there I really didn’t know what to do then. He carried me. I just, as I said, thumbed a way. He was an insurance writer and I knew he went out there every town weeks. And by some hook or crook–I can’t tell you how–I heard of Prentiss Institute and I just got my little things together and went to my daddy and told him I wanted to go. and he said, “Go ahead.” But he didn’t have any money so I didn’t have a dime, really, when I got out there. The principal of the school was such a fine person. They didn’t bother me for two weeks. I ate and I slept and I went on upstairs and the girls shared their beds with me. There were some Brookhaven girls there you see. They shared their beds with me. After two weeks the principal sent for me to come to the office. You don’t want to hear all this do you?

Calcote: Yes I do. I want to hear all of it.

Harris: So the principal sent for me to come to his office and I went down and so he questioned me and he asked me about who was going to pay for my school. I told him I didn’t have any money. He asked me about my father and how he could get in touch with him and I gave him my father’s, I told him he could get in touch with my father. I don’t think we had a telephone then. He called my father and my father said, “Well, you’ll just have to send her back, ’cause I can’t pay her way.” And he told me what my father said and he said, “What do you think of it?” I said, “Well, I can work.” And it was a school which provided an opportunity for students to work their way through. And he said, “What can you do?” And I said, “Anything.” You couldn’t get a job on that now. You can’t go somewhere and say, “I’ll do anything.” You have to be special. I said, “I can do anything.” He said, “Can you cook, wash and iron?” “Yes.” So he put me in the kitchen. I cooked for the students and teachers along with one other girl. We had to get up at three o’clock in the morning and prepare the breakfast and all that sort. Anyway, I worked there for five years. I didn’t have a dime. I didn’t pay one penny toward my expenses.

Calcote: But your determination got you through.

Harris: I got through and I went to school. I went ’cause we had vacant periods of course. Periods were only forty-five minutes and I’d go to a class this forty-five minutes and come back to the kitchen and the next forty-five go back to class. And to my surprise I was, I graduated third in my high school class because there were some students there that, some of them were coming in from the community, you know.

Calcote: That’s wonderful. What sort of curriculum did you have?

Harris: We had an ordinary high school curriculum. We had English, history, mathematics, science. We had science. And we learned. Twelfth grade we had, I had two courses of French.

Calcote: Would you consider this a really progressive school for blacks at the time?

Harris: Oh, yes. I would say it’s the best that could have been had at that time.

Calcote: Were there any others in the state?

Harris: Yes. We had Piney Woods that I mentioned to you that you don’t know about. It’s up at Braxton, Mississippi, between Jackson and Laurel.

Calcote: Were these church funded or where did the funding come form? It wasn’t from the…

Harris: Donations and pledges, mostly from the North, East and West. White people. And many of them left property. Many of them left their fortunes to the Prentiss Institute.

Calcote: Did you have to take a test to get in?

Harris: No.

Calcote: Were there certain criteria for graduating then? You had to pass, of course.

Harris: Yes, you had to complete those units, see. We had those four courses.

Calcote: How large a school was it?

Harris: Oh, it was large. We have a girls’ dorm, a boys’ dorm, agriculture, home economics, music. It was large.

Calcote: Did most of the graduates go on to college?

Harris: Quite a few. You’d be surprised and they’re in every walk of life that you could mention from Prentiss. We have them in every walk of life. Doctors, lawyers, professors, counselors, psychologists, and….

Calcote: Did most of them stay in the South?

Harris: No, they’re gone. I’m almost the only one that stayed. Almost the only one who stayed.

Calcote: But others went to the North?

Harris: Yes, they went other places. Many of them went to Alcorn and many of the young men took agriculture. They came back and they were the agriculturists in the state. Now, they worked in the state and quite a few of the young ladies because they were in Home Economics. And Alcorn was at that time Agricultural and Mechanical College. But quite a few of them went out of the state. [break]

Calcote: Now I want to ask you a little bit about your plans upon graduation from Prentiss. How did you decide where to go to college and what sort of preparation and plans were made?

Harris: All right. When I graduated from college, I mean high school…. Incidentally, I was called back to Prentiss to teach. I was called, you see, there weren’t too many… [break]

Calcote: Is that before you went to college? You were asked back to teach at Prentiss? Go ahead.

Harris: When I started teaching first grade, I started teaching first grade at Prentiss, the beginners. And I taught there that year and the little money that I made, I was making only thirty five dollars a month. But I saved out of that and took my money and that’s how I went to college through the summer. I

would go to Alcorn during the summer school, twelve weeks during the summer. That’s how I got my college.

Calcote: And you only went to school during the summer?

Harris: Yes, except for the last year. I went to Tuskegee one summer and the other summers I went to Alcorn.

Calcote: How many years did it take you to finish?

Harris: Well, let’s see if I can tell you. I graduated from high school in 1927 and I graduated from Alcorn in 1942. I got my B.S. degree.

Calcote: So it did take you a while, but you did it.

Harris: I did.

Calcote: So then you were over forty years old when you graduated from college?

Harris: Yes.

Calcote: And you were married at that time.

Harris: Yes. And I graduated from college, then that’s when I became a supervisor. I taught thirteen years at Prentiss; that’s the only place I ever taught was at Prentiss except as a Visiting Professor or something of that sort. I taught as a Visiting Professor at Alcorn after I came back. I worked on a little while longer and then I decided well, I’m going and get my Master’s Degree. And I got it in the summer. I went to Northwestern for three summers. Northwestern is tough. It’s tough.

Calcote: Yes, I’ve heard that it is. Why did you decide to go there?

Harris: Well, you see, we couldn’t go to school in the state of Mississippi. No black folks.

Calcote: No Master’s degree programs for black folks.

Harris: No, see, not for anybody in the state of Mississippi. You couldn’t go. Mississippi was not accepting black folks in it’s colleges and universities.

Calcote: O.K. But Alcorn was.

Harris: Alcorn was completely black.

Calcote: But you couldn’t have gotten your Master’s degree at Alcorn?

Harris: No, only the B.S.

Calcote: O.K. so that was the question. So you went to Northwestern.

Harris: I went to Northwestern. I was fortunate enough to be the…. The state, for the first year, granted an out-of-state scholarship for blacks to go to, to take advanced study because they couldn’t go the University of Mississippi or wherever. And I was the first black person to get the scholarship.

Calcote: Oh, that’s really exciting.

Harris: And I got the scholarship–one hundred fifty dollars– and I went on because my family, my whole family lived in Chicago. They all left.

Calcote: Your brothers and sisters?

Harris: My brothers, I had three younger sisters and I had educated them here in Mississippi. I carried them through junior college. They taught for a few years and they went on to Chicago to live because my older sister was living there and she just kept crying for somebody to come on up. And everybody else was going to Chicago but me. They tried hard to get me but I wanted to stay home. So then I lived, I commuted from Chicago to Evanston, Illinois, which was thirty miles every day because I stayed with my family. That’s the only way I could have gone. I wouldn’t have had the money. And I got my Master’s in three years which was really remarkable because…

Calcote: That’s very good.

Harris: Well, I’m saying that for myself, but it’s really true because you can’t graduate wit a “C” from Northwestern. It’s “A”‘s and “B”‘s. So I went three summers straight. Left my husband here.

Calcote: And then did you come back during the…from September to May and worked?

Harris: I came back and worked. But by that time I was in supervision and I started supervision in Jefferson Davis County. That’s where Prentiss is. I did three years of supervision there and the position in supervision for black schools came open in Lincoln County. I asked to be transferred because he(1) was here and this was home. I was transferred because there were seven of us up for the job; there were seven of us.

Calcote: And you were the one they selected.

Harris: I was selected for whatever reason.

Calcote: The best candidate usually wins.

Harris: I was pleased because it gave me an opportunity to come home because I had not been home only on weekends since we were married; because my husband was in school and at the same time he was pastoring. He was in the ministry and I spent my weekends more or less going to church with him. But at any rate, I did three years of supervising in Jefferson Davis County at Prentiss. I transferred here and I supervised Lincoln County for sixteen years. And during that time within that sixteen years the consolidation idea came up. That’s a state idea; it wasn’t originated with us here in Lincoln County. Because we had in Lincoln County when I came to supervise, thirty three small schools. One and two teachers. Little houses really not suitable for habitation to tell you the truth. The children were still getting wood. The teachers were carrying crayons, even if they had to get this little ten cent box of, buy eight or ten sticks in it–because there were no supplies. No supplies–that’s when I came. Later, though, they changed under different superintendents. The state made some changes and we got supplies in the schools. We got the textbooks, free textbooks.

Calcote: At one time, then, the state was not providing funding for the black schools?

Harris: No.

Calcote: They weren’t at all.

Harris: No. Anybody will tell you that. The records will show that.

Calcote: Were the buildings provided by the state?

Harris: No.

Calcote: So if blacks wanted to be educated they had to….

Harris: They had to build their own schools and for the most part they were built on church grounds. The churches would let the school, let the community build a school on its grounds. And some of them were built on Masonic, fraternity grounds. And then some of them were taught in the fraternity halls. You could teach downstairs, but couldn’t go upstairs. O.K., what else you want to know about?

Calcote: Well then, after you were a supervisor for sixteen years, you were asked to be a principal?

Harris: Yes, We had those thirty two schools and during that time we became consolidated. Lincoln County schools became consolidated. And not because of me, but because of the time, the time was for it, the superintendents were in accord. They came in at a time that the funds were more or less equalized from the state down. The state built those schools. The state built Eva Harris School and at the end of the sixteen years we had three schools. We had two elementary schools–one out west and one down at Bogue Chitto–and Eva Harris. Out of the thirty three when I came we had three when I retired.

Eva Harris was elementary/high school; we went all the way through the twelfth grade. But we consolidated little by little. We’d take a small school that maybe had five or six students and bring it to a school that maybe had twenty five or thirty, you see?

Calcote: Yes, I see.

Harris: Within maybe four or five miles down the road. That’s how far they were from each other. And we gradually got them on down, on down like that until consolidation was completed.. And after they got the Eva Harris School built, to my surprise the school board–I didn’t know that. The secretary told me, the Superintendent’s secretary told me. She said, “Eva, you know they’re naming the school for you.” I said, “What?” I wasn’t thinking about anything like that. I knew, though, that when–I’d already told my husband–I knew that when I got sixty-two I was going to retire. See, that was after–I did thirty seven years out there in the school system. And I had, as I said, graduated my three sisters, took them through school. I didn’t have andy children, we don’t have any.

Calcote: I was going to ask you that. I wondered.

Harris: No, we don’t have any children.

Calcote: You have lots of children you educated, don’t you?

Harris: Oh, we can’t count them. That’s the thing that makes me so happy at eighty-five today. I’m just a really, really a very contented person.

Calcote: How long were you principal?

Harris: Four years.

Calcote: Four years and then you retired.

Harris: I retired. I was there four years as principal.

Calcote: And at the end of this time they named the school for you? Or was it during the time you were principal?

Harris: I was the first principal and when they completed the school…

Calcote: They named it for you. That’s wonderful.

Harris: The board did it. They thought I had… Because I was really concerned about the progress and what-have-you and I was all would up in the work.

Calcote: Now, I want to jump a little bit. You’ve told me about the problems and hardships you had as an individual and certainly the blacks had, as a group of people, in being educated. What was your reaction when you heard the ruling that there would be no longer separate schools, that there would be integration? What was your first reaction?

Harris: My first reaction was this: I really felt that it was going to be a great loss to us black people. Now I’m being frank with you.

Calcote: Yes.

Harris: I felt that we were going to lose our identity. And practically what we have done. We’ve practically lost our identity. I don’t know. I haven’t discussed this with anybody. Not too many people I reckon would agree with me on that. But in the black schools, we had an opportunity to work closer with our children who needed a lot of help in every respect. Because parents, just a very few parents, you know, work very closely with their children–black parents, I don’t know about the whites. And a teacher has to do practically everything for the children. Now, that’s the way it’s been; I don’t know what’s happening now. I hear a lot of things that happen that don’t really sound real, but….

Calcote: You feel like with your interest in promoting the black education that you had more of an individual interest then in each student than is given now and that’s the loss for one thing?

Harris: That’s the loss, yes. And I understand that because you can’t afford to have that support. You see, they can’t give students individual attention. Now, we more or less as teachers, as principals, serve more or less as parents. When the children got in trouble, they would come and you know I could always pat them on the shoulder and cheer them up and say, “It’s not that bad. You go back and try it again.” You know what I mean? Well I don’t know whether they’re getting that now or not. I don’t know. But I’ll tell you what they are not, see. We’re not having any role players for our children in the integrated schools.

Calcote: You feel that they don’t identify with the teachers as much as they did?

Harris: No.

Calcote: What are the positive aspects of integration?

Harris: Positive aspects? The opportunities are better. The opportunities are there when it comes to the literary work. It’s much better. The facilities are better, generally speaking, for all of us. They’re offering more for children. As I said, the opportunities are better. [end of tape side one]

Calcote: The fact that…

Harris: See, yes. I mean there’s no way for you to get as close to a black child as I can and there’s no way for me to get as close to a white child except that I rear that child. Now I’ve seen that happen. The black people have had the opportunity to really rear white children who love them just about like they would their mother because this person has been there with them all the time.

Calcote: That’s true.

Harris: But there’s no way for you to get close to a black person as I could get. And then too there, which is not very complimentary, but I guess you could call it a stigmatism or something between us like–I wouldn’t say it’s hate, but it’s the envy. Our kids are not as responsive to you as they would be to me.

Calcote: Do you think they, do you foresee in the future that they can be, though? Maybe within another generation or so?

Harris: Yes, yes, yes. Because, see, they are born, they will e born into it and this will be all they know. You take these children who are in kindergarten now. They don’t have any problems. They never knew me, you understand? So they won’t have any problems.

Calcote: Well, now that we have integration, do you see that a lot more young black boys and girls are going to school and getting educated? Are more involved in the educational process?

Harris: Yes.

Calcote: And that’s a positive aspect?

Harris: Yes, that’s positive. I do see that. Yes, as I said, the opportunities are greater. They’re much greater. Because we had some stopping points, you know. We could go so far and no farther. Now, for example, I’ll take the music department here. We had a good high school band over there at Alexander, but that was the only one school. The other kids didn’t know anything about it, music. So the opportunities are much better. In the long run it’s going to pay off. It’s just like anything else, it’s going to take time. I will say twenty years from now we won’t know the difference. But it’s going to take that long. It’s going to take that long.

Calcote: Of course, it’s been thirty years now already since we’ve had integration.

Harris: Not really.

Calcote: Not really, no, will I guess since…

Harris: What was it? 1970, wasn’t it?

Calcote: The Supreme Court ruling was in nineteen fifty…

Harris: Oh, I mean complete.

Calcote: Here in the state and in…. O.K.

Harris: So that’s the way it is and I think that’s the way it is with everything. But I do feel–that was your question–that we lost something, but in the end we will gain. But in the meantime, these kids who came in between…

Calcote: May be the losers?

Harris: They are the losers. [end of tape one]

HARRIS, EVA–TAPE 2

Harris: Yes, we have up there in the bank now working. Some of our graduates are up there in Trustmark and maybe one of the other banks.

Calcote: Okay, that’s wonderful. Are there any weak points that you can think back on, things that you wish you could have done that you didn’t?

Harris: Yes, we could have done a better job and reached more needy students–when I say “needy” they needed personal help–if we had had more teachers. We had 27 teachers and seven hundred and some students.

Calcote: So, how many were in a class? 30? 35?

Harris: 30, 35. So if we could have reached more of them personally, we could have done a better job. But generally, all of our teachers were really dedicated. I can say that for them. They were really dedicated. They worked earnestly and hard and overtime and before time. I really had no problems there.

Calcote: Were all of your students dedicated?

Harris: No.

Calcote: Not ever.

Harris: No, they weren’t dedicated. They were just normal students and they’d do anything any other student would do. They’d break in the office. They’d break in. The school owned a pickup truck and the boys would go back over there at night and get that if they could see they could. But they were just normal students.

Calcote: Can you think about any pranks that were played at school that are particularly amusing to you?

Harris: No.

Calcote: Not particularly? Sometimes that happens.

Harris: I can’t think of any in particular.

Calcote: Well, you said going back to what were your goals for Eva Harris School, you said a fine curriculum. What else did you have in mind for the school? Particular plans.

Harris: Well, let’s see. [Pause]

Calcote: You probably had some sort of idea of what kind of extracurricular activities that you wanted Eva Harris School to offer. Can you remember some of those?

Harris: Yes. We had the YMCA, YWCA, NHA (that’s New Homemakers of America), and NFA (that’s New Farmers of America), science, mathematics and dramatics. And then every class perhaps had a little club. But these were the major things that we set up for our students to run.

Calcote: What kind of special days did you celebrate at school? Can you think of any school-wide events that were particularly fun or exciting?

Harris: We had an annual May Day every year. We had that.

Calcote: And what happened at May Day?

Harris: Oh, everything. They played games, they wrapped May poles, and of course we had the little children to be concerned with too. The elementary school played ball. We’d have visiting teams, basketball teams. Mostly out of doors. Just a normal May Day.

Calcote: Was this on a scheduled school day or was it on a Saturday?

Harris: No, it would be…we usually had it on Friday of the week of May Day, whatever.

Calcote: So it was just a school-wide event.

Harris: Yes, a school-wide event.

Calcote: What other days? Was Thanksgiving or Christmas celebrated?

Harris: We always did an assembly program for Christmas or whatever holiday. See, we had an assembly program every Wednesday too. That’s where we got our strength to go on–religious activities. We had a devotional on Wednesday.

Calcote: Was that held before the school day started or as an assembly program?

Harris: No, it would happen at 11:30 on Wednesday.

Calcote: Did you offer music classes? You said you didn’t have band.

Harris: No, we just had a general music teacher. We didn’t have any piano students at all. We had one person just taught for public schools.

Calcote: Singing and chorus. Music appreciation?

Harris: Chorus, that’s right. Music appreciation. Perhaps she taught a language class too.

Calcote: What kind of library facilities did you have?

Harris: Excellent. We had a good library, good librarian.

Calcote: Did most of the children participate in library activities and like to read?

Harris: Yes, liked to read. We had a trained librarian.

Calcote: Tell me a little about the athletic program.

Harris: Well, it was good. We won the state one year.

Calcote: In football?

Harris: No, basketball. We didn’t have football. That was an extra; we had a king and a queen on one of our days.

Calcote: Did you have any outstanding graduates who went on for careers in the sports world?

Harris: Not really. I don’t recall any who went on. This was our first basketball game: they won the state scholarship that year, I mean the championship.

Calcote: And it’s a girls team.

Harris: Yes, a girls team with a man coach.

Calcote: What about the boys team? Were they outstanding?

Harris: They played. They were outstanding, but they didn’t win the state.

Calcote: That was exciting, I know that. Did you have a cafeteria?

Harris: Yes, indeed. An excellent cafeteria.

Calcote: And what about transportation?

Harris: It was excellent. We had 14 buses transporting children to that school. County-owned, -supported buses.

Calcote: Did many students walk to school or were carried by their parents?

Harris: Didn’t any of them walk. Because see, they came from all over the county.

Calcote: Now, how long were you principal?

Harris: Four years.

Calcote: Four years and then you decided to retire.

Harris: I retired. That was already in my plan in the beginning before I knew I was going to be principal.

Calcote: What feelings did you have on retirement?

Harris: I felt that I had done my job. Well, see, I had planned it. I knew that when I became 62, I knew that before I went to principal, so I had looked forward to that. I had some other things that I wanted to do. You aren’t taping this, are you?

Calcote: Yes, I’m taping this. What else did you want to do? What were your plans on retirement?

Harris: Well, I wanted to travel some. Another thing, I was tired. After 37 years, it happens. I was 37 years in the public school system and some of the _______________. So I looked highly to it, planned for it. Because I had been away from home all my life. I had worked all my life. I wanted to come home and relax, so that’s what I did.

Calcote: And have you accomplished all the goals you had for retirement?

Harris: I certainly have.

Calcote: That’s wonderful.

Harris: I certainly have and I’m enjoying it and I am a very contented person. I don’t know of anything else really that I really want to do.

Calcote: Well, I’m not sure that everyone can come to as many years as you’ve tucked away and can say the same thing. I think that’s remarkable that you’ve set so many goals for yourself and you’ve achieved them at the same time you’re contributing to the community.

Harris: Yes, I’m still doing that now. I have, I am usually busy. I’m serving as a counselor and advisor just for anybody. People call all the time. A man called this morning, yesterday morning when we were eating breakfast. I do that. I’m just in that capacity and I enjoy that. I enjoy that because it’s helping somebody and that’s really been my desire, that was my one desire all of my life was to help somebody out. As a matter of fact, I set this goal for myself a long time ago. For my life, God was first in my life, my family, my fellow man, and I came last. Now, that’s really been my life.

Calcote: And by doing so you seem to have set your priorities and have come out a very happy, contented person.

Harris: Retired person. I am. That’s right.

Calcote: Well, this has certainly been a wonderful experience talking with you and we may yet have more to talk about. We would talk about the church and other activities, but I think we’ll end this session for now. [Pause]

Calcote: Now you mentioned just a few minutes ago while we were off-tape, that the highest day in your life was one particular day on March 12, 1961. Tell us a little bit about that day.

Harris: Well, that’s the day that Eva Harris School was dedicated. That is the highest day in my life because I didn’t realize what it really meant. That’s when all the meaning came out. Because I had friends from all everywhere, all my friends, and telegrams, cards, and that’s when I really felt up in the air. All the members of the school board were there and county superintendents and former county superintendents. My family (I’m the only one here) all my family was away and my family came from far away in Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago, and Louisiana, Texas. They were all here.

Calcote: Did you make a talk at the dedication?

Harris: I think I did. I said something. I don’t have any copy but I have this dedicatory speech that was delivered by the man who that street over there is named for.

Calcote: And a few tears were going down your cheeks.

Harris: Right, that’s right. Now this is the highest day of my life.

Calcote: I can imagine.

Harris: Dedicated the elementary-high school.

Calcote: Eva Harris Elementary and High School. And on the county board of education at that time was Mr. T. W. Hickman, Mr. Scott Oberschmidt, Mr. F. M. Grice, Mr. Floyd Leonard, and Mr. Garland Smith Harris: And the Superintendent of Education was Mrs. Ruby Larkin.

Harris: That’s right.

Calcote: Well, thank you again for sharing all this with me, us. We certainly are indebted to you.

[End of tape]

c2003 Lincoln-Lawrence-Franklin Regional Library

Brookhaven, MS 39601

webmaster 6pll@llf.lib.ms.us

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