Black United Front Oral History Project

Willie Mae Hart: Early Life

Click to hear the excerpt from the oral history interview with Willie Mae Hart.

Hart chose to leave Mississippi in the late 1930s after her first child, a son, was born. In her interview, she explains that fear of violence against Black men in the South prompted her decision to move.

Willie Mae Hart: [...] I said, "Well, I'm going to stay.  I'm not going to live in the South any more because I have a son."  If I'd had a daughter, I would stay.

Lisa Donnelly, interviewer:  Why is that?  I mean, why did you not want to raise a son there?

Willie Mae Hart:  Because they would try to kill him.  What happened, one of my mother’s cousins was killed because he and a white young lady started yackity-yacking together, and a guy saw it and killed him.  That’s why I said, "I will never raise a son in Mississippi."  Well, look at the color of all our people.  You know?  The women could do what they wanted.  But the men, they wanted to kill them.

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