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Interview With Chantal, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Interviewer: Chantal, thank you for giving me the opportunity to interview you. Can you please give me some information on your background? Where were you born? Tell me a little about your family.

Chantal: I was born in Grenada, Mississippi in 1948. I was the youngest of four children in my family and that was in a way an advantage because I was the one getting treated better and getting the most out of the best. I was being taken care of and all. As far as my family’s situation was concerned, we were not in the best possible financial stance. My father was in agricultural business, if you want to call it that way. The land belonged to a tall white man who was quite genuine to us. He knew we were harmless and we knew he doesn’t want to give us a hard time so we just lived or survived that way. My brothers usually helped my father with farming and agriculture in general. My sister and I helped the mother with cleaning the house, preparing food for men and things alike.

Interviewer: How did your family feel about being African-American? Was your family ever harassed?

Chantal: When I was a kid, I wondered why is it that every time we take the vegetables and fruits to city, people look at us differently. There was a sort of a disgust one could sense coming out of their faces. They did not need to say anything, it was all there. But I did not understand it until I grew up, until I was 6 or 7 I think. I remember one time we were at a train station bidding farewell to my father who had to go somewhere for a week. While we were waiting my brother decided to go walk around. Then we saw him walking back towards us and I saw that a white man was coming towards him, like they were crossing each other. As soon as my brother saw him, he stopped, waited until the white man passed just being cautious that the white man doesn’t harass him.

Interviewer: Do you remember anything from 1960s? Any particular memories you have?

Chantal: I remember it was in 1959 I think when we moved to Missouri. We were always told that if we go up north or if we went to California we would be treated much better. So I guess my parents decided to move north and so we moved here. It was just us; we didn’t have any other people with us. On top of that, we didn’t have a lot of blacks living in our neighborhood. But, yeah…so in early 60s I remember my brothers going back to Mississippi often. They would stay there for at least a month. They went several times and one day they told us that they, too, are fighting for the civil rights and all. They told us that there were a lot of whites coming to Mississippi and other states registering blacks to vote. And so I could feel the tensions rising. Suddenly people felt different- they knew it was an unprecedented time in their lives.

Interviewer: Did you specifically participate in any of the movement protests or maybe riots?

Chantal: Well, I never went to those big protests that were held in big cities. We weren’t living in a big city to ever be that important, but we had people coming and going every now and then and we would always attend their lectures, if you want to call it. We always supported them and always followed up with the news and the successes. I felt special in a way because my family members participated in protests. Two of my brothers constantly protested.

Interviewer: How did this movement make you feel?

Chantal: Oh boy, it was something new, something we were proud of. Suddenly we were a threat to the government; well not like in a bad way, but the same ethnic minority they used to harass is actually standing up for civil rights now. We began asking ourselves, why can’t we be treated like every other person? What was so hard about that? Aren’t we all human?

Interviewer: Was religion a big part of this movement?

Chantal: I think a lot of Muslims wanted to convert us to Islam. Islam is a great religion because it tolerates people of all races and we are all equal. We were Christians though, we could not. But one of my brothers converted to Islam and this motivated him even more. But if you think about it, the root of being part of a religion comes back to our ethnic background- people wanted to be part of a religion that tolerated them.

Interviewer: Thank you for your time and for all the information.

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