In 1910, O’Neal Chambers was born in Lorman, Mississippi. The son of a farmer, he recalls helping his father clear the land with a cross-cut saw.
Growing up on a farm meant that there was always work to be done. Chambers remembers Sunday as the one day to relax and play. He also talked about how he used to accompany his father to Cohn Brothers’ cotton gin and general store in Lorman and describes a suit his father bought for him there.
Leakesville native, Dr. John Allums was teaching at the University of Georgia in 1951 when the Korean War began. He recounts making the transition from college professor to Air Force Intelligence Officer. He also explains how he worked with representatives from various government agencies to prepare reports for the president.
On May 1st, 1960, a US U2 spy plane was shot done by the Soviet government while on a mission to photograph Russian military bases. Allums discusses why he feels that President Eisenhower made a mistake when he publicly acknowledged the U2 program.
Created in 1956, the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission was a state agency set up to hinder the progress of the civil rights movement through public relations and intelligence gathering.
Erle Johnston of Forrest was promoted to director of the Sovereignty Commission in 1963. In this frank and detailed interview he describes how he used informants to spy of various civil rights groups. Johnston claims as desegregation became unavoidable, his role shifted from investigator to mediator.
The Sovereignty Commission, a sad chapter in our state's history, was disbanded in 1977 and its files ordered sealed for fifty years. Johnston explains why he feels that the files should have been destroyed.
In 1989 the Sovereignty Commission files were ordered unsealed and can be viewed online through the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.