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Lancie Thomas & Claretta Blackmon Interview Clip

Title

Lancie Thomas & Claretta Blackmon Interview Clip

Description

Lancie Thomas and Claretta Blackmon talk about The Mobile Beacon, what it has done for the community, politics, Gov. Wallace, and the Klan.

Creator

National African American Archives & Museum,
Museum of Mobile

Publisher

National African American Archives & Museum,
Museum of Mobile
Mobile Public Library, Local History & Genealogy

Date

1999

Language

English

Type

Oral history interview

Identifier

VOHP-Thomas&Blackmon-Beacon

Interviewer

Kern Jackson

Interviewee

Lancie Thomas
Claretta Blackmon

Location

The Mobile Beacon
2311 Costarides Street
Mobile, Alabama

Transcription

Jackson: Yeah, let’s talk a little bit about that. About what, what the Beacon has done. First of all, how’d the Beacon get it's name, Beacon?

Blackmon: Well, you know, beacon stands for light. It was his vision to, to, to have a light he says “a light.” You know, we have our logo, our slogan is “the light that never fails.” Because this paper has been in existence 56 years and a few months as of June 1, 2000. We’ll be 57 years. And we never missed an issue no matter what the, what the conflict. We never, never missed an issue of the paper. So that’s one of our great accomplishments, we’ve never, we’ve always been able to come out. And I envision us as always coming out as long as we are in existence. Or as long as we, we maintain to keep our paper.

Jackson: What’s the circulation now here in Mobile of the Beacon?

Blackmon: The circulation in Mobile is about 5,000. We have 7,000 circulation but within that Mobile area, see we mail papers all over the United States.

Jackson: Okay.

Blackmon: And we have, we have a higher, we have a good bit of circulation. Actually it’s a little bit more than that because we mail, we mail out more than 3,000 papers a week. Than, you know, you have to count a lot of comps that you give away. So, well after you keep adding up and adding up ah, the circulation goes up. So, I think out circulation right now fluctuates between 8 and 10,000. But we have 5 actually paid here in the city and I’m going on paid. Not on…

Jackson: Right, right.

Blackmon: I talked paid, paid because that’s what your survival is what you get money for.

Jackson: Now just going back to what you were saying earlier about what, what the Beacon has done since you took it over and and when your, your daddy and your momma in they heyday with it historically for Mobile, Black Mobile, Mobile in general, if you can comment on that.

Blackmon: Well, I think, I think that we have been access, a great access, asset to Mobile because of the fact that we helped the elected officials that you have in office right now, the Black folks, we have been very instrumental in helping them get elected to these positions. People read and they look forward to what they see. And as we promote those people for election and help to get them elected that our community look at TV and and buy the daily paper. But you have people who are supportive of looking to see what’s in here. They look to see if, if that person is in here. And ah, we have always wanted to promote human, a great human relationship between us and the bar between the races and I think that the paper has been instrumental in those ways. I should hope so anyway but I’m very, I feel very favorable that we have done that. We’ve had a impact on that within our community. You got a comment on that, Mrs. Thomas?

Thomas: Ah, yes. I will. I don’t know exactly what’s been said. I don’t intend to repeat but now…

Jackson: That’s alright. Don’t worry.

Thomas: … your Black, our Black newspapers in the state of Alabama has helped the whole state to change because we have sponsored which I’ve told a lot of people. My daughter thank I talk to much when I get on voter registration. Cause that has been our pet piece. Not only the Beacon but the whole state of Alabama where ever there is a newspaper. Okay, what we formed during the other general election time. And no more do we have it because people don’t show interest. It’s sad but it’s true. Okay, we would form a motorcade to my… Say, not every not indicate in the motorcade abut every county in Alabama through our newspapers have had representation in Birmingham. We selected Birmingham cause it was a central location, we felt in Alabama. Those coming from North Alabama, from South Alabama, east and west. Everybody would meet in Birmingham the Sunday before the election on Tuesday for general election. That’s right. We would have 2 and 3 buses leaving Mobile. Newspaper got the publicity out. The newspaper helped get the people on the busses. You understand what I mean.

Jackson: Yes, I understand.

Thomas: And they were there. Birmingham, the Black folks took Birmingham that Sunday before election. We would leave Mobile at 3 to 4 o’clock then on Sun, that Sunday morning. We took Sunday for it cause most folks were off on Sunday that could take off. And we would leave Mobile at 4 o’clock or 3 o’clock what ever time is was set. And they would come from all direction into Birmingham. And I mean every county had a bus coming in. Nobody came in cars. I don’t, not nobody, but nobody depend on cars to get everybody to Birmingham.

Jackson: Right, right.

Thomas: And we would go into Birmingham on Sunday morning. Get in there time enough for all the meeting start at 9 o’clock. And we would be in meeting all day. We only broke for lunch. And we had lunch right where the meeting were. In the central location where our meetings were. And we would stay there to maybe 5 or 6 o’clock at night to check candidates. Everybody from a county brought their candidates and discussed how they felt about those candidates.

Jackson: Right, right.

Thomas: And at the end of the day just fore the day ended, they would have committees who’d check, were checking on this information that had been gathered. And we would say we goin vote on the lesser of the evil. Cause all of em were evil. We felt that none of em were perfect where Black folks concern. And they was, we would select the person we would vote on in Tuscaloosa County, Greene County, Hale County, cause all these counties were in our section. Mobile or Dallas County whatever. And they would select that, the best person of the evils or they…. That’s the way they, we used that term. And everybody would go back home and vote for that person. If he was a state candidate, he got all the Black votes over the state. Therefore, you could put the person that you wanted to vote in and that’s what we did. And that’s how so many things changed in Alabama. But a lot of things has not changed, I’ll tell you that for sure.

Jackson: Like what?

Thomas: Well most of time, we get bad folks in office regardless to how you vote. Because some of our Black folks go back home and still don’t vote. And they still don’t be concerned of what those committees brought back to them from that meeting in Birmingham. If it’s not their friend and somebody had paid them a few dollars, a lot of times they would vote for em, for that evil person we would say. But as the time went on and you educated them more. Cause we had a voter registration, where we educated those folks how to vote. That meeting helped but you got to educate their brain so they can think right. And that’s what really did. Cause George Wallace when she, she had, we’d have an editorial this week on it. He told, came to the our office down on Cedar, I never will forget that day. George Wallace who was our governor, who ran for the president of the United States if you remember, you probably…

Jackson: Yes, ma’am I remember.

Thomas: You probably too young to remember. Maybe you read something about. [Laughter]

Jackson: I read about it.

Thomas: Okay George Wallace came to our office the next day after the election. He had lost that year. He said, “Mr. Thomas, I wanna tell you something.” Frank said, “What is it, George?” He said, “I lost this time but I’ma tell you something. I’m going to win next time.” He said, “Well, you goon next time when you lost this time.” “Because I was depending on the Black votes. I didn’t get the Black votes like I thought I was goon get. But y’all don’t have enough votes to put me in no how. So next to run, I’m running and I’m goon win.” He did. He won the next time. He told my husband, “It’s too many of the Klans, we got too many Klans in Alabama. I’m goon get the Klan vote next year.” And he got em and he won.

Jackson: He said that to your husband.

Thomas: Sure. That’s what I’m telling you. He said it and he won. But he was thinking. He was right. He said, “But remember, I have a lot plans that I’ll do to help Blacks but I can’t help when I’m on the outside. I’m on get in there and I’m on do it. Then, I can do some of these things.”

Blackmon: So, in other words, he was saying, am I interpreting right…

Jackson: Go ahead, interpret.
Blackmon: He was saying that, you know, he wasn’t favoring the Klan so they didn’t, they didn’t…

Thomas: Vote for him.

Blackmon: …give him any votes. He wasn’t against, he wasn’t against the Blacks as, as, as it is seemed in history.

Thomas: Uh, huh. That’s right.

Blackmon: Ah, and is written in history. But he had to go with the majority not the minority in order to get into office. Is that what he was saying?

Thomas: That’s what he was, that’s what he meant. Uh, huh. And he got it. And he did a lot. See people don’t give Wallace credit for a lot of things he did. He changed the educational system. He helped that in Alabama. And he did a lot of things that people don’t know Wallace did.

Blackmon: Didn’t the community colleges become existent under his administration?

Thomas: Under his administration. He sure did. So, he did a lot of things. And he told em that he was goon stand in the university door to keep it from it being integrated. But he didn’t mean it that way. He stood in the door and then walked right on out. He said, he did what he said.

Blackmon: He stood in the door because he had in the door because that’s the White folks…

Jackson: He said he was goon do.

Blackmon: … expected him to do.

Thomas: The White folks and the main thing those Klans. See the Klans wanted, he was doing that to get by the Klan cause he had promised the the Klan that he was goon stand in the door.

Jackson: Tell me this cause I wanna know. Was there ever any Klan in Mobile, Alabama?

Thomas: Yes, sir. [Laughter] They in there, in here now, you don’t know their living here.

Blackmon: We still living here too.

Thomas: Yes, sir. They here. [Laughter] You better…

Jackson: You talk about educating folks and making people literate of things like voting, it’s almost as if we, we have a slight miseducation issue here because people are assuming the Klan and like-minded folks are no longer in existence.

Original Format

VHS

Duration

10 min 40 sec

Files

Citation

National African American Archives & Museum, and Museum of Mobile, “Lancie Thomas & Claretta Blackmon Interview Clip,” Mobile Public Library Digital Collections, accessed February 18, 2019, http://digital.mobilepubliclibrary.org/items/show/2417.

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