[Slate clap] Maybe I ought to tell you how it started. The STFU started when there were two men in Marktree, one owned a pressing shop, the other one owned a service station. And farmers, sharecroppers and tenants, would usually hang around there when they wasn't doing nothing. Conditions got so bad they sat around and got to talking about it. And somebody says, we ought to do something about it, or there ought to be something done about it. So they started talking about it. Seven blacks, seven whites, five blacks got together and they organized. It wasn't called a union, they just got together, and decided to do something about it.
Now that's the way the STFU started. They finally decided the best thing to do was to go to Washington and get something done. They thought you could get something done in Washington. So they went and they were told to go to the Department of Agriculture. Wallace was Secretary of Agriculture. They went to the Department of Agriculture and they walked in and told them they want to see Mr. Wallace. You got an appointment? No. Well, you're going to have to have an appointment. Well, how do I get one? Well, you have to write in for an appointment and then we'll let you know when Mr. Wallace says you can come back. So they come out and they decide, well, somebody says, well, the best thing to do is pickett. So they start picketing and they start talking about arresting them. Then one man walked in and said, they are citizens, they can picket if they want to. Somebody come up and said, I'll tell you what you all need. You all need to go back and form a union. And they didn't hardly know what the word union meant. But after they got the details, they come back and started on it. When they started on it, that's why trouble started.
When the plantation owners found out the word union, and it all came back from John L. Lewis and the coal miners, they were afraid of the name union. They started to break up the union. And they'd go around and tell them, 'if you niggas want to do well, you all stay out of that union. that union'. work. They formed the N.I. And they would meet on a plantation in church houses. And the church house was on the plantation. So that's why the problem started. That's when the deputy sheriff, who was usually a plantation supervisor, started going in, arresting them, beating them up, taking them, out whipping them, turning them loose. But it just kept growing, because the conditions were so bad, working conditions were so bad. In that area, there was no money. They had what they called brosing. You got paid off in plantation money. The only place you could spend it was on the plantation. You couldn't spend it anywhere else. And they started work on the union, and it just kept growing and growing.
Now, how did you get involved in the union?