(1960’s) Even though there were not many demonstrations in Stone County there was still discrimination in public facilities. Blacks could only watch the movies from the upstairs balcony of the movie theater. Other public facilities, like cafÃ©s and lounges, were also segregated. Some blacks mingled and socialized at hole in the wall juke joints and others formed bridge because there was no other facility for them to socialize. They did not have nice facilities, water parks, cafÃ© and lounges. There was a popular burger stand that the local white children frequented. However, blacks had to go to the back to get their food from a small window. They were not allowed to sit at the tables and eat with other whites.
The pickle plant located in Wiggins, MS, was owned by Beatrice Foods, a black-owned company. Blacks and whites were allowed to work there together. A lot of children worked there in the summer to earn a little extra money.
During the time the Civil Rights, blacks and whites basically stayed to themselves. Stone County was so small that it had very few problems.
Interview, Needham Jones, principal of the Locker High School.
Education in Stone County was purely segregated. The Stone County Board of education consisted of six white males.
The white schools in the district received more funding than the black schools. More classes were offered at the white schools, and the white students enjoyed newer textbooks. But this did not discourage the students and faculty of the black schools. They “made do”with the resources they had.
In 1971, Stone County integrated its schools.
The transition started with the church. First Baptist Church, an all white church, had a lot where they placed swings and toys for children. This church allowed the black children to play with the toys and also with the white children. They expressed how they bought the toys for the children and their race did not matter.
A majority of the teachers that were at Locker High School were able to maintain their job at the white school, and they were allowed to teach the subject they taught at Locker High School.
Locker High School was closed down after integration. Now it is the Stone County Middle School. Stone County School District is now fully integrated – both blacks and whites attend the same school. The schools in Stone County are: Perkinston Elementary School, Stone Elementary School, Stone Middle School, and Stone High school. There are also some private academies in Stone County.
Interview with Judge Deborah Jones Gambrell, graduate of the former Locker High School.