O’Neal-McCray, Helen: Oral History

Helen O’Neal-McCray participated in the Freedom Rides in 1961. She describes the jail conditions for the Freedom Riders. The video excerpts come from the documentary The Children Shall Lead (link).

Hellen O’Neal-McCray from Winter Institute on Vimeo.

Her oral history may also be viewed here.

Interview Data

Name of Interviewee: Hellen O’Neal McCray

Date: November 10, 2001

Place of Interview: Jackson, MS


Time                         Topics/Names/Events Discussed
0:00-2:00 Clarksdale, MS; Yellow Springs, OH; Antioch College; Wilberforce College; Catholic School
2:00-4:00 Immaculate Conception School in Clarksdale, MS; Holy Rosary Institute, Lafayette, LA; Mississippi Public Schools; Jackson State University
4:00-6:00 James Bevel; Bernard Lafayette; Marion Berry; Thomas Gaither; CORE; Mrs. Harvey; Stokely Carmichael; Ruby Doris Smith; Southern Governor’s Conference
6:00-8:00 Richard Haley; arrest and arraignment with Freedom Riders; arrest on Greyhound from Jackson to Clarksdale; attys. Constance Motley and Derek Bell
8:00-10:00 July, 1961 arrest; sovereignty commission; Jackson City Jail; William Conslar, atty; Hinds County Jail
10:00-12:00 Jail cellmates, activities, conditions
12:00-14:00 Family reaction
14:00-16:00 Bob Moses; CORE; SNCC; Jackson State; Literacy Project; Casey Hayden; Doris Derby; taught Freedom School in McComb, MS, 1964; Louisiana
16:00-18:00 Experience teaching in Freedom School
18:00-20:00 Schwerner, Goodman, Chaney; courage of local people
20:00-22:00 Freedom songs, “We’ve Been ‘Buked, We’ve Been Scorned”; influence of participation on her life
22:00-24:00 Legacy of movement