Thelma Moore Wells grew up in the rural area of Neshoba County, twelve miles north of Philadelphia, Mississippi. She was raised on a farm with 15 siblings, her mother and father. Her father owned the land where they grew their own food and sold crops for income. Wells recalls that the children only went to the town of Philadelphia, MS twice a year for clothes. She lived in a neighborhood with Black and White families but did not face the terrifying horrors of racism as those they lived in or closer to Philadelphia. Her father Jim Moore was the foundation in the family and protected them from racism. It was he that permitted Wells to attend Neshoba County although he knew what she would be facing. On August 15, 1965, Wells was the first African-American to attend Neshoba County High School along with other Blacks in elementary and middle school. Through her terrible experience at the school, she choose to leave the school after one semester and returned to George Washington Carver High School. She left Mississippi after high school and worked for General Motors. She only returned to Mississippi to take care of her mother in 1988. In these videos, we hear about Wells experiences with integration and its aftermath on education and class status in Neshoba County, MS.
Thelma Moore Wells’ oral history, part one:
Part one of Thelma Moore Wells’ oral history can also be found here.
William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation