/Blues Singer, Activist Effie Burt A sit-down Q & A

Blues Singer, Activist Effie Burt A sit-down Q & A

Burt, now in her 60s, is a well-known blues and jazz singer and has performed for many politicians and officials, including President Barack Obama. She also shares her experiences as an activist during Mississippi’s desegregation efforts. Mississippi Today: What is the most striking difference between modern Oxford and the Oxford you grew up? Effie Burt says: First, I have white friends. Second, I see black people walking around Oxford Square eating anywhere and going everywhere on the Square. It’s a place I feel at home in. … However, I know that there are many black people my age who don’t like going there. It could also be parking. Mississippi Today: What motivates you to become an activist? Effie burt: I was told by my father that no one is better than me, and that I am no better than anybody else. You don’t have to be richer to make yourself a better person. Be the best you can with what you have. But don’t let your skin color make you less human. When I have to deal a racist white person, I must ask that question. Is there anything that makes you better than me? They don’t have an answer. Mississippi Today: Can you tell us about the experience of being part of the first desegregated Lafayette High School class? Effie Burt – We couldn’t wear afros as the person in front of you couldn’t see it so my mom bought me a long blonde wig. I wore it for a week and shook it until the principal told me to take it off. My mom brought the blonde hair wig down to my waist and wanted to prove it was hair. It would be spread out, and then I would flip it around to my neck. Mississippi Today: Your granddaughter was mentioned by you as going on a two-week journey through the Mississippi Delta and parts Alabama. Can you please explain the significance of this trip? Effie Burt says: It’s important because… they must know where we are. They need to know where they are and what has happened to them. They need to understand what life is like. My granddaughter… stated that this trip was crucial. It was a very important trip to see how many black people still live in poverty.