In celebration of the achievement of African Americans, Bethany Baptist Church of Quitman and both of Jonesboro Plesant Grove Baptist churches held a black history program. Bertha Bradford Robinson and the late James Potts were honored.
Candles were lit in memory of Potts by his cousins Maeolar Crumpton and her son Hans, and Robinson was the featured speaker.
Maraine Hall gave the occasion. She said, ” Potts and Robinson did, indeed, change history for generations to come.”
She was followed by Liz White who said, “We are here today to celebrate where the Lord has brought us from. He brought us from out of the darkness and into the light.”
After she was introduced by Rhonda Lee, Robinson began with Edgar Guest’s “It Couldn’t Be Done.” She said, “Somebody said that it couldn’t be done, but he with a chuckle replied that ‘maybe it couldn’t, but he would be one who wouldn’t say so ’til he tried.'”
Robinson, told of the racism that she and Potts endured when they integrated Ruston’s Louisiana Tech University.
The first time they applied to Tech they were turned down. After they were admitted, people were cruel to them.
“One time a group of students dumped milk on me, and said, ‘Now you’re white.’ They spit in my face. We were locked in our rooms, and acid was poured under our doors,” she said.
Robinson said, “We did it because we had love for humnaity, and we could not be complacent, and we did not want our children to go through this.”
“I tell our young people that so many sacrfices made for them,” she said.
“Unification made it easier for us. There is not a Bertha Bradford without a James L. Potts, and there is not a James L. Potts without a Bertha Bradford,” she said.
Harvey Johnson, a member of the Deacons for Defense and Justice talked about the organization. This organization was formed in Louisiana in 1964 for defensive purposes in retaliation for Ku Klux Klan activities.
James Bradford, Robinson’s brother, spoke about the burning of the churches. “Bertha was a member of Pleasant Grove. Potts was a member of Bethany. The churches were destroyed by fire under adverse conditions. They did not burn our church; they burned our church building,” he said.
Bentley Williams, the pastor of Bethany,said of the church, “We just look at the physical structure, but it becomes more than a building as you grow spiritually. It becomes a place where people come together and worship.”
Louvenia Williams, mistress of ceremonies said, “We are here to let our children know that they are where they are today because of what has happened in the churches.”
Based in local churches, the Deacons for Defense and Justice set up armed patrol car systems in cities such as Bogalusa and Jonesboro, Louisiana. This group was composed of men who were pillars of their community.