When My Work Is Over, Transcription

When My Work Is Over, Transcription

When My Work Is Over, Transcription

Transcribed by Beverly B. Patterson with notes at the bottom

TITLE: The following interviews were conducted in Jacksonville, NC between the years 1989 -1993[1].


CONDUCTOR OF NORTH CAROLINA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: I'd like for you to help me welcome, Miss Louise Anderson...

[SINGING: I'll Fly Away]


[Scenes from a VHS video tape[2] of the funeral of Louise Anderson, August 29, 1994.]

BARBARA ANN HUBBARD: Just watching her with a couple years education and the knowledge she had, it motivated me and I think it motivated a lot us in this neighborhood.

TITLE: The Life and Stories of Miss Louise Anderson 1921-1994


CRYSTIE HOPKINS: She just changed my whole life when she did "The Negro Mother." That just changed my whole life. I said, I gotta learn that.

TITLE: With Recollections from Miss Evelyn Anderson and Mrs. Dorothy Anderson McLeod



"The Negro Mother" by Langston Hughes[3]. Footage from 1989-before her illness]

Children, I come back today
To tell you the story of the long dark way
That I had to travel, that I had to know
In order that my race might live and grow.

Look at my face -- back as the night --
Yet shining like the sun with love's true light.
I am the child they took from the sand
Three hundred years ago in Africa's land.

I am the girl who crossed the deep sea
Bringing in my bosom the seed of the free.
I am the woman who worked in the field
Bringing the cotton and the corn to yield.

Three hundred years in the Deepest South
But God put a song and a prayer in my mouth.
God put a dream like steel in my soul.
And now, through my children, I'm reaching the goal.


LOUISE: You must know someone's stories to really truly love someone. You see, heretofore, when the grandmother lived at home, she lived there not because people were kinder. She lived there because grandma had a job. Grandma had to take care of the children. She did the mending, she did the cookin while Mama was out there in the fields, she did all of these things, and she told the children stories. Now, if they had to put Grandma in a home, they' go there, they don't see this old wrinkled woman there with her head down. What they see is this young girl, who one day killed a snake on the way to school. Or they see a young woman who went out with her husband, how scared she was that day when she cooked the first thing for her mother-in-law. They know all of these stories about her. They know her life. They have lived it.


LOUISE: We came out of Georgia; and my father was a great reader, everyone always said. He loved to read, he did nothing but read, and my mother -- she didn't have much education. She did a lot of domestic work. She was the backbone of the family, and Daddy was sort of a dreamer I guess.

EVELYN ANDERSON (Sister): Momma was serious but Dad was comical. I remember one day Daddy made us sing a song all day long about...

Daddy Daddy I been thinking
What would keep your feet from stinking.
If you soak them in some water,
They would stink that much harder.

And Daddy would come home from work -- he worked at night -- and he'd sit on the front porch, and people'd be going to work. He called Mary Alice[4] "Come here Mary Alice and stand right here."

Mary Alice come and stood on the step. She was so tickled. "Come on Louise." And Louise went there and stood there next to Mary Alice. And he said "Evelyn, you don't know what you're doin' but you come on anyway." I thought he wasn't going to call me. I walked round there, my little self just dying laughing, so happy to be called. And Daddy said "Sing that pretty song for Daddy you all been singing all morning. Daddy love it." And we started singing and by three oclock that evening, -- that was round about 7:30 in the morning -- about three o'clock that evening, we was still singing. Tears was runnin' and everything else.

LOUISE: Wasn't that long, Evelyn.

EVELYN: It was longer. it might been. Daddy made us sing it all day long. We didn't sing that song no more, I know that much.


DOT (DOROTHY ANDERSON MCLEOD, youngest sister): My mother, she always had someone around the house that she could pay someone to do something. So it's always been to share. Always. She'd know some one of the neighbors was sick and she'd go into her garden and make a big pot of soup and just carry it around to the sick people to be sure she contributed something she grew with her own hands.

LOUISE: (V/O) He was a fireman on the base. Started building the base down here in Jacksonville during World War II. So Daddy came down here when they were building the base because jobs were plentiful.


LOUISE: He'd tell us to do something and we'd say, "Oh Daddy I know it" and then he'd tell us about the Billy Goat. Cause the Billy Goat was once a very very pretty animal. And he could talk. He was the only animal that God gave the power to speak. But he got so smart and they kept going to God and telling how the Billy Goat was treating them and he knew too much and God came down to speak to the Billy Goat and said "I'll talk to him, and maybe he'll get all right."

He says, "Look here. The animals are tellin' me that you're lordin' it over them, and I didn't mean for you to do that. I gave you that beautiful voice to speak and give them advice."

Billy Goat says, "I know it."

God says, "Look how I did you, I gave you a goatee right there --that's why it's called a goatee cause you're the first one I gave it to and it makes you look so pretty."

Billy goat say, "I know it."

God says, "Now look at your feet. You can either walk on the ground or climb the mountains or do anything. I'm treatin' you just fine, better than all the other animals."

Billy Goat said, "I know it!"

And God said, "BIP! BIP!" Right there and he took that goatee and he put a piece of it on the Billy Goat's tail and made it turn up and Billy Goat said, "BAAA!" and he ain't talked since.

So when we start knowing too much, Daddy tell us a story, and especially that Billy Goat story. You know, I never found that in a book yet.


EVELYN: He never did beat us. He just promise a beating and we'd start hollerin'. Momma didn't give him time to beat us. Cause you received a beating then. There wasn't all the killing like there is now. Your parents beat you then. They didn't play with you, they beat you. They give you what you call an old time beating -- make you find your own switch and you had to bring a good one back before they beat you with it. So that's the way life was in those days.

LOUISE: Momma said she was going to hang Evelyn on the clothesline, and I was going to have to find the rope to hang Evelyn. I didn't want to hang my sister... I was looking but I didn't want to. I was hoping I wouldn't find one, because I knew if I ever found that rope, Momma gonna hang Evelyn.

DOT: My mother would tell us stories about the Ku Klux Klan and how they used to share crop and how her family --they didn't ever frighten them. And I guess that's why some of us now are a little feisty.


[Louise performs as a visiting artist in the local schools]

LOUISE: Last night, the night before,
Forty-four robbers came knocking at my door.
I got up and I let them in.
I hit 'em cross the head with a rolling pin.


LOUISE (V/O): Now, when I grew up in High Point, a man lived across the street from me and he told stories. And the children would sit there. I'm the only one telling the stories now. And then sometimes your family, your mother and father, they'd come and sit, and they visited each other. That was the entertainment --the storytelling. They weren't clean. I imagine some of them were dirty, but it didn't make any difference. If you weren't old enough to understand it didn't matter. The only thing that mattered to you was that you were around some one who loved you, and everybody in there cared for you.

Get your hat, and get your coat
Leave your worries on the doorstep
Life can be so sweet
On the sunny side of the street.

If I ever had a chance,
I'd be rich as Rock-e-fellow.
Gold dust on my feet,
On the sunny side of the street...

If I ever had a chance,
I'd be rich as Rock-e-fellow.
Gold dust at my feet,
On the sunny side of the street.
[Louis Armstrong]


DOT: Growing up at that time it was different because there was a lot of people loving you. I remember when we were growing up, there was always a lady that lived next door to us. I always liked her -- Miss Carrie Smith was her name.

EVELYN: Miss Carrie Smith would tell Momma everything we done. Momma worked and Miss Carrie Smith and her mammie would sit on the porch and we hated 'em. We didn't hate 'em, but like children hate anybody meddling in their business.

EVELYN: Mary Alice (oldest Anderson sister) would want to go out and meet them boys, and she didn't want me to go with her. Cause I'd come back and tell Momma. But she and Louise would walk so fast.


I was way behind. I was real fat, and I couldn't keep up with 'em. I'd be way behind 'em.
"I'm goin tell Momma when I get home."
And they would run and leave me.

LOUISE: Mary Alice knew I wasn't goin to tell. Evelyn going to tell her everything she...

EVELYN: I was goin to tell Momma.
"Them old boys stopped Mary Alice, Momma."
And that was a beating for her. I don't blame her not wanting me to go. She couldn't go if I didn't go too.

LOUISE: Evelyn, Momma shouldn't of done Mary Alice like that.

EVELYN: Yes she shoulda. She done her right. That's the way parents shoulda done.

LOUISE: A sixteen year old girl got to take her five year old sister with her. No she shouldn't a --

EVELYN: Mary Alice wasn't no sixteen years old. Mary Alice wasn't that old. Old enough for Momma to still beat her.


LOUISE: We went to high school in High Point, North Carolina, and there was a principal there named S.E. Burfort, and Mr. Burfort loved Black History. We had Paul Lawrence Dunbar[5] in our house, in our books, and we learned biblical stories, and there was a Lutheran school there, a one room school, and Dot and J.T. (the one brother in the Anderson family) went to this Lutheran school.

She wasn't even five years old. She wasn't even kindergarten age, and so Dot went in to sit in the back of the room. And at Christmas time, they had her speak the one hundred Bible verses. And there she was and she was always very short and she got up there and she did the one hundred Bible verses. We were always so proud of her. We were so proud of her.


DOT: [Recites "The Creation" by James Weldon Johnson[6]]
And God stepped out on space,
And he looked around and said:
"I'm lonely.
I'll make me a world."

And as far as the eyes of God could see
Darkness covered everything,
Blacker than a hundred midnights
Down in a cypress swamp.

And God smiled,
And the light broke.
The darkness rolled on one side,
And the light stood shining on the other,
And God said: "That's good."


LOUISE: [Recites "A Negro Love Poem" by Paul Laurence Dunbar]

See'd my lady home las' night,
Jump back, honey, jump back.
Held her hand and squeezed it tight.
Jump back, honey, jump back.

Heard her sigh,
Seen the light gleam from her eye
And a smile go flittin' by.
Jump back, honey, jump back.

Heard the wind blow through the pine.
Jump back, honey, jump back.
Mockin' bird was a-singing fine.
Jump back, honey, jump back.
And my heart was beatin' so
When I reached my lady's door
That I just couldn't bear to go.
Jump back, honey, jump back

Put my arms around her waist.
Jump back, honey, jump back.
Raised her lips and took a taste.
Jump back, honey, jump back.
Love me honey, love me true;
Love me well as I love you.
And she answered, "'Course I do!"
Jump back, honey, jump back.

That's a love poem.

That's a love poem.


EVELYN: Now I bought my greens the other day. I know some time when people is cooking on TV, they take and cook the foods -- have one already fixed. I didn't know Mr. Davenport and this little young guy wanting me to fix this here. So I'm going fix it for our supper. I guess you know white people don't eat too many greens and collard greens and cornbread and stuff like that. They pretend they don't like it, but when you turn your head, they eat up every bit of it. You have to grab you some of it. So now I'm going to get me my greens out the freezerator.

LOUISE: The thing that messed up the whole situation was when some dietitian decided that white people ate healthier than we did. That's a lie. They ate differently. They weren't eating any healthier. There's nothing in the world any healthier than a big bowl of chit'lins[7] They just wanted to charge us enough. So they could get the economy right. As soon as they got it so they could charge enough to run the economy, then everything worked out all right. Now as long as they can get something that the poor people have to pay a lot for, the economy works. The economy works.  It's just when that rich food, it's just when the asparagus go overboard that they have a hard time. You don't see anybody go walking up and down the street, saying, "The people are hungry." "What's the matter?" "We want some asparagus."  I ain't never seen nobody fighting for asparagus. They always fight for some fat back meat.


EVELYN: I've been a cook about all my life. First thing you do when you cook, you wash your hands. Wash your hands. I stress that real hard. A lot of girls used to didn't like me. I'd say, "Say good morning to the sink." That means wash your hands. 'Fore you start fixing anything that anybody eats. You have to wash your hands. I'm going to fix some turnip greens. I'm going to take two of these little ham hocks and put them in there. I know its not good for your health, but its not good without any seasoning. You have to put seasoning in your food.


LOUISE: (V/O) Now, domestic work, you were in domestic work whether you were intelligent or not. I mean, domestic work required a lot more than just cleaning. You had to learn to pull your hands out of the lion's mouth. You had to have it your way without letting them knowing you were having it your way. So you went in there and you did your little thing, you see. But then for them allowing you to have your way, they bought your loyalty.


LOUISE: Man came in, asked if he could have some water. So Momma said, "Yeah, you can have some water." So he says, "You the boss around here?" Momma said, "Nobody the boss around here." So he said he had worked someplace, working in the yard and he went to the house and he asked the woman in the kitchen, says "Can I have some ice water please?" And the woman said, "Would you like some lemonade?" So he said, "Well yes ma'am but won't the people mind?" "Mind!" she said, "No the people won't mind. Mind me? I been working here I don't know how many years. I'm the boss in this house. Ain't nothing been said to me about what's happening in my kitchen. No sir. Do you want some lemonade? You can have some lemonade." So she reached up there and got one of them big pretty glasses with the rings around it and squeezed him some lemon in there and got him some ice and put it in there. She poured him a whole heap a sugar and stirred it up and said, "Here drink that. I'm the boss in this kitchen." And they heard someone coming. He said he was leaning against the sink sort of shaking his lemonade a little you know letting it get cold --a little bit ice hadn't melted. He heard a noise and he heard the woman say, "Pour it in the sink." He said, "Ma'am?" She said, "Pour it in the sink!" "What you talkin about?" He knew he wasn't going to pour his lemonade in no sink cause he already knew she was the boss in there, and he wasn't about to pour his lemonade down. She said "Pour it in the sink!!" And she poured all that lemonade in the sink.So we always say don't never say you the boss somewhere because we always say, "Pour it in the sink!"


DOT: My mother wouldn't have allowed us to clean anybody's home who told us to come in the back door. A lot of people did, but the Andersons' did not.

EVELYN: Betty had a son named Warner -- Warner Stale. I'd like to see him now. That was long about Jackie Robinson's time. Jackie Robinson[8] just coming in.
And Warner told me one day, he called me. His Momma and Grandmomma had gone off and I was in the kitchen there. And he came in the back door and he said, "You nigger you." And I hauled off and slapped him harder than I ever slapped anybody in my life. And he started hollering to his momma. Mrs. Warner said "What's the matter Warner?" And I said, "He called me a nigger and I slapped the hell out of him." And Mrs. Warner said, "I don't blame you, Evelyn. We never say that word in our house. I don't blame you." Now, he had plenty of sense. He would tell me after then, he never call me that name no more. He would tell me, "I called you that name you don't like." I said, "What is that name?" "You know it." I said, "No, I don't know it neither." He said, "You know it." I said, "No. I don't know what you talkin' about." He said, "You know that ball player." I said "What ball player?" He said, "You know Jackie Robinson." I said, "Yeah, I hear talk about him. I don't know him." He said, "You know what he is?" I said, "He's a ball player." He never would say that word no more. And he come in one day, and he couldn't find me. I was down in the basement ironing and he couldn't find me. He called me and he cried, because he loved me.


LOUISE: That is something that they missed. There is no one no one who has been raised by a black maid who hasn't been in love with her. Now, my sister Mary Alice worked for these people. They had a jewlery store and I think she just worked for them two days a week but the little boy was her child. He was really and truly her child. And the daughter there became a judge, and she told someone that her mother and father provided the money for their welfare, but Mary Alice furnished the love in that house.


EVELYN: I worked in this house. They had two girls, Lisa and Deborah. Lisa was the kindest little thing you ever seen. But not that Deborah. She couldn't talk. She was tie-tongued, and she couldn't talk. They run the Fisherman's Wharf and three or four cafes around here. She told me one day "You see, We got two places of business -- The Fisherman's Wharf..." and what's the other one Louise? "The Pig Diner." She said "Ya'll can go to the Pig Diner, but we don't want ya'll at the Fisherman's Wharf." I said, "What you mean by ya'll?" "You people, your color, we don't want ya'll at the Fisherman's Wharf." I said, "Why ya'll don't want us there?" She said, "We just don't want you there." She heard her Momma and Daddy say that. So Eddie come in, I said "Eddie give me my money back I spent at the Fisherman's Wharf." He said, "Why? Did anybody say something bad to you?" I said, "No. Deborah just told me that you don't want us down there. What you take my money for if you don't want us down there?" He said, "You listen to what Deborah says?" I said, "Deborah meant that thing. Deborah heard ya'll talking." Then he got so ticked, he said "Deborah don't talk plain. You think she said that." I said, "I know what Deborah said. I ain't no fool. Deborah said ya'll don't want us at the Fisherman's Wharf. We can go to the Pig Diner, but not to the Fisherman's Wharf. Deborah, didn't you tell me that?" She said "Yeah, Evelyn, 'cause they said it. Last night. They was sitting there talking. They wish ya'll didn't come down there." I said "Ya'll who?" She said, "People like you and Louise." She didn't know but two black people -- that was me and Louise. I got so tickled. Eddie couldn't get out of that. But she got married about two weeks ago. They didn't invite us to the wedding, so they must've not wanted us at the wedding, didn't invite us to the wedding. Wouldn't made a bit of difference. We wouldn't have gone no way.



VINCENT MCLEOD (Dot's husband): We only had one black policeman and one black deputy. And that's what we was arguing for. We had one black doctor. We was arguing trying to get representation here. We didn't have anybody.

LOUISE: And they just hit you anytime they chose. The police didn't like black marines because they couldn't mess with the black marines. Sergeant Major Huff. He was one of the first. Huff started up the street one day and the police were going to arrest him and they got in a fight. And he broke two policemen's arms and a lot of stuff. So they called on the Base and they said "We got one of your nigger marines up here. And Daddy says "Well, what did he do?" "He's down here fighting our white people, that's what he did! He jumbed on my officers!. He broke one of them's arms and he got two of them in the hospital!" And he said, "Send him here! And don't you touch him!! Those are the people we're trying to make Marines!"

DOT: Civil Rights issues is life and learning your past, and then we shouldn't have to even had to ask for any civil rights. We were born with rights. It shouldn't have been separated and not necessary to have affirmative action and civil rights and a bill of rights and a voting rights. Those things shouldn't have had to be, but since they were, then we had to do something about it. And we tried not to do anything violently you see. Never violent. But since we had to do something to get the world's attention or this nation's attention rather -- and if that's the way it had to be, so be it.



LOUISE: [Sings]

Ain't goin' to let nobody turn me round,
Turn me round,
Turn me round.

Got down to Miss Maggies, and here comes Cigar, the policeman with his gun out the window. And when Evelyn and I went down there, Mamma was standing at the door, and she said "Evelyn, hold Louise's hand" -- just like we were children, you know. We held hands and we went on up there. We got there, and they started coming off like high noon. It was just beautiful to see them coming off that porch, coming off that porch, coming off that porch, and getting in that line.

VINCENT McLEOD (Dot's husband): The rooftops were lined with police with their riot gear on and the guns pointing at us. And everybody was scared, and we knew we was in the right.

LOUISE: And there was one black highway patrolman and when we passed by him, he was standing there with all the cops standing along the street. We had started out with just about 20 people but now we were about 200 to 300 strong! And we were dancing -- oh, we were dancing!

Tell me how does it feel
When you come out the wilderness,
Come out the wilderness...

So I danced over there and I said, "Don't you feel good!" And he said, "I'm proud of you. I'm proud of you."

We marched to the court house. I was cooking at Luigi's then, and we got up to the courthouse steps. And from high school (I used to travel with the chorus from high school) I used to know Langston Hughes. And I stood there and did The Negro Mother. And I have never done it that well before and I have never done it that well since. That is one day I became the Negro mother.


LOUISE: [Recites from "The Negro Mother" by Langston Hughes]

All you dark children in the world out there,
Remember my tears, my sweat, my despair.
Remember my years, heavy with sorrow--
And make of those years a torch for tomorrow.
Make of my past a road to the light
Out of the darkness, the ignorance, the night.
Lift high my banner out of the dust.
Stand like free men, supporting my trust.
Believe in the right. Let none push you back.
Remember the whip and the slaver's track.
But march ever forward, breaking down bars.
Look ever upward at the sun and the stars.
Oh, my dark children, may my dreams and my prayers
Inspire you forever up the great stairs.


BARBARA ANN HUBBARD: Well she didn't have any kids of her own, but her and Evelyn and Miss Anderson, they were the neighborhood mothers for all of us. Back during that time you had many mothers -- if you did something in the street here you get your butt beat, and when you get home you get beat again. But she tutored a lot of the kids. The segregated schools were not the best schools. At that particular time, if you had two years of college, you could be a teacher on a "B" certificate -- so we were getting substandard education. But, what we didn't get at school, she would give us if we were willing to learn, and listen, and get beat up.


CRYSTIE HOPKINS: You didn't get Black History. And I know for a fact in this neighborhood, it was taught by Louise Anderson. And all the kids that grew up from the late 1960s to the 80s, they were taught history by Ms. Anderson.

LOUISE: That is the true history. You're going to read history books and you're not in the history books. But you are the history. You're making the history.


VINCENT MCLEOD: I started her wearing African clothes and when she started wearing the African clothes, she excelled. Inside of her felt strong, and what was inside came outside, and she became a star.

LOUISE: I had a unique style, no one had it but me. In the entire world! My sister and them wear clothes. We wear clothes and no one in the entire world has them but us.

DOT: It saved a lot of money. And then we love it. I feel elegant in it and I feel strong. We didn't all start from slavery. We started from Kings and Queens, and we know that.


LOUISE: This is a little faded now, but it was very bright colors. And I went up into the mountains [10] and there was this little boy there and I walked in and I sat at a table and I could see him looking at me and he stopped whatever he was doing and looked. He was at a table with a lot of people and this is up at Highlands, North Carolina. And there are not many blacks up there. And I thought that I was the first black person he had ever seen because he kept looking at me, and he kept looking at me, and he couldn't understand, and my nails were long and polished and I had on all of these rings and bracelets all up my arm and, Oh my goodness, I could see he couldn't stand it. He came right up to the table. I could see how interested he was and I sort of smiled and waved and he rushed up to the table and he held my hand like that and I said, "Hi." I spoke to him, talked to him and his mother. And he said, "Oh! Oh! what color is your car??" And I could see him, his mind had been working all this time he looking at me and he says to himself people have different color cars but here I was, not only did I have a different color dress and I had on clothes with all these bright colors, but I was a different color. So he knew my car must have been something terrific. So I explained my car. I told him it was purple and it had stripes and had green wheels and he said "Oh! that sounds so pretty!" And I was very happy, delighted because I had just started telling stories, and I had just started wearing my costumes, and I was just delighted that I had made a child see something that he thought was beautiful. It was wonderful!


(Song under Windshield Wipers)
Some glad morning when my work is over,
I'll fly away, I'll fly away...


LOUISE: (V/O) Good morning. This is Louise Anderson. I want to call about some medicine. My sister's going to want some too. How much is it getting half of a refill. It ought to be on your record. My Lord! That's just for half of them? OK. What about the atrophine. Something to make me breathe. You know, the longer I live, the less fun it is to live and the more it costs me. When I was young, it didn't cost me nothing to live and I was having a good time. And now I'm just paying and paying and paying and just having the worst time of my life. Can't walk. Can't see. Can't eat. And owe y'all every time...Well you ain't got nothing to do with me getting old, do you?.[11] OK darling. Thank you.


LOUISE: (V/O) These days, you die in a hospital. There are no dying words because there's nobody. You're so doped up, and you're there in the hospital and there's nobody around you. There's no one like there used to be who would sit up with you all night long. And they sat up with you all night long because that's what they felt that they had to do. They sat up with you while you passed over. They got up the next morning, and they went out to work, and they went out in the fields, but they knew that at night they were coming back to your house, and they were going to sit up again.


EVELYN: They carried Momma down to the operating room and the doctor come back and told me she was dead. That was her favorite song[12]..


Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand.
I am tired, I am weary, and... (what is it?) I am weak, I am worn.
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light.
Take my hand, Precious Lord,
Lead me on.

LOUISE: Dot said one day, she says, "Louise, I don't know why you were a storyteller. Because I don't ever recall your saying, 'Well I think I'll go out here and tell some stories', and now, the next thing I know, you're telling stories."

And I don't know why either.


[Louise washing face] (V/O)

I have a lot of time to think now. And sometimes I said "Oh, how I wish I had gone another path. Oh, why didn't I get married and have children and grandchildren like everyone else!"

I don't know. I guess I could have been what you call a liberated woman. I cooked in restaurants, and I always loved anything I was doing, and I guess I went overboard. And I guess I loved the fact that people would boast on anything I did.


LOUISE: This is a prayer that you heard when you were a child, and this is a prayer that you've heard all your life. And this is...

Once more and again, my Heavenly Father, that I come before you with back bowed and knee bent. And I come before you this morning. Gracious Lord, thanking you for all you have done for me. I thank you, Lord, that today I'm sitting among the living. And that last night's bed was not my cooling board."

This is a prayer if you listen each Sunday in your church, and there is some woman, some man, somebody is going to say that prayer. You go and you thank God for your going out and your coming in. You thank him for your sick and your shut-in. You thank him for those who are in the hospital. You hope God will walk by their room and lay his hand on their brow. You hope that there is someone that will give them a cool drink of water. You hope there's someone will lay his cool cloth upon his brow. And then when he's done all that he can do, when he can't go no further, when he's walked the last mile of the way, you hope that He will take him home to his kingdom, to a life everlasting. Amen.


[Louise, Evelyn, and friend sing]

If I have wounded any soul today,
If I have caused some friend to go astray,
If I have walked in my own willful way,
Dear Lord, forgive.

I like that. I like that.



1 - The first footage of Louise was made in 1989 after she had starred in Davenport’s adaptation of the folktale Ashpet: An American Cinderella.  Louise was healthy and active at this time.  The other footage in this film was made in 1993.  She was very sick in 1993 and her appearance changed.

2 -Tom Davenport and his assistant Jonathan Hamilton flew from Virginia to Louise Anderson’s funeral in August 1994.  On the way, their High-8 video camera was damaged, and they were unable to tape the funeral.  However, a member of the church made a VHS tape and provided a copy for this film. 

3 - Langston Hughes (1902- 1967) was an African American poet. In the forty-odd years between his first book in 1926 and his death in 1967, he devoted his life to writing and lecturing. He wrote sixteen books of poems, two novels, three collections of short stories, four volumes of "editorial" and "documentary" fiction, twenty plays, children's poetry, musicals and operas, three autobiographies, a dozen radio and television scripts and dozens of magazine articles. In addition, he edited seven anthologies. Langston Hughes died of cancer on May 22, 1967. His residence at 20 East 127th Street in Harlem, New York has been given landmark status by the New York City Preservation Commission. His block of East 127th Street was renamed "Langston Hughes Place".

4 - Mary Alice Anderson was Louise’s oldest sister.  There were three sisters (Mary Alice, Louise, Evelyn, and Dot and one brother “JT”) in the Anderson family.

5 - Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872 - 1906) was a seminal African-American poet in the late 19th and early 20th century. Dunbar gained national recognition for his 1896 Lyrics of a Lowly Life. Born in Dayton, Ohio to parents who had escaped from slavery, Dunbar died from tuberculosis at 34.

6 - Songwriter, poet, novelist, journalist, critic, and autobiographer. James Weldon Johnson, much like his contemporary W. E. B. Du Bois, was a man who bridged several historical and literary trends. Born in 1871, during the optimism of the Reconstruction period, in Jacksonville, Florida, Johnson was imbued with an eclectic set of talents. Over the course of his sixty-seven years, Johnson was the first African American admitted to the Florida bar since the end of Reconstruction; the co-composer (with his brother John Rosamond) of 'Lift Every Voice and Sing,' the song that would later become known as the Negro National Anthem; field secretary in the NAACP; journalist; publisher; diplomat; educator; translator; librettist; anthologist; and English professor; in addition to being a well-known poet and novelist and one of the prime movers of the Harlem Renaissance.  He died in an auto accident in 1938.

7 - Chitterlings or chit'lins are the intestines of young pigs, cleaned and stewed and then frequently battered and fried.

8 - Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born in Cairo, Georgia, on January 31, 1919, the youngest of five children of Jerry and Mallie Robinson.  He grew up in Pasadena, California and lettered in football, baseball, basketball and track at UCLA.  He was widely regarded as the finest all-around athlete in the United States at that time.  After three years in the Army, he played with the Kansas City Monarchs of the American Negro Leagues in 1945.  Later that year, in a historic move that ended decades of discrimination against blacks in baseball, he signed a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers organization.  After a successful season in 1946 with its farm club, the Montreal Royals, he became the first black player in the Major Leagues since the nineteenth century.

9 - This 8mm motion picture film was in the possession of Vincent McLeod. Louise appears with the marchers in her African costume.

10 - Louise worked as a storyteller in the artist in the schools program in western North Carolina. 

11 - Louise adlibbed this phone call for director Tom Davenport. Her remarkable acting talent is best seen in Tom Davenport’s film Ashpet: An American Cinderella where Louise played the part of Dark Sally, the fairy godmother figure.

12 - Popular gospel song by Thomas A. Dorsey.

13 - An Evening Prayer by C. Maude Battersby, circa 1911.