T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History
Community leaders and politicians influencing elections
Christine Bennett by Chelsea Arseneault, 2015.
CHRISTINE BENNETT: Mr. Rigmaiden was a man that . . . like when they’D have meetings like the police jury . . . You know we had to vote. So they would ask Mr. Rigmaiden, his name was James Rigmaiden. And then there was his father before him. But it was either the Rigmaidens or Coach William and them, the Mosses. They were the people that mainly dealt with a lot of the business part of Mossville, you know. It was a lot of them that got involved in it. Because it was my daddy, Mr. Moss, Mr. Rigmaiden, and the Williams. They were the people that, you know, when they wanted something to be talked about, or politicians came in the neighborhood, they knew who to go to. They knew who had the pull, so those four families right there . Every time you had to vote, you know, the politicians would come out. That's the only time you’d see them is when they wanted you to vote for them. “If you get some votes for me,” you know. “Make sure your kids sign up to vote,” and stuff like that.

An old man named Mr. Montgomery. Valery Montgomery. They get to . . . Just by name, people are like, "Who can I talk to?" They come in the neighborhood, "Who you think I could talk to can help me win this vote?" That's the kind of game they did. Before you know it, they would pull this one here on Mr. Rigmaiden or Mr. Montgomery and before you know it, boy, them old men were on they job for these people. And beating us across the head. "You got to vote! And you got to vote for him!" That's the kind of stuff . . . how it all got started.

CHELSEA ARSENEAULT: Did Edwin Edwards ever come to the community?

BENNETT: Yes. These older people knew all of these politicians. There was not one politician that came up . . . [James J.] Cox, and Edwin Edwards, and everybody you knew. These older people [snaps] were like brothers with them and they come to they house and sit down and eat with them. We all knew them. They knew how to play on the older people. It went down line, because those same politicians that had family members would come back to us as younger people. They still come to us. Now Mr. Cox, he's still with us. "Oh I knew your father." Of course you did. You knew it. Edwin Edwards, "Oh I knew your brother." Everybody knew each other in Mossville because it wasn't that big not to know everybody.
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This project is a collaboration between the Imperial Calcasieu Museum and LSU Libraries to document the history of Mossville, a historic African American community in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana.
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