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Littleton / Community Involvement

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Interviewer: After your time at the city council was over, what community participation have you done since then? (crosstalk) Littleton: I don’t—when you’re a server, you don’t quit. You look for more to do. You look in your community and your city and if there’s a need, you fulfill that need. Like I’m still—the Castanets Social Civics and Arts Club which is a group of six ladies that help the needy in the community. I’ve been president with them for over thirty years. My church, I have about seven or eight titles or positions, which I love doing. He’s the reason why I’m living. I’m the president of the Black Cultural Council of Odessa. What we do is we put on the Martin Luther King celebration every year. We do a black history program where we recognize young people that are doing positive things in the community. Couple years ago, every time we turned the newspaper, African-American kids were sagging pants, drive-by shootings, drugs. All of our kids are not like that. So, we decided to do a banquet where we gave out scholarships to young kids that were doing positive things. That’s a big program that’s growing. Then, we have our annual Juneteenth celebration. We started out little, one day, two day. I been president over Black Cultural Council of Odessa. We’ve been doing Juneteenth here in Odessa since 1997 and today we’re the largest organized Juneteenth celebration in the world. You probably say, “In the world?” Yeah. Houston has a Juneteenth celebration. It’s a day. Dallas has one. It’s an afternoon. We do three days. Three full days. We have a basketball tournament where we bring in—like Larry Johnson used to go to Odessa College. We’d bring in pro basketball players to talk to the players. It’s a big—it’s been going on for thirty-something years. We have food vendors. We bring in—we have over forty food vendors. We bring in local artists, blues artists, gospel recording artists we bring in. We have a parade. We just finished it and on Saturday night, I think, the police told us we had over ten thousand people there. So, people from all over the world come to be a part of our celebration. It’s great. We strive to have a very—it’s family. We want the grandparents, the children. We try to educate them on the struggle. The struggle is real. Just because you got a car, making As and Bs. The police haven’t stopped you. The struggle is real. You haven’t arrived. We’re still struggling. We have a very diverse celebration. A lot of our vendors are Anglo. A lot of them are Hispanic. We have a high Hispanic presence in our celebration, a high Anglo—it’s just wonderful and it’s growing and each year that we petition the city council for funding for the event, at first, we are met with opposition. Why do y’all need monies? I’m sitting and I’m saying you’re giving Fourth of July celebration a hundred and fifty thousand dollars and all we’re asking for is a measly thirty or forty. Now, Fourth of July is one day and we’re three days for three separate events, you know, Martin Luther King, black history, and Juneteenth, and we want twenty-five or thirty thousand dollars and y’all are balking and questioning? Things like that push my buttons. Then, when my buttons get pushed, I have to go to a whole other zone. I become very defensive. I say okay, you know, I’m trying to meet. I’m trying to talk. If y’all won’t talk, let’s go to the media. Let me show you. Let me expose this. Well, nobody wants to be exposed. Well, do the right thing. Do the right thing and I won’t have to do that, but it’s 2016 and the struggle is real. We still—African-Americans are still being treated as second-class citizens. Part of it, it’s our own fault. Settle for less—I hear this a lot. We’ll Joann, you know, you need to stay in your place.

Interview Interview with Joann Littleton
Subjects Religion
Religion › Churches
Community Organizations
Community Organizations › Civil Rights Organizations › Local Civil Rights Organizations
Community Organizations › Community outreach
Race Relations
Race Relations › Anglo-Mexican Race Relations
Race Relations › Black-White Race Relations
Race Relations › Black-Brown Race Relations
People › King, Martin Luther, Jr.
Community Organizations › Community outreach › Volunteering
Tags Black Cultural Council of Odessa
Johnson, Larry
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Interview date 2016-07-06
Interview source CRBB Summer 2016
Interviewees Littleton, Joann
Locations Dallas, TX
Houston, TX
Duration 00:05:54
Citation "Community Involvement," from Joann Littleton oral history interview with ,  July 06, 2016, Odessa, TX, Civil Rights in Black and Brown Interview Database, https://crbb.tcu.edu/clips/3108/community-involvement-10, accessed July 17, 2019