New: Summer 2023 Issue, Folk Arts Apprenticeship Exhibit, and I Ain't Lying Magazine Exhibit

I Ain’t Lying: Volume 5

I Ain’t Lying: Volume 5

I Ain’t Lying was a cultural journalism magazine exploring local life in Claiborne County, Mississippi. It was published in four issues between 1980 and 1989 by Mississippi Cultural Crossroads (MCC) in Port Gibson. I Ain’t Lying grew out of a project that was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to survey the Claiborne County area for folk arts and folkways that had been or still were practiced by the community.  

The magazine featured a variety of topics including quilting, corn shuck hat-making, midwifery, remedies, children’s games, riddles, songs and stories, tales of enslavement and the civil rights movement. The survey was conducted by high-school-aged students who interviewed community elders after school. With the guidance of MCC staff and volunteers, the students recorded the interviews on cassette tapes and photographed both the interviewees and any appropriate artifacts. The students also transcribed the audio files and wrote a short introduction to each interview. The purpose of the project was to document the folklife that had largely been ignored in previously published accounts of the county and make it available to the public. After the first four volumes, Mississippi Cultural Crossroads moved onto other programs and did not publish other interviews that had been conducted by the students. 

In addition to the first four published issues of I Ain’t Lying, MCC founder Patty Crosby also included five interviews that would have appeared in a hypothetical Volume 5 to this digitization project. The first three interviews (Celia Anderson, Charles Miller, and Lydell Page) were edited by the I Ain’t Lying team in the 1980s when the magazine was active, and they are presented here as completed projects. The two other interviews (Edgar May and Martha Buie) exist only as transcriptions of the interviews along with associated photographs. They have not gone through the intended editing process and should be considered incomplete work products.   

Disclaimer: I Ain’t Lying is presented as originally published and may include language which would be considered offensive in today’s context.  

Above (main image): Ellen Duffin interviews her grandmother, Celia Anderson. See Vol. 5, Spring 2023, No. 1. Photograph courtesy of Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Left: Pearl Ella Smith interviewing Edgar May, photograph courtesy of Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Volume 5 of I Ain't Lying has been digitized from the original interview transcriptions completed in the late 1980s and are presented here as PDF documents. To read the interviews from Volume 5, please click on the cover photo icon for each interview on this page below. To read the content from Volumes 1-4,  please click here.

I Ain't Lying

I Ain't Lying, Volume 5, No. 1

"During this interview I began to understand my grandmother and value her even more. In one afternoon I discovered my past, began to understand my present, and was given a storehouse of knowledge for the future." -Ellen Duffin, on her interview with her grandmother, Celia Anderson

Right: Edgar May, photograph courtesy of Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Left: Seated left to right are Roderick Red, interviewer, Martha Buie interviewee, and an unidentified person. Photograph courtesy of Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Right: Martha Buie playing the piano in her home with her song books visible.  Photo by Rodrick Red, courtesy of Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

I Ain't Lying: Martha Buie Songs

I Ain't Lying: Martha Buie Songs, Volume 5, No. 1

Left: Martha Buie playing her piano.  Photo by Roderick Red, courtesy of Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

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Mississippi Cultural Crossroads

Mississippi Cultural Crossroads

Mississippi Cultural Crossroads (MCC) began in 1978 to encourage the youth of Port Gibson and Claiborne County to explore and appreciate the arts and culture of the community through photography. Over the years, MCC developed a variety of arts programming for students including Peanut Butter & Jelly Theater and Summer Art. MCC became known for the Crossroads Quilters, including master quilter and teacher Mrs. Hystercine Rankin, a 1997 NEA National Heritage Fellow, and master quilters Geraldine Nash, Mary Ann Norton, Gustina Atlas, and Tammy McGrew. Collecting oral histories of local people has long been a passion of the organization. In addition to preserving the historical perspectives and memories of local citizens, MCC shared many practical ideas for using oral history to create public programming, including the I Ain’t Lying magazine series, GOOD EATING, a booklet of interviews about local foodways, accompanied by a CD of interviews, and community plays, WHAT IT THIS FREEDOM, HOLLA!, and HOW THE DEAL ROCKED UP, based on the stories.