Sam Mims talks on progress of racism in Minden

Sam Mims

He’s outspoken. He stands up for what he believes is right, and he is a man of God.

Sam Mims makes no bones about being outspoken. He believes in “telling it like it is.”

Mims recalls a time when he knew racism, even calling himself a racist at one time. Today, he says Minden has made progress, but more could be done.

Mims says the right to vote is very important to him because he remembers what it took to get that right.

“A lot of people died – black and white – for us black people to have the right to vote and to be treated fairly and equally,” he said. “Then I see people now who are too trifling or too whatever to benefit from that. We had to do things (to get that right), so now I think the least I can do is vote.”

He is a 1964 graduate of Webster High School and went on to Southern University in Baton Rouge. The day he graduated from college in 1969, he joined the ranks of the U.S. Army.

“I remember not being able to go to LSU,” he said. “Not because I wanted to go, but because I just couldn’t.”

He says somewhere in his college years, the Lord “delivered him from racism.”

“I didn’t like white folks,” he said. “I grew up here and to my way of thinking, I had no reason to like white folks. I’d seen enough mistreatment of myself and my family, so I wasn’t crazy about white people. I didn’t know about Jesus, so I didn’t know about all that stuff. You just go by your external environment.”

He vividly recalls the day he was “delivered from racism.” In December 1965, he was on a train from Baton Rouge to Minden – at the time, Minden had a train depot. He had a girlfriend in Minden and one in Shreveport, he says, and they both broke it off with him around the same time.

He says he was feeling sorry for himself and got “nasty” drunk. The people he was drinking with left him alone after he’d gotten sick.

“So, the conductor, a white man who I still do not know to this day, came to where I was and looked at me,” he said. “He went on about his business and he came back. I’ll never forget it. He had a big ole white towel, and the towel was warm. He proceeded to clean me up – and I mean he cleaned me up in a caring way. He never said anything, and he left. He came back with a glass of water and two Alka-Seltzers, and he still hasn’t said anything. He left, and then he came back and took me to a compartment between the cars where he had prepared a place for me to sit and lay. He’d opened the windows so I could get fresh air, and then he’d come back and check on me. When we got to the stop here, he came and got me and made sure I got off the train. And to my knowledge, he still never said anything. So I got cured that day on believing that all white people were bad.”

He was 19-years-old at the time.

He spent 30 years in the Army, rising all the way to rank of colonel. Mims says he earned his rank, but without affirmative action, the doorway to his rise in the military may never have happened.

He came home to Webster Parish in 1995 to 35 acres of land south of Dubberly to retire. He now pastors The Shepherd’s Hut, a small church.

With his cattle, his family life and his church, he stays busy, he says. He has been married to his wife Glenda for nearly 47 years. The couple has two sons and two grandchildren.

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