Monday, March 14, 2011
OSEOLA MC CARTY -A GREAT BLACK WOMAN-GAVE HER ALL FOR BLACKS TO GO TO UNIVERSITY IN MISSISSIPPI(WHERE THEY JUST LYNCHED A BLACK MAN LAST YEAR!)-THIS IS BLACK CARING-TAKING CARE OF OUR OWN TO RISE!
O1996 — Feature WritingOseola McCarty
All She Has- $150,000 -Is Going to a University
August 13, 1995
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HATTIESBURG, Miss., Aug. 10
Oseola McCarty spent a lifetime making other people look nice. Day after day, for most of her 87 years, she took in bundles of dirty clothes and made them clean and neat for parties she never attended, weddings to which she was never invited, graduations she never saw.
She had quit school in the sixth grade to go to work, never married, never had children and never learned to drive because there was never any place in particular she wanted to go. All she ever had was the work, which she saw as a blessing. Too many other black people in rural Mississippi did not have even that.
She spent almost nothing, living in her old family home, cutting the toes out of shoes if they did not fit right and binding her ragged Bible with Scotch tape to keep Corinthians from falling out. Over the decades, her pay — mostly dollar bills and change — grew to more than $150,000.
“More than I could ever use,” Miss McCarty said the other day without a trace of self-pity. So she is giving her money away, to finance scholarships for black students at the University of Southern Mississippi here in her hometown, where tuition is $2,400 a year.
“I wanted to share my wealth with the children,” said Miss McCarty, whose only real regret is that she never went back to school. “I never minded work, but I was always so busy, busy. Maybe I can make it so the children don’t have to work like I did.”
People in Hattiesburg call her donation the Gift. She made it, in part, in anticipation of her death.
As she sat in her warm, dark living room, she talked of that death matter-of-factly, the same way she talked about the possibility of an afternoon thundershower. To her, the Gift was a preparation, like closing the bedroom windows to keep the rain from blowing in on the bedspread.
“I know it won’t be too many years before I pass on,” she said, “and I just figured the money would do them a lot more good than it would me.”
Her donation has piqued interest around the nation. In a few short days, Oseola McCarty, the washerwoman, has risen from obscurity to a notice she does not understand. She sits in her little frame house, just blocks from the university, and patiently greets the reporters, business leaders and others who line up outside her door.
“I live where I want to live, and I live the way I want to live,” she said. “I couldn’t drive a car if I had one. I’m too old to go to college. So I planned to do this. I planned it myself.”
It has been only three decades since the university integrated. “My race used to not get to go to that college,” she said. “But now they can.”
When asked why she had picked this university instead of a predominantly black institution, she said, “Because it’s here; it’s close.”
While Miss McCarty does not want a building named for her or a statue in her honor, she would like one thing in return: to attend the graduation of a student who made it through college because of her gift. “I’d like to see it,” she said.
Business leaders in Hattiesburg, 110 miles northeast of New Orleans, plan to match her $150,000, said Bill Pace, the executive director of the University of Southern Mississippi Foundation, which administers donations to the school.
“I’ve been in the business 24 years now, in private fund raising,” Mr. Pace said. “And this is the first time I’ve experienced anything like this from an individual who simply was not affluent, did not have the resources and yet gave substantially. In fact, she gave almost everything she has.
“No one approached her from the university; she approached us. She’s seen the poverty, the young people who have struggled, who need an education. She is the most unselfish individual I have ever met.”
Although some details are still being worked out, the $300,000 — Miss McCarty’s money and the matching sum — will finance scholarships into the indefinite future. The only stipulation is that the beneficiaries be black and live in southern Mississippi.
The college has already awarded a $1,000 scholarship in Miss McCarty’s name to an 18-year-old honors student from Hattiesburg, Stephanie Bullock.
Miss Bullock’s grandmother, Ledrester Hayes, sat in Miss McCarty’s tiny living room the other day and thanked her. Later, when Miss McCarty left the room, Mrs. Hayes shook her head in wonder.
“I thought she would be some little old rich lady with a fine car and a fine house and clothes,” she said. “I was a seamstress myself, worked two jobs. I know what it’s like to work like she did, and she gave it away.”
The Oseola McCarty Scholarship Fund bears the name of a woman who bought her first air-conditioner just three years ago and even now turns it on only when company comes. Miss McCarty also does not mind that her tiny black-and-white television set gets only one channel, because she never watches anyway. She complains that her electricity bill is too high and says she never subscribed to a newspaper because it cost too much.
The pace of Miss McCarty’s walks about the neighborhood is slowed now, and she misses more Sundays than she would like at Friendship Baptist Church. Arthritis has left her hands stiff and numb. For the first time in almost 80 years, her independence is threatened.
“Since I was a child, I’ve been working,” washing the clothes of doctors, lawyers, teachers, police officers, she said. “But I can’t do it no more. I can’t work like I used to.”
She is 5 feet tall and would weigh 100 pounds with rocks in her pockets. Her voice is so soft that it disappears in the squeak of the screen door and the hum of the air-conditioner.
She comes from a wide place in the road called Shubuta, Miss., a farming town outside Meridian, not far from the Alabama line. She quit school, she said, when the grandmother who reared her became ill and needed care.
“I would have gone back,” she said, “but the people in my class had done gone on, and I was too big. I wanted to be with my class.”
So she worked, and almost every dollar went into the bank. In time, all her immediate family died. “And I didn’t have nobody,” she said. “But I stayed busy.”
She took a short vacation once, as a young woman, to Niagara Falls. The roar of the water scared her. “Seemed like the world was coming to an end,” she said.
She stayed home, mostly, after that. She has lived alone since 1967.
Earlier this year her banker asked what she wanted done with her money when she passed on. She told him that she wanted to give it to the university, now rather than later; she set aside just enough to live on.
She says she does not want to depend on anyone after all these years, but she may have little choice. She has been informally adopted by the first young person whose life was changed by her gift.
As a young woman, Stephanie Bullock’s mother wanted to go to the University of Southern Mississippi. But that was during the height of the integration battles, and if she had tried her father might have lost his job with the city.
It looked as if Stephanie’s own dream of going to the university would also be snuffed out, for lack of money. Although she was president of her senior class in high school and had grades that were among the best there, she fell just short of getting an academic scholarship. Miss Bullock said her family earned too much money to qualify for most Federal grants but not enough to send her to the university.
Then, last week, she learned that the university was giving her $1,000, in Miss McCarty’s name. “It was a total miracle,” she said, “and an honor.”
She visited Miss McCarty to thank her personally and told her that she planned to “adopt” her. Now she visits regularly, offering to drive Miss McCarty around and filling a space in the tiny woman’s home that has been empty for decades. She feels a little pressure, she concedes, not to fail the woman who helped her. “I was thinking how amazing it was that she made all that money doing laundry,” said Miss Bullock, who plans to major in business.
She counts on Miss McCarty’s being there four years from now, when she graduates.
© 1995, The New York Times
A Killer’s Only Confidant (HE GOT A PULIZER PRIZE FOR WRITING ABOUT THIS GREAT BLACK WOMAN!)
Birth: Mar. 7, 1908
Death: Sep. 26, 1999
Philanthropist. Became well known near the end of her life for her gift of $150,000 (her life savings) to the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg in July of 1995 which sparked national as well as worldwide attention. She may not even knew exactly what the word philanthropy meant, but the elderly washerwoman gave away practically every dollar she ever made to endow a scholarship fund for poor students in Mississippi that made her a symbol of selfless giving. The Southern native was raised by her mother, Lucy, who moved to Hattiesburg when she was very young. Her father had died in 1926. At the age of 11 she had to drop out of the sixth grade to help her mother care for her ailing aunt. She was never able to return to school and took a job as a washer for families that would hire her, to help her family financially. Living frugally, she would go on and work for 75 years as a laundress beside her grandmother, who died in 1944; her mother, who died in 1964; and her aunt, who died in 1967. All leaving her money, which she added to her savings. In 1947, her uncle left her the modest, wooden-frame house in which she would live the rest of her life in. Alone in 1967, she continued to take in laundry until 1994, when in her eighties arthritis forced her to retire. All through her life she had taken pride in her work, had faith in God, and saved her money. Over her years of living she regretted that she never got her full education and that she never became a nurse. But one thing that she had achieved after was financial comfort. There was nothing in particular she wanted to buy and no place in particular she wanted to go. An only child who outlived her relatives, she lived a solitary existence, surrounded by rows of clothes she made pretty for people who knew her only as the washerwoman. Upon retiring and after some deliberation, she informed friends at her bank of the desire to give some of her money to her church, some to her family, and $ 150,000 to students at the University of Southern Mississippi so that they could receive something she never fully had, an education. “I’m giving it away so that children won’t have to work so hard, like I did,” she said in July 1995. Her gift established the Oseola McCarty Scholarship, with priority consideration given to those deserving African-American students enrolling at the University of Southern Mississippi who clearly demonstrate a financial need. The selflessness of this 87 year old woman’s gift sparked national as well as worldwide attention. The gift and dizzying media blitz that followed created a domino effect on the hearts and pocketbooks of people nationwide, and a group of local business people launched a private fund-raising campaign to match the donation. Contributions from more than 600 donors added some $330,000 to the original scholarship fund. After hearing of Miss McCarty’s gift, Multibillionare Ted Turner gave away a billion dollars. She would receive numerous honors for her generous gift of kindness. She did not want any monuments or any proclamations for her selfless act, said people who that knew her. Her more than 300 honors included honors by the United Nations, President Bill Clinton and the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP, the Presidential Citizen’s Medal (the nation’s second highest civilian award) and honorary doctorates from Harvard University and the University of Southern Mississippi. She also received the Community Heroes Award from the National Urban League, the Premier Black Woman of Courage Award from the National Federation of Black Women Business Owners, and the Achiever Award from the Aetna Foundation. In 1996, she had the honor to carry the Olympic torch through part of Mississippi and that same year, hers was the hand on the switch that dropped the ball in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. A collection of her views on life, work, faith, sayings, and relationships were published in her book, Simple Wisdom for Rich Living in 1996. She was later told in 1999 that she had liver cancer, about a year after she underwent surgery for colon cancer. She spent her last days as she wanted in the little house in Hattiesburg where she spent most of her life.
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An Extraordinary Special Person, Extremely Frugal Making Great Personal Sacrifices
A Symbol of Selfless Giving
During July 1995, an African-American cleaning woman from Mississippi Oseola McCarty (1908-1999), who from working all her life accumulated great savings, donated to the University of Southern Mississippi $150,000 for a student scholarship program. "I want to help somebody's child go to college," Miss McCarty said.
Bill Pace, executive director of the USM Foundation, which will administer McCarty's gift, said, "This is by far the largest gift ever given to USM by an African American. We are overwhelmed and humbled by what she has done."
An Extraordinary Woman of Sacrifice and Frugality
Oseola McCarty's lined, brown hands, now gnarled with arthritis, bear mute testimony to a lifetime spent washing and ironing other people's clothes.
There was nothing in particular she wanted to buy and no place in particular she wanted to go. An only child who had outlived her relatives, she lived a solitary existence, surrounded by rows of clothes she made pretty for people who knew her only as the washerwoman.
"I'm giving it away so that the children won't have to work so hard, like I did," she said in July 1995.
Born in Wayne County, Miss., on March 7, 1908, she was raised by her mother, Lucy, who moved to Hattiesburg when Oseola was very young. Her mother, she recalls, worked hard to support her young daughter.
"She cooked for Mr. J.S. Garraway, who was Forrest County Circuit Clerk, and … she would go to the schoolhouse and sell candy to make money. She would leave me alone. I was scared, but she didn't have no choice. I said then that when I could, I would save money so I could take care of my grandmother."
Young Oseola went to school at Eureka Elementary School. Even as a young child, she worked, though, and her savings habit started early.
"I would go to school and come home and iron. I'd put money away and save it. When I got enough, I went to First Mississippi National Bank and put it in. The teller told me it would be best to put it in a savings account. I didn't know. I just kept on saving."
When Oseola was in the sixth grade, her childless aunt had to go to the hospital, and, McCarty said, "I had to go and wait on her. When she came out of the hospital, she couldn't walk, and she needed me."
McCarty never returned to school. "All my classmates had gone off and left me," she said, "so I didn't go back. I just washed and ironed."
McCarty washed and ironed and lived frugally. She has never had a car and still walks everywhere she goes. She shows a visitor the shopping cart she pushes to Big Star, more than a mile away, to get groceries. For the visitor's benefit, she turns on the window air conditioner bank personnel only recently persuaded her to get.
Her grandmother died in 1944, her mother died in 1964, her aunt died in 1967, leaving her alone. Her mother and aunt each left her some money, which she added to her savings. In 1947, her uncle left her the modest, wood-frame house in which she still lives.
McCarty, who never married, said, "After my aunt died, I began to think, I didn't have nobody. I began to think about what to do with what little I had. I wanted to leave some to some cousins and my church. But I had been thinking for a long time … since I was in school … I didn't know how to fix it, but I wanted to give it to the college (USM). They used to not let colored people go out there, but now they do, and I think they should have it."
Miss McCarty's gift has astounded even those who believe they know her well. The customers who have brought their washing and ironing to her modest frame home for more than 75 years read like the social register of Hattiesburg. She has done laundry for three generations of some families. In the beginning, she said, she charged $1.50 to $2 a bundle, but, with inflation, the price rose.
"I just want it to go to someone who will appreciate it and learn. I'm old and I'm not going to live always." McCarty's gift establishes an endowed Oseola McCarty Scholarship, with "priority consideration given to those deserving African-American students enrolling at the University of Southern Mississippi who clearly demonstrate a financial need."
How It Really Happened
"When I started making $10 a bundle — I don't remember when … sometime after the war — I commenced to save money," she recalled. "I put it in savings. I never would take any of it out. I just put it in. It just accumulated."
Over the years, she put money into several local banks. While banks merged and changed names and management, McCarty's savings grew. Her grandmother died in 1944, her mother died in 1964, her aunt died in 1967, "and I've been havin' it by myself since then," she said. Her mother and her aunt each left her some money, which she added to her savings.
In 1947 her uncle gave her the house in which she still lives. Bank personnel, realizing that McCarty was accumulating sizeable savings, advised her to put her money into CD's, conservative mutual funds and other accounts where it would work for her.
Nancy Odom and Ellen Vinzant of Trustmark Bank have worked with McCarty for several years, not only helping her manage her money but helping look after her personally. It was they who helped her get the air conditioner. They also were concerned about what the future held for her.
"We both talked with her about her funds and what would happen to her if something happened," said Odom. "She knew she needed someone to take care of her."
Odom and Vinzant referred Miss McCarty to Paul Laughlin, Trustmark's assistant vice president and trust officer. "In one of our earliest meetings, I talked about what we could do for her," Laughlin said. "We talked about providing for her if she's not able. Then we turned naturally to what happens to her estate after she dies.
"She said she wanted to leave the bulk of her money to USM, and she didn't want (anybody) to come in and change her mind. I called Jimmy Frank McKenzie, her attorney — she's done laundry for him for years — and he talked to her. He made sure it was her idea.
Then I met with her to let her decide how to divide her money up." McCarty said, "Mr. Paul laid out dimes on the table to explain how to divide it up."
Paul Laughlin said, "I got 10 dimes (to represent percentages). I wrote on pieces of paper the parties she wanted to leave her money to and put them on the table. Then I asked how she wanted her money to be split up. She put one dime on her church and one each for several relatives. Then she said she wanted the rest — six dimes — to go to the college. She was quite definite about wanting to give 60 percent to USM. To my knowledge, she has never been out there, but she seems to have the best of the students in mind. The decision was entirely hers."
"I just want the scholarship to go to some child who needs it, to whoever is not able to help their children," Miss McCarty said. "I'm too old to get an education, but they can."
McCarty signed an irrevocable trust agreement stating her wishes for her estate and giving the bank the responsibility for managing her funds.
"Mr. Paul [Laughlin ] gives me a check, and I can go get money anytime I need it. My lawyer gave them permission to take care of me if something happens to me."
Paul Laughlin said the bank normally keeps such transactions in strictest confidence, but because of the uniqueness of McCarty's story, he asked for her permission to make it public.
"Well, I guess that would be all right," she said with her typical calm acceptance."She seems wonderfully at peace with where she is and who she is," Paul Laughlin said.
McCarty's arthritis in her hands forced her to retire from washing and ironing in December 1994, at the age of 86. Now she spends her days cleaning house, and she still walks everywhere she goes. But she said, "If I ever get able to, I want to go back to work."
The Excitement Expands
Oceola McCarty did not want any monuments, any proclamations, said people that knew her. But the selflessness of 87-year-old woman's $150,000 gift to the University of Southern Mississippi from her life's savings sparked national as well as worldwide attention.
The woman who had gone out only for some preaching at the Friendship Baptist Church in Hattiesburg and to buy groceries would be honored by the United Nations, would receive more than 300 awards. People all over the world knew who she was and what she did.
On a trip to Washington, McCarty was honored by President Bill Clinton and the Congressional Black Caucus. Miss McCarty, who declined an invitation to go by plane, was accompanied by Mary McCarty, a 50-year-old cousin from Shubuta and a high school social studies teacher in Waynesboro.
"I'm just tickled to death," McCarty said while waiting at the Hattiesburg train station, noting it was her first trip out of the South since a visit to Niagara Falls more than 50 years ago. McCarty will sat with President Clinton at a 7 p.m. Saturday dinner of the Congressional Black Caucus at the Washington Convention Center. New Jersey lawyer and businessman Lewis Katz helped organize the trip.
The following Monday, Miss McCarty received a presidential citation from Clinton at the White House.
Although McCarty has resided less than three miles away from the Hattiesburg university for most of her life, she visited the campus for the first time Aug. 29. She received a 30-second standing ovation from about 1,000 faculty and staff when she was introduced by USM President Aubrey K. Lucas. Lucas also presented McCarty with a framed letter from President Clinton, lauding her generosity.
"Hillary and I were moved by your gift to the University of Southern Mississippi. Your unselfish deed is a remarkable example of the spirit and ingenuity that made America great," the letter read in part.
Earlier in the day, she had met in Jackson, Miss., with Pat Fordice, the wife of Mississippi Gov. Kirk Fordice. Two days later, McCarty was introduced to more than 30,000 cheering fans at the university's season-opening football game. On Sept. 10, the Hattiesburg community celebrated "Oseola McCarty Day."
The gift and dizzying media blitz that followed created a domino effect on the hearts and pocketbooks of people nationwide, and a group of local business people launched a private fund-raising campaign to match the donation. Contributions began pouring in from scattered locations across the nation to the USM Foundation.
Contributions from more than 600 donors added some $330,000 to the original scholarship fund of $150,000. After hearing of Miss McCarty's gift, Ted Turner, a multibillionaire, gave away a billion dollars.
Along with all the plaques and trophies or other honors — she received the Presidential Citizen's Medal, the nation's second highest civilian award, and an honorary doctorate from Harvard University — she was awarded other things that were pure fun.
In 1996, she carried the Olympic torch through part of Mississippi. Later that year, hers was the hand on the switch that dropped the ball in Times Square in New York's wild New Year's Eve celebration. In fact, she said at the time, it was the first time she had actually stayed up past midnight.
Stephanie Bullock, an 18-year-old Hattiesburg High School honor graduate, was designated as the first scholarship recipient, getting $1,000 to help launch her college studies at USM this fall. When she met McCarty for the first time, she threw her arms around the woman's neck and whispered, "Thank you so much." The endowed Oseola McCarty Scholarship, with "priority consideration given to those deserving African-American students enrolling at the University of Southern Mississippi who clearly demonstrate a financial need."
Miss McCarty took others' excitement over her gift with the same quiet grace that she had taken all the bad and good that have come into her life.
"I can't do everything," she said, "but I can do something to help somebody. And what I can do I will do. I wish I could do more."
The woman who acted in anticipation of death found a life she could have never imagined. She flew on a plane for the first time in her life and laughed out loud when the food did not fall off the tray as the plane rumbled through the sky. She stayed in a hotel for the first time in her life, and before she checked out, she made the bed.
"People treated her like a monument," said Jewel Tucker, the secretary to the president of the university and Miss McCarty's traveling companion in those almost giddy years after the gift. "But she was really a movement. It will keep moving."
Time Draws Nigh
Miss McCarty was told that she had liver cancer, about a year after she underwent surgery for colon cancer. She wanted her last days to be spent in the little house where she spent most of her life. She was 91.
"I don't want to close my eyes because I don't know if I'll open them again," the tiny, frail woman told a visitor recently. "But I am not afraid."
Miss Oseola McCarty — the humble washerwoman who became The University of Southern Mississippi's most famous benefactor — passed away Sept. 26, 1999, after a bout with cancer. In a world in which people are suspicious of things too good to be true, Miss McCarty really was good and true.
"There's a lot of talk about self-esteem these days," she once said. "It seems pretty basic to me. If you want to feel proud of yourself, you've got to do things you can be proud of. Feelings follow actions."
There are those who would draw the wrong lessons from the life of Oceola McCarty. She was indeed an extraordinary and special person, one who was extremely frugal and made great personal sacrifices. Some would say wrongly: Poverty is about individual failure. It is about family dysfunction, character disorder and self-destructive behavior. Of course, this is a class attitude. Those who would take such a position are apologists for the structural wrongs that exist in our society. They are the sycophants and opportunists for the powerful and the mean in spirit.
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updated 10 June 2008
Home Washerwomen Table Tributes Obituaries Remembrances
Oseola McCarty: The lesson of simplicity
Filed under Inspired , Simplicity , by sudara || සුදාර… on Saturday, December 25, 2010
She is one of the most amazing women in the world who is inspired by millions of people around the world for her donation of $150,000 for the scholarship of the University of Southern Mississippi. While this may not have been the largest single donation the school ever received,what was unique was that she had saved the money over the course of her life time from her modest earnings washing other people's clothes.
Oseola McCarty was born, reared and started her education in Mississippi. When she was in the sixth grade, McCarty left school to care for her ailing aunt and never returned to school. For more than 75 years, she earned her living as a laundress. She did laundry for three generations of some Hattiesburg, Miss., families.
McCarty never owned a car; she walked everywhere she went, pushing a shopping cart nearly a mile to get groceries. She rode with friends to attend services at the Friendship Baptist Church. She did not subscribe to any newspaper, considering the expense an extravagance. Similarly, although she owned a black and white television, she only received transmissions via the airways. In 1947, her uncle gave her the house in which she lived until her death. She also received some money from her aunt and mother when they died, which she also placed into savings.
"I want to help somebody's child go to college," she said after announcing the donation. Her gift endowed the Oseola McCarty Scholarship. "I'm too old to get an education, but they can." When asked about her ability to save so much money she says simply, "I didn't buy things I didn't need, The Lord helped me, and he'll help you, too. It's an honor to be blessed like that."
In 1998, she was awarded an honorary degree from USM, the first such degree awarded by the university. She received scores of awards and other honors recognizing her unselfish spirit, and President Bill Clinton presented her with a Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second highest civilian award, during a special White House Ceremony. She also won the United Nations' coveted Avicenna Medal for educational commitment. In June 1996, Harvard University awarded McCarty an honorary doctorate alongside Maya Lin, Walter Annenberg, and Judith Jameson.
She passed away Sept. 26, 1999 from a cancer leaving a golden lesson of simplicity for all of us. A collection of McCarty's views on life, work, faith, saving, and relationships can be found in her book, Simple Wisdom for Rich Living, published by Longstreet Press in 1996.
Read the original story of donation
Posted by YEYE AKILIMALI FUNUA OLADE at 1:22 AM
Labels: AFRICAN AMERICANS, BLACK CHILDREN, BLACK MEN, BLACK WOMAN, BLACK WOMEN, BLACKS IN AMERIKKKA, MISSISSIPPI, THE BLACK RACE
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