Carrie L. Grossley
Civil Rights

Carrie was born in a community called Cane River, located "between the Cane River and Red River," she recalls. She was one of ten children to Albert "Son" and Mary Jane Darby Booker. Times were hard for the family. "I never owned a doll," she says of her childhood. Instead, she played baseball and fished. By age five Carrie was helping out on the family farm, where she often picked 150 pounds of cotton a day. She also accompanied her mother, a midwife, and delivered her first baby at age 12. By 1939 the family moved to Shreveport, where they settled into a shotgun house her brother rented. Eleven persons occupied three rooms. Carrie got a job babysitting, making $2.50 a week. Later, she moved to Greenville, Mississippi. On November 14, 1949 she married Chancy Grossley. They would have six children, six grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. In 1953 they moved to St. Louis. Separated from her husband, Carrie returned to Shreveport in 1955. She recalls the civil rights march in 1963 protesting the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. She was working in a bus station kitchen that served the first meal to whites and black soldiers. Her boss at first refused to serve the black soldiers, but their sergeant insisted they all eat together. Carrie worked at a shell plant, as well as for a family named Jackson for 42 years. "Times were hard but we made it by the grace of God," she remarks of her life.