Billy Graham Center

Interview with Spencer W. Perkins - Collection 364

[Note: What follows is a description of the documents in this collection which are available for use at BGC Archives in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. The actual documents are not, in most cases, available online, only this description of them. Nor are they available for sale or rent. Some or all of this collection can be borrowed through interlibrary loan. ]

Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Spencer W. Perkins

An Essay on the Contents of the Collection (Scope and Content)

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)

Brief Description.
Oral history interview in which Perkins discusses his childhood in California and Mississippi; attending black and white schools; relations with his father, John Perkins; the civil rights movement in Mississippi in the late 60s and early 70s; and the work of Voice of Calvary Ministries in Jackson, MS.

Collection 364 [May 9, 2017]
Perkins, Spencer W.; 1954-1998
Interview; 1987

1 Reel Audio Tape


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Spencer W. Perkins was born in New Orleans in 1954. His parents John and Vera Mae Buckley, were briefly separated at the time, but were soon reconciled and the united family lived in southern California. The couple had seven more children: Joanie, Derek, Wayne, Debbie, Philip, Priscilla, and Bettie. When Perkins was a very young child, he persuaded his father to start going to Sunday school and this eventually led to the elder Perkins becoming a born again Christian. The family moved to Mississippi in 1960, where John and Vera Mae began Voice of Calvary Ministries (VOCM), an evangelistic and social ministry in the rural countryside. Because of his father's and his own belief in the ongoing civil rights struggle, Perkins attended an all white high school for two years, but the suffering and hardship he encountered eventually caused him to return to the black school in Mendenhall. Perkins was also a participant in the protests and economic boycotts during the 1969 Christmas season in Mendenhall which eventually led to his father's arrest and severe beating in February 1970.

After attending college, Perkins settled in Jackson, MS, where he helped his father and mother start VOCM's urban programs. He continued to work with VOC until 1977. From 1980-1981 he was the manager of VOC's thrift store. Later he and his brother Philip started a battery reconditioning business. He was also leader of the Antioch Community, an integrated Christian group which was a part of the larger Voice of Calvary church in Jackson. He died in Jackspn, Mississippi on January 27, 1998

Scope and Content

Spencer Perkins was interviewed by Paul Ericksen on June 18, 1987 at the Voice of Calvary Ministries' International Study Center in Jackson, MS. The events described in the interview cover the time period from 1954 to 1987. Time elapsed in minutes and seconds is recorded to the left of the topics discussed in the interview. The index is keyed to the cassette copy and not to the reel-to-reel original.

T1 - side 1
00:00 Start of tape
01:00 Introduction; birth; parents' separation and reconciliation; persuading his
father to go to Sunday school; family argument over moving to Mississippi
06:00 Perkins' excitement over moving to the country; the trip to Mississippi; impressions of Mississippi; simple living conditions; the move to Mendenhall; the quality of the elementary school education; segregation of education
12:30 Attending the white school for two years; sufferings of those years; comparison of education in the black and white schools; math teacher was the only one somewhat sympathetic; "No one talked to me for two years"
19:00 Harassment of his mother; going back to the black school; physical abuse at the white school; feelings about his father's decision to send him to the white school
24:30 Beginnings of civil rights protests in Mendenhall; demonstration at the jail;boycott of the stores in town during the Christmas season
30:00 Emergence of Perkins' father, John Perkins, as the leader of the protest in Mendenhall; climax of the Christmas protests; refusal of a permit for marching; arrest of demonstrators and beating of John Perkins and volunteer Doug Huemmer by the police; visiting his father in jail; death threats on the demonstrators
38:00 The march the next week; Perkins' desire for revenge; the law suit against the county; hopelessness of the trial; results of the struggle
43:00 Frequent absences of his father on ministry business
44:30 End of side 1

T1 - side 2
00:00 Start of tape
00:05 Overlap from side 1
01:00 Workaholic nature of his father; fishing as relaxation; involvement of family members in Mendenhall Ministries and Voice of Calvary; reasons for not following in his father's footsteps; Lem Tucker
06:00 Perkins' battery reconditioning business; some changes in the system of justice since 1970
10:30 Differentness of the black church in Mendenhall; its holistic philosophy; theAntioch community which Perkins led; pooling of resources; resentments from the Voice of Calvary community toward the Antioch community
16:00 Reasons why some people left; the three Rs of Voice of Calvary; the importance of reconciliation; differences between white and black; other differences
22:00 End of tape


The materials in this collection were received by the Center in June 1987 from Spencer Perkins.

Acc.: 87-73
September 20, 1993
Robert Shuster

Accession: 87-73
Type of material: Audio Tapes

The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, approximately 65 minutes (1 hour, 5 minutes), one side only; originally recorded on cassette and transferred to master reel-to-reel tape. Interview with Spencer Perkins by Paul Ericksen recorded on June 18, 1987. Perkins describes his family, their move to Mississippi when he was a child, attending a white high school as a black student, the civil rights protest in Mendenhall when he was a teenager, impressions of his father John Perkins, the Antioch Christian community, of which he (Spencer) was a leader.

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