Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Kojo Nantambu, May 15, 1978. Interview B-0059. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Nantambu's memory of the bombing of Mike's Grocery

Nantambu relates his memory of the bombing of Mike's Grocery on Saturday, February 6, 1971.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Kojo Nantambu, May 15, 1978. Interview B-0059. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

LARRY THOMAS:
Were you scared, brother?
KOJO NANTAMBU:
The only thing I was scared of was that I couldn't get the gun loaded fast enough to get off another shot if I had to shoot. If I shot, I didn't hit the first time, because the guns that we had--people tried to say that we had an arsenal up there, but we had a lot of old guns that the brothers had stole from their fathers out of the garage or something that was all taped up. Now a few brothers had two or three. 22s up there which were in better shape than the shot-guns we had up there. I wasn't worried about getting hurt or nothing like that because concealment was easy. It was easy to conceal yourself. After you got off the first round, could you get off another one before they shoot you-- that was my basic concern. I had promised my wife that night that I wouldn't stay because I had stayed the night before. So about 9:15 I told my brother June-Bug that I was leaving. I gave him my post. I was going home with Lynn and the baby. The baby was about two or three months old then. I went on home. About 9:30, according to the report, that's when the thing happened at Mike's Grocery--you know, Mike's Grocery burned. Well, now ...
LARRY THOMAS:
They'd been trying to burn that down the whole while?
KOJO NANTAMBU:
Somebody had.
LARRY THOMAS:
Was there a specific purpose behind burning him out?
KOJO NANTAMBU:
I don't know whose purpose it was. I don't know who was trying to burn it down. Now somebody said that there'd been some cocktails the day before in front of Mike's that didn't go off. We don't know who put them there. Now I do know some brothers tried to blow the door off; they were going to go in there and take the food and use it for the students. [Laughter] . But as far as burning it down, none of us had made any attempts to go ...
LARRY THOMAS:
Were they saying let's get Mike for a certain reason?
KOJO NANTAMBU:
No, people were talking about Mike was nasty, he treated little kids nasty. He used to get the little kids to talk nasty to the little kids in the neighborhood. But nobody had made a concerted effort as far as like burning the store down. The only thing we talked about in concert was going in there and taking the food out--taking the cracker's food and that would hurt him that way. When we found out about the cocktails, no one had any knowledge about who had thrown the cocktails up there before.