Documenting the American South Logo
Loading
Title: Oral History Interview with Jessie Streater, November 10, 2001. Interview R-0165. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Streater, Jessie, interviewee
Interview conducted by Copeland, Barbara
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2008
Size of electronic edition: 124 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2008.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2008-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2008-01-04, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Jessie Streater, November 10, 2001. Interview R-0165. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series R. Special Research Projects. Southern Oral History Program Collection (R-0165)
Author: Barbara Copeland
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Jessie Streater, November 10, 2001. Interview R-0165. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series R. Special Research Projects. Southern Oral History Program Collection (R-0165)
Author: Jessie Streater
Description: 135 Mb
Description: 23 p.
Note: Interview conducted on November 10, 2001, by Barbara Copeland; recorded in Durham, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by L. Altizer.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series R. Special Research Projects, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Editorial practices
An audio file with the interview complements this electronic edition.
The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as "
All em dashes are encoded as —

Interview with Jessie Streater, November 10, 2001.
Interview R-0165. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Streater, Jessie, interviewee


Interview Participants

    JESSIE STREATER, interviewee
    BARBARA COPELAND, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
BARBARA COPELAND:
Of the Mormon church on Berini Road in Durham. My name is Barbara Copeland. I will be interviewing Mrs. Streater. Today's date is November 10th in the year 2001. Okay, Mrs. Streater. Just wanted to ask you a few basic questions. If you could just tell me briefly about your childhood experiences, where you were born and where were you raised and how many siblings do you have.
JESSIE STREATER:
I was born in Durham, North Carolina, and I have three sisters and three brothers. There are seven of us and I'm in the middle. We were raised in Durham and we lived in the Haytie area, which is mostly highway now. It's off of Fayetteville Street.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Yeah, Fayetteville Street. Is that the only area that you lived in throughout your childhood?
JESSIE STREATER:
No, we lived in quite a few areas around Durham, but the longest length of time was in Haytie.
BARBARA COPELAND:
The Haytie region. How many siblings do you have?
JESSIE STREATER:
It's three sisters and three brothers.
BARBARA COPELAND:
So it's seven of you. What schools did you go to?
JESSIE STREATER:
We went to W.G. Piston School that's elementary and Whitted Junior High is middle school and Hillside is high school. But of course I did not graduate from Hillside. I quit school, but I went back and got my GED.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Well that's good. That's good. So how long, about what age was it then that you moved from home?
JESSIE STREATER:
I was about sixteen.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Wanted to know if you could tell me a little bit about what you all did at home like for entertainment with your family.
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, as kids we rode bikes and played cards and just did kids' stuff.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Wanted to know how many children do you have now.
JESSIE STREATER:
I have three children and eight grandchildren.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Wow. So where did you meet your husband? Was he also from Durham as well?
JESSIE STREATER:
He was originally from Chesterfield, South Carolina, but his grandma moved to Durham sometime in his earlier years. I met him in the Hoover Road area off of Angier Avenue. He is quite some

Page 2
years older than I am. He's six years older than I am, and he was coming out of the Job Corp, and of course I was fifteen then when we met each other.
BARBARA COPELAND:
So actually then he's your first love? Okay. Okay. Wanted to know also your children, did you decide that you wanted to raise them the same way that your parents raised you?
JESSIE STREATER:
No, I wanted them to be raised differently. I just knew that it was a better of raising children than the way we were raised.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Right. So what were some of the things, I know that you've mentioned a particular television program that you really patterned your ideas behind. What program was that?
JESSIE STREATER:
Father Knows Best.
BARBARA COPELAND:
That was what you saw during—
JESSIE STREATER:
Father Knows Best and I thought of another, My Three Sons and stuff like that I thought maybe that sounds like, well, that looked like what I wanted.
BARBARA COPELAND:
How you wanted to raise your family. Did you see that as being very different from the way you all were raised?
JESSIE STREATER:
Oh yes. Oh yes.
BARBARA COPELAND:
About discipline, how did your parents discipline you all and do you use the same strategies, did you use the same strategies with your children?
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, my mom she talked a lot. My dad he didn't talk at all. He didn't care what the explanation was or anything. He was ready to beat. In my house I did a lot of yelling. My husband he was the calm one. He didn't do anything. It was all my disciplinary actions. The kids didn't pay me much attention because I could hear them outside the window one day saying little girl was saying, "I'm going to tell your mom," and my daughter said, "I don't care. She's not going to do anything but holler at me." So evidently mine wasn't all that great either.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Would you say then that your discipline strategy was like the opposite of how you were raised? Because you said that your dad was the more disciplinarian one, and so now you were the more. So it switched.
JESSIE STREATER:
Yeah. Very much so because my husband he's just so calm and patient. He just let them run over him. Somebody had to step in and take over. It was me.

Page 3
BARBARA COPELAND:
How important was religion and religious training in your home when you were coming up?
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, I don't think it was really important because my mom and my dad didn't go. So it was up to us whether we wanted to go or not. If we went, that was fine. If we didn't, that was okay. But I had a godmother that stressed the issue of going to church, and I stayed with her a lot. So I went to church a lot.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Did you feel that religion was very important in your immediate household with your children once you started bringing them up?
JESSIE STREATER:
I did. But it was just, it was I went to so many churches trying to get the feel of what I felt was right, and so it was hard for a really long time.
BARBARA COPELAND:
What types of, what church denomination did you belong to when you were a child?
JESSIE STREATER:
Mostly Southern Baptist.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Southern Baptist. And so in your adult life you were Southern Baptist also.
JESSIE STREATER:
Yeah, but then we changed to Pentecostal and Holiness. We went to quite a few of them.
BARBARA COPELAND:
What were some of the things that you liked or disliked about the church, those churches?
JESSIE STREATER:
I had a lot of questions and they would answer them, but it just wasn't satisfying to me. Some of the things that they did I didn't think was right. So I just decided that I'd just go to the next one and try the next one and keep trying and keep trying until I felt comfortable with whatever I was learning from that particular church.
BARBARA COPELAND:
So then you were soon after that you decided to go to the Mormon church. Can you tell me a little bit about that, that conversion?
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, my sister lived in Wilmington. She moved to Wilmington. My children went there for the summer, and they just kept telling me about this church that they went to and how nice it was and everything. So I said when we, my husband and I came we would go to this church and see what it was about. Actually my brother in law introduced us to the church, and we went to the church, and we had the missionaries come out and give us some lessons.
BARBARA COPELAND:
So what exactly did you like about the Mormon church that was so different from the other experiences that you had at the other churches?

Page 4
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, in the beginning it was the same questions that I had asked other churches I asked the missionaries and of course the bishop of the church and everything. The answers were more satisfying to me. I thought that hey, this must be what I'm looking for. So I continued.
BARBARA COPELAND:
What were some of those like questions and then answers?
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, my first question was why did I need to be baptized because I was afraid of swimming. I don't know how to swim, and I didn't want to be baptized, and just about every church you go into they tell you in order to be a member you have to be baptized. I was saying, "Well why do I need to be baptized? What is the significance of being baptized and everything?" One of the churches told me so you can work in the church, but I was already working in the church. So if I was already working in the church, I didn't need to be baptized. But when I went to the Mormon church and I asked the same question, the answer was totally different. It was that I was making a covenant between God and me for certain things and that that's what baptism was. It was like, I thought it was to work in the church. That was what was told to me.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Did you see or feel any spiritual differences being in the Mormon church from the other denominations.
JESSIE STREATER:
It felt really funny the first time I felt the spirit in the Mormon church because usually in the other churches you have the piano, the drums and all these other things. Of course you feel this feeling all over you that makes you want to move and everything in the other churches. But when I went to the Mormon church, there weren't all these drums and everything. Of course there was the piano and the organ, but when the spirit just came over, it just felt so different. It just tingled all over, just made me want to cry, just bust out and cry. Everybody was asking me what was wrong with me. It was nothing that I could say was wrong with me. The only thing I know was I just felt weird on the inside.
BARBARA COPELAND:
That's good. So could you tell me a little bit about your children's experiences once you decided to continue in the Mormon church? How do you see that it had an impact on them making the switch?
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, when we joined the Mormon church, my oldest child was nine and so that means that only she and I and my husband could be baptized because you're baptized when you are eight in the Mormon church. We were baptized and everything, and then she started going to all the classes, and they

Page 5
were increasing her knowledge in religion and everything, and it was just totally different. She felt a part of something. She wasn't just going to church sitting beside mom and dad. She felt that she was a part of something because they had their own little Sunday school, and they could testify in their own little Sunday school and she could give talks and all this stuff. Where in the other churches only the adults, well the preacher preached the sermon and all of this stuff. She felt really good about the fact that she could do these things. Even the other two felt really proud of themselves too because they had their own class and they could identify with the children that were in the class that they were in because they were the same age, and so it was quite different for them.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Okay. As far as discipline did you find that the Mormon church helped in the ways of discipline? Did it help you to be able to do a better job as being a parent?
JESSIE STREATER:
I can say that the Mormon church gave me a quite a few ideas that I never thought of. Some of them really did work. But like I said I already had in my mind what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Just going back to when you were talking about those particular programs that you really, really liked and you said to yourself this is how I'd like my family to be. Did you see any of that sort of like coming through the Mormon church like the Father Knows Best family TV shows and the My Three Sons. How does that sort of did you get any sense or feel of that coming from the Mormon church?
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, in a sense I did because of the priesthood and the husband he led the family, but he wasn't in charge. His wife was right there beside him and whatever she said mattered even though he was the one who was over her and everything. I kind of like put those two things together and said yeah this is it.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Typically they say well from what I've understood is that it's very hard when African Americans are, that a lot of the African American women like to have a certain amount of control, and I was just concerned that within the Mormon church there's a hierarchical structure. How do you, how are you able to reconcile or take that view of the ideal of there being a hierarchical structure and your not being able to really have but only a certain amount of control in the church?
JESSIE STREATER:
That doesn't bother me as long as I know that my opinion matters as well. Even though I'm not the one in charge, in control of the whole thing my opinion still counts.

Page 6
BARBARA COPELAND:
It counts.
JESSIE STREATER:
It's taken into consideration.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Wanted to know like if the Mormon church authority leaders were to say that you, call you to perform a certain function in the church would and if you felt that well this is not something that I could do at this time, would you feel okay to say that or how would you go about still obeying a church leader's authority?
JESSIE STREATER:
Usually what I do is I ask, "Are you sure? Did you really pray about this?" He says yes or whatever, and I say, "Well, I think maybe I should go and pray myself about it for a little while and whatever the spirit tells me that's what I will do. Even though I feel that this is a little bit more than I can handle I will listen to the spirit," because I have had a calling that I thought was a little bit more than I could handle.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Oh you have.
JESSIE STREATER:
I did go pray about it, and it just kept laying on me that it was the right thing to do. So, and of course my bishop then was one that was saying okay you can do it. You can do it. You can do it. No matter what you say. You can do it. You can do it. Okay so I'll see you next Sunday in your calling. So I went on and did it, but it was really a great experience.
BARBARA COPELAND:
What was that calling?
JESSIE STREATER:
It was second counsel in primary. I just knew that I would not be able to stand up in front of them and give a lesson and all this stuff and everything, but of course I made it through.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Normally how long is the calling for? How long a period?
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, it all depends, usually well, it all depends on what the calling is because you can, you can be a librarian for eternity.
BARBARA COPELAND:
A librarian.
JESSIE STREATER:
A librarian. You can work in the library forever. If you're in relief society usually, you can ask to be released anytime you want to. Usually when the presidency, changes everything changes. So that's a year or two.
BARBARA COPELAND:
So explain, I guess maybe I should kind of back up and ask you to explain what is meant by when they say someone is called to do something? What does that really mean?

Page 7
JESSIE STREATER:
It means that you are asked to perform a specific service.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Within the church.
JESSIE STREATER:
Yes, within the church. That's what they will call you, set you apart and lay hands on you, pray for you or whatever, set you apart and that your calling that will be your duty for a time.
BARBARA COPELAND:
For a specific period of time.
JESSIE STREATER:
Period of time
BARBARA COPELAND:
So this calling who does it normally come from. Is it just the highest church leader, the bishop or is it maybe one of the elders who has a priesthood ranking? How normally gives out the callings and how do they come about getting that information that someone is called to do something?
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, from my understanding it's the bishop and his counselors. Of course, they know when there's, I wouldn't call it an opening but a space that needs to be filled, a position that needs to be filled. They gather the names together and they pray over them and whatever name that they feel the spirit has given them that's when they go to that person and ask them will they accept this calling.
BARBARA COPELAND:
So then it's just the bishop—
JESSIE STREATER:
And his counselors.
BARBARA COPELAND:
His counsel.
JESSIE STREATER:
That's my understanding.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Right. Right.
It's been told to me that prior to the year 1978 there was a ban on African American males gaining access to the priesthood. Did you know anything about that?
JESSIE STREATER:
Oh yes. It was still that way when we joined the church. I didn't, at first I felt kind of uncomfortable about it, but I thought about it. With segregation and all this other stuff if a black person was to hold a position like that, we thought that there would be trouble. Back in Joseph Smith days it would've been even worse with black people as they would say quote trying to be the head of something or in authority of something. So that's—
BARBARA COPELAND:
So what year was it then that you joined the Mormon church?
JESSIE STREATER:
'79.
BARBARA COPELAND:
In '79. So then this was only a year, a year after they had released that ban. Were there many African Americans in the Mormon church or in the church that you went to?

Page 8
JESSIE STREATER:
Not in the one in Durham but the one in Wilmington had quite a few African Americans. When I came back here and we searched out the church, there was only I think one other family.
BARBARA COPELAND:
So back at the branch or the church in Wilmington where there were more African Americans how did most of the African American church members feel once they made the announcement and they released, that the ban was released and that now African American males could gain access to the priesthood? How did the African American members feel at that time? Were they scared? Were they nervous about that or did they talk about it any? What were some of those feelings?
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, I'm not sure exactly because of course we were just visiting there. But my brother in law he felt relieved that he could go higher in the church than where he was. He did feel good about being able to rise up higher.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Because actually what does having the priesthood, as a male having the priesthood, what does that mean for the family? What kind of benefits does it give for the family?
JESSIE STREATER:
Being a priesthood holder he can administer blessings and a comfort or sickness. He can do quite a few things—
BARBARA COPELAND:
That he normally would not have been able to do for his family if he could not gain access to the priesthood. What about going to the temple? What does that, having access to the priesthood allow you to do when you go to the temple? Aren't there like certain functions that only someone in priesthood authority could fulfill in the temple?
JESSIE STREATER:
I'm not sure. I've been to the temple three or four times, and it wasn't anything that a priesthood holder per se was involved in what I was going to the temple for. I'm not sure.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Because I thought that they could do sealings, like what is called sealings binding families together. Do you know anything about that?
JESSIE STREATER:
No I haven't been sealed yet.
BARBARA COPELAND:
What basically what does that really mean because I may have a wrong interpretation of that?
JESSIE STREATER:
Sealing families together throughout eternity not just for to death do us part but through eternity. Being together forever and ever.

Page 9
BARBARA COPELAND:
So like in an afterlife you mean. So basically the Mormon tradition believes that after death there will be an afterlife and the family that you're with now, that's the family that you will have in the next life if you're sealed.
JESSIE STREATER:
Yeah, and if you continue to do what you know is right. Just because you're sealed together doesn't mean that you will be together You still have things to do. You still have to do the right thing in order to go to the right place.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Wanted to know how important is that to you—
JESSIE STREATER:
Being sealed together.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Right and assuring that your family will be together in the after life. Is that of a great significant importance to you?
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, it is a great comfort in knowing that there will be, you would still know each other and be with each other. Then it's not so hard when one of us leaves, one of us dies because we know that we will be together again.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Okay. Okay.
Wanted to also know that when you converted to Mormonism, how did your community, how did your neighbors, what was your experience from your neighbors?
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, I'm not a socializing person. So there was only I think one maybe two neighbors knew that I was Mormon, maybe three. But it's not like we socialized. So it doesn't matter to them whether I'm Mormon or—
BARBARA COPELAND:
They probably didn't know. What about your family, your extended family members like other brothers and—
JESSIE STREATER:
My siblings.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Yeah, your brothers and sisters. Did you tell them that you converted?
JESSIE STREATER:
Yeah, I had a sister that came once or twice, and she decided that's not what she wanted. Another sister came and her husband was a preacher. So we knew she wanted be by his side no matter what she thought about the church. She wanted to support her husband. So and they don't, they don't hold it over my head or against me or anything for being Mormon.
BARBARA COPELAND:
So they don't treat you any differently.
JESSIE STREATER:
Uh uh.

Page 10
BARBARA COPELAND:
Do they ever comment on differences that they may see in how you raise your children according to the Mormon tradition or anything like that? Do they make any positive or negative comments?
JESSIE STREATER:
No, well the sister that her husband is a preacher, she's really supportive of the family because I just had a granddaughter that was baptized. She just turned eight, and we usually do everything together, Christmas and New Years I mean Thanksgiving whenever we can. So she feels that we are like one. So whatever happens in my life she knows and whatever happens in her life I know, and we try to support each other.
BARBARA COPELAND:
That's the sibling that you're closest too. Does she have a lot of children?
JESSIE STREATER:
She has three also.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Wanted to know how important is prayer in your life? Does it play an important role in your life?
JESSIE STREATER:
Oh yes it does. Before I can get in my car and drive off, I've got to pray. I might not make it to the corner without that prayer. I get up each morning I just feel like I need to thank God because today wasn't promised to me. That's another blessing that was given to me.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Wanted to know how important are denominational differences to you like the other traditions or other denominations?
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, to me I feel like to each his own. If you want this over here, that's fine. If I want this over here, don't try to knock what I want. Just I just try not to think about what other people—
BARBARA COPELAND:
Right. Right. So do you see from the tradition, the denominations that you were in coming up as a child in your early adulthood before you converted to Mormonism do you, can you appreciate some of the differences in the Mormon church than from—
JESSIE STREATER:
Yes.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Also in like the Pentecostal, the Holiness and the Southern Baptist churches when there is just a lot of spiritualism with the shouting and the praising and things of that nature. The call and response tradition that normally African Americans have when the preacher is preaching and you'll automatically hear someone in the congregation say—
JESSIE STREATER:
Amen

Page 11
BARBARA COPELAND:
Say Amen or preach Rev and giving him that support, and it's what we call call and response. They, I noticed that you really don't hear that in the Mormon church. Do you get a sense of missing that, being able to do that or that closeness, that community of feeling when you were in that environment of being able to support what your—
JESSIE STREATER:
Fellow man is saying. Well, no because I feel within myself if I agree with whatever this person is saying to me within myself, I can say Amen. I can agree with them. Afterwards I can go to them and tell them how much I appreciate what they have given unto me this day.
BARBARA COPELAND:
So you mentioned earlier that one of the things that you, that the Mormon church was able to answer a question that was just really pressing on you that other churches couldn't answer and you mentioned that they answered the reason for baptism. So that was satisfactory to you. So have you been baptized?
JESSIE STREATER:
Yes.
BARBARA COPELAND:
You have been baptized, even despite being afraid of water you mentioned.
JESSIE STREATER:
In order to be a member you have to be baptized.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Baptized. What are some of the most important things that you remember in religious life coming up from your childhood?
JESSIE STREATER:
It's not too many because I just went because she wanted me to go.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Your godmother.
JESSIE STREATER:
Yeah. I liked the music.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Okay. Was it gospel?
JESSIE STREATER:
Yeah.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Mostly gospel music.
JESSIE STREATER:
I love the hymns that they're singing, and yet I still listen to those hymns.
BARBARA COPELAND:
What were some of your favorite songs? Do you remember and do they sing any of those songs like in the Mormon church but maybe in a different version?
JESSIE STREATER:
Yeah, Amazing Grace and of course the Mormons sing more like opera.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Opera.

Page 12
JESSIE STREATER:
It's a little bit more like opera. My voice doesn't agree well my children say my voice doesn't agree with any of the music.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Well, wait a minute now. Why is that funny because they sing it in opera and when you're in the Southern Baptist church, it's gospel so. But is it funny because maybe you're more used to the gospel way of hearing it and then when you hear it in the Mormon church, it's just so, so different?
JESSIE STREATER:
I guess it's—
BARBARA COPELAND:
Or is it because you can't sing opera.
JESSIE STREATER:
I can't sing. It's not really opera, but to me it's—
BARBARA COPELAND:
High pitch.
JESSIE STREATER:
But I like it. I'm not saying that I don't like the music. I like some of the songs I just sit there and hold the book because I can't sing it. That's in the other church too. When they get to now in the other church when they get to that rap, some of it I just don't like it. That rap because I don't know what they're saying. I can't feel something that I don't know what it is.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Exactly. Exactly. Right. Right. Have you noticed like in the church that you go to, the African Americans that are there, have you noticed a steady increase in more African American members attending and joining up or has it been primarily been the same amount for so many years.
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, lately it's been an increase. Mind you I've been there for twenty-one, twenty-two years. But lately it's been a steady increase, but my daughter is in the military. So when we go to visit her, in a lot of their wards, there are much more, many more African Americans.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Where is that?
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, they lived in Florida and Norfolk and Virginia Beach and right now they're in Quantico. Actually in Quantico in her ward they look like black, but they're not. They look like African Americans, but they're not.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Okay. [Recorder is turned off and then back on.] So then there were more African Americans in those churches.
JESSIE STREATER:
Um hmm.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Okay. Okay. Do your children still go to the Mormon church now that they're adults?
JESSIE STREATER:
Yeah, my adults daughter her husband was a non-member and now he's converted. He's been in the bishopric in, he's been doing everything that he can do. He's been into everything organization

Page 13
almost, and she's been relief society president. Now she's a Sunday School teacher. She has three children, and they're really involved into the church. My daughter she goes to the church and of course my son he still goes to church. They are still really active in the church.
BARBARA COPELAND:
That's wonderful. That's wonderful. And your husband is he, does he hold office in the church?
JESSIE STREATER:
No. No. He goes whenever he feels like he wants to go.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Okay. Okay. But he does consider himself Mormon.
JESSIE STREATER:
Yes, he's a real shy closed in person and much more shy than my son. Sometimes he feels uncomfortable. So he doesn't go that often. But he will go and when we go visiting, he will go. It's because nobody knows him.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Did he belong to another tradition before converting?
JESSIE STREATER:
He was non-denominational.
BARBARA COPELAND:
So what caused him to, did you encourage him to convert or did he encourage you to convert?
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, as a matter of fact he encouraged me, and he was active for a good while. He has a few things that he needs to get rid of and he hasn't. It's really hard for him to do so and he feels, I think that's one of the reasons too that he feels uncomfortable. Smoking is one.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Okay. Okay. So tell me a little bit about that then. Some of the things requirements that the Mormon church establishes that would make you a member and some of those things that you have to get rid of that you, that a lot of people just take for granted and do every day. Tell me about some of those things.
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, we feel that Word of Wisdom is a really important part of keeping your body, your temple clean. Coffee is not a good thing and cigarettes, tobacco is not a good thing because you know tobacco was used a long years ago for medicine for animals. You know of course tobacco causes cancer and all this other stuff. So and strong drinks are not a good thing for you. So we try to practice and keeping those things or whatever.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Now when you say strong drink, do you mean alcohol?
JESSIE STREATER:
Um hmm. All kind of alcoholic beverages and stuff.

Page 14
BARBARA COPELAND:
So like Coca-Cola and hot chocolate and things of that nature also are banned.
JESSIE STREATER:
No, hot chocolate is not. But Coca-Cola has a lot of caffeine in it, but it also has potassium in it and if potassium is one of the things that you really need, then I feel it's not a problem in drinking a Coke. But anything, any dark sodas like that are really bad for the body.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Because I've had different members to tell me no, we're not supposed to have tea, coffee—
JESSIE STREATER:
Right.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Even hot cocoa and I said gee that's very interesting.
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, I didn't know about hot cocoa. But yeah. Even though I don't drink it. Maybe they think because of something in the cocoa bean or something.
BARBARA COPELAND:
I think chocolate might have caffeine. I'm not really sure. But I've just heard just various different versions of it.
JESSIE STREATER:
But you know each person has their own view about what's good for them and what's not.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Right. So now if a member feels that they can't give up smoking, then they do they still consider themselves a member until they can give up smoking, or do they consider themselves not a member or inactive because they smoke?
JESSIE STREATER:
No, they consider them a member, and they even also try to get help for you, counseling for you and all this. But again it all depends on the individual. You're going to do whatever it is you're going to do no matter what the consequences are.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Tell me a little bit about how the Mormon church reaches out to try and help families that are in need. [Recorder is turned off and then back on.]
JESSIE STREATER:
How they try to reach out to—
BARBARA COPELAND:
Help families that may be in need. Like if a family like if a family is out of work, loses their job that sort of thing or is trying to transition from one job to another.
JESSIE STREATER:
Okay, well it's like any other church you have tithes and you have offerings and all that. The tithes go towards keeping the church up. Offerings if you write down a specific offering and say offering for missionaries, of course they try to help the missionaries. But others the church puts that money aside to help try to pay your rent if or your lights or whatever. We also have a storehouse for food where we have a farm where they go to the farm and dig up potatoes and all this stuff and we can these foods [unclear]

Page 15
BARBARA COPELAND:
Oh they do that.
JESSIE STREATER:
We have a storehouse. So that if you are in need of food, you go to the church, and it's like ordering groceries. You have a list, and you order the stuff that you normally get. They provide.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

Page 16
BARBARA COPELAND:
The storehouse and food, did they expect you to pay it back?
JESSIE STREATER:
Some years ago they said that you need to do a service to sort of work it off or whatever. Say maybe go to the storehouse and work to put up some of this stuff or whatever.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Some kind of community service within the church.
JESSIE STREATER:
Um hmm in order to pay that. It's been some time since I've heard anybody say anything about them having to repay back. So I don't know whether they still do that or not.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Do you ever see where it looks like there are abuses among members or maybe not necessarily members but maybe people who come to the church primarily because they know that the Latter-day Saints church gives, will give, and so they come just for that. Have you ever seen that to be the case?
JESSIE STREATER:
No, because whatever a person is in need in the church it's not an open subject. Whatever is done for a person is done between the person and the bishop or the person and whomever, whatever organization is over that. So it's not an open book to the members per se.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Okay. Okay. Do you ever at times see church members who are just, who just come to church sporadically or do most of the church members come on a regular basis?
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, most church members come on a regular basis, but like any other church sometimes you feel like you need a rest or something. You'll lay out for a little while. They usually come back.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Pretty much, pretty regular. Do you all have like a home teacher. I understand that within the Mormon church there's something that functions as a home teaching or someone who normally comes out to the home. Could you tell me a little bit about that and how that works?
JESSIE STREATER:
Yes, we have a home teacher. They come in pairs. He comes once a month, and he gives us the spiritual lesson or whatever you prefer to talk about. If he doesn't know, then he will find somebody that does, and when he comes back, he will inform you of whatever it is that you would like to know.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Okay. How often do they come around?
JESSIE STREATER:
They come once a month.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Just once a month.

Page 17
JESSIE STREATER:
Once a month unless you tell them that you want them to come more than once a month. Not only do they come and give you spiritual lesson. They also come and help you with whatever needs you need like some single parents she can't hang curtains and maybe they can hang curtains or she needs a tree cut down in the yard. They can cut down trees and rake up leaves and do just about anything you need help with. They're there to help you.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Are these people, the members that come in pair, are they missionaries?
JESSIE STREATER:
No, they're home teachers, just home teachers. Every family in the ward is supposed to have home teachers. They come to visit you once a month or whenever you need them to come. They also can give blessings as well as the priesthood holder. They are priesthood holders.
BARBARA COPELAND:
So then they are primarily males that—
JESSIE STREATER:
The home teachers are males. But we also have visiting teachers. Visiting teachers are females who visit the females.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Oh okay. Only.
JESSIE STREATER:
Yeah, and they give us a lesson once a month or whatever it is that the female really needs and she wants her visiting teachers to help her with. They are there to help her. But the home teachers are for the whole family, not just the male but the whole family. But the visiting teachers are for the females.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Right. Did you ever have any hopes that your children would go into the missionary? I understand that parents often look forward to their sons primarily to go out and do missionary, do a year or two of missionary work directly after high school. Was that a goal or a dream of yours with your son?
JESSIE STREATER:
It was, but he decided that that wasn't something he wanted to do. He had so many excuses about what he thought he should do before he went on a mission, and then last he wanted to be married like everybody else was married. He was always one thing or another that would take the place of it. I feel that eventually he will be the one who regrets the fact that he did not have this experience.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Right. Right. What about for your daughters. Did you want them to go out and mission also?
JESSIE STREATER:
No. I was kind skeptical about the girls.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Yeah. Well they say—

Page 18
JESSIE STREATER:
I hoped that they would have a returned missionary as a husband, but being an African American that would've been something really rare to find—
BARBARA COPELAND:
Find. An African American male as a missionary.
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, since there weren't any in our ward—
BARBARA COPELAND:
Okay right.
JESSIE STREATER:
When the missionaries, when the missionaries are in your ward, they're not to socialize. They can't have girlfriends and stuff.
BARBARA COPELAND:
While they're doing their mission.
JESSIE STREATER:
Right because their main focus is on Heavenly Father and—.
BARBARA COPELAND:
And gaining converts. Okay. Tell me a little bit about, now I understand that each everyone in the ward explain to me a little bit about what a ward means and how it is that you belong to one specific church in one specific region and that you don't go and visit or you don't belong to every Mormon church just one particular one, one particular church.
JESSIE STREATER:
Well when you say you don't belong to any other Mormon church—
BARBARA COPELAND:
Okay, well maybe I need to explain it a little bit. It was my understanding that each, that what it means by a ward is that you belong to the church that is in your vicinity of where, the district that you live in. So that's the church that you go to and that you wouldn't necessarily go to a church that is not that is outside of that prescribed district. You wouldn't go to another Mormon church in Raleigh or Chapel Hill on a regular basis if you belonged to the one, they assign you to one in Durham. Tell me about how that, a little bit more about that.
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, it's mostly for your convenience. I mean, like we have more than one ward in the Durham church. A lot of people since we have more than one ward we go at different times. Like one session will go in the morning and another session will go in the afternoon. Some people feel that I can't go to church in the afternoon. I have to be home. Well, you're allowed to go to the other ward, but you don't work in the other ward because that's not your ward. But you can go to the other ward on a regular basis, and then the next year when your ward comes up in the morning time, you can go back to your ward. You can do that, but it's best to be in your own ward so you can know the people that's in your ward and you can socialize with them, get to know them and do things with them and be a family.

Page 19
BARBARA COPELAND:
That's where that whole emphasis of family cohesiveness comes in because everyone knows one another—
JESSIE STREATER:
And then too you need as many as you can in one ward because everybody has to do their job not their job but everybody has to keep the church going, keep the ward going. So if you're in another ward and we have this space over here and you're needed, then I feel you should be over here where you belong. [unclear] we're forced to do one thing, but it's not that way.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Well, I was wondering how easy it would be for African Americans to be able to meet other African Americans since they're so very few in the Mormon church. If they specifically had to be assigned to one particular ward, then that means that, wouldn't it mean that their potential marriage mate would come from that ward and primarily from that ward only because that's the ward that they belong to.
JESSIE STREATER:
No. We get together on socials, and the wards meet with each other and then of course the single people, quote single people have their own ward. So the single people go elsewhere, and all these single people meeting and they're coming from all, everywhere. So they're not alienated from each other.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Okay. So now the singles ward. Is there maybe one singles ward for Durham, one singles ward for Raleigh, one singles ward for Chapel Hill?
JESSIE STREATER:
I don't know, but the last time I heard about the singles ward of course my children were single at that time. It's been quite some time. That was in Chapel Hill, which is not that far because that's the stake center, and when we have state conferences, we go to Chapel Hill. Everybody goes to Chapel Hill. So then everybody is together again.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Okay, because I was thinking that if the singles ward of Durham, and there's just one singles ward, then all of the singles who belong to that particular ward that district, their potential marriage partner would only come from that ward meaning that that's the pool that they would have to pull.
JESSIE STREATER:
No, uh uh.
BARBARA COPELAND:
So it's not like that.
JESSIE STREATER:
Right. Uh uh. Then they have the singles ward have lots of functions where they all get together and do things.
BARBARA COPELAND:
So they go to visit other singles wards.

Page 20
JESSIE STREATER:
I would imagine. I don't know. I know they have a lot of potlucks and a lot of socials, dances or whatever, firesides and all that. Firesides they come from everywhere.
BARBARA COPELAND:
What is the fireside?
JESSIE STREATER:
Fireside is when they have satellite sessions. Somebody speaks or whatever or they have somebody special come in and live and somebody speaks or whatever. They just socialize together.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Oh okay. That's sounds really, really interesting.
JESSIE STREATER:
Musicals. They have quite a few—
BARBARA COPELAND:
Would you say in all your years of being a member that most of the couples that have gotten together met each other through their singles wards or would you say that they met their mate outside of the singles ward?
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, say for my family they met their couples outside of the singles ward. A few of the teenagers that grew up with mine they met their couples outside of them. But they do, a lot of them go off to college and they meet their mate in college.
BARBARA COPELAND:
That way.
Okay, wanted to know also are there a lot of mixed couples? Have you ever, do you see a lot of mixed couples in your ward like African Americans married to—
JESSIE STREATER:
African American and white.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Right.
JESSIE STREATER:
I only knew one African American married to a white and one I think she's Asian or Korean or something married to a white.
BARBARA COPELAND:
But primarily African Americans are able to find other African Americans in the Mormon church.
JESSIE STREATER:
Um hmm.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Do you think it's pretty easy or is it a long, do you see people waiting a long period of time to find like one African American to find another potential African American mate within the Mormon church?
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, nowadays they don't care. They don't care whether he comes from the Mormon church or where. So it's kind of hard to say that they are looking, seeking for a Mormon mate. I think now they're just seeking for a mate. Wherever he may be usually they convert him.

Page 21
BARBARA COPELAND:
Oh okay. From what your experience is a lot of the Mormon singles are marrying outside of their faith and are managing to—
JESSIE STREATER:
Convert them.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Convert them.
JESSIE STREATER:
Now one of my daughters met a Mormon potential, but he was so far away. So that was Florida. That's quite a distance to say that we are talking.
BARBARA COPELAND:
That distance relationship it's hard. Especially if they're from another religious faith. Would you say that, I guess then what you are saying then is that a lot of the Latter-day Saints that are single are not having a lot of success finding people of their same faith, other single Mormons within the church. So they're just looking outside and settling for people who are not their faith and then converting them. Wanted to know how does the bishop or church leaders feel about that. Do they frown on that or do they talk about it much? What kind of counsel do they give for that?
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, I really, I really don't know about that. I feel myself that you can't tell the young people anything. They're going to do what they want to do. But it's hard for the African American to find an African American because there's not that many in the church. So there's no other choice but to look outside and hope and pray that you have one that you can convert to what you believe in. But in order to do that you have to have communication from the start. So if with me I tell my children if you can't communicate with this person you're considering to be your mate, then there's no reason for you two to be together from the start. Whether it's religion or what it is because communication takes priority over everything other than trying to say, prioritize over the Heavenly Father. Communication is the most important thing. If you feel that this is going to be a problem and you know that you're strong in your religion and this is going to be a problem and he's not going to convert, then I sort of advise you not to be involved with this person because if you're strong enough in your faith there's nothing that's going to turn you away from it. In order to keep down confusion it's best you continue to look until you find somebody is willing to be what you want them to be.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Right. Right Now I understand that there is a cutoff age in the singles ward that once you become thirty I believe or thirty-one that you no longer—
JESSIE STREATER:
Considered [unclear] .

Page 22
BARBARA COPELAND:
Right. So what kinds of outreaches do they have for men and women who are still single but are over thirty or thirty-one years old and they are trying to find a potential mate.
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, we also, in the regular ward we also have lots of outings and socials, Christmas gatherings, dances, picnics and all these things. So you still have a chance to meet other people that are single as well. You just are not quote teenage young. I guess they feel that if they had a singles ward for the teenagers or the younger adults that it would be less problems for them.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Okay. Okay. Right. Right. Let's see. I had a few more questions. So now the two mates that your, the mates that your daughters are married to, have they converted to Mormon?
JESSIE STREATER:
Yes.
BARBARA COPELAND:
They have converted to Mormonism.
JESSIE STREATER:
Of course you know one of them is deceased, but my son's bride, she converted as well.
BARBARA COPELAND:
That's really wonderful to be an African American family raising up a family, a generation in the church and then to see your own offspring—
JESSIE STREATER:
Continue in that.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Yeah, continuing with their religious tradition, their religious beliefs and then also being able to also marry and convert their spouses to Mormonism as well. I think that that's very interesting. What would you say just in talking with your children throughout their dating that their times when they were dating were some of the struggles that they had, that they expressed in trying to find a mate? What were some of the main things do you feel they were looking for?
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, my children—my oldest daughter her mate she knew him from childhood, and he was considered more like a brother to her. I never knew, but he looked at her as more than just his little sister basically. So he's been infatuated with her for a very long time, and he admired all the things that she was doing and accomplishing and everything. So he wanted to be a part of it. So it wasn't really hard for her to fall for him. But she had other boyfriends that she brought to the church that for one reason or another he decided that that wasn't what he wanted, and it was a good thing because he really didn't turn out to be who she thought he would be. My second daughter, she was more of a rebellious kind of person that wanted to—
BARBARA COPELAND:
There's always one in the family, isn't it?

Page 23
JESSIE STREATER:
Yeah. So when she went off to college, she dated quite a few people, but then after she graduated she decided it was time to become serious, and so she met this fellow and settled down. It was quite hard with him, but he was changing just before he passed. He didn't become a Mormon, but he was in the process of wanting to seek out more about the Mormon church.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Do you think because of his illness maybe that brought him closer to thinking about things regarding spiritual things and in a spiritual nature?
JESSIE STREATER:
No, he was a Jehovah's Witness. He wasn't practicing his religion, but at one point he was strong in Jehovah's Witness. So he was confused, and he was trying to figure out what he thought—
BARBARA COPELAND:
Was best for him. Well that's interesting. I was trying to think of some other questions that were just at the forefront of my mind and can't seem to think about any others right now. But we could certainly do another interview if some other questions come up. I did want to just say thank you so much—
JESSIE STREATER:
You're welcome.
BARBARA COPELAND:
For spending the time and allowing me to interview you and to share and to talk about what Mormonism means to you and how it has affected your life and how it has lent itself to helping you in raising your family. So I did just want to say thank you for sharing that with me.
JESSIE STREATER:
You're welcome.
END OF INTERVIEW