Eric Nichols

DAY 016 Eric Nichols photographed exclusively for the 100 Men Hall People Project (100MHPP).

My grandmother was the secretary of the 100 Men Hall for many years. Her name was Eretta Benoit and she was elected as an officer. As soon as I was born I was coming to the Hall and I kept coming with my sisters and brothers. I wasn’t in the balls but I was a Page one year - the year my mother was the Queen. The most enjoyable was when Etta James came through and she had just came back after getting burned up and it was a packed house and she showed up. James Brown came too and Carl Gates one of our local favorites. I’ve seen them all because my grandmother was here at every function and every meeting. My grandmother basically raised me from when I was two or three years old. They built the hall for entertainment to raise money for the organization. There was a benevolent society which created the 100 Men Hall for people to pay their money and then they have a group and everybody paid money and when you die they paid for your burial and if you go to the hospital they give you a check. All of them were smart Black men and were high school educated. We knew they were educated and they were not going to let anyone ruin the society. It was always the smartest and straightest were voted in as officers. We always depended on the smarter ones to carry us. I don’t know where debating came in. We’d be back in the kitchen and all the people were in the Hall all dressed up and the band would be tuning up and you knew it was something special.

(Photo by: Gus Bennett | The 100 Men Hall People Project)

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