[See Americus GA Movement & "Seditious Conspiracy" and Federal "Jury Tampering" Frameup in Albany GA for background information.]
Hello! Remember the fellow I told you I had a crush on? Well, he's in jail about 40 miles from here — in Americus GA and his bail has been set at $43,000 [equal to over $300,000 in 2010]. You hear that? Well, you know me, I only go for the most expensive ones. Two other SNCCers are in with him, one is a Harvard man, both also on $43,000. We've been making frantic efforts to contact those bank robbers in Britain... (this is the laughing to keep from crying dept).
Thurs. nite after a mass meeting, 200 to 300 people streamed out of the church in Americus singing freedom songs. they headed off walking and singing. They got as far as a Negro cafe near by. The police force, city marshal, fire dept were out in full force. They do not have room in the city jail to arrest a couple of hundred people (it is already full to capacity with freedom fighters) so they just picked up the SNCC workers and maybe one or two local people, we haven;t been able to find out about that. They took our three guys off in a paddy wagon after using water hoses on the crowd. Before they took them down to book them, they took them out to the country and beat them up, then took them to a doctor, then to jail.
(By the way, please, please write the justice dept and complain about the excessive bail.)
About that hunger strike,.. I don't remember what I've told you, so I'll begin at the beginning: In the first place, we know with hindsight that it was a mistake, i.e., it was not worth it, altho the hunger strike did have some benefits. The purpose of the strike was to make the officials set out trial as soon as possible. We can't afford to bail ourselves out until after trial (we always do it then so we can appeal the cases) because the city takes out bond money and then may never call the trial. We still have cases of this sort pending from 2 years ago and have lost thousands of dollars this way. We just can't afford it. So it's jail without bail until after the trial. Trials here come up anytime from 3 days to 40 days after arrest. The choice we had was whether to risk being in for a month or so or to force them to call the trial soon by making ourselves sick from fasting and therefore extra expense and bad publicity for the jail. We had our trial 7-9 days after we got in (the ones in 9 days got picked up 2 days before me). We were also trying to get suspended sentences. We figured that they would be less likely to make us stay in jail if we were sick and fasting. We did get suspended sentences too.
The reasons it was a mistake: we had too many people who stayed sick for a week or longer after they got out of the jail and had gone off the fast; for most of the people the trials were not called so quickly (three guys were in and fasting for 20 days) and most did not get suspended sentences. So we have abandoned the tactic, tho if a person so desires, he may fast.
I personally did not want to fast. My feeling was that I'm down here because there is a job to do and I don't want to be anymore of a martyr than I have to be. Also, I had just come down from the North and I knew that hunger strikes get almost no publicity in the papers. Usually there is one sentence at the end of the article about a fast.
I did fast tho, even tho I did not want to. I was the last one arrested in our cell and when I was put in, all the others except a girl arrested just before me, had already been on the fast for a day. They were all determined to keep it up. So my personal choice was whether to live in the same cell for an undetermined length of time with 6 other girls fasting and watching me eating — remember we were in an 8'x8' cell built for four — or fast with them. I was all too aware that fasting would be the less painful alternative.
About our project here — it is going badly. The community is tired and discouraged and unwilling to move. Twice in the past two years there have been a series of large mass demonstrations with the consequent mass arrests. Still no desegregation. So our work is unsatisfying and one result is a great amount of in-group hostility among the staff. Fortunately the fellow who was really giving me a hard time is in jail now. But for awhile there I had to be careful not to stay in the same place (house) with him. I think things may pick up a little now. We got an injunction this week against arrests which serve to enforce segregation in certain public places (state action A.14, I think). We'll still be on the defensive probably. They'll arrest us and we'll have to show that they shouldn't have. But testing the places and the injunction should bring a little life into the community.
I'd like to hear about your roommate. Also, did you get a job? I laughed and laughed when I read about your bearded liberal (incidentally, liberal is sort of a nasty word here, connotation of someone who sits comfortably at a desk and makes nice statements...). Anyway I really enjoyed reading your comments on him.
I'm probably going to be in Washington for the march on the 28th. Have you thought about going? I may stay for a couple of days afterwards.
[The undated letter fragment below was witten by Miriam around the same time as the letter above.]
Last week I made the news for spending a week in the Albany city jail. But Albany has been making news for almost two years. In the Fall of 1961 three members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee came to Albany, Georgia — a Deep South city of 56,000, some 40% of which is Negro — to work on voter registration. The result was the December 1961 demonstrations in which over 700 Negro citizens went to jail to protest segregation. Martin Luther King participated, and then he helped in the negotiations with the white community which yielded promises to desegregate that were later broken. The summer of 1962 brought more mass demonstrations but still no desegregation. The protests have continued throughout the past year; the number of arrests has passed the 200 mark.
This, in brief, is Albany's record and this is what Albany is today — a city where many have suffered, and suffered long, and still nothing has been won.
I cried when I returned to Albany this afternoon and learned what had gone on in the three days I had been home in Indianapolis. Eight of our staff members (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee or SNCC) are still in jail, every one on a hunger strike. Some have been on the hunger strike for two weeks now. We tried to post bond on Saturday for one of the staff, a 19 year old white girl who had been sick for nearly a week, but the court official made himself unavailable, so try as we would, there was no way to get her out of jail.
Then Sunday, five Negroes went to a white church and before they reached the door they were dragged back down the steps and arrested. The members of the church called the police. Also this Sunday, two of the boys in our group were beaten up in jail. They're going to be ok, but sometimes it is hard for me not to cry.
Copyright © Miriam Cohen Glickman, 1963
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Copyright to the this letter belongs to Miriam Cohen Glickman.