Linda (PDF file) As remembered by Marsha Rose.
As remembered by Chude Allen
In April, 2001 Linda Dehnad and I had a few email exchanges about her memories of working with SNCC. She wrote that she'd felt shy when she worked in the New York SNCC Office, but that once she discovered that others had similar thoughts, she began to speak up. I encouraged her to write more.
Chude Pam Parker Allen
I have fond memories of my foray into Harlem with Mrs. Hamer and Ben Chaney, who at age 11 came to NY to testify about his older brother. I set up street-corner "rallies" I found the place and set it up, and Mrs. Hamer created the street rally right there on the spot. I remember looking around while she or Ben was speaking and thinking how unusual it was for me to be there doing what I was doing. She needed me to help her and that made me fearless and energized. Ben Chaney could talk!
I remember another one somewhere on Riverside Drive, probably not too far from 90th St. and Riverside Drive because that is where I lived and where Mrs. Hamer stayed (up the street from me) when she came to NY. I used to sit with her while her hair dried in curlers, getting herself ready for the evening fund raising party or affair. She was bored sitting around. I knew at the time it wasn't ordinary. There WERE amazing moments throughout those years.
I thought of you yesterday when an eighth grade student was interviewing me for a paper he's writing for his social studies class. The big topic is civil rights and his is SNCC.
I found myself knowing more worth telling than I thought I knew. I realized I had a lot to say, and he was interested. I always thought "our stories" meant my story in the NY Office and someone else's story in a particular place in Alabama or Mississippi. I saw it in a different way yesterday, and I came to think that "my story" means how it all looked through my eyes.
I never did work in the South, but my house was a little like Martha Norman's in that many SNCC and MFDP people stayed there, some for less than a week, others longer. The Freedom Singers considered the extra bedroom in my apartment their own personal space. And it was, when they weren't on the road. SNCC people in town for one reason or another hung out in hours of the day when the NY office was closed.
A large group of people was sitting in the dining room watching the TV news when the films of John Lewis at the Edmund Pettis bridge getting his head bashed came on the screen. I remember hearing Chico say "That's John!!!" and they dropped all plans for whatever they were in NY to do, or whatever they were about to do for the evening, stuffed some clothes in a bag, and were out of there in ten minutes to go to Selma. It all happened in a flash, and my house cleared out. I remember the empty feeling once they were gone. And I remember how impressed I was with their speed. They didn't stop for a second to think or discuss it. They jumped up and moved.
I used to think that because I wasn't ever in the south (until the '94 reunion, my first trip South) that I didn't have legitimate stories, like in Matthew Jones's song of the grandpa SNCC field secretary talking to his grandson, and the grandson saying that grandpa probably spent the whole time in the Movement up in the New York office. That wasn't a legitimate job from Matt's point of view, although Matt says sometimes that someone should do a book about those of us who opened our homes and housed and fed traveling SNCC people in one town or another on business.
Thing is, I don't think of anything until someone asks me a question. Then it all comes gushing out and I realize I didn't forget everything. I thought you might be interested in this because of the interest you expressed about our helping each other with the telling of our stories. And when the kid who interviewed me yesterday asked what SNCC was doing now (and do we have a president?), I told him one major thing is telling our own stories. He nodded acknowledging that that's a worthy activity and important to do.
It's interesting how much I got from this student's desire to know a little about SNCC. The whole thing lasted only a bit over a half hour but it was very full. We'll continue it at lunch today. I found myself telling him a lot about the Movement from the perspective of Charlie and Bob's new book, and talking about the Algebra Project as "the new Movement".
As remembered by Ben Greenberg
June 27, 2006
"Another SNCC warrior has died"
Those were the first words from Scott B. Smith, Jr when he reached me on the phone about 45 minutes ago.
He wanted to inform me and all who knew her that Linda Dehnad, his wife, died this morning of undetermined causes at age 69.
Linda went to Jackson Hospital in Montgomery, AL last night because she was suffering from severe stomach pain. It happened to be her and Scott B's wedding anniversary. Exteremely frustrated and at her wits end after waiting for more than five hours to have her pain treated and her condition addressed, Linda asked Scott B to take her home around 9:30 PM. Scott B took care of Linda through the night; he fell asleep for a couple of hours at about 4 AM. When he woke up again at about 6 AM, Linda was dead.
Scott B said, "Linda came back to Montgomery with me to work with the people of Lowndes County. Though she was treated badly, she loved Lowndes County. Linda was a warrior. She never stopped trying to work with people. Anything she could do: she was doing it. She was concerned about the children. When she was teaching and was asked to use corporal punishment, Linda said, 'I am not a slave owner. I am a teacher.'"
In her last years, Linda had ongoing pain from fibromyalgia. Linda remained gifted writer, teacher and photographer and a committed activist. She taught and mentored many, many people, including me (Ben).
Linda has requested that she be cremated. There will be a memorial service on Sunday, July 2, at the Unity Baptist Church in White Hall, Lowndes, County, AL. Time and details to be announced.
Scott B welcomes phone calls, email and postal mail with condolences or memories of Linda. He would also welcome financial assistance to pay for Linda's autopsy. To reach Scott B his mailing address is 2010 McKinley Avenue, Montogmery, AL 36107. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.