Tesitmony: During the summer of 1965, I was involved in voter registration in Humphreys County (Belzoni, Mississippi). I remember how difficult it was to register people: the fear was palpable. I remember that after one month of daily work there were only seven people registered, and a bunch of us almost got ourselves killed after being chased onto private property by a group of men who belonged to the White Citizens Council. The families we stayed with opened their homes and their lives to us. I wrote a bunch of my experiences up in a sixties memoir, "Heretic's Heart."
All in all, the experience was sobering. I was a sophmore at the University of California, Berkeley, and had just experienced the thrill of political victory in the Free Speech Movement. Struggling for civil rights in Mississiippi was much more difficult. I came to understand the "dailyness of struggle" as Bettina Aptheker once put it. The long, long hawl. There was real change in Belzoni. Streets were paved in hog town, sewers no longer overflowed into the dirt streets. Several black families I knew from then have held political office during the last decade. But all of those changes came after we - the summer volunteers - left. That was a great lesson about how important, yet how small our efforts were.
At present I am a correspondent for National Public Radio and also hosting a show about the U.S. constitution called "Justice Talking". Margot Adler