Ernest McMillan

SNCC, 1964-69, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi
Current Residence: Houston, TX
Email: ernestmack@sbcglobal.net

I traveled from my home (Dallas, Texas) in the summer of 1963 to stay with my father who was a Pastor of a Church in Newnan, Ga. Plans were to hang out with him until time to enroll in college that September. Those plans were cut short because the local police threatened my father with the fact that I was "stirring up trouble" trying to get people there to support the [March on Washington]. I was sent back to Dallas by my Dad and told to return in September for school only.

I dropped out of Morehouse College in my 2nd Semester (January, 1964). What led me to make that change was my initial involvement with the 24 hour demonstrations taking place at Maddox's Restaurant in downtown Atlanta. The first persons I met were Ruby Doris, Jim Foreman and Bob Mants.

I had to have parent's permission to join [SNCC]. I was assigned to training just outside Savannah and then assigned to Ft. Valley, Ga., then Lee County Georgia with Willie Ricks. I was later a field officer in Thomas County, Ga. (We primarily registered voters, ran blacks for local offices and supported the meat workers at the Sunny Side plant among others).

In '64 I was 'sent' to Selma to assist because most of the SNCC staff were in jail. I met and fell in love with Bettie Fikes. She returned to Thomasville, Georgia with me. We were at the Democratic Convention in Atlantic City [1964]. We participated in demonstrations and debates on the Boardwalk.

I went to Americus, Georgia and participated with the demonstrations that help lead to the Voting Rights Act (1965). Those were hot times in Americus.

I returned to Dallas. Thanks to a scholarship from the National Council of Negro Women (who helped many SNCC workers return to school) I enrolled in Arlington State College, now UT (at Arlington). That campus was so racist (Confederate Mascot, "Old South" Balls, and more) that I again left my studies and began organizing. We formed the Student Congress on Racial Equality (SCORE). I was elected President/Spokesman.

Later (after my expulsion) I was "free" to form Dallas SNCC. We organized Texas Youth Conference (1967), conducted rallies, called for "Black Power", published a newspaper (the "Black Disciple"), organized a Welfare Rights Organization (after occupying the Welfare office for 3 days), set up police monitoring patrols, conducted countless mass meetings.

We organized a boycott against a chain of stores (OK Supermarkets) that was exploiting and disrespecting the community where it relied on its profits. After we mounted a boycott (that was reported 85% effective by the racist "Dallas Morning News") we organized a campaign to purchase that chain.

I, and the SNCC co-leader (Matthew Johnson) were arrested, charged with "destruction of private property" at one particular OK store, sentenced to ten year each (the only direct testimony about my destructiveness was a clerk, the owners son saying he saw me drop a bottle of milk All damages were less that $300 (if that!). While out on $10,000 bond, awaiting my appeal of that sentence. I was told by my court-appointed attorney that my speaking engagement at the National council of Churches gathering (in Greenwich, Conn, June 1969) was "illegal" because I had violated the bond agreement by leaving North Texas.

I and my SNCC comrade, Kwesi Williams became "fugitive" of the law for 2 1/2 years. We were both arrested in Cincinatti, Ohio in the Fall of 1971 and returned to Texas in shackles. (The story of the 2 1/2 years in exile is an epic unto itself).

I spent a little over 3 years respectively in Federal and Texas State prisons. Released around January 1975 I became a legislative aid to now Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson.

Now I am in Houston. I am the founder and CEO of a community based non-profit organization that seeks to "empower boys to become "responsible and productive men," called the Fifth Ward Enrichment Program. I am also chairing a local Cuban Solidarity Committee among a few other things.

I have a daughter, Angie in L.A. (who is also the daughter of Bettie Fikes), a son, Ernest Ohene McMillan who resided in Dallas, and another daughter, Dafina who resides in Brooklyn, NY.


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Last Modified: July 4, 2009.
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