Civil Rights Work-
Getting those who were enslaved because of the racial oppression, physical abuse, and economic strangle-hold the southern power structure had. To stand up and break the bounds of slavery was a very gratifying deeply personal experience I was ever involved in. Especially going up against the White Citizens Council and the Klan I got personal satisfaction and sought only revenge to what Black people had suffered in the past and even today.
I've gone from being a student graduated from college, first of SNCC to work in the poverty programs in Tuskegee Inst. Berkeley CA., married and divorced, father of two sons, single-parent in Berkeley.
Employed working for the University of California as a gardener. Have been retired happily since 1993, receiving full benefits and sufficient pension for me to live very well. (Retirement is like being in love but only better, for love will take you up and own and places you don't know where you are going, but retirement is steady, you just have to keep health in order to collect your checks.)
As for now, to me the south has changed only somewhat, the same controls are present but they are not in your face as before. Integration is occurring and I get a kick out of seeing the number of Black basketball players that represent many southern colleges playing during the "March Madness" and other sports as well. That is the only way many Black students found a route to get into college. We now have a generation of entertainers that go into the pro ranks of many sports and give only a token back to the community where they came from. Those in the music world a few are making attempts to assist those that are still trapped in poverty. We all have along ways to go. For the same racist controls & mores exist and the ugly head of racism is showing its head again.
We allowed the civil rights advances to be swept back under the rug when America brought into public office Nixon, Reagan, and Bush. We died and turned our back on those that were trying to take their first steps.
On an historical note, I'm going to have my own web site and tell all the stories I have experienced. Will not be marching or singing any more, I've done that before and seen this country change, but I feel it's not enough or reasonable now that we have arrived in the computer era and the 21st century. More will be done not by any of us, but those of a younger generation.
I will never forget once during a SNCC meeting when the discussion was about the war in Vietnam and John Lewis informed us plus Forman we had to make a major shift from our efforts in civil rights to the war because a major financial back that loaned us (SNCC) some badly needed money requested that we change our focus. When I heard this I thought a part of my soul had died and from then on I really concerned myself with taking care of myself and been very cautious of what's really hidden in the agenda. Never will forget the look on both Lewis and Forman faces when they had to tell us the truth, that's when I cut the strings and no longer was a puppet.
Right now I'm involved in organizing community gardens like I did in Berkeley. One of the founding members of an organization called the Organic Farmers of Berkeley and even that got caught up in the political whirlwinds of Berkeley, but I still love to get out in the field and work.
Another involvement is the "Angola Project" which is in its infant stage. Tried to bring this project to the reunion of SNCC in Raleigh, NC this April 13-16 (2000) but found out from others that the agenda has been already made up and those of us that have still worked in our communities will not be heard again.
So I'm planning to go to Angola alone and work with the government there to destroy UNITA and hurt those in the diamond industry who are supporting the civil war there rather than staying here and singing "We SHALL OVERCOME" and ending up in some nursing home waiting for the attendant to bring me a bed pan.
Unless SNCC does something to really benefit our community such as going after those that deal with hard drugs such as "crack," "crank" and go after them in a manner the Federal govt is forced to put a lid on what comes out of Columbia we will be tossing in the wind. We once risked our lives in the south but taking on the crack dealers we have stood back from and allowed this plague to almost destroy our communities.
Yes that's what I'm talking about declare a war on hard drugs and go after the companies that supply the chemicals and equipment, by waging an unending guerrilla warfare against the drug cartels is the only way we can gather the support of the business world and government. So many are willing to still bow their heads and sing and weep over those who have fallen and have memorials about the past. And many can't take the heat in the kitchen and the food that will be served will be burnt.
So to those of you that wish to keep on singing, just stand aside while others march to a different drummer.
A good example is the work being done concerning the "Walking Wounded" which is badly needed that was not even placed on the agenda of the SNCC reunion. That is telling me something right there and my gut feeling is that money will be spent, songs will be sung, reporters will be trying to write another book about our past, glasses will be passed, tears shed and many will go home again feeling good about ourselves and proud and the effects of our aging you'll pray for your retirement.
Keeping control of what I've said, this is my © COPYRIGHT, Scott B. Smith Jr. 2000.
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