I become involved in the CRM as a student at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia during my freshman year in 1962. I participated in marches, sit-ins in efforts to desegregate lunch counters, restaurants, movie theaters and the fight for decent jobs at department stores and other places of business.
I also began to go to the SNCC office between classes or at other times — though it was against Spelman's rules. To have been caught going there could have been grounds for suspension or even expulsion. At the office, I helped with clerical duties, even helped with cleaning the office as it was often in need of such services. I began meeting SNCC Atlanta Office Staff but even more significant was meeting the field staff when they came in from Mississippi, Alabama, SW Georgia, or,other places where SNCC had staff. These brave young women and men had a profound effect on me and became my heroes and sheroes.
In my 2nd year of college, going against my families' admonish ions to not get involved as well as the threats from the school, I become more involved with our local college affiliate of SNCC: The Committee on Appeal for Human Rights. A friend from Morehouse who was one of the main organizers of the Committee, Larry Fox, convinced me to run for the office of Representative to SNCC's Coordinating Committee. I was selected which in many ways sealed my fate to become much more involved with SNCC and more deeply involved in the Civil Rights Movement.
This was 1963 and SNCC had begun thinking about what could be done to "crack" Mississippi open and bring the Nation's attention to the fact that African Americans could not register to vote in most of that state. And to expose the fact that those who atempted to vote were subject to violent reprisals and even death.
Becoming a member of SNCC's Coordinating Committee enabled me to hear some of the discussions about what would become the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project and the plan to recruit, train and send upwards of 1000 college Students to Mississippi in the Summer of 1964 to bring the eyes of the world onto that racist, terrorist state for Black People.
(To Be Continued)
© Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons.