[Excerpt from a letter I wrote to two friends on Feb. 25, 1965 explaining why I stopped being on SNCC staff in Mississippi.]
...I was working in Columbus [Mississippi] ... I got involved is some dirty COFO politics which involved the [First Congressional] District the northeast section of Mississippi]. I really was disgusted by the whole thing, disgusted enough to leave, tho' maybe only temporarily, I haven't decided yet. Stokely [Carmichael] and Cephas Hughes, our district director, seemed to have set up the whole mess. They seemed to have decided to "purge" the First District, to send about half of the staff back home. They were going to use the COFO personnel committee to do this. They called slightly over half the staff, some 17 or so people, down to Jackson to appear before the personnel committee. The committee didn't go along with it at all. They gave some helpful suggestions & sent the people right back to the first district to work.
The most sense I could make out of what was going on was that Cephas Hughes, the district's director, & Stokely were using the First [district] as a scapegoat for all the things that are wrong with COFO. The First is the weakest district & easiest to pick on. Also, it is a cliche that, "If we could only get rid of the deadweight, we could really get things moving", which unfortunately isn't true since the problems are much more complicated & harder to deal with than that.
Some people suggested that the whole thing was not scapegoating, but a power play. I don't know, I tend to think it was scapegoating, but probably it was other things too.
I was shook up by Stokely's & Cephas' insensitivity to what it meant to the people involved to be pulled down to Jackson & taken before the personnel committee. Then Cephas pulled some dirty stuff which was really uncalled for, which seemed to include a little lying & rumor spreading.
Copyright © Miriam Glickman, 1965
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