Danny Wood


As remembered by Peter Kellman
October 26, 2018

Danny Wood - Madison County Mississippi 1964 Freedom School Coordinator.

During the Summer Project of 1964 Danny and Gloria Bishop coordinated the Freedom Schools in Rural Madison County and he also taught at Pleasant Green Freedom School.

In the early Summer of 1966 I was in New Haven and two SDS organizers invited me to come to a meeting at Staughton and Alice Lynd's home for a meeting about the draft. There were eight young men present. Most, like Mendy Samstein, had been involved with SNCC over the past few years. It was there that I met Danny Wood.

Danny grew up around Detroit and was active with the Social Action Committee at Central Methodist Church along with Martha Kocel. They graduated from Highland Park High School in 1962.

Danny went to Morehouse College where he said he was the only white guy on the basketball team. In the Summer of 1964 he volunteered for the Mississippi Summer Project and was assigned to the Freedom Schools in Madison County.

At the New Haven meeting we decided to start a national anti-draft project and Danny and I were sent to Boston to start talking to people about opposing the draft in an organized way. Danny said we could stay with a friend of his from Detroit, Martha Kocel, who worked at the SNCC office in Cambridge.

Martha and I were married in early 1967 and Danny was best man at the wedding. Beginning around the Fall of 1966 Danny started doing LSD in ever increasing amounts and as the dosages increased his ability to function decreased. My last communication with him was probably around 1973. Over the years I have made several half hearted attempts to reconnect with him but to no avail. Then several years ago I started writing my memories of my involvement in the Freedom and Anti-war movements of the 1960s. In the process I looked up people I had know during that time but Danny was one who I couldn't find except for the fact that he graduated from Morehouse in 1965 and some references to him on documents from the Summer of 1964 Project.

I gave up on looking for him until I was reviewing the film Dirt and Deeds in Mississippi for possible use on a project I was working on. Four minuets and six seconds into the (trailer) there is a scene of a young white guy, bare chested and wearing suspenders to hold up his pants, on a porch in Madison County slapping hands with some local folks. The young guy is Danny Wood. Oh my. The hope in that man's eyes and smile on his face brought tears to my eyes.

I started searching for Danny again, followed every path I could think of but nothing. Final I received an email from a classmate of his from Highland Park that "many years ago Dan committed suicide."

Well Danny if you are still around I apologize for the early remembrance but if not, may you rest in peace brother.

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