Stokely and Freedom Summer
Linda Wetmore Halpern

[As told to and discussed by Freedom Movement veterans and family members at a story-telling session, U.C. Berkeley, September 30, 2018.]

Movement VeteransFamily & Guests
Chude Pam Parker Allen (volunteer)Philip Canterbury
Linda Wetmore Halpern (volunteer)Carolyn Canterbury
Janet Heinritz-Canterbury, SNCC  Elliot Halpern
Daphne Muse, SNCCJoann Heinritz
 Randi Lauderdale, MLK Freedom Center

Linda: You've heard some of my story already. Some of it is very similar to Chude's, in a way. I went to an all girls school outside of Philadelphia. It was all white except for those two people who I talked about before.

So I was a theology major my freshman year. In my sophomore year, in a religion class, I told the professor who was a minister that I was going to become a minister, and he just looked at me and goes, 'You're kidding of course.' And I said, 'No, I want to be a minister.' And he goes, 'There are no women ministers. You can't become a minister.' And instead of fighting that, I accepted it. I said, 'OK, I'll become a missionary teacher.' And he goes, 'All right, that'll work.' Fine.

At this point, I had this missionary thing in me. I joined the Y, the YWCA, which in the '60s was very radicalized in New York City, and during spring vacation of my sophomore year they offered scholarships to go register voters in Raleigh, North Carolina. Since many of the girls in my dorm were going to Ft. Lauderdale to work on their tans, I said, 'OK, well that sounds good.' I applied and received the scholarship to go to Raleigh for the two weeks of the vacation, but that brief time was a very pivotal moment for me, not the least because I saw two drinking fountains marked 'colored' and 'white.' I had seen them in my history books in high school, but I figured that period was dead and gone. Over. Right? But there they were and the image hit me hard.

And we were a mixed group. We were college students coming down, and they were like from Cornell, Haverford, my school Beaver, I think Radcliffe. Anyway, they're all these northern schools were on this bus. There were like 24 of us, and some of them were African-American, so we boldly switched fountains, right? Nothing happened, but we got stared at. And then we went back, and we learned how to register voters.

And at the end of that two weeks, in walked Staughton Lynd, Howard Zinn and Al Lowenstein, talking about the Summer Project that they were going to put together for 1964. They mentioned names such as Stokely, James Forman, Julian Bond, none of whom had I heard of. I went through that summer thinking, 'I am the most naive country bumpkin that ever hit the scene.' But now I find out that a lot of us didn't know shit from Shinola, right? We were just trying to get the most out of this whirlwind of a life-changing experience. I've said this before at other meetings, but I used to have a favorite quote from Mark Twain is "It's better to be quiet — what is it?

["It's better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt" — attributed to Mark Twain among others.]

Linda: Well, now I have to learn that all over again, because I've forgotten it. But that was my favorite when I went down there.

Woman: That's hysterical.

Linda: So even though I kind of talk a lot, I was really quite quiet then, that summer, trying to take it in. But in Raleigh, I just sat in that room and listened to them. They filled out, they gave us the applications. They were pretty long. And I went back to the dorm, and I wrote out why I wanted to go down. And even though I talk about it like it was a faith-based decision, when I really think about it, my father was always talking about the importance of the vote — I had worked on voter registration in Massachusetts. I was raised Republican. [General laughter]

Woman: Wow!

Linda: I was a Rainbow Girl, and we did these projects, you know, during the year. And I registered voters in my community, and I remember even thinking as a Rainbow Girl — 

Woman: Rainbow Girl?

Linda: That the Catholic girls in our town, there were only like two of them, and they built a Catholic church my senior year in this little town. And the Catholic girls couldn't join Rainbow, and I was like, why? [Whispering] 'They have to tell everything to the Pope, and this is a secret organization.' And I'm thinking, what are we doing that's so secret? [General laughter] Really?

[International Order of the Rainbow for Girls is a Masonic youth organization.]

But every little thing fits into this bigger political structure when you see how the politicians, they have their little — what is it up in Northern California? They go and they talk their talk and plan their strategy?

Woman: The Bohemian Grove?

[The Bohemian Grove is a rustic, male-only, high-security retreat set amidst towering redwoods. Each summer it hosts a two-week gathering of ultra-rich, celebrity, and politically-powerful men including members of Congress, former presidents, corporate CEOs, and wealthy investors who conduct secret meetings and rituals. Politically, most of those who participate are considered to be conservative to right-wing.]

Linda: Thank you. All of these fit into the bigger picture. And I think it took me awhile to see, but Stokely helped on this, I did get to go to Mississippi [during Freedom Summer]. I was in the second round [of the orientation sessions] as you were and ended up in Greenwood, under Stokely's authority. And I mean I had a love/hate relationship to him, and I was falling in love, and he was falling in hate. [General laughter]

We had this tension all the time. Once he even chased me around with scissors threatening to cut off my hair. Somehow my red hair seemed to annoy him, or maybe it was just me. [General laughter]

But I couldn't not be in that room and be mesmerized by every word that came out of his mouth. And we talked politics. Not only did I not know who Frederick Douglass was; I didn't know who Karl Marx was; I didn't know the political structures, socialism, capitalism, communism.

I'm like, 'Whoa!' I mean, they were words in a book. It's not like I hadn't heard them, but the every night conversation you'd whittle away at it. You know, what's it look like? Where's it gonna go? We are the movers here. We've got to shape this society. And you know, like you're talking about Pan-Africanism and all of that. That's what he talked about, and he became a leader of it when he went to Africa.

You know, these were the seeds in that room. Fannie Lou Hamer used to drop in. It was like I was so impressed with the power of the Black community and the power of Black women. And to this day, almost 60 years later, I do believe that the changes in this country, in this world, will come through the Black women power.

Woman: You betcha!

Linda: I truly believe that. I've seen the depth of it. It sounds weird to say "soul," but that's what it is. It is a soulful, gritty — we have done it; we're doing it; we will do it in the future. So you get ready for us, because we're coming.

So Stokely asked me about teaching in the Freedom School but he canceled me out of that real quickly because of my ignorance of black history. So he said go work on Federal Programs. Yeah, we had the community development piece of it. And he put me on the project with this lovely guy; I've totally lost track of him, but he was from Amherst. And he was a Quaker. Amherst University. He was from Massachusetts.

We always went out in pairs, downtown. George and I were supposed to find out where the money went that came from the federal government and why it didn't get to the schools, because if the money was coming down equally, why wasn't it showing up in the schools, right? Well, it took us a few days. I couldn't get my southern accent together at all, and so when they heard this northerner coming in, asking about their schools — you talk about a defense wall that just gets thick.

And so George and I went back to Stokely, and all we know is that once it gets in to the state, the state just sends it to the white schools. It took us two days to figure that out, and he goes, 'Can you change it?' And I looked at him, and I said, 'Can we change it? I don't think so! I don't think so!' And he looked at me, and he goes, 'So what can you do?!' [General laughter]

And I said, 'I can talk to people.' He goes, 'Do you want to do voter registration?' I said, 'Yeah, because I believe in that.' He goes, 'OK, all right. You can do it.' And so we would go out, but we would go out in integrated cars with both Blacks and whites but I would have to lie on the floor. I mean, we could not be seen in a car together, right? So I would lie down in the back, and the guys — oh, they loved it, because they put their feet right on us. It was like, 'Oooh, I've always wanted to step on these guys.' [General laughter]

So we'd get out to the boonies, you know? And this is where the real issue of poverty — it's still through very naive eyes, but I never saw poverty like I saw [there]. And I ended up going to the Peace Corps in French West Africa, mainly because Stokely told us all, 'If you want to stay in this Movement, you better hell get to know Africa, because that's the root.' And so the only way I could get there was through the Peace Corps, but that came two years later. But I did see poverty in Mississippi that way outdid the poverty I saw in Africa, by way out.

And you can walk up to these shacks that were falling apart, the wood would shake like this, and there'd be flies all over the place, right? But I got more people to sign up, but do you know why? Because I was white. And if I said, 'Would you just sign, just sign here.' 'Oh, OK, yeah. Yes, Miss Linda. Yes, I'll sign here. I'll do it.' So I finally found my little niche. And he'd come back, and Stokely goes, 'Well, finally, you can do something.'

[Referring to signing up to join the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) the unofficial Freedom registration showing that people would register to vote if they were allowed to do so.]

And like the Black guys would be sitting there, and they'd go, 'What the fuck?!' You know? 'You don't know anything. We know the community. We are the community, and they will not sign for us.' Right?

This other time there was a need for cars There was a car dealer in Memphis that was giving a lot of cars to the SNCC office. Who can drive a stick shift?' 5 guys raised their hand. He keeps staring at us. The dealer had 6 cars he was donating but they were all stick shifts. So Stokely put the question out to all 30 of us in Greenwood, (I grew up with a stick shift, you know? But did I want to admit that?) [General laughter] 'We need somebody else.' So I timidly raise my hand — Stokely glares at me,, 'You can drive a stick car.' I said, 'Yeah.' He goes, 'So that's two things you can do! That's good!' [General laughter]

So looking around, and they got five guys, and he said, 'We need somebody else.' So I timidly —  He goes, 'You can drive a stick car.' I said, 'Yeah.' He goes, 'So that's two things you can do! That's good!' [General laughter]

Woman: Oh, that's wonderful.

Linda: So I drove up there, right? But again, we all sat on the floor. I think there were three whites, three Blacks. But all of us went in the back on the floor, and we got up to Memphis, and it was just getting dark. And again, I mean, I don't think I was — you talk about safety. I mean, I felt not very safe most of the time. And I was scared all the time, right?

So we get here; we get the cars, and Stokely said, 'Don't lose your place in line.' So they put me number four, and so, 'OK, all I have to do is keep track of the third car' [in the caravan of cars driving back to Greenwood]. And they go, 'No, you have to keep track of the guy behind you too.' And I don't know where I am. I'm terrible on directions; it's getting dark; the street lights —  I stop at the light, and it's getting dark. And I'm, 'Where's the car? What happened to my car?'

But we get out of Memphis, sure as shooting, the White Citizens Council, the soul of the KKK, they're all communicating. They knew where we were, and it got dark. I had no idea if for real the car in front of me was the car I was supposed to be following. I had no clue if the car behind me was the one that was supposed to be there. So I'm there, and I'm singing to myself, (Singing) 'We are not afraid — Who's kidding who?' And the line would go, the cars would go by me on the freeway, and every time some car went by, I thought I was gonna get shot. You know, especially if it was a truck, right? Because they used to go with the trucks, with the guns in the back.

So this car edged up. It got dark, and real dark, like 10 o'clock at night, and this car veered to the left. So I'm just hoping that's the car I'm supposed to be following. So I follow it, and evidently I lost the car behind me, because there were two cars behind me. But the four of us, we did get to this house waaaaaay in the boonies, a dirt road and all of this stuff.

And this woman could've been Fannie Lou Hamer, exactly like her. You know, big, tough, worked all of her life in the Movement, worked her life in the fields, and she and I stayed up. Most of the guys went to bed. And she and I just stayed up in her living room and talked until one or two in the morning. And she just would tell me these things, and she said, 'You know, y'all think we wear these umbrellas because we don't want to be dark. I tell you girl, I love my skin. I love it. I carry this umbrella as an instrument of mass destruction.' And I looked at her, and she said, 'You know, if some of these white fools come up behind me, I know where to stab 'em.' You know, 'right there,' she said. 'And they'll run like hell. This is my weapon.'

And you know, just all night long these stories about the dogs in her place being killed because they knew that she was in the Movement. The rocks thrown at her windows to break her windows. I mean, there's such a sacrifice through not just through that summer but summers before and years before, and the Mississippi River is full of sacrificial lamb bones. You know, you talk about the strength of the community to rise up through all of this, I mean I was so impressed with the power that is in the people. I mean, we sacrificed a summer; they're sacrificing their lives, all the time.

But don't you know the next day when we finally arrived in Greenwood, the only one he yelled at was me, because I lost the guy behind me!!! I could not win for losing with him.

Stokely had told us repeatedly not to be seen in mixed groups. But there was another time when June Johnson and Mary King asked me to go downtown with them Do you know them?

Daphne: I met June.

Linda: She's kind of a big — she's big. And this other little lady, Mary King? Do you know her?

Daphne: I didn't meet Mary. I know of Mary King, but I never met her.

Linda: There's another Mary King who is white.

Janet: Yeah, I know a Mary King, white.

Linda: This one's Black. And she's very skinny and tiny. But she had been captured by the police and arrested by the police several times for picketing, and they had a thing of boiling water here in a barrel, freezing cold water here, and they would put her leg from one to the other, one to the other, and her right leg had kind of almost shriveled up, so it was just very, very tiny. And she was skinny, you know really thin. And we had been told when we got trained, to go limp when we were up in training.

And of course we weren't supposed to be walking together Black and white outside the Black community anyway; that's a no-no for Stokely. It's like it's not about personal — you know, we're all brothers here. This is about political overthrow of a system. That's why you're doing voter registration. It isn't to sing Kumbaya, although we did do that every night, right? But that's not the purpose. The purpose is to overthrow this government. And so he didn't like any of us being together.

But they said, 'C'mon, I want to show you downtown Greenwood.' So the three of us are walking along, and here come these three white guys, just kind of like marching towards us, and it was gonna be like, do we get out of the way? Do we let them plow into us? And June says, 'We're gonna go limp.' And the way is, Mary went down first, and although June was much bigger, she went over Mary, and then because I'm white, and the idea was that they wouldn't hit white folks, right? So I went over the whole block, spreading like this.

They came up. They had a lead pipe, and they just started whacking Mary and June, and then they started poking, because I couldn't cover everybody, right? And I looked up, and across the street was the sheriff and his deputies, you know, standing akimbo like this with their big fat red necks, and they really are red. I mean, that name is authentic. And they're laughing.

And then finally, the attackers just got tired of — they were all laughing; people on the street watching. And they just let us up, and we went back to the SNCC office. And June says, 'We got to write this up.' And I'm like, 'For what?' And of course Stokely heard me say that, and he goes, 'For what?! This is what we do. We write it down.' And I'm like mad now. I said, 'Yeah, that's all we do is write it down. Who the hell looks at it?' and I didn't swear. I didn't start swearing until after that summer was over. Now I can't stop.

Now Stokely's doubly angry me. One for breaking the rule by walking downtown with Mary and June and, two, for my 'attitude.' And he goes, 'That's not the point right now. We're trying to gather evidence, so put this in the file.' And I said, 'OK.' So we sat down, and we wrote it up. And Stokely came over to me, and he scowls, 'You know, if you really don't want to be here, you can get the hell out of here. If you can't stand the heat, get out of kitchen. Revolutionaries don't have the luxury of getting depressed. We can't afford it. And I said, 'I know.' And he said, 'You know what you don't understand? Is that you can go back to your lily white neighborhood whenever you want.' And he points to his skin and says, 'I'm stuck with this all my life. That's not a choice I have to make.' And I just looked at him and goes, 'I'm in this struggle.' And he just said, 'Yeah. For how long?' And something in me said, 'I'll show you for how long.' I think it was then and there that I vowed I would be in the Revolution for my entire life. You know, it's our struggle to make this country a decent place to live. [Applause]

Janet: Well said. Your stories about Stokely are so wonderful. I had no personal one-on-one relationship with him, other than these sort of weird conversations like, 'We have this project. You want to work on it?' He knew nothing about me. I knew nothing about the project. If I'd said I don't know anything about what a political party is or something, which I easily could've said, you know, maybe he would've insulted me or had the exchange with me.

Linda: Sarcasm was his mode. His tone.

Janet: I mean, I love the stories and it also brings up all the SNCC staff meetings. These people brought guns to staff meetings, at least in Selma. So we would drive from Wilcox to Selma for staff meetings, and they were wild. I mean, they were wild meetings. And they all ended up singing. You're right about that.

Daphne: Stokely could be very brutal and very sexist. And I remember when he came to Fisk, and he made this reference, 'All you high yellow women,' and I went ape-shit. I was highly offended. And here you are trying to organize people, and you're demeaning them? Oh no, it ain't gonna roll like that. So, you know, don't feel [special]! [General laughter]

OK?!! I was trying so hard to feel special! I really was! [General laughter]

Joann: I'm always in awe of the archetype of the warrior, the woman warrior. And I sit here in great awe of each of you who have spoken, because as I listen, it wasn't just a call; it became a vocation. I think a vocation is like in every fiber of your being. It's in your DNA. And sometimes I think we limit vocation to being my own vocation of being a religious woman, a sister. But these are vocations of women who really maxed the warrior, and the courage that that takes.

And one of my great, great concerns is who is mentoring young women today in their warrior? I mean, Randi to have you here, I see your warrior already. She's so evident in you. But I have a great concern that every one of these stories lifted up the archetype of a warrior, and whatever the kind of, what do you call the stuff you wear?

Many: Armor.

Joann: Armor, thank you, that gave you the courage to do what each of you has done. I feel like I need to be on my knees in gratitude.

Woman: No, no, no, no.

Joann: No, no, I mean that, because I don't know that our young women today have a lot of models of being warriors. And my concern is that we never lose what this vocation of being warrior is about. I just have to say that.

Linda: I think there are a lot of models. And I think the Black Lives Matter, those three women, and they're Each One/Teach One; that whole thing is mushrooming. When you see [Representative] Barbara Lee standing behind Kevin — whatever his name is — with his arms abreast like this, and [Senator] Kamala Harris. I mean, the leaders are here; the leaders are here. And many of our young folks are finding them.

Daphne:. Also in the Academy, from time to time I write words for ceremonies, for funerals and weddings, and a couple of weeks ago, I actually facilitated a wedding for a young couple, two women, and one of them I had mentored for about 12, 13 years. And at the wedding were all of these deans of color from various schools, from Minnesota, from New York, from California, and there is an organization of Deans of Color, and it's of a significant size. And their work has been informed by the Civil Rights Movement, by the Women's Movement, the Latino Movement, and some of them are Native American.

So it's happening, and the thing is because the den of ignorance and the cacophony of madness is so loud, we don't hear the other conversations. They get minimized. So the warriors are there, and there are always people who are doing work that never say a word, that never say 'I gave a half a million dollars,' or 'I provided the ammunition,' or 'I have an auntie at the FBI, and every now and then my auntie says, "Girl, let me tell you. But you ain't in this for me.'" I mean, you know, for real. For real.

Or somebody in the CIA says, 'Well, you know, you might not want to — ' or 'You might want to get — ' So there's a lot we never hear, we never know, but there's a lot going on that people choose not to publicize for various reasons. And like the conversations I referenced earlier that went on in front of my father, invisible Black man. Black people are still invisible to a lot of people, and we hear a lot. You know? And then take that back to the community and say, 'Well, I know of — and you might want to do this.' So just know that it's that madness that is drowning us every day is drowning this out, but it's not drowning the work. It's not.

Randi: I just want to pass on too that we are here for you, because in that crazy — it's kind of that superficial level that's so much of what happens in our country and our world, that's kind of the glitzy part. But underneath, it's going to be people like you who are {UNCLEAR} by this, so I just — 

Daphne: But it's also going to be people like you, white people who need to do the work. White people who are woke who need to wake up some more white people and some other people, some Asian people, some Black people that could stand to be awakened. I mean, your voices matter more than ours, because you're going to be listened to — well, I don't want to say more than ours, but you're going to be listened to in a way that's different than she's going to be listened to or I'm going to be listened. Just as his voice as a man is going to be heard differently than our voices as women.

Carolyn: I was just going to say, we operate on the principle that silence equals consent, so everybody has their sphere of influence, and if people are silent in that sphere, then they're not influencing it in any way. So I was just going to reiterate that one.

Elliot: I want to kind of take along Joann's line. I've been going to these events with Linda since I met her in 1986 — or 1987 — or 1988, and aside from our relationship and our love and what we go through, she's always been a special hero for this Mississippi work. And all of you are. And I cower at the courage it took for you guys to do this, anybody.

So I'm very involved with the ACLU, on one of the boards, and I'm also on the board of the NAACP, and I work very closely with the Berkeley NAACP, especially on the lease-profiling issue which is an issue in Berkeley. But I see everything slipping back, civil rights wise, and it's a real concern.

Let's take Berkeley as an example. Berkeley was a paragon of civil rights work in the '70s, with the people that were running the city, the jobs, the education, the housing, etc, and the African-American community was about 22%. It's now less than 7% and getting smaller all the time. Berkeley is becoming very homogenized, from the gentrification and the [Blacks] moving out. The work I've done in the educational system — there's lots of institutional racism — and a constantly moving out, especially in the classified group of African-Americans.

And in the work with the NAACP, the [racial] profiling [issue] that we've been working on for five years, and there is still open disparity in traffic stops, although we were able to get the first general-order passed that gave them a profiling policy, the data that's been collected since still shows a disparity of stops, searches and arrests which are much [less] for the people of color they stop than for the whites, or citations.

The city has the same problem, city government. Lots of African-Americans working for Berkeley, but they're not getting promoted. They're not getting educated. So my question is, are we slipping back? I know a lot of strides have been made, but it's a real concern for me anyway. And I'm kind of asking the group this.

Daphne: Yes, we are slipping back. And much more rapidly than I initially thought we would. And as somebody who taught at UC Berkeley — I only lived in Berkeley for a brief period of time, and in the last I would say five years, I haven't really followed the politics of Berkeley as closely as I once did. I spent a lot of time with Matt Crawford. Do you know who Matt Crawford was? He mentored [Representative] Ron Dellums, and he was very instrumental in a lot. He was a member of the Communist Party but very instrumental in a lot of the change that took place in Berkeley.

And just in terms of the tone and tenor of the city, I feel the change much like the change in Oakland. And at the point at which you have a young white woman walking on the sidewalk insisting that a Black person in Berkeley, a Black family, move off the sidewalk, then that speaks volumes. And she calls the police. And the diminishing number of Black students at UC Berkeley, which was never high, I don't think it ever got beyond 6%.

Elliot: You have to send out a search party [to find any].

Daphne: Yeah, yeah. And it's probably now down to about 2%. So yes, we are moving backwards, and it's a very orchestrated movement. You know, with people like the [ultra-conservative multi-millionaire] Koch brothers who've been at it for a very long time, and now that cadre of people has real assistance from people outside of the country like the Russians. I mean, that is no joke. That is reality. The Russians, they haven't figured out a way to control us.

Any movement forward now doesn't really seem like progress because we are moving backwards so rapidly. And there are so many distractions. On any given day, 50 different things have happened, that you're trying to sort through.

Elliot: And underneath it all, they're working on it.

Daphne: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

Linda: OK, but what you said about it's in the hands of white folks now? That you've got to step up and take some — and be strong in some of these situations, and I'm seeing that in Berkeley. Like I was just telling Elliot the other day, I said, we've got [affluent] people in the hills [neighborhoods] now; the gentrifying is coming in, and Berkeley still has integrated schools and deliberately so. And there are parents that got up at a Board of Ed meeting, unabashedly, calling for the removal of the Black boys from their school. Black boys were bullying their children. And don't go to the Board of Ed; don't go behind; don't go to the principal; just stand up and announce your privilege, that your little white girl doesn't feel comfortable. No evidence, no research, no nothing. Just like ballsy as hell. And these kids get removed.

Woman: They what?

Daphne: Berkeley is not unique.

Linda: They get removed.

Woman: You're kidding!

Linda: No.

Philip: There was a story just last week about this girl, Catholic school — I can't remember if it was a Christian school or a Catholic school, but she was removed from the school because she braided her hair. She's a Black girl.

Woman: Her hair was "distracting."

Philip: And they said her hair was inappropriately disgusting. The radio guy, Jerry Quickly, on KPFK down in L.A., every day on his show he just calls this modern lynching. It's just the police lynching anyone they want. I mean, I don't think it used to be — you know, I wasn't there. I think it was secret lynching by police; now it's just kind of out in the open, and they don't even have to — there's nothing. But that's a whole — 

Daphne: And hair is a big {UNCLEAR}.

Philip: Yeah. I mean, my {UNCLEAR} kids at my school can't wear hoodies, because we don't want any of our kids to get shot while they're wearing a hood.

Carolyn: I heard an interesting opinion on this exact question recently, that what we're seeing in all of these publicized examples of racism, like that seething underbelly of racism showing itself, is that it's like we're, for the first time ever, with all of our tools for communication, social media, and tools for reaching people and organizing people — I mean, Black Lives Matter is not nothing at all.

There is a lot going on right now, like she said and like we all know, there are a lot of role models out there; there are lots of strong people doing all the work. Anyway, my point is that this could be viewed as the monster rearing its head as its being got in another place on its body. Because say when you're killing a snake or something, you chop it on one side, and it comes back trying to bite you with the other, like it's fighting to stay alive. And when you look at these examples of people standing up in a PTA meeting or whatever or calling the police on a barbecue or all of these examples of egregious racism and hatred and bigotry, it's like so insane to see, because for so long it's been actually hidden, not shown by the media. So it kind of corroborates the idea that it's coming up; it's doing its grand like, 'Oh, you're killing me! You're killing me!' But that's because it's scared.

Woman: On its last breath.

Carolyn: And it's freaking out to stay alive. So I mean, we've seen so much more organizing on this subject than I've ever seen. I think for the longest time I had a hard time having white friends, because I didn't feel that they had any kind of an understanding of like how to make choices about where you spend your money or just what movie theater you want to go to and spend your money. I don't know. Just how you talk about a subject even. I mean, how do you discuss being pulled over with somebody who's white versus somebody who's Black? You know, just being sensitive to the issues. And I think people are much more, as a whole, sensitive to these things. I think people are much more educated now. I mean, it's much more mainstream, so maybe it's getting to the roots somehow. Yeah.

Randi: I do agree that it is a lot more mainstream, and it is coming to a head in a sense. And I think a lot of that, you were talking about social media. And that is a big part of it. And I also think that with all of the misinformation that's placed against so many different topics on social media, it's very easy for people to look at what's happening and say, 'Oh, OK, social media's great, because it's putting all this stuff out there.' But it's like you really have to read into it.

Woman: It's definitely a double edged sword.

Randi: Because the time that we are in, a lot of people have opinions about a lot of different things, and those opinions are not necessarily always great and always accurate. And it is a matter of really looking into where we are in the country and how we want to see our country progress, because if we do want to continue the wave of fascism that's in this country and the racism that is being brought up again, it's just letting things that are happening continue to happen.

And a lot of the time people will say that with the use of social media and everything, like it's great that we can put this stuff out there and have people instantly know what's going on. And in a way, social media can be used in a great way to make great things happen, but we really have to continue the work that has historically been effective, and even if it hasn't been at the forefront of the news and whatnot, it's constantly and always happening.

And I think a lot of people are noticing with our current presidential situation, we pay the price of our complacency. And we are in a time, in a crucial time in our country, where people are coming and saying, 'This is enough, and we need to take action.' And it's a time that people need to kind of put a mirror to themselves and say, 'What am I going to do? What have I not been doing to be in this situation that we are in?' So I definitely think —  I just wanted to add that.

Janet: Linda, you brought up something that I was curious about, and that was sort of the intellectual meanderings in the Movement. I think when I was there, I believe there were five or six copies of Frantz Fanon's book moving around in the Freedom House. And what's the one?

Linda: The Wretched of the Earth.

Janet: Yes! Yes, yes. That's Fanon, right? Yeah, so what were some of the others? Because I know people had a lot of stuff.

Linda: We had Little Red Book, the little Communist book.

Janet: Yeah, yeah.

Linda: That was floating around. Well, Stokely was a fan of Jean Paul Sartre, so we were always talking about something from him and his philosophy.

Janet: I don't think I saw any of that.

Linda: Camus.

Janet: In the Freedom House I was in.

Linda: And what Camus was really all about. But we also had this guy, I've never found him since, I don't know if you have. Eli Zaretzky? Did you know him?

Chude: I never knew him personally.

Linda: Yeah, He became a professor at Chicago University, University of Chicago afterwards. He didn't claim to be a Social Communist, but a socialist.

Janet: Yeah, I know. He wrote about free labor or free soil.

Linda: Yes.

Janet: Free soil, free labor. Yes, I'm actually reading a book, not —  I'm reading Eric Foner right now, but Foner refers to Zaretsky several times in the chapter I was doing last night. I'm almost positive that's the name. I've never read Zaretsky.

Linda: Well, he was in Greenwood.

Janet: Zaretsky was?

Linda: Yes.

Janet: Or Foner?

Linda: Eli Zaretsky.

Janet: Because the Foners were involved.

Linda: Right. And you get Eli and Stokely going, and you know!

Janet: Oh my God, you were — yeah!

Linda: I mean, I was sitting on the floor cross legged looking at these intellectual giants.

Janet: Yes, yes.

Linda: And feeling like a dwarf, you know?

Janet: Wow! That's awesome.

Linda: But yeah, I mean really.

Janet: OK, that's a good name. OK, other names?

Chude: Well, this is Chude. I don't remember a lot of — I mean, of course I was very naive politically. I do remember the California people talking about the DuBois Club, and I wanted to know if there was a "girls club." [General laughter] So that shows how far I was. [General laughter]

I don't remember those kinds of discussions. I do know that I left at the end of the summer, and many years ago now, I mean like maybe 10, one of the people who stayed on said that I would've loved to have stayed on, because Stokely used to come by in the fall, and they would have these all night political discussions — 

Many: Yes, yes.

Chude: — about where we were going. But because [in the?] first half, the female [volunteers] were up on the campus; I mean, there was a certain separation from whatever the men were talking about. And then of course we had our own house. But there may have been some talking, but it would've gone over my head. I mean, I came out of Mississippi and met my first husband. I met him once. I had gone to Morehouse when I was at Spelman, and he was a graduate, and he happened to be back. But I met him essentially after I came out of Mississippi, and he educated me to Malcolm X. Then I was handed an understanding about Malcolm and the Northern Movement after I came out of the South.

I'm sure on my project, there probably was more political discussion going on than I was necessarily aware of. So for me, it's more when I was at Spelman I was learning about racism. I was reading things and studying and learning things. Of course, I hadn't known Malcolm until that time.

Janet: Why did you mention Carlton? Why did you mention Carlton, by the way? Were you at Carlton?

Chude: Yes, that's where I went. And I went to Spelman as an exchange student.

Linda: When we were arrested and spent a week, or eight days I guess, in jail, and I've forgotten what they're called. They're prisoners, but they're — 

Chude: Trustees?

Linda: Yes, thank you. The trustees snuck in Siddhartha for us.

Janet: Oh no!

Chude: Hermann Hesse.

Linda: So we read Siddhartha he whole time.

Janet: For the eight days!

Linda: Right! And Stokely's hero, like I said, was Sartre, right? So we were speaking existentialism. I mean, it was philosophical and political, but Stokely, I agree, he had some personal, you know, like — 

Janet: Yeah, yeah. He was a sexist, for sure, yes.

Linda: Yes. But intellectually, he was very deep. And he could go into existentialism like crazy.

Janet: Yeah, yeah.

Linda: So when I became a teacher and I talked about atheism or existentialism, I'm telling you, I had students in Africa, students in Newark, New Jersey, where I first started teaching when I came back from Africa, and students in Oakland, I swear they're still praying for my soul. [General laughter] These are not God-centered philosophies. So I mean, it was just a rich environment.

Janet: Yeah, that's what it felt like to me.

Linda: But then we'd go from the office to the mass meeting at the church and hear the preaching, and it was not just organizing for that summer. I mean, there was a lot of information that came out of the Movement, like all the {UNCLEAR} Harriet Tubman, from the slaves just going off the plantations. There was always a church base to this. That's where they would meet. That's where they would talk, and all the spirituals that had the coded messages, you know? Where are you meeting? Down by the riverside! I mean, it was just so enriching as well as emotionally enriching. But just the whole experience was eye opening.

I would just like to appreciate everybody sharing their stories.

Chude: Thank you. I just wanted to put in the thing that I too wanted to be a minister, but since women couldn't be ministers — My parents were Republicans. We were doing this thing, Linda, about all our similarities, you know? [General laughter] But as I always tell students, [my parents] were Eisenhower Republicans. They were not right wing — I mean, a little bit better than the Republicans of today.

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