[This is a journal of my second summer spent in Mississippi in 1966. I was with the Delta Ministry, the organization under auspices of the National Council of Churches, USA. — Marian Kwan, 2016]
6/25/1966 Jackson 12:00 noon.
Fred and Ursula met us [three of us from San Francisco: Jim French, Adrienne Fong, me]. Orientation at Mt. Beulah near Edwards. The campus buildings look very Southern, with its high ceilings and white columns. Although the place is very much in ruins. About 20 families from the Poor Peoples' Conference stay in one crowded building that was probably once a dormitory. We eat with the people when the Liberty Bell rings. Dinner at Jacob's Mess was corn-on-the- cob, baloney sandwich., canned pear, powdered milk. Adrienne and I stayed at Freedom Manor & Jim at Chaney Hall. [Others include Schwerner Cottage, Till Hall, Herbert Lee Center, Medgar's Way.]
A supposed meeting of PPC was cancelled when Mr. Ida Lawrence had an emotional breakdown during the children's freedom singing. ['emotional breakdown' probably not the right term to use, if that is meant to be a negative behavior, which it is not....] Mrs. Miller is an epitome of a woman's ancestry on the plantation — she practically worships all freedom fighters, esp. the "white" ones. She fondles our hair and forever give adulated remarks about our appearance, etc., and was taken back when Adrienne remarked she likes to have dark skin and hair like hers.
The children, seeing us for the first time, were excited. They were curious about our background and our straight shiny hair. They crave for attention and would climb all over you or hold your hand wherever you go. One boy wails whenever Jim plays with other boys. Then there is Sammy who has no time or opportunity to live his childhood. He questions me about little babies of different backgrounds and how they ever learn to speak two languages, like the Chinese. He writes his own freedom songs and can lead a terrific solo part. He helps out in Mr. Curtsey's underground printing room for hours, while learning from us the fun songs we know. He gets into his uncomfortable tennis shoes and goes with us to Tougaloo 7 hours in the 100o heat for the 12-mile March to Jackson, proudly taking my American flag [which was handed to me while marching] and waving it.
I believe Sam will be much like Issac Foster, although he is only 12 and Issac is 23. Issac came into our room and expressed the pent-up emotions of a person who had come a long way in his suffering....he was very introspective, as if he wanted to find himself....
Mark came in to remark that someone drove by in a car and set fire to the Mt. Beulah Delta Ministry sign at the campus entrance. Fortunately we smothered the fire before it got too far — the sign is now somewhat charcoaled but readable. This means a series of night-watch post throughout the next few nights.
6/26/66 Eggs, bacon, coffee, toast, grits.
Read DM [Delta Ministry] material. Talked with Mark, DM correspondence man who was in Hattiesburg last summer. We spent an-hour on the problem of communication with the "outside world" [the North] on what is really going on inside the DM....the longer one stays in the South, the more one will realize one does not know much. There is so much to tell and yet so few words to express them. For the struggle for freedom & equality is more than a march, or a rally, or a voter registration. It's like trying to tell someone about God in 3 paragraphs on a sheet of paper....
Fruit cocktail, tuna fish, lettuce salad, punch.
Helped Mr. Curtsey in his underground hideaway for 5 hours. While we were in the Free Press inserting the latest issue of DM Reports, I was teaching Jim some freedom songs. Sam came in to teach us the one he made up. Mr. Curtsey called us the "Walking Singing Library."
Fred Lowry brought a Presbyterian minister from Australia down to see us. He is representing the World Council of Churches and has been in Greenville 4 months.
Corn beef, rice, peach, bread, iced tea.
8:15 pm. Left for Tougaloo. Meredith March Rally. [see another journal section]
Went w/Adrienne to see all my friends in Eaton District [this being my second summer's return]. Had a welcoming reception. We walked to the DM office and found the Fairly T.V. shop extension! FDP [Freedom Democratic Party] & DM are together now. The building looks funny — and lonely, as if something's missing on Mobile Street. I guess it's the absence of the COFO & FDP workers walking around and arguing about nothing in general and everything in particular; but I suppose nostalgia is mixed with the triumph of progress and change in Hattiesburg. The local people are busy in 8 Head Start centers.
Orientation with Bob Beech: DM short in staff because of lack of $$; so must shut down McComb and major programs. Jill [another volunteer from CA.] and I are to look into MS. welfare; go into neighborhoods to survey needs. Jim and Adrienne are to go to Laurel, MS. and work with the FDP doing same.
Canvassing......found out a lot about the wide varieties of problems in discrimination within the welfare dept. of this generous State. Not surprising, most families have a multiple of needs that the welfare agencies would not attend to. It's sickening; I suspect a lot of work for me in the near future.
In the evening as Adrienne and I were heading toward home, a group of teenage girls approached us about their Girls' Youth Club. It started last summer but stopped after awhile because no leader was available. And now I'm here. Great. $80 was donated by a sympathetic man from Chicago who attended their first meeting [me being the absentee]. I'm afraid the girls are more in the $$ than the proposed program they intend to have. I will have to steer them into some kind of a project!
6/29/1966 Tougaloo College.
Welfare meeting with all counties in MS. General Assistance (GA) is not offered in MS. ADC (Aid to Dependent Children) & Suitable Home Law = as long as child is in a home there is no need for welfare....can own home if property value is not more than $2500...
Bob drove Jill to the DM office to type correspondence letters dated 5 mos. back. I had to go 'integrate' the library to look into the Welfare Handbook: a few months ago, COFO & DM attempted to integrate the library, so now there is a rule that a library card is required before you can enter the sacred place. But I went in and browsed without incident, although I was a spectacle.
4:00 pm. Alice Beech picked me up and 3 other potential people to register to vote. Two were "no shows," one couldn't register because she just returned after 7 years in Florida.
Read the pamphlet "Stresses of the White Female in the South" by Alvin F. Poussaint, MD. Rejected by Whites because she is violating the most cherished mores of the Southern way of life. Rejected by Blacks because she is distrusted, feared, hated, adored and worshipped; she becomes the "White African-American Queen image."
9:00 am. Went with Mrs. Sim and Mr. Brown to see Mrs. Brown at Forrest County General Hospital. The wing we were in was clean and segregated. The nurse was smiling at us from one ear to the other. Yesterday's paper mentioned our 2 local hospitals will not be under Medicare, because they have not met the standards of the Health, Education & Welfare of the Civil Rights Act. [The hospitals are not integrated.] They say they really tried their best in getting medicare; but private rooms are on the top floor, and they divide the wings so that one part is black & the other white. For medicare insurance, I wonder what does the booklet means by "emergency only?"
10:00 am. Canvass. Mrs. Ora L. McCullum's case is a gasser. Cut off from disability check for 6 mos. with no explanation from welfare dept. except for a note telling her she needs another reaffirmation note from her doctor that she's still sick. She has had diabetes for 2 years. Her husband, 64, is paralyzed in one arm & leg. They both get a $99/mo. check. Now her $60 check is cut off. I called the District Office & asked why Mrs. McCullum haven't been receiving her checks; the woman who talked on the phone was cordial with me, until she discovered I was helping "Mrs. McCullum who lives on Putnam Avenue;" thereafter she addressed Mrs. McCullum as "Ora Lee" saying she should know why she is cut off and why do I have to help, etc....She said the check is now being processed; it should be coming in the 3rd of every month.
P.m....helped Jill with paperwork at the office, filing old letters dated 2 years back.
Talked awhile with Mrs. Sims at breakfast. Went canvassing. After lunch I couldn't get anywhere; thunder and lightning struck. Electricity went out for an-hour. Mrs. Sims was at her church for a fish bake — it was delayed. I am feeling the tension with my living with Mrs. Sims and another boarder who stays in the house most of the time and spends money for Mrs. Sims buying her groceries. I am not the social type and don't naturally socialize and relax as much; I also wonder if Mrs. Sims expects me to spend $$ on her too — money which I do not have!
Four hours in the Morning Star Baptist Church should give me a medal for bravery. Before Jill and I got settled in an adult group, the assistant pastor announced that the Junior Class request that a "Miss Mary" help teach their class since their teacher is absent. I consented and taught the meaning of "I am the Lord" based on the Ten Commandments. Renee said we must do good so that when we die we can go to heaven; so we discussed heaven: 'it is when we have peace with God — and not necessarily a place we go to when we die — we can be in heaven now....' Willie also questioned terms used. My remarks were to question everything about the Bible and learn to think for ourselves. This is somewhat new to them, as I can tell by their facial expressions! They will probably go home and have their parents think I am a radical nut!
About 3:30 pm. part of the Girls Youth Club met on Mrs. Sim's porch. We went over the report on the history of the club. Since its initiation last summer, they have been to Mt. Beulah for discussions as to the purpose of the club — help integrate a few places, etc., as well as to have some teenage activities of their own. They have gone on picnics and fish fries, followed up on the day camp Karin (Goetch) and I had last summer, and gone head-on over a candy project for a company up North. This is apparently a major problem: boxes of candy still not sold, and deadline was June 30. They owe the co. $19 and they should've gotten a $20 profit from the $75 project. We talked about selling tomorrow on their July 4th picnic....pins and pink and white uniforms were discussed. Also talked about future projects: testing Kress counter and movie houses; picnicking; day camp at another poorer district; to State Capitol at Jackson to tour; & to USM.
Bob drove us to the Beard's country home after a visit with Johnnie Mae — who lives next door to Mrs. Beard's brother, Mr. Damner, who died from the house bombing in February. We got back to the Beech home early on account of little Douglas Beech's prancing in the rain earlier and maybe has pneumonia....We barbequed meat & hot dogs. Later Johnnie May came in and started yapping so fast it was hard for me to listen....Bob said this house is fun because it's like a chemistry lab — but instead of different chemicals pouring into a tube to come up with a different product, we have all types and sizes and shapes of people talking and yelling to come up with a solution or hypothesis of some kind.
When everyone had left, Bob, Jill and I had a short meeting. Bob's talk last night with Lawrence Guyot [field worker with COFO in Hattiesburg] was a good omen. The DM is the oldest and longest group to stay in Hattiesburg [since 1964] and lately is the only existing group. The reason for this is that all the civil rights groups have produced leaders in the community, young and old alike, but especially the young. Most leaders have moved on to Jackson, etc. and be in the forefront — such as Victoria Gray in FDP's newly established office in Washington D.C., and Mr. Guyot. Now Guyot decided Hattiesburg needs more attention in many areas. At this point Guyot's more concerned about the 50,000 signatures he has to get to be on the ballot for Congressman of MFDP [MS. Freedom Democratic Party]., Bob sees the need for FDP to be more present and active, working alongside DM. DM never wanted to be in the forefront as leader or speaker; its goal is to promote leaders and we either stay beside or behind those leaders.
At the FDP meeting Wednesday night, we wanted to speak out about the welfare subject in the agenda.
It's interesting to hear Bob's description of L. Guyot and the change he saw in him: as a field worker in Hattiesburg with COF two years ago, LG was unshaven, dirty and shabby all around, and known as a girl chaser, etc. Now he is the reverse — well dressed and very much wiser. He listens quietly and doesn't cuss and break communion cups in churches anymore! He is alert and very knowledgeable about the movement and politics. And Johnnie Mae has also changed — from a completely unconcerned person in civil rights to a very involved one.
Our emphasis for the next two days is to help FDP with voting petition sign- ups, with the help of our Girls Youth Club. Petition must be in by July 7.
[Note: Lawrence Guyot: Freedom Summer Project 1964 in Hattiesburg; Chair of the newly founded MFDP to the Democratic National Convention 1964; a famous incident when he was severely beaten in jail 1963 in Winona where he tried to bail out Fannie Lou Hamer & others.]
Lawrence Guyot met with our girls group but only a few were there. We went by two's and picked streets to canvass [in the Negro district]. Most of the voters signed but there were varied responses. Those who didn't sign said they must know more much more, even though they wouldn't vote for Senators Eastland or Stennis. There was still fear in signing petitions. Guyot and Whitley are running as Independents because they lost under the Democrat ticket last year. FDP people are now all over the State doing the same.
On the white side of canvassing: I tried the white section of Laurel Street while canvassing with Irma [Girls Youth Club]....one man mowing his lawn approached Irma and ask her what she was doing; but he then apologized immediately that he cannot sign anything because he works at the poll (Irma has seen him working at Eaton school grounds)....another man looked at the petition but hesitated and finally said "I better not mess with it..."
The News Media: the local t.v. station networks are on one year's probation, says Attorney Ben Smith, because of bias reporting. Local stations discriminate as to what news to give out. Mr. Smith remembers me with the Maritime Union during the Meredith march. He's now in New Orleans, married someone he met at a FDP meeting in Beech's home. 6:00 pm. Cab to Beech home. Jill and I are babysitting while Alice and Bob are in New Orleans to drop off a friend, Rabbi Ben Ami (Rabbi kicked out of the synagogue because of his stand in civil rights. He and family are here for the summer, his wife studying at USM. He works in a poverty program in Wash.D.C.).
Well, I'm an expert nose bleed stopper and Jill is the saint who blesses all victims by placing her hand on kid's forehead (Dan's) while reading from Ezekiel 16:6 — an advice strongly given by Raylana and Savannah. Dan's nose was really bleeding hard; it took about =-hour before it stopped. [I remember Dan being delirious but I was intent in remaining seemingly calm through it all....I think Mrs. Sims also told me to quote from the Bible.]
2:30 pm. Met girls group to canvass till 5 pm. on petition.
7:30 pm. Statewide FDP meeting, St. John's Chapel, Palmers Crossing. Jim and Adrienne w/Laurel group were also there. Agenda includes: FDP Office in Hattiesburg; support Guyot/Whitley as Independents on ballot; scholarship for Bishop College to MS. applicants; reapportionment suit filed by MFDP in Jackson to be heard July 15; voter reg. and freedom school; a federal case on picketing rights outside Jackson courthouse last year.
While Jill was waiting all morning for Bob (he never came), I went canvassing and visiting. I finally went to Dr. Jones for Mrs. McCullum's case, waited 1- 1/2 hrs. but finally did get his notice from the welfare dept.......ate at the Hospital Cafi and went straight to the Williams' home for the petition canvassing with the girls. Johnnie Mae last night told us we had the most signatures compared to other districts in town. We canvassed until about 5 pm. and ended at Phillip's Cafi for drinks and a short meeting. The group will have a barbeque next Thursday.
Judy and I canvassed at 2 small streets out in the "sticks." One street can react differently from another street. In Sullivan & Greely Streets we encountered many people who are careful and who wouldn't sign until their husbands get home, etc. We will have to go back again to most homes there.
I asked Jill later if she had seen many White cars. She replied with an affirmative yes. Another girl living at Pinky Hall's also saw many on Putnam St. and is a little worried. I've seen a lot this week on our streets where we walk and canvass. The great Klansmen must know we're around, but they sure don't know how to hide their obvious nosiness.... I wonder if the "nice talkative" man Jill talked to for about 10 min. is a Klansman. Also that mailman who's always around whenever we're around!
During dinnertime at Mr. Phillip's, Mr.P. talked on past volunteers who had stayed at his home. He still has the statue of liberty a boy gave him. We talked about ourselves as volunteers. He treated us for dinner "on the house." Mr. Phillips is a wonderful and understanding man.
P.M. News on T.V. — saw Bob with the men planning the new Dahmer home. So that's why he didn't make the appointment with Jill to get Mrs. Sim's ironing board....
As I was walking toward downtown, a police car passes by me several times. After getting a pair of flats, went over Welfare Handbook at the library. Met 2:30 pm. again with the girls, and found out we only have one small street to cover. Hurray.
While at the Phillips' for more drinks, Mr. P. received in his mail a steno paper from the "Forrest Crusaders," condemning all law-abiding agitators for breaking the peace that has descended upon their Southern towns since they don't know when. It also appraised the KKK & devoted citizens of our town, regardless of their faults; other such stories were told, including U.S. Attorney General Katzenbach who killed Dahmer in the hospital, etc. and blames everything on the KKK.
Isn't it great that our Mr. Phillips' In-Out Cafi gets the White Christians' mail?
That night we talked with Mr. Phillips about non-Christians, atheists, etc. who are so much in front leading civil rights and still are not Christians because they don't profess they are. Jill was concerned about what God would do — would He condemn these peo. to hell just be. they don't believe in Christ but does do everything that supposed-professed-Xians don't ever do? When we came back home, a watermelon was sitting on the porch — apparently that watermelon man who talked to Jill is a good guy; he said to give it to the Jehovah Witness missionary girls!
Alice picked us up....to go to the Dahmer's burned house. Bob looked funny in his overalls — like a blue Santa Claus. He said they were waiting for the city bulldozers to clear some land; since the city-conscience-stricken officials don't want any more disturbances they consented to pave the foundation ground free-of-charge. It's a big deal. We then got back to the Beech home to goof around....received letters from home, Tim Huie & Dave. Wrote to the Nelsons.
At about 5:00 "Laurel" came. Alice, A and I went shopping for Chinese ingredients & food - $16 worth! Took us from 6-8 pm. to get the food prepared. While in the car shopping, A told me about Miss Logan writing about my mother being upset, and somehow I was too. Johnnie Mae and A tried to console me. It was really my fault for not having written sooner. I called home that night; by coincidence Carol was there!
Bob finally convinced me to go to the Bogalusa march....he had called the local Deacons For Defense men to join the march, but they said they couldn't because they had to guard Eaton District. I didn't realize we were guarded 24 hours a day the last 2 days. I only knew there were sure a lot of White cars around here, esp. on Putnam, since 4 White agitators live on this street! [I live on Putnam, but on the Negro side: you'd know by the dirt roads of Putnam vs. the paved.]
6:30 am. Went to Beech home & met the Laurel marchers. We arrived in Bogalusa about 10:00 am., just as the marchers started on their way, & quickly fell in step. Police cars and mounted police were with us from beginning to end, though at times we're not well covered from the bushes and forests....a TV network the next day announced that the marchers led by voters & Urban League & Deacons only wanted publicity....
There were no incidences, except a lot of intimidations from passing cars: a few slid by us 4 inches away; women in the cars can really exercise their swear words — in fact, they said many words & phases I don't understand. They remind me of the Head Start kids I teach who release their childish emotions when they can't have their way. The only difference is, children have a good, innocent reason for their anger. There was a car where a couple had a little girl in the back seat; she was waving delightfully at all the nice strangers walking along the road while her parents in the front were swearing at us under their breaths....may the front seat and the back seat generation never meet.
There were quite a number of the South's Hell's Angels around in their motorcycles. A sign at one of our resting spots read "KKK meeting up the hill;" another sign was on a dead fawn slayed across our path, its bullet hole still fresh with blood: "A.Z. Young is next." [A.Z. Young is leader of Deacons for Defense and Voters' League?] Mr. Young was holding up a similar sign and was standing by the fawn, smiling....
It was difficult walking under the sizzling 100o heat on the side road filled with millions of little white sea shells! The marchers were friendly. There were 150-200 of us today. I met the 4 people who came down from S.F. on the Bogalusa bus. They're a nice bunch. The bus did arrive at the FDP office, but Owen Brooks decided we have enough clothing and thereby gave the 400 lbs. [clothes] in the bus to Bogalusa. The typewriter was also donated.
During the last hour of the 17-mile walk, heaven declared its mighty works by giving us rain. It was nearly dark when we reached the city park, 3 miles from our destination, Franklinton. That will probably be my only unique experience — sitting on the grass in the rain at night, having a picnic supper with 150+ others, while TV cameramen gave great lights and shot films of us. What more can you expect, man? I got another snapshot from a Negro guy during the march. And more comments (from marchers).
After we left for home that night, we heard the next day, that while the marchers were settling down to sleep at the park, a car with young "hoods" was stopped by the police where pistols, clubs and chains were conviscated. They were told to get away and behave.
Meanwhile back at the Eaton District: Maime (another crw) said the last 3 days had intimidations from White cars. There was a "silent phone call" to her where she stayed. Friday night a neighbor called Pinky (Negro resident) at work, that "a White car's been driving around and around her house with flash." Saturday night there was a prowler, but Deacon's gun scared him off. Pinky warned me of young men selling watermelon — KKK. Maime said she never saw as many different types of guns here before....she's not scared, but says she sees the whole thing as ugly. [I recall the time Maime showed me a gun she finally decided to buy for her protection; I held it in my hand, tried the trigger, and didn't like doing it.]
Went with Jill this morning for her to say goodbye to Mr. Phillips. As we were nearing the cafi we noticed about 7 White men working on the street in front of the place, so we sneaked in the back way, unsuccessfully — the men were working on the water pipe that broke under the pavement, when some of the men worked their way toward the back of the cafi. Mr. P said it's okay for White men to eat at his place, but not White girls....As Jill started driving off in the cab towards the airport, I began to miss her already....boy was it hot today, & I'm weak from lack of sleep & from the march.
At the Phillips' I talked with the kids and played the word game of "Hangman" and Charades — Judy tried to tell Josie the word "Commandments" [of the Ten Commandments] by pretending to read a book and pointing at the pages; Josie caught on because that "book" was the Bible which commands her whole life. The Bible is the Word. At about 2 pm. (the kids here believe in Chinese-time too, always notoriously tardy) we took a bus to the DM office. I thought the girls could type but I ended up typing their history report for them, and sent them back to Eaton to distribute announcement sheets about the FDP Job Opportunity & Welfare meeting."
The meeting discussed union rights and a film was shown by AFL-CIO "Our Inheritance." Our inheritance is fighting for our freedom and our rights...every generation's got to win it again...the 'haves' and the 'have-nots.' A man said he pays his local union dues but they wouldn't give him a membership card. This is a violation of the national union code.
Bob called and told me his week's schedule. For the first time he told me repeatedly to "be careful" in Eaton District. At 9:00 pm. tonight another prowler appeared at Pinky's and several shots were fired at him. That triggered on my apprehension. I could hardly sleep that night, esp. since Mrs. Sims moved me to the back bedroom today....the dogs were barking all night.
At the DM office. Met with Peggy Connors over the Welfare Handbook. Called lawyer's office in Jackson for a speaker for July 26. Continue clipping off news items from newspapers for DM.
That night Mrs. Sims locked me out of the house so I ended up at Revival at Friendship Baptist for a service....I think the congregation agreed with the pastor so loudly that they heard themselves more than they heard the pastor.
Funny how I get rides; I walked into Mr. Fairley's shop & there he is ready to leave for home, so I got a free ride to "Better Living Shopping Center." Two of the girls met me there, and we got a cab to bring the food to the Williams', since we don't esp. care to lug the stuff in 100o heat. The barbeque was okay except the charcoals wouldn't burn. I hope the girls had fun.
Staff meeting at the Beech home: Money problem and nomination for a director for the DM. Funds were never enough and goals were never reached at the national level of the Council of Churches.
Bob, enroute home, almost ran over a puppy found full of fleas and lice, so he bought him home. Jim, A and I ended up washing the frightened pup and brought him home to Mrs. Sims! I left for Laurel and the pup whimpered all night.
The White Rose Cafi across from Mrs. Reed's is something else. I was informed it is the KC District gang hangout. They spend their days playing cards to the noise of the jukebox. There, Willie James, Albert and I spent the evening rounding up people to integrate Traveler's Inn in Laurel tomorrow morning, and had a meeting at Mrs. Reed's. The guys were concerned about violence, but finally consented to FDP's plan to do it. Laurel, however, did not show....Jim, Adrienne, Mr. Jefferson, Bob, Willie, Stella and I went. As suspected we were stared at. The waitresses were both angry and scared; the one who served us was shaking as the water glasses trembled onto our table. She gave us wrong orders on our drinks (out of nervousness, I think). Stella didn't touch her coffee — she too was scared. The police and FBI — whom Jim and Mr. Jefferson called before we walked the two blocks to the Inn — came in 5 min. before we left.
This Inn had an injunction when in Christmas 1964 Mr. Jefferson and others failed to integrate it and spent Christmas in the Laurel jail. Mr. Jefferson said they didn't get a decent Xmas dinner either....the injunction was given 6 months ago. Apparently another group tested the same Inn a week ago and did okay. So did we!
Jim drove me around Laurel. The contrast between Negro and White sections was greater than Hattiesburg. The Negro section being poorer, the White section is filled with beautiful gracious lawns and big beautiful homes. Masonite Industry hires many people including some Negroes; pay is $5,000 up. It has a high concentration of KKK and Uncle Toms.
Jim said his goodbyes; so he's going back home to San Francisco then to serve Uncle Sam in the Army. I thought that was a 'disconnect' — fighting for civil rights then going abroad to war with another minority group? We didn't discuss it much however.
7:00 pm. Andy, Judy and the Jackson kids (relatives of Dorothy Gray) & I went to Beverly's Drive-In to see "The Russians Are Coming."
Morning Star Church at 11:00 am. Mrs. Sims had a "breakdown" near the end of the service. The pastor must have been quite an influence! I was shocked and scared to see her yell all over the place; I looked around me, but everybody else acted as if things like this happen so often it's nothing uncommon — they're right. When I met up with Mrs. Sims after the service, she acted normal and never mentioned the episode. Later I went to Friendship Church, and one member of the choir also acted up while she was giving a solo, and never finished.
God is a God of Love; but He is also terrifying to get to know? Or He saves us from our depression and church is where one safely expresses and releases emotions? There is mostly preaching of morals and do what's right. Whatever church means to those around here, I love the singing and the movements of the congregation that gives it its own power and uplifting spirit of comradery.
Canvassed. At DM office put together a questionnaire form about welfare and made copies. Copy old cases. 8:00 pm. meeting CDGM [Child Development Group of MS.] and CAP at 7th Street Center. Rev. Milton Barnes said there is a $40,000 grant survey to see what kinds of programs best serve our town. CAP is made up of local people of both races. 38 man-board, 30% Negro, 1-2 year term. This grant can expand our CDGM which is statewide.
James Jackson, local & state Garment Labor Chairman: Goal of both groups is the same. Rev. Father Quinn is in CAP. CDGM needs fund to continue, but red tape with Senators Stennis & Eastland. Lawrence Guyot is against going with CAP; he thinks CDGM is doing very well alone as it is; it has an office in Jackson and is statewide.
CAP is not supported by school board because Whites don't want Headstart integrated. Headstart teachers raised questions about their salaries being cut and fear they may be out of a job if they go under CAP.
Apparently OEO [Office of Economic Opportunity] wants one major anti-poverty program and not two, going on in the community.
Will CDGM be any worse off without CAP? Who is actually in the Board? And in the Bd. Of Supervisors? My question: where do the professional and experienced teachers stand on this issue, since they are the main players? How do teachers rate CDGM?
Canvass till 1:40 pm. & worked at the office. FDP meeting on CAP, CDGM, STAR, JOB CORP — with Ted Seaver of the Medgar Evers Neighborhood Center in Jackson.
Why are the poor people not represented on CAP board? Election of CAP board members were not democratic. Poor people were not really informed.
Social Security Administration Office to see about Mrs. McCullums' case; case worker gave me a cordial reception and explained the reason for withdrawal of client's checks, which was still unclear!
Public Welfare Office: reception went from friendly to cold, as they came closer to knowing who I must be affiliated with. They found out I was not a student here, asked me why I'm here, who I'm staying with, which street I live on, etc. I told them I live on Memorial Drive and know the Delta Ministry. Well, enough....
I met my club again, but almost none showed. Mrs. Williams had a White visitor who came to see about her bank payments, so I snuck into the bedroom and watched TV. and had a nice dinner there.
The week has been pretty wild with the Klansmen around Tipton & McComb, the areas surrounding Eaton's CDGM.
Canvass. Then at 7:30 pm. at Courthouse for CAP meeting on election of new members to the Board; 1 Director, 2 Assistant directors, 6 Field workers (4 must be Negro). 2 candidates spoke and 1 elected (the one most of us think is better. The other candidate who lost, skirted around all questions regarding indiscrimination! Vote was 16-9.
A lawyer from the ABA (American Bar As.) then proposed a program for the Board. He told us great stories of how he won many of his cases and said he is probably the only lawyer in the South who sued 4 sheriffs and won all 4 cases. He, William V. Murray, wants to help the poor with all legal advice, free of charge, and would like to form a corporation under the CAP project. More people can be added to the Board but the policy is that there is only replacement if an existing member leaves; and that replacement must be from the same replacement's union.
A.M. tried to get people to go to Mt. Beulah July 30-31 for welfare workshop. Met with girls group for a formal meeting. We elected officers and talked about what the club can do. Met Otis Jackson at Porters.
6:30 pm. preliminary meeting w/poor people at FDP office. To prepare the people to think of right questions to ask. We wanted them to ask to have more poor representation on the existing Board, etc. 7:30 pm. meeting at Courthouse: Mrs. Bradley, OEO rep. from Atlanta, Georgia, flew here today to hear our grievances.
Started off checking on a few people about going to the welfare workshop. When I started back on Putnam St, I was glad to see Maime on the porch at Pinky Hall's. I ended up talking with her, out of loneliness, and it was a real good feeling. We talked mainly about the CAP meeting last night. She doesn't want CDGM under CAP's program; I told her I want CDGM under CAP, provided CAP will change or add new members to the existing Board. I don't like the Board as much a Maime does. I don't think the Board truly represents the poor people. Let's hope future elections will be held from the poor people. I guess Maime was a bit lonely or listless too. I suggested she go with me to Mobile Street & meet the kids at the office. So I went to the Phillips & had pancakes for lunch. Met up with Maime to DM....
There I got a special delivery letter from Caroline — I'm really sorry I couldn't go to her wedding — she wanted me to be bridesmaid; it clashes with my welfare workshop, of all weekends! A package from Eastern Bakery & another Cameron House (clothing) arrived too! Got a letter from Ollie which I gave to Adrienne, who was there with Jim at the office. Afterwards who pops up but Ira Grupper of Columbia! He came by to see Bob Beech (saw him a year ago) & told us of a rally Columbia's FDP is having tomorrow night; they plan to stage a one-week-long march demanding quality. This came about when the kids weren't admitted to the city pool.
Sunday - Mrs. Sims left for church somewhere out of town. I went to Pinky's where Maime was living to see if she was going to the holy roller church in Eaton District. She was asleep in the front room, Charles was asleep in the second room (another of Pinky's adopted sons), & Pinky was w/a friend in the kitchen. I hung out and relaxed; there was no church service. About noontime, another adopted son got into an auto accident by rambling headlong onto a tree....Mrs. Hall was upset but allright....Maime, Linda & I ended up at their back porch singing all sorts of songs (w/my guitar) and tried to harmonize. We were quite a group on Sunday afternoon's quiet Mississippi!
About 6:30 pm. Andy came by and found me. We along with Otis & Judy went to the rally at Columbia. The people there reminded me of those at Laurel, not interested in the c.r.movement. Columbia is about 8,000 — 35% Negro. The KKK isn't strong like it is in Laurel, but the White Citizens' Council here is beginning to be around, according to Ira. The FDP only began here last year.
I had to waste 30 cents to call up if the girls can go to the march. I finally left without them for Columbia. It was a good march. FBI & patrolmen were in front & back of the line, as if that helped much. They look more like Uncle Toms all dressed up. We got back home about 5:30 pm. and stopped at Mrs. Hall's so Ira can chit-chat with a long lost friend. Ira hadn't been here since a year back and it's lonesome not to see his old buddies again.
However living with Mrs. Sims has been getting harder. She must have been mumbling about having to lock her closet so I wouldn't steal her clothes; she got to bed about 10:45 pm. when I washed up at 12 midnight she screamed about me staying up and keeping her awake. But she would fix me grits faithfully every single morning and would eat with me!
I got up at 6:00 am. for fear Mrs. Sims will again blame my habitual laziness because I get up at 7:15 am. When I left I remarked on the smell she said couldn't let her sleep — that maybe that was the cause of her being awake. I went to Phillips' for breakfast....bumped into Rev. Barnes and Father Quinn, talked more about controversies surrounding CAP's racial make-up.
I went around finding people who can go to the welfare workshop Saturday. Then to the Williams' to distribute clothes to the girls, from Jill. I strolled over to the Halls; Maime wanted desperately to know if I heard anybody talk about her and Charles; she said she has a mild attraction and nothing serious. I said people did wonder if she was going around with boys in the neighborhood? But then because I myself couldn't go on dates at nights, I only converse with guys and nobody sees anything wrong with that at all. Speaking of Charles, right then he shows up and Maime and I stopped our conversation.
After another meeting, Bob Beech and I were at his home talking about CAP until 3:15 am. He says people in general don't know there were secret meetings among CAP people, and he himself was not privy to all what had taken place. He also said he has no guilt at all about what he did — asking folks to recommend and demand that poor people be on CAP. Today's meeting was only the 3rd announced so far; the rest were not really announced, or if so, it was printed on the bottom of a news article.
At the Mt. Beulah staff meeting, Bob raised $31,000; so he is planning to get started mass voter registrations in 6 neighboring counties. He will pay $30/week for teams to work on it. This will be for 10 weeks.
Bob talked with me about Mrs. Sims: I told him about the Klan activity in the neighborhood, her breakdown at church, her annoyance at me calling out the word "Negro," etc. Bob said it could be the Klan, her sense of being exploited & paranoid, or it could be me & what I do in her home.
More office DM work. Another FDP meeting at Palmer's Crossing.
I tried to get the girls to go to the march without success. The march at Columbia was okay. This time we had less people. Mr. Arthur Reese & his wife were there. The cops were somewhat annoyed at my using the tape recorder so often! We marched to the park, stayed 30 minutes, went through downtown & back to the Freedom House (FDP).
I was driven on the way back to Bob Beech's home but we got lost and I ended up looking for a cab in the middle of Hattiesburg's White community! I went inside a home and talked to a Kentucky woman to use a phone for a cab. She said she speaks for the South on the stand on racial segregation; but as I was leaving, she commented that our conversation was interesting, and that she wished we could talk some more & she has mixed emotions about the issue. After getting to the Beech home and washing up #4 son, I took a shower, watched TV and typed a letter home. Bob came in from Mt. Beulah at 4:00 am.
Alice Beech drove over to the car dealer where a friend of Alice's husband works, a Danish housewife. This woman has a magnificent home; Alice went to pick up Russell [son] who stayed there overnight. It felt rather strange to step over to a luxurious home after being in Eaton! The woman said she is married to an American husband who is like "an overdeveloped boy" — as he makes her too free to do what she wants; in her country, men are more dominant over wives and [men there] do not go off to play golf! She seems sincere and natural. Later Alice went to Western Union so I could send off a telegram to Caroline, or the new Mrs. Ray Tom.
I wanted to stay over at Laurel with Adrienne; at the Hattiesburg bus depot I waited at the Negro side and was that a laugh. I pretended I was an innocent student....
[In Laurel] Pat & A. spent all day trying to get a man to sign an avadavit against the registrar who would not allow Guyot and Whitney to go on the Independent ballot. He never showed up. Pat said he is scared to show up. The town is really scared! In many aspects Columbia is equal to Laurel in size except that Columbia people are more brave & would speak out. Laurel being KKK's MS. headquarters, I can't truly blame them for being afraid. A. said she always sound like a broken record every time she tries to convince anybody to get involved in a c.r. activity. W.J. and I talked and listened to the Columbia march on tape. We talked about what the Negro sees in the White outsider and about the absence of Negro pride.
Caroline's wedding....spent a lazy morning in the house w/my tape recorder. I decided not to go to church in my denim skirt & Pat's flats. I was really & truly dirty! A. came back & said Rev. Clay's sermon was relevant to the shooting incident at his house & car Friday night. I decided to leave at 2:30 pm. but no cab. At 5:00 pm. I saw W.J. at the cafi. He got Howard to drive us to the bus station [for Hattiesburg]. We discussed the possibility of a few people approaching the high school's Vice Principal about forming a "community action" club to serve their community. This can be a first step toward building better relations & trust with the adults in youth civil rights activities. At the bus stop we missed the bus as it was gliding off; we tried to get ahead of it a few blocks. Howard told W.J. to climb to the front seat — he was scared again! I got off, waved the bus to a halt & took off for home.
Canvass again. Talked to people about building an "Organization Block Setup." I went to Mrs. Power's house on Putnam & Klondike Sts. She turned out to be a nice woman who is interested in the Block project. I asked who were the White kids I saw going into her home for ice cream? She said they are the poor white folks across the tracks; the little boys' mother was very cordial to her. The boy had stayed up quite late at nights with Mrs. Powers & family. She finally took me to see the mother, Mrs. Millsaps; she is an ordinary woman who is separated from her husband, moved into the district a year ago, says she is a simple direct person who doesn't like to meddle with neighbors. I told her of my welfare work & she told me to keep up the good work. It was a funny feeling talking to a White woman without any misgivings for once!
There is the meeting at CDGM. I couldn't understand why people are still confused about CDGM & CAP, but apparently those confused were outsiders of CDGM. We spent a good deal of time discussing the process of electing someone to CAP....finally nominations from the various "beats" were given and put on the ballot. Whew. I was able to talk to out of town people about the welfare workshop.
This am. After waiting an-hour, the Lewis girls & Josie Hollingsworth went with me to the welfare office at the Courthouse. The Lewis girls were given future appointments because "the appointments are filled up." I then had a most entertaining talk with Mrs. McDaniels, the worker whom I met 2 wks. Ago. The woman was rather annoyed at my statements about the Negroes' plight in obtaining their welfare rights. The woman who is head of the office there, was more than annoyed: she was utterly upset and "hit the ceiling." Mrs. McDaniels was mad when I told her the Negroes are afraid to come to the office because 'they feel they are being discriminated against.'
The head social worker lady remarked, 'You are either writing a term paper or just plain investigating our work..." She tried to assure me they are a very reputed field of social workers and are under the federal govt.,etc. I said the welfare personnel may be doing their best, but all I know is the office is not communicating to the poor about the kind of welfare services they are getting and for years there has been distrust by the Negro with personnel in the office. The social worker became more and more defensive as our heated discussion progressed....'they [Negroes] are telling you stories...they know all about welfare...we hold public meetings — like the one on Food Stamps yesterday...no, we are a busy agency, there's no time for a speaking engagement to any Negro group to tell them about welfare...they know all about it....you're misinformed...lots of progress in the past few years...change should come slowly, you know, a Negro will start rioting & go crazy...."
Meanwhile, the other workers in the outer office had stopped their work and had nosed their way toward our room, trying to eavesdrop.
After that we all went to the Education Building to see the Superintendent of Schools. The girls wanted to go back to school but their principal don't want "bad girls." The Superintendent says he will talk to the Principal — he's been saying that for the 'nth' time.
Canvass to announce the Organization Block meeting. At the girls club nobody came. Meet at Mt. Zion to elect members of Beat 4 to the CAP Board.
Went with Savannah (girl's club) to office, typed announcement slips for tonight's meeting. Then to courthouse to sit in on Claudies Shinall's murder trial.
The nice big rain took my prospective members away from the meeting. Quite disappointing I must admit.
Attend trial w/Savannah. James, Shinall's buddy, was on the witness stand. I never would have believed it until I saw it, trials in Miss. are just unbelievable. James sits before an all-White man jury: 12 icky, drabby, unshaven men. He is questioned by a loud mouth prosecutor who scared James off, making him speak so soft he had to repeat himself often. The judge was reading a newspaper during this time and kept saying "overrules" each time Shinall's lawyer (NAACP from New Jersey) objects to prosecutor's questions to witness. I can tell James is scared & must answer everything asked him even to the point of guessing; his own lawyer must speak up for him by objecting to the prosecutor's questions which he says are "irrelevant." S's lawyer says this is "not a question but part of a production."
3:00 pm. — girls to Beechs' for barbeque. Unfortunately only 4 showed up & gave Bob a bad impression of the group. We talked with Bob about what the group can do in integrating places, and about school and careers.
As written down by the girls, "Questions to Ask Bob Beech:"
"I. Can there be a typing class?
II. What part can the youth club play in the Movement?
III. Can there be a childrens project in Newsome Quarters?
IV. Can the youth club go on historic trip around Miss. and other southern States?
V. Can we help our community by getting petitions signed for paved streets and improvement on digs and the upgrading of the low lying area, such as the Flats?
VI. Can we get more people to integrate more places (as Church, & the White Community Center)?
VII. Can we get transportation for places to go?
VIII. Can we get these questions to be enforced? AND,1. Should a girl have a boyfriend at 11½ years old?
2. At what age should a boy and girl go steady?
3. If a girl likes a boy and he does not know it should she give him a hint? Or tell him?" [girls are between the ages of 12 to 15 years.]
Well, I never got my bag of clothes washed.
After dropping the girls off we went back & took off in Robert Rollins' car to Laurel's "Protest Against Violence" meeting, with some Uncle Tom preachers presiding: this was not an action meeting and more of a church service with an Order of Worship schedule. The Laurel preachers talked about ending the shooting of homes (two homes shot in, within 48 hours) — by forming a bi-racial committee! Just like the bi-racial CAP Board....? Uncle Toms and KKK? Isiah and Johnnie Mae objected by saying fear and cowardice behavior like forming a biracial committee leads to just all-talk and no-action. 'We've been protesting all our lives, just as we've been talking about God all our lives, but have done nothing about all this talking & yakking & protesting. When are we going to march? To demonstrate?'
The audience was passive & unresponsive at first until Isiah & others broke the silence. The preacher said we agitators were 'out of order.' But somehow this created some good chaos. The youths there were angry at the adults for not having done anything to help civil rights in Laurel. After the meeting we went over to Mrs. Spinks' for another meeting.
We left Laurel about 7:00 am. to Mt. Beulah for the Welfare Rights Workshop. The workshop was good. We discussed Food Stamps, welfare rights in Miss. which will take all night to explain; that is, if I can explain it all first to myself....we saw some of the old crowd who happened to drop by to pick up supplies for New ___City. Saturday night we took off for Jackson and visited a cafi & a bar. Funny thing happened at the cafi — we left & forgot to pay the cashier! At the bar we drank beer & shook hands with people who insisted we must. It was really interesting. We also sang Happy Birthday to a law student. The bar rang with loud tumbling music roaring from the juke box, its notes seemingly hitting the ceiling and bouncing right back into my sensitive eardrums. The place is typically drabby & crowded. Adrienne danced but I'm too old for that type of dance.
Sunday afternoon we left & headed for a statewide meeting in Jackson. I was too pooped to stay long in that place. I also gave someone the opp. to snatch my camera at Mt. B.
We dropped off at Beech's & ended up talking. Bob said a possibility in the future would be to have a Recreation Center for the youth. I agree. There's just nothing for them to do around here, a main reason for the problems young people are having getting themselves into trouble. If I were raised in this State I would likely wound up a troublemaker too. Bob said there are a lot of things he can do in Hattiesburg, but there isn't enough support from the community. He may stay & he may not. We talked about Cameron House [church- youth center in San Francisco], and about the staff of Delta Ministry....
Office. Tired of looking at the Welfare Handbook. Otis dropped by and tried to talk about relationships and what love is. Passing the time away!
10:00 am. Girls came almost on time for once. They canvassed the area for the Thursday welfare meeting. We met again at 1:30 pm. and headed for the YWCA. I was late getting there because I waited for Donetta who was late. So when I got to the Y the girls were already in front. I went in but found only the mighty executive secretary there. She was very nice to me until I told her I came with my friends to play; she then asked me all sorts of questions about myself — who I am, what I am doing here....she then asked me why I have to bring those people here for anyway, & I had to repeat that they are my friends & we simply want to use their facilities to play in. She said the court is reserved, contrary to the opinion of some White girls there. She firmly said the YWCA is private & the summer activities are closed. There is also no winter activities. I told her the other woman I talked to last Friday said this place is open to everyone. She then said she is in charge here & the place is closed.
I then left & talked to the girls outside. They were angry. The woman appeared at the window and later at the doorway. Cornelia made a face at her & she was quite indigent: 'why did you do that?! Are you a Christian?!' the girls were laughing at her remarks and behavior and the woman said never had she been treated like this, & went indoors & locked the door.
We then went down to the White Community Center. I got in first & told the woman I am a student at USM with a group of girls to do things with. I told her we tried the YWCA but don't know why we were not admitted. As I was going to get the girls they came trumping in. The woman did not look upset but somewhat surprised! She was good to them, though. We played ping pong & stayed there 1 = hours. Savannah saw a notice on the bulletin board: the Bridge Club cannot meet this year in Hattiesburg for fear if Negroes come their lives may be endangered. We thanked the lady when we left.
CAP meeting at courthouse was so smoothly run it is obvious the Board met secretly beforehand. I got there late but I hear the newly elected director of CAP was challenged by the Kluxers on the Board; they said Mr. Carnahan was not elected by all members of the Board, etc. Mr. Carnahan got guts — he said his former boss, Harvey West, didn't like him & fired him before he got a chance to quit. He said Mr. West is a coward. I like him. The Board didn't even recognize our elections, until Isiah stood up & demanded to be recognized.
Went to USM but no luck locating Father Rutti. Being finals week also no luck talking to students. I bumped into Mrs. Robertson & then went back to 7th Streeet Center where the teachers met & talked about last night's CAP meeting. There was complaint about the "Uncle Toms" on the Board again. Judy got back, discussed CAP at Mrs. McFarland's home.
YWCA with Judy along. No go. (see affidavit.) Finally went to Kress for a soda. Can see right through those workers' smiley faces. After our sodas we were standing outside Kress when the soda jerkman looked us over & tried to eavesdrop in our conversation.
The Welfare meeting was rained out again. At Maime's we talked about living in the community & cultural mores and folkway problems we have to cope with. Maime was surprised and upset by the "vicious gossip" that hovers over the community. The women at CDGM dislike her because she is seen often with Charles, esp. when she goes to the Hi-Hat where he loves to dance & where Mrs. Hall & Charles work. The Vickers, esp. have been treating her pretty rough, she said. Mrs. V's daughter picks on her & orders her around calling her "girl." Maime realizes they are using her as someone they can discriminate against, something like a defense mechanism. She realizes she cannot be herself down here, but cannot help that. This is where one must sustain one's patience. Living with the people isn't an easy thing to do sometimes. I urged Maime to go with me to Bob's....she was glad she met Bob & all. I had to let out my steam about my unsuccessful attempts at forming a welfare meeting.
Interviewed Lewis family.
[Log ended. Left MS. end of August 1966]
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