Ned H. Benson

CORE, 1964, Texas
27207 Saxon Meadow Lane
Cypress, TX 77433
Phone: 281-746-2123

I was a 20 year old white college student at Austin College in Sherman, TX. As a freshman in 1961-62 I became part of a fraternity in which Pierra Shamba, was the first non-white student was a brother; Pierre was from Congo. We could not have fraternity events at any restaurant anywhere in North Texas. The summer of 1963 I participate in a World Council of Churches work camp in Berlin, Germany, where a co-participant was Sam Oni, from Nigeria, who was on his way to become the first non-white student at Mercer University in Macon, GA. Sam remains to this day a friend.

During Freedom Summer I was a "grunt" in CORE the Summer of 1964, picketing at the Picadilly Cafeteria, collecting food and money to be ferried into MS. Bishop College in South Dallas was the organizing point for CORE, and Ted Armstrong was the head, along with the Methodist campus minister at Bishop College.

I remember my father yelling at me the first night in June that I drove down to Bishop to learn about CORE, that if I went I would ruin my future life. I told him that when my children asked me in 1984 what I did during Freedom Summer, I wanted to be able to tell them that I at least did what little I could.

Among other things I remember meeting with my minister at the large and well-to-do Highland Park Presbyterian Church who pressured me to quite CORE, and kept asking "What do those people want? Why won't they be patient?" I vividly remember attending a Presbyterian Church meeting in Tyler Texas wearing a huge CORE button, and the hatred on the faces of many white Presbyterian leaders.

The experience that summer was transformational in my life.


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