I first came to Greenville SC as a VISTA volunteer and lived and worked in the area off of Guess Street. This was a changing area, Food stamps and Welfare were nonexistent and SS benefits were new. Communities were not organized for self-help and were non political. M.L. King was revered and the residents only needed a little boost and encouragement. Some streets were still dirt and the public swimming pools had been filled with dirt so as not to have to integrate.
Working with the YWCA allowed kids to learn to swim. Community organized itself and eventually built a community center. During this time, people on the March to Washington stayed at my house. After leaving VISTA I stayed in Greenville and worked with SCLC and SNCC in the effort to get people registered to vote.
I have the note tied around a rock telling me to leave signed by the KKK. I was followed from community to community by local authorities with people who traveled along on the voter registration drive throughout the area. Often pulled over for bogus reasons, often scared what could happen, but the angel on my shoulder kept me and others safe.
After leaving Greenville I worked for over 40 years in social services area. I have given a few speeches to churches and others to reminisce about the actuality of the circumstances during that time and what poverty and discrimination really looks like. Always mentioning how a 12 year old boy went to the infamous SC boys schools for 6 months for taking a pound of baloney for his family when they had nothing to eat.
I continue to encourage people to register and the importance of voting.