David Doggett

SSOC, FIS, ACLU, The Kudzu, Mississippi, Georgia, 1965-72
Current residence: Baltimore, MD, USA
Cell: 267-971-6028
Email: ddoggett002@comcast.net

I am a native white southerner who grew up in Mississippi. My father, Rev. Blanton Doggett of Corinth, was a liberal Methodist minister in Web, Sumner, Drew, Indianola, Oxford, Tupelo, Greenwood, Columbus, Greenville and Ripley. He was a moderate publicly, but worked behind the scenes organizing ecumenical, integrated ministers' groups in many of these towns, meeting with civil rights workers, and serving as a local advisor to the Civil Rights Commission set up by President Kennedy. He served on the Board of Trustees of Millsaps College in Jackson during 1965 when that became the first all-white school in the state to voluntarily integrate. I made a few civil rights contacts (Howard Spencer, Ted Seaver) in high school in Tupelo (class of '64), but missed the Freedom Summer because my father exchanged pulpits that summer with a minister in Montpelier, VT; so we watched it on the news from up Nawth.

I went to Millsaps from 1964-68, and attended many of the Social Science Forums of Dr. Ernst Borinski at Tougaloo. During the summers of '66 and '67 I worked with Jan Hillegas and the Freedom Information Service. I joined the Southern Student Organizing Committee (SSOC), went to conferences around the South, and published a statewide student newsletter called The Free Southern Student.

In the summer of '66 I joined the James Meredith March from Memphis to Jackson. In addition to marching, we went into the rural areas and plantations to help people register to vote, which was the main point of the march. In Canton, Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) led as we were tear-gassed and beaten by the Mississippi Highway Patrol. This march was the first time I encountered the cry of "Black Power" and the raised fist salute. Soon after that Kwame came to the annual SSOC conference in Atlanta and discussed black power. His challenge was for us to organize in the white community against racism. SSOC was a creation of white southern SNCC workers which in prescience had already been set up to do just that, mainly focusing on white college students.

The following year Kwame came back to the annual SSOC conference to urge SSOC to organize against the Vietnam War. In 1967, when local black activist Benjamin Brown was killed by police at a demonstration at Jackson State, the next day Lee Makamson and I organized a demonstration of 20 white Millsaps students who marched downtown and to the Governor's mansion. This made national news and was the first demonstration for civil rights by white Mississippians. This little recognized landmark event was the direct result of the immense struggle and sacrifice of all those civil rights veterans who came before us in the '50s and early '60s in Mississippi.

When I graduated from Millsaps (sociology) in 1968 I became the Mississippi organizer for SSOC and began publishing the statewide "underground" newspaper, The Kudzu. In 1970, when the Highway Patrol marched onto the Jackson State Campus and again murdered two students, 200 students and faculty from Millsaps marched on the Governor's mansion, a 10-fold increase over the previous incident, and an indication of how rapid public opinion was changing in those years. Although SSOC, along with SNCC and SDS, soon self-destructed in faction fighting, we published The Kudzu for another four years, providing the only unbiased local reporting of the civil rights movement, peace movement, and the counter-culture. I also did paralegal work with the civil rights law groups on Farish Street, and was on the state board of ACLU.

By 1972, things had fizzled out. I bummed around the South a few years and ended up in Nashville doing high-rise construction work and playing country music and rock (steel guitar and sax). I went back to school at UT Knoxville to start over in biology, went to graduate school in Los Angeles (USC), and did research and teaching at Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, and Medical College of Pennsylvania. In recent years I have been in the corporate world doing medical research analysis, writing, and consulting on health care policy. I enjoyed living in the stably integrated Mount Airy section of Philadelphia over 20 years, where I raised four children. I still play music in a liberation blues band, The Philadelphia Blues Messengers (hear samples on YouTube and CDbaby.com). I campaigned locally for Obama.

Starting in 2009 I have lived in East Baltimore and worked at the Johns Hopkins Evidence-Based Practice Center. I was funded by the Obama Recovery Act (ARRA), which ended in 2013, and no more funds were forthcoming, due to the Republican block of government spending.


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