Richard Morrisroe

SNCC, 1965-66, Alabama
Current Residence: East Chicago, IN

Hope, Action, Change: 50 Years of Memories

I recently came across some notes about Veterans of the Movement. I thought I had entered my name earlier but want to do it now.

As a Catholic priest, I was working in 1964 and 1965 at St. Columbanus Church, a Black Catholic parish on Chicago's South Side. As a member of the Cathoic Interracial Council, I spent ten days in Selma, March 1965. I returned to Chicago, where I took part in Chicago's education discrimination demonstrations, including my arrest in June 1965.

I attended the tenth SCLC Convention, Birmingham, August 1965. John Lewis and Stokely Carmichael introduced me to Jonathan Daniels, a member of ESCRU and a friend of SNCC. With Jonathan I returned to Selma, then went to Lowndes County. I was one of about twenty arrested on August 14, 1965.

After almost a week in jail, after Jonathan was killed by Tom Coleman, Lowndes County highway engineer and deputy sheriff, I was shot in the back with the same twelve guage shotgun. Bay Area member Jimmy Rogers tended to me and sought to get me water while awaiting transportation to Montgomery. I spent six months in Montgomery Baptist and Oak Park Hospitals, learning to walk and coping with what is now labeled PTSD.

It means agreat deal to me, since I feel it in my left leg daily. The people with whom I worked in The South and Chicago I carry in my heart. Just today I spoke with fellow jail inmate Rev. John McMeans of Greenville, Alabama. I have spoken about the events and their meaning to a variety of university, church and community groups for most of the past forty years.

I received an honorable discharge from the priesthood in 1973. I am married to Sylvia for 43 years, have a son, daughter, and four grandsons. I have worked as a city planner, lawyer, and adjunct faculty teaching social justice, sociology, and New Testament. I still do part-time municipal law.

Hopefully, I have meant the testimony threshold with this testimony. A happy and blessd 2017 to all!


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