Peter Gruenstein

SCOPE, 1965, Georgia
3846 N. River Hills Dr.
Tucson, AZ 85750 Email:
Phone: 520.576.256

It was a life transforming experience for me. I was a high school student and I wanted to do something that made a difference. I signed up for SCLC's scope project the summer of 1965. I was assigned to Liberty County, Georgia. It was the Voting Rights Act summer, our job was to help organize to register blacks. But liberty County was different from almost every other county in the south. Several decades before the powerful white sheriff had encouraged blacks to register, not because he believed in equal rights but because he was in danger of losing to the white establishment and the only way he could win was with the support of black voters. Over the decades since, however, an elaborate uncle Tom system Had operated to entrench the segregationist establishment, and our job was to work with local black activists to overturn that strange system.

Over the course of the summer I was arrested, we had rocks thrown at us, I had a gun pointed at me, And we were harassed on an almost daily basis by the local police and residents. I don't think of myself as courageous and I certainly didn't then but I learned to live with fear and act despite that fear. I learned both resilience and that, when acting for a cause that I truly believed in, it was possible to control my fears.


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