I worked in Montgomery, Alabama in 1968-69 and then again for a summer in 1972. I was the campaign manager in 1968 for Richard Boone, a local DJ (where are you Richard?), who ran for U.S. House of Representatives (getting more votes than the Wallace candidate in Montgomery County, though the incumbent Republican won something like 28,000 (R), 12,000 (NDPA), and 8,000 (Wallace Democrat as we said then; the regular Alabama Democratic Party). It was a big shock to the community.
I worked with E.D. Nixon, Mrs. Carr, and Mr. Flowers from the county on precinct organization and with the NDPA on the state level and I marched in the SCLC marches.
I was at the beginning a professor at Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base, but resigned to avoid conflict with the Hatch Act and over my objections to the ABM proposals of that time. I worked for a time for a research organization at a Youth Offenders facility in Elmore Country, but was forced to resign when arrested (by a Montgomery city policeman who later became a Wallace body guard) for a bounced check that got lost in the turmoil of my life at that point, and because I believe Brewer himself had someone telephone the warden when I testified before the McGovern Committe on Party Reform in Meridian Mississippi).
My safe haven during this period was "Pea Level" with Cliff and Virginia Durr who gave me succor and good advice (go north, it is not your fight -- but it was!). Then I worked with Morris Dees on the state legislature federal redistricting case, providing the research that made the case for it (Nixon [E.D.] vs Brewer].
It is one of the great events of my life when 15 Blacks were elected to the legislature for the first time since Reconstruction.
I returned for a summer in 1972 to work with NDPA and went along with their delegation to the Miami convention where I wrote a short speech that Julian Bond was kind enough to present on our behalf despite the fact that it might have watered down his own challenge later on. Some of the research I did for the ACLU and documents I collected were borrowed by some SCLC folks who put it in the Martin Luther King Library in Atlanta.
It seems like ancient history. I am now 58 and teach in a university in central Taiwan where my wife of 26 years hails from (she is a native Formosan of the Bunun tribe, but is called the "American Girl" because of her many years in America).
I have mourned at the passing of Clifford and then, more recently, of Virginia. There good hearts and dedication is rare in this world. I miss the wry humor of E. D. Nixon, a giant of a man (both physically and in historic stature). E.D. Nixon was the first to come to my aid when I was put in jail.
It seems that many of the giants of old have left us and we must pray for giants to take their places.
Noel (Bill) Schutz (The "white man with the beard")