Sherry Schwaber
(Sherry Wyskida)

1961-63, Mississippi
Current Residence: Columbia MD

I was in college from 1960-1964. Some of my friends belonged to SNCC and I became part of the group. I'm not sure if I ever formally joined, but every summer we drove to Philadelphia, Mississippi. While there, we met with Dr. King and Dr. Abernathy. Their goals were to work with the rural, illiterate people in the area and teach them to sign their name so they could register to vote. The group taught the rural black community to write their names so they could register to vote. Later, we taught each groups several words so they knew they had the correct forms

It was very fulfilling and frustrating work. It was also very dangerous. The white community hated us. They shot at us, refused to sell us food or serve us. But we all knew it was important work. After the first summer, we learned that the people at the registration offices gave them the wrong forms to sign! They were considered heroes.

After that, we worked with groups of people and taught them several significant words on the forms so they knew they had the right forms. We met with Dr. King from time to time and I found the idea of the movement exciting. Dr. King told us several horrible stories of the work of the KKK and we saw them march several times. Of course, Philadelphia was also the site of the infamous Mississippi Burning.

The summers I spent there changed my life — imagine a white, Jewish kid from a small Pennsylvania town learning about the dark truths of the world. It was hard, but I'm eternally grateful for the experience. I can hardly believe I did all that now. It seems so long ago and yet, as the incredible movie, " lackKlansman," points out, how far have we really come. It's scary and I wish every person could have the experience SNCC gave to me


© Copyright
(Labor donated)