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Freedom Songs Index
VIII - Cookie
Freedom Songs, part IX - Ohio
Working on this piece now. - dc 7-08-14
After a brief stay in Texas, I hitched up to the COFO training program in Oxford Ohio at Western Women's college. School was out so there was plenty of room in dorms I guess but I don't remember where I stayed.
There were two one week trainings. A number of people were there for both. I was. There were classes, talks, workshops. Mainly there were a lot of interesting people, a lot of strong people, determined. Anticipation in the air.
My strongest memory is that of hearing Robert Moses speak. He was truly inspiring. He'd been doing civil rights work for years in the South and got the idea that maybe they could make more progress if they got a bunch of white kids involved. His plan was right. The time was right. And he was right, committed to non violent action and able to speak to and motivate people from ghettos and universities, from board rooms to community meeting halls. I got to talk with him a few times. He was gentle, dignified, emanating strength and quiet authority, non judgmental, natural humility, didn't take himself too seriously. A rare person.
My best friend in Ohio was a black photographer from Chicago named Stanley. He was older and had a great sense of humor. He and I would go to restaurants and he'd loudly call me boy and boss me around and I would be obsequious and obedient. We were ready to go on stage.
James Foreman was one of the leaders. He was friendly. Spent a good deal of time talking with him, drinking at night, singing too.
There were a few people I'd known from Mississippi. Mickey Schwerner and James Cheney were there. Ed Hamlett was more or less my boss. He was head of the White Folks Project that I was to be a part of. A few others, some who didn't seem too happy to see me.
One guy who was to be in the White Folks Project was a tall blond with pretty long hair which wasn't yet common. He'd spent time with COFO beforehand as well. His approach was opposite of mine. He was idealistic, a pacifist into what we'd later call radical honesty. People always asked what you were doing there and he'd tell them and calmly argue with them. He said he never got beaten up but people yelled at him to go home and he got kicked out of cars.
There was a minister in his forties who'd been involved with the movement for years. He was scheduled to give a talk to an unsympathetic church in Jackson. Good lord. I asked him what he planned to say. He said he was going to give a sermon on scripture with no mention of racial issues. Then he'd see if anything came out of that.
There were a couple of reporters from national media who hung out with us full time. One who'd spent some time covering stories in the South played badgering Mississippi sheriff as we took turns being arrested, harrassed civil rights workers. He tore into each person and anything they'd say - like a mean Foghorn Leghorn. People we're trying to defend themselves by invoking the bible, equality, brotherly love, justice, fairness, common decency. They wouldn't get far with him. When it was my turn he asked if I was a nigger lover I responded "I don't love anyone except for Jesus and my mother." Responding to him I did not stand up for the movement or even admit I was with it or agree with any of its goals. After a while he gave up on me. I guess I across to others as a Judas. I was just showing them how not to get beat up - or how to lessen the chances.
There was a drama project. It was run by some very nice women who would talk to me without getting self righteous or hostile. I was working on play for them to use. They were most encouraging. All I can remember is that it was a corny, stupid, morality play. I hope they had better material.
All the top leaders were black and a lot of the volunteers were black. I'd never been with any group of people like this. There was a lot of heavy attitude, especially from people who hadn't spent a lot of time in the field. That's normal. I've spent most my adult life around Buddhists and the most opinionated ones are usually the newbies. The office in Jackson wasn't like that at all. People there were serious, experienced, and working.
I had never met black guys from the North before. Some of them talked so fast and strong and came on so aggressively - not everyone at all, but some made a strong impression. Years later when rap music was coming out I knew where it came from. I'd hear things like, "I never met a white person who made sense." Then they might laugh at me and say hey you're okay. I said he you're playing with me as bad as those cops did. One guy in the dorm showed me a gun he was bringing with him. He said he wasn't going to let any white racist beat him up. One college student bragged about how many white girls he'd had sex with. I was not sexually active yet so I hadn't noticed but a white guy chimed in that it was hard for him to get any girls to pay attention to him. "It's our turn," he got back. Anything I said about race or any experience from Texas would be ridiculed as naive and racist.
Stanly told me that there was a sort of racial discrimination within the black movement, that the darker one was, the higher his status.
black women raised was good for south and many
That could not be said about everyone there.
like black groups what people say
I knew so many civil rights, peoples, guthrey songs, early dylan
great singing - summertime
played we shall overcome for first bus going out
I remember playing We Shall Overcome on the guitar with everyone singing for the first bus that took off to go South.
I was a problem because I was keeping a lot of people up drinking and singing all night and didn't like classes. I was causing controversy by mouthing off stuff just to irritate some people who struck me as being a little over serious and righteous. My bad. I was young and thoughtless and I guess ADD.
me got drunk and climbed on roof of Western Women's College
I remember rumblings about James Cheney, Mickey Schwerner and Andrew Goodman being missing a few days after they'd left.
interview - are you jewish, some of my best friends are jewish
they were so disgustingly pc and self-rightous
boss said I got a rock bottom on interview I said they had attitude snotty
The board discussed me and, as I understand it, was somewhat split about whether to let me go back to Mississippi or not.
moses wife going to Senator plantation to register she serious he mellow
he was pro she con I got kicked out
The nays won - as they should have in my opinion today.
A great I hear now deceased fellow named Charlie Smith got on the phone and got me accepted to SDS in Ann Arbor.
Charlie Smith SDS er from Austin got on phone got me place in Ann Arbor
and stayed for two weeks, both sessions
see letter in notes
1964-1966: SNCC director of the White Southern Students Project (WSSP), later known as the White Folks Project (WFP), in association with Mississippi Freedom Summer.
churches being burned
before I left - people worried cause schwerner, cheney, goodwin missing
next - part X - SDS - not yet
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