AM, John E. Cameron, 31, who was arrested in Hattiesburg last month for demonstrating; and Mrs. Victoria Gray, 37, of Hattiesburg, the mother of three. Mrs. Hamer is running against Rep. Jamie Whitton of the Second District; Houston, against Rep. Robert Bell Williams, of the Third District; Rev. Cameron, Against Rep. Willie Colmer, of the Fifth District; and Mrs. Gray, against Sen. John Of course, COFO’s candidates have not the slightest chance. Their campaighs are part, of a continuing attempt to attract attention to the plight of Negroes in Mississippi. Their running also gives Negroes signed up on the “Freedom Registrars” someone to vote for. LESS ATTENTION GETTING but more fundamental as attempts to cope with Mississippi Negroes’ legacies from slavery and segregation are these other elements in COFO’s summer project, as planned but not yet as executed: Freedom Schools. COFO hopes to establish daytime “Freedom Schools” where tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade pupils will study reading, math, grammar, political science, humanities, journalism, and creative writing five days a week in their home towns. “Wherever possible, studies will be related to problems in the students’ own society,” COFO says. Three resident schools are to be conducted for older youths, with emphasis on “political studies” and social action. Community centers. Using SNCC’s center in Greenwood as a model, COFO has programmed the establishment of civil rights centers in other Mississippi communities. The 30,000 books in the Greenwood center’s library are to be distributed around to all the centers. COFO hopes to offer, through these centers, not only access to books, but also educational and cultural programs, instruction in pre-natal and infant care and general hygiene, reading and writing for adults, and vocational training. The Greenwood center has also served as a base for voter registration activities in Greenwood, and the new centers will serve the same function for civil rights workers where they are located. Research. COFO’s appeal to faculty members is designed to attract academic types into Mississippi for research in the social and political institutions of the state and, COFO hopes, for the subsequent dissemination of information about these institutions to magazines and journals to which professors have access. Henry, Moses, and Dennis wrote in April that the subjects they would like to see investigated include the Mississippi educational 12 The Texas Observer E OP E An unregimented trip stressing Individual freedom. Low cost yet covers all the usual plus places other tours miss. Unless the standard tour is a “must” for you, discover this unique tour before you go to Europe. EUROPE SUMMER TOURS 255 Sequoia, Dept. JPasadena, California system, the black market for whiskey and its effects on politics, the state tax structure, ways federal programs could be brought to bear on Mississippi problems, the operation of the state welfare and social security systems, “income distribution,” local health facilities, and the structure of the Democratic Party. Academic types might also be impressed into service as political advisers and speech writers. White community project. About 30 Southern white students in the civil rights movement will begin “pilot projects” in white communities, attempting to organize poor whites against “bigotry, poverty, and intolerance,” COFO says. “In ddition,” says one of COFO’s mimeographed advisories cryptically, “a number of people will be asked to live in white communities to survey attitudes and record reactions to summer happenings.” Law students. The Mississippi movement has been handicapped, its leaders say, by a shortage of good lawyers. This summer COFO hopes to attract to the state a group of law students to work under the available lawyers in order to launchin the overreaching language of civil rights militance “a massive legal offensive against the official tyranny of the state.” “The theater project.” If the contest over Mississippi’s delegation to Atlantic City is the most sensational aspect of the civil rights movement’s plans this summer, “the theater project” is the most intrigueing for students of Mississippi life. Sponsored by the Tougaloo College drama department, COFO says, will be a repertory theater in Jackson, the headquarters_of “the movement” in Mississippi. “The actors will be Negro Mississippians; the play will dramatize the experience of the Negro in Mississippi and in America; the stage will be the churches, community centers, and fields of rural Mississippi.” T IS DIFFICULT for someone who has not spent time in Mississippi to Visualize the hostile contexts in which such bland sounding programs must be attempted there. This is so mainly because, generally speaking, reporters based in Mississippi do not write freely and critically and stay on their jobs, and reporters based outside Mississippi seldom spend much time there. The credibility of civil rights partisans’ accounts of what happens to them is qualified by the nightmarish quality of some of the things they relate and the customary circumstance that there would hardly be witnesses who .would be inclined to corroborate their stories. COFO tried to cope with the difficulty by releasing a report, “Case Studies of Intimidation,” identified as “a collection of personal_ statements concerning acts of intimidation in Mississippi between February and April, 1964.” In these. statements, personsmostly civil rights workerstell of arrests, harassment, firings, and beatings. Archie C. Curtis, owner of Curtis Funeral Home in Natchez, says hooded men beat him and his helper and discussed whether to kill them; John Mathews, 34, of Greenwood, an SCLC worker, says officers broke his ink pen in two and took his wallet and did not return it upon his release from custody; Willis Wright, 23, of Greenwood, says he tried to register to vote for the sixth time, whereupon a policeman got him fired from the cafe where he worked; George R. Davis, 23, of Greenwood, says he marched on the voter registration line in Greenwood and was fired, and his father was _told “that I would not be able to get another job in Greenwood since my picture had been shown to the members of the Citizens’ Council”; Mendy Samstein, a white SNCC worker, says he and a Negro SNCC worker were stopped by Ruleville police while working for Mrs. Hamer for Congress, a policeman shoved a cocked gun in the Negro’s stomach repeatedly, and they were not permitted to call lawyers ; Richard A. Jewett of New York, a white CORE worker, says a policeman whom he names hand-chopped his neck six times, hit him with his fists, and slammed his head against the wall in the Jackson police station while three other officers watched; and Eli Hochstedler, a white civil rights worker, says he was turned into a cell among jailbirds who had been told he had been trying to integrate the Jackson municipal auditorium, and that these other prisoners then beat him badly and made him lower his shorts and lashed him with a belt 16 or 18 times. Many of these persons’ statements are sworn to; all are signed, COFO’s report represented. According to reports from the South, the Mississippi legislature has passed, and Gov. Paul Johnson has signed, laws prohibiting picketing and the distribution of boycott literature, permitting cities to restrict the movements of groups and to set curfews, and increasing penalties for violating city ordinances. The civil rights program in Mississippi this summer embodies a decision its leaders reached on a basic difficulty. They saw, in Alabama and Mississippi especially, that demonstrations to try to pressure local authorities into accepting changes were being countered successfully by mass and spot arrests and the leveling of varieties of charges against the demonstrators. By enlarging the number of workers in this summer’s project, they hope to be better able to replace jailed workers in demonstrations, and they again hope to precipitate the kind of federal intervention many of their leaders believe will be necessary before Negroes will vote in large numbers in Mississippithe intervention of troops. “The summer project,” says one of COFO’s workers, Sandra Hayden of Victoria, Texas, “is the most comprehensive thing to be developed in the South, I think. In its inception it is really beautiful. We are hampered by lack of funds, of course. program is worth it if it can come off and wake the country up to Mississippi.” In Jackson and Natchez and the little towns this summer, COFO’s summer project may not be beautiful at all. Perhaps the country does not want to wake up to Mississippi. Or perhaps it does. R.D.
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