Sunday, June 21, 2009

James Meredith March Against Fear.

 1966 .<--(click to No. 5. in the slide show.   Freedom Summer one year later. Tear gassing in the school yard, photo #5 of Harry Benson's slides. The young man on the ground on the right side of this photo... me, 25 years old (my appologies to the photographer for posting this earlier without attribution. I found it at a site that did not include credit).   This was Mississippi

Lest we forget. from Wikipedia:
In Canton, Mississippi the march was attacked and tear-gassed by the Mississippi State Police joined by other police agencies. Several marchers were wounded, one severely. Human Rights Medical Committee members conducted a house-to-house search that night looking for wounded marchers. The nuns of the Catholic school extended their help and hospitality to the marchers, especially to the wounded.


I stood before Mississippi State cops... I thought they would shoot us. They didn't. Tear gas and rifle buts. The most liberating moment of my life.
Perhaps some part of my obsession with events in Iran.
What is a 'tweet'... but a cyber pen held up to a sword?
(see comments for more detailed account)

26 comments:

  1. Why anonymous? Why the mysterious cryptic 'Hi'?

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  2. just wanted to say hi? that's all. im in the middle of class so i cant really type much

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  3. It does make one curious. Who would have searched this out? Why a greeting for this particular post? Were you on that march? Unless you are teaching that class... not likely.

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  4. im an eight grade student and im researching the march against fear

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  6. I have a couple of photos, one of Martin Luther King and other leaders on the steps of the Canto Ms courthouse, one of a very scary night march to the school yard between lines of rifle bearing State Troopers with German shepherds. You’ve heard the words to those songs… but when you sing together ‘ain’t gonna let no police dogs/ turn us round/ turn us round!’ … and there they are with their big teeth inches from your legs, straining at the leash and from the looks in the eyes of the troopers you know how much they’d love to let ‘em loose… give’s a whole different meaning to that song!
    We weren’t a part of the march itself were volunteers at a rural African American community center near Canton—but joined when they refused to let them camp on the grounds of the segregated black school. Marched and demonstrated every day till the final standoff—that picture on my blog may be from something else, but I’m almost certain that’s us…
    They surrounded the school yard. No way out. Then told us we’d be arrested if we didn’t leave. It was really hot. Mississippi in July. There were uniformed troopers and many deputized armed men. This went on for a long time. Then we heard them give an order. There was the CLICK CLICK CLICK of those rifles, and then an other shouted order, and the rifles went up on their shoulders. We just stood there and sang—‘ain’t gonna let no police men… ‘ and then another Shouted order. We couldn’t see what they were doing. Thought for sure we were going to be shot—with all the press and photographers standing on the side watching. I was picturing what they’d be showing on TV after we were dead! But instead of firing bullets, they had mounted pepper gas canisters on the rifles, and shot them into the air at us. Couldn’t see anything. Anyplace on your body where there’s moisture it burns—really painful, eyes, nostrils, throat… and on a Mississippi summer night, there’s no place you’re NOT wet!
    Then they charged, swinging rifle butts and clubs. It’s a wonder there weren’t more severe injuries. A Life photographer saw my wife and I running the wrong way—toward the charging troopers, and with all his heavy gear, ran to us and turned us around.
    The nest day we came back and marched again… and they marched us right through the fire house and into the jail. Only there a few hours. The whole time, listened to a debate between those who believed in Martin Luther King’s nonviolent methods, and the new Black Power advocates who wanted to fight back—an eye for an eye. I was ordered to leave Mississippi, but the march went on. That was just one episode. Those were interesting times… I volunteered for Obama, knocked on hundreds of doors in South Philly… let me tell you, I shed a lot of tears election night, and it wasn’t from pepper !
    I wish you well on your research. Just remember, the job is never over till there’s justice for all.

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  7. were you seriously in the march against fear?

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  8. Yes I was. I have photos of Martin Luther King on the steps of the Canton Courthouse. As I said, like many others, was one who joined in process. I did not walk the whole march. But Canton was a major episode because they refused to allow the marchers to camp on the school yard of the black school... so we (who were near by working as American Friends Service Committe volunteers), were at a rural blac communitity center. We marched, before and after the confrontation... and I was officially kicked out of the state of Mississippi. A deal worked out by the AFSC so their program could continue.

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  11. ..

    Ha! Writing this tonight.. so many years after...I was arrested this morning here in Philadelphia, sat in a cell with a wonderful activists, a pastor in a SW Philly church... we meditated for probably half the 12 hours--which turns boring time into spirtitual strengh... in the jail cell, great conversations... from politics to the Big Bang. This was a Casinio-Free Philadelphia protest. Google it!

    Been more than 30 years since I was arrested. When there's injustice in the world... you are not free till you've spent some time under lock and key. A great Amreican Tradition... Daved Thoreau, On Civil Disobediance... a MUST READ... inspired Ghandi, Martin Luther King. If you disobey the law on principle, you must accept the legal consequences... but justice rebounds on those who have betrayed it. You accept your suffering and it becomes power against those who deny justice.

    The whole time in the jail cell in Canton, Miss, that was the subject of the debate: retaliate for wrongs done against you? Or use non-violence to empower justice? Force can NEVER create justice... it may prevent crimes, but it will not create the social solidarity that is the soil of justice.

    The spirit of the Freedom March is not dead. You should write to Rev. Jessie Brown and ask him what that spirit means today.

    the power is still there... and it changes lives.

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  12. thats crazy, but wasnt the march against fear to long ago? u would have to be like 90 or something

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  14. You make me laugh! Do the arithmatic. 2009-1966 = 43 years. I was born in 1941. I was 25 in 1966. Sixty-eight now. And if I live to be 90, and the cause is right, I'll be right there in the front of the lines again.

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  15. you don't measure the length of your days by the time left beween now and your death, but by the life of the community you serve.

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  16. thats cool. so like, did you see james meredith get shot?

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  17. Here is a link with a short account the dates of the March.
    http://www.jofreeman.com/photos/meredith.html

    Meredith was shot and wounded on June 6. The march passed through Canton on the way to Jackson in July. I was involved only in the standoff at the school in Canton, only a few days of the whole march--though the most violent, aside from the shooting of James Meredith. No, I did not march all the way from Memphis to Jackson. Only a core of marchers went the whole distance. Many joined along the way, or for part of the way--like the group I was with did.

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  18. if its alright with you, i'd like to put some of your experience in my research report

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  19. You're welcome to use whatever want.

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  20. i put you in works cited so it wasn't counted as plaigirism. thanks so much. your experience is going to help me make this reserch paper a whole lot better. and also, i have to do a speech. i haven't even begun to think of what im gonna say. lol

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  23. I've enjoyed this exchange. I hope the events you're writing about seem more real now. Don't ever forget that history is isn't just a bunch of facts--real people, just like you, lived through them.

    Let me know how it goes! I really do hope you get an A!

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  24. Mr. Russell, I'm writing a book about the Meredith March and came across your blog. Can you please e-mail me at agoudszn@memphis.edu or call me at 901-678-2520? I've talked to some of your AFSC colleagues who were there: Jake Friesen, Bill Winfield, Paul Murray. Thanks for the consideration, Aram Goudsouzian.

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