A MISSISSIPPI KEY-NOTE ACCOUNT FROM THE JACKSON MOVEMENT SAGA -- PLUS PHOTOS [HUNTER BEAR] MARCH 6 2006  UPDATED APRIL 5 2006

 

See also, Forces and Faces Along the Activist Trail:

http://hunterbear.org/forces_and_faces_along_the_trail.htm
 

And for a full account of the Jackson Movement, see

http://hunterbear.org/jackson.htm

 

A YOUNG MAN BLEEDS. . .NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR:

First, the Background Context:

Following months of careful planning in the Fall of 1962, our Jackson NAACP Youth Council -- to which I was the Advisor -- along with many of my Tougaloo College students, launched the devastating economic boycott of Jackson, Mississippi. Its first direct action was on December 12 of that year when I and my wife [Eldri] and four of my Tougaloo students initiated the first civil rights picket demonstration in Jackson's history.  We were arrested by almost 100 of the all-white Jackson police force.  More picketing followed at strategic intervals, accompanied by instant arrests; there was much harassment -- and my home was shot up by night-riders.  In the Spring of '63, we moved to broaden the Jackson Boycott Movement into a much, much wider campaign -- and this was the emergence of the extremely intensive, very broad-based Jackson Movement.  Three of us -- NAACP Field Secretary Medgar Evers, Mrs Doris Allison [president of the Jackson NAACP] and myself were the signatories of the historic May 12 "throwing down the gauntlet" letter which we then sent to more than a dozen key components of the Jackson and Mississippi economic and political power structure.  The response from our Adversaries was to stone-wall and mobilize a massively repressive force.  On May 28, 1963, we staged our nationally and internationally publicized sit-in at Jackson's Woolworth store.  For more than three hours, police allowed a mob of several hundred to harass us -- dumping condiments on us all. A student of mine, Memphis Norman, was knocked unconscious and then arrested.  I was struck very violently a number of times, cut with a broken sugar container, and burned with cigarettes -- but I kept my seat.  Substantial picketing accompanied this [instant arrests] and, in the days that followed many of us were arrested. We launched several mass marches [again, all were arrested and jailed.]  There was much brutality.  As we continued, we were hit on June 6 with a sweeping Chancery Court injunction -- City of Jackson v John R Salter, Jr. et al -- which we defied. Then, late at night on June 11, Medgar was lethally shot in front of his home.  We moved immediately with massive demonstrations.

There is much material throughout our large Lair of Hunterbear website on this.  In addition, there is a great deal on my subsequent multi-faceted work as the Field Organizer for the Southern Conference Educational Fund  with especial emphasis on our quite successful, long-term and very activist campaign in the rigidly segregated, poverty-stricken, Klan-infested Northeastern North Carolina Black Belt counties. That became, for sure, quite dramatic in its own right!  Eldri and I were in the hard-core South from 1961 to 1967. And, of course, our vast website has much on Native American rights, militant union labor, the American West, contemporary and historical issues.

_______________________________________

These two photos -- which I had never seen before -- were recently turned up by my newspaper editor son, Peter [Mack.]  They, from the aftermath of one of several profound physical attacks on me during the sanguinary Jackson Movement campaign, were taken on the evening of Thursday, June 13 1963 -- two days after Medgar Evers was fatally shot in front of his home.  Medgar was Field Secretary of the Mississippi NAACP.  I was Chair of the Strategy Committee of the Jackson Movement [and also the Advisor to the Jackson NAACP Youth Council and a board member of the state-wide NAACP organization.]   At one of our protest marches in the aftermath of Medgar's murder, our march was surrounded, after having gotten a block or so to Rose Street, by an army of helmeted Jackson police [and other so-called "lawmen].  Seven or eight police charged me as a special target.  I just stood there facing them [with my usual recalcitrance] and, surrounded, was clubbed hard several times into unconsciousness, falling into bloody mud. At least two members of two of these several discussion lists were also there -- Steve Rutledge [an activist Tougaloo student] and Lois Chaffee [an activist teacher at Tougaloo -- from north Idaho.] 

 
We all wound up at the huge concentration camp at the State Fairgrounds.  The police [but not those who had clubbed me] finally took me to a hospital where I declined any anesthesia and where a good many stitches were taken. [These police, initially purely hostile, warmed when we talked our respective big game hunting accounts] Then, I was taken to city jail and quickly  escorted therein by the police through a sizeable crowd of well-dressed White Citizens Council women gathered to see me, shrieking "That's him, that's Professor Salter!"   Bonded out by our lawyers, I then went to a large protest rally at Blair Street AME church -- where these photos were taken.  I gave an angry speech, referring generally to the Jackson police et al. as "worse than side-winder rattlers. " [I have long since apologized to our Snake Friends.]  A little later that evening, I talked by phone with Martin King in Atlanta.  I asked him to come to Jackson two days hence for Medgar's funeral and the great march to follow -- and, despite the extreme danger in Mississippi's hate filled capital, Dr King, who had been following all of this closely, warmly and immediately agreed to come.  I subsequently picked him and others up that Saturday morn at the Jackson airport and we drove in my little blue Rambler to Medgar's massive funeral -- with a grudging police escort.  Then we marched two miles in 102 degree heat -- Mississippi's first "legal" civil rights march in history -- six thousand of us, the greatest majority Black from all over the Magnolia State.  In front of the Collins Funeral Home, we than had another very large [and non-violent] demonstration which was brutally suppressed -- though it took the better part of an hour for the Adversaries to fully quell.  Twenty-nine of us were picked out and arrested, taken to the Fairgrounds concentration camp, where we spent a very long time indeed forced to spread-eagle along the super hot walls of a long building, directly in the hot mid-afternoon sun.  Meanwhile, Governor Ross Barnett had sent the National Guard into Jackson to supplement the already huge "law enforcement" army of about 2,000 police, auxiliary police, highway patrolmen, constables, sheriffs and deputies from every one of Mississippi's 82 counties.  On Tuesday, June 18, a rigged car wreck destroyed my Rambler and severely injured me and a colleague passenger [the Reverend Ed King] -- coming very close indeed to killing us.

[During this climactic period of the Jackson Movement, JFK and RFK made a number of telephone calls to Jackson's arch-racist mayor, Allen C. Thompson.  A key Justice Department representative, John Doar, was in Jackson consistently during this period -- but he never talked with most of us.]

 
A great deal of film footage was taken by many media -- national, state and local -- of the Rose Street situation [and much more in this great saga. We have some of this on our Lair of Hunterbear website.]  Eventually, I was interviewed about my beating by FBI agents who took my bloody shirt and forwarded it on to the Justice Department.  The FBI and the Justice Department eventually took the position that they could not identify the police beating me -- even though a raft of national photos showed their faces very clearly.  Many of our people were beaten and mangled at Jackson and in similar civil rights campaigns and I don't recall any local "law enforcement" men ever being Federally charged.  Many years later, my FOIA/PA request for my "FBI files" netted over 3,000 pages [several hundred are still withheld] but my bloody shirt was never returned.
 
Bottom line: The tremendous courage of the grassroots people cracked Jackson and cracked it wide and deep.

[My own book on this -- and a large and detailed one -- is Jackson Mississippi:  An American Chronicle of Struggle and Schism.  First issued in 1979, it drew a good many very positive reviews.  A slightly expanded big paperback edition came out via Krieger Publishing, 1987.  Now out of print, it is in many appropriate libraries and copies occasionally turn up on Internet.  I have also done a number of detailed oral histories. I hear pretty regularly from many old Mississippi Movement colleagues.  At their 40th reunion [2004], the Tougaloo class of 1964 signed and sent me and Eldri an extremely kind letter of appreciation and support. Around the same general time, Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson, himself a Tougaloo graduate, gave a strong statement of tribute to me before the U.S. House of Representatives.]

 
Peter, who with his oldest son, spent several days very recently at Biloxi doing hard, dirty cleanup work and gathering material for a soon forthcoming story on Katrina's aftermath, subsequently visited the various battlefields at Jackson -- and the Fairgrounds -- and took photos.  These shots from long ago were entitled, A Young Man Bleeds" and Pete has labeled them "Bloody Pop." [You can see cigarettes in my pocket -- Pall Malls.]

Scroll down for the photos and comments.

 
Yours, Hunter Gray/John R Salter, Jr
 

 
 
 

 

 

 
 
 
 

COMMENTS:

 
One of the most heroic civil rights activists ever.
 
[Attorney] Steven F. McNichols
268 Bush Street, #3602
San Francisco, CA 94104-3503
 
_________________________________________________________________
 
John, what priceless photos these are!  Again and always, I send my  cheers
to you and to Eldri.  And to Peter who found these photos.   "Wasn't that a
time!"  paz, clyde [appleton]
 
_______________________________________________________________
 
Hunter,

As you deal with illness and age, what a true joy to look back at what was accomplished, and your role in it. Great photos. Incredible courage.
Of course, you were among the few non-blacks who were there through this - it was the black community, which could not leave, which faced the police daily, who earned a collective award for laying the foundations of change.

I'm not sure if you had sent this to the SocialistsUnmoderated list, so I'm taking the liberty of doing that (though I don't think the photo attachments will travel). This is a history they should know. Victories won without guns.

Peace,
David [McReynolds]
 
___________________________________________________________________________________
 

COMMENT BY HUNTER BEAR:

Although addressed to Clyde, David, and Alice -- and Steven on another
list -- all of whose very fine and warm comments have been well timed in
this rather bleak [weather and otherwise] day, we appreciate every one of
the very good words and every single positive thought that has come from our
many excellent and enduring friends.  Bar none, you have all been quite
significant and effective troopers in the Save the World Business -- where
most of the good works go unsung save for those they so fortunately benefit.
Real courage to us has always been exemplified by those who keep resolutely
to the Trail and their respective Vision -- often in relative obscurity and
frequently surrounded by the human frailties of others.  To us, that is the
real Oakwood -- the strong, long-burning fire of enduring and effective
commitment. That is the truly vital stuff. We are privileged indeed to know
all of you!

As Ever, H or J

__________________________________________________________________________
 

Mr. Salter,
Few people in modern times have led such an extraordinary life as yours .
We are grateful that you passed our way and touched so many lives.
I look forward to the publication of your books . . .
The newly found pictures of yourself during the Movement brought back a lot of memories. I can still see you walking into the classroom  in the basement of Galloway Hall and taking out that crumpled pack of Pall Mall ( red) and proceeding to chain smoke thru an entire class period ( smile) . As I told you before re : smoking, " Go for it ".
As always, love and regards to Mrs. Salter and the clan.
WWW, Mary Ann [Note by H:  Mary Ann Hall Winters, Tougaloo student activist. "WWW" was our old Jackson Boycott slogan -- i.e., We Will Win.
___________________________________________________________
 
And it is nice to read such wise words from you.  And from Peter
earlier.

Tomorrow I head for Chicago for various meetings.  I will think about
your struggles there.

best
sam [friedman]

_________________________________________________________________
 

FULL CLEMENCY AND FULL ERASURE-OF-CONVICTION FOR CLYDE KENNARD

FROM HUNTER BEAR

April 4 2006

Attorney General Jim Hood
State of Mississippi

Dear General Hood:

This is a strong letter supporting full clemency for Clyde Kennard and for
the full erasure of his conviction from all of the appropriate records.

I was active in the Deep South on behalf of civil rights from 1961-1967. At
that time, my name was John R Salter, Jr -- since legally changed to John
Hunter Gray.  A native of Arizona, I came to Tougaloo College with my wife,
Eldri, in the late summer of '61 as a young sociology professor and remained
at the College until late 1963.  I then went into full time civil rights
field work across the Deep South for a number of years.

Soon after my arrival at Tougaloo, I became the Adult Advisor to the Jackson
NAACP Youth Council -- and was also directly active with Tougaloo students.
I worked very closely -- until the very night of his death -- with Medgar
Evers.  I was also a member of the state-wide Board of Directors of the
Mississippi State Conference of NAACP Branches -- and we all, of course,
worked very closely with Dr Aaron Henry of Clarksdale.  I was one of a
number of people who founded and supported the Mississippi Free Press.

In the fall of 1962, the Youth Council in association with Tougaloo students
launched and very effectively continued the far-reaching economic boycott of
downtown Jackson and environs -- with the goal being desegregation and fair
hiring practices and fair treatment for Black shoppers.  In the spring of
1963, we all -- youth and adults -- broadened this boycott movement into the
massive, non-violent Jackson Movement with a broad range of civil rights
goals.  Along with many, many others, I was arrested and beaten and jailed
on a number of occasions, seriously injured at another point -- and was
honored with the sweeping Chancery Court injunction, City of Jackson vs John
R Salter, Jr et al. [We frankly defied that, non-violently.]

From the moment we arrived in Mississippi, my wife and I were poignantly
aware of the Clyde Kennard tragedy.  In the fall of '61, during the first
NAACP dinner that we attended in Jackson -- at the Masonic Temple on Lynch
Street -- Medgar Evers stood up to speak.  He gave the name of Clyde Kennard
and began to recount the events surrounding this hideous frame-up.  Everyone
present was listening with the greatest intensity.

And then Medgar Evers -- a Man of Flint -- suddenly broke down and cried.
Immediately he was surrounded by colleagues and we all sang, "We Are
Climbing Jacob's Ladder."

That was almost 45 years ago -- and my wife and I have never, never
forgotten that.

The Ladner sisters, Joyce and Dorie, both at Tougaloo -- and many others as
well -- faithfully circulated petitions aimed at freeing the
known-to-be-extremely ill Clyde Kennard.  I remember when our courageous
attorney, R. Jess Brown, showed me, in his Farish Street law office, the
just received letter finally granting freedom to Clyde Kennard -- with the
bold signature of Governor Ross Barnett scrawled across the bottom of the
page.

My wife, Eldri, and our whole quite large family join me in asking that you
use every resource at your command to ensure swift clemency and
record-erasure for Mr Clyde Kennard.

Cordially,

Hunter Gray [John R Salter, Jr]
2000 Sandy Lane
Pocatello, Idaho 83204

___________________________________________________________________

Joyce [Ladner] writes this morning and I respond accordingly:

 Hunter Bear,
     Thank you so very much for your quick response.  I forgot to tell you
that the letter should be addressed to the Mississippi Parole Board, and
Barry Bradford wants to know if he can publish it on the
www.clydekennard.org web page.  Can you address a copy of your letter to the
Parole Board, and will you allow Barry to publish it on the page?  It will
make a lot of difference.  Let us hope this campaign brings about a positive
outcome.  It is already too little and too late but this is all you can get
at this stage.

Kindest regards,
Joyce

Dear Joyce:

I'll take care of that immediately!  And, of course, Barry is quite free to
publish my letter. I am honored.

Hastily, and with kindest best wishes -- John or Hunter or Whatever

_____________________________________________________________________________
 

Barry Bradford writes:

Thanks! It is up on the website! More important, it will be part of the official record submitted to the parole board.

I am very grateful.

Barry

 

HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR] Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by NaŽshdoŽiŽbaŽiŽ
and Ohkwari'

 
Our Lair of Hunterbear website is now (11/2011) almost 12 years old.  It
contains a great deal of primary, first-hand material on Native
Americans, Civil Rights Movement, union labor, and organizing
techniques -- and much more.  Check it out and its vast number
of component pieces.  The front page itself -- the initial cover
 page -- has 40 representative links.
www.hunterbear.org
 
See our full Community Organizing course (much reprinted) --
with new material and updated into 2011.  Lots of practical
stuff -- based on decades of actual experience:
http://hunterbear.org/my_combined_community_organizing.htm
 
And see this on the new, expanded and updated edition of my book,
Jackson Mississippi -- the classic and fully detailed account of
the historic and bloody Jackson Movement of almost 50 years ago: 
http://hunterbear.org/jackson.htm

 

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