MOVEMENT WRITING YET AGAIN:  THE JACKSON  MOVEMENT, KENNEDYS, TAYLOR BRANCH ET AL.  [HUNTER GRAY FEBRUARY 21  2006] UPDATED MUCH!

INTRO NOTE BY H: 2/21/06
 
My feistiness, now climbing back quickly to my combative normalcy, is a direct reflection of the fact that I have been feeling much better -- despite a slip or two -- these past several days. Always deeply indebted to my family and my many friends and my doctors, I cannot fault any of them for their now ingrained pessimism given my especially severe version  of acute SLE [systemic lupus] -- for which the good medics remind me occasionally  there is no hope of either cure or even remission.  I have to add, and this is germane, that I have never, at any point, had any real fear of death, and that rather interesting quality [which, as far as I know, does not engender recklessness] has sometimes been mistaken as courage -- as I have entered and left one dangerously challenging situation after another since I was a relative kid.  But, in this current Shadowy Valley, a shift from one medicine [the steriod, Prednisone] to others [but I have refused chemo drugs] has seen a loss of fifty pounds, the end of the [adjunct] diabetes, a return to all of my old-friend denim clothes, and -- should I wear them [which I do only infrequently] a few old suit jackets.  And I am, increasingly, slowly regaining my traditional and considerable physical strength.
 
This following material is sharply critical of the Kennedys [John and Robert] and also of [in my opinion] what I see as superficial and psuedo-liberal writing.  Then and now, I was not at all fond of JFK and RFK.  My Native father was favorably inclined toward the Kennedys, to a significant point, and Dad always recalled a very pleasant, extensive, and productive visit on Indian education that he had with Robert Kennedy in Arizona in the latter '60s.  Conceding readily that RFK became progressively better in the years that followed his brother's tragic death, Eldri and I were always far more enthusiastic about Gene McCarthy.
 
I have countless friends who recall the Kennedy era as a good period.  Genuinely courageous newsmen, such as Claude Sitton [late of the New York Times and, much later in life, with the Raleigh News and Observer] and Karl Fleming [late of Newsweek], while always maintaining journalistic honesty, saw the Kennedys quite favorably.  My friend, Professor Jim Silver [late of Ole Miss] and author of the courageous classic, Mississippi: The Closed Society, saw the best side of the Kennedy forces at Ole Miss during the violent segregationist civil disorder stemming from the successful admission and entrance of James Meredith into the University.  But Jim Silver never faulted my sharp criticism of that national administration and, indeed, he praised my book, Jackson Mississippi, on numerous occasions.
 
Like countless other activist/organizers in the Southern Movement, I was, at best, very wary of the Kennedys -- and often quite critical.  That has persisted over the many decades that have followed.
 
Late in 1979, a very large civil rights retrospective was held at both private [non-state] Tougaloo College [historically Black] and at Millsaps College [Methodist, traditionally white but by that time fairly well integrated.]  In my presentation on our major Jackson Movement struggle, I was -- along my oratorical trail -- critical of both the Kennedys and the national office of NAACP.  I concluded my speech with a burning statement that condemned "the corporate liberals of New York and the splendid scoundrels residing in Camelot on the Potomac." [Perhaps I was inspired by my notable direct ancestor, John Gray [Ignace Hatchiorauquasha] who -- in May 1825, near Bear Lake in present southern Idaho -- rallied his large band of Mohawk [and some St Francis Abenaki] fur hunters for what was most likely the first labor strike/walkout in the Inter-Mountain West,  an episode which had far reaching and positive ramifications.  To Peter Skene Ogden of the Hudson's Bay Company, John Gray, in his stirring denunciation of the HBC and its regional men: " . . .The greatest villains in the World and if they were here this day I would shoot them . . ."
 
There were about one thousand people present when I spoke.  I received a huge prolonged standing ovation.  One, however, who did not stand was the ostensibly liberal New York Times writer, Anthony Lewis.  As far as I know, Mr Lewis had no Southern experience of consequence -- but he had written a book on the Movement era.  Anthony Lewis stormed out of the still standing, cheering gathering -- and almost fell completely over the table just outside the vast room's door at which my oldest son, John  [Beba] was sitting with many dozens of new copies of my book. Beba has always treasured the memory of this spectacle. [My youngest son, Peter, an editor, accompanied by one of his sons, is right now at this moment visiting Mississippi's Gulf Coast.]  Recently, as I have heard, Anthony Lewis wrote a most lengthy and positive review of Taylor Branch [who I have never met] and the third book in the TB trilogy.  He may have, as far as I know, glowed about the first two.  I read enough of Branch's first book which I saw in 1989 to realize that he had somehow avoided mentioning our Jackson Movement in any substantive way -- or my name. [We have certainly been mentioned in many other works.] The Jackson Movement was truly massive and tactically nonviolent and was met almost consistently by bloody respression.  I was privileged, among other things, to be its Strategy Committee chair.
 
And all of that brings us now to this:
 

NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR: 2/19/06

We have had an interesting exchange on one of the discussion lists that I moderate -- involving Movement writing, our massive and successful struggle at Jackson, Mississippi in  1962-63; the role of the Kennedys [John and Robert]; and the writer of popular non-fiction Movement writing, Taylor Branch.  In this exchange, J., a sharp younger person, asked several substantive questions to which I replied at length.  The basic tenor and thrust of his queries are given in his second round [to which my second response to him is specifically directed.]  He had initially responded to my previous, basic post on Movement writing: From Idaho to Dixie.

[I have done some slight editing generally -- but everything is properly in context.]

And in all of this, I give several related Links from our large Lair of Hunterbear website:  Movement Writing:  Idaho to Dixie; Mississippi Contemporary [Personal]; The Kennedys and the Civil Rights Movement.

NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR: 2/18/06

[ Some Idaho Thoughts to Dixie: Politically Sanitizing Writers and Movement
"Experts" ]

Introductory note to this:  There are many solid writers, seasoned
participants, academics and otherwise, who have well handled topics such as
Native rights, militant labor, civil rights, struggle and sacrifice in
general. A couple of years ago, we were very pleased to see Kass Fleisher's
well-researched and excellently written work on a signal and often ignored
tragedy involving the 1863 military murder of 300 peaceful Shoshone
people -- men, women, and children south of this very Idaho setting of ours:
The Bear River Massacre and the Making of History [SUNY Press, 2004].  She
worked hard and effectively in digging up and presenting that atrocity in
all its horror and its historical -- and very much contemporary --
ramifications.  I was very pleased to endorse her book in its developmental
stages and all the way through -- and should add that I spoke publicly of it
last month at the regional King Day gathering here at Pocatello.  Much solid
work has always emerged in the context of social justice -- always has,
always will.

But there has also been much of the Other.

Excerpts of a letter of mine to an old acquaintance in Mississippi.

"Hearing about a Jackson Univ prof who is an expert on the Jackson Movement
is reminiscent of some Anthro approaches to American Indians.  On August 22,
1962, I sat in our home at Tougaloo on a very hot afternoon and started
typing.  When Eldri asked what I was up to, I told her Volume 1 Number 1 of
North Jackson Action -- soon to be our fast growing activist bulletin -- and
said we were going to crack, break Jackson.  A year later, we all -- all of
us together -- had essentially accomplished just that.

My faith in many historians is limited.  In the end, [John] Dittmer's
product was, at least from my perspective, disappointing.  In his first book, Taylor
Branch, not of course a real historian, has no mention of me or my book.
What he does mention, to cite one example, is the rather somber dinner that
Eldri and I had with Medgar and Myrlie late in '62.  The only place that's
mentioned, anywhere, is in my own book -- and Branch wrote about that very
carefully,  almost cunningly, in order to avoid any mention of me etc.  I
don't consider him honest.  The second book listed mine in the large, small
print bibliography -- and I won't be getting his third thing.  I don't think
his politically sanitized stuff, or those by many historians, will endure
over the long haul. [Some, like Dittmer's, will continue -- as an overview,
however uneven and essentially cautious.  Branch's things really offer
little -- a sanitized, popular product that could, for a time, sell well --
but without being really read.]  In the end, genuine students of these
epochs will search out primary accounts by actual participants or at least
actual participant observers -- or very careful and empathetic researchers.
Labor Studies proves that point again and again over its very long haul.
I hope you get your stuff into print and Out There. . .

Anyway, that's it for the moment.  We should always remember that we did
attempt and did accomplish -- with the involvement of a great many people
indeed -- truly big and wonderful things.  Hopefully, we all will do still
more.

All best, Hunter or John

J. writes:  2/19/06

Hunter,

 It's interesting that you consider Branch enamored of the Kennedys,
because in Branch's account -- "Parting the Waters" in particular -- I
thought they came off looking pretty bad. Perhaps the weight of historical
facts against the Kennedys is so immense that no one with any respect for
the facts can exonerate them. Maybe those of us who have a radical outlook
and yet were not directly involved in Movement politics can draw conclusions
from Branch's work that Branch himself might not endorse, since the extent
of Branch's research is still pretty enormous despite his errors of omission
and emphasis, which are inevitable.

Branch portrays Jackson as a sort of echo of Birmingham, or at least as
the greatest and most important of a huge South-wide (even nationwide) wave
of demonstrations that followed on Birmingham's heels. But he doesn't go
into the extreme detail on the planning stages of Jackson the way he did
with Birmingham. Like I said, as a younger-generation reader born long after
these events happened, I was perplexed that he mentioned you only indirectly
(since I was familiar with your story). I figured that it may have had
something to do with anticommunist politics, but on the plus-side of
Branch's account, I thought he was pretty harsh in indicting both most of
the feds and the national NAACP (Roy Wilkins, et. al.), in contrast to Evers
who was embracing nonviolent civil disobedience despite the political
problems it caused him within the NAACP hierarchy.

Branch is complimentary of John Doar, though. So I would be interested in
any contrary views you have about Doar's role.
- - - - -
J.

I [HUNTER] WRITE:  2/19/06

A solid question, J.  Taylor Branch [Washington Post background -- and too
young for any real Southern Movement involvement], has been accused by many
historians and activists as being a shoddy, superficial researcher, enamored
of John and Robert Kennedy et al., and focused mainly on Martin King -- who
was, of course, an admirable person indeed but, as Dr King himself pointed
out, only one of a vast throng.  In addition, Branch is a classic
Red-baiter, much of this by omission.  In the Jackson Movement, I was, among
other things, Chair of its Strategy Committee and deeply identified with the
widely supported militant wing of our ultimately successful campaign to
crack Mississippi's capital and environs. [The sweepingly classic injunction
of the epoch, City of Jackson vs John R Salter, Jr et al -- with the et al
encompassing many and much -- puts our actions and thrust into perspective!
We defied it.]  We were opposed to the Kennedy-sensitive national office of
NAACP which, early on, wanted a "go slow" approach at Jackson, as it
consistently did elsewhere.  We were also increasingly wary of the Kennedys
and their field men in Mississippi [e.g., John Doar.]

The left-oriented Southern Conference Educational Fund, for which I was
privileged to be Field Organizer for a substantial and dramatically critical
period, was absolutely anathema to the corporate liberals like Branch and
akin private foundations.  In addition to my book, Jackson Mississippi, I
had done several lengthy oral histories going into everything: my family and
personal background and my organizing -- especially in the Deep South.
Branch, seeking a popular audience and favorable reviews from the liberal
press, obviously brushed all of that off and away.  I was always personally
easily reachable -- even when I was on the Navajo Nation and then in North
Dakota -- and, for years after the Movement, got frequently back to
Mississippi and other Southern battlefields.  Branch made no effort --
ever -- to meet or talk with me.  In sum, his work is superficial and shoddy
and, consequently, full of omissions and errors.  Other writers have been
far, far better -- including vastly better on the Jackson Movement [and me.]
See our brand new webpage, which expands on some of these issues, and which
lists some solid civil rights works. [It also gives Sam Friedman's fine comment.]
http://www.hunterbear.org/MOVEMENT%20WRITING%20IDAHO%20TO%20DIXIE.htm

Thanks for asking that, J.  Venting makes me feel like my old self.

Best, H

HUNTER GRAY  [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR]   Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
www.hunterbear.org
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
 and Ohkwari'

I [Hunter] write again [to J.]:  2/19/06

It appears that we see Branch's pro and con emphases a little differently.
There may not be much point in discussing Branch, who -- if I recall
accurately -- was a suburban Anglo kid in the "choice" realm of Atlanta when
the War was raging.  Many of us feel that his research was/is shoddy and
very selective -- with very much a primary focus on the truly admirable
Martin King. [Very recent and very critical perceptions of Branch's third --
newest -- book have been given from an Alabama SNCC perspective.]

 The Kennedy role was, frankly, pretty negative -- much more so than many
realize --and very much with its frequent usage of FBI and the Justice
Department generally when  high grassroots movement militancy was an issue.
Worried about the '64 elections, they -- and people like their
representative, John Doar -- were interested in "keeping things cool and
under control." Doar, for example, met with conservative Movement moderates
in Jackson [some of the more cautious clergy -- never met with all of the
clergy, many of whom were genuinely militant.] Those meetings were conducted
in an essentially secretive fashion.

The Kennedys et al. did not expect Democratic presidential successes in
Mississippi but were hopeful in some other Southern jurisdictions. In the
ultimately very turbulent Ole Miss situation in late September '62,
involving Jim Meredith's admission to the university, the Kennedys had no
choice but to enforce with Federal troops a stratospheric Federal court
order -- when the Magnolia state's utterly racist Barnett administration was
stirring up major and violent civil disorder. But they saw the Jackson
situation as very dangerous -- and especially for them politically.  Hence,
both JFK and RFK telephoned and attempted to deal directly with Jackson
Mayor Allen C. Thompson -- immediately before and immediately after the
rigged car wreck which nearly killed myself and a colleague passenger.
[Unlike some, I do not see the Kennedys arranging that event -- though I do
think FBI itself may well have been aware that it was being shaped up.  Some
Jackson police certainly appear to have been cognizant of that scheme.]

 Probably a helpful thing would be for you, if you may not have already --
and you may have -- to read my book [again, Jackson Mississippi under my
John R Salter Jr name.]  Should anyone be interested, either edition, 1979
or the slightly expanded 1987 edition should be available in most university
libraries -- or quickly reachable thru InterLibrary Loan.   Birmingham, very
tough to be sure, was in a number of ways a different city sociologically
than Mississippi's perennially hate-filled capital.] Birmingham had a
somewhat "moderate" corporate business presence [US Steel and Union Carbide
and much more].  But our Jackson campaign [1962-63], was in a context where
there was virtually no white moderate presence of any kind [it was the
national headquarters of the White Citizens' Council], and no civil rights
demonstrations were ever "allowed legally" [until the 6,000 person funeral
march for Medgar]. We all  were subjected to mass arrests and concentration
camp mass incarceration [at the State Fairgrounds], widespread "lawmen"
brutality, much vigilante violence, and murder.  As my book and other
writings indicate, our Jackson Movement's roots went actively well back into
1962 and our seminal, step by step careful planning and organization of its
extremely effective economic boycott which began late that year -- which we
ultimately hiked to the massive non-violent demonstration level.  It was no
"echo" of Birmingham -- but one of the several major movements of the decade
and its ramifications were many and far-reaching.

Taylor Branch missed virtually all of this.

In the end, we -- thousands of us -- did crack Jackson.

A few days ago, I posted this on Mississippi -- designed, when I do more
feathering out and polishing -- to be a piece in a compendium of some of my
Organizing writing.  If anyone missed seeing it, it would be worth a look.
I should mention that Colia Liddell Lafayette Clark was, in '61, president
of the brave Jackson NAACP Youth Council and a fiery activist. Asking me to
serve as their Advisor, I agreed immediately.  It was a very brave group of
kids that grew into the hundreds -- ranging in age from nine years into the
mid-twenties.  Later  Colia, with her then husband, the equally activist
Reverend Bernard Lafayette,  were among the first organizers to begin
that vital work in Selma/Dallas County, Alabama.

MISSISSIPPI CONTEMPORARY [PERSONAL] HUNTER BEAR/HUNTER GRAY/JOHN R SALTER,
JR.  2/08/06

Colia Liddell Lafayette Clark, then a Tougaloo student from Jackson, and
always a hard-fighting activist, initially recruited me into the incipient Mississippi
movement September '61 and has recently written:

From Colia to her list of colleagues:  9/14/05

"Hi Everyone:
I received this note from Hunter Gray Bear (John Salter). Hunter Bear was my
professor at Tougaloo College and one of the sharpest organizers in both the
southern civil rights movement and labor movement in the USA. He agreed to
serve as advisor to a the newly organized Jackson, Ms NAACP North Jackson
Youth Council in 1961. This was no small decision. Under his tutorledge and
guidance and with the oversight of Medgar Wylie Evers, the North Jackson
NAACP Youth Council would produce a mass movement and the most successful
boycott of a downtown district in the deep south. Only, Ida B Wells boycott
of Memphis in the 19th century can compare. Jackson. Ms' downtown folded and
has never reopened with its string of shops and department stores. This was
no easy work and like Medgar and so many others Hunter Bear was targeted for
death. He was seriously wounded by the southern racists in a freak car
accident (point of death), beaten a number of times in demonstrations but
refused to yield even from pressure within the struggle. Those years are
detailed in a book by Hunter Bear (John R Salter) entitled: Jackson,
Mississippi: An American Chronicle of Struggle and Schism.
The book is out
of print, but should be in most college libraries. Today, Hunter Bear has
returned to his native land in the West and to his native roots to continue
organizing and building grass roots struggle and a new generation of
youthful organizers.

Hear him for he worthy to be heard."

Colia Liddell Lafayette Clark

Full piece via
 http://www.hunterbear.org/MISSISSIPPI%20CONTEMPORARY%20[PERSONAL.htm

And, for much more on the Kennedys and their role, see this page on our large
website:

http://www.hunterbear.org/kennedys%20and%20the%20civil%20rights%20movement%20htm.htm

In the last analysis, Eldri and I were privileged by History to play a
major role in developing and riding with the winds of a truly major
and great peoples' movement.  And there have been many successful campaigns
for us in the years that followed Jackson -- some in the South during that
sanguinary era and many indeed far beyond.  We see them all as critical,
significant, important.  If our work, and that of so many others, is noticed
by writers -- well, fine.  If not, that was and is far indeed from any of
our key goals.  The joy is in the struggle -- and especially in grassroots
victory.

Hope this has been helpful. H

COMMENTS:

I write on 2/22/06:

 
[As I have noted elsewhere, Colia Liddell [now Colia Liddell Lafayette Clark] was a student of mine at Tougaloo College just as soon as Eldri and I arrived there in '61.  It is Colia who, on the first day of our American Government class, moved to recruit me as the Advisor to the Jackson Youth Council of NAACP -- of which she was President.  And, with that -- a quick affirmative decision on the part of myself [and Eldri] -- I plunged into the fast moving waters of the then very small but quickly  developing Mississippi civil rights movement.  And much happened!  Early in February, 1963, Colia -- with her then husband, the Reverend Bernard Lafayette [or LaFayette] -- entered Selma, Dallas County, Alabama to become virtually the first civil rights organizers in that citadel of racism and segregation.  And they certainly "got that moving!"  Colia has been an effective and vital fighter for social justice all the way through -- always has and always will.  We keep in regular contact.  Here is a letter I wrote to her the other day and here are two very interesting communications that she then sent me.  One comments specifically on the Kennedy Administration, John Doar et al. of the RFK Justice Department -- and on the writer, Taylor Branch.  Hunter Bear  2/22/06
 
Dear Colia: [From Hunter/John 2/20/06]

Thanks very much for your post on the Voting Rights situation.  And I want
to personally and very strongly express my great appreciation to you for
your many fine -- and very much -- morale boosting messages to me.  They
mean a great deal indeed to me, Eldri, our whole family.

We also very much appreciate and admire your always vital and consistent
commitment to social justice.  We don't find that surprising -- that's
always been your quite dominant personal ethos! -- but your ever-fighting
spirit and your effectiveness set an excellent example. . .

I hear from time to time from old Movement colleagues -- but you are one
who is certainly in a special category.  I can remember so clearly and
appreciatively your "recruitment" of me 'way back in September, 1961 --
and, of course, I vividly recall when you and I were in the midst of a
maelstrom following Medgar's funeral march [a tactically non-violent one from our
standpoint but hardly that from the repressive Magnolia legions of various types of
"lawmen" and Klan vigilantes.]  As I recall, I grinned at you and yelled
above the din, "Colia!  YOU got me into all of this!" -- and you smiled very
broadly indeed.

Anyway, that was all a Great High Point in my organizing life -- and Eldri's
as well -- and we have always appreciated your almost intuitive recruitment
actions following our very long ago American Government class at Tougaloo.

By all means, let us keep closely in contact.  I have always been a
socialist -- ever since I emerged from the Army at the beginning of 1955
when I was just turning 21 -- and you are, commendably, one as well.

Here is a brand new page on our huge website.  You are  much among those
there.  You will note that I am not fond of the Kennedys -- but definitely
critical of Taylor Branch who, in his first book, badly shortchanged our
Jackson Movement.  Frankly, I haven't read his other two books.

http://www.hunterbear.org/MOVEMENT%20WRITING%20YET%20AGAIN.htm

So take care, keep fighting, and to you we all send all love and good
wishes!

In Solidarity,  Hunter Bear and Other Names
 
Hi John and Eldri, [From Colia   2/21/06]
 
As always your poetic correspondence moves and lifts the heart.  How is Eldri and the rest of your wonderful bunch? . . . Your work with the Mine Mill struggle and all that other organizing experience that you shared in class at Tougaloo fell on fertile ears and mind. I had to do something to show at least a worthy practice of what you taught so eloquently in words and deeds; hence the North Jackson NAACP Youth Council. We should have an organized retreat of that beautiful batch of young and old people and bring it out to the juniper and sage bush, beautiful paths and dancing spirits of your home which you picture in its ancient power and beauty. I will endeavor to bring us all there to spend a minute or two remembering with our mentor and guide what it means to struggle for humanistic value in an imperialist dominated world busy cutting off the one limb the Great Spirit gave us to enjoy in our brief life sojourn on this planet. Then you and I can share notes from a common ancestry, the Indigenous Peoples of the South/ West with Great Great Great Grandaddy Ben Grimke and Great Great Grandma Classie and Great Grand Pa Clem sitting and mingling with Africa, Asia and Europe all chasing the wind of your enchanted night. Yes, Grandma shall cry no more all terse and wet from the humiliation and pain, she used to scream at the lost Buffalo Soldiers. "My Brothers, yesterday did not die from the muffled assassin's bullet."  She lives a fresh granny in an old rocker with tomorrow slung across tired but never failing knees.  Together there with you and Eldri and the all knowing spirits, we shall remember to never forget. 
 
 It's time we hear the living history of the movement in Hinds County, Mississippi in video with as many participants from that frozen moment long ago as we can muster. What makes this biographical recounting unique is the coming together of the spirits South and West each singing the song of discontent and hope in chilled arrogant blues. There must be somewhere waiting for us a willing angel who is prepared to invest in such a venture. I will move on that with speed.
 
In Lasting Solidarity and Struggle,
Colia

 

Hi John, [from Colia  2/21/06]

 
I am very pleased to hear that you are feeling better and in good form.
 
Agreed we need to look at the Kennedy administration and its involvement in the civil rights era. I can still hear John Doar, a man from inside the Kennedy Justice Department-Deputy to Robert Kennedy, explaining why the federal government could not be involved in an immediate investigation in Jackson. Said Doar, "This administration runs on policy. It is not the policy of the Kennedy Administration to become involved when there is not direct evidence of violation of voting rights.". SNCC and CORE folk present were desperately trying to make the case that the Justice Department could use Medgar's work around voter  education/registration as the base for investigation of the assassination since, the Justice Department could not use direct action and mass mobilization as an argument. The real question posed by Freedom Fighters in Mississippi was how do you separate out one piece of a man's work from the others  tied in one knot? The answer still burns in places deeper the Grand Canyon. "Policy". (As an aside, I still am totally dissatisfied that we have the killers/ accomplices in Medgar's murder).
 
The second place, where I have personal memory of the Justice Department is Alabama. It is very important that we make it known that when the LaFayettes arrived at the Torch Motel in Selma, Alabama on February 10, 1963 at 10:30 pm, the newly weds  were only in the room for 15 minutes before the knock on the  door by 2 Deputy Attorney  Generals. As near as I can recall their names were Vaserstrum and Sather? It should not be too difficult to locate them in the Kennedy Justice Administration. They came in a very dear and fatherly way to ask us to leave at once. That is , we were being asked to abandon our new assignment to organize the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee Black Belt Alabama Voter Education Project before it materialized as a thing to be reckoned with. According to these very amiable attorneys for justice, our live were at serious risk. When asked what they were to do about it having more information than we who had not yet begun to work, the attorneys replied, "The Justice Department is not a police force." What these 2 really wanted us to know was that the Kennedy Administration had filed suit for the right to vote for Black folk in Mobile in the court of the Kennedy appointee, Federal Judge Thompson and we could, they argued, offset and possibly destroy that initiative.  Freedom Fighters' struggle with the law of the USA and the use of closet politics called "policy" need to be aired as a part of a packaged legacy from the civil rights movement to the future generations of warriors who could benefit from the lessons in these tales.
 
As for Taylor Branch, I have very little respect for the man's rendering of the struggles of Africans and their allies in the deep south during the civil rights movement. He has made himself our voice literally making our story what he somehow imagined it to be. I took one look at his work on Chicago and almost fell apart when I noticed I did not get the normal wife of Bernard bit. How could his researchers have overlooked my work? He did not bother to even send me a questionnaire about Selma and Alabama. Well, anyway, I have decided that the man Taylor Branch has serious issues with black skinned Black women. Furthermore, historians will find the real facts and make appropriate corrections. We must be in the business of truth telling as liberation workers from the time period. Only we can tell our story in a way that comes close to the truth of the good work we have done.
 
Keep on writing the truth, future generations are depending on you.
 
Colia
 
________________________________________________________________________________
From Sam Friedman:  2/21/06
 
 It is wonderful that you are feeling better.

Below is a piece I wrote on Jack Kennedy that may amuse you.

best
sam

           November 22, 1963

A yell from a nearby dorm
as I walked across the college Yard.
In his room, the radio mourned
while we wondered who would be blamed
for the murder of a president.

Later,
Nancy cried and cried and cried,
but, as I held her in our new romance,
I wondered why.
His hands were as crimson as Harvard,
stained by freedom-movement martyrs he refused to protect,
mushrooming cancers fertilized by the test after test after test
with which he A-bombed the sky,
by the just-as-easy might-have-been
of nuclear chicken
a year before
when the world stood red-eye to red-eye
with the end of time,
and by Vietnamese thousands
slain in the name of democratic advising.

Nancy cried and cried and cried.
I wondered why.

-- Sam

________________________________________________________________________________
 
From Chuck Levenstein   2/21/06

Hunter,  I am glad that you are feeling better and (plainly) are full  of
energy.  I never liked the Kennedy's either -- Old Joe was  called back from
Europe by FDR because he was getting to cozy with Adolph.  And there is
something the matter with the president of a democracy presiding over
camelot. 
 
Best wishes, Chuck Levenstein [An old friend from International Chemical Workers Union]
_______________________________________________________________________________
 
From Jim Loewen   2/21/06
 
I agree with you about JFK (and RFK until the last year or two).
 Perhaps you've read my comments in LIES MY TEACHER TOLD ME.
Best wishes -- read my new book, SUNDOWN TOWNS -- it'll surprise even you.

-- James W. Loewen

 ______________________________________________________________________________
 

REBER BOULT AND I [H] COMMENT ON SOUTHERN SEG JUDGES

 
FROM REBER [A SOUTHERNER, NOW IN NEW MEXICO]  2/23/06
 
Colia Liddell Lafayette Clark's mention of the Justice Department's
reliance on doing something in Mobile Federal Judge Dan Thomas' court
sure brought back a memory.  He was appointed to his judgeship by
Truman, not Kennedy; checking my memory this I came upon a Congressional
Resolution in 2000 honoring his long judicial service, adhering to equal
protection of the laws, "judicial restraint," admiralty law,
Christianity, and Boy Scouts, somehow they left out "stone racist."

Judge Thomas, along with his colleagues Harold Cox in Jackson, J. Robert
"We don't want any pinkos, communists, and black voters disturbing our
Southern way of life" Elliott in Columbus, Gus Bootle in Macon, and some
guy in Louisiana were among those who, despite the best efforts of
Eisenhower appointees (as was Bootle) on the 5th Circuit Court of
Appeals, maintained some federal courts as bastions of segregation
(never mind Scarlett in Savannah who exploited what he perceived as an
opening left by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education by
finding as a fact that black people are dumber than white people--he
retired from the fray early).  Bootle died recently; the news stories
said he fought racism.  Oh how they rewrite history.

School desegregation came late to Mobile.  Judge Thomas had got reversed
about 6 or 8 times as he tried to perpetuate it.  In about 1969 or '70
people took to the streets to try to get it.  Thomas, acting under the
long running desegregation case, issued an injunction against the
demonstrations.  George Dean and I took an emergency appeal, saying,
among other things, that black people and their supporters were forced
to the streets because they had no federal court there to protect their
rights.  To support this, I had a law student go to the library and look
at every reported Thomas decision (no computers to do that then) and see
if he'd ever ruled in favor of black people's rights.  Sure enough, he
hadn't.  We won on some mundane ground that I'm sure was influenced by
this research.

I think this was the case where, driving along the Mississippi Gulf
Coast (now Trent Lott country) to New Orleans to argue the case, I
stopped for a hamburger and found about four pages of Ku Klux Klan songs
on the juke box.  Same area where 25 or so years later my wife, Mexican,
only non-white person there, and I were eating lunch at the bar in a
restaurant and a man at the bar, who I think was from somewhere else,
ostentatiously took out a big knife and stared at us as he pared his
fingernails with it.

- Reber Boult

NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR: 2/23/06

Thanks for your comments, Reber.  That assortment of
Federal judges whose minds and hearts resided in the 1890s reminds me of the
excellent protest phonograph record back in the '50s -- The Investigator.
There the heavenly tribunal was comprised of such historical worthies as
Hanging Judge Jeffries and Titus Oates with, as I recall, Torquemada tossed
in for good measure.

We launched the Jackson Boycott in December '62  with our short-lived
Capitol Street picket [in front of the old Woolworth store locale]:  Eldri,
myself, and four of my Tougaloo students -- Bette Ann Poole, Rupert
Crawford, Walter Mitchell, Ronald Mitchell.  We were arrested within a very
few minutes by close to a hundred police for "blocking the sidewalk" -- that
on the coldest day of that winter season with virtually no pedestrian
traffic.  But there was, as it turned out, much publicity  -- and our
boycott campaign got off to a fine start and continued in that vein. We were
out on substantial bail in a day or so.  A month later we were in Judge
Harold Cox's court [Kennedy's first such appointee] while Bill Kunstler
[NYC] with Jess Brown [Jackson] argued [in front of a large and mostly white
audience] for the removal of our cases from state court into the Federal
realm for trial. Tom Watkins and AG Joe Patterson represented Mississippi.
We also argued via  counsel that Cox should disqualify himself from the case
for prejudice -- I take pride that I was the signer of that special
petition -- and we cited instance after instance of Cox's very heavy bias,
both before and after his appointment by JFK.  At that time, Federal court
at Jackson was on the upper floor of the Federal building which also housed
the main post office below.

Rarely have I been looked at with such Judicial Jaundice. Paradoxically, Cox
also at points seemed sleepy.  Behind him and embracing that whole wall
loomed this incredible mural [in color, of course] which depicted the
traditional "Way of Life" with everyone neatly segregated. Whites were happy
as they played  -- and the Blacks in the mural were depicted as very happy
as they worked hard and physically [one, I believe, may have been playing a
banjo.]

Judge Cox, of course, was not happy at all and eventually ruled against us
at every point.  The case went on, eventually into a kind of legal
labyrinth.

On a contemporary note, my youngest son, Peter [Mack], the editor, has been
with his oldest son at Biloxi doing several days of hard, physical labor
clearing devastated homes and fallen trees. I gather there is much black
mold. They'll spend today at Jackson, visiting our old battle sites.  I
prepared a suggested, detailed written itinerary -- and developed very
strange feelings while doing so.

Best, H
 

HUNTER GRAY  [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR]   Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
www.hunterbear.org
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
 and Ohkwari'

See http://www.hunterbear.org/GRAY%20LANDS%20AND%20GRAY%20GHOSTS.htm

In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings.  Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunter Bear]

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