The first "legal" civil rights march in the history of Mississippi. It was clear we were going to march come Hell, Blood, or Mississippi -- and we did: 6,000 of us. (Following Medgar's murder, I had called Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and asked if he would come to Jackson for the funeral. He agreed immediately and I picked him up, along with his key colleagues, at the Jackson Airport. My head is bandaged from the Rose Street beatings.) We marched over two miles in 102 degree humid heat. Following this march, we had a huge spontaneous demonstration right on the edges of the downtown business section. There were far, far too many for even the Mississippi police armies to arrest -- so they picked out 29 "agitators", including myself, and arrested us and carried us to the Fairgrounds Concentration Camp.
See this of our many Mississippi pages: http://hunterbear.org/medgar_w.htm
And this, too: http://hunterbear.org/A%20MISSISSIPPI%20KEYNOTE%20STORY.htm
Out on one of my now numerous bail bonds, I in my car and a colleague riding with me were, less than three days later and one week after Medgar's murder, seriously injured and almost killed in a wreck precipitated by the son of a prominent segregationist family.
But Jackson was now fundamentally cracked -- well into the Twentieth Century! -- and there were now very deep fissures in the overall Mississippi resistance. The sunlight of national and international focus was directed and fixed on what had previously been a lonely and isolated backwater. Very fundamentally, Black Mississippi was inspired and aroused.
Following the very bloody Jackson Movement era, I then went immediately into full-time grassroots civil rights and anti-Klan organizing in the hard-core South -- as the Field Organizer for the radical Southern Conference Educational Fund [SCEF.] Those rough-and-ready years, and my subsequent work in the militant dimension of the Southern anti-poverty movement, are well covered in this website. See Index.
The Professional Agitator At Large: With the Radical Southern Conference Educational Fund (SCEF)
Mississippi Humanities Council
Mississippi Department of Archives and History
Civil Rights Oral History
Interview list S
Salter, John R., teacher and activist
1. Mississippi Department of Archives and History: Oral History Collection
Archive number: OH 81-06. 1 reel-to-reel tape. Transcripts: verbatim, edited, final (124 pp.). Index.
Interviewed by John Jones on January 6, 1981
Subjects: A.A. Branch; A. Daniel Beittel; Aaron Henry; AFL-CIO; American Civil Liberties Union; American Friends Service Committee; Arthur Kinoy; boycott of Jackson's white merchants; Brandon, Miss.; Brookhaven, Miss.; Byron de la Beckwith; Carsie Hall; Charles Evers; CIA involvement in the civil rights movement; Citizens' Council of Greenwood; civil rights lawyers; Civil Rights Act (1964); Claude Ramsay; Colia Liddell Clark and Lewis Liddell; Congress of Racial Equality; David Dennis; Democratic National Convention (1964); Dorie Ladner; Doris Allison; Edwin King; Ernst Borinski; FBI involvement in the civil rights movement; Fellowship of Reconciliation; Freedom Riders/Freedom Rides; Gandhian nonviolence; George Raymond; Greenville, Miss.; Greenwood, Miss.; Gulfport, Miss.; Hazel Brannon Smith; Hodding Carter III; J.L. Ray; Jack Young; Jackson, Miss.; Jackson Movement; Jackson Public Library sit-in; Jackson public schools; James Meredith; John C. McLaurin; Ku Klux Klan; Lafayette, Miss.; M.B. Pierce; Martin Luther King Jr.; McComb, Miss.; Medgar Evers; Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party; NAACP; NAACP Youth Council; Neshoba County; R. Jess Brown; Robert Honeysucker; Roy Wilkins; sit-ins; Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Southern Conference Educational Fund; Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; Tougaloo College; Virden Addition; White Citizens' Council; William Kunstler
2. Mississippi State University: John Stennis Oral History Collection [December 26, 1990]
Subjects: Byron de la Beckwith; Edwin King; Erle Johnston; Frank Smith; Hazel Brannon Smith; James O. Eastland; John C. Stennis; Medgar Evers; Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission; NAACP; Southern Conference Education Fund; Tougaloo College; White Citizens' Council
3. Southern Regional Council: Will the Circle Be Unbroken?
Archive numbers: 011-012. 2 cassettes. Transcript (30 pp.).
Interviewed by Worth Long in 1983
Subjects: Aaron Henry; Amite County; boycott of Jackson's white merchants; Burke Marshall; Charles Bracey; Civil Rights Act (1964); Clarksdale, Miss.; Coahoma County; Colia Liddell Clark and Lewis Liddell; Congress of Racial Equality; David Dennis; Dorie Ladner; economic boycotts; Edwin King; Ernst Borinski; Fred Shuttlesworth; Gloster Current; Greenville, Miss.; Herbert Lee; James P. Coleman; Jackson, Miss.; Jackson Movement; Jackson Public Library sit-in; James Meredith; John Doar; John F. Kennedy; Liberty Miss.; Medgar Evers; Meredith March; Mississippi Free Press; NAACP; NAACP Freedom Fund; NAACP Legal Defense Fund; NAACP Youth Council; Philadelphia, Miss.; Pike County; Robert F. Kennedy; Robert Moses; Roy Wilkins; sit-ins; Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; Tougaloo College; White Citizens' Council; William Kunstler; Willie Richardson Day
The above are oral histories of mine [John R. Salter, Jr./Hunter Gray.] This short excerpt which follows is from an oral history done by a former Tougaloo student of mine -- and a very noteworthy freedom fighter through all of these decades: Lawrence "Larry" Guyot. Originally from Pass Christian, Mississippi, Mr. Guyot took many of my Tougaloo classes -- I gave him a book of speeches by Clarence Darrow -- and he went on to play a major role in the Southern Movement and later in the broad human rights arena in the North. He completed law school and has resided for the last many years in Washington, D.C. Here, he captures the Freedom Spirit of Tougaloo College in the early '60s. This particular oral history of Lawrence Guyot's was done by University of Southern Mississippi.
And I met--there was a brilliant compilation of very freedom-oriented, very well-educated faculty at Tougaloo. John Salter was there. He was teaching as much socialism as he was history. He later--I worked with him on a lot of things. He later wrote a great book called Jackson, MS and was very involved in those demonstrations. Worked very closely with Medgar Evers. The ability of that faculty to bring out the best instincts of freedom and liberty and justice was uncanny. I mean, I believe that if Tougaloo--Tougaloo was an oasis for academic excellence and individual and collective liberation.
ANOTHER KIND OF MISSISSIPPI TRAGEDY: JIM MEREDITH AND HISTORY [HUNTER GRAY 11/25/01]
The first racial desegregation in any public
educational institution in
Mississippi occurred at the end of September, 1962, when James Meredith,
Black, from Attala County, sought and finally -- after
months and months of high drama climaxing in a bloody racist upheaval --
entered the University of Mississippi [Ole Miss] at Oxford. Among other
things, 40,000 Federal troops were required at the University and in the
This was a major epochal event in American history.
Got this yesterday from Easy. Here are his questions -- and, following
answers. [I've expanded them for this posting.] Others may have seen the
C-Span interview or picked this up at other points -- or are just simply
We were in Mississippi long before, during, and long after the
Meredith crisis. We knew Jim Meredith to some extent in those days.
----- Original Message -----
To: "Hunter Gray"
Sent: Saturday, November 24, 2001 10:56 AM
Subject: (off-line) James Meredith
> Hi Hunter,
> Thanks to CSPAN I was able to listen to James
> Meredith speak - in a QA session about a recent
> book about the Mississippi National Guard units
> actions during the Oxford riot. He was one of the
> few, very few non-white people in the audience.
> Meredith indicated that [Governor] Ross Barnett's actions
> including his speech at the football game were
> intended to protect blacks by focusing the white
> reaction towards Kennedy and the US Government. In
> your book 'Jackson, Mississippi' I don't get the
> sense that Barnett was trying to be helpful. Your
> thoughts and comments on this are most welcome.
> Meredith also said that his ancestry includes
> Choctaw and that his father would have been
> the next 'leader' if the Choctaws would not have
> been disbanded (in the 1830s?). Meredith outlined
> that it was his father that was the primary
> influence on him taking on Ole Miss and that his
> father played a major role in the strategy making
> of when and what to do.
> I'd like to hear your comments on this and James
> Meredith in general.
> Take care, Easy
From Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]
First, Jim Meredith, a man of great courage, flipped out -- and badly --
many years ago.
We knew him 'way back. At the annual state meeting of NAACP branches at
Jackson, in early November, 1962, Medgar Evers [Mississippi NAACP Field
Secretary -- martyred in June, '63] made a special point of seating Jim and
his wife with Eldri and
me at the dinner. Not long after that, we were at a small party at
Medgar's home and
the Merediths were among the guests. Jim Meredith,
who was going through much, was basically OK in those days
My friend, Jim
Silver, embattled history prof at Ole Miss. who soon thereafter wrote the
classic work, Mississippi: The Closed Society, befriended Meredith and
tremendously and very openly to give him the social backing he needed in
the very difficult Ole Miss situation. Although there were some quietly
friendly faculty and students at the University, the general atmosphere for
Meredith was hateful and dangerous,
After his Ole Miss graduation [Summer, '63], Meredith began to, initially
very very slowly, "get funny." It was only evident at that point to
relative insiders. He wrote a book, Three Years in Mississippi, which was
He started his own individual and much publicized one-
man Mississippi civil rights march in June '66 out of Memphis -- which was
OK but a kind of dangerous grandstanding -- and, when shot and injured by a
racist ambusher, the march was quite rightly continued by others.
Then, gradually, he began unraveling and drifting into very strange
waters. In 1989, he became Jesse Helms' Black pr man in North Carolina for
the 1990 US Senate election -- in which Helms, an obvious racist -- was
opposed unsuccessfully by the very capable mayor of Charlotte, Harvey Gantt,
who had in January 1963, been the first Black student admitted to Clemson
University in South Carolina. During all of this, Meredith was extremely
weird and bizarre in his statements.
Several years later, he emerged as Klansman David Duke's Black
pr man in Louisiana in an election in that state.
After that, I pretty well lost track of him. Mrs
Doris Allison was the long-time president of the Jackson NAACP. With
Medgar and me [NAACP Youth Council Advisor], she was the other co-signer of
our famous May 12, 1963 letter to the various components of the Jackson and
Mississippi power structure -- throwing down the gauntlet and launching our
massive non-violent demonstrations which shook Jackson, all of Mississippi,
and far beyond to their very roots. Mrs
Allison talks with me every week or two. Now well into her 80s, she is
sharp and keeps me posted on all Magnolia news. She hasn't mentioned Jim
Meredith for years.
We were, of course, in Jackson and Mississippi during the whole sweep.
Governor Ross Barnett's actions and his demagogically climactic stadium
speech at the football game at Jackson at the end of September, 1962, were
deliberately designed to
foment racist mob violence. He and others had been doing that for months and
a number of Blacks had been killed across the state in the rapidly rising
atmosphere of racist-incited hatred. Eldri and I listened to Barnett's
speech at the stadium on the radio and I have a copy of that
extraordinarily negative oratory.
It was followed the next day by thousands of heavily armed white
Mississippians milling around downtown Jackson in a huge sea of Confederate
flags -- many of the armed people, six and eight abreast, surrounding the
Governor's Mansion [which is just off the
main downtown street, Capitol Street] in order to "protect" the Governor
from the US marshals who were rumored to be coming to arrest him on contempt
charges for multiple violations of US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and US
Court orders. [The US marshals never came.] Eldri and I and Baby Maria were
downtown, saw the whole hideously fascinating spectacle. Hundreds of kids
were pasting racist bumper stickers on vehicles and, when one tried to do it
on ours and I drove past him, several screamed curses at us. White Citizens
Council leaders were haranguing the
huge crowd with bull-horns from the Plaza Building, right across from the
Gov's Mansion. Barnett, like virtually all Mississippi public officials at
that time, was a White Council
That night, all hell broke loose at the University -- up at Oxford. It
required more troops than George Washington had ever commanded to quell the
bloody racist riot that also destroyed a part of Ole Miss. The troops --
40,000 or so -- were both Federalized Mississippi National Guard units plus
a vast number of Regular Army GIs.
Meredith doesn't look especially Indian. Almost all Southern Blacks have
some Indian ancestry. With the exception of the Eastern Cherokee, located
mostly 'way up in the NC mountain country, almost all Southern Indians have
some African ancestry. Medgar was a not uncommon mix: African, Choctaw,
Scotch-Irish in about equal proportions [more or less.] Maria's oldest,
Thomas , who lives here with all of us of course, is one-half
Mississippi Choctaw [his father is from Neshoba and Leake counties, the Red
Water area.] Thus we have Choctaw ties from the Magnolia State!
And we know a number of Southern Indians
from various tribal nations.
As to Meredith's father etc: First, the Mississippi Band of Choctaws is and
always has been very much intact: BIA, IHS, reservation [just outside
of Philadelphia.] They handily survived various efforts to do away with
them as a tribe. Secondly, there is no way whatsoever that Meredith's
father could have become a Choctaw chief. Even with some Indian ancestry,
he was not an Indian -- and another family has had the Choctaw chiefdom
sewed up down there for a hell of long time!
The prime strategists regarding Meredith's admission to the University of
Mississippi were Medgar Evers at the Mississippi level and NAACP Attorney
Constance Baker Motley from New York City for the legal end of it.
[Meredith's father may certainly have encouraged Jim's efforts to enter Ole
Miss and certainly supported them,]
Anyway, I saw and listened to Medgar Evers many, many times talking
strategy on the phone in his Lynch Street office about all of this. And I
was also present many times when Medgar talked -- often for an hour or more
at a time -- with Meredith after Jim was finally in the University and
attending classes and needed all the support he could get.
Jim Meredith is a human tragedy. He went through an incredibly challenging
crucible -- stood up extraordinarily well. And then, over time, he began
The pieces are now widely scattered.
Not all Movement casualties have come from bullets and clubs and dynamite
and rigged auto wrecks.
As Ever - Hunter [Hunter Bear]
Our very large social justice website,
many other things] a good deal of Southern civil rights material:
Mississippi, Northeastern North Carolina Black Belt, etc ] H
For a good feel for some of the civil liberties challenges faced by an effective organizer, see this cluster of four related pages: http://hunterbear.org/a_bizarre__1979_fbi_smear_effort.htm
HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER
JR] Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
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