HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR] AT BLAIR STREET AME CHURCH, NIGHT OF JUNE 13 1963

 

SEE ALSO,   OUTLAW TRAIL:  THE NATIVE AS ORGANIZER: 

http://hunterbear.org/outlaw_trail1.htm

 

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

 

FORCES AND FACES ALONG THE ACTIVIST TRAIL [HUNTER GRAY / HUNTER BEAR -- JANUARY 25 2008 -- WITH COMMENTS AND ADDITIONS -- AND, A FORMATIVE EXPERIENCE WITH A MISSISSIPPI TWIST [HUNTER GRAY / HUNTER BEAR  MAY 15 2008]

 

No, this is not a sermon -- I am not an especially churchy person.  And it isn't a grab-bag of butterfly homilies.

 
A couple of nights ago, around midnight, I was awakened by a very sharp jabbing pain on the right side of my face -- particularly focused in my sinus area and transmitted into my right eye region.  I arose and, looking into a mirror, noted my face was swollen on the affected side and that eye was almost closed.  This was probably, I assumed, just one more afterword from the rigged auto wreck at Jackson in June 1963 where my car was totalled and a friend and I almost died.  So I didn't rush off to an Emergency Room. The severity of this contemporary episode -- and I do have a high pain threshold -- was obviously complicated and furthered by the ever-present and pervasive systemic lupus.  I felt that it would pass in due course as lesser versions of the same thing always do and, after hours had  elapsed, it finally receded.  In the interim, unable to do computer work or even watch television, I sat in my armchair and drank black coffee and cold water.
 
It wasn't a pleasantly lonely campfire on the rim of Sycamore Canyon -- but it was certainly a situation conducive to thought.
 
And so I thought.
 
And given the dramatic origin of my facial situation, it's only natural that I would spend some time on Old Days in Dixie and environs. I've organized in many settings across what's called the United States.  All of it has been tough and challenging as hell -- but there is always something about the South, where dichotomies are sharply drawn [often lethally so], even into these contemporary times.
 
I began thinking about the present mainline Presidential campaign -- and the not surprising invective, both aggressive and defensive, that it's produced.  Some folks around the country have been fretting about this -- and, quickly, I say I am not in the Bill and Hillary camp -- but these current and creative knives and darts are hardly in the same league as, say, Deep South invective as I well recall it.
 
The most absolutely poisonous daily papers I have ever known -- worse, even, than the old Phoenix-based Arizona Republic -- were the Jackson Daily News and its companion Clarion-Ledger [long since merged, "responsible," and under several new managers.]  In the old, old days, before I got to the Magnolia State in '61, the editor of the JDN was Colonel Frederick Sullens, a gifted creator of invective who often gave the initials of his targets in small-case.  One of his jewels, quoted in Erle Johnston's, Mississippi Politics [1993]: 
 
"We have not assassinated the character of the most dangerous demagogue who ever afflicted a long-suffering commonwealth because he has no character to assassinate.  You cannot assassinate a thing that is non-existent. Our assailant in this instance has no more character than a snake has hips.  If jpbj had accidentally bitten or scratched himself during that tirade against the editor, he would have perished on the spot with hydrophobia. The ninety members of the medical profession in Jackson could not have saved him from a violent death."
 
[I should add that during a surprisingly cordial dinner at a local hotel in Nebraska, the veteran [and extremely sharp-tongued] newspaper editor, who was also the president of the State Press Association, and with whom I'd been feuding, told me, somewhat admiringly, that "I have never -- never -- met anyone who is as absolutely wicked and devastating with words as you." Several years later, following our much publicized Woolworth sit-in at Jackson, he wrote a very complimentary editorial about me.]
 
Colonel Sullens' successor, who graced my era and long thereafter, James Myron "Jimmy" Ward, fell far short of his predecessor's eloquence but maintained the same high level of passion -- especially when it involved proponents of the civil rights movement. His works appeared daily on the front page.  When he wasn't inveighing about "Money Bags Martin" [MLK], he sometimes turned his fires toward me.  "Heap Redskins in that integrated wigwam at Tougaloo" he would say, and he more than occasionally referred to me as "heap big troublemaker."  Years later, late in 1979, following our large civil rights retrospective at Tougaloo and Millsaps colleges, Jimmy Ward sourly commented that we should hold the next one in the old State Fairgrounds concentration camp -- notorious during our Jackson Movement period.
 
I grew up, of course, in Northern Arizona [and, to some extent, in Western New Mexico.]  My most basic principles, as an organizer and teacher and human being, stem fundamentally from Iroquois ideals.  [I was seven when, on an trip East by my father and myself, I was presented with an extremely powerful Iroquois boy's bow at Onondaga.]  Those ideals, not restricted by any means to the Iroquois Confederacy [Haudenosaunee]  but embracing the cultures of other tribal nations, have been succinctly set forth as:
 
"The Basic Ideal of manhood was that of the "good hunter."  Such a man was self-disciplined, autonomous, responsible.  He was a patient and efficient huntsman, a generous provider to his family and nation, and a loyal and thoughtful friend and clansman.  He was also a stern and ruthless warrior in avenging any injury done to those under his care.  And he was always stoical and indifferent to privation, pain, and even death."
 
[From Anthony F.C. Wallace, The Death and the Rebirth of the Seneca, 1969. [I should add that despite the use of the past tense in the foregoing paragraph, much of this ethos continues to this very day among the Six Nations of the Confederacy -- and, as I've noted, is found generally in Native tribal societies.]  And this fine book by Brian Rice: Seeing The World With Aboriginal Eyes: A Four Directional Perspective On Human And Non-Human  Values, Cultures, And Relationships On Turtle Island, 2005.  [See my review of this:  http://hunterbear.org/BRIAN%20RICE'S%20FINE%20BOOK.htm

And there are certainly our family ancestral spirit guides in that genre.  And very much our special entities [in my case, The Bear.]

 
And to those dimensions, I added the Western "frontier" ideal so well epitomized by the book and classic film, Shane [the social justice gunman], and then, as time and events carried me on along my River of No Return, the teachings of old Western Wobblies who consistently emphasized the importance of out-reach Organizing -- transposed into Vision and principled pork-chop pragmatism: each of those dimensions equally important, each mutually complementary.
 
I've always stood with that personal catechism of mine -- used it as my primary measure.  I should also include my own syncretic theology -- a mix of Catholicism [and a dash of Anglicanism] and a good amount from several traditional Native perspectives. For me, and I don't prattle about it and I don't export, it's foundational and contextual -- sometimes more to the fore than at other points, always there somewhere.
 
I get along well with all cats, most dogs and mules, and although pretty much a "loner" always in my inner recesses, with most people.
 
It's not too hard, usually, to have principled rapport with Friends and Good Movements. But tests that can often arise include Adversaries, some of them as committed to their principles as I am to mine.  But even there, I've sometimes been able to build principled bridges.  In the spring of '58, we began -- from my dorm room at Sahuaro Hall -- a campaign to greatly improve campus food and housing arrangements at Arizona State, Tempe. The school has always been big on Greeks -- so big that many of those generally conservative kids [most were then admirers of Barry Goldwater] reside in dormitories.  Already recognized as an up and coming young activist, I was able to personally enlist every single fraternity and sorority in our very successful campaign.
 
I well remember Erle Johnston of Mississippi.  [Some coming-up material on Erle and some on my Colorado State speaking gig are drawn in part from earlier pieces of mine.]
 
In late March, 1988, in the Deep South for several speaking engagements, I and my oldest son, John, had dinner one evening at an excellent restaurant on the outskirts of Jackson.  Our host, Erle Johnston, who had grown up in Grenada in north Mississippi, a veteran newspaperman,  a much older person than I, had been, in the Old Days, a shrewd, mortal and deadly adversary.  A leading figure in the Ross Barnett administration -- public relations director of  the State Sovereignty Commission ["Watchdog Agency"] and then its head -- he came to see more clearly than anyone else in that whole camp the bloody abyss into which the then dominant [White] Citizens Councils movement ["States Rights / Racial Integrity"] was taking Mississippi.  As early as 1962, calling himself "a practical segregationist,"  he resigned from the Citizens Councils and began to criticize the Council leadership as "extremist."

And then, a bit later, in a truly extraordinary move given his surroundings,he proceeded in two significant steps to cut off a long-standing state government subsidy  [interracial tax dollars] to the White Councils which had been regularly channeled through the Sovereignty Commission.  The fiery national Council leader, Bill Simmons of Jackson, immediately called on Governor Ross Barnett to fire Johnston  -- but Barnett, loyal to an old friend, refused. Johnston caught heavy flak but hung on.  He was now calling Simmons "The Rajah of Race."

Johnston, thus the very first moderate-of-sorts in the old Mississippi segregationist camp, continued his own strange journey onward into the surrealistic transitional administration of the new Governor [former Lt. Governor], Paul B Johnson, Jr [1964-68] -- where Erle served increasingly as
a kind of race-relations mediator in the then early-on and sometimes chaotic rapidly desegregating racial situation. He left state government in 1968, by then quietly convinced of the validity and necessity of racial integration, to return to his newspaper, the Scott County Times. Years later, he ran for mayor of his substantial town of Forest and won -- with virtually all of the many Black votes.  [As Mayor, he once desperately called me in North Dakota for advice on how to deal with a heavy snowfall. I was, of course, experienced with that problem and  was quite helpful to him. Basically I told him, "You've got sun and warmth.  Just let it melt off.  That's the Navajo way."  He took my advice.  Around this same time, he conveyed the concerns of Ross Barnett about our frigid plight, "way up there in that awful North Dakota."  We received the same message via letter from Mrs Virginia Durr of Alabama who, with her late lawyer husband, Clifford, had been pioneer fighters for civil liberties and civil rights as far back as the '30s. [Mrs Durr was a sister-in-law of US Supreme Court justice Hugo Black.]

Erle Johnston wrote a number of good books on Mississippi. As time went on, he sent me copies of them all. His initial one, Roll With Ross, was a study of Ross Barnett and that very turbulent administration.  I reviewed it, favorably, for the quarterly Journal of Southern History [came out in November '81 along with a review of my own book] -- and that's how Erle and I connected [1980] in Post-War Mississippi. A later 1990 book of his, large and full and very honest, is Mississippi's Defiant Years: 1953-1973: An Interpretive Documentary with Personal Experiences.

It carries a an eloquent Foreword by his old friend, also from Grenada, William F. "Bill" Winter.  It is Bill Winter who, as Mississippi State Tax Collector in the Old Days, was the one significant public official at any level who flatly refused to join the Citizens Councils. His own gubernatorial administration, 1980-84, was one of the very best Mississippi has ever had.  In his Foreword to Defiant Years, Bill Winter wrote: "This is a book about a time and place that will forever be etched in the memory of those of us who lived in Mississippi in the 1950's and '60's."

Mississippi's Defiant Years [which opens with a Tribute to long time Black civil rights activists Aaron Henry and Charles Evers], carries a number of testimonials from various persons of some prominence in the Mississippi milieu -- and the back book cover conspicuously features four of those:  General William D. McCain, president emeritus of University of Southern Mississippi; Hodding Carter III, of many things -- including Secretary of State for Jimmy Carter; myself [ then John R Salter, Jr]; and  the noted  American historian from USM, Neil R. McMillen.

Only in Mississippi.

Richard Barrett, the arch-Nazi Nationalist Movement leader from Learned, Mississippi [near Jackson] venomously attacked Erle Johnston [and myself and others] through this whole latter-day period.  He was especially vitriolic toward Erle who he consistently termed a "scalawag."  Interestingly, Barrett is a Dixie Convert -- originally from New Jersey [which, I'm sure, was glad to see him leave long, long ago.]

As we ate in that late March, 1988 evening, Erle and I and John were surrounded in the restaurant by a lively throng of high school students celebrating a friend's birthday.  The honoree was Black and the group very well mixed on a Black / White basis.  As this encouraging  [but now long racially commonplace] event proceeded, Erle, in response to a question from me, talked about the status and health of the once huge and powerful Citizens Councils -- no friends of his to the bitter end!  He told us they'd moved their "national headquarters" several times and were now in very modest quarters.  He'd been over there to look over their extremely large library.

"They sit each day at a long table and talk about the old days.  Got a lot of books in there and sometimes they just sit and read."

"Is my book there?" I asked.

"You bet it is," he grinned.  "At least three copies."

"Bill Simmons, is he there?".

Erle nodded.  "Faithfully, from what I hear."

"And Dr. Evans?"  [Medford Evans, arch-ideologue and former college English
professor -- and  the father of the Indianapolis Star-based national
conservative writer, M. Stanton Evans.]

"He, too," said Erle.  "All the old guard."

Only a very few years after that, the Citizens Councils hung it up and went formally out of business.
 
__________________
 
Back in time, but again at Jackson -- June 13 1963 -- and at a point of great high drama, two days after the murder of our good friend and colleague, Medgar W. Evers, Field Secretary for the Mississippi NAACP:
 
Chairman of the Strategy Committee of the Jackson Movement, and Advisor to the Jackson NAACP Youth Council, I was observing close-up one of our many non-violent demonstrations.  That was quickly surrounded by many police and arrested en masse.  A number of club wielding cops then charged me.  I stood my ground, facing them and -- in full view of a bevy of national and state media persons of all kinds -- was struck a number of times and fell unconscious [rare for me] into what rapidly became a puddle of muddy blood.  Then, with consciousness recovered, and in a conventional paddy wagon and covered with blood and dirt, I was hauled off to the State Fairgrounds Concentration Camp. Someone told me I'd been charged with disturbing the peace and resisting arrest. Then  I lay by myself in the wagon -- the outside heat was 100 degrees -- and finally a police officer in civilian garb came.  He was M.B. Pierce, Chief of Detectives.  Very quietly he said to me, "I'm sorry, professor."  He called a two-person police team over, men who'd had nothing to do with my beating, and told them to take me to University Hospital.  As I left the paddy wagon, I raised my fist to my many, many imprisoned mostly young fellow activists -- and they waved, cheered.
 
Silently, the two police -- roughly my age -- took me in their cop car to the hospital.  There and glancing momentarily into a mirror, I noted that I indeed "looked a mess" -- and from top to bottom.  We sat in a waiting room, silently.  I noted that one cop was rather short and the other much taller. They seemed to me to be "country boys" -- which, in many ways, I was as well.
 
A doctor came.  As he surveyed and grasped the scene, he became visibly tense.  He checked me over quickly, said there was a lot of stitching to do, and he'd be back.  Then the short police officer, who was explicitly hostile, said, suddenly, "Half breeds. Bastards."  I looked at him as he went on, "They say that, out where you're from, Arizona and all, people are all mixed up with Indians." [In the lexicon of the Southern Segs, "mixing" always ultimately carries a biological connotation.]
 
And I said, "Now that is a fact -- in some cases. Me, of course."
 
The short officer followed with, "Do you speak Russian?"
 
I said, simply, "Nope."
 
Then the taller officer asked, "Ever do any hunting out there in Arizona?
 
"Been a hunter and gun owner all my life," I replied.  And for the three of us, everything then changed!
 
While we continued to wait for the laggard doc, we swapped hunting and gun stories back and forth with zeal.  For those good minutes, our turf ranged from the Mississippi swamps and river bottoms all the way out to Northern Arizona and the Sycamore Wilderness.  And as we traveled along, we knowledgeably compared the merits of various makes and types of hunting firearms.
 
The doctor came, offered judiciously placed anesthesia shots.  I declined and, while he stitched along, the two police watched me intently.  I didn't move a muscle, barely flicked an eye.  Stoic -- helped by a high pain threshold.
 
That completed, the medic advised me to be alert for a possible concussion -- and, back in the police car, we continued to the Jackson City Jail.  And the hunting and gun talk continued right along.
 
As we neared our destination, the taller officer changed the subject.  "We have a guy in our unit with your name, Salter.  He's from Hattiesburg.  When we really want to rile him up, we ask him if he's related to you."
 
And we all laughed at that.
 
As we disembarked from the car and walked to the jail, we saw a horde of excited, well-dressed mostly younger women -- maybe three dozen.  I heard shrieks, "Here he comes -- Professor Salter!  And then, "There he is! That's him!" There were cameras. My new found police buddies were obviously embarrassed.  [To be frank about it, I felt sorry for Elvis Presley for the first time in my life.] But always conscious of good manners, I smiled and nodded at the ladies -- who I later learned were from Women for Constitutional Government, a sort of [White] Citizens Council Auxiliary.]
 
Inside, my companions and I said -- very, very quickly and quietly -- a goodbye and good luck and good hunting.  I was booked, put into a cell, and early in the evening bailed out by NAACP lawyers. I made my way to the Blair Street AME Church where I spoke to a packed audience in my bloody shirt and trousers, head partly bandaged. And from our guards outside, there were reports of armed young white men driving back and forth around the church. 

 A little later on that evening, I telephoned Martin Luther King.

 
I asked Dr King if he would come to Jackson for Medgar's funeral, two days hence.  And of course, Martin King readily agreed and came. 
 
Lots happened, but now and then for a few days after the bad beating and the congenial visit at University Hospital, a Jackson police car would suddenly pull up alongside me.  And there they were:  my fellow hunters and gun persons.  "You all right?" one would ask.  "Head OK?"
 
And I would say, "Always OK.  Doing just fine. Hard head. How're you all?"
 
And they'd grin, wave, drive quickly away.
 
A week after Medgar's death, I and a companion were almost killed and my car destroyed via a rigged auto wreck on Hanging Moss Road, north end of Jackson.
 
I never saw the two police officers again.  But, from time to time, I remember them very well -- and I always wish them good hunting.
 
___________________________________________
 
I spoke on our civil rights movement at Colorado State University, Ft Collins, late in '64.  My hosts, several profs in political science [nice, but Easterners], warned me immediately that the conservative youth group, Young Americans for Freedom, would be out "in force" at my speech and real trouble could ensue.  They were clearly jittery.  I told them I knew how to handle it.  And I did.  [Sorry to dampen some of the current crop of radicals, but I didn't see this YAF incursion as "fascism," incipient or full blown.]

When I stepped out on the podium to a very large audience, They were sitting in the second row, almost two dozen.  Dressed in clean, worn Levis and white shirts and boots, I knew that garb well.  In Arizona, where we frequently wore just that -- and frankly I  still do occasionally -- we called the clothes combo, the "Arizona Tux."  Nothing unusual there.  More than that, most of the YAF kids looked much like many of my school contemporaries.

I looked down at them, stony-faced, narrow eyed, and ostensibly mean.  They stared and glared up at me.  And then I said:

"I'm from Flagstaff -- the Real West. My coming here is a kind of concession.  My friends at Flag who went out of state to forestry school could either go to Oregon State or here to Fort Collins.  They always chose Oregon because, to us, this country here, east of the Rockies, is the beginning of The East."  And then, gritting my teeth, much as my horse ranching great grandfather in Dakota Territory [1870 on] would have done as he gobbled up big chunks of land and used very dubious means to force out homesteaders, I finished:

"To us, this is the land of the dirt farmers."

Several of the YAF kids downright wilted, slumped in their seats. Others just looked shocked and shattered.

And then I grinned broadly at them.  And they grinned back.

It was a great evening and, when it was over, every single one of the YAFers came up and shook my hand.  All were very friendly and several said they had learned much.
 
And one added, as he grinned,  "You really aren't what we'd thought you'd be."
 
____________________________________________________________________
 
I learned a very important lesson in 1964 in a hot and crowded church one night at Enfield, in Northeastern North Carolina.  Our Movement was indeed moving quite well indeed.  But it was a very tough struggle against great odds and crises were many. Feelings in that church were high and strong. and when I, the organizer/speaker rose to the podium, I was fired up.  Somewhere in my call-to-arms, I began to talk about the County Attorney, Rom [Romeus] Parker, a key foe and, although not one of the thick-as-sand-fleas Klansmen, a very committed segregationist. He was a man of average build, seemed to wear the same dark business suit and tie, and his not-that-old a face was rather heavy and worn.
 
And one of his legs was badly crippled.
 
In that church, my focus on Rom Parker and his sins sharpened.  The eyes of people glistened.  I noted signs of movement, angry tension. Full agreement with my every hot-eyed word.
 
And then, I began to mimic Rom Parker's crippled gait.  I jerked back and forth in front of the crowd -- noting the considerable resonance this pantomime evoked.
 
The tempo of angry feeling in the church rose higher, and higher.
 
And then, suddenly, I stopped my act.  Cold turkey.
 
There was sudden silence.
 
I am not known for apologies -- whether sparingly delivered or profuse.  But, in my own way, in that hot, tense church, I did just that.
 
Shaken, I told the people:  "I should never have done that -- mocked another human being in such a cruel and thoughtless way.  We're all committed to something much, much higher -- vastly higher, vastly better."
 
I finished, "Rom Parker is a human being."
 
And heads began to nod. There were murmured "Amens." Then there was silence for a few moments more -- and then the minister led off with "Amazing Grace" and we all joined in.
 
I continued my talk and we continued our most successful Movement.
 
And I never did anything like that again.  Never.
 
Months later, spearheaded and pushed by our Movement, The Change began to come to that hard-core section -- and others across the sweep of Dixie.  Under the eyes of Klansmen, angry white parents, state and some Federal officials, we had succeeded some time back in securing token school desegregation -- Blacks and one Indian -- into schools in two of the towns.  And now I and a few others were meeting at the county courthouse with school administrative officials to work out the integration / transfer of even more "minority" students.  It was a low-key meeting involving some discussion of new Federal guidelines, nothing dramatic.  Rom Parker was there as County Attorney.  Earlier, I had loaned my car to a colleague and, with the meeting adjourned, I suddenly realized as I approached the courthouse door that it was raining very hard outside.  My friend had not yet come back with my vehicle.
 
Most people had already left.  But, behind me, I heard someone coming down the stairway.  It was Rom Parker.  He and I looked at one another.  Then he said, "I'm heading back to Enfield.  Could you use a ride?"
 
I was almost tempted -- but my car was coming.  "I've got someone bringing my car here," I said.  "Or I would be happy to go with you."
 
And then I added, "I greatly appreciate your offer."
 
And we shook hands.
 
____________________________________________________________________
 
 
It has been, so far, a very long trail.  In the course of it all, I've accumulated a respectable arrest record [for good causes] and a fair number of literal, as well as figurative scars.  There have been many faces and many voices along the trail -- and I can close my eyes and still see and hear a great many of them.  There will be more to come.
 
I've respected almost everyone I've ever met.  Many indeed I've liked.  And some have been foes. And of those, I have fought many in the good struggles -- always for a full measure of liberty, material well being, and spiritual rapport for all.  Always have, always will.
 
There are many forces, many entities -- some seen, some unseen -- in the World we know and in our Cosmos.
 
Vision and strength and courage come from that Great Complex.  We, Humanity, will always take those gifts, some way and some how, and ride with them higher and higher, through the storms that pass  -- always toward Life and the Sun.
 
 
From the Mountains of Eastern Idaho -
 
Nialetch / Onen

HUNTER BEAR

 

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

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COMMENTS:
 
John Salter:
 
That's a great piece, with quite a sweep.  Great memories, relevant, of course, to the here and now. Really, it's too good to live entirely within the confines of the website.  Have to get it out there.
 
J.S.
 
_______________________________________________________________
 
 
Edward Pickersgill:
 
Whatever those interior forces just let 'em keep bubbling..... It has been
good to watch your words re-emerging along with the magazine Norla edits
each week... and now I've reactivated the Bear's Lair in mytown.ca. Later
I'll go pluck your pieces from recent We! Magazine issues and copy them to
this place.... same url as we used up until two years ago:
http://www.mytown.ca/hunter/


Now if we could just get Cornet more than twice a year and Sam at least
once.... some more good Left voices could be heard amid the pitter patter
and chitter chatter on this internutty e-highway....
 
Edward
 
____________________________________________________________
 
Scott Jones:
 
Hunter,
 
I greatly enjoy and admire all that you so generously share.  My trail recently took me to Egypt where I presented our peace program to several universities.  There is a reasonable chance that Cairo University will adopt it in the future.  That is what the peace game has turned into, walk the path, listen carefully, present a bold challenge, offer some tools, wait, and then keep in touch.  It has finally paid off at the University of Missouri.  They are the only U.S. university to adopt our program, and recently told me they are creating a Peace Room on campus as a focus point for the program.  Good for them.  That will provide a model for others to follow.
 
Your hunting stories remind me of my years in India.  There was a good reason to hunt for the table, and those of us who enjoyed that kept a number of families supplied with safe meat from the jungle.  Hunting also provided a reasonable cover for some our intelligence activity.  The two tigers I killed were secondary to getting into a missile site.
 
I know that the Sycamore Canyon plan is a family affair, and none of the non-family postings about it have been bold enough to poke a nose through the tent flap, but I want to know if you would consider including an outsider.  When I presented our peace program at tribal colleges on the reservations in South Dakota, I was given high praise when a Lakota told me, "You're not too bad for a White Guy."
 
Warm regards,
Scott Jones
 
_______________________________________________________________
 

NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR:  1/26/08

 
When I notified friends and/or List members of this particular piece, I sent out this message:
 
I am not always specifically aware of my interior forces and those around me that propel and shape the nature of a particular piece of my writing.  Some things just flow forth. This falls very much into that context.  It's a little too long to go out as a full e-message but here, if you're interested, is our very new Link to our very new webpage:  http://hunterbear.org/forces_and_faces_along_the_trail.htm

 

[And pro forma apologies if you should happen to get this more than once.]
 
Keep Fighting,  Hunter [Hunter Bear]
 
____________________________________________________________________________
 
STEVE PROCTOR:
 
Hunter, not too long for the interested.  I appreciate your comment about showing respect for adversaries.
 
We are looking forward to talking with you on Monday.  The conference room includes a long, oval shaped table, which will accommodate perhaps 20 people sitting down.  Your audience, by design, is the Group I get to spend so much of my time with.  There will be a few of my colleagues, and my wife will be in attendance as well.  Please let me know if you need anything.  Thank you very much for everything.
Steve

NOTE BY HUNTER: 

My talk on January 28 2007 went very well.  I spoke for the better part of three hours on the origin and development of my career, life and times as an activist organizer.  Covered several decades and a number of situations.  It was a fairly small group, and a very good one.  Enjoyed it.

 
___________________________________________________________________________________
 
 Sam Friedman:

Hunter, I finally had a chance to read this piece.
Lovely stuff.

Sam

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PETER GRAY SALTER [MACK]:

Wouldn't it have been easier to sit up on your hill -- in the dark, in pain -- in judgment of your foes? To find solace in your triumphs? They threw everything they had at you, including billyclubs, and you broke them. And they're still broken. And you're not. But you've always been good at seeing things in people, common denominators, that can shorten the distance between two sides. It may be temporary, or it may be after the fact, but it makes it harder for zealots to be zealots.
 
But really, all of this says much more about you than them.
 
I agree with my brother; this needs a wider audience. With a little editing...
 
Later [Peter]

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

AND MORE FROM PETER [MACK]:

A couple of weeks ago, Jack and I were talking about a story in Rolling Stone. It was about a young free-thinker drawn like a magnet to protests, rallies and revolutions. He joined other artist-types fighting NYC for their right to continue squatting in an abandoned building. He lived in a treehouse to try to save old-growth forests from loggers on the Pacific Coast. He traveled to Mexico, where striking teachers were battling the government. Somewhere along the way, he started videotaping the uprisings and distributing his footage. He was killed in Mexico -- shot by government thugs -- while filming the teacher strike. And then he was martyred by the counter-culture.
 
A sad story all the way around. This was a bright kid from an affluent Chicago suburb. His family didn't necessarily share his views, but they loved him.
 
I could tell the story ignited something in Jack. He likes the idea of being on that side of things.
 
Naturally, the conversation turned to you. You've been on that side of things.
 
But I think there's a big difference, and I told him. This kid seemed to be drawn to the fight itself, not necessarily the cause. Globe-trotting to the nearest skirmish.
 
You're drawn first to the cause, and -- if necessary -- aren't afraid to fight for what you believe in. 
 
Later [Peter]

_________________________________________________________________________

WILLIAM "BILL" MANDEL:

"Forces and Faces" is a fine piece.
                         Bill Mandel

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

BRIAN MILLER:

 
Just googling around and came across some of your writings and then the web site. I'm just a white dude, don't even claim 1% of Indian blood. Though I do like fry bread and Navajo tacos... And I enjoyed reading your stuff, it's informative and interesting. Just thought I'd let you know.
 

Cheers,

Brian Miller

RESPONSE BY HUNTER:

Thanks very much, Brian, for a very kind word on what, hopefully, is one of the first spring days here in the Snake River country.  I appreciate your thoughts much and am quite glad you like our website and my writing style [and subjects.]  Fry bread and Navajo tacos are big staples in this household -- and you are choosing wisely in your culinary choices.  Keep in touch and, if I can, at any point, answer any questions -- well, I'll certainly try.
 
Our very best, Hunter Bear


___________________________________________________________________________________________

FROM ALEX WESTAD TO HUNTER BEAR [MARCH 9 2008]

Hunter Bear,
 
I just want to take sometime out of my schedule to thank you for the information you gave me regarding yourself and the Jackson Movement. I along with the help of Mr. Daniel was able to construct a project that was both historically accurate as well as telling an accurate depiction of the stories and other conflicts you participated in during the 60's. More specifically with the Jackson Movement and your role in it.
 
History Day was last week, and I did an individual performance using the information I received in your e-mails, your website and other research. It was the best 10 minutes of my life. I (and Mr. Daniel) thought that I did the best job that I could have done. I received the "Honorable Mention" award but did not move on to the State Level. But, nevertheless I managed to spread word about yourself and the role you played in the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960's
 
Thanks again for all your help in these last few months.
 
Alex Westad
 

FROM HUNTER BEAR TO ALEX WESTAD -- AND TO  BRET [QUICK BEAR] SALTER: [MARCH 10 2008]

 

Alex:

 
Thanks very much indeed for your very good letter.  And congratulations on the successful outcome of your most challenging and interesting ninth grade History Day project.  I am truly honored that you chose to depict me and a number of the key challenges that we faced in our historic Jackson Movement.
 
Tomorrow is the Mississippi primary and it's highly significant that, in contrast to the bad old days, a vast number of Mississippi black people are registered to vote and will be the decisive factor in the outcome.  Many pundits predict that a good number of white people there will vote for Barack Obama. Mississippi has come a long way -- still has a long way to go [as does the whole country] -- but things are infinitely better now than the blood-dimmed days some of us remember so well and will never forget.  I am very pleased that you chose to pursue those issues.
 
As I've often thought and said these past several months, "It wasn't so long ago that we had to fight to survive at a Woolworth lunch counter!"
 
In an interesting coincidence, one of my grandsons -- Bret Salter [Quick Bear], now in the seventh grade at Glyndon, Minnesota [Fargo / Moorhead area] -- did much the same thing as yourself. [And you, of course, are not that far geographically from him, being at White Bear Lake.]  He dug into our large website and formulated his fine version of Me.  I am much honored by that as well.  Like you, he did very well in his class presentation and drew a high grade. He had the advantage of knowing me personally -- but, for your part, you asked all the right questions and I'm sure that your depiction, like his, "captured" me very fully.
 
So I am quite proud of both of you guys.  You are very fine troopers indeed.
 
And I'm quite sure you will both continue your very solid interest in the key social justice issues that exist now -- and, in one form or another -- will stretch far into the Good Future that each of you will be privileged to enjoy even as you both join so many others in making this rather worn and tired world a far better place.
 
Please give my best, Alex, to the good Mr Daniel.  Doesn't seem that long ago that he was a student of mine at UND.
 
Once again, my strong congratulations to you and to Quick Bear.
 
Take care and all best.  As an old friend from the Old Days in my native Southwest so often said, "Success will be ours in the long run." [Juan Chacon of New Mexico.]
 
Nialetch/Onen
 
Hunter Bear

_____________________________________________________________________

 

JOHN SOLBACH  [A COUSIN, AND A LEADER IN KANSAS DEMOCRATS:

John, I thought of you this morning on the eve of the Mississippi primary. Remember back when. . . your mother sent my mother news clippings of what was happening in Jackson in the early sixties and your activities to make things right. It gives me a great sense of vicarious satisfaction to know you were there facing down what needed to change and now seeing that change grow from seeds you helped sow then on rocky inhospitable terrain. Makes me " proud  to be an American, where t least I know I'm free".  We visited Jackson some years ago and the civil rights display at the old state house where you are featured.
 
Facing the draft in the mid60s I joined the Marines for a 397 day combat tour. I still hear from some of the   men  I served with 40 years  ago, and I respond.

John

___________________________________________________________________________

SCOTT JONES:
 

Hunter,
 
I much enjoyed your letter to Alex.  It is heart warming to observe the strongest hope for civilization (our grand children and their peers) to make the efforts to learn about and honor the struggles that form the foundation for their responsible action.   Don't let them forget that there is still fire in the belly of their grandfathers....

Scott

___________________________________________________________________________

 

MARY ANN HALL WINTERS:

 
Thanks for sharing. I , too, am proud of the young men.  As I've told you before ,
my children know your story, Medgar's and the Woolworth group.
 
WWW,
Love, Mary Ann
 
Note by H:  Mary Ann is an old civil rights colleague from Mississippi days. "WWW" -- We Will Win  -- was the ringing slogan of our
Jackson Movement.

____________________________________________________________________________

JONATHAN ODELL:

Hunter,

 
I read with awe the writing you have posted on your site. I've never read words so full of urgency yet so compassionate for even one's "enemies" and so full of hunger for reconciliation. The story of the two policemen, the good ol' boys, in Jackson was a great example of transformative love. I'm looking forward to receiving the book. Thanks for all you have done.

 
Jon

 

AND THIS --  OUT OF A STRANGE PAST:  A HUMAN CONCERN  [HUNTER GRAY  MARCH 18  2008]
 
FROM MS. B.B. TO HUNTER:

Hello,
My name is [Ms.] B. B. I googled my great-uncle
who is Jack Cauthen. I read a little bit on your
website, but wasn't really sure how you were trying to
portray my uncle. He did not kill Emmett, he fished
him out of the water.
Thank you for reading this. I hope you weren't trying
to put him in a bad light, he was a good man. He
passed away yesterday and I can only hope there won't
be reporters there. Reporters from around the world
have tried to interview him. I hope his funeral is a
peaceful one out of respect for the family.
Thank you,
B. B.

God Bless,
B.

RESPONSE FROM H:

Dear B.B.:

First, I'm quite sorry to learn that Jack Cauthen has passed away. And I
join you in your hope and expectation that his will be a peaceful funeral.
The only mentions I have of him in any of my writings are within a
relatively narrow frame: his role as chief deputy to then Madison County
[Canton] sheriff, Billy Noble. I assume that, when you mention "Emmett," you
are referring to Emmett Till -- 1955. Yours is the first that I have ever
heard anywhere that even implied that your great uncle was present
when Emmett Till's body was recovered. The real killers of Emmett Till were
well known, almost from the outset.

My [adversarial] involvement with Madison County authorities covered the
first part of the '60s decade. The Tougaloo College campus was partly
within Hinds Co. [Jackson, of course] and partly in Madison County. We
lived in the latter half. This led to some more or less legal interaction
with Billy Noble et al. and thus with Jack Cauthen and other deputies.

I have to say, in all honesty, that the Madison County sheriff's set-up
during that era was pretty racist -- as were most of them in the Magnolia
State. Now, of course, much has changed for the better in Mississippi and
the South in general. At various times from the 1970s on for many years, I
occasionally found myself having interesting dialogues with former old
enemies. Sometimes we wound up liking each other.

I would not have minded such a visit with your great uncle. It's he, of
course, who personally handed me the sweeping court injunction of which I
remain very proud. [Of course, we defied the injunction.]

But, again and far more deeply, I much regret Jack Cauthen's passing and
join all of those of good will in wishing you all a quiet and peaceful
service and many fine and enduring memories.

Thanks for writing. I'm happy to clarify that which I can.

With best wishes, I am -

Hunter Gray [formerly, John R Salter Jr]

FROM JOHN SALTER [BEBA]:

Well, you handled this pretty diplomatically. What was unsaid?

HUNTER:

Actually, my letter is a pretty full one. The sheriff, Noble, was a genuinely bad guy. [L.A. Rainey, of Neshoba Co infamy, had learned the sheriff's trade at Canton.] Cauthen was, as I indicated, Noble's chief deputy and, in those days, a sheriff, or Gov or some other major elected officials, couldn't succeed themselves [the legislators were exempted from this] -- so the chief deputy would serve a hitch, etc. The high sheriff in the South of those days enjoyed much power in the county and, as a tax collector, drew much pay. And there were often bootlegger connections. But the major lawmen role in the South when we were there was always to keep out "outside agitators" and to keep Blacks in their "place" [down.]

Although Noble was definitely muy malo, I did not hear anything about Cauthen that was unusually negative. About par for the times. Of course, he went along with Noble faithfully. He seemed to be the public face of the sheriff's department -- especially when newsmen were around.

You will remember my tale of our going to Canton for the license plate.

Those days, horrific as they were in much of the South, were definitely "colorful."  Glad we had a chance to see it all and participate in the New Day Coming.

When you and I and later Mack and Maria and Baby Thomas were making trips to Mississippi from Tsaile, Billy Noble had become Canton police chief. At that point, the town -- unlike the county -- had a white voting majority. By then the county itself, always predominately Black, had a strong Black voting bloc "out in the rural". Now Jackson has expanded in all directions and much of Madison County is kind of suburban.

We went there on many occasions when we were at Tougaloo. Like going 'way back in time.

[Note by H: On the memorable trip to Canton for our Madison Co. license plate, see 

http://hunterbear.org/big_distress_challenges_in_the_e.htm

__________________________________________________________________________

BOB GATELY OBSERVES:

Ah, Hunter, Hate the sin, love the sinner...Sleeping dogs come to lie
with the saints...Is there a special place beyond where we will all
meet in harmony ? We hope and pray all is forgiven and we go on
living in peace,

Bob Gately

 

__________________________________________________________________________________
 

ALWAYS AHEAD, ALWAYS TOWARD THE SUN [HUNTER GRAY / HUNTER BEAR]  MARCH 19 2008

I very much appreciate the quite good comment made by Bob Gately yesterday with regard to my correspondence of this
past weekend with the great niece of an old adversary, Jack Cauthen, who had just passed away. Bob wrote:

Ah, Hunter, Hate the sin, love the sinner...Sleeping dogs come to lie
with the saints...Is there a special place beyond where we will all
meet in harmony ? We hope and pray all is forgiven and we go on
living in peace,

Bob Gately

__________________

A little less than three years ago, I wrote to a friend regarding the mob and its allies in our very turbulent Woolworth Sit-In at Jackson almost 45 years ago -- and it's posted on the first of our two website Woolworth pages:

"The hostile throng, inside and out, came to number several hundred at least.

I have always found it difficult to blame the kids in the mob -- at least
beyond a certain point. One of the things I consistently did was to study
Deep South history, sociology, culture. I knew where they were coming from
and that awareness, which convicts the Big Mules and their opportunistic
racist political allies, also makes it tough to be too hard on those kids.
Beba [John] in more recent times has been with me when we have had
interesting discussions in Mississippi with former adversaries. In long
time, even former Gov. Ross R Barnett used to convey his regards and
sympathy through a mutual friend to "Professor Salter" --" 'way up there in
that awful North Dakota". [Southerners of whatever ethnicity have been
consistently horrified by the N.D. winters.]

And then, of course, there are those to whom Rhett Butler's comment to
Scarlett certainly applies, "The Old Guard dies but it never surrenders."

Soon after the Brown deseg decision in '54, the white Citizens Council
movement -- middle and upper echelon class-wise -- began in Mississippi and,
quickly pervasive, captured the state with its clarion call, "States'
Rights, Racial Integrity." It spread across the South, not always
pervasively, but in consistently sinister and influential fashion. In due
course, among its many poisonous branches and leaves, was its "curriculum"
for the white grade schools. In early years, kids were taught that "blue
birds play with blue birds only" and "chickens do not mix." Quack nonsense
then explained this latter by indicating that, if one took 100 chickens, 50
of them white and the other 50 black, they would naturally segregate
themselves. In lessons designed for the later grades, kids were told that
"[White] Southerners built America," "[White] Southerners are the true
patriots", "Race-Mixers are Communists," "Race-Mixers want to destroy the
South and America."

And the products of that hideous catechism graced that Woolworth Store [and
many other battle lines] for hours on that fateful day, May 28, 1963, at
Jackson." [H.]

http://hunterbear.org/Woolworth%20Sitin%20Jackson.htm
_________________________________________________________

Generalizations are inevitably challenging when it comes to Humanity -- and certainly to the behavioral positions of
the protagonists in a Cause as intense as the Southern Civil Rights Movement whose legacy and the issues it raised
obviously remain very vital and viable to this very moment, nationally.

In the wake of its greatest intensity and a number of highly significant victories, people -- being people -- began to
"rebuild" in the quite emotionally drained South. And they have been doing so in the context of some -- some --
new social arrangements. And, although much distance -- regionally and nationally -- remains to be traveled and the
negative ethos of "the skeleton hand of history" remains at one remove, those changes have been truly revolutionary.

And those changes will continue -- again, both regionally and nationally.

I've always felt -- and have tried to act in accordance with that feeling -- that, while we learn much from the past, it's critical
that we look to the future and the Sun. Years ago, I wrote and placed this on the frontal portion of our website:

"We cannot run away from the Winds of Challenge and Change. We have to take History and ride with it. Always ahead, always toward the Sun. And always aware that Democracy is natural and, given half a chance, it will always flourish. We have big fish to fry and we're going to have to do it in an American skillet -- over a long-burning fire from the timber of our own forests." [H.]

That leaves, at least for me -- but also for many other veterans of intense struggles of many kinds -- no room for hate. And no room for a backpack loaded with old grudges and old recriminations. Fight hard for sure -- but never forget or ignore the essential Humanity of all of us.

So, again Bob, I much appreciate your comment. That, along with the brief correspondence with the great niece of the late Chief Deputy Sheriff of Madison County, Mississippi,["Out of a Strange Past, a Human Concern"], can be found in the lower portion of this page:  

http://hunterbear.org/forces_and_faces_along_the_trail.htm


In Solidarity, Hunter [Hunter Bear]

____________________________________________________________________

PETER GRAY SALTER [MACK]:

 

I can't disagree with you, Pop. And there's probably little good carrying around a backpack of new grudges, either.

 
But when I was younger, I used to study the sit-in photo in the New Yorker, and fantasize about seeking revenge against the punks in the crowd converging behind you. Heading down to Mississippi and looking them up, one by one, and letting them know who I was, who you were, and why I was there. There was one in particular whose expression and posture repulsed me. (Years later, I even thought it would make a good magazine story pitch.)
 
But when I passed through Jackson two years ago with my 18-year-old son, we made a visit to the Woolworth site. It's a grassy lot surrounded by high-rises and parking ramps, gone like a rotten tooth. People were walking by drinking Starbucks and talking on cell phones and not for a moment realizing the gravity of the place.
 
And I thought: Well, shit. And then I thought: Well, this is gone, and those faces in the photos have faded into old men, but you're still here. Maybe not in Mississippi, or in 'that awful North Dakota.'
 
Up on an Idaho hill, now. But you're still here.

_______________________________________________________________

AND EDWARD PICKERSGILL WRITES RE MACK'S OBSERVATION:

This is a delight to read.

______________________________________________________________

CORRESPONDENCE:  FEDERAL JUDGE THELTON HENDERSON [NORTHERN CALIFORNIA],  HUNTER GRAY,  ATTORNEY STEVE MCNICHOLS [SEPTEMBER 24 2008]

STEVE MCNICHOLS:

I'm honored to have facilitated this exchange.

Steven F. McNichols
268 Bush Street, #3602
San Francisco, CA 94104-3503

FEDERAL JUDGE THELTON HENDERSON:

Steve,

 Thank you so much for forwarding the moving message from Hunter Gray.
 It's hard to describe the emotions I feel when I communicate
 with someone who was really there, as opposed to those who
 read about it, no matter how sympathetic the readers were and are.
 
 I remember so well that day in Jackson when Roy Wilkins came
 to be arrested. As I recall, the NAACP was under a lot of
 pressure for not being involved enough in the burgeoning
 civil rights action in the South. My assignment was to
 observe the arrest and to generally note any violations by
 the Jackson Police or private citizens. As I approached the
 corner to turn go to the Woolworth store I accepted several
 leaflets being handed out by young civil rights volunteers.
 I was then arrested , I've always assumed, for either
 possessing leaflets or distributing the leaflets. I spent
 about l/2 hour in a police van before they released me, and I
 believe the idea was to simply take me out of play during the
 arrest of Wilkins.
 (Over the course of all these years I didn't remember that
 Mrs. Wilcher was also there).
 
 Hunter, your bravery, and that of others like you, has
 remained my most important memory of my experience during my
 Justice Dept. days. I've often observed that -- altho I was
 arrested quite a few times-- I never felt I faced the danger
 that you and the marchers did. Dr. King used to tell me that
 one of the biggest contributions I could make to the movement
 would be to get arrested and, even better, to get beat up in
 the process. Facing the brutality of the police and racists
 was a type of courage I could and can only imagine and
 admire. I hope you are well, and know how important your
 personal sacrifice is to so many. As Steve mentioned, I am
 getting on in years, but don't feel I can retire until I make
 some much-needed changes and improvements in the Calif prison
 system. where a prisoner dies, on average, every 6 days for
 want of decent medical care.

 Thelton

HUNTER GRAY:

 

[Please see Steve McNichols' good post, immediately following mine, for
context.] 

I met Judge Thelton Henderson only once -- but it was at a highly dramatic time.
He, a young Justice Department attorney, arrived at Jackson in early June 1963
in the midst of our large scale Jackson Movement. As a result of our upheaval,
the city and at least part of the state were ablaze with segregationist emotions
-- and racist violence ["legal" and "extra legal/vigilante"] was pervasive. Roy
Wilkins, national head of NAACP who had previously been with us briefly, had
returned for a very short visit and planned to be arrested, with Medgar Evers,
in front of the by now highly symbolic Woolworth store on downtown Capitol
Street. A Mrs Helen Wilcher, a local lady and, like a vast number of others,
brave person, was the third member of the trio. Mr Henderson, fresh at Jackson,
was to observe the inevitable arrests. He was aware that, despite his Justice
affiliation, he as a Black man was at risk. I visited with him for a time
shortly before I drove Mr Wilkins, Medgar and Mrs Wilcher downtown, and let them
off at Woolworth -- where they were immediately arrested [and then bonded out of
jail]. Thelton Henderson was standing on the sidewalk only a few feet from the
store when they were seized. And he, himself, was almost arrested.
We, understandably suspicious of Justice Department personnel, liked Thelton
Henderson. [I've never trusted John Doar, the lead Justice honcho in many of the
Dixie Wars.] Not long after this, Mr Henderson was openly critical of the
Federal role in the Jackson crucible -- especially its consistently omissive
one. I never saw him again but "kept up" occasionally over the years via media
notes. I shall always wish Thelton Henderson very well indeed.
H.

STEVE MCNICHOLS:

Dear Friends: Attached are two pictures I took of Thelton Henderson at a San
Francisco Lawyers Club function this evening. (Just double-click on them.)
As you may know, Judge Henderson played a key role in the movement as an
attorney with the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department when Bobby
Kennedy was Attorney General. Many of you probably remember the yeoman work
he did with John Doar in Alabama and Mississippi. He was actually arrested
several times although not for very long. More recently, as Chief Judge for
the Northern District of California, he effectively took control of San
Quentin about ten years ago because of its terrible health conditions. Judge
Henderson and the master he appointed are still working on the problem.
Judge Henderson is now on senior status, but still has the same marvelous,
ebullient personality he always had even under the most dire circumstances.
His email address is _______should you want to
drop him a line, which I think he would really enjoy.

Mazel tov. Steve
McNichols

 

AND NOW TO IDAHO [HUNTER GRAY /  HUNTER BEAR]  MARCH 29 2008

 
 
Idaho State University, based here at Pocatello, is about an average sized state higher ed school -- maybe about 12,000 students [including part-timers.] Like too many academic institutions these days, it's chary of "controversy" and has a variety of veiled measures to "keep that out."  After our almost eleven years here, ISU -- or at least certain administrative quarters thereof -- continues to quietly block any official speaking appearances by me. I've been the featured speaker at a number of signal events in this region -- some really pretty "respectable" --  and have been interviewed a number of times by thoughtful and respectful media folks.  A little over a year ago, ISU let it slip that, in their opinion, I'm "too radical."  Anyway, their social justice stuff is not especially stirring. I will say that both Josie and Thomas got a good academic foundation at ISU. She is an LSW social worker, he's now on the brink of his fourth year of med school at University of Minnesota [Minneapolis.]
 
But, of course, they got their social justice from Our Family.
 
Well, ISU can't keep everyone out.  Regional tv news have all reported that yesterday, three -- three -- mountain lions visited the campus, just looking around.  It's a little unusual to have three in an entourage, but likely the lions felt they needed a little protection-in-numbers during their stroll in the Groves of Academe.  This campus investigation by the Big Kitties created a stir.  Untroubled by that,  the lions eventually and in leisurely fashion wandered back into the wild open country .
 
Can't say I blame them for leaving. Most likely they felt the place was just too damn tame. Might have even thought it was a caged zoo.
 
Yours, H
 
COMMENT:
 
DALE JACOBSON:
 
Yeah, Hunter, you nailed it! I can certainly understand
why they would want to travel in a small squad. Their
sense of solidarity is evidence of a good sense academics
generally lack, though the latter are not reluctant to
join together as a rabble against the wild imagination that can see the world beyond. I have a little poem:

A Canadian thistle
on the university campus!

There's hope.

Among my best friends have been the cats I've known.
The 18th century poet, Christopher Smart, has a long lovely poem in praise of his cat. Dale
 
_____________________________________________
 
PETER GRAY SALTER:
 
No lions in Lincoln.
 
But on a bike ride today, I almost passed a beaver; it was running down the old railbed that's been turned into a bike trail. Damn thing turned on a dime just as I was building enough speed to overtake it.
 
And I almost collided with a deer on another trail that seemed to be as surprised to see me as I was surprised to see it.
 
And yesterday -- in the same area -- a woman was hospitalized after a wild turkey crashed through her windshield.
 
Later  [Peter]

____________________________________________________

A FORMATIVE EXPERIENCE WITH A MISSISSIPPI TWIST: LABOR EXPLOITATION OF A 15 YEAR OLD YOUTH  [HUNTER GRAY/ HUNTER BEAR   MAY 15 2008

 

The 15 year old is/was me. More on that in a moment.

 
Along with a vast number of others in the country, including most if not all of those who soldiered in Mississippi during the Bad Old Days, I was pleased to note Travis Childers' success in the special Congressional election, First District [northeast], in the Magnolia state.  Mr Childers, of course, ran as a "conservative" Democrat -- pro-gun [fine with me] and anti-abortion [not my cup of brew], but he won.  And he won in the face of blatant Republican race-baiting re Barack, including usage of  the ostensible "silver bullet" of Barack's former clergyman.  The Childers victory is widely and rightly noted as a harbinger-happening with wide political implications come November.
 
So how does this relate to me?  Well, of course, I have some interesting personal ties with Mississippi.  But there's another little piece that comes to mind when I think of its First Congressional layout.  From 1953 to 1973, it was represented in Congress by Tom Abernethy -- who, of course, was a traditional Deep South segregationist.  [For a decade prior to that, Tom Abernethy had served as Mississippi's Congressman for its Fourth District.]
 
And 'way back in time, he was a very good friend of a second cousin of mine, on my mother's side.  That came about some years before Abernethy's rise to Congress, when he was just a young lawyer.  And, equally young was my cousin, Herbert, who left Kansas for North Mississippi where he secured a fairly good farm, near Okolona [Chickasaw County]. [He was also a chiropractor.]  He and Tom Abernethy got along very well, kept up their friendship for many decades after Herbert, following a couple of years in Mississippi, returned to Kansas to manage several farms in Clay and Riley counties owned by his mother, Aunt Nellie, whose husband and Herbert's father, had been a county sheriff who had died tragically long before my time.  Aunt Nellie and Herbert, in due course to be joined by Herbert's bride, all lived in an old family homestead in a setting which had lost its post office years before and had never had a picture show. Aunt Nellie had her husband's huge revolver and was prone to hold it as she greeted strangers at her rural door.
 
As the summer of '49 neared, Herbert decided he needed a dependable "hired man" for the summer wheat setup and related dimensions.  Upshot was that I wound up in that role, thanks to my mother who carried me away from climatically cool Northern Arizona -- for two very grueling  months of some of the hardest labor I ever experienced.
 
For those two months, I worked seven days a week from about 6 am to 7 pm.  I fixed what seemed to be countless miles of barb-wire fence, shoveled massive amounts of  combine-harvested  wheat into grain elevators, plowed miles of turf and disked and harrowed and all -- and did much, much more.
 
Blazing sun and inferno heat -- and super high humidity.
 
For this I was paid one buck a day and room and board.  [Aunt Nellie did feed me well and, in my small bedroom, I read Herbert's somewhat risqué collection of novels [e.g., de Balzac.]
 
Herbert spent most of his time in the Legion Club at Clay Center.
 
He did, when we conversed, sometimes make positive references to Mississippi and his friends in that setting.  And That, for whatever reason, stuck in my mind.
 
Finally this ended and I was taken some distance, still in Kansas, to stay for a few days with other family members on my mother's side.  I'd made about sixty dollars and Herbert had given me a bonus of ten bucks.  I took the bonus and used part of that to buy a fifth of gin and some bottles of cold lemon pop.  The gin was procured for me by a much older and sympathetic cousin, a well-decorated WW2 vet.
 
Of course, being an Indian, I shared freely with other kids one hot evening.  It didn't take long at all for the gin to hit us all hard -- very hard.  And then great aunt  Viola, who should have been tucked away in bed by sunset, saw what she soon described as a "spectacle".  That led to a few family complications  for me later on but that's another story.
 
I was very glad, the next summer, to launch my successful USFS fire fighting career in my native Northern Arizona.  I'm no dirt farmer.
 
Decades later, visiting in a considerably changed Mississippi [but always with a long way to go], I often took breakfast -- I like fried ham, grits, biscuits and gravy, and strong coffee -- at a small [and long integrated] cafe in the Barnett Building in downtown Jackson [yes, Ross Barnett -- and the Old Gov was sometimes in there.]  Beba will recall the setting and our very pleasant visit with an old friend, the courageous and  trail-blazing civil rights lawyer, Jess Brown.]
 
In the mornings, there was a special table in the midst of the cafe at which the [Anglo] Old Guard often sat, ate, and visited extensively.  Some recognized me, occasionally in a not unfriendly fashion.  One of the regulars was former and rather ancient Congressman Tom Abernethy, always dressed in a jet black suit.
 
Fairly early on, I went over to him, introduced myself -- quickly indicating that I was a second cousin of his good Kansas friend. The old Dixicrat warmed visibly. My name may have rung a bell but my cousin's definitely did.  "Yes," he exclaimed, "he lived out in the country.  Had a fine  little farm.  Herb went back home but we kept up with each other until he passed away."
 
I was tempted, for a moment, to ask the figure from Another Time about Herbert's labor policies in those antebellum days.
 
But I didn't -- because I knew the answer. Only too well.
 
We shook hands cordially and went to our respective tables. From that point on, whenever I happened to be in Mississippi and  breakfasting in the Barnett cafe, he always smiled cordially at me.
 
It's always good to be in Mississippi --  a place where kinfolks count. I always hope I can get back there sometime. 
 
But I'll pass, at least mostly, on Kansas.  Aunt Nellie, I should add, lived to the century mark.  I've always wished that she'd left me that great revolver.
 
Hunter [Hunter Bear]
 
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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