RED DAWN AND DIXIE STEW:  POSTS ON THE SOUTH  AND RELATED THINGS  [HUNTER BEAR, 6/28/05]  UPDATED JULY 5 2005

 

RED DAWN

NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR:  6/26/05

Eldri and I much appreciate the good thoughts and messages and the virtual
card, etc., with respect to our 44th Wedding Anniversary. [And an Offspring
called.] But with Bill Mandel's wonderful example of 66 years with his late
wife, Tanya [and Eldri will certainly read your fine sermon, Bill], we do
feel  young indeed.

Early this morning, the most exquisitely deep-blood-red dawn that I've seen
in years came up over the mountains to our east.  And I recall the line in
1899 or so from a fiery speech given in the context of the Western
Federation of Miners during yet another bitter labor struggle in the Coeur
d'Alenes of North Idaho:

"And the Red Dawn will come over the Rockies and the money palaces of the
Rockefellers and the Morgans will be blown into rubble . . ."

Oh, oh!  Do I hear the thundering hoofs of the Homeland Security Posse
pounding determinedly toward us through the junipers and pines and aspens
and over the drying turf of Eastern Idaho?!

Recently, Eldri and I attended the first meeting of a Lupus support group.
There were nine people present from a wide area, six of whom were SLE [the
others were two spouses and a visitor].  I was the only Lupus Man.  Well
intentioned, the pleasantly conducted little meeting was hardly -- given the
awful nature of the illness -- uplifting.  I'd prefer John Gray's feisty fur
hunting band of Iroquois and Abenakis -- or the Western Federation -- or the
Civil Rights Movement.  But the Lupus support group is certainly important.

On the activist note,  I've been assembling material [for my next  book]
relating to several organizing campaigns -- one of which was our very
hard-fought and quite successful project in the Northeastern North Carolina
Black Belt. I was SCEF Field Organizer. [Much of this, including some
photos, is on our large Hunterbear website. Scroll 'way down.]

In very early 1964,  I launched a major SCEF-sponsored project:  cracking
the rigidly segregated, thoroughly repressive, Klan-infested northeastern
North Carolina Black Belt -- containing some of the most poverty-stricken
counties in the United States.  This hard-core region had been isolated from
the main currents of the Civil Rights Movement.  Our SCEF Director -- Jim
Dombrowski -- backed us to the hilt;  as did  the SCEF President, the
Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth.   Valuable support was provided by Ms. Ella
J. Baker, a nationally known Black activist and Special Consultant to SCEF,
who had herself grown up in that particular   locale.  The editor of the
SCEF newspaper, The Southern Patriot, Ms. Anne Braden, provided valuable
regional and national publicity for us.  Up North, the SCEF fund-raiser, the
Reverend William Howard Melish, was extremely helpful.

We started with Halifax County.  Opposition was tough and violent.  With
hard work (among other things, at one point I spoke to over 120 community
meetings in 90 days), boycotts,  non-violent  demonstrations, and litigation
in Federal courts -- and, in time, political leverage -- we  were
increasingly successful.  And then we moved across the Black Belt, county by
county.

Clyde Appleton on BWB, as I mentioned recently, led the singing at our large
and historic Black Belt conference ["Civil Rights and Anti-Poverty" ] at
Indian Woods Baptist in Bertie Co.,  early March 1965, which drew about
1,050 people from 14 Black Belt counties -- plus several from some outlying
areas.

This fine statement by a key and extremely capable Halifax Co. Movement
leader and old friend, Willa Cofield, has been on our Tribute since soon
after its inception fifteen months ago:

51. WILLA COFIELD [WILLA JOHNSON]

". . .I'd like to share my own impression of John Salter, whom I first saw
on a 1963 television newscast being mercilessly pummeled by a group of white
men.  The attack took place during a Black student demonstration in Jackson,
Mississippi.  A few months later, John appeared in my rural, eastern North
Carolina community, where we Black people were staging our  own
demonstrations.

Originally from Flagstaff, Arizona and part-Indian, he was young, intense,
smart and completely committed to social justice.

Salter's civil rights record, his obvious sincerity, as well as his
willingness to take on the local racists, soon won over the most skeptical
among us.  For over a year, he worked in our community, facing daily death
threats, abuse, and the virulent hatred of local white people.

With John Salter's help, we initiated a countywide voter registration drive,
and when local officials set up obstacles, John convinced a battery of
topnotch lawyers to challenge the county board of elections in court.  Our
side won.   For the first time since the disenfranchisement of Blacks in the
late nineteenth century, thousands of eastern North Carolina Blacks
registered.

In the 1980s, those voters helped send two Black men to the North Carolina
Legislature.  In 1992, they sent Eva Clayton, a Black woman, to Congress
where she served for many years.

John Salter was not present for the victory celebration or for the happy bus
trip to Raleigh for the inauguration of Thomas C. Hardaway as Representative
from our District, but many of the bus passengers recalled Salter's
courageous work during the 1960s. He had helped break the fierce Southern
wall of resistance, thereby setting the stage for the Voting Rights Act and
the election of Black people to local, state, and federal legislative
bodies.

John drove with us the morning six of our children, including my own
six-year-daughter, integrated the local white school.  He found lawyers and
financial support, and we successfully battled the school officials and
politicians who tried to kill our movement by firing Black teachers.

In communities throughout the South, John Salter is remembered for his
selfless leadership and courage and as a man deeply and passionately opposed
to injustice.

Since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, I have met many of his former
Tougaloo College students.  All remember him with the greatest respect and
admiration.

John has never flinched from taking  unpopular positions.  Those of us who
benefited from his determination to act upon what he believed right consider
that very quality a key factor in making him one of the truly great leaders
of our time.
                                                               Sincerely,
                                                               Willa M.
Cofield, Ph.D. Enfield, North Carolina and Plainfield,
New Jersey


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'

Bill Mandel comments:

Hunter:
Willa Cofield's tribute to you involuntarily elicited from
me my generation of Leftists' highest word of respect,
originating with the defenders of the Spanish Republic
against Franco in the late 30s: "Salud!"

Your description of your North Carolina activities is one of
the things that must be drawn upon for your book. Nobody
other than participants, like Cofield and you, can transmit
the feeling of being there and doing. I'm sure somebody will
write your biography some day, but that person can't be
inside you. That's why there must also be an autobiography,
and ESL being what it is, there will be a real loss to those
who follow us if you don't get it done.

I have a strange question prompted by two news items and
your story. The Republican candidate for Chief Justice of
the state of North Carolina this week called Bush a Nazi. A
Republican member of Congress from a district in that state
with a very high dependence upon war in its economy and a
similar ratio of military and veterans in its population has
demanded of Bush a date certain for starting withdrawal from
Iraq.

Do you see any echoes of your experiences in North Carolina
in these sensational events? You wrote, for example, of
engaging lawyers when down there. Did the attitudes of any
of them, and of any other whites with whom you dealt,
suggest that some day things might be different, on the
white side?

I ask that because of the impression left upon me by my
visit to the University of Mississippi, then all-white of
course, in 1946, as a faculty-engaged lecturer. I describe
it in Saying No To Power, pp. 138-9, and conclude: "young
men in the class, and during informal talks later, put the
notion in my head that their generation, or some of them,
would be different. Consequently, when Jimmy Carter, of that
generation, became president thirty years later, I wasn't as
surprised as most of my circle that he had a half-civilized
attitude toward African-Americans, and that they found him
acceptable. (I say half-civilized, because of his statement
that housing should naturally be segregated, and the fact
that his own church in Plains, Georgia, where he continued
to teach Sunday school, remained lily-white.)"
Bill Mandel



MY [HUNTER BEAR] RESPONSE TO BILL MANDEL [SENATOR CREW COMES TO ENFIELD]:

Thanks for your good comment and question, Bill.   In
1946, when you were at Ole Miss for a time, I was about 11 or 12 and far
away.  But I do know that, for several years following WW2, the South
generally was beginning to change  slowly for the better.  More moderate
viewpoints began to emerge, veterans were returning having seen the world,
and Black vets were determined not to return to the Old Order.  At the
beginning of the '50s, there was some desegregation in the professional
schools of universities in the Upper South and the development of some human
relations councils, etc.  When Brown came, '54 of course, the Eisenhower
administration badly dragged its feet in enforcing the clear mandate/order
for desegregation.  And then, into that tragic void, beginning in
Mississippi and spreading out, there came the rise of the hard-line ["States
Rights, Racial Integrity"] white Citizens Council movement [sometimes called
by other names] and KKK revivals.  Things froze, often went backwards.

The rise of the Movement -- economic force and litigation and the civil
rights laws and voter activism -- broke the hard lines of resistance to
social change.  When the power of the Movement became obvious, pragmatism
[not necessarily the principled variety of William James] often took over
within the power structures.  Frequently, this initially sought tokenism
but, in the end, of course, the momentum of progress generally carried
things far beyond that.  Your recent North Carolina examples don't surprise
me [and one should remember, of course, that the late Sam Ervin, although
considered a "conservative," was a pretty good civil libertarian.]  There
are plenty of people in North Carolina, military and military families and
many others indeed, who join much of the rest of the country in its growing
antipathy toward the Bushies and All Their Wicked Ways.

Briefly using Halifax County, NC as an example, a Black county with a fairly
substantial number of American Indians therein, the time came in latter '64
during our One Hell of a Fight on several fronts when I got a surprise
telephone call from  former State Senator Lunsford Crew,  representing the state
Democratic Party.  He was in Raleigh but his home town was Roanoke Rapids in
the northern part of Halifax County.  That was also the home of a huge JP
Stevens textile plant -- whose later unionization provided the direct basis
for the fine labor film, Norma Rae. [We have always held that our Movement
helped lay the basis for that unionization which came some years later.]

With the exception of Sam Mitchell [Black], a fine lawyer based at Raleigh,
our lawyers were all from out of the South:  Bill Kunstler, Arthur Kinoy,
Phil Hirschkop, Morty Stavis, and others.  One of our Federal lawsuits,
eventually won when USSC denied cert to North Carolina, was Willa Johnson
[Cofield] vs Joseph Branch et al.  What made this especially interesting was
that Joe Branch, of Enfield, was State Campaign Manager for Democratic
gubernatorial candidate, Dan K. Moore.  We were suing him along with the
school board, for which he was attorney, since they all had fired Willa, a
long time and award-winning high school teacher at [Black] Inborden High
School in Enfield, in obvious retaliation for her consistently effective
civil rights activities.

Anyway, Senator Crew wanted to do business directly with me -- to the effect
that, if the Halifax Movement would agree to support the Democrats, and
especially at the state level [the Republicans were becoming powerful], he
could guarantee that a number of concessions would be made by the official
leaders of Halifax County. We had many brand new voters indeed and we also
had the Image which would influence other minority communities in the state.
He wanted me to handle that matter and indicated he would be quite satisfied
with my word [plus appropriate Movement leaflets as the election drew nigh.]

Pleasantly, I told Senator Crew that we didn't function that way at all and
that, in no sense, could I -- the Organizer -- make that kind of deal.  I
told him he would have to come directly to a meeting of our about 36 County
Chairmen [several were women, btw], and make his offer directly to them.  To
give him credit, he pluckily accepted my proposal to set the meeting up if
our Chairmen wanted to go that route.

We had a quick meeting of our County Chairmen at Enfield.  They voted to
give Senator Crew a solid and fair hearing.  We also, thoughtfully, prepared
a long shopping list of that which we wanted.  It ranged from official
anti-Klan action to acceptance of surplus commodities and a promise to
participate in the forthcoming Food Stamp plan when that was enacted,
substantial desegregation and minority hiring in county offices, and much
more.  And then we scheduled a meeting for the Senator.

Senator Crew came by himself to the Cofield Funeral Home [Willa's family] at
Enfield and he was there for three long hours.  He met our demands and we
all agreed to support the Democrats -- and, in due course, we issued sample
ballots with the Democratic candidates [all of them] properly Xd in the
appropriate boxes.  The Democrats won.  The Other Side in Halifax County
honored the agreement we all had reached.  There were many more miles to
travel in that tough county, and then in all the other tough counties
involved, but we had a Big Beginning.

In Solidarity - Hunter [Hunter Bear]

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'

______________________________________________
 

Congratulations on a long, wonderful marriage.
 
Joyce Ladner
 

To Eldri: [From Bill Mandel]
          You and Hunter have been married 44 years. It was
my great good fortune to be married to Tanya for 66 until
death did us part four years ago. You and Tanya had the
burden and I hope the satisfaction of having partners who
were no more content with the state of our country and the
world than you are and she was.
         I set forth what I learned about keeping a marriage
good after 60 years of it, when a couple out here asked me
to perform their wedding ceremony, which I did as a minister
of the Universal Life Church. I reproduce my sermon in my
autobiography, Saying No To Power, which I know that Hunter
has read. I don't know if you have. Permit me to suggest
that you look at that sermon, which was not long: pp. 582-4.
        In view of the trials you have gone through in the
years since Hunter was forced to start his battle against
lupus (I had only four months of that: Tanya's agonizing
end), I hope my words will help in strengthening your
satisfaction with having chosen the right man long ago. And
I hope you both will set some record for longevity in the
face of that monstrous disease.
Bill Mandel

 
Dear Eldri & Hunter,
 
I would like to add my congratulations and best wishes to those you have already received from many people.  Thank you both for all the ways you have been my good friends.
 
Love,
Alice Azure
 
 
What a "long strange journey" it has been, filled with risks and rewards.
 
Congratulations,
David McReynolds
 
John, this post surely did evoke memories for me -- especially some events that occurred during my years at Shaw University (1962-1966).  And you and Eldri figured prominently in some of those memories.  Wasn't that a time!!   John and Eldri, old and highly valued friends, I send contratulations on your 44th anniversary and wish you many many more anniversaries!  peace, love, justice --

Clyde  [Appleton]

 
 

I am very impressed at 44 years of such happiness!  You two made good choices many years ago.

And the quality of your work shines forth simply from reading the names of those wishing you well.

best
sam [friedman]

 

It is a sadness to think that I'll never stand beside

Hunter Bear and mate, Eldri against a worthy or despicable foe...But it is a joy to know that you march forever, together forward, upward in memory & respect of what we are all here for...Peace, harmony and happiness, brotherhood for today, tomorrow and the great beyond promised by
The Creator...
 
You have made all of our hearts rest each night in peace and on the rising act with purpose...Thank you, amigo, hermana, Dear Friends of my father and his son.
 
With great respect for the longevity, the marriage truly made in Heaven....Blessings Always, Amen....
 
Bob Gately


____________________________________________________________________
 

Dear Sam: [Friedman] [Re Bears moving into New Jersey suburbs]

I 'm very sure that all of the Bears  and I are related, but those whose
unduly materialistic values have led them into urban suburbia are probably
somewhat more distant relatives than, say, the Big Timber and Mountain and
Rugged Canyon Bears who are Close Kin indeed -- and who, like myself,
appreciate the Great Vistas and who "look up at the Sun and Sky and listen
to the Wind."

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'

Dear Reber: [Boult]

You may have reference to the several related Salters [and their former
Salter] who hang out and mess around on several discussion lists, trying to
make themselves useful.  I have a few Deep South kin but they're all on my
mother's side.  Anyway, if I had a dime for every time Sid Salter, [who not
only writes for the Clarion Ledger at Jackson but who bought Erle Johnston's
Scott County Times at Forest], has written an article involving me some way,
and has consistently pointed out that we are "No Relation," I'd have a Real
Big Jingly Sack.  We are probably not each other's favorite person -- even
when we happen to agree with each other which happens infrequently.

At one point during the Jackson Movement, I was clubbed particularly
badly -- into brief unconsciousness -- by a number of police who surrounded
me.  Taken to the [State] Fairgrounds Concentration Camp, two police -- not
from my club-wielding group -- then took me to University Hospital to be
stitched up [quite a few stitches.]  While we waited for the doc, we began
to talk and -- lo and behold -- found ourselves visiting amiably about guns
and hunting. Fascinated by Northern Arizona hunting tales, they also seemed
impressed when I declined any anesthesia during the stitching process, never
blinking an eye.  On the way to the city jail, they told me of a police
buddy of theirs named Salter [from Hattiesburg, I think].

"When we want to really rile him up," one grinned, "we ask him, Aren't you
related to John Salter?  And then he really froths and fumes."

H.

THE IWW LEGACY IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT [HUNTER BEAR   JULY 4 2005]

 I'll be visited in the next day or so by a very good person indeed who
will, among other things, be doing an interview with me on our Jackson
Movement of 1962-63 -- a historic upheaval of massive proportions which we
conducted non-violently in the face of the cruelest kind of bloody
repression.    Economic boycotts, sit-ins, picketing, mass marches, and
jail-ins were among our tactics. This was in the context of very negligible
Black voter registration and political action owing to pervasive official
and vigilante opposition;   merely minor Federal civil rights legislation  which was not enforced;  and state and Federal District courts controlled by racists.  Among other things, I was Advisor to the Jackson Youth Council of NAACP, and [with Eldri]  Advisor to Tougaloo College students, and Chair of the Strategy Committee of the Jackson Movement. There is much on our Lair of Hunterbear website regarding this -- as well as in my book, Jackson Mississippi: An American Chronicle of Struggle and
Schism, 1979 and Krieger, 1987.

This is the 100th anniversary of the Industrial Workers of the World
[Wobblies].  I have been reading a good deal on that lately -- but I have
read nothing to indicate the direct  influence of the Wobbly legacy on
certain component dimensions of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
[CORE was certainly influenced by the CIO movement of the '30s and much of
CIO was certainly influenced by the IWW.]

I was a member of the last of the old-time IWW -- from the beginning of 1955
into 1961.  Long before the arrival of the academic historians, I was
listening to -- very much listening -- to old time IWWs at Seattle and in
several parts of the Mountain West.  There were some other major influences
on me as well in my Springtime as a very young person and aspiring
organizer  -- among them, traditional Iroquoian forms of organization; and
the Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers [itself direct kin to the IWW].

I taught at the college/university level for many years and I've organized
for many years.  Sometimes it's been full-time organizing and part-time
teaching; or full-time teaching and full-time organizing; or simply
organizing [which can be double-duty work in its own right!]. I've worked
with grassroots people from many tribes -- and many ethnic backgrounds -- in
democratic organizations and movements.

And wherever I've gone and with whomever I've worked as teacher or
organizer, I have always talked of the great legacy of the Wobblies and I've
endeavored to act on the many lessons taught to an eager kid by those old
timers whose faces I can see as clearly now as if it were only a day or two
ago.

At Tougaloo College, as we were building the Jackson Movement, I taught a
popular Labor History course.  You can guess, I'm sure, one of the Star
Topics and we also, I should add, wrangled gift subs from about a dozen of
the best labor union newspapers in the United States.

One of a number of IWW mentions from a 1981 oral history of mine on the
blood-dimmed Jackson struggle:

". . .But the Wobblies, who have been described as a cross between Henry
David Thoreau and Wyatt Earp, were free radicals. . .The chairman of the IWW
was a Cherokee Indian, Frank Little, who was later lynched in Montana.
William Haywood, one of the primary leaders, had been a miner and cowboy and
prospector in Utah and Idaho.  The Wobbly movement very much recognized the
importance of freedom as well as material well-being; free radicals in that
sense.  Also, the Wobblies had a good respect for Jesus Christ, whom they
used to refer to as "Jerusalem Slim" or "Fellow Worker Jesus."  I was much
influenced by some of the old timers that I met in Arizona and New Mexico,
and also to some extent in Utah and the State of Washington.  In many
respects, we organized and ran the Jackson Movement very much as if it were
a Wobbly kind of campaign."

[Pages 22 and 23 of the 124 pages in the oral history interview with John R
Salter, Jr [Hunter Gray] done by John Jones of Mississippi Department of
Archives and History, January 6, 1981 at Jackson.  This is one of several
oral histories I've done.]
 

NOTE:  I was interviewed for five hours on July 5 by Bruce Hartford who is, among his other roles, webmaster of Civil Rights Movement Veterans.

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'

Check out Surprise Tribute:
http://www.hunterbear.org/special_tribute_page_for_hunter.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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