Civil Rights Chronicle: Letters from the South

Civil Rights Chronicle: Letters from the South

Civil Rights Chronicle: Letters from the South

Civil Rights Chronicle: Letters from the South

Excerpt

"Nothing has changed!" In the past, I heard this refrain from young African American students. I attributed such ignorance to their having been born too late to know what life, especially in the South, was like during the pre- 1960s. But now I hear this refrain from some who were themselves involved in the Civil Rights Movement of the '60s. And I ask, does it mean nothing that today African Americans have access to education, public accommodations, and the ballot, the same as do European Americans? These are powerful tools which every American today can use to bring about continued advancement.

Anyone who says "nothing has changed" must have forgotten or never have known the daily indignities, not to mention the powerless position of blacks in our Southern culture before the 1960s. It may be that many did not realize how circumscribed their lives were, having expected no more. But an outsider could be shocked at just the indignities, let alone actual deprivations endured by African Americans.

Unable to give you a videotape of "This is your life in the pre-1960s," I offer you Civil Rights Chronicle. Letters from the South, which registers my reactions as an outsider to what I saw and experienced as I lived four school years with African Americans in Mississippi and South Carolina colleges.

"Why did you come to Mississippi?" How many times I have been asked that question!

I spent my early adult life as the mother of three children and as a bookkeeper. At forty-five I completed my college education, which had been interrupted by marriage, and became a school teacher. For ten years I taught school in Pasadena, California, and initiated efforts to end busing of white students to primarily white schools.

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