Saturday, August 1, 2015

50th Anniversary of My Summer as a Civil Rights Volunteer in Rural Mississippi in 1965

FIFTY YEARS AGO my wife and I woke up every day in Clarence and Millie Hall's immaculate farm house on the Mississippi River. . Clarence and Millie were active in the Civil Rights Movement and had volunteered to host us for the summer.

We were there as volunteers for the NAACP Inc. Fund, working on a school desegregation project. The Federal Court had ordered the school district encompassing Sharkey and Issaquena Counties to allow Black kids entering grades one through three to enroll in the white elementary school in Rolling Fork.

On registration day, many of the Black kids were turned away for frivolous reasons, such as they did not have written permission allowing them to transfer from  the rundown Black elementary school, Of course there was no such requirement in the court order.

About 30 kids enrolled, and many of them survived the resulting hostility, which included Ku Klux Klan cross-burnings at their homes.

NOW, FIFTY YEARS LATER conditions are better for Black kids in rural Mississippi, They have better schools, well at least somewhat integrated schools.  I say somewhat integrated because most of the white kids are enrolled in private white schools, where Black kids are excluded by discriminatory policies or less overt barriers such as prohibitively expensive tuition.

If you would like to read more about that summer of 1965 and how it contributed to Judy and my decision to adopt 7 year old abandoned black twins, and my later work as a Justice Department attorney assigned to southeast Mississippip, please read Dear Jeff, available at
Also, learn more at

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