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August 04, 1964 - Image 2

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1964-08-04

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tD Ac Seventy-Third Year
Truth Wi!)i Prevlifl"

Notes from the Mississippi Project


Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily express the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in all reprints.



Social Justice Requires
Democratized Economy.. .

federal government might accelerate
its halting shuffle into the dark land of
urban slum ghettoes. The step will be
welcome-as long as those directly con-
cerned do not see the step as a stride.
A bipartisan House coalition has put
together a proposal for federal loans, at
a low three per cent interest, to slum
landlords and tenants to put run-down
housing or business properties in good
The idea relates to crying needs in
northern slum areas. Faced with deplor-
able rented housing, the slum dweller in-
sisting on improved enforcement of mu-
nicipal codes too often is defeated by
high construction costs. Hanging over
every demand for improvements is the
higher rent which the slumlord will
charge in order to pay for them.
would make repairing less costly, thus
making it possible to keep already out-
landish slum rent levels from rising furth-
er. But even if the program is passed, even
if its $50 million appropriation is suffi-
cient-which it obviously is not-it raises
and begs important questions: What is
the nature of the urban ghetto? What is
the nature of the power structure that
perpetuates the ghetto?
The ghetto is more than anything else
a psychological concentration camp for
the unwanted minorities that have been
crowding into American urban centers
since the First World War. It is in these
ghettoes that life on its lowest level is
perpetuated-not simply by rat-infested
housing, poor public services and inade-
quate schooling, but by the ghetto psy-
chology of despair, fear and apathy out of
which it is nearly impossible to rise.
IF THE GHETTO breeds despair, it also
continues largely because of that de-
spair, which makes political activism by
its inhabitants virtually inconceivable. In
the face of that inaction, the men who
own the ghetto's buildings, sell goods and
services to it and represent its inhabi-
tants in governmental circles can often
ignore the ghetto and remain inactive
themselves. Once having established a
stranglehold on ghetto economy-extort-
ing high rents under lax laws, efficiently
keeping education costs low, clearing vast
ghetto tracts in the name of urban re-
newal without providing replacement
housing at reasonable prices-they are
under few pressures to release that hold.
But the approach of the federal gov-
ernment-to pump funds through the lo-
calities into the ghetto-begs a much
larger question: Is federal charity any-
thing more than a superficial attempt?
Can it alter the causes of ghettoes or
must it deal only with the symptoms?
HE PROJECTS being discussed and
put into action in Washington are
highly reminiscent of welfare statism-
the theory that government can meet the
needs of its population by establishing
benevolent programs for simply improv-
ing conditions within an existing struc-
ture. What welfarism ultimately leaves its
beneficiaries is a dependence on its be-
neyolence, and even if welfarism im-
proves conditions - through housing,
"made" work, education and the like-
it has not altered factors which pro-
duced those conditions.
For the real cause of the inequities that
necessitate welfarism is the capitalist
system. That system has allowed concen-
tration of economic power in the hands
of those who have had the good fortune

-because of propitious environmental
and psychological conditions-to seize it.
Having seized it, those with power pass on
the financial fruits of that power to em-
ployes and government ever so reluctant-
ly. The comforts of wealth and power
effectively stifle any desire to extend
that comfort in any significant quantity
to those who, because of less propitious
circumstances, never overcame their
voicelessness in the nation's affairs.
THE RESULT, is a pervasive psychologi-
cal alienation of large numbers of peo-
ple from the democratic process. And no
matter how high welfarism raises the
-1_- --- -r- _-II w '- 411 vi 1..m n- n1-sr-fnn

system that produces those conditions can
only be a temporary appeasement. The ul-
timate solution must be breaking up con-
solidations of economic power and plac-
ing in the hands of democratic councils
at the national level the political power
to use those resources.
WELFARISM GRANTS political powers
only superficially. It holds out eco-
nomic advancement, but not to the point
of political control of the economy. Below
that point, economic well-being is at best
precarious, for by itself it does not fur-
nish the willingness or political ability
necessary if it is to be directed demo-
cratically or even preserved. Thus the
well-being of all ultimately depends on
the oligarchical benevolence of a few.
It is imperative that the nature of the
federal housing loan program or any oth-
er welfare measure be realized by those
who will receive the benefits. There are
some good signs already, in the organi-
zational work of the Students for a Demo-
cratic Society in 10 of America's slums,
that the poor will not be taken in.
But the essential task is a huge one de-
manding a radical social movement and
a political awareness that are hard to
bring to the urban ghetto. The burden of
beginning that task rests on the Ameri-
can intellectual.
...Or Does It?
radical movement is the "democrati-
zation" of the economic process.
Today, they point out, the impersonal
forces of supply and demand combine
with the manipulative forces wielded by
elites to determine the decisions as to
what shall be produced, how and for
whom. In the new society, on the other
hand, these decisions would be made by
the producers-i.e., the workers-them-
selves, presumably with the public wel-
fare as a major criterion.
There are two arguments which are
advanced for this socialization process.
Though they usually are blended togeth-
er in a package deal, they deserve to be
treated separately.
THE FIRST is that political involve-
ment is inherently good: people sim-
ply feel more fulfilled when they partici-
pate in a democratic process. Why, then,
do people today generally avoid the poli-
tical arena like the plague, preferring
more private pleasures? Because, the rad-
icals answer, current society sterilizes
the so-called opportunities it offers the
average man for political participation
Perceiving the emptiness of present-day
"democracy," he shuns it. But in the new,
truly democratic society he will find so-
cial participation not only attractive but
necessary to self-realization.
It being difficult to settle a dispute
which hinges on the nature of men who
don't yet exist, we must give this argu-
ment a "maybe" and move to the second
THIS ARGUMENT asserts that what-
ever the inherent worth of political
participation, it has tremendous instru
mental value. Specifically, it is the only
way the common man can obtain and
retain economic well-being. Without the
political power, he never will be able to
wrest affluence from the elites who dis-
pense it.
In an age of scarcity, this was true:
material comforts were rare enough that
the elites, once having set aside their

own generous portion, had no rewards
left with which to placate the populace.
They had to resort to punishment-or the
threat of it-inorder to remainontop.
TODAY-as the radicals point out-
technology has replaced scarcity with
abundance. This means that the elites
can use material rewards, a much more
effective device than punishment, to win
legitimacy in the eyes of the people.
Here, then, is how the masses win af-
fluence: the elites give it to them, be-
cause such fairly cheap "generosity" is
the easiest wav to ke n nower

EDITOR'S NOTE: The writer of
the following report is working in
the Mississippi Summer Project of
the Council of Federated Organiza-
tions,'a civil rights coalition es-
tablished to register Negroes as
voters. Holding bachelor's and mas-
ter's degrees in political science from
the University, he is currently
working for a doctorate at the Uni-
versity of California.
sippi in the summer of 1964 is
beginning to show a new spirit-
a spirit of revolt which is spread-
ing daily as the movement gains
momentum in the big cities and
the small rural towns.
The spirit of a suppressed people
rises to the great occasion that
presents itself with more force
every minute; every day as we
civil rights workers go to more
and more mass rallies, and attend
churches to speak with fire about
the revolution which is taking
place, we find more enthusiasm
in the souls of black folks.
It is certain that democracy for
the Southern Negro has meant his
church life, for the church is the
center of his existence-an exist-
ence which is close to subsistence.
Subsistence life forces this people
to stick to the fundamentals of
life. Speaking in a church to these
people means talking directly
about the most important prob-
lems; this is a refreshing exper-
ience after being forced to engage
in the meaningless, trivial dis-
cussions of the liberal world.
* * *
very little, for these people want
concrete action; and they need
concrete action brought about by
a well-organized political party
dedicated to the goals of justice
in race matters, an overcoming of
poverty, and further federal pro-
grams such as a Mississippi River
Valley Authority, and the en-
couragement of industrialism.
The necessity of developing a
well-organized party dedicated to
these goals, which go far beyond
the interest-oriented parties of
the present, is becoming apparent
to more people now. The impera-
tive of developing a philosophy of
politics grounded in a theory of
political action is increasingly ob-
vious as we are met by the in-
adequate theory of the Student
Non-Violent Coordinating Com-
mittee and find ourselves stumb-
ling over the narrow dogmatism
of some of the SNCC leaders.
* * *
CANVASSING door to door we
come upon an old man in his
40's sitting in a straight-back
chair outside a hut which one of
our group cannot believe is a
house. We say hello and he an-
swers with the greatest warmth.
We're from the student group try-
ing to get everybody down to the
courthouse to vote, someone says.
Yes, he answers, he's heard
about us and he knows we are
doing right. Then he gets up and
we see he is on crutches because
of an accident which left him
with only one leg. He tells us he
has not worked since December;
we ask him how he lives. "By what
my friends give me." Then he
continues, "I tried to get welfare
but I did not receive it." We try
to find out why, but he does not
know. He tells us he wants to go
down to the courthouse tomorrow
to register to vote.
land, Miss., we took a group to
register and waited while they
tried to interpret sections of the
Mississippi State Constitution,
some ofrwhich are too complex for
a lawyer.
As we walked the Negroes to
the office of the circuit clerk, we
were accosted by several of the
sherriff's deputies and gruffly
asked what we two white boys
were doing in the courthouse.
Then we met the circuit clerk,
who sneered and asked us to leave.

Then we went down town to
talk to the welfare department
about welfare standards and got
a reception of veiled antipathy.
The lady in charge said, in a
very defensive manner, that she
was a native Mississippian. She
would tell us nothing, because of
the "need to keep such matters
confidential," she said. We en-
countered even more antagonism
in the other offices we entered.
The whites of Cleveland are de-
termined to keep the traditional
caste society intact.
As we walked down the street
we received more than our usual
supply of hate stares. It was on a
highway running through Rule-
ville, that I learned I was a "son
of a bitch"; it was in a store in
Ruleville that I was told that
three segregationists wanted to
beat in my head; it was in Jackson
when walking down a street that
I ran into a friend from another
project and learned that he and
three others had been jumped in
broad daylight in Jackson by
whites and beaten with police
clubs; it was in Greenwood that
police were caught smashing win-
dows of COFO workers' cars, and
it is McComb that bombings have
ncramed and threat e contin-

when it occurs. Many letters must
be written to this effect and much
pressure must be exerted.
Since the beginning of the sum-
mer project there have been about
11 bombings, according to a Jack-
son researcher with whom I talk-
ed. Threats in some areas have
been almost continual; but prob-
ably in most areas threats have
been occasional; but you must
never forget that one threat is
enough to cause many restless
When the leader of the move-
ment in Ruleville said "We are
tired of being sick and tired,"
she meant that the threats and
the worry wear a person down.
The Mississipi heat and mosqui-
toes are bad enough, but with the
fear, men are driven to continual
weariness. You may think that
there is exaggeration of the vio-
lence occurring in Mississippi, but
I would point out that between
1888 and 1959 there were 578
lynchings in the state.
* * *
James Eastland (D-Mlss), much
has occurred-including murders
of Negroes by Negroes, gambling,
manufacturing of moonshine whis-
key, and protection of violators
from the law by Eastland as long
as whites have not been hurt by
Negroes. There is a man living
on the Eastland plantation now
who has killed 10 but has never
seen the inside of a courtroom.
Eastland protects his Negroes
from the law and then proceeds
to blackmail them. There are in-
stances of blackmail involving
murders. A Negro murderer was
offered protection with the pro-
vision that he work for practic-
ally no pay and when his three
years were up he was to be free,
when he asked for his freedom to
move out, he was immediately
turned over to the courts for the
3-year-old murder. Parolees are
released from Parchman state
prison in Sunflower County to
work on parole on the cotton
plantations; such a system means
virtual slavery.
the average Negro in Sunflower
and Bolivar Counties are tough
and the pay is very low. In Rule-
ville, busses come for the Negro
day laborers about 5 in the morn-
ing and sometimes get back after
dark. This means about 10 hours
of chopping cotton in the fields
and two more hours of riding the
bus and waiting in line for $3 per
Welfare is precarious and un-
certain because it is administered
by white Southerners. I have col-
lected many cases of intimidation
concerning welfare and the cut-
ting off of welfare when a Negro
becomes involved in civil rights
activity. There are numerous cases
of Negroes being fired from jobs
for attempting to register.
Teachers never-or almost never
-even sign the Freedom Registra-
tion Forms because they are so
afraid of being fired. Teachers are
in an exposed economic position;
likewise, others in better paying
jobs are afraid to become in-
volved in civil rights.
The young leaders with courage
and intelligence want to, and us-
ually do, migrate tothe North, so
that the South is deprived of her
best Negro leaders.
* * *
HOUSES IN SHAW are in the
most depressed condition that I
have ever seen anywhere in Mis-
sissippi. Ditches carrying sewage
run in front of every Negro home.
These ditches are the breeding
ground for the most powerful
force of mosquitoes I have ever
seen. Pupae are visible in the
ditches like so many pin pricks
dotting the vile water from which
frequently a stench arises. Every-
thing that you can imagine runs
in those ditches.
Mosquitoes bite you all night
because the screens are always

defective; consequently s o m e
people are simply covered with
bites and a few have scars from
numerous scratching sessions. I
have seen the feet and ankles of
people with clotted blood marks
where mosquitoes have feasted.
Shaw has one laundromat, which
is for whites only.
THERE ARE Negroes around
Shaw who own small farms; per-
haps a majority of the Negro
farmers around this town of 2000
own their own farms. They raise
cotton and soybeans. Cotton is
subsidized by the federal govern-
ment at 81/2c higher than the
world market price. In the Con-
gressional Record in 1963 a rep-
resentative from Georgia pointed
out how this price support system
is aiding the large cotton plan-
tation owners to make a killing,
while giving the small farmer who
needs help an average of about $5
per month.
White plantation owners, includ-
ing Eastland, raise 3000-5000 acres
of cotton and hence continue to
argue in favor of price supports.
Logrolling continues in a Congress
which is supposed to articulate the
interests of the country, but un-

dens and the opportunity of de-
veloping processing plants is being
ignored. Information on crops
which can gradually replace cot-
ton on these small Negro farms
would be invaluable in improving
the economy here.
* * *
THERE IS necessity for indus-
trialization to meet the increasing,
unemployment introduced by the
extended use of machinery on
plantations. This also is forcing
Negroes into the expanding North-
ern slums.
The riots in New York are being
used by Northerners to justify
their refusal to do anything about
the civil rights problem. We must
realize that a long history of sup-
pression has culminated in a vi-
cious cycle of despair, cynicism,
defeatism, and violence.
In a store in Jackson this week
the store owner said to one of
our workers, whom he mistook for
a tourist, "Mississippi really isn't
as bad as they say it is, is it?"
The consciences of white South-
erners are guilty, their lips are
pursed in unhappiness, the chain
bound around the Negro is held
in the hand of the Southern white,
who is not free either-not free

to talk to SNCC workers, even if
he wants to, for fear that he will
be branded as a "nigger lover,"
with all the threats contingent
upon that status.
THE LACK of concern by
Northerners in general who find
themselves drowning their emo-
tional senses in the softness of
prosperity and the placidity of
respectable conformity, and the
irrelevance of much of the special-
ized and sceptical intellectual-
liberal world, are the complements
to the viciousness of the poor
Southern white who needs to be-
lieve that someone is more lowly
than he.
The struggle is as broad as the
United States-in fact as broad as
the world; and there are battles
to be fought everywhere. Once
people begin to express themselves
in concrete actions guided by com-
munitarian purposes, we will begin
to enter a new age-the age when
harmony will reign between the
No one is arguing that all prob-
lems will be overcome-heaven
forbid-its would bore men to
death-men cannot stand the lack
of excitement found in small uto-
pian communities, and they are

beginning to find it difficult to
stand the modern world because
the notion of greatness and the
value of work are disappearing
while new values are slowly tak-
ing shape.
* * *
CONFLICT will always remain
-but there are many forms of
conflict. Let us hope that lynch-
ings will be replaced by the ag-
gressive consciousness of liberated
black and white people who are
no longer chained by the forces
of segregation and destructiveness,
characteristic of business work
values, which result in a produc-
tion-consciousness far too devoid
of human concern.
An age of greatness must be an
age of belief, as Kierkegaard has
written, because you cannot act
greatly without a strong belief
that some things are supremely
worth doing. The age of skeptical
reflection - the age with the
worthy excuse for remaining in
bed--must be replaced by an age
of passionate belief, an age of
social concern where men turn
from their own specialties and
concentrate their spiritual ener-
gies on the matters of deep con-
cern found in the hearts and souls
of men.









' '


_ _ - -.
-'- -
*-q - '

4 CmlA.C*" -jp~9

Battle Cry for the Negro?

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the fifth
in a series of articles on the Re-
publican convention.
roar between the liberals and
the conservatives at the Repub-
lican National Convention, at least
one mention of civil rights was
all but obliterated.
One speech, which could have
been construed as a strong state-
ment for civil rights if taken
without preconceptions to the
contrary, was largely overlooked.
In excerpt, it read:
The tide has been running
against freedom. Our people
have followed false prophets ..-.
We must and we shall set the
tides running again in the cause
of freedom....
It is the cause of Republican-
ism to restore a clear under-,
standing of the tyranny of man
over man in the world at large.
We do not seek to live any-
one's life for him-we seek only
to secure his rights, guarantee
him the opportunity to strive ...
This is a party for free men--
not for blind followers and not
for conformists.
In 1858, Lincoln said of the
Republican Party that it was
composed of "strange, discord-
ant, even hostile elements." Yet
all the elements agreed on one
paramount objective-to arrest

Ours is a very humane cause
for very humane goals.
The place was the rostrum in
the Cow Palace.
The audience was the Republi-
can National Convention and its
guests, and millions of television
viewers and.radio listeners from
coast to coast and around the
world (via Telstar).
The time was Thursday, July
16, the night of the acceptance
The speaker was Sen. Barry
* *
TAKEN without any preconceiv-
ed notions about Goldwater and
his position, these remarks were a
clarion call for Negroes and pro-
civil rights whites everywhere.
In fact, the senator went even
further, taken in this context. He
endorsed the demonstrations and
:ressures by Negroes to obtain
their rights, and he condemned
those who are dragging their feet
in awarding the Negroes the rights
which are constitutionally theirs.
All that may be found in this
phrase: "Extremism is the defense
of liberty is no vice; moderation in
the pursuit of justice is no vir-
The senator did not apply this
remark to any specific situa-
tion. In this day of hidden mean-
ings and innuendoes, there is much
precedent for applying the state-

rights. In fact, he has openly
said that he feels integration is
a desirable thing. (In "Conscience
of a Conservative," he says: "I be-
lieve that it is both wise and just
for Negro children to attend the
same schools as whites, and that
to deny them this opportunity car-
ries with it strong implications
of inferiority. I am not prepared,
however, to impose that judgment
of mine on the people of Missis-
This is not the statement of a
racist or a segregationist or a
mad fanatic. It sounds more like
the thought of a responsible Amer-
ican citizen.
., * *
AND SO DO his words in his ac-
ceptance speech. Just as he fears
the nation's safety because of the
crime in the streets, perhaps he is
understanding of the Negroes'
quest for "freedom now." And he
purposely does not condemn ("Ex-
tremism in the defense of liberty
is no vice.") but perhaps praises
("Moderation in the pursuit of
justice is no virtue.") them for it:
He only differs with them on
the vehicle they will use to achieve
it. He feels, it is obvious, that
their remedy is through the state
and local governments, simply and
solely because the Constitution of
the United States does not allow
the federal government to take
more than limited action.
One fails to see where this

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