Historic NY Times Article on Wilcox County 1966 Elections

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Thanks Bruce Hartford for sending this terrific NY Times 1966 article by Gene Roberts. That month was the first opportunity for newly registered African American voters to elect their own candidates including sheriff. Military veteran Walter J Calhoun took on the challenge in deeply segregated Wilcox County, Alabama. Although he and the other Peoples Choice candidates did not prevail, they paved the way for future success. This in depth gives perspectives Black activists and the white establishment including fascinating quotes from Calhoun, Dan Harrell, former sheriff Lummie Jenkins, landowner Sam Hicks and others on both sides of a deep divide about race and politics.

April 17, 1966 Wilcox County strategy session with State Senate candidate Lonnie Brown, Walter J Calhoun, candidate for Sheriff and SCLC leader Daniel Harrell

April 17, 1966 Wilcox County strategy session with State Senate candidate Lonnie Brown, Walter J Calhoun, candidate for Sheriff and SCLC leader Daniel Harrell

To read and order article:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9F0DE2D7113EE43BBC4F52DFB266838D679EDE&legacy=true

For more Wilcox County Voting Rights History: www.thisbrightlightofours.com 

Giving Thanks to the Courageous Citizens of Wilcox County for Sharing your Stories with the World

Betty Robert Banner

Betty Anderson and Robert Powell, Camden Academy Activists

Sheryl Threadgill and the Lawsons at Selma Jubilee 2014

Sheryl Threadgill and the Lawsons at Selma Jubilee 2014

W. Kate Charley lived her life standing tall, telling the truth and having fun. She lives on in blessed memory.

W. Kate Charley lived her life standing tall, telling the truth and having fun. She lives on in blessed memory.

 

Lewis V Baldwin, Anthea Butler and Barbara A Holmes at Baldwin's Vanderbilt University Retirement Celebration 2014

Lewis V Baldwin, Anthea Butler and Barbara A Holmes at Baldwin’s Vanderbilt University Retirement Celebration 2014

 

John Matthews in Pine Hill

John Matthews shows Maria where he found her and other civil rights workers headed deep into the woods at dusk. Pine Hill, AL

SNCC Buddies Luke (Bob) Block, Maria Gitin and Charles (Chuck) Bonner 2005

SNCC Buddies Luke (Bob) Block, Maria Gitin and Charles (Chuck) Bonner 2005

I’m feeling extra grateful today for the contributions of more than 70 friends, families and supporters to the amazing success of “This Bright Light of Ours: Stories from the Voting Rights Fight.”  We have almost sold out the hard-bound first edition, thanks to your willingness to share your struggles, your pain and your laughter. Across the country, white students and adults alike tell me that they understand the history of racism and white privilege from a new perspective, and that they want to be part of eradicating injustice. African Americans, Latinos and others say, thank you for sharing these stories, our stories. Young students ask: Why didn’t we ever learn this in school?  Although marketed as a memoir, this is really your story, our story. Thank you today and always for your contributions.

Samuel supported Maria every page of the way on her journey back to Summer 1965

Samuel supported Maria every page of the way on her journey back to Summer 1965

Bruce Hartford, CORE, SCLC 1965 - invaluable historian of the Movement

Bruce Hartford, CORE, SCLC 1965 – invaluable historian of the Movement

Bob Fitch Photographer & Activist

Bob Fitch Photographer & Activist

April Action in Wilcox: 50 Years Ago this Month

April 10, 1965 – Camden

Smoke Bombs Halt New Wave of Alabama Marchers

Quotes Camden Academy students Ralph Eggleston and Charles Mimms. Photo of Jim “Arkansas” Benston, white SNCC youth, being beaten by Camden city police.  Source: Chicago Defender special by Leon Daniel

April 20, 1965 – Camden scope056_2

Dr. King came through on another whirlwind tour of Alabama while a 200-person march was already underway. The same date, the state of Alabama secured a federal injunction against Dr. King to prevent him from using children to march and demonstrate. Source: Chicago Defender.

Note: This was a ludicrous charge since the students and adults in each community were planning their own strategies. Dr King came to show support and give encouragement. He did not organize any events in Alabama after the Selma marches and was not even a lead organizer of those marches. He was the inspirational leader, but the white press and politicians saw as the only leader.

April 21,1965 – US Court of Appeals 5th Circuit Alabama

Federal Court of Appeals finds “substantial un-contradicted evidence” that registration officials in Wilcox County were applying the supporting witness (voucher) requirement in a discriminatory fashion. Records disclosed only one instance of a black person attempting to obtain a white voter as a supporting witness.

Source: US v Logue, 344 F2d 290 (1965)

April 21, 1965 – Camden26

Camden civil rights leaders declare they will protest daily until allowed to register and to vote. They do so and continue until school lets out in the end of May.

This date was this author’s 19th birthday celebrated with friends in San Francisco where she had already signed up for the SCOPE project. After SCLC orientation in Atlanta with Wilcox residents Ethel Brooks, Charles Nettles, Mary Alice Angion and others, I was assigned to that county for the summer voter education and registration project.

Source: Chicago Daily Defender and personal memory.

For more history of the Wilcox County Voting Rights Movement read: www.thisbrightlightofours.com 

Dan Harrell in front of Antioch Baptist church

Dan Harrell in front of Antioch Baptist church  – Bob Fitch Photo 1966 © Stanford University Archives

Wilcox County Freedom Fighters set to March in Selma Sunday March 8th

Thanks to friends and freedom fighters Robert Powell and Alversal and Albert Lawson for bringing and carrying the Wilcox County Freedom banner to the Selma Jubilee next Sunday, the Wilcox Movement will be represented at the 50th Jubilee. Learn more about the Wilcox County Voting Rights Fight at http://www.thisbrightlightofours.com.

Betty Anderson and Robert Powell with Banner 2010

Betty Anderson and Robert Powell with Banner 2010

Crowd at bridge

Phillip Young and Robert Powell carry the banner in 2010. Center L-R: Jessie Crawford, Maria Gitin and Joy Crawford-Washington.

Wilcox represents at the Bridge Re-enactment 2014

Wilcox represents at the Bridge Re-enactment 2014

All civil rights workers, family, descendants, friends and allies are welcome to join our group. Meet at on MLK Street directly across from the steps of Brown Chapel no later than 1:30 PM. If you come in on the bypass and then up Broad to any of the cut through streets, you can usually park on Lawrence by the elementary school, then cut through the Carver housing development and find the sign. They will keep it up on the long poles so everyone can find it. Every year so far we have gotten interviews, photos and news coverage. Plus had a great good time walking together. I won’t be there in person this time, but will be with you in spirit. Please send photos from your cell phones! Thank you!