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The 1964 Democratic National Convention - Part 3- Memoir of a Civil Rights Activist

By Charles Dumas

: For those of us who spent most of the Summer working on the Freedom Project,leaving rural Mississippi was like entering a brave new world filled with strange people and ideas.

            In the sixties the prevailing influence was the cold war, a conflict between the United States, and the Soviet Union (Russia) and Communist China.  The US and Soviets had been allies during World War II (WWII) but afterwards the two countries became engaged in a struggle for political and economic dominance. Both had a bounty of nuclear weapons, which they threatened to use if attacked. Both  recognized that a real military confrontation would most likely result in the annihilation of all human life on the planet. During that era every political event was framed in coldwar terms including the civil rights movement. Condemnations of being communist were hurled against the Movement and its leaders, even Dr. King. J. Edgar Hoover, the long time director of the FBI,was so convinced that the Movement had been infiltrated by communists, he spent large amounts of the government’s resources investigating civil rights leaders while often ignoring the white terrorist organizations, which were instigating and promulgating violence against civil rights workers.

            During this period America was also experiencing a period of great prosperity. The ravagesof WWII had destroyed the production apparatus of the major European and Asian industrial powers.  The US was the only country,which emerged with its industry intact. In fact, the US took on the task of helping to finance and rebuild European and Asian manufacturing capabilities through programs like the Marshall plan.

The February 2015 Issue of Voices is Out1

Local High School student invents new method to assign lockers to students to increase student performance

Noah Kaplan, a senior at the State College area High School, has been in the news lately for his invention of a better way to assign school lockers, which improves student morale and performance.

SLOCKERS, the Smarter Locker Assignment System is earning recognition from many of the people who have witnessed it in action. 

Noah is currently developing Slockers as a small business to help pay for his education at Cornell, which he will be attending in the fall.

  Read more »


Part 2- A LONG HOT SUMMER  By Charles Dumas

            1964 – The events of 64 generated the first of the long hot urban summers that became typical of the late sixties. 

The country was still in mourning for President Kennedy.  Neither the Warren Commission Report, which identified Oswald as the lone assassin, nor the conviction of Jack Ruby in March for killing Oswald had not allayed suspicion that the assassination was not the work of a lone assassin but aconspiracy. 

            In Jackson, Mississippi, an all white jury wouldn’t convict the murderer of Medger Evers, Byron DeLa Beckwith. He would not serve time until Medger's widow, Merlie relentlessly struggled to bring him to justice years later.

            There was some good news.  The 24thAmendment which prohibited the use of poll taxes in federal elections was ratified. Poll taxes and literary exams were two of the primary legal methods used to deny Black people the right to vote in the South. The US Senate broker the Southern filibuster and passed the Civil Rights Bill in June. Sidney Poitier became the first African-American to win an Academy Award for best actor for his performance in LILIES OF THE FIELD.  

           Other events in the cultural world included the American debut of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and Muhammed Ali beating  Sonny Liston to win the heavyweightchampionship.

            Internationally,two newly independent African countries, Tanganyika and Zanzibar had merged tobecome Tanzania.  Nelson Mandela and his fellow defendants in the Rivonia Trial were sentenced to life imprisonment.They remained incarcerated on Robben Island for twenty-seven years until democracy came to South Africa.

            In the Mississippi Summer Project the mood had been set by the disappearance and assumed lynching of our fellow activists, Mickey, Andy, and James. It had achilling effect on our work yet inspired us to move to a higher level. Every action for good or bad seemed a matter of life and death.

December 2014 - January 2015 Issue of Voices


Helping create VOICES for the voiceless • Rebuilding Penn State for the 21st century • Heating bills: Making winter fuel go further • A Personal Memoir of a Civil Rights Activist • The wonders of the rosehip • A look at energy, economy & environment • VOICES Choices • Middle East: Rising population & problem • BOOK REVIEW:This Changes Everythi Read more »

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