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September 2015 & thereafter
Responses to Mark Satin's SNCC 1965 Short Story
and comments on its relevance for today
The story can
be found HERE.
If you would
like to add to this dialogue (or "multilogue") on Satin's story,
please do! Just send your comments
to msatin (at) mindspring (dot) com. Please
include your name, city, and vocation or avocation.
Your comments will appear within five days. They
may be edited for clarity and length.
for sharing your short story. I
thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
think your “Chandler” character is the kind of segregationist I was
referring to in State of Siege, a
program on American Public Radio two years ago: a white supremacist who in many
ways is more dangerous than your “C. J.” character because he’s
intelligent and analytical.
like Chandler are the fathers of right-wing, Tea Party conservatism that has
dominated southern politics since the early 1970s.
Robert: I suspect Chandler speaks
for more people than that. – M.
All Too Human
Thanks for the story. You reveal the humanity in all the players
without excusing or avoiding the devils stoking in their hearts and minds.
Way It Might Have Been
This is a
moving and insightful memoir that deserves publication in a major national
magazine, like The Atlantic.
It brings to
the fore the difficult question: what exactly could idealistic Northern whites
have done to advance racial justice in the deep South in the 1960s?
I grew up in
a Southern Illinois small town, talked with a recognizable Mid-South accent,
hitchhiked through the South in the Fifties, and knew something of the white
Southerner’s cultural attitudes, ranging from paternalistic Christian concern
for blacks to murderous attacks. I was certainly aware of the white
Southerner’s dedication to the “Lost Cause”, and their resentment at
“the damn Yankees coming down here telling us how to live.”
Even then, I
could have said that sending scrufty, long haired Marxist kids down to the South
to mobilize Negroes against their white masters would not lead to good results.
better plan would have been be to send clean, well groomed, short haired
Bible-bearing Baptists down to dialogue with white Protestant ministers and
editors. But that is purely speculative, and it certainly wouldn’t have
satisfied the pot smoking long haired Marxist SNCC types trying to persuade ever
more people to revolt against capitalist oppression.
Back then, I
recall saying “the crucial moment for racial progress will be when a 6’6”
280 pound 18 year old walks into Bear Bryant’s office at Tuscaloosa and says,
‘Mr. Bryant, suh, I love Alabammy and I hope y’all will give me a chance to
help y’all’s team give a good whuppin’ to them mizuble dawgs from
racism – never fully eradicable – has significantly receded, and that is one
of the great stories of the past 50 years.
for this moving insight, and for much more.
Thanks for this.
Very courageous and thought-provoking. Bet some of your lefty
readers aren’t too happy with it!
John A. Graham
A Lesson for Israelis – and
I found your story
I don't think that we in
Israel can learn all that much from it, as the American South you depict so much
reflects that time and place. There are points of resemblance, but more that
show the difference.
I guess the only lesson for
us (indeed for anybody) is that issues of integration are more complicated than
we like to admit.
There can be no doubt that
the "liberals" (many of them Jews in South Africa as well as the
American South) knew the black population less intimately than the Boers and the
rednecks. Possibly this will turn out to be true of the Israeli settlers, as
We shouldn't be too hard on
the do-gooders though. Many of them have genuine good will.
from the Start
Mark Satin 30 years ago, while he was editing New
Options newsletter in Washington D.C. I think the best work he’s
done is on the “Radical Middle” website, and I thank you for carrying his
short story there.
brings back so many memories of sitting with him in his semi-dark offices,
talking with him about what he was finding in D.C. and in his activist past and
within himself, how clueless he had been for many years, how blind, as he failed
to see where the strength was and what was really worth defending and keeping.
He’s a rare soul, a light where little of it shines. He is totally
honest and totally committed. He is a treasure.
“S,” “Y,” and “R” Words
yuppie racism. You should be ashamed
Often, We Reach for Images Rather Than Each Other
I just finished your short story and loved it.
It’s always refreshing to read the truth of a situation.
What I most appreciated is that all the characters
come across as real people, with all the complexity of motives that entails, and
not as stand-ins for stereotyped ideas and images.
I might not like them, but I could appreciate them as individuals.
My experiences are nothing like yours, but
traveling about the New Age circuit in the Sixties, Seventies, and Eighties, I
encountered similar disconnects between the ideals (or the projected images) and
the way people actually are.
Too often people would reach for or proclaim a
level of spiritual perfection while denying or even preventing any effective
work at the level of the personality. In the name of oneness and love,
people could be very disrespectful and even antagonistic towards the uniqueness
and value of the individual person.
Ideals are wonderful, but not so much when they
prevent us from seeing and respecting who we actually are.
The sad thing for me was
that all too often the real person was more interesting and valuable than the
image of the ideal person with which they struggled and which they sought to
embody at a cost to their own authenticity.
… and Then
This is a
wonderful piece, with a wonderful conclusion.
Reading it makes me wonder whether the modern roots of today’s
horrendous racial stuff can’t be traced right back to 1965.
story: last week I was driving on a main thoroughfare here in Santa Fe.
Stopped at a light and glanced briefly to my left.
A young black fellow was in the car next to me and gave me “the
finger.” I innocently rolled my
window down (a mistake), shrugged my shoulders and said out loud, “Why?”
And his response was, “Because you were looking at me.”
off. But what a sign of the times.
Black scholar John McWhorter does trace it
back to the mid- and late Sixties, to
a phenomenon he calls “therapeutic alienation.”
See our review of his book Winning
the Race HERE.
Had It Coming
Your short story has
the absolute ring of truth to it. Enough
of my friends did what you did for me to recognize the “buried history”
I very much enjoyed
the parallels between you and your father and Shep and his father (the
“deputy”). Did you even know you
were doing that?
I remember a civil
rights march in which we were all singing the song “Oh Freedom” [“No more
shooting,” “No more George Wallace,” etc.] and then a young black woman
started singing the phrase, "No more white liberals."
We had it coming!
Harvey T. Lyon
truth-telling we need
I have just read your short story about the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. It is terrific. I will refer to it in a book I'm now writing.
I have always been
impressed by your truth telling. Here you've done it again in a very
This spring a Boston
Globe reporter won a Pulitzer Prize because of her truth telling regarding
the Boston forced-busing crisis of the 1970s. To me her articles showed
that busing did a lot of damage to many blacks and whites, while helping some
This nation needs much more
of the truth telling that you've done in your story, and that I'm trying to do
in my book.
Allen Parker, Ed.D.
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