SNCC Activists on What It Was Like to Work With John Lewis


We were the sum total of our work. Activists Dorey and Joyce ladner recall what it was like to organize with John Lewis in the nineteen sixties. Dorie ladner retired clinical social worker is a former s NC seafield secretary Joyce. ladner sociologist is a former SNC. See Field Secretary. Dorie Ladner. Sister and I met John. Lewis in Jackson Mississippi when we were students had to Gallo College. He was one of the freedom writers who returned to Mississippi to settle some matters related to parchman penitentiary where they were all jailed in nineteen, sixty one after being arrested while defying segregation, they came back to pay their bonds and settled their legal issues at the time I was learning about nonviolent action and community organizing, and after I started becoming involved with US NC see in the movement I would often see him in meetings along with the rest of the group's leaders Diane Nash. James, bevill and others. Joyce Ladner The public is attaching words like saint to John But. We certainly didn't view him that way. He was arrested a lot back in the early years. You put your life on the line for a purpose to get freedom for black people who were denied the right to vote. My sister once asked him John Why do you keep allowing these racists to beat you over your head? It was the times in which we lived. It was not black lives. Matter Times. Times but a small band of young southern, mostly black people fought against extraordinarily powerful people and structures, and helped dismantle them will were the sum total of our work, Dorey I ended up dropping out of school in December of nineteen, sixty two, and went to work for SNC sees Atlanta office, which was the size of a closet, because history was being made, and I had to be a part of it. We were all in our early twenty s trying to. To figure out what we were going to do with our lives, and how we were going to survive making nine dollars sixty four cents a week after taxes moving from place to place, not knowing where we were going to sleep the next night or eat, we lived off the black community. The people fed us and that's how we survived. That was the whole concept of SNC see and the movement. For the most part. We were all of the same mindset. Mindset. Doctor King had more elevation because of his stature. He was a family man of some means, but we were students. Singing was one of our primary organizing tools. John couldn't sing that well, but we all enjoyed singing singing brought joy and peace and calm to us. It's very difficult to organize a group of scared people in Selma, Alabama and Albany. Georgia, but once you start singing, everyone joins in common core, and it gives you more power and strength. Joyce. Before, he announced his diagnosis. He came to a gala at which I was honored. And I noticed he was smaller. We were going to get together for lunch, but I never followed through. We embraced, and he asked me about my sister, and that was it, but he was the same John. The Public John You saw speaking on those stages was not that different from John Our friend. Daury. Growing up in Jim Crow Mississippi. Our mother trained us to stand up for ourselves John, Lewis was soft spoken, so I tried to get a rise out of him. Sometimes, it was all in good fun. He laughed it off John Admired strong women. He admired intelligence. He knew I would go down fighting and he liked that about me and I respected him for his beliefs his nonviolence. We learned from each other that even though we all had our beliefs, we were in a common cause for justice and Equality, and we would do whatever is necessary to try to achieve those goals as told in two conversations to Livia be waxman.

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