℅ Mrs. Bell
Nov. 28, 1964
Sorry we’ve been silent for so long, but as you can imagine, we have been pretty busy, especially this past week.
We are finally official — that is to say, we how make up half of the Jackson Project, which, depending on staff and other resources is in charge of all programs in the city of Jackson. Since there are only four of us (permanent or semi) and two who leave in a month, our activities are limited. But what we are doing is going very well. So far, our emphasis has been on starting as many of the Freedom Schools which went during the summer as possible. Again, due to the fewness of our numbers, we can only manage three of these. Two are held in churches, one in the Girls’ Freedom House (house where single COFO workers, female, live). This last used to meet in a church also until two of the deacons, the reactionary group, decided F.S. was bad for the kids, and got the congregation to vote us out of the church. It’s a damned shame, but it was also a good experience since it gave the kids a view of the church as a reactionary body which they had not had before. They were quite upset, and at once met to draw up a petition, which was then presented to the deacons [and] the minister, with no luck.
All this week we have been clearing up the building (half of a two family house) which will be used as our office. It used to be the COFO book, clothing and supply warehouse and it was in a mess, piled high with books of all sorts, mostly pretty worthless, clothes strewn all over, papers, pencils, typewriters, mimeograph machines under-foot. With the eager, diligent, sometimes over-enthusiastic help of a crew of little local boys (known as Viki’s dwarves) we have managed to get rid of everything we don’t need here. (Get rid of to the new warehouse). What remains is the beginning of a pretty good library, although we desperately need books, decent books, books about freedom, Negroes, freedom struggles in other countries.
We are living, as you may know, with an 80 year old Negro lady, one of the strongest, bravest freedom fighters we’ve yet met. Mama Chenks [Mrs. Martha Bell] is really a tremendous old lady, and never gives up her battle. She refused to be scared, and houses civil rights workers, holds meetings and registers Freedom Voters at her house.
We see little of the other C.R. workers, except for the couple who are working with the Jackson Project also, and this is just as well. A lot of them we didn’t have to come this far to meet. It’s the local people who make this really valuable as a personal experience, and also they who can teach us best.
Thanksgiving was an interesting, and fattening, experience here. Fist we had lunch at Mama Chenks’– a feast which she cooked for us, and which was particularly touching since we know how little money she has and how little we can contribute. Then over to the Girls’ Freedom House for another sumptuous meal, financed by charitable white Jacksonian ladies. Fancy that!
Not much more. This is a very sketchy account of our activities. I hope my mother will soon send you copies of our longer, more detailed letters.
Yours for freedom,
viki and martin
[Handwritten note by Viki:]
Thanks for yours of ? & the card. What can you all do? You can always send stuff. But, actually there’s more — contact publishers, lamp manufacturers, record companies, etc. & ask, as a rep of Chicago Friends of SNCC, that they “adopt” the Jackson Project & send stuff to
852 Short St
Won’t be home for Xmouse. Mother will be coming here for week or so.
We are thriving, tho poor.
Love to Ted,