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Fri. [June 26, 1964], [Oxford, Ohio] [typescript page 1]
Dear Diane and Susan,
This has been such an incredible week, and there is so much to say, and it is also late, so I won’t say much. No one, I think, can know what a terrific group of people there are here: I love them all. The spirit and the intensity and the determination (this is not quite the right word) have been almost unbelievable. Very few have gone home, and none until today (Bob Moses said tonight that he’s been bothered that no one had gone home). And no one can imagine what tension we’ve all been under, and how magnificently we’ve all stood up, especially the kids, who have just been amazing. (There has been, as you can imagine, a hell of a lot of parental pressure, to which my parents have contributed more than their share). (We all love the Goodmans and the Schwerners for the things they’ve said and the spirit – also not the word – they’ve shown.) I’m too tired to tell you any details but I’d like to. There have been at least three and I think four distinct groups: us, the volunteers; the elder Mississippi Negroes, of whom there are many, of all sorts; the guerrillas, by which I mean the field workers; and the staff, but this last distinction kind of fades away. Actually we’ve (Nancy and me) gotten to meet almost no one but volunteers; your friend Ivanhoe was here for a while but I think he went back with the group that left to look for Mickey [Schwerner] on Tuesday. The staff and field workers have been felt rather than anything else; I mean they have set the tone of the week and passed it on to us. I should say of the moment; there have been many tones and moods this week, so many, and so many different kinds of responses to events (internal and external events) that we have all run through at least a lifetime’s supply of emotions and maybe more. Above it all there has been the presence but mostly the spirit of Bob Moses, who is as great a man as any generation could produce: there is not a single person here who wouldn’t given his life for him, as he would for any of us. Today we had a kind of farewell session; Jim Forman spoke to great effect and a rousing ovation and then Bob Moses got up and mumbled into the microphone and we were all stunned and silent and when he finished no one stirred or breathed till he had shuffled off and then we all rose spontaneously and burst out singing. The spontaneous singing is something, too. There have been more genuinely great people here than you could assemble in an afternoon of culling presidents and statesmen; Bayard Rustin was here yesterday, and incidentally I think the two psychiatrists who have been here are pretty ok too, though I’m afraid I’m in danger of falling in love with my analyst (I had a very hard time yesterday).
As for the volunteers, my impression is that they are all genuine, completely genuine. They are just damn good people. I do suspect a few of ignoble motivation but not too many; those who are out to prove things just have not shown up here. It is not, thank god, a weirdo or even neurotic movement, or rather, to put it stronger, it is a movement which has had to make no place for neuroses. (That’s the kind of ambiguity which is intolerable: it’s a mvt which has not had to make a place for neuroses.)
We are going to Hattiesburg. Our address there is supposed to be kept secret, and anyway we don’t know where we’ll be living yet, but our mailing address is 507 Mobile St., which is a church. We’ve decided to drive our Rambler down, which will probably turn out to be an error, for ten thousand reasons, not the least of which is losing the car (tomorrow I’m going to get a lock on the gas tank and hood). (We’ve been instructed to get Miss plates and a driver’s license.) (And I’ve got to at least triple my insurance, cause they’ll find me liable if I get forced off the road and hit someone, and sock me for as much as they dare.)
Please do this. In my desk (next to the bed) in the middle drawer on the right hand side you’ll find several manila envelopes. One contains papers relevant to the car: you can identify this envelope by the notations of oil changes, repairs, etc. that I’ve written on the front. This envelope damn sure better contain my Automobile Title, a green official-looking document that guarantees that the car is mine. Please have this thing photostated or Xeroxed and send the photostat to me; do not send the original, and handle it with care since it’s hell to replace and serious to be without.
We’re leaving here tomorrow in the afternoon, with one passenger, whom I’ve not yet met. We’re both assigned to Freedom Schools by the way, with an all-ivy group, nearly.
Joe and Nancy