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August 11, 1964 [Hattiesburg, Mississippi] [typescript]
… Thanks for your back to back letters. I assume that the book situation is cleared up. We do have lots of books for the library, many unusable (Nancy is giving them away), though there’s a shortage of Negro books; what we never did get solved was the books for school problem: we never had enough copies of anything to be able to give reading assignments to a class, with maybe one exception (somebody got 25 copies of Black Boy).
Next day, or two days later (Tues.) … I wonder whether Harry Belafonte was raising money for us when you saw him. He just presented COFO with $70,000 that he (and others) had raised. I think this may be the money that’s going to be used for college-prep year for Negro high school graduates, but I’m not sure; I also think I heard that they are trying to raise $70,000 for this purpose: to send promising but not really prepared kids to school for another year between high school and college.
[on the same page:]
Wed. (Aug. 12)
Your letter has been found, in the trunk of my car, where everything seems to wind up. (I finally got rid of those books, about two weeks ago; I gave them away to some people from Greenville who were passing through.) (Now I’m sorry, since we have so many libraries; we’ll have four when we’re done.)
Last weekend I took a carload of people to Meridian for an all-state Freedom School convention. We arrived too late for what I was told was a very moving memorial service for Chaney (the funeral was private). The convention was very impressive; the kids handled the thing professionally (what they mostly did was pass resolutions). There were no places to stay whatever by the time we arrived, so I slept on a table in the convention hall (an abandoned Baptist Seminary which we are using as the Freedom School building there).
This weekend we are both going to Greenville for a librarians’ convention. It will be Nancy’s first time out of town all summer. She needs a huge rest, which I hope she can get. We’ll get a chance to stop in the Jackson (main) office, which I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Nancy keeps the library open 8 hours a day (9-12, 3-6, 7:30-9:30), during which time she is constantly at work. She doesn’t have any helpers at all. The library is used very heavily (it’s much better than the Negro library provided by the city); she’s already got a thick file of names of borrowers.
copy of a letter from Joseph Ellin in Hattiesburg, Miss.