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Journey to Mississippi Transcript 1966 JOURNEY TO MISSISSIPPI J. Wakeman SUMMARY In summing up my "work" in Mississippi with the National Council of Churches Delta Ministry Project, I will try to answer the two questions which have been asked repeatedly. "What did you do?" and "What happened to you in the South?" Of the two, the first question can be answered briefly by summing-up the task assigned, which consisted of survey-taking in the Negro sections of Hattiesburg. This survey ranged widely in scope - taking down the family situation, the income, housing, discrimination in jobs, social security, welfare, education, and voter registration. There were also occasions to facilitate the registration of voters and to direct families to the proper agencies for immediate relief of a critical need. And there was the opportunity to reactivate a girl's youth club in my particular area - Eaton Precinct. With these activities, combined with several marches and special workshops, one keeps busy - but there is a terrible personal frustration not being able to do more work with tangible results: one deeply desires the satisfaction of feeling he is doing something to change the situation. The second question "what happened" is of a more complex nature. The word "experience" is so often used it almost becomes nauseous - but indeed, the time in Mississippi was a series of experiences - from the stay at Mount Beulah where you receive orientation and are confronted with the problems, questions, criticism, and indifference of the people and the situation, to the actual work among the people in Hattiesburg. The first confrontation is one of motive. It is neither one of pure generosity, nor one of exclusive political involvement, nor for that matter, one of a sense of adventure. Along with this painful questioning of motives, one is often reminded and rebuked for immaturity, and there is the always present skeptical attitude of some of the young SNCC, CORE, FDP veterans of the Movement. My own personal motive for going to Mississippi has, and will, always remain the same: Christianity is needed everywhere in America - but it is needed most and under the greatest attack in Mississippi. There, in the name of "white Christianity" crosses are burned, murder is committed, and hatred Is openly practiced. There, most of all, white Christians are needed to bear witness to the brotherhood of all mankind in Jesus Christ. A second confrontation forces one to face a whole variety of problems. Not only do you go down South with a number of hard-to-define motives, but somehow you have an idea, however vague, that something can be done - that there are solutions to all the problems. Very soon, however, all these solutions break down into more questions to add to the problems you were aware of before going South! There are problems of leadership, contradictory leadership, absence of leaderships, absence of proper direction, problems of an economical nature, whether charity is good or bad, problems of integration, etc.
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|Contributing institution||Special Collections, McCain Library and Archives, University of Southern Mississippi.|
|Digital repository||University of Southern Mississippi Digital Collections.|
|Digital collection||Historical Manuscripts and Photographs.|
|File size||677908 Bytes|
|File name||mus-jwg004.01_Page 1.jpg|