Letter, Matthew Zwerling to Israel and Florence Zwerling and Sara; June 23, 1964
Clarksdale, June 23,1964
Dear Folks and Sara:
It's Monday night and I have a wide variety of feelings. I did some canvassing today and found the people very receptive and friendly. In covering a couple of blocks I found four people willing to go to the courthouse tomorrow and attempt to register. The real test will come tomorrow to see if they'll actually go; if we workers will be arrested and if they will be registered. Some will probably go - we will most likely get arrested (some of the kids were held and questioned for a few hours today - in a short while 3 lawyers were here from Memphis but they had been released) and nobody will actually get registered. Our plan is to bring several people each day to attempt to register and eventually call a Freedom Day (if they aren't being registered) in which hundreds of people attempt to register. This usually sparks police harassment and, on our part, some demonstrations and picketing. It's a way of focusing attention and showing that many Negroes do want to vote.
Right now I'm sitting at the office. I'm staying with a fairly well-off Negro lady who has some air conditioning in her house (4 of us are staying there). The guys are pretty interesting. The office has a "library" of 2000 or so books - more than the city library. In many communities such libraries are being set up.
For all this - I'm not extremely excited. The nights are quiet and somewhat boring (we can't go out much) and the heat during the day is unbelievable - so not too much work is being done. I'm told it's always like this in the beginning and that things pick up as the movement begins to swing.
There is some conflict here between NAACP and SNCC which sort of stays a little beneath the surface. In the city itself NAACP is "in charge" - as we do county work SNCC (COFO) will do most of the work. My hunch is that I'll be doing a lot of county work.
Dad - a belated but deeply meant happy Father's day. In the excitement of moving in (during the night, etc.) time sort of dissolved. Since I can't get another cowboy shirt for you, I'll try to steal a policeman's hat and send it. The chief of police here is something else - any trouble that we'll have will come from him. He'll be mad if I get his hat.
Around the state the papers are now preaching non-violence. Let the police handle the invasion - so there's a change we can get some work done.
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