June 20, 1965 – Atlanta, GA
Dr King Opens Rights Drive Tuesday
The New York Times quotes King about our Summer Community Organization and Political Education project orientation in Atlanta and plans for the summer to register thousands of voters in 60 counties.
The SCOPE project began June 9th. After traveling cross-country and six days of intensive Orientation in Atlanta, five of us arrived in Camden on June 20th to work with Dan and Juanita Harrell and Major Johns of SCLC and local community leaders Rev Thomas L. Threadgill, Rev Frank Smith, Bob and Georgia Crawford, Jesse Brooks and his daughter Ethel Brooks and many local student leaders.
June 21, 1965 – Camden, AL
Five SCOPE workers and locals workers are arrested and held for a few hours at the jail. One Black youth, is beaten so badly that when he is released, he is taken to the hospital in Selma.
June 28, 1965 – Camden, AL
Sherriff Lummie P.C. Jenkins tells local “Negro Cafe” owners, Mr and Mrs. Reynolds that they cannot any longer serve white civil rights workers. When we arrive for lunch, Mr. Reynold asks us to please leave and not bring trouble to his store, so we leave. We did not eat there the rest of the summer.
Eighteen (18) SCOPE-SCLC (including this author) and local civil rights workers are arrested at Antioch Baptist Church and booked into the Camden jail without due process. Local student activist Don Green is beaten in front of us and put in solitary confinement when a knife is discovered in his sock. White SCOPE volunteer Mike Farley is put in a cell with a violent white prisoner and beaten mercilessly throughout the night. We are released a few at a time over the next few days. All are released within five days but none ever know when they will be either released or attacked. A detailed narrative is included in my forthcoming book.
June 29, 1965 – Camden
Masked men beat youth guarding SCOPE office at Antioch Baptist Church. Three are beaten badly. Two are hospitalized; one suffers permanent traumatic brain injury. Reports in SCOPE papers state that there were 8 youth attacked by 5 masked men and that two were beaten. Incident Report. p 367 SCOPE of Freedom (Leventhal, Challenge Press). Three of the Klansmen are identified by the youth but none are arrested or serve sentences. Names of the youth and their attackers are included in my forthcoming book.
June 30, 1965
The Mayor informed SCOPE workers that anyone found in the church after dark would be arrested for public nuisance and taken into protective custody.
Thank you to Dr. Robert M. Franklin for his generous words about This Bright Light of Ours: Stories from the Voting Rights Fight:
This is an important work about a neglected period of the Civil Rights Movement, the 1965 Voting Rights Movement. Gitin clearly communicates her commitment to civil rights and social justice by presenting us with the fresh voices of unheralded community leaders in Wilcox County, AL. It adds wonderful new insight and texture to the story of how courageous Americans transformed their community and the country. – Robert Michael Franklin, Ph.D., President-Emeritus of Morehouse College
I grew up in Camden Alabama. My father was Mr. Rudolph V. Cooper, teacher of Camden Academy (deceased December 1988). I remember when Dr. Martin Luther King came to Camden, Al Antioch Baptist Church. All of the teachers were told that if they participated in any demonstrations, mass meetings, etc they would be fired. Therefore my brother Terry Cooper and I could not participate in any meetings. Of course in 1965 we were quite young but we were aware of everything that was going on. I remember during the march when one of our teachers Mrs Cassie Colston’s husband Mr. David Colston, an active participant in the mass meetings and marches during that time was brutally shot in the head (murdered) by a white man and when they removed his body from the road, they threw his splattered brains in the bushes. Their only son and only child David Colston, Jr was and still is one of my closest friends. I find your information to be accurate and a great read and proof that Camden, Al has a lot of history.