Rich to RPW Letter 1/11/65
Due to James Farmer's travels to Africa, CORE Community Relations Director Marvin Rich clarifies some details for Warren. He discusses Freedom Rides, sit-ins, and other activities. He mentions Gordon Carey, Dr. Simpkins, Pat and Priscilla Stevens, Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and a publication by Helen Buckler. He encloses reading materials.
Rich to RPW Letter 1/11/65 Searchable TextCollapse
11 January, 1965
Mr. Robert Penn Warren
2495 Redding Road
Dear Mr. Warren:
James Farmer is now in Africa, but I shall be glad to
clear up the discrepancies. Gordon Carey went to Greensboro
at the request of Dr. Simpkins; in the request Dr. Simpkins
also asked that we begin negotiations with the companies
involved. This happened because he had just read a copy of
"Cracking the Color Line". I am enclosing a more recent
edition of the one he read, but I think you will see from the
section on Baltimore why he asked us for assistance.
It is true that Gordon spent most of his time holding workshops
in Durham, Raleigh, Winston Salem and then in Portsmouth,
Petersburg and Norfolk, Virginia. Jim McCain was working in South
Carolina at the same time. I, myself, was active in sit-ins in
Saint Louis in early 1949. Enclosed is a reprint of, "The CORE
Way", by Helen Buckler, which appeared in The Survey Graphic
in 1949. It gives some indication of our use of sit-ins.
In the summer of 1959 we had a major workshop on non-violent direct
action in Miami, Florida which drew participation from all over the
country, including a number of people, such as Pat and Priscilla
Stevens, who were to lead sit-ins in the spring and summer of 1960.
In addition, there were many sit-ins by CORE chapers in Miami,
Charleston, West Virginia and Lexington, Kentucky during 1959.
These were televised, and many of the students active in 1960
were later to tell us that they had their first taste of
direct action by seeing these TV shots.
Mr. Robert Penn Warren -2-
In regard to Mississippi, we had never considered by-passing the state.
We had intended to take a Freedom Ride from Washington to New Orleans
with only the one stop in Jackson. Medgar Evers wrote us a two-page
letter suggesting that perhaps we should not go to Jackson, but we
chose to disregard it. As you know, the bus was burned in Anniston,
Alabama and another busload of CORE people was mobbed in Birmingham.
Thus, the first Freedom Ride did not in fact go to Jackson; but when the
Rides were resumed they did drive from Montgomery to Jackson. It was
there that several hundred were arrested in the summer of 1961. In a
very real sense, we did not choose Jackson - it chose us. After that,
our commitment of staff and resources to Mississippi gradually increased.
Andrew Goodman was a summer volunteer like so many others, and it would
not be accurate for us to take credit for him. But James Chaney as well
as Michael Schwerner were members of the CORE task force and were paid,
trained and directed by CORE.
Certainly you may use the account of the way in which our people disappeared
into the Negro community in Neshoba County. We would appreciate
checking the draft.
Thank you so much for your concern in these matters. I do hope that the
information I have given you will be helpful. If you have any additional
questions, please do not hesitate to contact me in Mr. Farmer's absence.