"Revolution in Georgia" radio show hosted by Larry Rubin, part 2
|Freedom Singers: Woke up this morning/ With my mind stayed on Freedom/ I woke up this
|morning/ with my mind, Lord, stayed on freedom/ I woke up this morning/ with my mind stayed
|on freedom/ I pray, I pray, I pray, Hallelujah
|Radio host: [singing continues in background] Revolution in Georgia: The Negro
|Struggle for Franchise. Produce for radio by Larry Rubin, a white Antioch student, who worked
|for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the Southwest Georgia voter registration
|Freedom Singers: Stayed on freedom/ I woke up this morning/ with my mind, Lord, stayed on
|freedom/I woke up this morning with my mind/ stayed on freedom/ I pray, I pray, I pray,
|Larry Rubin: Tonight, I would like to describe the Negro community in which I worked. I’ll attempt to
|analyze it a bit in order to try to explain why the civil rights movement exists in the first place.
|First of all, the southern system is called segregation, but this is a euphemism. The real system is
|one of exploitation and exclusion. This is summed up as a story that an elderly woman told me.
|She said that when she was a little girl, the white people that live next to her would come to her
|mother and asked her mother if she could come out and play with their children, and she went
|out and played, and the way they played was this: the white children would be under the water
|pump. The Negro little girl would have to pump the water for them, and was not allowed under
|the water pump, and the woman said it was hot out and she wanted to get under the water, but
|she wasn’t allowed. She had to serve the white children. It’s a system of exploitation.
|Sharecroppers and day laborers earn maybe $15 a week picking cotton, peanuts. There are no
|unions, and most of the land is owned by huge plantation owners. The people that live on these
|plantations are totally isolated from the rest of society, and meanwhile the people who own the
|plantations are making quite a bit of money. It’s a system of exploitation, sexually. It’s common
|knowledge, and it was proven in the Kinsey Report, that most white men in the South – I think it
|was 90% – have their first sexual relations with Negro women, and yet the white Southerner
|claims is that the reason he’s against integration is that it brings on miscegenation. I feel that the
|reason he’s against integration is that it might bring on intermarriage, which is not sexual
|exploitation but sexual relations on equal basis. All their lives the Negroes that I work with are
|called boy. One elderly man expressed it this way, he said until he was 60 he was called boy, and
|now he’s called uncle. He said that when he was a child he went in with—to a store with his
|father, and the storekeeper called his father boy. This leaves scars. As an example, here’s Charles
|Wingfield, who describes what happened when he went to try to register to vote.
|Charles Wingfield: Its always dangerous when a Negro come down to register because [unsure: (0:04:38-
|0:04:44)]. Something was making him very uncomfortable, just the idea of him coming down
|there, you know?
|Larry Rubin: [unsure]
|Charles Wingfield: Yeah, and they look at you like you are guilty or dirty, or just wondering, you know
|what, what, what are you doing in here, and when you tell him you come to register, most the
|time he’ll actually try it. He’ll say, what you say? What you, what you want, boy? You say, I
|came down to register. You came down to what? Just the way he talk, you know? He, he act like
|shocked when you, when you tell him you came down to register, and he’ll say for what? I looked
|down, and he say, what you want boy? I said, I came down to register. He said what, for the
|Army. You know, is the first thing he said, the Army. And I said no, I registered for the Army
|already. I came down to register to vote today.
|Larry Rubin: the Negroes in the community in which I worked constantly expressed to me of the
|seemingly arbitrary power of life and death held by the white man. Here, Dr. Anderson, who is
|the head of the Albany movement, describes incidents that have created this fear.
|Dr. W.G. Anderson: I can yet remember so vividly, and it hasn’t been too long ago the Negro was shot
|down on the courthouse steps in Baker County, and who is tied to the back of an automobile and
|dragged around. I can remember very vividly, as early as last year, a Negro who was in jail in
|Bainbridge, Georgia because he said he would vote against Marvin Griffin if he was out of jail
|and could vote, was beaten and died.
|[unsure] commit such dastardly crimes, and be
|given a license to do it, [unsure: (0:06:38)] down in Baker County, to lynch Negro and be
|elected to office the next year. Zeke Matthews can walk into a church where a voter registration
|meeting is going on and disrupt the service, create chaos and confusion, and the license to carry
|that pistol and still be the sheriff in the same county.
|Larry Rubin: however, if the southern way of life does not provide fair wages for the Negro, it does
|provide a custom by which the white people for whom he works will give him their old clothes
|and small loans when needed. This is a system that I would call paternalism. Many white people
|whom I spoke to justified the southern system by saying they take care of their Negroes. But I
|observed, the Negroes who got the castaway clothes were in fact the white people’s Negroes.
|They had to grin and scratch and say “Yassa Boss” in just the right way, and they could take part
|of any civil rights or human rights activities. The system of paternalism is a great enemy of the
|movement because people are afraid to give up getting these cats we close in order to gain
|something that is not immediate like the right to vote. This is my paternalism also can be very
|vicious. A good example of this occurred after church was burned down near Terrell—in Terrell
|County, near Dawson. The white community of Dawson decided they would rebuild the Negro
|church. They got a lot of publicity about it nationwide, praising them for this act. But this was
|just the old system working again because, in order for the whites to rebuild the church, the
|Negroes had to give up their deed to it, and they had to give up all right to use the church as they
|please. They cannot hold any voter registration meetings there from now on. Here Jack
|Chatfield, a SNCC worker, talks about this. He’s explaining the situation to the people in Terrell
|County, who are meeting in a tent which is on the site where another church used to stand. It too
|was burned down.
|Jack Chatfield: And, course you, you why, I think you know, probably heard a story about I Hope, we may
|have mentioned I Hope last week, didn’t we? That, the white man with using the insurance
|money, and all of, all, all, all of the building funds. There are all kinds of rules, things like
|He refused to allow us the church at all and, see, coupled, refusing to do
|anything to enlarge the church [unsure: (0:10:01)] more money, unless I help. There is going to
|be donated labor, which means of course, the boss man will say, I donated my boys for Saturday.
|Means they’re going to work on Saturday to rebuild the church. This is, this is a, this is almost as
|worse: what is going on now is just about as worse is burning down a church. It’s really just, it’s
|a—it’s the type crime that’s been committed down here for centuries.
|Larry Rubin: And the crime that has been committed for centuries is essentially this: a whole people
|have been robbed of their right to determine their own lives. A young Negro man growing up in
|the South is faced with a situation where he soon learns that he is very little control over own his
|actions or his own destiny. He learns that all power is in the hands of the white man. He learns
|that there’s very little he can do, no matter how smart he is. No matter how motivated he is, there
|is very little he can do to advance himself. Any people overcome the system individually in the
|traditional way: in bars. The Negro family in the South is largely maternalistic. Is the woman
|who is the stable part of the family. She’s the one that takes care of the kids. Also she’s the one
|who mostly has steady employment. It’s a lot easier for a Negro woman to get a job as a maid
|and has steady work than for a Negro man to get work, let’s say in the fields. In order for
|Negroes to get the benefits from what I have previously called paternalism, they not only have to
|give up their claims to human dignity, they have to work with the whites against other Negroes
|getting human dignity. For example, twice in the South I was arrested on the complaints of
|Negroes. Once—this is a typical example in both cases—three of us were canvassing in
|Bronwood, Georgia and we went into a store that was managed by a Negro. As we were in the
|store the deputy sheriff came and he, he gruffly asked the store owner if we are bothering him,
|and he asked him, didn’t he want to press charges against us for trespassing.
|The Negro replied in the way he’s been taught to reply to the things white people say, Yassa boss. And all of
|this happens in a society which teaches that anyone can make it, which teaches the Great
|American dream of rugged individualism and of individual achievement. The closest
|resemblance that I could find the southern way of life as it applies to Negroes is a passage from a
|book called Survival in Auschwitz, which is written by a, a man who was an inmate in the
|Auschwitz concentration camp and who survived. He said that the Jews there didn’t hate the
|Nazis. They didn’t, they didn’t hate their situation. They simply accepted it because they knew
|that there was no hope. They, they felt they were being punished, they felt that they are being
|assigned a way of life, and once you give up all hope you simply adjust the best way you can to
|the situation. You try to live in any way possible. Negroes adjust by saying, Yassa boss. By
|arresting civil rights workers. In this context, going down to the courthouse and registering to
|vote takes on tremendous significance because it’s not only Negroes demanding their rights to
|citizens—and the rights of citizenship, but it is, it is Negroes claiming that they are humans. It is
|Negroes going to the courthouse and facing this white man, but most of the people that I met feel
|resentment, and understand that they are in fact not inferior. Charles Wingfield, the Negro high
|school student to whom I referred previously, visited New York and wrote a letter back to Lee
|County, which was read at one of our mass meetings.
|Unidentified man reading letter: dear Lee Countians…
|[end of audio]
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