Sunday, January 14, 2007

Student InActivists Shamelessly Exploit Darfur

[originally published 4/14/07]

Fasts from luxuries for one day for Darfur!?!?!?! A day of lobbying?!?!?!? Frat party-like internships with risk-nothing Save Darfur, Africa Action, STAND Now, or Genocide Intervention Fund??!!?!?

GOLDEN RULE: "Do unto others ALL that you would have them do unto you." This has not been considered, let alone practiced. Inactivism thus far has been TOTAL MORAL FAILURE.

You know better. Students laying down their lives have been the major force in most if not all great human struggles in the last 100 years. You all have sold out, you are a disgrace so far.

[See: A Hunger For Justice : Darfur Becomes One Man's Cause for Deprivation
Delphine Schrank, C01 (Post) Washington Post, April 14, 2007]

[US & UK have the Security Council until June 30. This is your last chance to TRULY Stand with Darfur. Join a Brigade of PeaceMakers - Darfur, NOW.]

Here is what student activists do; they lay down their lives for others. Here is what you need to emulate to vindicate yourselves (from THE STUDENT NONVIOLENT COORDINATING COMMITTEE: A BRIEF HISTORY OF A GRASS-ROOTS ORGANIZATION). STUDENTS by laying their lives on the line, DEDICATING THEIR SUMMERS, GAINED CIVIL RIGHTS IN THIS COUNTRY. WILL YOU STUDENTS LAY DOWN YOUR LIVES THIS SUMMER FOR DARFUR?

"...The five years of hard organizing from 1961 to 1965 that went into the building of the Mississippi Project was extremely dangerous work. Lee Morton took time from his occupation to work with the Council of Federated Organizations Mississippi Literacy Project. COFO workers faced threats, harassment, arrests, beatings, bombings, and killings throughout the campaign, not only from white supremacist groups, but also from local residents, thugs, and police (fig. 9: Freedom Rally, Hattisburg). Local black leaders were shot and killed, including Medgar Evers, Herbert Lee and Louis Allen. 20 project offices, 37 black churches, 30 black homes and businesses were firebombed or burned during the Freedom Summer alone, and most of the cases went unsolved (fig. 10: The Burning of Vernon Dahmer’s Home in Hattisburg). During the summer more than 1000 black and white were arrested, and at least 80 were beaten by white mobs or racist police officers.

The worst act of violence was the murder of three young civil rights workers, a black SNCC volunteer, James Chaney, and his white co-workers, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. On June 21, 1964 Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner set out to investigate a church bombing near Philadelphia, Mississippi, but were arrested that afternoon and held for several hours on alleged traffic violations. Their release from jail was the last time they were seen alive before their badly decomposed bodies were discovered under a nearby dam six weeks later. Goodman and Schwerner had died from single gunshot wounds to the chest, and Chaney from a vicious and savage beating (fig. 11: Rev. Art Thomas on the right, our National Council of Churches Rep. In the Southern Freedom Movement).

This writer can testify to several incidence of violence, especially one such incident that happened one month after the disappearance of the three civil rights workers. On July 15, 1964 at 10:30 P.M., I was driving a truckload of voter registration materials and other supplies to Greenville and Greenwood, Mississippi for rallies that were to take place the following day. Accompanying me were two local black youths who had volunteered to help, Melvin McDavia and Robert Ellis, and a white summer volunteer, Steven Smith. Outside of Canton in Madison County, we were forced to the side of the highway by four carloads of white men in unmarked cars. When they got out of their cars, I saw that they were armed with pistols, rifles, shotguns, ropes, chains, and clubs. I recognized two of the men, Trooper O’Neil of the Mississippi State Police and Sheriff Bruno Evans of Madison County.

They were all drunk and reeking of white lightning. Evans and O’Neil proceeded to pistol whip me while cursing and daring me to take their guns. The others terrorized and beat Smith, Ellis, and McDavia. I heard them order the two youths to start running back towards Jackson. Laying on the ground, dazed and bleeding, I could see them reaching for their guns stuck in their belts and holsters, as if they were planning to take shots at the fleeing kids. Before they could do so, another car pulled to a halt on the other side of the highway and four white men dressed in dark suits, white shirts and ties got out. They beckoned for Sheriff Evans. Evans conferred with them for several minutes. The four suits got in their car and drove away. Fortunately, Ellis and McDavia got away.

When Evans returned, it was obvious that their original plans now had changed. They no longer talked about lynching us. They tried to convince me that they only wanted to arrest Smith and that I was free to get in the truck and drive away. I realized that they now had to make a pretense of legality by enticing me to leave so that I could be shot for attempting to escape. I refused to move. I told Evans to arrest both of us or release both of us. He responded by beating me into unconsciousness. I woke up in the Canton City jail, was fed a breakfast of cold collard greens, fatback, and corn bread. The next day we were taken to a distant rural farm where we appeared before the local magistrate who presided in his barn. Bail was set and we were then returned to the Canton jail. That evening, Bob Moses bailed us out and drove us back to Jackson with a uniformed Trooper O’Neil following us in an official car of the Mississippi State Police. Along the way, Steven Smith broke down and cried. I understood exactly how he felt.

The murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner made headlines all over the country, and provoked an outpouring of national support for the Civil Rights Movement. But SNCC workers realized that because two of the victims were white, these murders were attracting much more attention than previous murders and attacks in which the victims had been black, and this added to the growing resentment they had already begun to feel towards the white volunteers. The dormant issues of race, class, and gender began to surface within SNCC. There was growing dissention within the ranks over charges of white paternalism and elitism. Some SNCC workers and black volunteers complained that the whites seemed to think they had a natural claim on leadership roles, and that they treated the rural blacks as though they were ignorant. There was also increasing hostility from both black and white workers over the interracial romances that developed during the summer. Meanwhile, the women of both races were charging both the black and white males with sexist attitudes and behaviour.

However, the Freedom Summer had a tremendous impact on the movement and left a positive legacy (fig. 12: The Cross Family of Tougalo, Mississippi). The Mississippi Project focused national attention on the subject of black disenfranchisement, and this led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights legislation. Fannie Lou Hamer said it best: “Before the 1964 project there were people that wanted change, but they hadn’t dared to come out. After 1964 people began moving. To me it’s one of the greatest things that ever happened in Mississippi.” Everything We Did Was Ultimately for Them Our Beautiful Children (fig. 13: Everything We Did Was Ultimately for Them Our Beautiful Children).

See updates at all sites:

DARFUR'S LAST HOPE: Brigade of PeaceMakers: for Darfur. JOIN NOW
4 DARFUR HEROES; 21,000 FOR HOLOCAUST: Darfur Dying for Heroes
HUNGER STRIKE: Stand with Darfur: Sudan Embassy
WE'RE PROOF OF NO GENOCIDE: Darfur Genocide a Fraud
Actions 6/06 - 1/07: Stand With Darfur White House II
Actions 5/06 - 6/06: Stand With Darfur White House
Actions 7/05 - 5/06: Rescue Restore Darfur

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