the Meredith March (1966)
Ray Goldstein sent this account of his participation
in the Meredith March
after seeing the photos on this website.
Friday June 10, 1966
had a job in 1966, in Chicago at an engineering firm on the far North
Side, part of my college cooperative education program. My roommate,
Doug Kline, was a Quaker peace activist and that summer he had a position
with the American Friends Service Committee in support of Dr. King’s
movement in Chicago.
Friday June 10, 1966 Doug comes home from work Friday evening and announces
that “we” are going to Mississippi to take up the cause at
the spot on Highway 51 where James Meredith was shot. I decide to join
him for the symbolic ride southbound and to get some real field use out
of the battery-operated Uher tape recorder I was using for portable music.
Those were the days before the invention of the cassette tape machines
and Walkmans we now take for granted.
I bought an extralong reel of blank recording tape and a couple of sets
of batteries for the trip and we set out for Memphis, Tennessee. It was
an all-night drive of about 500 miles. At daybreak we arrived at a church
in Memphis, a staging area for us marchers. After some breakfast we hooked-up
with the group for the ride down to the march-head which was another
60 or 70 miles south, in Panola County, Mississippi.
We were “guarded” during our march down Highway 51 by the
Mississippi Highway Patrol, but were truly shepherded by local blacks
who cruised the line of marchers with pistols on the front seats of their
Oldsmobiles and Chevrolets. Saturday night the powers-that-be somehow
beneficially arranged a tidy tent-city and campground for us at the foot
of Lake Enid in Yalobusha County.
Sunday June 12, 1966
The marchers, which at this point must have grown to a couple of hundred
souls, convened for a Sunday gathering under the big tent and we were
addressed there by Dr. King, Andrew Young and then Fannie Lou Hamer lead
us in several inspirational Freedom Songs with the dynamic energy only
Fannie Lou Hamer could muster.