[sixties-l] Civil rights activist rewinds time in Kent State U. speech

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Thu Mar 01 2001 - 14:58:14 EST

  • Next message: radman: "[sixties-l] Olson Outraged as Judge Admits SLA History Into Her Trial"

    Civil rights activist rewinds time in Kent State U. speech


    February 28, 2001
    By Matt Lehman
    Daily Kent Stater
    Kent State U.

    (U-WIRE) KENT, Ohio - Attorney and civil rights activist Staughton Lynd
    attempted to turn minds into time machines Tuesday afternoon on the 12th
    floor of the library at Kent State University.
    "I'd like to bring time back a little," Lynd said.
    The audience listened carefully as Lynd discussed how the civil rights
    movement had first come to his attention. Lynd was driving a young
    African-American woman to her home in Montgomery, Ala. The young woman had
    been meeting with Lynd in Georgia, and she needed a ride home. Lynd said
    that because of the driving time between Georgia and Alabama, he just
    assumed he would be offered a place to stay when they arrived. Instead, he
    was greeted by an uncertain and concerned mother.
    "She opened the door, and I just assumed I would be offered a place for the
    night," Lynd said. "She looked at her daughter, looked at me, swallowed
    hard and after a long pause invited me in."
    Lynd said he later felt embarrassed after assuming that being white and
    staying at the woman's house was not a big deal.
    More than 40 students and faculty filled the usually quiet special
    collection's reading room to hear Lynd tell this story and others about his
    involvement in the civil rights movement of the early '60s.
    Kent State Library and Media Services held the presentation in honor of
    Black History Month.
    During the presentation, Lynd also mentioned some of the books he feels
    most accurately describe the civil rights movement. The titles included a
    biography of Martin Luther King Jr. and a book written by Charles Payne
    called I've Got the Light of Freedom. Payne's book appealed to Lynd because
    of the attention the book gives to the women in Mississippi during the
    Lynd also told of the unique experience of being offered a teaching
    position at Spelman College in Georgia, an African American, all-women's
    school. Lynd accepted the offer but said at the time the request seemed
    "I thought it seemed odd for a white professor to coordinate a program for
    black teenagers," Lynd said.
    Sometimes emotionally, Lynd told other stories to the audience. He
    discussed being the director of the freedom schools in Mississippi during
    the summer Freedom Project of 1964. Freedom schools were make-shift high
    schools for young African American men and women set up throughout
    Mississippi. He also offered some of his thoughts on the murders of three
    civil rights workers that year near the town of Philadelphia, Mississippi.
    Freshman marketing major Rachelle Brown attended Lynd's presentation and
    said his stories showed her the reality of the movement.
    "They made me realize what went on then," Brown said. "They let you know
    that people put their lives on the line."
    Lynd was not alone in his involvement. Lynd's wife, Alice, has been with
    him through many of his experiences. Lynd went on to describe why he and
    his wife chose to take part in the movement.
    "We had the opportunity to do something that [most] white people in this
    country (didn't) do," Lynd said. "We took place in an inter-racial movement
    with black leaders."
    Lynd also commented on the current state of affairs in the United States
    and how his experiences showed him that the key to change is coming together.
    "We did the best we could," Lynd said. "I think in the end we aren't going
    to be able to change things that disturb us in this society until we get"
    races together.
    At the end of his presentation, Lynd, backed by his wife, led the audience
    in singing the civil rights song, "Eye on the Prize." Audience members
    stood with their arms around each other as Lynd and his wife sang the
    verses in perfect tune.
    Lynd is not a stranger to Kent State. He was a guest speaker for the
    Friends of the Library Dinner in April, 1998 and gave a presentation called
    "Labor History, Oral History and May 4."
    Jeanne Somers, senior secretary in the library administration office, said
    Lynd has an ongoing relationship with Kent State.
    "I wouldn't be surprised if he comes back in five years or so in some
    capacity," Somers said.
    Some of Lynd's papers can be viewed in the special collections area of the
    library, and more will be added in the future.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Thu Mar 01 2001 - 17:01:19 EST