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

From: William M. Mandel (
Date: Fri Mar 02 2001 - 01:03:32 EST

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    FORTY students and faculty? Shit. Bill Mandel

    radman wrote:

    > 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
    > movement.
    > 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
    > extraordinary.
    > "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.


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