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The following is an account my father wrote upon his return to Chicago from his first Civil Rights trip to Mississippi which was for Medgar Evers funeral. It was scanned and OCR'd several years ago. I have done very slight editing to fix typos/ocr errors where I saw them. I have made a few very minor additions of my own. These are found in brackets, [ ]. I have also added links to some of the many people (or other interesting items) named in this account. This is long and I decided against editing for brevity as I think the unpolished stream-of-remembrance style of its writing gives one a strong feeling of the experience. It is also very interesting to read many of the little comments that might get edited out but that tell a little story of their own.

Account of the Trip of [Reverend] Warner C. White to Jackson, Mississippi, over the weekend of June 15, 1963.

I am a member of the Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity [ESCRU] and have been for several years. Up until now about all I have done is to be a dues-paying member and then to organize a local group in the area around the Church of the Redeemer [Hyde Park - Chicago, Il]. But a month or so ago John Morris, the Executive Secretary of the Society asked for volunteers among both clergy and lay people —  that is, priest-layman teams — who would be willing to go South in any emergency situation to do what we might be able to do in those situations. I volunteered. I had lay people willing to go, but we were not able to find times when both parties would be able to go, so I was down at the time this came up as a single priest member or volunteer. Sometime in the late afternoon of Thursday, June 13, I received a long-distance call from John Morris asking me if I would be willing to go to Jackson, Mississippi, to attend the funeral of Medgar Evers, the local secretary for the NAACP, who had been murdered several days earlier [the day before] — it must have been Tuesday. John said he was asking clergy from various parts of the country if they would be willing to go and represent the Church at the funeral Saturday and then to stay over Sunday and Monday to listen and to talk to people in the area to see what we might be able to do. I called Rufus Nightingale, who helps me at the Church of the Redeemer to see if he would be able to take services for me that weekend, then called various other people, then later that evening phoned John Morris to say that I would be willing to go.

I made arrangements to take a plane to Atlanta, got my affairs in order Friday morning, and took a plane out of O’Hare Field to Atlanta, arriving there in Atlanta at 6:00 p.m. Atlanta time. There I went by pre-arrangement to the Air Host Inn to stay and found in the room reserved for me the Reverend David Gracie of Rodgers City, Michigan. We had some coffee  in the room — there was a special device for that — got acquainted. Shortly thereafter we received a phone call from John Morris, who was in the Motel. We went to his room and talked some more . Then little by little various of the participants arrived — I don’t remember the order I am afraid. These included the Rev. Rowland Cox of Princeton, New Jersey, where he is the Episcopal Chaplain at the University; the Rev. John Snow of Cambridge, Massachusetts, the assistant at Christ Church; the Rev. Brian Kelley of Boston, Massachusetts — I realize I do not know what parish he is from; and the Rev. Loren Mead from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Loren has a parish just outside in a sort of suburb of Chapel Hill in which there are quite a number of University people. John Morris told us he had just learned from Ruby Hurley, one of the secretaries for the NAACP who works out of Atlanta, and who had asked us to come represent the Episcopal Church at the funeral, that we would be honorary pallbearers. I have to confess for my own part that though I went to sleep that night without too much difficulty, I wasn’t sure I would — I was quite nervous — Nevertheless I did not get a great deal of sleep because in the morning I woke earlier than the time for which I had set the alarm, and after I woke I found I was unable to get back to sleep. I had two other clergy in the room with me —  we had two beds and a roll-in cot. When I got up I tried to move around very quietly so I wouldn’t wake them, but I soon discovered that I need not have bothered since they were both awake themselves. We all admitted to a considerable amount of tension. We ate a very hasty breakfast, and then boarded a plane for Jackson.

One of the things of interest that happened was that our plane was being used by Martin Luther King and other workers in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference so we had a chance to meet and talk to these men on the plane and on the ground when we stopped in Montgomery, Alabama, and Meridian, Mississippi, on our way. When we arrived in Jackson — I might say it was very hot all along the way — temperatures were in the 80’s and 90’s at our various stops — when we arrived in Jackson the temperature was, if not then in the hundreds, it soon got up into the hundred’s. At the airport there were newsreel cameras and reporters waiting to speak to Martin Luther King. There were also two helmeted motorcycle policemen who did not look terribly friendly —  or at least I didn’t think they did — and who were waiting to escort Dr. King to the funeral. Meeting us at the airport was the Reverend Cornelius Tarpley from the National Council of the Episcopal Church, who had been there for a day or so earlier. With him were the Rev. John Thompson from Mobile, Alabama, and the Rev. Wofford Smith, who is the Episcopal chaplain at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.

[gap in text]... come in a representative capacity at the Masonic Temple. So we were seated in about the fourth row back. The Temple was crowded: there were people in the balcony; there were people lined up along the walls; there were people in all the corridors; there were people jammed outside and across the street — all up and down the street. It was as crowded as any building could possibly have been. There were newsreel cameras, photographers, and reporters jammed up down in front. There were various people seated on the platform with a speaker’s podium in the center, and then down below the platform a huge bank of flowers extending the whole length of the platform, and then the casket draped in an American flag parallel to the platform right at is base. The funeral service was presided over by the Rev. Charles A. Jones and was, I suppose, in essence a Baptist service. It consisted of organ music at the beginning with some trumpet music which I did not recognize very beautifully done, with a hymn which we all sang — “Be Not Dismayed, God Will Take Care of You” —  followed by an invocation and then a reading from scripture and then four greetings or “Words from Thousands,” as the program put it, given by various representatives of various communities in tribute to Medgar Evers. I might say about these talks that it was quite evident from the manner and the contents of these talks that Medgar Evers was very highly esteemed. It was quite evident also that this funeral was being used to try to advance the cause of the NAACP, and this not only for the advancement of the movement among Negroes in the South to attain equal status with whites, but also it was clear to try to strengthen the NAACP in the face of other rival organizations in the South attempting to do this same sort of thing. I was a bit concerned at the content of  — or some of the contents at least —  of the first of these talks in which the speaker said such things for example as that there is no remission of sins without the shedding of blood.” It was clear that be had in mind in this case the blood of Medgar Evers and of still others whose blood, he was trying to say, had flowed and would have to flow before complete equality between Negro and white could be obtained in the South. He also made reference to the injunction among Christians to turn the other cheek, saying that “the Negro has turned both cheeks in the South for a hundred years, but now his neck is getting tired.” This was, however, the only note of violence at the funeral — the only reference to violence at the funeral. Among the other speakers was Mr. Roy Wilkins from the NAACP, who spoke very movingly and very capably, and then following these talks there was a hymn which is used in the movement entitled “We Shall Overcome,” which was new to me. I had heard the title before, but I did not know the music, and which seems to be symbolic of the entire movement. Then following this was the eulogy, a final hymn, “God Be with You,” and then arrangements were made for the funeral procession. We learned at that time that the mayor of Jackson had and the City Council had granted a permit for a funeral march from the Masonic Temple to the funeral home. Now I might say that our time in the Masonic Temple was about an hour and a half —  perhaps a little more, perhaps a little less — that it was now definitely 103 outside, that with the thousands of people — it must have been four or five thousand — it was a very uncomfortable time. We were all sweating profusely; our clothes were getting soaked through; everyone we looked at seemed to be in the same kind of misery. The arrangements were made for the funeral march. We were, as honorary pallbearers, among the first to leave to go down the center and to lead out the door in the rear. When we got toward the door toward the outside we were asked to stop and to stand back and to form a sort of aisle down which came eventually the casket and the immediate family. This I must say was the most moving time of the entire time I was in Jackson, and l believe from observing the faces of the other men who were with me that they were equally moved at this moment.

[Photos of Medgar Evers funeral at Google Images]

Then there was an attempt made to arrange the procession in an orderly fashion. The mayor had stipulated in giving his permit for the procession that it was to a silent procession, that it was to be orderly, and that it was to disperse when it arrived at the funeral home. However, what happened was that since the building was so entirely jammed, once the casket and the family had got out the door, the rest of us who were supposed to be following down behind found ourselves jammed on all sides by those who had been standing in the rear during the entire time and those who were outside — found it very difficult to get out in any orderly way and to form a procession. So we ended up just sort of pushing through the crowd as you might getting out of a football game or any other such affair. When we arrived out on the street, there were, of course, police all around as there had been when we went in. There were, notably, motorcycle policemen lined up to our right about half block away all across the street in a solid row, and then to our left about a block and a half away another row of motorcycle policemen similarly lined up. We got out into the street, and those in charge of the procession tried to get us to form up in order. At first we formed in two’s, and then we stood for, I suppose, fifteen minutes or a half hour. It was during this time that I first became aware of what power the sun has on the human head. I don’t believe I have ever at any other time in my life been so conscious of the sun searing the top of my head. At this time now we had been without anything to eat since breakfast, and this must have been about 12:30  — we had been a long time since breakfast. We were very hungry and very thirsty since we had been in this intense beat, which must have been inside the building 115–120° for an hour and a half, and we were standing now out in the very hot sun waiting for this procession to begin. After a long while it moved slightly, and then we were asked to form into columns of four’s. There were many more people than had been anticipated.

Finally after, I suppose a half-hour delay in all, or forty-five minutes, the procession got under way. We found, however, that instead of being up in the front as I suppose had been intended originally, we were now about half way back — so many people had gone up ahead. The procession extended — I am not at all sure — but at least five or six blocks, possibly more. I was never able to see both the beginning and the end at the same time so I am not certain. But that is a fairly close guess. There were four or five thousand people in it. It was exceedingly impressive. We walked then, slowly, for two and a half miles in this hot sun, and among our participants John Snow had remarked earlier that he had an ulcer and that for the sake of the ulcer was supposed to eat small amounts at frequent intervals. I noticed that he was perspiring a great deal — more than any of us although we were doing plenty — and looked exceedingly miserable, as we all were. So we walked in this procession. We were conscious as we moved through the Negro area of town that there was a great deal of silent support for what was taking place — that there were people lined up all along the way on the houses watching silently as we went by. We were conscious that the policemen we passed, who were at every corner dressed in light blue shirts, dark blue trousers, helmets, with new nightsticks (light blue helmets they were with sort of a beak and sort of ridges running back from the beak — sort of like a motorcycle helmet I suppose) — these policemen were very silent and grim in manner. We were conscious as we moved into a white area of town that the atmosphere was quite different. There were not nearly so many people in that area watching us. It was more of a commercial area —  and those who did seemed grim and contemptuous. Then when we finally arrived after winding our way through town at the funeral parlor — as we approached it somewhere somehow someone began to sing this song “We Shall Overcome, we shall overcome, we shall overcome some day. Deep in my heart I do believe, we shall overcome,” which is the symbol of the movement, and nobody seems to have known, when we talked this over later, both among ourselves in the Episcopal group and with the Negro ministers — nobody seems to have known who started the singing. This was, of course, in violation of the mayor’s permit, which required that the procession be a silent one. But the singing was done quietly, without any provocation in manner at least, although the content would be provocative.

When we arrived at the funeral home there was, of course, a large number of people there, and it was clear, as it should have been in advance, that this kind of group could not disperse quickly. We threaded our way through the crowd and started on our way toward the hotel, although we did have to stop one time to sit and rest —  particularly John Snow, who was feeling the effects of the march. We were all in since very bad shape, though, so since John said that as long as we kept going he would be all right, we did keep going, and we tried to move as quick1y as we could to our hotel. However we did take advantage of the first stopping place we could find. We stopped at a Sun and Sand Motel for refreshment there. The startling thing to me, I think to all of us, certainly to the waitress who had to take care of us, was that, as you know, in a restaurant it is customary for a waitress to bring water among the first acts before taking the order. What happened in this case was that it took her ten or fifteen minutes before she could take our order because as soon as she brought the water we started to drink it, and by the time she had managed to give water to the last, the first had finished drinking and she had to start over. If we hadn’t been so miserable — well, it was funny. We were all acting, at least I felt a note of semi-hysteria in my own laughter. I was so very tired and so very hot and so very miserable and wanted that water so very much. One of the things that happened was that — one of our group actually started working on this water as soon as the waitress did — I think it was Rowland Cox — he was pouring this water out and handing it to us. Neal Tarpley and I were sitting at the end of the table, and he handed the water to me and to Neal, and we started — I was just lifting this glass of water to my lips and so was Neal, when someone at the other end of the table remarked —  and this is the way we were doing this thing —  remarked, “You see what state we’ve got in. They aren’t even passing it down. They can’t wait to drink. You see, they can’t even wait to pass it down.” Then, of course, we were honor bound to do so, and very reluctantly I passed glasses of water by myself down the table, and so did Neal, but we finally did get our own. After eating and drinking there at the motel, we took cabs — just the three or four blocks it was — to the Heidelberg Hotel where we reservations had been made, checked in there, phoned — after we got up to our rooms began phoning our wives and families to tell them that we were all right and discovered — Rowland Cox discovered when he phoned his wife in Princeton, New Jersey, that there had been a riot in Jackson. This was our first notice that there had been any difficulty at all in connection with this funeral procession.

I’ll tell the story now of what happened as we heard it from other people later on from various sources. I can’t be sure, of course, if I am accurate in every detail, but I think I have a reasonably clear picture of what did take place. It seems that as the end of the procession finally came up to the funeral home, and as I say we were about half way in the procession — perhaps a little more than half way back, it was a very long procession so that meant there were quite a number of people still behind us when we arrived. It seems that when the end of the procession came up to the funeral home, they did not disperse immediately and that somewhere along the line somebody began singing again and that, in other words, a spontaneous demonstration began to arise. This was, of course, in direct violation of the permit which had been issued for the procession and so the police began to try to break it up. When this occurred, then somebody began to throw rocks and pop bottles and the riot was on. There were, however, only a small number arrested. I don’t know, 17 or 27 or something like that . But among these were the Rev. Ed King, who is chaplain at Tougaloo Southern Christian College, and John Salter, who is a professor at Tougaloo. These two men were up on the second floor of the building there in a dentist’s office. The police saw them at the windows — they were looking down watching the near riot that was taking place — pointed to them, dashed up, and arrested Ed King and John Salter objected to this, and so they arrested him too. The story that we got later on the status of these arrests is very confusing. I understood at one time, at least, that they were arresting Ed King on an old charge two days old. However I heard that denied later so I am not just sure — and I’m not sure anybody else is — just on what basis the arrests were made. However, it has this importance — that the newspapers reported and the charge that was made current in the area among the white community was that these two white men from Tougaloo had led — this was in the headlines — Negro demonstrators to cause this new riot. This is the kind of misunderstanding or misstatement or perhaps deliberate lie which, of course, is responsible for a great deal of the provocation and inflamation that takes place in a situation such as this. At the hotel we all showered and rested and tried to get ourselves back in shape, and that took some time. We were very, very tired, although very, very pleased that the air-conditioning in the hotel.

And then we tried to make plans for what we would do. John Morris had told us the previous day that he and Neal Tarpley and Wofford Smith, and John Thompson would be leaving; that he, John, was leaving deliberately because he had a bad reputation among the white people of Jackson because of his previous participation in the Prayer Pilgrimage and that he thought we would be more effective without him there. This, I think, proved to be true. However, we stayed around in the hotel making various phone calls, trying among other things to discover —  we heard, as I say, finally, about this riot and about the arrest of Ed King and John Salter, — trying to find out why they had been arrested and what we might be able to do. What finally happened was that we found there was a meeting of Negro ministers — the Negro strategy committee of the NAACP, which was in charge of the movement among Negroes in Jackson, and we decided we would like to go to that. This was taking place at the Pratt Memorial Presbyterian Church, and we drove over there. One interesting thing that happened to me and some of the others who went by cab, since we were not all able to go in the one car, was a conversation we had with our taxi driver. When we told him where we wanted to go, he was at first reluctant to take us over there. He said he bad received instructions not to drive over in that area, which was, of course, the Negro area — that there had been various difficulties over there — a taxicab had been attacked at one time. He told us we would not be able to get a cab back from it but that, well, he would make an exception for us and take us over there. On the way over we had a conversation with him in which he said — oh, he wished that this would all be settled. He said this several times — he wished that this would all be settled. His manner of speaking made it very clear he was not happy with the kind of changes that would of course in our minds we realized have to take place and which I am sure he must have realized would have to take place. He spoke of having been raised with — knowing Negroes all his life, that he had never done them any harm, that he’d always got along with them, but that he wasn’t quite sure what they wanted. He asked us, did we really believe that they really wanted, as he put it, “equalization.” We weren’t sure what he had in mind, but it soon developed he thought perhaps what they wanted was supremacy, and this kind of thing was disturbing him. But it was clear in talking with this man, who I felt in my bones must have been typical of large numbers of white citizens in his station of life, that he was ready for change. He might not like it, but he was ready for it, and did seem to recognize that some sort of change would have to take place. But he did think that there was very likely to be violence — this was clear — before the whole matter was settled.

When we arrived at the Pratt Memorial Presbyterian Church, we found that the meeting was in the basement. We were welcomed there, and we listened in on this meeting — I suppose for a half hour or so. What was taking place as we came in was a discussion of the arrest of Ed King and John Salter. It seems that — it was quite clear that they were being charged with something by this group. They were being charged with a breach of discipline. The next speaker after we arrived was a man named Kunzler, I don’t know his first name, who, I understand, is a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union and who is traveling in the South from one situation of this sort to another and who was planning to go on the next day to Danville, Virginia, where there is an equally tense situation. This man spoke and gave a story very similar to the one I have given about the riot, in which it was made clear that John Salter and Ed King had been upon the second story when the riot, or near-riot, had taken place. When he finished his talk, then another man arose and said he withdrew his charges. From that it became clear to me that what had been charged was that these two men had led a demonstration in violation of the permit given by the mayor. This group of men, in other words, the strategy committee, bad been considering whether or not to discipline two of their own members for violation of the decisions made by their own group and the previous decision of their own group bad been to obey the conditions of the mayor’s permit.

We were then drawn aside into another room to be given background on this. Mr. Kunzler told us that in the days previous when they had been planning the funeral and the procession, the proposition had been raised that the procession should go as planned until it arrived in downtown Jackson at Capitol Street, which is the main street in town. The plan had been at that point to turn the procession down Capitol Street in violation of the permit and turn into a demonstration. The strategy committee had voted 8-4 against violating the permit. Among the four voting to do so were John Salter and Ed King. When this demonstration, which apparently bad taken place spontaneously, the committee had first thought that Salter and King had taken matters into their own bands, and therefore were preparing to discipline them in whatever way the NAACP does take care of such matters among its own members.

When we went back then to listen in on more of the meeting, what was taking place was that the members were trying to make preparations for that night. This was Saturday, and Saturday night in a town which, although it had a population of 150,000, still had many of the characteristics of a country town in that people would be coming in from the outside and of course was like all towns in that on Saturday night there are a lot of people out on the streets — a lot of people drinking — and in the midst of such a tense situation these men were concerned that there would be violence. So they were making plans to try to see if they couldn’t stop it. They were phoning the Chief of Police to see if they could get a sound truck so that they could ride around asking people in the Negro community to refrain from violence, to stay at home, not to cause difficulties. There was much discussion about what kind of truck it should be. At first they thought they would use a police sound truck, but many of the group felt this would be a mistake, that using a truck marked “police” would simply nullify what they were trying to do. Certainly, they said, they did not want a policeman, anyone helmeted, anyone white in the truck. It would have to be driven and manned by their own members. I don’t know what kind of truck they finally got, but they were receiving cooperation, it was clear, from the Chief of Police in this effort, and it was reported in the meeting that there would be an unmarked sound truck available or at least they would be trying to get one. The other thing they made plans to do was for the ministers to go around to the various bars and poolrooms and other such places to talk to people, to tell them not to be violent, to try to keep this thing from taking place. So a very serious effort was being made on the part of the Negro leaders in Jackson to avoid violence, to keep things from breaking out into bloodshed. After this meeting broke up we stood around then and talked to various of the Negro leaders to try to get clear what it was they were asking for, what they thought might be going to happen, what they thought we might be able to do. The two things I remember clearly they wanted at this time from the mayor was assurance, first of all, that there would be (though this was not first in importance, I don’t think) Negro policemen — it is an all white force at the present time — and then the other matter, and this is by far the most important of their demands at this time, would be the formation of a bi-racial committee to negotiate some of the settlements. It was very clear from talking to the Rev. Mr. Horton [Rev Joshua Horton?], who is one of the important leaders, that he was willing to compromise at this — he said very clearly to us that he knew that they would not be able to get all the things they wanted at this time, that they would settle for less at this time. But it was also clear from what he said that he did not know what would happen, he didn’t see how they could avoid violence over the long run, if some sort of concession was not given at this time.

After this meeting at the Pratt Memorial Church we went back to the hotel, had our evening meal, and went back to our rooms discuss what we would do later. Several of the members went to bed, and then one of us was phoning around to see whom we might be able to see, and discovered that Ed King and John Salter were out of jail and that they were at Tougaloo. So we decided we would go to Tougaloo. Two of us at least stayed behind. John Snow I believe was one — I am sure was one —  and I think perhaps the other who stayed behind was Dave Gracie, but I am not sure who that was. So we drove out to Tougaloo. We had some difficulty getting there. There is a new expressway going out there, and it is not marked yet on the maps so that we had to wander around a fair amount before we did get there. There at Tougaloo we went to the President’s house and sat around talking with him, with Mr. Kuntzler, whom we had seen earlier, in the day, with Ed King and John Salter, and with a number of other faculty people there at Tougaloo. The tone of this meeting I found quite different from that among the Negro strategy committee. The Negro strategy committee meeting had been a business meeting. They had definite things they wanted to do, and it was a meeting certainly at that time with a peaceful intent. This gathering was, of course, not a business meeting. It was more in the nature of a reminiscing, of a talking over of what had happened on that day, what might happen in the future, a reminiscing about similar situations in the past. I had the feeling here that I was not amongst a group of people who were fighting for something in their own lives, something very close and near to them, but rather among a group of people whose way of life was that of liberal and radical political movements, social movements. I was not favorably impressed with Ed King and John Salter, particularly with Ed King. I find that I am very suspicious of anything that he might be moved — either of these men-might be moved — to do. It did not seem to me I saw — and this is what disturbs me most of all — it did not seem to me that I saw within him, as I see certainly among other white people, any sort of moral struggle. In the case of the Negro there is a moral struggle, but it would be of a different sort; that is in one sense there is a purity of motive, I suppose for the very reason that it is selfish, it is a desire for their own dignity, and the moral struggle comes in how shall we do it, how soon shall we want it, how much compromising will we do before we reach our final goal? Whereas with Ed King I got the feeling that the issues were very simple indeed. That there were the “good guys and the bad guys” and he was, of course, on the side of the “good guys” and that what he wanted to do was to get out in the forefront and fight. He seemed to think that anyone who was not doing as he was was not doing his proper share. Certainly his whole approach and that, apparently also, of John Salter was to get out as many people as they could, get as many people demonstrating as they could, get as many people arrested as they could, and it did not seem at all clear that they were concerned about the violence that might take place. This indeed seemed to be one of the instruments which they thought would fulfill their purposes. Now I am not saying that they were deliberately thinking in terms of creating violence or of being violent themselves, but rather that they were well aware that what they were doing was likely to result in violence on the part of the police and violence on the part of undisciplined members of the Negro community who might be involved and of the- white “hoods,” teenagers and so forth who might also get involved in it, and that this very kind of violence which would be uncontrolled, it seemed clear, would be looked upon as one of the instruments which would be used to achieve their purposes. That is that the revulsion which the rest of us would feel against this —  and of course this would be quite true —  would be a means of leading the white community finally to make the compromises and changes that do need to be made in that situation. But because this kind of attitude did seem apparent and because I don’t approve of this attitude, I was left with a very unfavorable impression of the kind of leadership being provided by Tougaloo College in this situation. That was the last of our activities on Saturday.

One of the things I should mention and which became even more prominent when we returned to the hotel is that in the hotel while we were staying there, there was a convention of Rainbow Girls taking place —  six or seven hundred Rainbow Girls — or I don’t know how many, but several hundred at any rate — Rainbow Girls were having some kind of convention in the hotel. Apparently they each had separate rooms — or perhaps two to a room, something of this sort, and they were partying. They were running up and down the corridors. On our floor there were potato chips and pieces of paper scattered all up and down the corridors. These girls were giggling and running in and out of each other’s rooms, and having a gay old time. And this, Loren Mead remarked later that he would always remember the Rainbow Girls as symptomatic of the separation from reality that often takes place in human life. That on the one hand here was this very tense situation in the city, here was a city on the brink of violence and catastrophe, and in the Heidelberg Hotel in the center of the downtown, the Rainbow Girls were having a party. At one point later the next day I inquired, I have forgotten of whom, where these Rainbow Girls were in the hotel, and the answer was that they were on the sixth and seventh floors. I asked because I began to wonder just how it happened that our group was housed on the sixth floor. Now it may be, I suspect perhaps it was, a mild harassment on the part of the management of the hotel against our group, but I might say that if this is the case, it was very ineffective. The Rainbow Girls, kept me awake, yes, but only for a very short time. I suppose perhaps it took me fifteen minutes longer than usual to go to sleep because of the noise they were making, but once l went to sleep, they did not wake me. I don’t know when they stopped their carrying on — I went to sleep about midnight. I suppose as those things go they probably went on through two or three hours more, but if this was harassment on the part of the management, it was not effective harassment.

On Sunday morning we broke up into groups of two, for the most part, to go to the go to the various Episcopal churches in town, first of all to the early service at one church and then the plan was to shift the groups to go to the other services so as to cover as far as we could the Episcopal churches in town. Also, we had set up a meeting with the Episcopal clergy for 2 o’clock that afternoon. Rowland Cox and I went to. at 7:30 to St. Andrew’s Church, which is in the center of Jackson across the street from the Governor’s Mansion, down the street from the Capitol building. It was typical of the early celebration of the Holy Communion at Episcopal churches throughout the country. There was a small congregation, it was quiet and certainly nothing remarkable about what took place at that time. We talked with the rector after the service. He invited us out to dinner although we were unable to accept because we had also made an appointment with Mr. and Mrs. Wallace Schutt. We had invited them to have dinner with us at the hotel in order to talk to them. I’ll speak of them later. So we were unable to accept Mr. Keller’s invitation to dinner with him and his wife, and he was not able to come out with us in acceptance of our invitation to breakfast both because he had another service at 9 o’clock and didn’t have much time, but also because there had been a death in the parish earlier that morning, and he did want to take what time he did have to go see the family.

After breakfast I went with John Snow and Loren Mead to try to find St. Philip’s Church, where they were having at 9:00 Holy Communion, at 9:30 Morning Prayer, and after that confirmation with Bishop Gray. We started for the church at about 9:20 — we knew we’d be late, but we had all been to Holy Communion previously so we were not concerned about missing that service. St. Philip’s is out in a suburban-type area of Jackson — new suburban type — row houses, ranch- style houses, not too many trees in the area, mostly wood, partially brick houses, typical of any city in the country. This sort of development we have all seen taking place at the edge of our cities. We had a lot of trouble finding the church. On the way out we passed an All-State Insurance Building. Outside this building was a sign which I read. It said “Episcopal Church” and as I read it, it said “St. John’s” or “All Saints” or something like that. I pointed this out to everybody as we went by and said, “Gee, I don’t know what that was — I heard about that one.” So we went on to try to find St. Philip’s. We found a lot on which they were going to build. We found the rector’s or vicar’s house, but we were not able to find St. Philip’s itself so we decided to go back to the new mission church meeting in the All-State Building. When we got there, we discovered I had misread the sign. It was St. Philip’s, meeting there. We arrived there while the Bishop was preaching. However we stayed out in the corridor. We got chairs and sat in the corridor so we would not disturb the service. When he was through preaching, we moved inside. We were there just for the close of the service  —  I think for the offering and for the closing prayers and a hymn. We were greeted very pleasantly by the Bishop and the vicar, Fr. Bush, and had a talk with both of them, spoke of the meeting we were going to have later with them at 2. The Bishop seemed to think perhaps we had invited just the other clergy, but we assured him that we would like to have him come too — this was Bishop Gray. The Coadjutor, Bishop Allen, was out of town. Then we sat in on an adult Sunday School class alter having general discussion with various people and having had coffee. Then after that we went back to the hotel for lunch.

Our lunch, as I said, was with Mr. and Mrs. Wallace Schutt. Mrs. Schutt is an Episcopalian (both of them are). She heads the Mississippi Civil Rights Advisory Committee, which makes her, of course, in Jackson, Mississippi, a marked woman. I was very favorably impressed with her. She told us a story of how she began to get involved in civil rights matters. I don’t remember all the details, but it was through her activities with the United Churchwomen. She told of how she had managed to get a Negro representative to a regional meeting from Jackson, or rather in this case she tried to get one and ended up getting two, and of how at this meeting of the United Churchwomen she and other representatives from Mississippi, including the two Negro ladies, talked together on matters of race. This was the topic set at the time and each state had been asked to meet as a group to discuss these matters. From this discussion there resulted a prayer group. She had been trying earlier to form a prayer group of both Negro and white women in Jackson, but had not succeeded. From this meeting where she had had the three white women and two Negro women talking on the matter of race, she had been able then to establish a prayer group and this group has been very fruitful. It has resulted in strong friendships across racial lines. She herself has come to know the Hortons, both Mr. and Mrs., quite well and as a result of this she has been able to do a great many of the things she has been able to do in Jackson. The thing that impressed me, however, most of all about Mrs. Schutt was her thoroughly theological orientation in all of this. She began with prayer on the matter of race, and from her prayer grew her action. She spoke of her reading, of the kind of reading that supported and guided her; she spoke of reading Bishop Brent, Bernard Iddings Bell, Fenelon on prayer. She, unlike most lay people and, I am afraid, most clergy on social matters, represented for me a very sound combination of theological understanding and social concern. It seems quite clear that the Schutts have not suffered social ostracism or anything of this sort because of their activities, although these are principally the activities of Mrs. Schutt. Mr. Schutt says that his business life has not suffered. He is, I take it, the treasurer of a construction firm in Jackson. Mrs. Schutt spoke of how one of the things that makes her effective in her work is the fact that she is a southern woman, that many people who are trying to defend the status quo on matters of segregation often speak of their work as being a defense of southern womanhood. She spoke of how she tries always to look as attractive as she can and be as gracious as she can so as to represent this southern womanhood and then on this basis, building on this foundation, be able to set at naught those who say that the very things she is working for would attack southern womanhood. Mrs. Schutt also spoke very warmly and very strongly of the role of the Jackson clergy in her work. She spoke of how they had supported and helped and guided her in what she has been able to do.  

From the meeting with the Schutts we went directly to St. James’ Church, where Bishop Gray and the Reverend Messrs. G. S. Stephenson of All Saints’ Church, Gristoph Keller, Jr., Duncan M. Hobart of St. James’ Church, and Fred J. Bush were present. The Bishop is Duncan Gray [apparently there have been 3 generations of Bishop's Duncan Gray in Mississippi]. He is very old — I don’t know how old — presumably below retirement age, but he impresses one with his age. We conferred then with the Jackson clergy, and it’s clear — Duncan Hobart said this halfway through our meeting — “I didn’t want to come to this meeting. I came very reluctantly.” What he expected was that we would be critical, militant, that we would be putting him and the rest on the defensive, that we would represent a course of strife and discord in Jackson, and he wanted no part of this and he didn’t want to get involved in this. Of course insofar as he expected an attack on himself, this would be the principal element, and it is very easy to understand why he would have been very reluctant to come. The reason that he and others expected this was the Prayer Pilgrimage, which, as you know, was a pilgrimage planned by the Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity, which also sponsored our trip down there, in which — it was like a freedom ride — a mixed group of clergy (that is, both Negro and white) started in New Orleans on public buses to go to the General Convention in Detroit. That must have been two years ago this coming fall. They got themselves — a number of them — arrested finally in Jackson, among them John Morris, the Executive Secretary of ESCRU, and several of them — Fr. Jones, Fr. Taylor [family friend from my childhood] from here in Chicago — had stayed in jail and refused to take bail for several weeks. The Jackson clergy knew quite a bit about the Prayer Pilgrimage and had had to bear the brunt of the repercussions from it in their own congregations, and they were very resentful of this effort that had been made and of the difficulties it has made for them. When they knew that six Episcopal clergy from ESCRU were coming into town, they anticipated that there would be the same kinds of difficulties.

One of the things, then, that happened at this meeting was that we were able to effect a reconciliation with at least a part of ESCRU and the Jackson clergy. We took the attitude — we discussed this ahead of time — we had Loren Mead as our spokesman. Loren, of course, is a southerner with a southern accent, and we all kidded him later that it always seemed that when he had to speak for us that accent got deeper and deeper. We had him as our spokesman and he is very good at this kind of thing. He is very good at handling people; he is exceedingly likable. Loren Mead made it clear that what we wanted to do was to help them in any way we could. We wanted to find out about the situation; we wanted to know what we could do for them; we were also there to learn. This is the point I tried to make especially — that we have here in the city of Chicago racial problems, certainly — that in fact our problems are more difficult and much more threatening, I think, in the long run than those of the South, that from my point of view what I saw in Jackson was a simpler version of the kind of problem we have here, and being able then to see it in this relatively simple situation I think has helped me to understand some of the things that we shall have to face here in the city of Chicago. Now this kind of thing I tried to say — I had said earlier — and this we tried to make clear to the clergy there in Jackson. They spoke of the kinds of things they had been trying to do, of the reactions of their congregations, of what they anticipated.

One of the things I might mention that had happened that morning at St. Andrew’s Church at a later service than the one I attended. There was a kneel-in at 11:00. These were not the first kneel-ins in Jackson, but they were the first kneel-ins to involve the Episcopal Church. Mr. Keller was very pleased that the two or three Negro girls who came were seated. What happened later was that two more came who had not been seated at an attempted kneel-in at some other church in town. He wanted to make clear one thing he was afraid would be mis-reported in the press. He was afraid the press would say they had been seated in a roped-off segregated area. He wanted us to be quite clear that although they were seated in a roped- off area, it was not a segregated area. For years their custom there had been to rope off an area in the rear of the church to use for late-corners so that when they were seated they did not have to be seated down in front and disturb other member of the congregation. Of course the girls had come in at the very last moment and for that reason they were, as anyone else would have been, seated in the roped-off area in the rear. In the meeting we tried our very best to communicate from the Negro community what we had learned about what was going on there to stress the urgency of the situation, the fact that they [think] Jackson is on the brink of violence. I am not sure that these white clergy needed to be told that; nevertheless we thought it needed to be stressed very strongly. We tried to see if we could suggest or help or perhaps get them to think about ways in which they might be able to help. We mentioned one thing that the Negro leaders had mentioned in particular, and that was the need for the bi-racial committee. Mayor Thompson of Jackson had said that there would never be such a committee — he had backed himself into a corner. One thing that the Episcopal Church had done, headed by Bishop Allen, was to set up a Bishop’s Committee. This included the two Episcopal bishops, the two Roman Catholic Bishops, and a Methodist bishop. This committee had met with Negro ministers and had, therefore, constituted an unofficial bi-racial. committee, and they had met with Mayor Thompson and up to this point results had been very discouraging. Apparently Bishop Allen, although we didn’t meet him, from all reports we heard had been very gloomy about the success of this effort. We conveyed to them at this meeting that the Negro leaders had been very encouraged by this effort although they too had said that the results had not been very good. So this was one of the things we tried to do. We listened and heard about the kinds of things these clergy had been doing with their lay people, the ways in which they had been trying to get them to face the situation. I would say the most remarkable thing about this meeting with the clergy in Jackson was the continuity between us and them. Once it became clear to them that we were not there to attack them or to cause them trouble but were simply trying to help, it suddenly became the Church. We were speaking as clergy of the Church with problems in common. They happened to be in the South, we happened, some of us, to be in the North, and we were speaking of the problem of the Church there and trying to see what we could do — how we could understand the situation. I think this very act constituted a very real communion between us and them and that this communion was itself perhaps, it is hard to say, but I should think would have been a real help to them. I can imagine if I were in a situation of that sort to know that there were others from outside who understood and were trying to help would be very reassuring. I have the feeling that they sometimes have felt that people from the North especially thought of them as perhaps betraying their vocation or not doing what they should or something of this kind.

I forgot to mention that among others at this meeting was a man, I’ve forgotten his first name, named Jackson, who worked for some federal agency —  I’ve forgotten which one that was too — in the civil rights area. He was a former Baptist minister and apparently is studying for orders in the Episcopal Church. This man has very close connections with the FBI and was able to tell us that there were large numbers of FBI men in Jackson — that a great many of the photographers we had seem whom we had assumed were reporters were in fact FBI men taking photographs for Justice Dept. This man it’s very clear works closely with the Jackson clergy and that he certainly is in a position to keep them current on what is taking place. He told us that the investigation of the murder of Medgar Evers is being pressed very strongly and he is sure that it will be solved. He also seemed to think that it may have been not simply the effort of some one man who was fed up with the situation and therefore killed Medgar Evers, but that it was something deliberately planned, perhaps by a large group of people. He spoke of how Medgar Evers had received a warning from a friend of his in Gulfport who had phoned him before he drove home to say that someone was going to try to kill him — that the man had picked up this rumor in Gulfport, but that Medgar Evers had gone home anyhow and had been shot, that he of course had had many such threats for many years and had simply learned to shove them off. Some of the clergy — two or three in Jackson —  said — two, I think — that they did not see how anything could be done until there was bloodshed. They certainly were not trying to say there should be bloodshed, but they did not see bow the white people — the moderates in town — could have their voices heard until the situation got that bad. Although they agreed that some kind of communication between Negro and white in Jackson, which is not taking place right now, was the essential thing , that they didn’t see how this could take place until the situation got bad, until there was some kind of catastrophe.

After this meeting we returned to our hotel — getting lost once more — we were lost three or four times in all during our stay in Jackson — and made preparations to leave and finally I took a plane for Memphis, Tennessee, and came home. Others were taking planes to Atlanta and from there home, and two, Brian Kelley and Dave Gracie were waiting to return on Monday morning.

It is hard to say what effect for good or ill our visit to Jackson may have had. I think it was good. I think it was good for the church to be represented at the funeral. I think it was helpful the Negro community there to know that they did have support from the church and the church throughout the nation. And I think they could probably guess that they could hope for this kind of support or something not as open but as strong from the church there in Jackson. This is hard to be sure about, however. I feel sure that we were at least psychologically helpful as brothers in Christ to the clergy in Jackson. But the thing that I am most aware of about this trip is its effect on me, and I think its effect on the others who participated in it. We are going to have problems of this kind — we have them now —  in the parts of the country from which we all came, and I think that having gone through this I will be in a much better position to understand and to do something about them here in my own situation. One thing I should add that I forgot is that at the meeting with the Episcopal clergy we tried to emphasize very strongly that if the present moderate Negro leadership does not produce results, concrete concessions of some kind in a very short period of time — a week, two weeks, three weeks — that what will happen is that less moderate leadership will take over. There is a jockeying for power among the various organizations within the civil rights movement, and if the present moderate NAACP leadership doesn’t produce results, then the SNCC will come in or CORE or SCLC or one of these others, and take leadership away from the present one and this will mean that when the settlement finally does come, a great many more concessions will have to be made than are made now but at the price, I am afraid, of bloodshed in the meantime.

Originally posted to Andrew C White on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 01:16 PM PDT.

Also republished by History for Kossacks and Genealogy and Family History Community.

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