Kossuth County Advance from Algona, Iowa on April 8, 1965 · Page 20
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Kossuth County Advance from Algona, Iowa · Page 20

Algona, Iowa
Issue Date:
Thursday, April 8, 1965
Page 20
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Sing, pray in rain at Will never forget this experience (This is the second arid last of o ttoo-port article by John Phillips, Algona college student nt GrinneU, about Ms trip to Aln> baina with three other collegians last month. The first part, telling of a day in Montgomery and his arrival at Selma, was published i?i Monday's Advance.) By John Phillips Brown's Chapel was the center of activity, the headquarters. For many days a vigil was kept out in front of the Chapel at the edge of the perimeter. The intent was to march downtown to the courthouse and have a service for Rev. James Rceb who had been beaten up in Selma several days earlier and had died as a result of his injuries. The authorities would not allow such a march on various grounds and therefore the marchers just stood there, ready to march, to force the authorities to keep the vigil with them and to protest the brutality that they had received in the earlier attempt to march to Montgomery, when they had been beaten back at the bridge at the edge of Salma. It was cold and for several days it rained, yet those demonstrators stayed on the job, singing and praying and giving speeches and generally irritating the troopers by their songs of love, etc. A favorite game was to get the name of one of the troopers or policemen and sing songs forgiving him, songs describing how he was ALSO not free. Who had who cprraled up? It was a good question . . . OBVIOUSLY it was necessary to operate the vigil in shifts and so the chapel and most of the Negro homes within the perime. ter were open to any sympathizers wanting rest or food. This included newsmen too, because obviously it is the press that makes such demonstrations feasible. The fellowship that'exist- ed both in the chapel an "put on the line" was an inspiring thing. Such a conglomeration of people I probably shall never see again. It was like war, in many ways. Everyone was constantly exhausted and hungry and under pressures of all sorts. But a true sense of brotherhood, kindness and friendliness prevailed. No matter what differences we all had, we were all there together fighting for a common goal. The pretenses and inhibitions that normally plague human relationships were lifted. Whether you were a high school student run away from home or a bishop, you found yourself able to communicate on a human and meaningful, level. No matter where you came from or where you were going, while you were in Selma you were a human being and ate what your companions ate aud slept where your companions slept and most important, you spoke the same language, because so unique was this situation that it required a new vocabulary, both verbally and morally. Education, wealth and superficial abilities were felt to be truly meaningless. It was an invaluable personal experience and one that is most difficult to relate. Like so many things, it must be experienced to be appreciated. ONE ELEMENT of the situation that especially affected me was that of the music, the singing. The Negro approach to religion is emotional. If you feel something brother and want to shout, then shout on! Shout on, brother! And this got to me. A number of times I found tears coining to my eyes, and I learned not to be ashamed. Our party more or less lived at the church (although we did keep a motel room out of town to have a place in which to get cleaned up every few days). Night or day there was no telling when an impromtpu religious meetin' would take place. As often as not this would involve mostly singing, and it was from the soul. A lot of old songs took on real meaning for the first time, and a lot of new songs were created. This element of the Selma story took on a professional turn when people like Harry Belafonte started coming later the next week for the march to Montgomery although, unfortunately, we missed out on that. I've attempted to tell an endless story. Compressed into that short week in Alabama there a wealth of infinite experi t-ALOONA (!«*•) ADVANCE THOEIOAY, APRIL i, IMS tttentufn it gains. And such is the way one talks after ft week in Alabama . . , RAILROAD ftttmet -After 50 years of continuous sefV< ice as an employee of Chicago & North Western Railroad c6mps« ny Everett D. freeman of Mis* lotili Viltey hiS retired frdffi live service. He spent 43 in Missouri Valley and the re< mainder at Council Bluffs, all in the ffidtive pawer department Right in Time for EASTER, loo! THE PLASTIC tent shown above was used to keep the elements, mainly rain, from demonstrators during the Selma activity last month. John Phillips took the above picture plus 20 or 30 others during his week in Alabama. Bring the children and come on in...this is one sele YOU cm'l iHord to misst For a Limited Time Only! Exceptional footwear for such a low, low price! Simulated patents in white 'and black for girls.. Soft, smooth ' black leath'er* for boys. Both in sizes 8Vz-3. Teens man-made patents and leather* flatties in white, black, bone, blue. Sizes 4-9. •Leather uppers only THE ALABAMA state troopers shown above are ciias- ing a group of Selma, Ala. demonstrators several weeks ago. The demonstrators broke away from the back of the line when they weiv arguing with authorities about getting to the ence and wisdom. So many great men, both famous and unknown, so many great things said and brave things done. To observe so closely such creative leadership in action made the trip worthwhile in itself. counnouse, Photo caxen by John Phillips, Algona student at Grinnell college, who spent several days in Alabama during the demonstrations. adventurous self appointed assignment. But in the process I got caught up, and I'll never be the same. Whether or not I did any good for them I'm not sure. But they did something for me, One last final note, a reference to viewpoint. While living in that Selma neighborhood, there were other whites around, but the majority were Negroes. I started to think like a Negro, you might say, and it made some things clear to me. thing, discrimination South is real. It is very real. It is the kind of thing that hurts, and the more educated the Negro becomes the more it is going to hurt because he is no longer ignorant to the way he is being treated. anyone who wants a free coun- ;ry. The wondrous thing about e non-violent approach is that it is not simply a technique to For one in the There were a lot of mixed up people there, 1 would have to admit. And no small percentage of them were college students who were "looking for something." But 1 would submit that even if certain of the "Selma influx" didn't come for the "right" reasons, it was impossible to leave without the influence of the great men and experiences encountered there leaving a worthwhile reason planted somewhere or other amidst the confusion. ALTHOUGH demonstrations like those that 1 experienced and like those going on right now, serve the invaluable purpose of awakening the country and the necessary authorities to certain circumstances that are in existence, they also serve to provide a fantastic personal experience for those involved. 1 must it h te there ion? admit that in many ways 1 look- n hnin htnU- ,? L.»!» * n u perK'aY atlfS'on?'" ^ ^n^™ oPeffitive ap penence as a selfibh one. pr()8ch . g unthinkable to som £. Especially when 1 went, it was one who wants their freedom, as a practicing juurnaliM on an It should b^ unthinkable to I can't understand people who say that they believe in civil rights but go on to say in the same breath that the movement is pushing too hard. If you were imprisoned, how hard would you push for your freedom? Certainly there is a century of tradition behind the prejudice of the South, and for that very reason brotherhood that it preaches, that it professes, is sincere. 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