We the People:

Freedom and the Mississippi Theater of the Civil Rights Movement:

1960 – 1964

Freedom Rides, Freedom Votes, Freedom Schools, Freedom Work,

Freedom Elections, Freedom Summer, Freedom Democratic Party

By Robert “Bob” Moses

We the People:

Amzie Moore’s “We the People” embraced the black sharecroppers, day laborers and domestic workers spread across the Delta. C.C. Bryant’s (a union railroad employee) embraced black workers, their families, the Mississippi NAACP, and black Masons, Webb Owens took in mentoring McComb’s black teenagers and managing black shopkeepers’ NAACP contributions out of his back-pocket “bank,” E.W. Steptoe’s embraced small farmers scratching out a living in Southwest Mississippi.  

I was passed along: to E.W. by C.C., to C.C. by Amzie, to Amzie by Ella. Ella Baker’s “We the People” introduced Freedom’s Liberty: a liberty to stand shoulder to shoulder with progressives of all stripes. I escorted Carl Braden across the 1962 Mississippi Theater for Ella, the same liberty that lead to Bob Zellner’s dramatic 1961 McComb, Mississippi entry into SNCC. 

SNCC’s “We the People,” with its two hands “shaking,” fashioned a liberty welcoming Jane Stembridge, Connie Curry, Dorothy Zellner, Mendy Samstein, Casey Hayden, Mike Miller and Friends of SNCC all across the nation.  CORE’s Louisiana network shepherded Dave Dennis and national CORE into the Mississippi Theater, and SCLC’s Citizenship Training did the same for Annelle Ponder. Aaron Henry did likewise for the State NAACP, and for the National, Medgar Evers. Medgar’s assassination rippled across the nation: Robert Spike introduced Mississippi to resources of the National Council of Churches while Allard Lowenstein introduced Stanford and Yale students into the 1963 Freedom Elections, raising the question of a summer project.

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